‘They could have given us a chance’: Cinema boss blasts Disney

A SOUTH Lakeland cinema owner has criticised Disney’s decision to forego a theatrical release for the live-action remake of Mulan.

Disney’s decision to release its Mulan remake on its streaming platform has been strongly criticised by the body representing British cinemas, and a number of cinema owners.

Charles Morris, proprietor of the Roxy in Ulverston said Disney should have given cinemas a chance to put it out first.

He said: “They will be concerned that they will not get the audiences at the cinema that they might normally have got but they could at least have put it into cinemas for a month or two.

“They could at least have given us a chance.

“It wouldn’t have done them any harm.”

Having re-opened after the Coronavirus lockdown, Mr Morris said the Roxy’s takings were currently around 50 per cent of its average across the year.

Seating capacity currently stands at just 25 per cent to ensure government guidelines around social distancing can be adhered to.

Mulan, the live-action remake of the popular 1998 animation about a girl who runs away from home to take her father’s place in the Chinese army, would have marked the welcome return of big-budget, blockbuster cinema to the Roxy’s screens.

Disney’s decision to bypass the cinemas and instead release the film on streaming service Disney+ in September has come as a blow to the cinema, with most of its staff still on furlough.

Mr Morris said: “We have always been at the mercy of what the filmmakers make and what the film-distributors distribute, and if they’re not making the films and not distributing them, there’s not an awful lot we can do.

“We are hoping this will return to normal before too long and we can get back to things as they were.

“I’m very much looking forward to being able to show ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ on Christmas Eve as we have done for the last several years.”

The decision to scrap a theatrical release of Mulan in many countries was announced in Disney’s earnings results webcast, published online on Monday.

Bob Chapek, CEO of Disney defended the company’s decision, and explained: “Like many companies, we’ve had to find innovative ways to conduct our business during the pandemic.

“While we view this as a devastating situation for everyone affected, it has also forced us to consider different approaches and look for new opportunities.

“In the process we’re discovering ways to better serve our consumers during this challenging period.

“Unfortunately we’ve had to delay the release of Disney’s highly-anticipated, tent-pole film Mulan a number of times due to the impact of Covid on theatres.

“In order to meet the needs of consumers during this unpredictable period, we thought it was important to find alternative ways to bring this exceptional, family-friendly film to them in a timely manner.”

The Westmorland Gazette | News