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Disney's last two live-action remakes of its popular animated films have been massive box office hits with both making over $1 billion at the global box office. However, it looks like the company's next big remake, Mulan, may have something of an uphill battle when it comes to success, as a movement has begun telling people to boycott the movie.
Liu Yifei, the Chinese actress who will play Fa Mulan in the movie when it is released next year, recently made a post to Weibo, the Chinese equivalent to Twitter, where she seems to speak in support of Hong Kong police during the ongoing protests currently enveloping the nation. Her post translates to "I support Hong Kong's police, you can beat me up now."
In response, those who feel that the protesters are taking on an oppressive regime and combating brutality themselves, have now begun to use the hashtag #BoycottMulan and take the actress to task for her comments.
The Hong Kong protests started in June in opposition to a bill that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. That bill has since died, but the protests have continued as a fight for democracy. While they have been largely peaceful, there have been moments of violence recetnly. Earlier this week police and protesters clashed at Hong Kong's airport. Some protesters did use force against police. It's possible that this specific event was what Liu Yifei was referring to with her social media post.
It's anybody's guess at this point just how much steam a boycott movement could gain, or lose, over the next several months. Mulan isn't hitting theaters until March, and by then all of this could be a memory. At the same time, the Hong Kong protests have no end in sight and if they are still going on in March, then the boycott will likely not have been forgotten either.
It's also impossible to tell how many people will ultimately care. The number of people using the hashtag on Twitter is not inconsiderate, but the wider movie going audience around the world may not even be aware of the boycott, and so even if one happens, it may not make a dent in the box office.
Many of the boycott posts on Twitter make sure to tag Disney and ask them why their star is supporting brutality, so you can be sure the studio is currently dealing with this. The studio certainly doesn't want any of this to reflect on the movie, so you can expect the marketing team to be trying to fix the optics of this situation. It will be interesting to see how Liu Yifei reacts to the reaction to her comments. Will she walk them back in any way to try to calm the upset fans?
Mulan hits theaters March 27, 2020.