Disney’s live-action remakes of their animated back catalogue are hardly designed to cause any offense, and if anything, they’ve never ruffled a single feather before with the majority of them simply replicating the originals beat for beat. However, the recent controversy and backlash swirling around Mulan only looks set to continue.
The studio would have been hoping that any lingering resentment stemming from star Yiu Lifei’s comments about supporting the Hong Kong police would have been long forgotten by now after the movie was delayed by six months and ultimately released exclusively on Disney Plus, but that didn’t sit very well with leading figures in the theatrical business that had seen their profits reduced to almost zero due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Once Mulan became available to stream, the calls to boycott the movie reignited and have now grown louder than ever after people started calling out the company for publicly thanking the Xinjiang province in the credits, at exactly the same time the region is in the headlines for alleged human rights violations. Things have gotten so bad, in fact, that the Chinese government has banned all media coverage of Mulan ahead of the blockbuster opening in local theaters in an attempt to silence the dissent.
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In a recent interview, Disney’s Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy has now attempted to tell their side of the story, while also admitting that the widespread backlash has caused some pretty big issues for them.
“Mulan was primarily shot in, almost the entirety, in New Zealand. And in an effort to accurately depict some of the unique landscape and geography of the country of China for this historical period piece drama, we filmed scenery in 20 different locations in China. So in our credits, that was recognized, both China as well as locations in New Zealand. And I would just leave it at that. But that’s generated a lot of issues for us.”
A multi-billion dollar corporate entity like Disney with a spotless public image to uphold obviously don’t want to find themselves caught up in any sort of political issues, but even something as innocuous as shooting some exterior footage on location for Mulan now has them facing the ire of protestors and human rights activists alike.