Following uproar over the link of the Walt Disney film of “Mulan” having links with the Xinjiang region, major media outlets have been ordered by Chinese authorities not to cover the release of the film, said reports quoting information from sources.
High hopes for the film making bog in China had been pinned by Disney after its release in the country in its local theatres on Friday. But for the $200 million production, this order would be another blow as the film release will not be publicized in China’s media which strictly censored by the government.
Mulan was designed to appeal to audiences in China, the world’s second-largest movie market as Disney included big-name Chinese-born actors in the film including Jet Li, Gong Li, Donnie Yen and Liu Yifei and the story is based on a Chinese folk story.
But the potential for the box office performance of the film was already clouded by the limitation on the capacity of theaters due to coronavirus prevention measures and mixed reviews online. That was prior to the government order on major media outlets directing them not to cover the movie’s release as well s subsequent coverage.
According to reports quoting the media outlets that had received the notice, the order had been sent by the Cyberspace Administration of China. Other reports quoted sources claiming the notice was delivered through a text message from a senior colleague.
The notice to the media outlets offered no reasons but reports quoted sources saying that it was because of the film’s links to Xinjiang which had seen a backlash overseas.
No comments on the issue were available from the Cyberspace Administration and Disney.
Calls overseas for a boycott of the film were given as the film was shot partly in China’s Xinjiang and the credits of the film also included a thanks to the authorities there. Many governments around the world, including the United States, and human rights groups have criticized the clampdown by Beijing on the ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in the Xinjiang province.
In an editorial in its English edition, the backlash against the movie was criticized by the Global Times, a tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, on Wednesday. The state run newspaper described the backlash as “another manifestation of the extreme ideologies regarding China among US public opinion.”
Disney was “very pleased” with the initial results of its release elsewhere, the company’s chief financial officer told investors on Wednesday as Disney had worked hard to ensure that the film tested well with Chinese audiences.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Disney chose to release the film on its streaming service in many markets, instead of in cinemas.
According to data from Maoyan, a Tencent-backed ticketing platform, it is likely that the film will be shown on more than 40% of China’s screens on Friday.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)