Disney’s new live-action movie Mulan made its debut in China on Friday. While Disney hoped that the Chinese box office would compensate for the U.S. distribution issues, the film underperformed in China, with the opening weekend numbers being just $23.2 million, putting it behind Tenet, which generated $30 million in box office receipts in its China debut last weekend.
Walt Disney Studios co-chair Alan Horn had said in a statement last year,“If Mulan doesn’t work in China, we have a problem.”
The movie had a production cost of $200 million, and Disney was apparently confident of its success, especially in China, where the film is based. However, the film created controversies even before its release.
The lead actress Liu Yifei stated her support for the Hong Kong police during pro-democracy protests last year which prompted a #BoycottMulan movement on social media. Soon after its release on 4 September, viewers noticed that the credits thanked authorities in Xinjiang region of China, where the country’s Muslim minority are reportedly detained. The use of the region as one of the locations for the movie started another backlash.
Apart from this, the movie hasn’t received great reviews from audience.
According to some, not enough research has gone into the film, and doesn’t represent China accurately. Also, the capacity of theatres in China is restricted to half of the normal due to the pandemic, besides which, pirated copies would also have been available since the movie was released online earlier, which could reduce actual theatre ticket sales.
Though the movie hasn’t performed as expected at the Chinese box office, the revenue is still better than that of the overseas markets, according to experts.