Niki Caro to Helm Disney’s Mulan | Pift Pacific Islanders in Film & TV

February 21, 2017

Disney’s Mulan will be helmed by Kiwi and ‘Whale Rider’ director Niki Caro, as reported by the The Hollywood Reporter but this is not the animated version you just pictured from 20 years ago; it’s live action.

Caro, who has directed films such as “Whale Rider” (2002), “McFarland, USA” (2015) and the upcoming “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” will be the second woman whom Disney has tapped to helm a movie with a budget of more than $100 million. She follows Ava DuVernay, who is directing Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time” adaptation. [LA Times]

Interestingly, Caro had been one of the filmmakers said to be in the running for Disney’s Captain Marvel. But with Captain Marvel and Mulan opening within a few months of each other, we can safely assume she won’t be steering the Marvel superheroine pic.

Previous reports indicated Disney had been seeking an Asian director for the job. The studio did meet with Ang Lee and Jiang Wen (Rogue One‘s Baze Malbus, who is also a director), but for whatever reason, neither worked out. A similar situation occurred at Sony, which also hoped to find an Asian filmmaker for its own Mulan movie but ultimately decided to go with white guy Alex Graves (Game of Thrones).

Still, Disney would like you to know that they are taking pains to ensure Mulan is respectful and authentic. To that end, they’ve hired Kong, a Hong Kong producer who’s worked on massive crossover hits like Hero and House of Flying Daggers. He was also behind two of China’s biggest homegrown hits, Monster Hunt and Journey to the West. The studio will be collaborating closely with Chinese cultural consultants and its own China-based team. While there was a bit of early controversy when a spec script called for a white male lead, Disney has since clarified that “all primary roles, including the love interest, are Chinese.” []

The cast for the “Mulan” adaptation has not yet been announced.  A global casting search is underway for an actress to play the Chinese heroine, as well as the other main roles.

The new Mulan is set for release on November 2, 2018, 20 years after Disney’s animated version hit theaters.