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By Yanni Chow and Carol Mang

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co's live-action remake of "Mulan" opened on Thursday to a lacklustre reception in Hong Kong, where pro-democracy activists have been leading calls to boycott the movie.

Based on a Chinese folk story, the film has provoked a backlash in the Chinese-ruled city and elsewhere over its star's comments of support for Hong Kong police during protests last year and for being partly filmed in the Xinjiang region.

"I will not watch Mulan because of its cast and filming location," said 24-year-old clerk Cherry Lee as she passed by the Mong Kok Broadway Theatre screening the film.

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong and internet users in Taiwan and Thailand have been among those promoting hashtags "#BoycottMulan" and "#BanMulan" on Twitter, following this month's launch of the film on Disney's streaming platform.

Most Hong Kong cinemas had their first showing of Mulan on Thursday morning.

At Mong Kok Broadway Theatre, in a popular protest area, Mulan sold one third of the tickets at its debut according to frontdesk staff, around 20% fewer than local movie "i'm livin' it" by Hing Fan Wong, which debuted at the same time.

"I’ve known the story of Mulan since I was little," said retiree Chan, as he entered the cinema. He declined to give his first name to avoid getting involved in the controversy.

At Festival Grand Cinema in another district, Christopher Nolan's 'Tenet', which debuted in Hong Kong on Sept. 20, sold more tickets on Thursday morning than Mulan, staff said.

Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mulan also had a cold reception in mainland China, where Chinese authorities had told major media outlets not to cover the film's release in the wake of the uproar.

Internationally, the criticism has focused on the movie being partly filmed in Xinjiang, where China's clamp-down on ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims has been criticised by some governments and rights groups.

In Hong Kong, the star of the movie, mainland Chinese-born actress Liu Yifei, has angered democracy supporters after showing support for Hong Kong police in a social media post last year.

Retiree Kwok, 65, who declined to give his first name, said he liked the movie because it represented values such as "safeguarding the country and helping families" at a time when China was being "suppressed by the United States."

"Lui Yifei represents Mulan well, she is very brave and willing to fight against evil," Kwok said.

(Writing by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Michael Perry)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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M. Night Shyamalan reveals title and poster for mysterious new movie as filming begins

Biden compares Trump to Nazi propaganda minister Harrington scores for 4 TDs, depleted Appalachian State wins M. Night Shyamalan reveals title and poster for mysterious new movie as filming begins

After Split and Glass, it seems this is officially M. Night Shyamalan's "one-word title" period.

© Provided by Entertainment Weekly Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images

The Sixth Sense director announced on Twitter that shooting has commenced for his latest movie, and revealed its title: Old. He also shared an eerie, black-and-white poster for the film, showing what appears to be human bodies falling through an hourglass like sand and the tagline "It's only a matter of time." (Pretty good tagline, as taglines go.)

The film's cast includes Gael García Bernal, Eliza Scanlen (Little Women), Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit), Alex Wolff (Hereditary), and Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread). Its story is currently shrouded in mystery, although the film is reportedly based on the French graphic novel Sandcastle, about a group of people trapped on a strange beach with a dark secret.

© Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images M. Night Shyamalan has revealed the title and poster for his mysterious new movie as filming gets underway.

Feels like a miracle that I am standing here shooting the first shot of my new film. It's called Old. #OldMovie @OldTheMovie

— M. Night Shyamalan (@MNightShyamalan) September 26, 2020

Last week, Shyamalan shared a photo of himself and his crew scoping out a shooting location for the film, and also announced filming had resumed on season 2 of his Apple TV+ series Servant, with COVID-19 safety regulations in place.

Me tech scouting with crew for new film! We are just over a week away from shooting. Feel lucky to be telling stories again.

— M. Night Shyamalan (@MNightShyamalan) September 18, 2020

First day back to shooting @Servant Covid protocols everywhere to keep all safe. Even behind the masks and protective shields it’s so great to see everyone. We are shooting the remaining 4 episodes of season 2. This is all I can show you. ????

— M. Night Shyamalan (@MNightShyamalan) September 14, 2020

Universal announced last year that it had struck a deal with Shyamalan to release two independently-financed features by the director. The first, which we now know is Old, was originally set to be released in February 2021, but has been rescheduled for July after the pandemic delayed production.

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