Yes, we know the live-action “Beauty and the Beast” film from #Disney starring Emma “Hermione” Watson, and Dan Stevens is coming just next month, making the sixth such “conversion” of a classic from their so-called Animated Canon. But well, there’s no harm in speaking about the possible future, as in a new live-action movie now in the planning stages after being green-lighted as far back as 2015. It’s one other than 1998’s “#Mulan,” and Disney is putting it up against another adaptation of the traditional Chinese story of the legendary girl soldier, this one being cooked up by Sony. The House of Mouse already has a major name as the producer, but now they’ve finally gotten a director to commit after two names bowed out.
Woman director for a female character
Things seem auspicious for Disney’s “Mulan” after the recent announcement of Bill Kong as executive producer of the project. Kong was co-producer with major Chinese director Ang Lee in his 2000 wuxia masterpiece “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” It would have been so easy for the studio to acquire the services of Lee for their “Mulan” movie; unfortunately, he had prior commitments in conflict with the filming schedule. Disney would get a strike two with Jiang Wen, who played one of the Rebel heroes in last December’s spinoff blockbuster “Rogue One” and is himself another veteran director back in China.
Fortunately, the third time would be the charm for the House of Mouse when they got New Zealand director #Niki Caro, who rose to prominence with her 2002 Maori drama movie “Whale Rider.” She’ll have the honor of helming a movie starring a female lead character that also has a budget guaranteed to be over $100 million. Caro has already worked with Disney before in 2015, when she directed the sports drama flick “McFarland, USA” where she prepared for by living in California and immersing herself in the Latino community, to capture the spirit of the film’s plot involving a Caucasian sports coach who mentors a running team in a Latino population high school.
Assurances of no ‘whitewashing.'
It seems that Disney is doing its utmost to undo the bad publicity gained by their live-action “Mulan” from earlier reports that the story draft included non-Asian characters and even called for a white male lead star. Amid accusations of whitewashing akin to the casting of Scarlett Johansson in the Hollywood adaptation of Japanese manga/anime “Ghost in the Shell,” the studio assured that all primary characters of the film would be Chinese, and their casting search will focus on mainland China. Meanwhile, the Sony “Mulan” movie has also made a bid for having a Chinese director, before settling on American Alex Graves.