Disney’s newest park opened in Shanghai in the company’s continued quest to appease and attract the Chinese market. (At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney started making more movies set in China later on.) As parks go, it does look really nice. If THIS video is anything to go by, a lot of effort was put into it.
But I couldn’t help but notice something.
There were quite a few moments when Anna and Elsa could be seen, but there was no trace of Hiro and Baymax (or the rest of the BH6 team for that matter) or Nick and Judy. I know there was a park celebration that played “Immortals” and had Baymax perform, but that was about it (and I’m not even sure if that’s going to be a mainstay event or if it was a one-time only deal); no meet and greet or special San Fransokyo attraction. And when I looked at the (English version) of the park’s site, I can’t find any references to BH6 or Zootopia. You can meet Elsa and Anna along with the other official Disney Princesses at the Enchanted Storybook Castle and they have a sing along celebration, but I can’t seem to find anything for BH6 and Zootopia.
Why does this bother me?
Well, Frozen’s total Chinese gross was about $48 million. Not bad, but compared to it’s run in Japan, where it made almost $300 million, that’s kind of underwhelming. Big Hero 6 on the other hand was known for being a bigger hit in China (along with DreamWorks’s Kung Fu Panda franchise), with about $83 million. And Zootopia was a HUGE hit in China, earning $235 million and having a huge impact with audiences. So, you’d think Disney would take China’s love for those two movies and feature them a lot in this new park, right? Well, apparently not.
What baffles me the most is that there’s an attraction for Star Wars characters, even though the Star Wars isn’t as big a phenomenon in China than in the rest of the world (in fact The Force Awakens did pretty poorly in China). So if they’re going to feature a franchise that doesn’t resonate as well, why not prominently feature franchises that DO resonate well?
Maybe I’m being paranoid, but to me this feels like Disney’s continued effort to focus exclusively on their billion dollar franchises and nothing else, even if that means forcing it on countries that have different tastes.
Now I could be wrong. There could be other reasons why this is happening. But at any rate, at some point Disney SHOULD feature good BH6 and Zootopia content in a country where they have both been proven to be popular, and it’s kind of ridiculous that it’s not the case so far.
We’ll have to see, but for now, I can’t help but feel a little suspicious. Let’s hope Disney proves me wrong.
EDIT: A friend pointed out that a possible reason why they have Frozen and Star Wars featured so prominently at the park is a way to make them more popular in China so that they’ll pay to see Frozen 2 and further SW films. That actually does make an unfortunate amount of sense. While I can understand Disney’s decision to do that, it still doesn’t excuse them to not feature BH6 or Zootopia AT ALL, where they are already popular (and could make them into bigger hits). So, you can understand my frustration with the whole thing.
EDIT 2: I have been told that Hiro and Baymax have a show at Tomorrowland, and Zootopia has been added to a parade. That’s relatively good news for Hiro and Baymax (though I would think the whole team would be added), but that’s pretty underwhelming for Zootopia, considering its monster hit status in China. I guess we’ll have to see what happens from there. My point is, Zootopia and BH6’s attractions should be just as big, if not BIGGER, than Frozen’s and SW’s because they’re so popular in China. But we’ll see.