Niki Caro Takes Helm of Live-Action “Mulan”
Oscar-nominated producer Bill Kong serves as Executive Producer.
It will only be the second time in the history of The Walt Disney Studios that a woman will be directing a film with a budget of over $100 million, a feat first accomplished by Ava DuVernay for the fantasy-adventure A Wrinkle In Time, slated for a 2018 release.
Disney’s decision to hire New Zealand native, Niki Caro, is clearly aimed at being a game-changer in the male-dominated industry. In keeping with the loud call for reforms for Hollywood’s alleged white-washing, Disney initially looked for Asian directors, with Ang Lee and Jiang Wen (Rogue One’s “Baze Malbus”, who also happens to be a famed director in his native China), in consideration.
When it didn’t work out with either director, Disney then set it sights toward notable female filmmakers, narrowing it down to New Zealand native, Caro, whose breakout film was 2002’s Whale Rider, the heartwarming story of a 12-year-old Maori girl who sets her sights on becoming the chieftain of her tribe regardless of the generations-old rule that only firstborn grandsons inherit the title.
The stark story similarities between Mulan and Whale Rider drew interest in Caro, who has been getting rave reviews ahead of the release of her new film with Focus Features, The Zookeeper’s Wife, starring Jessica Chastain. Chastain contributed an essay for The Hollywood Reporter late last year, honoring Niki Caro and her decision in hiring over 50 female crew members, from producers, to camera operators, and even stunt coordinators.
Joining Caro will be Oscar-nominated, box office king, Bill Kong, producer of such crossover hits as Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Kong will executive produce and will oversee a team of Chinese cultural consultants that have been tapped by Disney to ensure Mulan remains an authentic Asian core. Keeping true to their word, the creative team has already set out an extensive casting search in mainland China to portray primary roles, most especially with the story’s lead and the love interest.
Disney’s live-action Mulan is slated for release on November 2018, exactly 20 years after the release of its animated original.