Disney’s ‘Mulan’ off to slow box office start in China

“Mulan” pulled in soft box office sales on its opening day in China — a market where Disney had banked on raking in the big bucks.

The live-action remake of the 1998 animated classic amassed just over $8 million on Friday, according to Chinese online ticketing platform Maoyan. That would put “Mulan,” which was expected to gross over $1 billion globally, on pace to earn a disappointing $45.5 million in China, the platform predicted.

“I’m pretty confident that the box office total dollars won’t be anything close to what Disney expected,” said analyst Rich Greenfield of LightShed Partners. “It is certainly not going to be a film that will do a couple hundred million in China.”

Media critics had been eyeing the film’s Chinese debut since the film took a detour from movie theaters in the US and any other country that has sells subscriptions to Disney’s news streaming service, Disney+.

Only customers in China and a handful of other Asian countries are being given the chance to see the flick on the big screen. Everyone else must pay $30 or wait until Dec. 4 to watch it for free on Disney+.

Although “Mulan” isn’t selling out, Greenfield said Disney “deserves credit” for taking a risk that will give it valuable insights on its Disney+ consumer.

“I think Disney is trying to show Wall Street they are leaning into digital,” he said, before comparing it to “Tenet,” a Hollywood flick that only recently hit theaters after months of delay due to the coronavirus.

Although the Chrisopher Nolan spy thriller raked in $53 million overseas and $20 million in the US, Greenfield called its box office performance “weak.”

Even though Disney has yet to release revenue figures from its Mulan-related Disney+ experiment, the analyst said it’s likely that the Mouse House brought in more, if not the same amount of revenue as “Tenet” in the US.

“There’s not enough comfort in going back to movie theaters around the world,” he concluded. “Releasing a large movie in theaters does not work right now.”

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