Mulan Debuts To Low Numbers In Chinese Cinemas Amid Controversy

Disney’s live-action Mulan remake is only available on Disney Plus is most markets, but the film has debuted in cinemas across China. The film, however, hasn’t done so well–it has opened to just $25 million in its first weekend, Variety reports.

The film, helmed by New Zealand director Niki Caro, opened to $23 million over the September 11-13 weekend. That made it the number 1 film at the Chinese box office, but not by the margin Disney would have been likely expecting, as the film seems to have been made with the Chinese market in mind.

The new film, which is more serious than the previous animated version (there are no talking animals or musical numbers), was subjected to a media blackout in the country after outcry against the movie’s troublesome production, where filming took place in the providence of Xinjiang, a region that contains interment camps used as part of an assimilation campaign.

The film also thanks certain government departments in the credits, and these departments have been linked to the internment camps. A growing dissent against the film has likely been part of the film’s low gross. There’s also the fact that the game has had a digital release in other parts of the world, meaning that it’s relatively easy to pirate. This was the case with the Sonic the Hedgehog movie.

Of course, this is a strange year for cinemas, and goalposts and expectations have shifted so that Tenet’s $20 million opening is viewed as a modest success and promising start rather than a devastating failure. But there’s precedent for a much better number. Tenet opened to $30 million in China. The Eight Hundred, a film made in China, earned $161,000,000 when it opened wide across the August 28-30 weekend. It made $21.7 million last weekend, just below Mulan.

Disney has not released figures for how many people have bought Mulan through Disney Plus. The movie will be available to all subscribers at no additional cost from December.

In GameSpot’s Mulan review, Meg Downey expressed disappointment with the film. “Instead of being a normal-but-headstrong girl who, for all her flaws, desperately wants to do good for her family, hiding her fun-loving self under a mask of ‘proper’ girlhood, live-action Mulan is a literal superhero,” they wrote. “Her ‘chi is strong,’ which grants her some fantasy-inspired martial arts prowess even as a child that no one, not even the men in her life, seem to share, but because she’s a girl she must keep these powers hidden.”

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