'Mulan' Will Follow Disney's New Live-Action Formula for Success

'Mulan' Will Follow Disney's New Live-Action Formula for Success

Oct 11, 2016


We just heard new details about Disney's live-action remake of Mulan. The big news was that a global casting call had been launched in search of an actress to play the lead role. This sounds similar to what Disney and director Jon Favreau did for The Jungle Book, considering some 2,000 actors before selecting young Neel Sethi for the starring role.

Disney also cast 14-year-old newcomer Auli'i Cravalho in the lead role for their next animated movie, Moana. Clearly, casting young newcomers in lead roles has worked for Disney so far, perhaps contributing to the studio's success with transforming animated movies into live-action projects. Last year's Cinderella, for example, featured Lily James in the starring role; though she wasn't exactly a newcomer -- she sparkled on TV's Downton Abbey -- she'd only made three feature films beforehand.

The lead character in Mulan is 16 years old, so it makes sense for Disney to conduct a global casting search. That's good, not only for the publicity it engenders, but also because they could find fresh talent in China, where the story takes place. The source material includes Ballad of Mulan, a traditional poem that is still well known throughout the region.

When we first heard about the project in March 2015, all we knew was that it was based on a first draft of the screenplay by relative newcomers Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek. More recently, we learned that veteran writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, whose credits include Jurassic World, had penned a revised draft of the script. This is not unusual in Hollywood; initial drafts may convince a big studio to go forward with a project, but the common wisdom is then to bring in other writers to make revisions that are more in line with what the studio wants.


In the case of Mulan, reportedly Disney saw the first draft "as a jumping-off point for a more nuanced and elaborate adaptation, combining the legendary Chinese ballad and the 1998 animated film." The first draft raised concerns because it reportedly featured a European trader who becomes a love interest for Mulan. As noted, since then the script has been revised, and now Vulture says: "All primary roles, including the love interest, are Chinese."

Disney has several other live-action adaptations of animated projects in various stages of development, including Dumbo (to be directed by Tim Burton), The Lion King (to be directed by Jon Favreau) and Aladdin (to be directed by Guy Ritchie). Beauty and the Beast is the next to hit theaters; it will be released on March 17, 2017.

Beyond that, two other, not yet determined live-action fairy tale movies are scheduled for July 28, 2017 and April 6, 2018. We can expect Mulan on November 2, 2018.

Categories: News, In Development, Animation
Tags: Disney, Mulan
blog comments powered by Disqus

Facebook on Movies.com