Disney’s remake of the 1998 animated movie “Mulan” set to open in China on March 23 looks set to fail, at least from a box office perspective, in part because of a virus outbreak that has damaged viral content on its official media partner, iQiyi.
Beijing’s Mostiant Network Co Ltd, which operates a video-streaming and online video platform called iQiyi and is in a relationship with Disney, reported this week that four of its employees became infected with Norovirus.
Eight members of the entertainment giant’s creative team, including a producer, writer, cinematographer and director, were treated at Beijing’s Tongji Hospital and released back into work.
Moreover, two of the employees returned to work a few days later, but were then dismissed for “inappropriate behavior,” after which the rest of the creative team on the film were notified.
In other news, hours after the virus outbreak, official media outlets announced at a press conference on Tuesday that the live-action film would be delayed to March 22 from the original March 23 opening date.
To reach a favorable box office result in China, a film has to top out at No. 1 in terms of both total ticket sales and box office in China.
The virus outbreak apparently wasn’t the only hiccup for Disney’s effort to recast the animation of the Chinese mythological figure, Mulan, to its own live-action entertainment.
In addition to all this, the film was recently re-edited to add a song called “With All My Love” performed by the late Chinese pop singer Wang Feng to the soundtrack.
“With All My Love” was already considered an unusual addition to the Mulan soundtrack for lack of a storyline. Instead, it reportedly had a more standard Chinese love theme.
“Shaw Han, the main writer of the script, felt that this song was the perfect way to add to the story line,” the producers told a press conference on Tuesday. “We decided to add the song, just because we felt that we needed to. Otherwise, there would have been no story to tell.”
Nevertheless, according to analysts at Business Insider, Disney probably won’t get a chance to make up for the delayed China release of the film, including the added omen song, once Chinese moviegoers have seen the new version of “Mulan.”
In an effort to try to avoid another incident like this one, Disney has banned most graphic content from its trailers and promotional videos in China, including without mentioning another contemporary fairy tale tale about a personhood-stripping sword fight between two creatures.
In the trailer for the film, most of the shots showing the sword-fighting, such as cuts in and out of shots and disturbing cuts, were stripped from the film in preparation for its March release, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
“The dropped scenes were particularly gratuitous for both the film’s attempts to mimic the classic Asian stories and for Disney’s attempts to pay homage to those epic films,” wrote Rachel Wang in a Medium post .