Disney photo of Mulan witch Xian Lang, played by Gong Li
Disney took a risk by releasing Mulan exclusively on Disney+ for a $30 streaming fee. The gamble may not have paid off, according to viewership data.
Mulan earned just $5.9 million in Croatia, Czech Rep, Middle East, Slovakia, Turkey, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand, where it opened in theatres and Disney + is not available, Deadline reports. Revenue figures for Mulan on Disney+ will likely not be released until the company’s next earnings call.
CBR remarked that even though the film, directed by Niki Caro and starring Liu Yifei, was released on Friday, Sept. 4, it took all weekend to climb to the first spot on the streaming service’s “trending” section.
“While the movie currently sits at #1 as of this writing, the fact that it took all weekend to get there does not bode well for Niki Caro’s film,” the article stated.
Furthermore, the movie’s budget makes the disappointing result more significant, especially for Asian American viewers.
“Mulan,” directed by Caro, a White woman, had the budget of $200 million, an unprecedented first for women directors. The pandemic forced a delay in the movie’s release from its original date of March 27 to July and then to August, and then finally to September. Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced in early August that the movie would premiere on-demand on Disney+ for the price of $29.99 on top of the monthly fee of $6.99.
On top of this, statements by the lead actress led to calls to boycott the movie. Not only did Liu Yifei come under fire months before release for her support of the Chinese crackdown on protests in Hong Kong, The Hollywood Reporter notes, the movie’s credits revealed a thanks to the government of Xinjiang, the same entity that is accused of detaining 1 million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps.
In addition to the $30 asking price, calls to boycott the movie may have turned online sentiment against Mulan, resulting in potential poor performance, Business Insider reports.
Google searches for “Boycott Mulan” increased 1,900% within 24 hours from the movie’s release date. Further research by data-trends company SEMrush revealed 43.73% of tweets about Mulan between Sept. 1 to Sept. 9 were negative.
These factors may underscore the reception of the film, which is described as a letdown. The Verge wrote that “Mulan” was Disney’s “guinea pig” for a “new kind of release.”
“Mulan feels extraordinarily compromised,” The Verge‘s Joshua Rivera wrote. “Mulan is merely a serviceable film that’s rather easy to forget. It does not live up to the expectations placed on it, nor does it make a compelling argument against its earliest critics. It’s a movie mostly noticeable for what isn’t there.”
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