Aw, Disney Thinks Theaters Are Gonna Be Open By March for Raya and The Last Dragon

Don't count on it.

Less than 24 hours after it pulled the “we want people to feed our theme park’s end of the year profits but the big mean State won’t let us” card regarding the coronavirus-driven closing of Disneyland, Disney is asserting that Raya and The Last Dragon will be launching in theaters in March.

This came as part of the trailer for the new animated film, which stars Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran (who is hopefully being treated better here than she was in Star Wars) and rapper/actress Awkwafina as the titular Raya and The Last Dragon respectively. The teaser shows Raya as a young child and that she is a capable fighter, and has a cute little armadillo friend named TukTuk. She seems to be caught up in some in-fighting between her divided community, and years after the original scene we see Raya as a young adult with TukTuk having become a real big boy.

Check out the trailer below:

Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well. From directors Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, co-directors Paul Briggs and John Ripa, producers Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho, and featuring the voices of Kelly Marie Tran as Raya and Awkwafina as the last dragon Sisu, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Raya and the Last Dragon” opens in U.S. theaters on March 2021.

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It’s kind of quaint that Disney is still asserting any dates when the company has been having nothing but trouble getting a movie out that will draw people to theaters. Everyone is, really, but Disney’s track record has been particularly off as it insists on delaying movies multiple times before finally putting them on Disney+. First there was Onward, which came to theaters just as the coronavirus pandemic was beginning. So after its theater run was cut abruptly short, Disney put the movie on digital storefronts, followed by an expedited launch on Disney+. After a handful of delays, the live-action Mulan remake was finally added to Disney+ for a premium fee that would require anyone who bought it to remain a subscriber to the service in order to continue watching the movie they spent $30 on. Meanwhile, Pixar’s Soul isn’t entertaining the notion of a theatrical release, and will launch on Disney+ on Christmas Day.

Movies that have been trying to make the theater approach work in the midst of the pandemic have been underperforming across the board as people opt to stay home instead of making the trip to a theater. Tenet managed to make its budget back, earning around $334 million with a $200 million budget, but that’s still about half of its original projections. But director Christopher Nolan insisted on releasing it in theaters. So reap what you sow?

Maybe Disney’s being optimistic, and I certainly would love to go back to theaters. But maybe if one arm of your company is trying to get people to get together in large numbers during a pandemic, the other arms shouldn’t expect to be able to safely bring people to theaters in five months.