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We need blockbusters, Movie House cinema boss says as Disney delays major movies

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Disney film Mulan

Disney film Mulan

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Michael McAdam

Michael McAdam

PA

Disney film Mulan

A Northern Ireland cinema boss has voiced his disappointment after Disney pulled three major releases due to coronavirus.

With many cinemas screening old classics to make up the dwindling numbers, a much anticipated live-action remake of Mulan has been removed from the schedules after it was set for a release at the end of August.

Disney has also delayed the release of the latest sequels to Star Wars and Avatar by an entire year.

Michael McAdam from Movie House Cinemas has now called for studio bosses to show flexibility on how big pictures are released.

The chain welcomed customers back to their cinemas this month at Yorkgate and Glengormley in Belfast, Maghera and Coleraine.

"We are so disappointed that yet more new movies have been delayed," he said.

"We reopened on July 14 and are showing a mix of new, recent and classic movies, and people are enjoying the socially distanced cinema experience.

"We've been delighted to be able to show new movies such as the Blumhouse movie The Vigil and Lucy Liu drama Stage Mother, and are looking forward to Russell Crowe in Unhinged.

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Michael McAdam

Michael McAdam

PA

Michael McAdam

"But we desperately need the major distributors to start releasing the big blockbusters. We urge them to consider European release dates rather than waiting for a worldwide release."

Factors like a rise in Covid-19 cases in the United States and a disruption to film production around the world have created an uncertain market even as cinemas start to reopen.

A Disney spokesperson said: "It's become clear that nothing can be set in stone when it comes to how we release films during this global health crisis. Today that means pausing our release plans for Mulan as we assess how we can most effectively bring this film to audiences around the world."

While cinemas in Northern Ireland were allowed to reopen from July 14, and July 4 in England, major chains in the United States have pushed back their opening dates until at least mid-August.

Disney's announcement is the latest in a series of release delays from major studios.

Avatar and Titanic director James Cameron also confirmed this week that all production has shut down on a further three Avatar sequels, meaning the five film franchise will not be finished until Christmas 2028.

"Due to Covid-19, we were forced into an unexpected lengthy delay in starting the live action filming we are currently doing in New Zealand," he said.

"What most of you likely do not know is that the pandemic is still preventing us from being allowed to recommence most of our virtual production work on stages in Los Angeles. That work is just as critical to the films as the live action work.

"Prior to Covid-19, everything was on track to bring you the first sequel in December of 2021. Unfortunately, due to the impact that the pandemic has had on our schedule it is no longer possible for us to make that date."

Other notable delays in this year's blockbuster calendar include Christopher Nolan's Sci-fi thriller Tenet, which Warner Bros had hoped would lure crowds back to cinemas for the big screen experience.

Not all films have been pushed back a year, however, with Belfast-born director Sir Kenneth Branagh's Death on the Nile delayed only two weeks to October 23.

Belfast Telegraph