It might be a long time (if ever) until we truly find out how much money Disney’s new live-action adaptation of Mulan has made. While the $200 million film is being released in theaters in some countries—most notably, second largest box office in the world China—it has and will be released solely as a VOD title via Disney+ in many markets, including the United States, which, pre-pandemic, was the largest box office in the world. The theatrical-VOD hybrid release doesn’t mean that Mulan won’t make a lot of money for Disney via Disney+, just that Disney doesn’t actually have to tell us exactly how many people paid $30 (plus the Disney+ subscription fee) to watch Mulan at home.
That being said, we are starting to get box office numbers back from the few international markets where Mulan did open in over the weekend. According to Deadline, Mulan has made just under $6 million theatrically in the few global markets it has been released in, which represented only 6% of the normal international market. The movie came in first at the box office in the UAE, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, and had the best opening weekend of 2020 (not a super competitive category in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but still worth noting) in both Singapore and Thailand, despite the #BoycottMulan campaign that gained some support online. It earned $5.9 million in total.
Mulan is set to open in China on Friday (September 11th), which will be a big factor in how the film does overall. China has the second largest global box office and many predict it would surpass the United States to become the first in 2020. With China having contained COVID-19 much more effectively than the United States, this seems even more likely to happen. Chinese blockbuster The Eight Hundred has already earned more than $300 million since it opened in mid-August, with most of that coming from the Chinese market. If Mulan is going to make a lot of money at the box office, it’s probably going to have to do well in China.
Will Mulan do well in China? It’s unclear if this will happen, given that the 1998 animated version flopped there, as it was deemed too westernized by Chinese audiences. (Fair enough.) The 2020 version has made more of an effort to ingratiate itself to Chinese audiences, hiring an all Asian cast, hewing much closer to the Chinese legend “Ballad of Mulan,” and leaning into wuxia elements. It’s also very much a cinematic spectacle, made to be seen on big screens (which is why the VOD release in the U.S. is such a bummer), so that could work in Disney’s favor when it comes to the Chinese box offcie. We’ll have to wait to see if the film will be a hit with Chinese audiences, especially after receiving middling reviews here in the States.