So it seems Disney’s Mulan isn’t doing as well in China as perhaps anyone at Disney expected. It seems that they may not be as good as depicting Chinese characters as they thought.
Disney clearly expected China to be the real moneymaker for Mulan. So much so that they deliberately went out of their way to try to make Mulan appeal to Chinese viewers. Disney underwent a literal, global search for a Chinese actress to play Mulan. Ultimately they stumbled across Chinese-born American Liu Yifei.
And yet, for all that effort, Mulan is still a box office flop in China. It only made $23.2 million in China in its opening weekend. Worse, projections predict it to make less than $50 million overall. Why, you may ask? Well, there could be two, main reasons for that. The first is that China has banned all press about the movie, which makes it a bit tricky to market. The likely reason for the media ban stems from allegations of human rights violations occurring in Xinjiang. That is where a significant portion of the feature was filmed.
The other reason, and the far less political one, is that apparently Chinese audiences frankly think that Mulan sucks.
The Melancholy of Chinese Audiences Who Watched Mulan
According to the South China Morning Post, Chinese critics call out Mulan for having “flat” characters, a bland story that does not make a lick of sense, and for widespread misrepresentation of Chinese culture. In particular, Chinese audiences really dislike the way Mulan handles the concept of qi. They believe that its depiction in Mulan is too fantastical. For them, it was nowhere near how qi is depicted and used in actual martial arts and Chinese traditional medicine.
Thus, it’s no surprise why the Chinese social media platform Douban (China’s version of Facebook/YouTube) currently ranks the movie at 4.9/10. I doubt they’ll be changing their minds anytime soon…. Especially seeing as how they’re officially not allowed to talk about it.
Disney’s handling of Mulan, both in production and in the movie itself, has resulted in the movie becoming a flop in Chinese box offices. It’s also resulted in worldwide outrage. Not sure which one Disney thinks is worse.
At the very least, it’s certainly no longer worth the $30 you have to pay on Disney+ to watch it with premier access. Tune in later for more news as this story develops.