Mulan Is Not Even Out Yet And People Are Already Imagining Box Office Issues

Mulan, wearing traditional Chinese makeup, stands in a dimly lit room in a scene from the live actio

Mulan has been plagued by some setbacks on its way to the big screen. So it’s understandable that Disney would be a little bit nervous about the live-action adaptation finally hitting theaters. But it looks like the studio may be preparing for a new set of problems – albeit ones that could very well not come to pass.

There are obvious reasons why Disney would be eyeing China as a major market for Mulan’s release. It’s a Chinese story, set in China, starring a Chinese actress – almost a guaranteed box office winner. But according to Bob Iger, Disney hasn’t received confirmation about a release date from the Chinese government yet. And they’re not sure when it will come.

There’s a very logical reason for that. The Coronavirus crisis, which began in China, has resulted in restrictions on citizens’ movements as health officials attempt to minimize its impact. Basically, right now, not only do they have more important things to worry about than a movie release, but they definitely wouldn’t be encouraging large groups of people to go to the theater.

The film has already faced a bit of an uphill battle in winning over public support. First, there was backlash after the film’s star, Liu Yifei, spoke up in defense of the Chinese government in the midst of last year’s Hong Kong protests. Then, fans were not thrilled when they learned that Mulan won’t be a musical and won’t feature Mulan’s beloved sidekick Mushu. After early test footage didn’t play well, they had to go back for reshoots. And it reportedly had a budget that stretched into the hundreds of millions. In other words – there’s a lot at stake for the film to succeed, and China will be a make it or break it market.

Disney CEO’s Bob Iger is well aware of these extenuating circumstances and told CNBC that, at this point, their biggest concern is also health and safety. While it sounds like the most Disney can do right now is monitor the situation, there are still a lot of factors that are up in the air. And it seems a bit early to predict a huge impact at the box office.

Mulan is set to be released in the United States on March 27, 2020 – more than a month away from now. There’s no telling if Coronavirus will still be considered a significant threat by then. And regardless of the situation, it seems likely that the film will eventually be screened in China – at least, that’s likely what Disney is hoping.

It may be a bit too early to truly start worrying about Mulan’s box office performance. But it’s good that all parties involved are playing it safe for the moment.

Katherine Webb