Coronavirus outbreak may cost Disney's live-action 'Mulan' millions

The coronavirus is disrupting Disney (DIS) and its upcoming slate of blockbusters.

The media giant spent a reported $200 million on its live-action remake of “Mulan” — the priciest live-action film for the company. But its box office performance is now unclear, as its intended March 27th release date has been postponed in China due to the coronavirus.

The film is the latest victim of the outbreak, which is disrupting global demand, supply chains — and now movie-watching in the world’s second largest economy.

“China can represent a huge percentage of a film’s international and global box office revenue, so this is going to have an impact on any movie that was slated,” Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Yahoo Finance.

“The upside is that China will release all of these movies down the road, but right now the whole release slate is in flux and there are no hard dates that they can put on these films,” he explained. 

The uncertainty adds to further risks as “Mulan” was already a gamble, given its PG-13 rating and all-Asian cast (a first for the the company.)

Historically, Disney's past live-action remakes haven’t had the strongest showings in China (Courtesy: The Hollywood Reporter, Box Office Mojo)

Historically, Disney's past live-action remakes haven’t had particularly strong showings in China.

For example, “Aladdin” earned just $54 million in the country last year (verses $1.1 billion worldwide), while 2017's “Beauty and the Beast” took in $84 million despite raking in $1.3 billion globally.

But “Mulan” could have been Disney’s chance to buck the trend, given the story’s strong roots in Chinese culture and tradition.

In fact, filmmakers even tested certain scenes with Chinese audiences, in an effort to ensure that it performed well in the country and honored its legacy. Yet “Mulan’s” China success now hangs in the balance, with coronavirus cases spiking around the world, surpassing 83,000 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths.

China has shut down nearly 70,000 movie theaters, with no plans to re-open until at least April.

The closures have had a significant impact on the global box office with potential losses that could amount to as much as $4 billion by the end of March, according to Deadline.

Alexandra Canal is a Producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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