Seeing Disneys real life movie business from Hua Mulan

 Seeing Disneys real life movie business from Hua Mulan

In addition to giving reasonable reasons for her fathers military behavior, Hua Mulan conceals her ability, competes with her colleagues in the army, discloses her female identity, saves the emperor, and even finally seems to have agreed to enter the palace as an official. There is no clear reason for her role to do so, and the audience can not agree with the roles behavior choice. This problem also comes from the supporting role. Why does Gong Li, the witch played by Gong Li, look for Hua Mulan on the battlefield? Why help Hua Mulan? Why die for Hua Mulan? None of these questions are answered in the film. Because she did not explain Bais motive, her death could not move the audience. This is a sensational plot point, but it can only bring embarrassment.

The clear motive of the characters is not only a logical problem, but also an emotional one. There are many kinds of so-called empathy, which can be moving, can be sad, can be hot blood after watching, can also be in the process of watching amused laugh. In general, when creating the protagonist, the main character is endowed with the function of driving the audiences emotion, so that the audience can follow the protagonists anxiety and worry about the protagonists dangerous situation. From this point of view, Hua Mulan, very clearly feel that the film in this area is insufficient, the mood of the audience can not be mobilized by Mulan.


The live action film was adapted from the animated version in 1998. Hua Mulan is the largest adaptation range since Disney started the live action film adaptation project. The previous several films are more appropriate to be called remake rather than adaptation. There is almost no difference between the live version and the animated version. Hua Mulan changed so much, obviously because Disney has new ideas for the film. However, the adaptation of Hua Mulan seems to be a failure.

The biggest change in the film comes from the character Hua Mulan. Mulan in the animation version is a smart and unconventional girl. She solves all the problems from her cleverness. For example, she was the first to climb to the flag pole of the strongest force in the barracks by using her brain, and also solved the crisis on the battlefield and the emperor through cleverness. Mulans own personality and understanding of herself determine her way of doing things. This makes her unique, not just as a girl among men, but as a person, unique and charming. The characters are very three-dimensional.

However, in the live action movie, in order to clearly highlight Hua Mulans uniqueness, the character is designed with Qi, which is like a super power. Mulans strength comes from her natural ability to solve problems. At first, it seems that there is no problem with this setting. So many superhero movies in Hollywood rely on super power to solve the problems. The problem with the movie is that there is no corresponding conflict and thinking about the ability matching.

In the past movies, we often see people with super ability have the responsibility to save human beings. In the early days, it was a kind of fate. For example, in Star Wars, only the Jedi with the force could defeat the emperor of the dark empire. Such fatalism is not convincing for young audiences, so now writers will try to give superheroes the motivation to save the world. For example, tonistak in iron man is to save the evil brought by his companys selling weapons. For example, spider man has been using greater ability, greater responsibility as the code of action.

Netizens commented that compared with the new live action film, the old animation version looks 10000 times better. Cant the old version be adapted for its excellence? On the contrary, the more excellent the old works are, the more times they are remade. It is still a sharp tool to attract the audience to re narrate the classic story text in the current society. The focus of this kind of adaptation is often on values - values conveyed by works decades ago may not be what audiences need most. The change of values not only exists in the adaptation of the works, but also in the works of the same theme and type in different times, and Disney itself is the same.

As mentioned above, the biggest change in the real-life version of Hua Mulan is the role of Hua Mulan. In order to highlight Hua Mulans uniqueness as a woman, she specially gives the existence of Qi, which is set to be a very powerful super ability for women. It seems to improve the status of women in the works, but I think this kind of setting is just anti feminism. First of all, not every girl has Qi. Only a few women with extraordinary talent have it. Under the social background that Qi can defeat men, the vast majority of women are ordinary. And Qi can not be cultivated by the efforts of the day after tomorrow, that is to say, most girls are worse than men from the moment they are born. The life of these girls is like Mulans sister. She works at home and works at home. When she grows up, she takes getting married as her ultimate goal. Hua Mulans success in the film and the respect and praise she receives are not because she is a woman, but because she has the super power of Qi and saved the emperor with her super power.

In contrast, the animated version of 1998 does not equate smart with female, which does not seem to highlight the female characteristics of Mulan. However, the main purpose of the film is to tell the audience that even women can win the championship through hard work and cleverness in the military camp full of men and without divine power. Because not everyone has super ability, but everyone has his own characteristics, use their own characteristics, do not envy what they do not have, you can win life. Isnt it more inspirational than relying on superpowers? Isnt it more inspiring than superpowers?


Film is the product closest to the real economy in the cultural industry, and the mode of making money is relatively single. The cost of shooting can be calculated clearly, and the selling price is basically fixed (movie tickets), so in order to make money, film companies must ensure that they sell as many movie tickets as possible. There are two dimensions in selling more tickets: the first is spreading the net; the second is repeatedly watching.

Spreading the net is to sell movies to all corners of the world. Hollywoods globalization strategy has always been the top priority in the development of Hollywood. Hollywood films are sold to the world through various forces and means.

Hollywoods globalization is the result of long-term efforts of all parties. Political and economic means are indispensable. However, as a commodity itself, films must have many characteristics to meet the needs of international communication. First of all, the core of the story must be the most universal value, so the keywords of love, kinship, friendship, justice, effort, responsibility and bravery appear most often. Although the thinkers of cultural imperialism see the expanding American values in Hollywood films, it is undeniable that Hollywood tries its best to find resonance in every culture and try to make films accepted by local audiences as natives. The understanding of film values directly affects the understanding and emotional acceptance of the story. Secondly, the application of transparent narration in the creation makes it easy for the audience with any language, culture and religious background to understand the plot easily. Transparent narration is a conventional coding principle in Hollywood classic narration. In short, it is a complete set of film creation routines, including plays, camera moves, shooting methods, actors performances, and later soundtrack, etc. all films follow this principle to cultivate the audiences viewing Transcendence - what the audience will know after knowing a certain plot Voice out is to have a terrible thing happen, even know which characters will die. This transcendentality not only does not affect the viewing experience, but also increases the desire to watch. Transparent narrative even now affects the film creation of other countries, which is regarded as a formalized invasion mode, an unconscious Los Angeles. Of course, its a symbol of victory for Hollywood.

The natural audience of animation is children, which is destined to be more simple and easy to understand than live movies, so that preschool children can also understand it. Therefore, we can see that the theme selection of Disney Princess series is to eliminate the cognitive barrier of the audience as much as possible, so classic fairy tales and folk stories become the first choice. Disney is not afraid of stories without new ideas - the whole Hollywood is not afraid of the old-fashioned stories. What Disney has to do is to make the familiar stories as interesting as possible, and add more jokes that can make children laugh. Disneys animated films, especially the princess series, must also target children. The animation for children does not mean that children are young, or just give priority to childrens watching experience, and do not give up the interest of adults. Children and adults are not contradictory and irreconcilable poles in front of animation. In the case of giving priority to childrens cognition, singing and dancing are also necessary means. If the original Snow White song and dance film form had the mainstream aesthetic influence at that time, today Disney animation song and dance has become an important means of narrative. The important plot changes, the psychological changes of characters, the passage of time and so on, almost all rely on singing and dancing. Song and dance deal with the complicated content simply and romantically. Under the style, it is more for the young audience. In contrast, in the real-life version of Hua Mulan, all the singing and dancing paragraphs are removed under the same plot structure, and the character transformation is not clear at once. There is no song to help sing out the hearts voice, but the performance is not enough.

Many people say that Disneys works are typical family gatherings. The so-called family fun is not for parents and children to watch together. What is more accurate is that children can watch and parents can watch. The difference between the two is that an important function of animation is accompany, instead of parents accompany children. This is an important magic weapon for animation to make more money than live movies.

As mentioned above, selling more tickets also allows the film to be watched over and over again.. Hollywood film distribution emphasizes multiple windows and multiple shows. Film broadcasting copyright stipulates that every time or cycle of broadcasting, a certain fee must be paid. Therefore, repeated broadcasting through different channels is a very important long-term source of income for films. Take Chinas channels as an example. For different video websites, different TV stations, and set-top boxes with VOD functions, as long as the audience watches the films, they have to pay the corresponding fees to the film owners. Although the cost of copyright is not high after the second release, it has been broadcast repeatedly in hundreds of countries and regions and dozens of broadcasting channels for decades, and the revenue from copyright fees is very considerable. We should know that Disney Company was short of funds in the early stage of filming, and had not become a film and television giant today. It relied on several early films, such as snow white and Bambi deer, which were released repeatedly in the cinema. The production cost of new films could be earned only by movie tickets. This kind of capital cycle was broken until the establishment of Disney theme park.

In this matter of repeated release, animation has inherent advantages. Adults are driven by feelings when watching old movies. However, for children, animation is animation, regardless of the new or old or language. As long as it is animation, it will naturally attract childrens attention. Of course, whether children like the old movies 50 years ago is another topic. Today, we look at the financial report of Disney Company. In its film revenue, the copyright licensing fee (referring to the image authorization to develop products) is almost the same as the broadcasting copyright income of the repeated release of the film. On the contrary, the box office of the first released film accounts for a small part of the revenue.

Disney Companys largest proportion of revenue is theme park project - Disney IP the largest way to realize. The first park was built in 1955, 65 years ago. How can such an old paradise attract the present audience? In addition to the park management and other technical means, the recognition and love degree of IP is still the most important condition. In todays Disneyland, snow queen, snow white, Cinderella, Little Mermaid and so on are still the favorite stars of children. Todays children have accumulated IP loyalty by watching these cartoons repeatedly through television, websites and other channels (overseas cinemas are also important replay sites). When children grow up, they choose to watch old movies driven by feelings, and cartoons are still competitive. On this point, children have other natural advantages. For example, children will watch and even never tire of watching the content they like. On the other hand, children need animation as a long time companion. Most parents do not object to this. In the view of parents, good animation with healthy content can tie children to liberate themselves, which is a very lucky thing.


In most cases, the cost of live shooting is much lower than that of animation. If the story has been verified for decades, it can be replayed with more gorgeous means and slightly modified the values, which can ensure the taste of the audience at present and at least 30 years later. In this way of thinking, compared with the innovation of the story, the picture becomes more gorgeous and more important, or the princesss skirt becomes gorgeous the most important. After all, in Disneys business map, princess skirt is not only the outside of the girls, but also the materialization of their inner desires. For Hollywood, creating desire is the most important link in film marketing.

In Hua Mulan, both the old animation version and the new real life version show the Chinese elements in the impression of foreigners, such as the Great Wall, dragon, Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Tulou, terraced fields, emperor, etc., which are now called stereotype on the Internet, with obvious criticism. But for global audiences, thats how they perceive China. Hollywood has no obligation to change the perception of China for the world audience. Instead, what they have to do is serve this kind of cognition. Therefore, almost all the Chinese actors most familiar to the global audience appear in the live version of Mulan (Gong Li, Zhen Zidan, Jet Li). Because of this, films can be sold worldwide. Just as in the black panther, black people are going to bring gold ornaments and spears. It is the original sin of Hollywood globalization to show the spectacle of other non American cultures.

Real cultural output must depend on ourselves. Unfortunately, in the field of film, our overseas market expansion is not good. Hollywoods globalization has a lot to learn from. For our creators, how to make the film meet the preferences of global audiences and change its stereotype of China is the key.

(the author is an animation producer and screenwriter, and a guest lecturer in the animation Institute of Beijing Film Academy)