Activists call for Mulan boycott over star's Hong Kong remark

HONG KONG • Activists are calling for a boycott of Disney’s live-action Mulan remake, citing a social media post from lead actress Liu Yifei in support of Hong Kong police.

Pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong to Thailand highlighted a social media post last year by Liu, who stars as the title character, that voiced support for the police.

They are urging people to avoid the film, which launched on the Disney+ streaming platform last Friday. (It is showing in cinemas in Singapore.)

“Because Disney kowtows to Beijing, and because Liu Yifei openly and proudly endorses police brutality in Hong Kong, I urge everyone who believes in human rights to #BoycottMulan,” Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong tweeted last Friday.

Spokesmen for Disney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Liu, 33, reportedly shared a social media post in August last year amid widespread protests in the former British territory, with the caption: “I support the Hong Kong police. You can all attack me now. What a shame for Hong Kong.”

A native of China and with United States citizenship, she toned down the rhetoric in a February interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

“It’s obviously a very complicated situation and I’m not an expert,” said the actress, who has acted in movies such as The Forbidden Kingdom (2008) and White Vengeance (2011).

The post came as the police clashed with thousands of demonstrators who opposed a controversial Bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China from Hong Kong.

While protesters have since had to shift tactics due to a sweeping national security law imposed by China in June and Covid-19 restrictions, tension remains elevated.

Mulan was originally slated to be released in theatres earlier this year, but was postponed amid the pandemic. Instead, Disney opted to launch it for US$30 (S$41) on its streaming platform in a crucial test for the US$11-billion movie-theatre business.

“A premium video-on-demand success for Disney will squeeze the traditional cinema model, forcing other studios to follow suit,” according to Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Geetha Ranganathan and Amine Bensaid.

They say the movie needs to be purchased 10 million times just to break even.

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