China’s choice to close theaters smart in light of coronavirus spread

Disney’s “Mulan” remake will no doubt suffer from the closures, but will still release in the U.S.

Disney continues its live-action remakes of classic animated films with “Mulan”, set to hit theaters March 27. However, with the ever-mounting threat and infection toll of a strain of the coronavirus, this monumentally important film for China may not even get to be released there. This is extremely devastating for new films, as China has the second largest movie market after the United States. Since the start of 2020, all 70,000 cinemas in China have closed in attempts to prevent the spread of the virus. Despite the economic implications the coronavirus outbreak may have on the box office showing for Mulan, I think it’s wise for populations and communities to be cautious and wary of close-quarter public establishments during this time of health uncertainty.

“Mulan” is the most expensive live-action remake Disney has undertaken thus far, ringing in at $200 million. Disney’s live action remakes haven’t done particularly well in China before, but “Mulan” was anticipated to change that trend. The film is risky, as it’s Disney’s first film with an all-Asian cast and is rated PG-13. These risks are only heightened in the wake of the coronavirus. Global box office losses are estimated to be as significant as $4 billion by the end of this month.

Although this Disney remake should perform well globally, if “Cinderella” (2015) and “Beauty and the Beast” (2017) are any indicators, the relevance of the Chinese market cannot be understated when it comes to the live action remake of “Mulan.” Star of the film, Liu Yifei, said that while the outbreak is extremely heavy, she’s pleased to see people “doing the right thing” by being cautious and engaging in preventative health measures. Chief Analyst, Shawn Robbins, commented on the fact that there are so many unknown elements in play: “Will audiences be eager to get out and start seeing movies again once given the all-clear? Will there be a temporary hesitation?” There likely will have to be a lot of strategic discussions surrounding the delayed releases of postponed films.

While it’s very unfortunate that the film may not be shown in China, I fully support the decision to keep movie theaters and other public establishments closed in an attempt to prevent further spread of this currently incurable illness. Countries like Italy and South Korea have followed suit and closed down their cinemas and theaters as part of their public health plans. Disneyland has also shut down its theme parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai for the foreseeable future.

“Mulan” and other new release films are set to premier on an indefinitely delayed schedule in China and other affected regions. A Disney spokesperson claimed that the situation is being monitored constantly and carefully and that the main concern on everyone’s mind is how this virus is impacting people and spreading seemingly without boundaries.

Post Author: Tori Gellman