Movie filmed in Otago to skip most theatres for Disney+

The mountains of the Ahuriri Valley form a spectacular backdrop for a new Disney offering live...
The mountains of the Ahuriri Valley formed a spectacular backdrop for a new Disney offering live-action remake of animated classic Mulan. Photos: Stephen Jaquiery/Walt Disney Studios
Disney's live-action epic Mulan, parts of which were filmed in Otago, will skip most of the world's movie theatres and go directly to the company's streaming platform in September, the media giant says.

Disney’s live-action remake of the animated classic was initially scheduled to be released in the United States on March 27. But it had been delayed multiple times due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was filmed, in part, in Waitaki in 2018, with Omarama’s Clay Cliffs and the Ahuriri Valley as known locations.

US subscribers to Disney+ will need to pay $US30 to stream Mulan in their homes, Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek said on a call with investors after the company reported quarterly earnings.

The cost will vary slightly in other countries including Canada, Australia and New Zealand and in parts of Western Europe, Chapek said. The decision came amid uncertainty about when big movie theatre chains in the United States will be able to reopen after being shuttered since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mulan will be released September 4 in movie theaters that do not currently have the Disney+ platform and where movie theatres are back in business, Chapek added. The movie, reported to have cost $200 million to produce, is a remake of an animated Disney classic about a female Chinese warrior and stars Yifei Liu in the title role.

Disney's shift on Mulan followed a deal in July between Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures and cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc to allow the studio to release films directly to consumers after just three weeks in theatres, down from the average three months.

Chapek said the plan for Mulan represented a one-time shift amid the pandemic and did not signal a change to Disney's long-term film strategy.

Mulan had been scheduled to reach theatres in March, but its release has been postponed several times as many cinemas remain closed. Most recently, it was set to debut Aug. 21, and theatre operators had hoped it would help spark a late-summer rebound for movie-going.

Last month, Disney said it was postponing the debut of Mulan indefinitely while it assessed its options.

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