Shang-Chi’s Simu Liu to Disney: ‘We are not an experiment’

SimuLiu1
Current Disney CEO Bob Chapek needs to stop talking. Every time he speaks, especially when it comes to Marvel, a whole heap of garbage spills out. While discussing Disney’s Q3 earnings, Chapek called the soon-to-be-released Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings film “an interesting experiment” followed by, “another data point.” The point Bob was trying to make was that Disney can be flexible and will release Shang-Chi for a 45-day exclusive to theaters before releasing the film to the at-home, on-demand crowd. However, the word-choice did not sit well considering he happened to be speaking about Marvel’s first Asian-fronted superhero film during a time when AAPI hate crimes are on the rise. Shang-Chi himself, the film’s star Simu Liu, let Chapek and Co. know on Twitter that he and his co-star were not “experiments,” and that nonsense wasn’t going to fly.

Simu Liu is ready to make history when Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings hits theaters next month on Labor Day weekend.

The Chinese-Canadian actor, 32, posted an impassioned statement about the film on social media on Saturday, which appeared to be in response to a recent comment by Disney CEO Bob Chapek.

“We are not an ‘interesting experiment,’” Liu began.

“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,” the actor wrote. “I’m fired the f— up to make history on September 3rd; JOIN US.”

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is making history as the first installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with an Asian lead and a predominantly Asian cast. It’s a welcome form of representation amid rising hate crimes against the AAPI community during the pandemic.

Liu plays Shang-Chi, a skilled martial artist, who has been trained as an assassin since childhood. After leaving the Ten Rings organization to pursue a normal life in San Francisco, he’s forced to confront his past once again. Liu stars alongside Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, and Benedict Wong.

[From People]

It’s a very well-crafted comment, I applaud Simu. He has every right to be angry, Chapek’s comments were ignorant at best. I know what Chapek was trying to talk about the pricing structure after the Black Widow debacle, but he gave no thought to how callous his comments came off and he should absolutely be held accountable for that. He’s Disney’s CEO, he needs to think about every optic and soundbite, and this was awful. Simu let him off easy. But I think he did it for the right reasons. Even though he’s correct, we know how some folks would have portrayed a fight with Disney in the press, and it would have hurt the movie. Instead, Simu made a powerful statement and redirected it back to the movie’s promotion. Disney tanked Mulan’s promotion. That, along with all the other issues that film had, has put a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Shang-Chi. Sounds like the cast can handle it, though. I don’t know this comic or story, but my friends do and they, like Simu, are fired up for it so I’m excited. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens September 3rd.

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65 Responses to “Shang-Chi’s Simu Liu to Disney: ‘We are not an experiment’”

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  1. Busybody says:

    Perfect statement is perfect! I love “we are a surprise”! I’m also pumped to see this movie.

  2. Oh_Hey says:

    People tried to come at Simu Liu but he’s a 1000% right. There’s no other way to take that experiment comment if your BIPOC – let’s put out our first Asian led movie during covid without the D+ access and just see what happens. Disney is going to use this “data” to say “oops we tried and it just didn’t work like it did with Black Panther” having come up with no plan and like zero marketing besides this insane controversy they started.

    • Darla says:

      I didn’t realize they weren’t releasing this on Disney + until just yesterday when I read this. I was definitely going to pay the 30 bucks to see this next week. It may get me back to a movie theatre. We’ll see. Disney’s exec suite is full of asshats. It’s really amazing.

    • Sigmund says:

      There were a lot of marvel fanboys criticizing Simu, but he’s 100% in the right to push back against this “experiment” narrative. It’s intentional word choice. Chapek can claim he was only referring to the format as an experiment, but at the same time, Chapek’s intentionally making all the racist a**holes feel better because the Asian marvel superhero film is just an “experiment”.

      Eff that. Good on Simu.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      This.

  3. Becks1 says:

    I did not realize they were delaying the streaming debut of this movie. That does make it interesting to see what happens in the theaters vs. streaming. But, calling it “an experiment” was really really bad wording because it makes it sound like the idea of a superhero movie starring Asian actors is the experiment, not the staggered releases. Bob Chapek absolutely should have used better wording or been a lot clearer about what he meant, because just seeing the headline calling the movie “an experiment” is not a good look, AT ALL.

    I was excited to see this movie in theaters (even though I’m not a big Marvel fan overall) but with the delta variant rising I’m not sure at this point. Our local theater is still doing assigned seats but no social distancing, and the workers are still wearing masks and most of the theatergoers are as well. I’ll see how things look in a few weeks I guess.

    • manda says:

      yes, the increase in the delta variant will absolutely impact how many people go to the movies. I think a lot of movies that would have done well in a non-covid world will just not, and I’m a little worried about what that means for the future. Maybe nothing, because they were making things direct-to-streaming that were pretty good before covid, but I don’t know

    • hoopjumper says:

      The full quote was: “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,” Chapek told analysts and investors on the company’s third quarter earnings call last week. “The prospect of being able to take a Marvel title to the service after going theatrical with 45 days will be yet another data point to inform our actions going forward on our titles.”

      My question, to Oh_Hey’s excellent point above, is: are the actors comfortable with this release strategy? Do they think it gives them a fair shot? Because I do 100% agree there’s a chance it’ll be an “oops we tried…” thing. To me, that’s a bigger issue than the wording and I would love to know how Simu and everyone else involved in the film feel about it.

  4. Jezz says:

    Hmmm, as much as I love him and he is RIGHT, Simu is going to statement himself out of a career. There was a huge scandal in Canada where he called out the producers of his tv show for cancelling it. Said that was racism, too.
    I want to see more of him, and if he gets labeled “difficult”, his exciting career may be in jeopardy.

    • Merricat says:

      I couldn’t disagree more. Now is the time for people to stand up for what’s right. You don’t instigate change by staying quiet in the face of racism.

    • BearcatLawyer says:

      Maybe he would rather, I dunno, stand up for what he believes and fight for a greater good?

      I love him for speaking his mind. And even though I am not a comic book movie person, I am going to see this in a movie theatre!

    • Becks1 says:

      His statement isn’t bad though or “difficult”. Yes it pushes back on Disney/Chapek but then immediately turns it into a positive – about being ceiling-breakers, celebration of joy and cultures, and then he includes the release date in his statement so that everyone knows when the movie opens. It’s actually a really well done statement in terms of pushing back but also making sure to keep the focus where it should be – on this movie and on what it means for so many.

    • ethyy says:

      his co-stars on Kim’s Convenience also callled out the show as well

    • Gingerly says:

      More power to him. Career success at the price of sacrificing your heritage, your principles, and your voice? Nah. Simu has been a welcome surprise and I applaud him.

      • reef says:

        Damn so everyone forgot he deleted those supremely justified tweets on Mark Wahlberg’s hate crime on an Asian man once he got in a movie with Mark Wahlberg?
        He’s just another ambitious actor. Let’s relax on anointing him.

      • Merricat says:

        I don’t see anyone anointing him; I see people congratulating him for speaking out and being a force for good in the world. Why shit on that? Because he’s not entirely perfect? Because you question his motives?
        If it gets the job done, I don’t give a flying fig if he benefits from it. The original comment was that he was risking his career with his remarks. I guess if that attack doesn’t work, you move on to him benefiting his career with his remarks. I guess you can’t please everyone.

    • Celia456 says:

      @Jezz The scandal was because the writer, who owns the intellectual property, abruptly ended the show despite high ratings, then disappeared. Everyone — cast, crew and viewers — was upset.

      Simu was outspoken about the situation but was not the only one.

    • pottymouth pup says:

      he got a lot of love and support for his statement about Kim’s. He was 100% right in what he said and, as a fan of the show, I was perplexed by some of the storylines (especially the MS one) and very glad to see the actors speak out.

    • Aphra says:

      I don’t disagree with any of you — I am proud of him for speaking out. But if big producers don’t want to work with him after this (and the Kim’s statements), I won’t be surprised.

    • keroppi says:

      I appreciate how outspoken and honest he is especially regarding Asian representation in the media.

    • Krystina says:

      @Jezz Sooo… He should muzzle himself to pacify white people? Got it.
      *Eyeroll*

  5. equality says:

    Did Chapek make a bad statement or did he and Liu coordinate together and get more attention for the film?

    • Sigmund says:

      Chapek almost certainly made the statement all on his own. Bob Iger, for all of his faults, was much better at balancing practicality ($$) with PR. Between this and the handling of ScarJo, Chapek seems determined to stick his foot in his mouth.

      • Fortuona says:

        But Iger was not having to release 3 and a half Marvel movies and a TV Show by December with a start date on July

  6. OriginalLala says:

    I adore Simu – he is outspoken about how Asian actors are treated in the business, he had some very interesting and poignant things to share about his experiences dealing with the higher ups on Kim’s Convenience.

  7. Twin falls says:

    I’m not going back into the theater with Covid cases on the rise and an unvaccinated child at home. I’m annoyed that some movies are being withheld from streaming at release date but it won’t make me go share air space with strangers for three hours.

  8. MellyMel says:

    I hate that they’re not putting this on D+ premier access. Unlike Black Widow or the other films they’ve released, I was actually willing to pay the $30 to see this. I hope it still does well.

  9. MaryContrary says:

    I was perfectly willing to pay the extra $30 for early streaming-I have a big family and we were excited to see it. We will not go to a movie theater to chance Delta. I think this is a really dumb financial move on Disney’s part-along with being an incredibly callous thing to say.

    • Darla says:

      Reading these comments it also makes me wonder why they didn’t choose the upcoming Spiderman to perform this experiment with.

      • Fortuona says:

        DARLA

        Because they have nothing to do with its disribution that is SONY who still own the rights to it and they do with Venom which comes out in a month

        And we have The Eternals and the start of November

    • Dutch says:

      When you read the full exchange transcript he made a point of saying in an answer to a question posed by an analyst that they have constantly watched the market and tried to react to it:
      “And so at some point, we have to put a stake in the ground and say, for example, Shang-Chi, that’s going to be a title that we’re going to put in the marketplace or Free Guy. That’s going to be a title that we’re going to put into the marketplace. Not knowing, again, three months earlier when you make that commitment, what exactly the marketplace is going to look like. But what I do think that says, Michael, it says that we value flexibility and we value to follow where the consumer is going to go.”

      The “experiment” comment came in response to a follow up question. And was not commenting on the themes or the cast of the movie, only the release strategy.

      Question: “Why wouldn’t you just add from your access given what you saw happen, I think, successfully with Black Widow to those two titles (Shang-Chi and Free Guy)?”

      Answer: On Free Guy, obviously, this is a title that we acquired under a different distribution assumption and set of agreements. So we don’t have the degree of freedom to do that on Free Guy. 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 service after going theatrical with 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.”

      You can read the full transcript here: https://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcripts/2021/08/12/walt-disney-dis-q3-2021-earnings-call-transcript/

  10. CommentingBunny says:

    These are important social issies but please tell me I’m not the only one being shallow and ogling his shirtless pics, because DAMN.

    • JEM says:

      You’re not the only one. He is so hot.

    • Coji says:

      If it’s shallow I guess I’m shallow too.

    • gilda says:

      It’s currently a bajillion degrees in my icebox of an office, @CommentingBunny. I need an oxygen tank and for that milk carton scenario to become real at some point (please).

      But seriously I too I’m fired the f–k up for him to make history and oust all the racist monsters currently running entertainment. I am deeply uncomfortable with Disney choosing this movie as an experiment, it’s a whole new level of letting us know they don’t care about AAPI communities. They could wait until end of 2021/start of 2022 to ‘experiment’ with movies like Spider-Man, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, AND Thor: Love and Thunder. That’s three films during Winter/Spring, when we’ll hopefully move on from the delta variant, and starring the over-represented straight white man. Yawn.

      • Fortuona says:

        Disney dont have the rights to Spider-Man that is Son

        And they have another film In November the Eternals directed by Chloé Zhao with Gemma Chan,Don Lee ,Brian Tyree Henry , Nanjiani and Lauren Ridloff

        —————————-

        So they should just have another year where there is not films coming out but they have spent $2 b to keep the shelf warm

        I remember you were also unhappy about the Black Widow release( were you not saying it could have been held for a year or 2 ) when that ties in to the rest of the stuff going forward and Florence Pugh was already cut from TFATWS because of the delays

      • gilda says:

        @Fortuona:

        Good to know – I didn’t know about Spider-Man being a Sony IP, makes sense.

        As for your other point – I have never commented on a black widow post on this site, mainly because I don’t give two flying saucers about the film being released and have zero feelings of unhappiness on the matter. Kindly refrain from casting aspersions without corroborating your claims, thanks.

      • Fortuona says:

        Sorry about that is was Steph saying if should be moved back by a year or 2 throwing all the JLD and Florence stuff of

      • gilda says:

        @Fortuona:

        No worries – I have Black Widow burnout and refuse to invest my time on thinking about it (but I heard Florence Pugh was delightful so I might have to reconsider my disdain for the next iteration)

      • Dutch says:

        @gilda: The Shang-Chi release wasn’t ever meant to be an experiment. They decided to not do the streaming release because when they made their final marketing decisions in the spring, things looked rosier on the COVID font and they thought it would be better to make it exclusive to theaters for 45 days. It’s only become the experiment now, because the market has shifted back the other way due to the Delta variant and they have gone past the point of no return with the marketing.

        So film’s the story and its stars are not the experiment, it’s the release strategy. Shang-Chi just happens to have the bad luck of being next on the release schedule when the Delta variant hit.

      • Fortuona says:

        @gilda

        Florence was a delight in it ,then got brought back early to film the ending for The Falcon wich they had to cut because BW got moved again and then went straight onto Hawkeye .
        Which must odd for Hailee (who plays the new Hawkeye )and Flo as HS worked with Flo’s brother Toby previously along with Sam Jackson(Fury) ,Jessica Alba (Sue Storm) and Sophie Turner (Jean Grey)

      • gilda says:

        @ Dutch: I absolutely respect what you’re saying, it played out this way because of human incompetence in a wee inconsequential thing such as counting on people to get a vaccine to save their lives. I read an article on ScreenRant about Disney’s hypocrisy in using the pandemic to slam ScarJo for suing and releasing Shang-Chi in the same breath and well, if the shoe fits.
        I was reacting to Simu’s comments directly, because it must hurt to be thought of as a commodity/experiment (which I agree with you is actually the nature of the business, unfortunately dehumanising AF) after what has been an onslaught of violence and fear for the Asian community. Chapek had a poor choice of words for this and I wish he had been a bit more considerate.

        @Fortuona: I am experiencing severe whiplash from your comment. GOODNESS that IS the multiverse of madness, no need for further content guys! I read about the Countess’s involvement with this film and I would’ve loved to see Flo on TFATWS. It’s truly a shame they’ve had to cut out/edit so many things, can’t we just blame the multiverse for the mess after Loki’s ending?

  11. Case says:

    Marvel should “experiment” with an established story like Spider-Man, not a brand new superhero in a new phase of the MCU. That’s a horrible idea.

    I would’ve paid $30 to support this film and get early access on Disney+. I’m not sitting in a theater with poor ventilation for three hours, period, and I’m frustrated that so many films are now going direct to theaters with no at-home viewing option. I don’t think it’s the great idea Hollywood believes it is.

    • Darla says:

      I agree, and I’m so bummed about this. I may go to the theatre, but I definitely would have paid for early access next week. and why experiment with this film and not Spiderman later this year? It’s really awful the more I think about it.

    • Millie says:

      You mean like the business has worked for a century now? just wait a few weeks

  12. aang says:

    I absolutely love Simu and was so sad when Kim’s was canceled. But I’m not going to the theater for the foreseeable future. I would have paid $30+ to stream this at home.

    • Barb from SoCal says:

      Minnie: I was just thinking the same thing. I am originally from Toronto and I started watching Kim’s Convenience (I was a “Kim Bit”) because I loved seeing my home city portrayed as a diverse Toronto itself and not a stand-in for some American city. The milk jug sign and the TTC streetcar going by was very nostalgic for me. The cast was great but in particular, Simu jumped out to me as super cute, funny, and talented. I am not a comic book/movie person but when I heard he was tweeting out to Marvel about producing an Asian superhero movie, I thought it was brilliant and I was very excited when I heard he succeeded in getting cast. I want this movie to have a great box office and was planning on going to watch it in the theatre (I hardly ever go to the theatre even in normal times but I wanted to see Simu in all his big screen glory). However, I am very nervous about the Delta variant and there are lots of right-wing crazies down here in Orange County, California who are anti-vax and anti-mask so I don’t trust people. If we buy tickets, but don’t go to be safe, we are still supporting the box office.

  13. Minnie says:

    I’m probably going to pay for several in theatre tickets and then just not show up. I want to support this movie (and, as a Chinese Canadian, I’m just so pumped for it), but I don’t want to risk contracting COVID or passing it off to someone else. So giving money without seeing it will have to do. I’ll also just wait for the streaming option as well.

  14. Mika says:

    Oh Fffff— Simu called out the CBC – which every Canadian in the film industry knows is twelve old white men who deserved to be called out HARD. He is admired and using his power for good.

  15. Moxylady says:

    I am so so so so so excited for this movie? Delta is keeping us out of the theaters. But I will watch later.

  16. Grant says:

    Simu is so EFFING sexy. Can’t wait to watch that beautiful man kick some @$$ on September 3rd. That’s all I got.

  17. bobafelty says:

    It’s obvious after Black Widow’s low box office numbers that Disney thinks this movie will also not do well. However, when Bob makes public statements hinting that this movie will not perform, he feeds into the negative feedback/reviews and makes it worse! Covid is affecting all movie releases, why not be supportive and actually promote Shang-Chi? Yikes.

  18. It’sJustBlanche says:

    Disney is my biggest supplier and I love working with them (they have been amazingly supportive during the pandemic). Everyone internally hates Chapek. Not sure how he got the job.

  19. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate just a bit. But make no mistake, corporate response needs an overhaul if they’re going to survive today’s social layers. These statements sound corporate-ese.. boardroom presentation talking points. And in a very basic academic environment, everything is an experiment. Our lives are exercises in hypothesis and posits. But I doubt this executive was going meta… Just another douche money man appealing to investors and not getting off his high horse and switching gears to properly frame answers pertaining to actual people and not projects.

    • Dutch says:

      But the answer was in response to a question from an analyst about release strategy, not about the creative merits or makeup of the film itself.

    • Anna says:

      “Devil’s advocate”, huh? Yeah…that’s always a prelude to something problematic… Do you really want to be an advocate for the Devil?

  20. Azblue says:

    With delta variant running around and a toddler that can’t be vaccinated, I love the convenience of watching a marvel movie at home. No babysitter needed if the kiddo is asleep and unlimited popcorn. Honestly, I’d pay $50 just for the convenience. It’s already $12 just to get in theaters plua the priceless of risking my kids life. /s

  21. keroppi says:

    More Simu stories in the future, please!

  22. Theothermia says:

    Can’t wait to see this movie :)