“Mulan” sweeps globe along with controversies

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Graphic by Morgan Han-Lemus '23

Despite the profitability and success of “Mulan” on Disney Plus, its box office numbers in China were disappointing, reportedly making $23 million in its opening weekend. This was a bigger issue because Disney specifically pandered to China when creating “Mulan,” and were expecting much more earnings.

Morgan Han-Lemus '23, Staff Writer

With Disney’s delayed release of “Mulan” on Sept. 4 of this year, given the several delays due to restrictions from COVID-19, many people, Asian-Americans specifically, were not only excited for a live-action adaptation of the beloved animated film to be made, but excited to finally have more Asian representation in the media. Many crossed their fingers in hopes of a good release; however, this movie has since faced waves of controversy, even before it was available to watch.

Firstly, people complained about Disney’s decision to release “Mulan” straight-to-streaming on Disney Plus which was caused by the COVID-19 restrictions. The main cause for criticism though was due to the $30 fee on top of a Disney Plus subscription to watch the movie. According to NBC News, many individuals were also frustrated over some historical inaccuracies in the film caused by the lack of diversity in the cast behind the scenes.

A lot of fans were also angered and confused to find out that “Mulan” would not have any of the original songs or the beloved character “Mushu,” who was Mulan’s sidekick dragon in the film. Niki Caro, the director, focused on her own vision for the movie by reimagining key parts of the film despite much of the backlash and concerns.

“We made the decision that we wanted to keep the world—even though it’s a fantasy—more grounded, more realistic so those emotions really played and the threat is very real,” Caro said.

Besides the smaller issues people have with the film, there are more pressing matters that concern people, even leading to boycotts against the movie. People around the world even trended the hashtag #BoycottMulan.

A problem was raised when audiences noticed that the end credits of the movie thanked eight government entities in the Chinese province, Xinjiang, where they had filmed some scenes for the movie. The problem is that it was also located where China’s alleged detention camps are holding over a million Uighur Muslims.

Additionally, the movie is being boycotted by Hong Kong protestors and activists because of comments made by the main actress, Liu Yifei. Hong Kong has been fighting against mainland China to keep their autonomy and democracy and activists all over the world have been spreading the word and holding protests for this cause. Despite this, Yifei used her Twitter platform to openly support the Chinese government and police, who have been criticized for police brutality against Hong Kong protestors. This angered many and contributed to the boycott against “Mulan.”

“I also support Hong Kong police. You can beat me up now[…] What a shame for Hong Kong,” Yifei tweeted. 

All of these boycotts and controversies should have affected the box office. However, “Mulan” completely skipped over a theatrical release this year in many countries including the US. Putting the film straight-to-streaming on Disney Plus has been a success, reportedly making even more money on Disney Plus than Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated “Tenet” has with its theatrical release. Yahoo Finance estimates a staggering $261 million from Disney Plus for US markets alone. “Mulan” was largely a guinea pig for other future releases; however, considering its success on Disney Plus, straight-to-streaming releases seem like the best option during these tumultuous times.