Disney CFO Addresses Mulan Controversy

Disney's live-action take on Mulan was finally released this past weekend, giving audiences a chance to experience it both in select theaters and through a "Premier Access" tier on Disney+. The release brought a conclusion to the film's years-long journey into live-action, something that has been met with a handful of controversies along the way. The latest is due to the film's end credits sequence, which offers "special thanks" to the Turpan Municipal Bureau of Public Security, a Chinese bureau that has been tied to the oppression and cultural genocide of Uyghur Muslims in the region. Disney CFO Christine McCarthy recently addressed the uproar surrounding the film - and particularly that credit - while appearing at the Bank of America Virtual 2020 Media, Communications, & Entertainment Conference.

“I’m not a box-office prognosticator, but it has generated a lot of publicity,” McCarthy explained. “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.”

“[It is a common practice] to acknowledge in a film’s credits the national and local governments that allowed you to film there," McCarthy continued. "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.”

While McCarthy's justification for the credit is certainly typical for a major blockbuster, the near acknowledgment of the Turpan Municipal Bureau of Public Security has been regarded by some to be inherently problematic. The public security bureau operates out of Xinjiang, where sequences of Mulan were reportedly filmed during the 2018 production. This time frame happens to coincide with the rise of "re-education centers" in the region, which the Chinese Communist Party use to persecute and forcibly detain Uyghurs, an ethnic minority group in the region that primarily practices Islam. According to a report from PBS, at least one million people have been detained in these re-education camps, with many former detainees telling stories of physical and emotional abuse in the facilities. While the Chinese government has repeatedly denied the camps' existence, the practice has been condemned throughout the globe, with many calling it a cultural genocide of the Uyghur way of life. In 2019, the Turpan Municipal Bureau of Public Security was officially listed among 28 Chinese organizations directly involved with the abuses.

This actually isn't the only controversy that has surrounded Mulan prior to its release, after the film's star Liu Yifei showed support for the Hong Kong police amid allegations of police brutality and excessive force against protestors. The film's release has only reignited those comments, with #BoycottMulan trending on social media this past Friday.

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Disney's Mulan is now available to stream on Disney+ through its Premier Access tier.

h/t: Deadline