New Zealand native Niki Caro is set to direct Disney’s new live-action Mulan, making Caro the second female to direct a Disney film that’s budgeted over $100 million (Ava DuVernay being the first), and starting the project off with a strong girl power message.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, she will be working alongside executive producer Bill Kong, known for his active role in the Hong Kong film industry and his work on films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero. Kong’s presence on the film is a sign that Disney is going to follow through with the promise made by its producers Chris Bender, Jason Reed and Jake Weiner that Disney is going above and beyond to make sure that the film will be culturally authentic.
Other steps have also been made to ensure this film stays true to Chinese culture, as they have hired Chinese cultural consultants and will be working closely with Disney’s own China-based team throughout the making of the project. The script, originally written by Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin, has been rewritten by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Jurassic World) as it featured non-Chinese characters (the most off-putting of these was a white male lead). The studio is even focusing its casting efforts in mainland China, where they are currently searching for the future face of the famous female-warrior.
All in all this film has the potential to prove that women and minorities are a bigger box office draw than Hollywood has typically given them credit for. Caro last directed McFarland, USA for Disney and her latest The Zookeeper’s Wife, starring Jessica Chastain, is hitting theaters March 31.