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An outdoor ad for Disney's "Mulan" in Hollywood, California. Photo: Rich Fury / Getty Images

Two of the summer's most highly anticipated films, Disney's live action remake of ""Mulan" and Warner Bros.' "Tenet," have both delayed their theater debuts due to rising coronavirus cases around the U.S.

Why it matters: It's a big blow to the movie theater industry, which has been waiting for Hollywood's biggest releases to hit theaters to attract audiences.

  • Now, theaters will need to be patient another month and a half until they have something big to show consumers — and that's if the films don't get pushed back again.

Details: "Tenet," the new film from Christopher Nolan, was already postponed from its original opening date on July 17 to July 31, and will now be heading to theaters on August 12.

  • "Mulan" was initially supposed to be released in March. The release date was pushed to July, and now is being held again until August 21.

What they're saying: “While the pandemic has changed our release plans for ‘Mulan’ and we will continue to be flexible as conditions require, it has not changed our belief in the power of this film and its message of hope and perseverance," Alan Horn, co-chairman and chief creative officer, and Alan Bergman, co-chairman of The Walt Disney Studios wrote in a statement announcing the shift in plans.

The big picture: Major movie exhibitors like AMC, Regal and Cinemark have been mostly closed for the past few months, but planned to reopen in the next few weeks, in conjunction with the July release dates of these films.

  • The theater industry was already facing an existential question about its future, given the explosion of on-demand streaming.
  • Some analysts predict many theater operators won't survive the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Go deeper: Movie theaters face uncertain future as country reopens

Go deeper

Sep 8, 2020 - World

Study: Hollywood casts more light-skinned actors for Chinese market

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An academic study has found that since 2012, when the Chinese government began allowing more foreign films into the country, Hollywood movies have cast more light-skinned actors in starring roles.

Key takeaway: The researchers concluded U.S. film studios were casting to fulfill the aesthetic preferences of Chinese movie-goers, in a culture that places a premium on light skin — a phenomenon known as colorism.

Why China matters to the movie industry

Data: PwC Global Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020–2024; Chart: Axios Visuals

Mainland China is expected to remain the second-largest global cinema market both in admissions terms and in box office revenue through 2024, per PwC.

The state of play: Prior to the pandemic, PwC estimated that China would overtake the U.S. box office this year. Mainland China already has the most movie screens of any country in the world and continues to grow despite the pandemic.

Philanthropy Deep Dive

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A look at how philanthropy is evolving (and why Dolly Parton deserves a Medal of Freedom).

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