Disney’s Mulan malfunctioned in its China box office debut with a disheartening $23.2 million.
The $200 million tentpole was made with both Chinese and American audiences top of mind.
Directed by Niki Caro, the live-action adaptation of the classic animated title headlines popular Chinese-born actress Liu Yiefei as a young woman who disguises herself as a man in order to fight in the imperial army. Mulan co-stars a slew of Chinese cinema icons, including Gong Li, Jet Li, Donnie Yen and others.
In the days leading up to the film’s Middle Kingdom opening, analysts had expected it to take in anywhere from $30 million to $40 million over the Sept. 11-13 frame. (Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, after all, had launched to $30 million the previous weekend.)
On Friday, Mulan received particularly poor social scores on China’s leading ticket apps, Maoyan and Alibaba’s Taopiaopiao, in a foretelling of the movie’s weekend start. Ultimately, Disney’s global vision of a story based on an ancient Chinese fable doesn’t seem to be resonating with moviegoers in that country.
The Disney event pic was originally set to unfurl in theaters around the globe in late March, but those plans were waylaid when the novel coronavirus struck, forcing mass cinema closures.
Disney delayed the release date several times before ultimately deciding to send Mulan straight to Disney+ at a premium price in the U.S. and other select markets. In other territories — such as China and Russia — Mulan is getting a traditional theatrical release.
Late last year, Mulan became the subject of controversy after Liu voiced her support for the Hong Kong police force, which was then in the midst of brutally suppressing the city’s pro-democracy movement. Her comments sparked a heated online backlash under the hashtag #BoycottMulan. In recent weeks, the online campaign was revived.
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios
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