Despite reaping the pros and cons when it was released in September 2020, the live-action film Mulan, finally, can be watched legally in . The film, starring Liu Yifei, airs on the Disney + Hotstar streaming platform starting last Friday (4/12).
The action of supercute actress Yifei Liu, aka Crystal Liu, as Hua Mulan has long been awaited. However, the Covid-19 pandemic, which swept the entire world, made this Disney-produced film have to postpone its release several times.
This film made by female director Niki Caro has already held a world premiere at the Dolby Theater, Hollywood, Los Angeles, last March 9. And, originally, it was scheduled to hit theaters on March 27, 2020.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic has closed cinemas in many countries (including, in America). Disney was forced to postpone the release schedule for the film Mulan to July 24, 2020. Taking over the Jungle Cruise film slot. Those who were evacuated to 2021.
However, because last July the Covid-19 pandemic had not yet subsided, and theaters had not yet opened, Disney again delayed the release schedule for the film Mulan. Became 21 August 2020. Which was later also repealed.
After going through various considerations, Mulan's long way to go to the cinema, finally, found a bright spot in early August. At that time, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced that the blockbuster film, which has a budget of up to USD 200 million, will be shown in theaters (which are already open) on September 4, 2020. Among them are in China.
It is not without reason that Disney is desperate to release the film Mulan in Chinese theaters. Because, during the last five years, the Bamboo Curtain Country has indeed become a mine of money for them. Moreover, Mulan's film has great potential for the market there. Because it raises Chinese culture and legends. As well as starring a number of well-known actors and actresses of Chinese descent.
After being hit by the Covid-19 pandemic since the end of last year, China has indeed begun to recover in the middle of this year. The cinemas there have started to open their screens. Of course, by implementing health protocols and limiting the number of spectators to half the studio capacity. Therefore, it is only natural for Disney to try to release the film Mulan there.
Apart from China, countries such as Thailand, Singapore, and several other Asian countries, in fact, have also been able to enjoy Mulan's film on the big screen. However, their screenings in theaters are not intended for all countries.
One of them is in America itself. Which incidentally is Disney's country of origin. This live-action remake of the animated film Mulan (1998) was not shown in theaters, but was released exclusively on the Disney + streaming platform.
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With the rental system, every Disney + customer in America has to pay USD 29.99 if they want to watch the film Mulan. Which costs do not include monthly subscription fees.
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Many fans complained about the rental price, which is quite expensive when compared to watching tickets at the cinema. Moreover, the experience of watching streaming on a small screen is, of course, not as maximal as watching it in a cinema. The one with the wide screen and the blaring sound system.
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However, Disney argues, this could be a test run of the film industry's new business model. Disney is indeed trying to create a new access point. What is expected is not only to provide income from PVOD (premium video on demand) transactions, but also to attract more viewers to subscribe to Disney +.
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CEO Bob Chapek also added that to meet consumer needs during this unexpected period, it was important for Disney to find alternative ways. In order to be able to bring amazing family-friendly films like Mulan to audiences in a timely manner.
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Apart from America, Mulan's film was also released streaming in countries that have Disney + access. Such as in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. As well as several countries in Western Europe and Asia. Including, in . However, this film can only be enjoyed in these countries starting December 4, 2020.
The strategy of simultaneous release in theaters and Disney + is clearly being carried out to return Mulan's film capital. This is because the cultivation of this film has indeed swallowed a high budget. Up to USD 200 million. In fact, including the most expensive when compared to other Disney live-action film remake projects.
One of the factors that made Mulan's film cost a lot of money was the shooting process. That is done in many locations in China. In fact, reportedly, there are about 20 locations. Including, in the Mingsha Shan Desert and Tuyuk Hills in Xinjiang Province.
One of the photos while filming there was uploaded by director Niki Caro on his Instagram account. The New Zealand filmmaker wrote the caption: "Day 5 - China Scout". While tagging Urumqi. Which is the capital of Xinjiang Province.
Disney itself has visited Xinjiang since several years ago. Long before the production process of this film began. They conducted research related to Chinese architecture in the ancient kingdom era.
Production Designer Grant Major explained that the Chinese government asked not to specifically take a specific time or city for the film Mulan. After all, this is a Disney movie. All of which must look beautiful, romantic, and family friendly.
However, even though it was finally able to produce a visualization that spoiled the eye, the shooting process in Xinjiang made Mulan's film attracted by controversy. Many protested. Because the province is considered closely related to cases of human rights violations (HAM) against ethnic Uighurs.
Moreover, in the end credits of this film, Disney expressly thanked eight government agencies in Xinjiang Province. One of them is the community security bureau in the City of Turpan. Yang, it is said, operates more than a dozen Uighur detention camps.
In addition, in the special thanks section earlier, Disney also mentioned the Public Relations Department of the Chinese Communist Party. Which incidentally is responsible for the spread of government propaganda in Xinjiang Province.
The controversy was at the center of attention from bipartisan policy-making groups in the United States. Especially, from the Republican Party. They questioned the connection between Disney and the Chinese government.
Mulan's own film project started production in the summer of 2018 in Xinjiang. In fact, the case of human rights violations against the Uighur tribe, which is referred to as cultural genocide, has allegedly been going on since 2017.
Republican policy makers then demanded Disney to provide confirmation regarding this cooperation. The decision to shoot in Xinjiang was considered unwise. Because it could be seen as implying tacit support for those who, perhaps, played a role in the genocide attempt.
However, in September, Disney CFO Christine M. McCarthy had time to provide clarification regarding the controversy. He explained that the filming process for the film Mulan in Xinjiang was only limited to getting an accurate picture of the landscape and geography of China. The rest, the shooting process was mostly done in New Zealand. Which is the country of origin of director Niki Caro.
McCarthy also added that the thank-you at the end of the film is not something new. Because, in Hollywood, it is common to give credit to the government of a country that has given permission to shoot. Which, it should be, should not be suspected or questioned.
By the way, apart from stumbling over the controversy over the filming location in Xinjiang, Mulan's film had also drawn protests and, in fact, was boycotted in several Asian countries. Because of this, comments Liu Yifei, the main star, who supports Hong Kong police violence against the demonstrators. The one he wrote on his Weibo account in mid-2019.
The hashtag #BoycottMulan was also busy on social media. Most of which were carried out by pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. However, despite the harsh spotlight, Disney did not respond to this controversy.
Whether there is a connection or not, after being hit by a series of controversies earlier, Mulan's film performance, it turns out, is sluggish at the box office. In the first two days of release in China, the 116-minute film only collected USD 17 million. In fact, Disney relies on the Panda Country as the largest contributor to revenue.
In fact, to date, from cinemas around the world, the film Mulan only grossed USD 70 million. These results are clearly not worth the cost of production. That spent up to USD 200 million.
What about the revenue from the Disney + streaming platform? Although not disclosed by Disney, many observers believe that the acquisition was also not profitable. Moreover, it was exacerbated by the circulation of pirated Mulan films on illegal streaming sites.
Apart from being sluggish at the box office, Mulan's live-action film also received poor reviews in China. Ratings on review sites Douban and Maoyan are considerably lower than other Disney live-action films. Which, usually, got that positive response.
In terms of story, even though it is a longer duration, this live-action version of Mulan's film is, in fact, not much different from the animated version. The main character is still Hua Mulan. Which was once voiced by Ming-Na Wen and now played by Liu Yifei.
It is said that once upon a time, China was attacked by the Rouran tribe from the north. Led by Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee). Who is assisted by a superhot magician. The one named Xianniang (Gong Li).
War was inevitable. To meet the army's needs, the Emperor of China (Jet Li) then ordered each family to send one man to join the royal army. Led by Commander Tung (Donnie Yen).
However, unfortunately, the only man in Mulan's family is her father: Hua Zhou (Tzi Ma). Yang, in truth, was a former soldier and veteran of the war, but by then was old, weak, and with limping legs.
Not wanting to see his father die in the war, Mulan made a desperate decision. In order to represent her family, the cute little girl disguised herself as a boy and entered the battlefield.
Slightly different from the previous animated version, even though it looks more upset, the live-action version of Mulan's character is indeed more assertive and serious. Since childhood, this sad-eyed girl is said to have had the talent as a female warrior. Who is very agile and agile.
While watching this film, we will be treated to Mulan's transformation: From a little girl to a tough warrior. Which is down a long and winding road to defend the country. In order to bring honor to his family.
Btw, in playing Mulan, who is a warrior woman, Liu Yifei has to do many fighting and war scenes. Therefore, in addition to character deepening training, this Wuhan-born girl also spends a lot of time preparing for physical training. Starting from cardio, horse riding, archery, to fighting with swords.
Liu Yifei's total appearance as Mulan received a lot of praise. One of them is from cinematographer Mandy Walker. According to him, Yifei's actions were rivetin
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