Disney’s Mulan finally opened in China this weekend, and the results were disappointing, as the film debuted to a $23 million opening.
The $200 million tentpole directed by Niki Caro was made with both American and Chinese audiences in mind.
Sadly, COVID-19 wasn’t Mulan‘s only box office hurdle. In days leading up to the films release in China, viewers watching the movie with Premier Access on Disney+ spotted a “special thanks” in the film’s credits to various government entities in Xinjiang Provence, where China has been accused of gross human rights abuses against its Muslim Uighur minority population (Roughly a only a minute of the movie was filmed in that provence.).
Disney CFO Christine McCarthy explained how filming in China works and how they had to do it with Mulan:
“Let me just put something into context. The real facts are that Mulan was primarily shot — almost in entirety — in New Zealand. In an effort to accurately depict some of the unique landscape and geography of the country of China for this period drama, we filmed scenery in 20 different locations in China. It’s common knowledge that, in order to film in China, you have to be granted permission. That permission comes from the central government.”McCarthy Continues noting that it is a common practice around the world “to acknowledge in a film’s credits the national and local governments that allowed you to film there. So, in our credits, it recognized both China and locations in New Zealand. I would just leave it at that, but it has generated a lot of issues for us.”
The film has grossed $37.6 million at the global box office (The film is playing in 17 markets). Disney+ has yet to release any streaming numbers or data and likely won’t until the company’s next earnings call, but McCarthy did say she was “very pleased with what we saw over the four-day weekend.”