The Corner

Film & TV

Disney’s Self-Abasement

Cast member Liu Yifei poses at the premiere of Mulan in Los Angeles, Calif., March 9, 2020. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Almost 25 years after Disney defied the Chinese government to distribute a film about the Dalai Lama, its live-action remake of the film Mulan was supposed to be the company’s break in China. Instead, it’s been a PR headache.

Executives overlooked comments made by Liu Yifei — the star of the remake — in support of the Hong Kong police force as Beijing cracked down on the city. And the film’s production crew even partnered with Chinese government entities in the Xinjiang region — where Beijing has worked to eliminate ethnic and religious minorities in a campaign that meets the legal definition for genocide. Disney has remained silent after the uproar that ensued this past week.

All told, Disney has effectively catered to the Chinese Communist Party’s preferences to gain access to the Chinese market, ignoring the mass atrocities taking place in the country.

And for what? Apparently, Mulan isn’t even that big a hit in China. It debuted to disappointing results in the country on Friday, grossing a mere $8 million.

Now Reuters reports that the Chinese government told media not to cover the film’s release (which might be one reason why the opening weekend has been so lackluster), and it’s received mixed reviews in China. Although Liu received rave reviews from a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, the Global Times — a state-owned tabloid — slammed the film as a “self-righteous depiction, which failed to resonate with Chinese audiences.”

While Disney seems to be enthusiastically courting the CCP, alienating some American viewers in the process, it’s getting the cold shoulder from Beijing.


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