Disney's live-action remake of Mulan isn't released until next year, but it's already facing calls for a boycott after its star expressed support for Hong Kong police. The Mulan remake is scheduled for release on March 27, 2020, and has long been expected to be yet another major hit for the Mouse House, but it could find some of its box-office hopes dented by the calls for a boycott on social media.
The Mulan boycott has nothing to do with the film itself, which is a live-action reimagining of the 1998 Disney Animated Classic of the same name, based on the legend of Hua Mulan. Instead, it's to do with the ongoing controversy and political and civil unrest in Hong Kong, which was triggered by draft legislation that would have allowed criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China. This led to protests at the bill, which has been shelved (for now, at least), and subsequently grown into a wider pro-democracy, anti-government demonstration in Hong Kong.
In result, Hong Kong police have had some major clashes with protesters, and been accused of a heavy-handed and overly forceful response. However, Mulan's lead actress, Liu Yifei, voiced her thoughts on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, sharing a post from the Chinese outlet People's Daily which read "I support Hong Kong’s police, you can beat me up now. What a shame for Hong Kong. #Ialsosupporthongkongpolice#," and added her own post saying: "I also support the Hong Kong police."
This has led to a backlash against Yifei's comment, the critics of which suggest support police brutality and is anti-democratic. The calls for a boycott originated in Hong Kong, but have since expanded globally through social media, such as the hashtag "#BoycottMulan" on Twitter. With the situation in Hong Kong unresolved, it puts Disney in the spotlight of what is a delicate political situation. At the time of writing, Disney has yet to comment on the post made by Liu Yifei, and it's unclear exactly how they will handle things at this point, especially given how important China is to the box-office.
It also remains to be seen whether the calls to boycott Mulan will have a significant impact on the film's box-office. There's a long time between now and Mulan's release in 2020, which means there is a chance for things in Hong Kong to be resolved, and for people to move on from the Mulan backlash. That's likely what Disney will be hoping happens, anyway.
- Mulan (2020) release date: Mar 27, 2020