Coronavirus threatens Disney’s ‘Mulan’ release in China: report

The coronavirus is quickly upending a slew of events set to take place in China and the surrounding region, including the release of Disney’s live-action adaptation of “Mulan.”

Since the outbreak -- which was first detected in Wuhan, China -- triggered the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a “public health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC) on Jan. 30, some 37 locations internationally, including in the United States, have reported cases of the virus.

Meanwhile, China has reportedly shuttered all of its 70,000 theaters since Jan. 24 in a concerted effort to combat the spreading of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now calling SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it manifests into now known as “coronavirus disease 2019” or COVID-19.

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The film’s star, Liu Yifei, who is originally from Wuhan but now resides in Beijing, said she’s hoping for a miracle resolution to the epidemic, before the scheduled March 27 film release, especially at the epicenter.

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"It's really heavy for me to even think about it," she told The Hollywood Reporter (THR) in a published piece on Wednesday. "People are doing the right thing. They are being careful for themselves and others. I'm so touched actually to see how they haven't been out for weeks. I'm really hoping for a miracle and that this will just be over soon."

The 32-year-old actress -- who was selected from more than a thousand entrants for the coveted role of Hua Mulan, the Chinese protagonist who disguises herself as a male soldier in the Imperial Army -- arrived in Los Angeles from China weeks before the virus threatened those outside of its initial reach. She noted that she doesn’t have any family or close friends who have been personally affected by the outspread.

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It’s unclear if China will re-open its closed theaters in time for the planned March 27 release of the PG-13 flick. However, a number of big-budget films, including Searchlight’s “Jojo Rabbit” and Universal’s “Dolittle” had their February premieres canceled in the region and adding another, especially one in “Mulan,” which Disney sunk $200 million into producing, might prove detrimental to the film’s momentum.

Chinese actress Liu Yifei is playing Mulan in Disney's upcoming live-action movie.

Chinese actress Liu Yifei is playing Mulan in Disney's upcoming live-action movie. (Stephen Tilley/Disney Enterprises, Inc.)

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"It certainly has worldwide and global appeal, but there's no denying that this is a very important film for the Chinese market," Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian told THR. "It's a huge blow for Disney if it doesn't release in China."

Furthermore, Disney president of production Sean Bailey said he's "looking at it day by day."

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As of Thursday, the virus has infected more than 75,000 people and has killed more than 2,000, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The live-action remake of the 1998 classic animated film “Mulan” is set to hit theaters March 27, 2020, with Niki Carois directing.