Despite Global Theater Issues, Mulan Is Still Likely To Make A Boatload Of Money

Mulan raises her sword above her head in a promotional picture from the 2020 live action adaptation.

As anticipation builds for the release of Mulan, there’s already scrutiny over how much it could make at the box office. Disney’s latest live-action adaptation has made all kinds of headlines, not only for its myriad controversies, but also for its huge budget. And though there have been questions as to exactly how well Mulan could do overseas, it looks like it’s set to make a huge amount of revenue domestically.

Disney’s live-action adaptations have, thus far, proven to be a huge moneymaker for the studio. Last year alone, two of these uber-popular remakes -- Aladdin and The Lion King -- crossed the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office. And Mulan seems to be slated to follow in its predecessors' footsteps. Currently, Mulan is expected to gross approximately $85 million domestically during its opening weekend, per Variety. That’s not far off from Aladdin’s $91.5 million opening weekend in May 2019.

But this estimate is significantly higher than earlier estimates, which had Mulan opening between $40 million and $60 million domestically in its opening weekend, and somewhere in the neighborhood of $140 million to $190 million total during its domestic run. It’s also great news for the film, which has struggled in pretty much every way possible on its way to the big screen.

First, there was the backlash surrounding the film’s star Liu Yifei’s political leanings. Then, fans of the original animated film took issue with the removal of key characters Mushu and Li Shang. And the fact that it’s not a musical. Despite a promising first trailer, early screenings of the film apparently did not test well, which led to costly reshoots.

Yet these strong opening weekend estimates may signal that much of the backlash surrounding the film may die down by the time it hits theaters. And that’s exactly what Mulan needs, especially since key pieces of Disney’s international release strategy are still up in the air.

Never has a Disney film been better poised to absolutely slay it at the Chinese box office. But the studio is currently awaiting approval to have the film released there, due in large part to the ongoing coronavirus threat. While movie theaters in China remain closed, Disney will have to rely on other markets -- especially the U.S. -- to begin to recoup Mulan’s massive budget.

Though there have been rumblings about studios pushing back their upcoming release dates to account for the spread of the coronavirus. And while No Time To Die has already been delayed, Disney doesn’t seem keen on making any changes at the moment. We’ll see how Mulan fares at the box office, both here and abroad, when it begins to hit theaters on March 27.

Katherine Webb