As protests of democracy continued in the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday, despite threats from Beijing's military forces, the Walt Disney Company could be caught between the two sides, off and off the screen. Disney constantly demonstrates a forward thinking approach when it comes to business in China and Asia, even propelling properties like Black Panther and Star Wars: The Force Awakens
But what happens when the star of a potential $ 1 billion movie in 2020 voiced his support for those allegedly violating human rights?
On Thursday, China-born Mulan star Liu Yuefey exclaimed on Weibo's blog site that he has been standing with Hong Kong police, who since June have been cracking down on anti-government protesters and journalists. Civil unrest has been triggered by potential legislation that would allow suspected criminals to be extradited to territories where there are no formal extradition deals. In the wake of previous riots that took place, 1
& # 39; Mulan Yiffei support for Mulan for Hong Kong Police seems to spark #BoycottMulan Trend
”I support the police in Hong Kong, now you can beat me. What a shame about Hong Kong. #Ialsosupporthongkongpolice #, "Yifei wrote last week. Suddenly Disney is in the midst of the global human rights virus they are currently waiting for. The deadline reached the lot in Burbank, California on Friday to get involved with #BoycottMulan and they did not respond to requests for comment. RelishMix reports that the Twitter hashtag #BoycottMulan reached a global 75K on Friday.
What we are gathering at this time is not expected to be the current social media export of #BoycottMulan Mulan & # 39; s message, which is March 27th in the US and Canada (usually these big tents will go day and date with the US). Mulan is not yet dated in China or Hong Kong. A title such as Mulan, with release in Q1 will be presented to the Government Chinese Film Group at the end of January. Mainland China usually lets a Hollywood studio know about a month before the date of the photo.
"With a boycott originating in Hong Kong, people in China will deliberately go to see the movie to protest the boycott. All of this can actually benefit from the film, "says Stanley Rosen, a political science professor at the University of Southern California who has a background in Asian affairs.
International filmmakers hope that while the current political situation in Hong Kong is extremely delicate, it may go well before the release of Mulan .
Sources also say that it is not uncommon for a young Chinese actress to be patriotic by birth, as she was called on Twitter to be naturalized. American citizens Ning, Yifei's career in acting and modeling began in the PRC, sources said the deadline expressed support for protesters in Hong Kong, which would create greater complications for Mulan and Disney's PR business. Last week, celebrities such as Tony Lang Ka-phi and Jackie Chan, who have a pro-Beijing history, cast their weight behind the state POV against protests in Hong Kong.
– said Chan in an interview with CCTV, which sparked protest from pro-Hong Kong supporters, "What is happening in Hong Kong recently has made many people broken and worried. When I saw that CCTV posted the hashtag in the Weibo "The five-star red flag has 1.4 billion watchmen per flag, I rearranged it immediately. I wanted to express as a Hong Kong and Chinese person the most basic principles of patriotism. Safety, stability and serenity are like air. Only when you lose them will you realize how valuable they are. "
Despite optimism about Mulan in mainland China, the question is whether the failure of the Hong Kong protest lingers on business and its effects, not only in the US with Asian audiences but also in other territories outside the PRC .
"If the situation in Hong Kong becomes more polarizing, prolonged, and the repression of protesters even more violent, and Ifhei continues to support his support for this, it may very well affect Mulan in Hong Kong and Taiwan, "says Rosen. One distribution source in the region tells Deadline that Mulan is a B.O. prospects are already bleak in Hong Kong (we said that Hong Kong is not the first ten overseas territory for Hollywood films).
But there is one area where #BoycottMulan can have an immediate effect on Disney.
“The biggest impact that the Boycott can have is on Hong Kong Disneyland. People are no longer leaving mainland Hong Kong. Shanghai already has its own Disneyland, "adds Rosen.
Although Disneyland has seen an attendance jump of approximately 10% between 2016 and 2018 in Hong Kong, there are recent reports of a delay, with net losses in 2018 of nearly $ 7 million. Disneyland's Hong Kong is near the Hong Kong airport that activists have occupied, leading to ground-based flights in recent days.
Some have argued that Disney has released films before in areas where there have been geopolitical conflicts, such as Russia or Nigeria, but for some Mulan is an art imitating life.
Says Rosen, "For young people, Mulan is for combating repression. Lee's comments will seem like a personal affront to both them and the character they love. Here's an actress who does the opposite of what they think the hero and legend of Mulan would do in the current situation, which is likely to be a side of the protesters. “
Nancy Tartaglion contributed to this report