Mulan (2020 film)
Mulan is a 2020 American action drama film based on the Chinese folklore "The Ballad of Mulan" and is a live-action adaptation of Disney's 1998 animated film of the same name. Directed by Niki Caro, with the screenplay by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, and Elizabeth Martin, it is produced by Walt Disney Pictures, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film stars Liu Yifei in the title role, alongside Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An, Gong Li, and Jet Li in supporting roles.
Plans for a live-action remake began in 2010, but the project never came to fruition. In March 2015, a new attempt was announced and Caro was hired to direct in February 2017. Liu was cast in the title role in November 2017, following a casting call of 1,000 actresses, and the rest of the cast joined over the following year. Filming began in August 2018 and lasted through November, taking place in New Zealand and China. With a production budget of $200 million, it is the most expensive film ever made by a female director.
Mulans Hollywood premiere was held on March 9, 2020. However due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, its worldwide theatrical release has been called off until further notice.
- Liu Yifei as Mulan, the eldest daughter of Hua Zhou who defies both tradition and the law by disguising herself as a man by the name of Hua Jun in order to enlist herself in the Imperial Army in place of her ailing father.
- * Crystal Rao portrays a young Mulan.
- Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, the high ranking leader of the Imperial Army and mentor to Mulan. Both Tung and Chen are based on Li Shang from the animated film.
- Jason Scott Lee as Bori Khan, a Rouran warrior leader intent on avenging his father's death. Khan is based on Shan Yu from the animated film.
- Yoson An as Chen Honghui, a confident and ambitious recruit who joins Commander Tung's unit, and becomes Mulan's ally and love interest. Both Chen and Tung are based on Li Shang from the animated film.
- Gong Li as Xian Lang, a powerful witch with shapeshifting abilities and an ally of Bori Khan.
- Jet Li as The Emperor of China, a wise benevolent ruler of China who orders the mobilization of troops via the conscription of one man from each household to fight the invading Rouran army.
- Tzi Ma as Hua Zhou, Mulan's father and a famed war veteran, who is now recalled to the Imperial Army despite his frail health.
- Rosalind Chao as Hua Li, Mulan's mother and Zhou's wife.
- Xana Tang as Hua Xiu, Mulan's younger sister. The character was added to the film's plot because the filmmakers felt that "this added a broader emotional context and added more motivation for character".
- Ron Yuan as Sergeant Qiang, the fiercely loyal second in command of the Imperial Regiment.
- Jimmy Wong as Ling, a recruit who joins Commander Tung's unit.
- Doua Moua as Chien-Po, a recruit who joins Commander Tung's unit.
- Chen Tang as Yao, a recruit who joins Commander Tung's unit.
- Nelson Lee as The Chancellor, a member of the Emperor's council in charge of conscripting new recruits to join the Imperial army. The Chancellor is based on Chi-Fu from the animated film.
- Cheng Pei-pei as The Matchmaker
- Utkarsh Ambudkar as Skatch, a con artist and friend of Ramtish.
- Chum Ehelepola as Ramtish, a con artist and friend of Skatch.
- Arka Das as Red Fez
- Jun Yu as Cricket, an archer.
Developmentexpressed interest in a live-action adaptation of the 1998 animated film Mulan starring international star Zhang Ziyi, with Chuck Russell chosen as the director. Plans for a live-action Mulan remake began in 2010, but the project never came to fruition.
On March 30, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Disney had restarted development of the live-action adaptation with Chris Bender and J. C. Spink producing, while Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek would be writing the screenplay. On October 4, 2016, it was announced that Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver would rewrite the script, combining the Chinese ballad and the 1998 animated film, while Jason T. Reed would be producing the film along with Chris Bender and Jake Weiner. On February 27, 2020, Reed revealed that Mulan's sidekick from the original film, Mushu, was removed due to the character's negative reception in China. Redd also said, aside from both the original ballad and the animated film, the filmmakers drew inspiration from different Chinese adaptations of the ballad while writing the film, stating that, since "he traditional Disney audience and the diaspora Asian audience viewed the movie in one way, and the traditional Chinese in China audience viewed a slightly different way", the filmmakers "dug in to try and make sure that addressing both of those audiences in a thoughtful way".
CastingSince several recent Hollywood films were accused of whitewashing, Mulan has been under intense scrutiny since The Hollywood Reporter reported that Disney was making a live-action adaptation of Mulan. An online petition titled "Tell Disney You Don't Want A Whitewashed Mulan!" received more than 100,000 signatures. On October 4, 2016, Disney announced that a global search for a Chinese actress to portray the title role was underway. A team of casting directors visited five continents and saw nearly 1,000 candidates for the role with criteria that required credible martial arts skills, the ability to speak clear English, and star quality.
On November 29, 2017, Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei was cast in the film to portray the titular role of Mulan. Many celebrated this as a win for diversity in Disney films. Further cast announcements for Donnie Yen, Gong Li, Jet Li, and Xana Tang were made in April 2018, Utkarsh Ambudkar and Ron Yuan in May, Yoson An and Chum Ehelepola in June, Jason Scott Lee in July, Tzi Ma, Rosalind Chao, Cheng Pei-Pei, Nelson Lee, Jimmy Wong and Doua Moua in August, and Chen Tang in September.
DirectorDisney originally sought an Asian director. Disney first considered Ang Lee, Taiwanese film director and two-time Academy Award winner for Best Director. The Hollywood Reporter mentioned that Lee was approached but declined on October 12, 2016. According to the report, published on November 22, 2016, he said that he would like to see an Asian director leading the film, but he himself had to decline because he was still obliged to promote his film Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. Next, Disney met with Jiang Wen for the position; finally on February 14, 2017, Niki Caro was hired as the director of the film, which made Mulan the second Disney film with a female director and a budget above $100 million following A Wrinkle in Time.
Filmingbegan on August 13, 2018, at different locations in New Zealand and China and wrapped on November 25, 2018. According to actress Gong Li, the film's production budget was $290–300 million due to the "massive and...unprecedented scale" of the sets, although the actual figure was later reported to be $200 million. The budget makes Mulan the most expensive film ever directed by a woman.
Post-productionThe visual effects are provided by Sony Pictures Imageworks, Weta Digital, Framestore, and Image Engine, with Seth Maury and Andres Langlands serving as visual effects supervisors and Sean Andrew Faden serving as production supervisor.
MusicDirector Niki Caro revealed that the remake won't feature any songs from the original film; the film instead will feature instrumental versions of the original film's songs. Caro later explained that the songs were deleted because she felt it didn't fit with her realistic vision of the film; she believes that since people do not break out into song as they enter war, the film should not either. Though she still tried to "honour the music from the animation in a very significant way", she did not want to disrespect the original film in any way; however, she claimed she could not find a place to squeeze in the original music. Producer Jason T. Reed clarified Caro's previous statement by saying that the songs will be featured "in a slightly different way" in the remake.
Harry Gregson-Williams, who previously worked with Caro on The Zookeeper's Wife, composed the film's score.
Matthew Wilder, who previously co-wrote the songs for the original film, revealed that the remake will feature a new version of the song "Reflection", and that the song "thematically plays a large part in the new movie throughout the score". Christina Aguilera, who previously performed an end-credits version of "Reflection" for the original film, confirmed during a performance in The Xperience that she had recorded a new version of "Reflection", as well as new material for the remake's soundtrack. On March 6, 2020, she released a new single for the film's soundtrack, titled "Loyal Brave True". The song was written by Jamie Hartman, Harry Gregson-Williams, Rosi Golan and Billy Crabtree, and produced by Jamie Hartman. The song was also released in Spanish, as "El Mejor Guerrero". Additionally, the singer confirmed that she would also release a re-recorded version of "Reflection". On March 8, a Mandarin-version of the song, titled "自己", performed by Liu Yifei was released. Liu's interpretation is a revisitation of the Mandarin-language version of Aguilera's song, originally performed for the animated movie by Hong Kong-Chinese American singer Coco Lee, who also voiced Mulan in the Taiwanese Mandarin dubbing in 1998.
ReleaseMulan was originally scheduled for a November 2, 2018 release, but was delayed, with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms taking its slot. It was rescheduled for March 27, 2020 before being removed from the release calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film later rescheduled for July 24, 2020, taking the former slot of Jungle Cruise, and then was delayed again to August 21, 2020. Film executives estimated that each time the film was delayed it cost Disney between $200,000 and $400,000 in marketing fees, a figure that could reach $5 million if it was moved out of the summer season altogether. On July 23, the film was removed from the release calendar once again.
Mulan received a PG-13 rating from the Motion Picture Association; the first Disney live-action remake to be given such a rating. The film's world premiere was held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on March 9, 2020.
MarketingOn July 7, 2019, the official teaser trailer and the official teaser poster were released during the broadcast of the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Final. The teaser trailer was viewed 175.1 million times in its first 24 hours, including 52 million from China, making it the seventh most viewed trailer in that time period. On September 30, an exclusive photo featuring Liu as a soldier in the Imperial Army was released on Empires upcoming ' issue. On October 24, a prequel novel written by writer Grace Lin was announced along with a preview being made available online. Entitled Mulan: Before the Sword, the novel was announced to be released on February 11, 2020. On November 4, a video clip filmed during a Toho cinema preview was leaked online, featuring new shots of Mulan as a warrior battling fiercely and taking off her hair band. On November 6, Liu was featured as one of the 25 stars of Next Gen Talent 2019 nominated by The Hollywood Reporter'' with two new studio stills released concurrently. On November 20, the Japanese theatrical poster was released online. On December 5, the official trailer was released with dual versions: the Chinese Weibo debuted a shorter version with different cut and a few shots that were not featured in the US version. On January 26, 2020, 6 individual character posters were released. On February 2, 2020, the final trailer was released.
ControversiesA call to boycott the film began when Liu Yifei reshared an image posted by Chinese newspaper People's Daily. The image included a quote from Chinese reporter Fu Guohao who worked for the Global Times and was subsequently assaulted by protesters during the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests: "I support Hong Kong police. You can beat me now. What a shame for Hong Kong." This sparked international controversy, with Liu being accused of supporting police brutality. The hashtag, #BoycottMulan, has since started trending supporting a boycott of the movie. In response to the controversy, Liu was not present at the 2019 D23 Expo, which gave fans an exclusive sneak peek of the film.
On February 27, 2020, film producer Jason T. Reed said that Mulan's love interest Captain Li Shang was dropped in response to the Me Too movement. In his statement, he explained that "having a commanding officer that is also the sexual love interest was very uncomfortable and we didn't think it was appropriate". The reasoning behind the removal was met with social media backlash from fans of the original film and members of the LGBTQ community, who deemed Shang's relationship with Mulan's male alter ego Ping to be bisexual. Reed was initially surprised by criticism of Shang's removal, but acknowledged that the character had become a "LGBTQ icon", and clarified that Shang's role would be served by two new characters, Commander Tung and Chen Honghui.