The movie industry is trying to find a new normal amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially as a majority of people currently feel uncomfortable going back to the traditional moviegoing experience. Disney's live-action remake of Mulan tried to provide viewers with the best of both worlds, releasing the film in select theaters as well as through a "Premier Access" on-demand tier on Disney+ over Labor Day weekend. The past week has been filled with speculation about whether or not that strategy paid off, especially as Disney+ traditionally does not release its raw viewership numbers. Earlier this week, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy provided a bit of an indication about the success of the release strategy, while speaking during the Citi 2020 Global Technology Conference.
“We are very pleased with what we saw," McCarthy revealed.
With Disney+ already hinting that Mulan might not be the only film to have a "Premier Access" release, it will be interesting to see how that positivity influences the release of other upcoming films, including Black Widow and Soul.
Of course, that doesn't mean that the journey towards Mulan has been smooth sailing, as the film has been met with multiple controversies in the time leading up to its release. The most recent comes from the film's end credits, which offer a 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.
“I’m not a box-office prognosticator, but it has generated a lot of publicity,” McCarthy explained during a subsequent appearance. “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.”
There's also the controversy surrounding the comments of the film's star, Liu Yifei, who previously 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.