Disney is mostly known for its box office wins. However, every now and then, the studio manages to drop the ball massively. The Lone Ranger, John Carter, TomorrowLand, Prince of Persia, and many other movies failed to a degree where Disney would love you to forget about the very existence of them. So far, it did not happen to any of Disney’s live-action adaptations of classic animated pictures like The Lion King and Aladdin.
Mulan may become the first box office disappointment. With a big bet on releasing a movie strongly catering to Asian audiences and suited for Chinese moviegoers, the remake of the classic cartoon produced in the 90s is a source of anxiety for Disney execs. The story of the original had to be changed in many ways to better fit the source material which is an ancient Chinese legend. There were reports of a troubled production. The movie received some criticism for either new story elements or casting.
On top of minor production issues, there are bigger problems for Disney. The Coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan is one of the biggest topics in the news cycle. It will definitely make a big dent in the box office numbers of Mulan if it arrives at the Chinese market before the epidemic is dealt with. The Chinese government may not even give the movie a release date since the main star of the movie was so critical of state actions in regard to the Hong Kong situation.
Now, to bigger issues with production. Reportedly, the first cut of the movie was not satisfying enough and reshoots were scheduled to improve upon the story and some of the visuals. The budget for the movie reportedly ballooned to an even greater number. For such a big movie, having the Chinese market to rely on is a huge deal that will either make it a success or a disappointment.
Mulan is expected to hit the theaters on March 27, 2020. With about a month left before it must start performing well, the coronavirus problem is a big issue that cannot be resolved artificially. Disney can only hope that by the time Mulan is ready to be shown to Chinese people, the epidemic is at least on a downward slope and won’t prevent millions from seeing the movie. We also have to remember that the movie still doesn’t have a release date for China.
We will have to wait until the movie starts its box office run in the US. It may very well be a big success domestically and perform well in other territories.