Disney boss says more of the studio's movies could skip cinema releases

Mulan (Credit: Disney)
Mulan (Credit: Disney)

The boss of Disney has said that more of its movies could circumvent cinemas as they remain shuttered around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In an earnings call to shareholders, CEO Bob Chapek said that it will review its release slate 'case by case' going forward into the summer.

“We very much believe in the value of the theatrical experience,” he said. “But we also believe that either because of changing and evolving consumer dynamics or because of certain situations like COVID, we may have to make some changes to that overall strategy.

Read more: Odeon bans Universal movies after Trolls snub

“We’re going to evaluate each of our movies as a case-by-case situation, as we are doing during this coronavirus situation.”

Disney is already releasing its adaptation of YA novel Artemis Fowl via Disney+ next month, without it having played in cinemas, with most of its other movies now delayed until later in the year.

The high-profile, big budget remake of Mulan was delayed until July, though it's possible that it might be bumped once again if cinemas around the world remain closed.

It follows the recent high-profile spat between the Odeon chain – via its parent company AMC – and Universal Pictures.

Trolls: World Tour (Credit: Universal)
Trolls: World Tour (Credit: Universal)

Universal released a number of movies early to VOD in the immediate wake of the worldwide lockdown, including horror reboot Invisible Man and The Hunt.

But it caused particular ire among cinema chains when it decided to release animated sequel Trolls: World Tour direct to VOD rather than delay the release, as other studios have done.

However, Disney currently has other concerns aside from its movie studio.

Read more: Trolls sequel has history-making digital debut

It has reported a staggering loss of $1.4 billion in all, with its combined movie and theme park businesses both in limbo.

Chapek added: “We are seeing encouraging signs of gradual return to some semblance of normalcy in China.

“While it's too early to predict when we'll be able to begin resuming all of our operations, we are evaluating a number of different scenarios to ensure a cautious, sensible and deliberate approach to the eventual reopening of our parks.”