The backlash around Disney’s “Mulan” is escalating, with a US senator accusing the Mouse House of “whitewashing genocide” as it cooperated with the Chinese government to get the movie made.
As the film nears its theatrical debut in China on Friday, critics have pointed to a line in the movie’s credits that thanks the Xinjiang authorities, including one entity on the US-sanctions list, for their cooperation. Xinjiang province, where part of the movie was shot, is an area in China where Uighur Muslims have been detained in mass internment camps.
On Wednesday, US Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek, condemning the company for “whitewashing the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities during the production of ‘Mulan.’”
Hawley’s letter asks whether the company will pull “Mulan” from Disney+ “to avoid further glorifying CCP officials and agencies responsible for the atrocities in Xinjiang.” It also asks whether the company would donate any “Mulan” profits to “organizations dedicated to fighting human trafficking and other atrocities” in China.
Disney did not comment.
Disney released the $200 million, live-action remake of its 1998 animated classic in the US on Sept. 4 over its streaming service Disney+, where it’s available for a fee of $30. Downloads of Disney’s streaming app rose 68 percent to 890,000 over the weekend, a sign that “Mulan” helped drive demand in a market where movie theaters are still not fully reopened.
It also had a soft rollout last weekend in cinemas where Disney+ is not a factor, in which it grossed $5.9 million from nine markets, including the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Thailand.
Prior to Hawley’s letter, the film, which is based on a Chinese folk song about a female warrior who disguised herself as a man to fight in her father’s stead, faced other political attacks.
Last week, Thai and Taiwanese activists joined Hong Kong protesters fighting for democratic reform who first raised the call for boycotts of the film last year. They cited the fact that “Mulan’s” Chinese-born star Liu Yifei sided with the Hong Kong police and their crackdown of pro-democracy militants.