– by Joseph Jammer Medina

Over the past few years, Disney has made some hefty profits off of adapting their animated films for live-action. It worked with Cinderella, it worked with The Jungle Book, and the stars certainly seem to be aligning for the upcoming Beauty and the Beast. One film that seems perfectly suited for a live-action adaptation is Mulan, and it was no surprise when Disney officially announced recently that they’d, in fact, be doing exactly that. But who would’ve thought this would be the film mired in such interesting controversy, discussion, and dare I say…imitation…?

Recently, we reported on the controversy surrounding an early script that had a white male at the center of the Chinese conflict. It was later reported that this version of the script had already been reworked, and that the entire cast of the film would be Asian. Bullet dodged, Disney. Bulletdodged.

Now, Disney seems to be making a concerted effort to ensure that Asians are actually being properly represented in the film. Not only are they shooting for an all-Asian cast, but they’re also looking for an Asian director. According to THR, they’ve already had discussions with Life of Pi and Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee, but Lee has passed on the project. It is important to note that there doesn’t necessarily seem to be an emphasis on Chinese for the director, but general Asian. We’ll see how this will be received should they, say, hire a Korean director for the project, but I digress.

In addition to this news, it sounds like Disney won’t be the only ones producing a Mulan film. That’s right, before the hit animated film that we all know and love came out, there was folklore tale of Mulan, which is public domain, meaning anyone can produce a movie based on it. Taking advantage of that is Sony, who is also looking for an Asian director for their iteration of Mulan. Sony certainly has an uphill battle with this one, as Disney has a grip in the public eye as the true originator of this project, and they’ll have to work hard if they want to re-shape that perception. 

Sony will also need to work fast, as Disney is already shooting for a November 2, 2018 release date. If you’ll recall, Warner Bros. faced a similar situation with Jungle Book Origins, which was in development around the same time as Disney’s own Jungle Book film, which hit theaters earlier this year to critical and fan acclaim. Now Jungle Book Origins is pushed back to 2018, but if we’re being real, it seems as though that may fall off the schedule altogether, especially since Disney is hard at work on The Jungle Book 2. If Sony hopes not to fall victim to the same, they’ll have to hurry.

Disney’s Mulan is set to hit theaters on November 2, 2018.

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Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.