‘Mulan’ Struggles in China as ‘Tenet’ Crosses $200 Million at Global Box Office

Disney remake’s $23 million Chinese opening fails to top Christopher Nolan’s latest film, which adds $6.7 million in domestic theaters

Last Updated: September 13, 2020 @ 2:39 PM

Disney’s “Mulan” is struggling to find a foothold at the Chinese box offic, mustering an opening weekend of $23.2 million against stiff competition from Warner Bros.’ “Tenet” and Huayi Bros.’ homegrown hit “The Eight Hundred.”

While that result is on the same level as “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” and 23% ahead of the Chinese opening for Dinsey’s “Aladdin,” a far better opening was expected by analysts given that the film stars Liu Yifei and Gong Li. Even taking the capacity limits of theaters into account, “Mulan” is still falling behind the $30 million Chinese opening that “Tenet” earned last weekend and way short of the titanic $100 million-plus opening that “The Eight Hundred” earned two weekends ago.

Both of those films peeled away moviegoers from “Mulan” this weekend, with “Tenet” earning $10 million while “The Eight Hundred” continues to soar with $21.5 million and a $387 million Chinese cume, passing the total of “Furious 7” in that country.

Other factors that could be affecting “Mulan” are online piracy — the film surfaced on Chinese torrent sites after its PVOD release on Disney+ last week — and a state-imposed media blackout after news broke that the film’s Special Thanks credits include police in China’s Xinjiang province, where Uyghur Muslims have been placed in mass internment camps.

Meanwhile, “Tenet” added $37.7 million globally, pushing its total to $207 million worldwide. In the U.S., the film is still was hampered by the continued closure of theaters in key cities and states. The film only increased by 100 theaters to 2,910 as it took in $6.7 million this weekend for a $29.5 million domestic cume. While San Diego was one of the Nolan film’s top markets last weekend, the top market this weekend was the recently reopened Orange County, furthering the trend of closure-adjacent markets getting a boost from residents in cities like Los Angeles and New York driving further to see a film.

Also releasing on just over 2,200 screens was the Sony romantic comedy “The Broken Hearts Club,” which took in $1.12 million. While it’s a low figure, Sony distribution execs said they remain optimistic that the film can leg out over several weeks and note that rom-coms often rely more heavily on audiences in urban areas that are still closed. Unlike “Mulan” and “Tenet,” Sony did not break the bank to release Natalie Krinsky’s directorial debut, acquiring distribution rights for $8 million while minimizing its marketing spend.

Finally, 20th Century Studios’ “The New Mutants” is flailing with $2.1 million in its third weekend, bringing its total to just $15.3 million in the U.S. and $29 million worldwide. Solstice’s “Unhinged” added $1.5 million in its fifth weekend, bringing its total to $13.8 million.