China is Hollywood's light of hope in the East
CGTN Insight
A scene from the movie "Mulan." /VCG

A scene from the movie "Mulan." /VCG

Mulan is coming home.

After being postponed twice from a March theatrical release due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Disney live-action remake was briefly removed from the release calendar entirely.

Then came the announcement that Disney had decided to show it on the big screen in China – one of the few countries where fans will see it in cinemas.

The September 11 opening date, which could be related to the 911 emergency number in the United States, is a Friday and the ideal time to release a movie. It may also reflect the company's subconscious belief that the Chinese market could be the much-needed antidote to restore the health of an ailing box office hit hard by the coronavirus.

No matter what led to the decision, Disney took the right step considering that the U.S. box office's recovery is a long way off.

The Chinese movie market, which was also shut down by COVID-19 for around six months, has regained momentum.

After the nation had brought the pandemic under control and reopened its economy, cinemas were given the green light to resume business in an orderly manner on July 20.

People watch a movie in a cinema in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, July 20, 2020. /Xinhua

People watch a movie in a cinema in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, July 20, 2020. /Xinhua

Movie theaters were required to limit their maximum attendance to just under a third of capacity to ensure social distancing, and China's box office earned a modest 100 million yuan (around 15 million U.S. dollars) in the first week of reopening.

Last month, the numbers picked up after attendance controls were loosened to 50 percent of capacity in mid-August. The box office totaled some 3.4 billion yuan (approximately 500 million U.S. dollars), which was nearly two-thirds of the average monthly revenue last year.

China's homegrown war epic, "The Eight Hundred," managed to single-handedly rake in over 2 billion yuan (more than 300 million U.S. dollars) in two weeks after its release on August 21. The figure equates to 50 percent more than the total production cost of "Mulan," which was 200 million U.S. dollars.

Disney and other distributors have been further encouraged by Warner Bros' "Tenet," the biggest Hollywood release since the pandemic began, earning over 100 million yuan (over 14 million U.S. dollars) in its first 35 hours in China over the weekend.

The solid start for Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" is projected to generate gross revenue of around 455 million yuan (66 million U.S. dollars), which could be enough to make China the film's highest-grossing territory, according to Variety.

The news is a shot in the arm for Hollywood, which has been looking to the East for a silver lining while the West continues to struggle in the far-reaching shadow of COVID-19. Mulan, a heroine of ancient China who fought to save her father, family and her country, is now riding to the rescue of Disney and the U.S. film industry. The prospect looks healthy.

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