This year the box office has behaved in a different and unexpected way due to the ravages of the pandemic. However, when it comes to revenue in China, the results are often unpredictable. For Hollywood cinema, this oriental market can be one of the most complicated. The proof this year is in the films Beyond the Moon and Mulán, two works that place their stories in Chinese culture, (although with different levels of success) and with monetary results totally opposed to their reception with the critics.
Beyond the moon tells the story of Fei Fei, a girl who believes in the legend of the Goddess of the Moon, who with great determination builds a rocket to fly to the bright star and thus prove to everyone the existence of said deity. For its part, Mulán is the Disney animated classic reimagined for the field of live action and supposedly a new attempt to remain faithful to the original legend of the warrior who enlists in a war to save her family.
While Mulán has been criticized (via) for his inaccurate representation of the culture of that country, on the other hand, Beyond the Moon has been well received for knowing how to reflect some of the customs and daily life of the population it represents. However, despite this the box office in China has responded in the opposite way. The Disney film has been a monetary success, while the animated film has been a resounding failure.
The animated film is a Netflix co-production with Pearl Studio, a Shanghai-based company that has previously worked with DreamWorks for films such as Kung Fu Panda and Abominable. It premiered, of course, on the aforementioned streaming platform on October 23 around the world. China had to reach theaters the same day, because in that country Netflix is blocked.
It is a film that, like Coco did with Mexico and the Day of the Dead, represents an ancient celebration of that country and a traditional legend in its culture. The festival that celebrates the Goddess of the Moon is practiced every year every first day of October. In theory it was a work that had everything to succeed among Chinese audiences, but strangely it did not turn out that way.
Comparisons with Mulan are unavoidable because we are dealing with two films that are trying very hard to reach close to Chinese audiences, only to fail. Despite this, Beyond the Moon has received more indulgent comments from critics and the public. Many of its sequences have managed to reflect the daily life of the population of that country. On the other hand, Mulán, has only received negative comments that completely reject the representation of said culture.
But the comments of the critics – and of the audiences – are a different song than the money. At the box office, Mulán managed to harvest just over 40 million dollars, while Beyond the Moon has only made just under 1 million dollars over almost three weeks of exhibition.
Of course, Disney’s positioning within the market must be taken into consideration as to be more likely to attract audiences, despite how disappointing it may have been for most. It is also probably an influencing factor that Beyond the Moon released three weeks after the festivities depicted in the film took place in China.
Perhaps if the film had been released during the first days of October, the momentum would be great and its results at the box office much higher. On the other hand, the Netflix film may not need to become a monetary success in a commercial run, since a premiere of this type only took place in China, since in all territories it reached the streamimg platform as promised from the beginning.
Regardless of the results, both films represent the unusual within an equally unusual year. Mulán, which was one of the big releases that Disney had for this year, was finally directed to Disney Plus where it was handled as a pay per stay event. Other of his strong premieres, his animated co-production with Pixar, Soul, will also premiere on the platform but as part of its catalog on December 25.
Now that Disney Plus has arrived in Mexico, it is only a matter of waiting for the premiere of Mulán in it on December 4. Meanwhile Beyond the Moon is now available on Netflix. You can read our review here.
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Luis Angel H Mora My letter from Hogwarts never arrived, so I focused my life on the cinema. I like writing, Harry Potter, Doctor Who and the parties I get to be an astrologer. John Williams and The Killers musicalize the drama of my life.