According to Chinese exhibitors, “Mulan” will open in theaters on Sept. 11. They said that they received notification Wednesday from state-owned distributor China Film Corp., though official websites have not yet been updated. Online ticketing firms such as Mtime and Alibaba’s Taopiaopiao have also not yet reflected the date confirmation.
Chinese theaters reopened on July 20 and are now operating normally, albeit with coronavirus-mandated seating restrictions that limit seating capacity to 50%. Local film, “The Eight Hundred” is currently dominating screens. It was the highest grossing film in the world last weekend with a $70.5 million haul, and Tuesday passed the $300 million milestone. “Tenet” releases in China on Friday (Sept. 4).
A newly released poster for the Niki Caro-directed “Mulan” confirms its playdate, and shows it set to play in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D versions.
A teaser poster recently unveiled when the film had received censorship approval but not a release date, was widely derided by fans who described it as ugly. The new poster features Crystal Liu Yifei as warrior princess Mulan on horseback in front of a charging army, and Liu a second time, bracketed between Chinese stars Donnie Yen and Gong Li.
The film should have reached Chinese and North American theaters in a day-and-date coordinated release in March this year. But the release was delayed several times over by the coronavirus outbreak.
Disney last month took the controversial decision to forgo a theatrical release in several territories and release it instead as a premium video-on-demand offering to Disney Plus subscribers from Sept. 4. That option, however, only applies in territories where Disney Plus is already operational, leaving others such as China, Russia and Turkey as possible theatrical markets.
Within Asia, “Mulan” will have theatrical releases in Singapore and Thailand on Sept. 4.
It is not just the poster that has proved controversial. Some aspects of the story and the film’s redrawing of certain beloved characters has annoyed fans. In summer last year, Liu attracted significant fire when she posted a message on social media that appeared to support the Hong Kong police in cracking down on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
Liu’s stance was very much in tune with mainland Chinese politics, but outside the country was regarded as a betrayal of Mulan as an independent-spirited character. Reaction was especially strong in Hong Kong, Thailand and South Korea, where demonstrators gathered outside Disney’s distribution offices in Seoul.