Mulan Backlash: Disney executive says Xinjiang controversy caused ‘too many issues’

The comment made by Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy at a Bank of America conference on Thursday – came after days of online criticism Disney (The district) And just before the film’s theater premiere in China on Friday. In the film’s credits, the company Thanked a Chinese government agency accused of human rights abuses in Xinjiang for helping to make the film. Disney had not previously spoken publicly on the issue.

“Originally Multan was shot almost entirely in New Zealand. And in an effort to accurately portray some of the unique landscapes and geography of the country of China for the drama of this historical period, we made 20 separate shoots in China. – Filmed scenes in different locations., “McCarthy told analysts at the conference, which was held virtually.

McCarthy said that it was “common knowledge” that filming in China required the permission of government propaganda departments, and added that it is “standard practice to accept film credits, national and local governments that allow you Allows to do film there. ”

“So to our credit, that was recognized, both in China as well as places in New Zealand. And I’ll just give up on that,” she said. “But it generates a lot of issues for us.”

McCarthy did not elaborate on those “issues”, and Disney did not immediately respond to a request for further comment outside of US business hours.

People & quot;  Mulan & quot;  Outside a cinema in Beijing on Thursday.
Disney began releasing its 1998 animated action remake “Mulan” as a $ 30 video-on-demand show in some international theaters and last weekend on its streaming service, Disney +.

In credit, the company accepted several Chinese government bodies. Some of the red flags in particular: the publicity department of the Xinjiang government and the Bureau of Public Safety and Tourism, for trumpet, is a city of about 633,400 people outside Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi.

The Trump Public Security Bureau is listed by the US government as an organization involved in “human rights violations and misconduct” in the region.

Beijing has defended the rift in Xinjiang as necessary to combat extremism and terrorism, and said it is in line with Chinese law and international practice, calling the mass detention allegations a “baseless lie” and a “sensational rumor” .

On Friday, China’s foreign ministry said the film’s note of thanks for “facilitating” the Xinjiang government was “common practice”.

“The Xinjiang case and the Hong Kong case are entirely China’s internal affairs,” spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters at a regular press briefing. “No foreign government, organization or individual has the right to interfere.”

Disney hit backlash after thanking the Xinjiang authorities;  Credit

The move by Disney to give credit to Chinese agencies was immediately met with a fierce backlash. Critics demanded that Disney clarify its dealings with officials in Xinjiang, while some social media users called on people to boycott the film.

Asked by an analyst on Thursday whether he felt the controversy would affect the film’s performance, McCarthy condemned it.

“I’m not a box office predictor [or] Pathologist, “she said.” But I would say that it has promoted a lot. ”

Earlier this week, McCarthy told investors at a separate conference that the studio was “very pleased” with the initial response to the film’s release over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Opening in china

The film was mired in controversy even before its release.

Last year, Liu Yifei, a Chinese-American citizen who acts as the film’s title character, expressed his support for the Hong Kong police as he faced accusations of excessive violence against protesters. Because of this, pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong called on people to boycott the film. The film is expected to debut in Hong Kong next week.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao on Friday praised Liu and called him “the father of modern times”.

Zhao said, “I want to give him a thumb. He did a good job.”

But arguably the most important test for “Mulan” is its dramatic debut in mainland China this weekend.

China is home to the world’s second largest box office and an important market for Disney. Analysts have said that “Mulan” tailors to audiences there, noting that the film’s story is set in the country and the new remake boasts an international cast, featuring an ethnic Chinese star.

To succeed, & # 39;  Mulan & # 39;  The world may have to win

But it is also unclear whether Mulan will succeed in mainland China, where many learn about the traditional tale of Hu Mulan, a female warrior who disguises himself as a male and replaces his father in the military It takes

On Douban, China’s most popular film rating website, “Mulan” is only rated 4.7 out of 10 – lower than other Disney live-action titles such as “Cinderella” and “Melficant”.

Harold Lee, a 29-year-old software engineer in Shanghai, said he saw the film on Friday and left feeling frustrated.

“Disney’s interpretation is replete with stereotypical tropes,” he told CNN Business. “I don’t think Chinese viewers will buy [it]. ”

That sentiment was echoed by many users on Douban, who took issue with the accuracy of the plot.

However, some Chinese viewers expressed their approval on social media, saying that the film was “not as bad as some critics say.”

& # 39;  Mulan & # 39;  & # 39;  Star Wars & # 39;  Shifting, losing songs adding spectacle
This debate is not stopping some people from watching the film. According to Maoyan, China’s largest online movie ticketing platform, as of 5 pm Friday, ticket sales for the title had reached nearly 36.8 million yuan ($ 5.4 million). “Tenet”, a Hollywood spy thriller that sold for about 51.4 million yuan ($ 7.5 million) on its opening day in China last week. (“Tenet” is produced by Warner Bros. which, like CNN, is owned by WarnerMedia.)

According to Chris Fenton, former president of Beijing’s global media company DMG Entertainment, it was getting harder to pull off from the beginning.

“It’s adopting a mythology near and dear to China, and then taking over an iconic American company like Disney and Hollywood-ize it,” he said.

“In the most likely scenario, you make a winged fish where it either does not succeed in the market. It is ‘too Chinese’ for Americans or ‘too American’ for Chinese. Making it work in both countries is very difficult.”

– Selina Wang, Ben Westcott, Serenity Wang and Laura Hay contributed to this report.