Disney’s Mulan was made for China. Every change made from the original animated musical was done in the name of cultural accuracy, and while that attention to detail should be praised across the board, it was done primarily to appease its Chinese market.
Now, China has been all but shut down by the coronavirus. More than 1,300 are reported dead and over 60,000 infected and more signs are pointing to the possibility the Chinese Government is not being honest about those reports. People are beginning to question what effect the coronavirus will have on Mulan‘s theatrical release.
According to CNN, Disney spent ~$200 million on Mulan, betting that it will be a massive success in the Chinese market, and the studio had good reason to do so. Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, said so himself, “Under normal release circumstances, China could easily be ‘Mulan’s’ biggest market by a fair margin.” China has become the second-biggest movie market outside of the United States, providing a significant boost to global box office sales.
But Disney Movies Don’t Need China
There is hope. Disney movies don’t need revenue from China to earn big at the box office, and they have proof. Just last year, Toy Story 4, Aladdin, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker all made it to the Billion-Dollar Club without significant help from China. In fact, The Rise of Skywalker bombed in China worse than anybody could have anticipated, and it still made it.
Disney’s Mulan is proving itself to be an epic action-packed adventure that will attract audiences in the United States and around the world. There is no reason to doubt that it will find success beyond China and its Chinese-ness. But only time will truly tell what impact the chaos of the coronavirus will have on global box office revenue.
Disney also understands it will not be alone in facing this financial issue, but made it clear that their primary concern with the coronavirus was the people suffering from it.
“All of the movie companies that are expecting to distribute movies coming up in China obviously are impacted by this,” Iger said. “The bigger issue on everybody’s mind, the bigger concern, is what’s going on with this virus and how far will it go in terms of its impact on people.”
Disney’s Mulan arrives in theaters on March 27, 2020.