Why Was Mulan a Flop?

Brooke Harrison, News Writer

     Disney has been releasing remakes of animated movies for a long time, specifically live-action ones. They started to gain popularity after the 2010 live-action remake of Alice in Wonderland, and the company started to release more of them. Maleficent, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King were all successes. Even though all of these movies have been out longer than the Mulan remake, why was the release of Mulan such a commercial flop, only making $61 million worldwide, compared to Beauty and the Beast making $1.2 billion and The Lion King making $1.6 billion?

     Mulan was expected to do well. The budget of the film was $200 million, but it only raked in $61 million. There are several reasons why it was not such a success. The film found itself embroiled in many different controversies, and by the time it was released on Disney Plus on September 4, 2020, “#BoycottMulan” started to trend all over the internet. People were not happy with the film, and under the hashtag, urging people to not stream it, or see it in theaters.

     One of the reasons why the film did so poorly is that the star of the film, Liu Yifei, supports the Hong Kong police. There have been protests in Hong Kong after a bill for pro-democracy was introduced that would allow criminals to be sent to mainland China, according to Time. Time also reported that pro-democracy supporters fear that the bill can allow cities to punish people more forcefully and easily. The police in Hong Kong have been using batons, rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray at the protesters, according to Time. In August 2019, Yifei said in a post, “I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now.” Even though she received support, some people still said to boycott the movie. Time then posted a Tweet that read, “This film is released today. But because Disney kowtows to Beijing, and because Liu Yifei openly and proudly endorses police brutality in Hong Kong, I urge everyone who believes in human rights to #BoycottMulan.”

     Major differences from the original film also impacted the criticism. In the remake, fan-favorite characters Mushu and Captain Li Shang weren’t in the film. According to Time, one of the producers, Chris Bender said that “Li Shang was removed because of the #MeToo movement. Having a commanding officer that is also a love interest was very uncomfortable and we didn’t think it was appropriate.” The film also wouldn’t be made as a musical, and no original songs would be included, which people who have seen the original one were not happy with.

     Another main reason people were calling to boycott the film was that Disney filmed some of the scenes in Xinjaing, China. Uighur Muslims, a Turkish-speaking ethnic group who live in Xinjaing, are being taken into mass detention camps, according to the New York Times. Human rights advocates “have called it the worst abuse in China in decades.” According to Vox, the camps are “The largest mass internment camps of an ethnic-religious minority group since World War II.” People are obviously upset that the Chinese government is doing this to the Uighurs, and are urging others to not stream the new film.

     Without all of the changes and controversies about the new film, one would think that it would be a hit just like the other movies. Even though the goal was to remake a popular movie that everyone would love, it feels far opposite from that.