Simu Liu Slams Disney CEO For Calling Shang-Chi An “Interesting Experiment” And Kevin Feige Responds
It’s been a rollercoaster for Hollywood and movie theaters thanks to COVID-19’s impact. The way people are consuming media has changed dramatically and many streaming services are doing things a little differently. For example, HBO has created 10 exclusive HBO Max films and Disney released several films that were only available on Disney+, such as Raya and the Last Dragon). That’s why it was exciting to hear that Disney was planning to release two movies in theaters first before bringing them to a streaming platform: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Free Guy. Unfortunately, there’s been some drama surrounding the release of Shang-Chi as some folks said that star Simu Liu slammed Disney CEO for calling the movie an “interesting experiment.”
While the “slam” qualifier is up for debate, our newest MCU Hero wants to remind audiences that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is not an experiment in diversity but a reflection of authenticity.
Please Elaborate On Simu Liu Slamming The Disney CEO
Images via Marvel Studios
First, let’s back up a bit. Recently, Disney’s CEO, Bob Chapek, spoke to investors in a quarterly earnings call and said:
“On Shang-Chi, we think it’s actually going to be an interesting experiment for us because it’s got only a 45-day window for us. So the prospect of being able to take a Marvel title to the service after going theatrical for 45 days will be yet another data point to inform our actions going forward on our titles. But once again, I’ll refer back to my previous answer. When we plan Shang-Chi that title was planned on being in a much more healthy theatrical environment. And at this point, unfortunately, due to distribution agreements that we have and due to just the practicalities of last-minute changes, it wouldn’t be possible.”
While “interesting experiment” may not have been the best phrase to use, Chapek was basically talking about how Disney planned to have Shang-Chi come out in theaters for 45 days and then bring it to Disney+, which would be something to note for the Mouse House since 45 days is a very short window and it could potentially cut into the revenue made by renting or buying video-on-demand copies. The question is if those losses are made up by people flocking to the streamer to sign up. Free Guy, which is also getting 45 days in the theater, is going to HBO Max afterward as part of an inherited Fox deal with HBO. As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to rampage across the country, many have called on Chapek to rethink a theater release, but he wants to stick to the original plan, which would be justification for not adding a last-minute Premier Access option.
It’s been exciting to see more representation in programming on TV series and movies (Loki was revealed to be gender-fluid and Black Panther grossed over $1 billion worldwide), but calling a movie with an Asian-led cast an “interesting experiment” stirred up a painful history of Hollywood continually brushing aside diverse films when they didn’t live up to a certain monetary standard, and Liu wanted to bring this to people’s attention. As Marvel’s first Asian-lead superhero movie, there’s the ever-present pressure for it to do well to “prove” that diverse casts and movies sell, despite other movies with mainly white casts can get away with poor ratings. You can see Liu’s tweet below:
We are not an experiment.
We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year.
We are the surprise.
I’m fired the f**k up to make history on September 3rd; JOIN US. pic.twitter.com/IcyFzh0KIb
— Simu Liu (刘思慕) (@SimuLiu) August 14, 2021
Kevin Feige Responds To Simu Liu Slamming Disney’s CEO
Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, added his own comments regarding Liu and Chapek at the Shang-Chi premiere. He told The Hollywood Reporter:
“He (Simu Liu) is not a shy man. I think in that particular tweet you can see — and I think everyone does — a misunderstanding. It was not the intention. The proof is in the movie and we swing for the fences as we always do. With the amount of creative energy we put in and the budget, there’s no expense spared to bring this origin story to the screen.”
It’s a diplomatic answer and one that goes back to the idea that the “experiment” would be seeing if people would sign up for Disney+ so they could watch it. Feige understood that “interesting experiment” was not the best description and he seemed to understand how important Shang-Chi will be in terms of representation. He said:
“When you have the opportunity to showcase a hero that looks like a huge segment of the globe that feels like they haven’t been showcased, the magic can happen if you deliver. I think Destin (Daniel Cretton) and Simu have delivered for this movie.”
Liu had previously called out the producers of Kim’s Convenience for lack of representation on-set and for not taking more diverse viewpoints into consideration, which seems to be the norm for a lot of sets, unfortunately. Ava DuVernay created a diversity initiative for Hollywood called ARRAY and Chloé Zhao became the first woman to win Director of the Year, yet Hollywood still struggles (e.g. Simu Liu slams the Disney CEO for his comments). I know it’s a slow process and I only hope that things continue to improve. I do look forward to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings smashing records, but even if it doesn’t, we should still continue to create movies and series that feature diverse casts. As Michelle Wolf from The Daily Show says:
TRUTH/Image via The Daily Show
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings comes out in theaters September 3, 2021. Are you planning to watch it in theaters? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured image via Marvel Studios
Keilin Huang is a freelance writer that likes the Oxford comma, reading from her neverending pile of books from the library, and Reeses peanut butter cups. She thanks her Dad for introducing her to his Superman comics and probably majored in Journalism because of Lois Lane.