The release of Disney's live-action adaptation of its 1998 animated film was plagued by controversy that began in 2019.
Disney's "Mulan" is one of the first major releases since the coronavirus pandemic that closed cinemas around the world. Originally scheduled for March 2020 theatrical release, it was delayed several times due to the pandemic, and the studio finally had the film in theaters overseas on September 4 on Disney + for a premium fee in countries where the service had started , albeit certainly not without controversy.
Despite the anticipation of the live-action adaptation of Disney's 1998 animated film of the same name, "Mulan" was plagued by calls for boycotts that began in August 2019 when star Liu Yifei appeared to show support for Hong Kong police. accused of violence against pro-democracy demonstrators. Yifei re-shared a picture in the Chinese newspaper People’s Daily that contained a quote from Chinese reporter Fu Guohao, who worked for the Global Times: “I support the Hong Kong police. You can hit me now. What a shame for Hong Kong. "
This sparked international controversy, with the actress being accused of assisting police brutality and the hashtag #BoycottMulan began to spread. Almost a year later, and now that the film has been released, pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong are again calling for a boycott of the film, this time along with Thai and Taiwanese activists.
“This film will be released today. But with Disney flying to Beijing and Liu Yifei openly and proudly advocating the brutality of the Hong Kong police, I urge everyone who believes in human rights to support #BoycottMulan, ”tweeted well-known Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong on Friday.
This film is released today. But with Disney flying to Beijing and Liu Yifei openly and proudly advocating the brutality of the Hong Kong police force, I urge everyone who believes in human rights to #BoycottMulan. https://t.co/utmP1tIWNa
– Joshua Wong @ 之 鋒 @ (@joshuawongcf) September 4, 2020
Thai student activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal has also asked followers to avoid the film so that "Disney and the Chinese government will know that state violence against the people is unacceptable".
To Mulan เริ่ม ฉาย ฉาย แรก แต่ เรา ยัง ไม่ ลืม ที่ นัก แสดง มู่ หลาน สนับสนุน การ การ ความ ความ ของ ตำรวจ ต่อ ผู้ ชุมนุม ฮ่องกง ที่ ต่อสู้ ต่อสู้ เสรีภาพ และ ประชาธิปไตย
B ชวน ทุก B #BoycottMulan #BanMulan เพื่อ ให้ ให้ ดี ส นี ย์ และ และ รัฐบาล จีน รู้ รุนแรง ของ รัฐ.
– Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal (@NetiwitC) September 3, 2020
These renewed calls to boycott the film are largely being fueled by an online movement bringing together pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan. It's called #MilkTeaAlliance – named for the drink that's popular in all three of China's influence in the region.
The international audience, especially in China, is vital to Disney's international strategy. With tensions remaining high in Hong Kong a few months after Beijing imposed a controversial national security law on the city, the studio was unable to release the film in a less favorable climate.
It remains to be seen whether these protests will have a long-term impact on the success of "Mulan". The film, directed by Niki Caro, grossed $ 5.9 million from nine countries on its international opening weekend, including $ 1.2 million in Thailand. The release is scheduled for September 11th in China.
The original 1998 animated Mulan film underperformed in China in part because Disney's incarnation of the legendary heroine was viewed as too "strange looking," with mannerisms inconsistent with the Mulan of Chinese folklore.
The 2020 live-action "Mulan" has been well received by critics since its release. IndieWire's Kate Erbland rated it B +, calling it a "full, live-action Disney epic" that "reinterprets a heroine to fight for."