WHALE RIDER’s Niki Caro Will Direct The Live-Action MULAN Movie
Get excited

mulan

If you weren’t yet excited about the live-action Mulan movie, Disney today dropped a huge reason why you should get on the train. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the House of Mouse has hired Niki Caro to direct the film. They’ve also added Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon producer Bill Kong as an executive producer.

Caro is an absurdly talented filmmaker. She’s probably best known for Whale Rider, but you might’ve also seen the very good North Country and McFarland, USA. You couldn’t be faulted for thinking that McFarland, USA is a simple Disney sports movie, but Caro is able to use that movie to play with prejudice in an interesting way. The film practically schools you for your own prejudices and how wrong they are.

Anyway, Caro is a great filmmaker and her making the Mulan movie is great news. She’s only the second female director to make a movie with a budget over $100 million for Disney. The first is Ava DuVernay with A Wrinkle Before Time. There’ll probably be a third with Captain Marvel around the corner.

Kong is an effort to double down on diversity, to assure people that they’re taking this seriously and they’re not going to whitewash this movie. I still think we have to wait and see on that, because this is the studio behind Prince of Persia, but they’re on the right track.

Disney had tried to hire an Asian director, but their choices flamed out. Ang Lee couldn’t do it because of scheduling. Jiang Wen, Rogue One star and hit director in his home country, also couldn’t get a deal done. Then they turned to female filmmakers, considering a trio that included Caro, Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins and Game of Thrones’ Michelle MacLaren. Caro won the job, obviously, but that also takes her out of the running for Captain Marvel.

As for casting, Disney is focusing on trying to cast its leads from mainland China. They want an Asian cast with Asian leads, and they’ve been working with Chinese cultural consultants and Disney China. [THR]

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