Exclusive: China gets behind bars for media coverage of Disney’s ‘Mulan’ after Xinjiang backlash

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese authorities have told major media outlets that an order issued after the dispute began over the film’s links with the Xinjiang region overseas would not cover the release of “Mulan” to Walt Disney, in a case. Four people familiar with Reuters told.

An advertisement promoting the Disney film “Mulan” runs at the bus stop on September 9, 2020 in Beijing, China. REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rollins

Set to open in local theaters on Friday, Disney (DIS.N) Had high expectations for Mulan in China, but publicizing it in the country’s strictly censored media would be another setback for the $ 200 million production.

Starring big-name Chinese-born actors — Jet Li, Gong Li, Donnie Yen, and Liu Yeifei — and based on a Chinese folk tale, Mulan was set to appeal to audiences in China, the world’s second-largest Film is the market.

Coronavirus prevention measures were likely to reduce the online and capacity limits of mixed reviews in theaters due to lower box office performance, before major media outlets received a notice asking them to refrain from covering the film Was.

Three sources said Reuters media outlets had received the notice, two of which said it was sent by China’s cyberspace administration. A fourth source in a leading Chinese newspaper said he received a text message with the same order as a senior colleague.

No reason was given in the notice, but sources said they believed it was due to foreign reaction to the link to Xinjiang’s film.

Neither the Cyberspace Administration or Disney immediately responded to requests for comment.

Partially shot in Xinjiang, Mulan’s credits included thanks to the authorities there, who made overseas calls for a boycott of the film. China’s dominance over ethnic Uigars and other Muslims in Xinjiang has been criticized by some governments, including the United States and human rights groups.

On Wednesday, Global Times, a tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, criticized the backlash against the film in an editorial in its English version, calling it “another expression of extreme ideologies against China in American public opinion.” Described as.

Disney had worked with Chinese audiences to ensure Mulan was well tested, and the company’s chief financial officer told investors on Wednesday that it was “very pleased” with the initial results to be released elsewhere.

The outbreak of COVID-19 led to the release of the film on Disney’s streaming service in many markets rather than in theaters.

According to data from Tencent-backed ticketing platform Maoyan, Mulan is likely to be shown on more than 40% of China’s screens on Friday. Chinese theaters are currently limiting capacity, typically 50 percent.

The film had sold 9.78 million yuan ($ 1.43 million) worth of tickets by Thursday afternoon, accounting for 55% of all ticket sales sold throughout China for Friday’s show.

An analyst, who declined to be named because he said the situation is sensitive, predicted the film would earn a disappointing 150 million yuan at the mainland box office, which received initial audience reviews.

The film, which many have already watched online, has scored 4.7 out of 10 on the popular social media site Dublin, where users leave reviews of movies, books and music.

($ 1 = 6.8389 Chinese Yuan Renminbi)

Reporting by Beijing and Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Tony Munro and Simon Cameron-Moore

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