Disney's 'Mulan' Gets Down To Business With 'Whale Rider' Director Niki Caro

With Beauty and the Beast just around the corner, Disney's getting down to business on their next live-action remake. Mulan has just locked down a director in Niki Caro, who just recently worked with the studio on McFarland, USA. In addition, they've set Bill Kong (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) to serve as executive producer. 

The Hollywood Reporter broke news of the new Mulan director. Caro's other credits include The Whale Rider and North Country, and her next film, The Zookeeper's Wife starring Jessica Chastain, is due out next month from Focus Features. Interestingly, Caro had been one of the filmmakers said to be in the running for Disney's Captain Marvel. But with Captain Marvel and Mulan opening within a few months of each other, we can safely assume she won't be steering the Marvel superheroine pic.

Caro beat out several other prominent female filmmakers for the job, including Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) and Michelle MacLaren (Game of Thrones). Mulan makes Caro the second woman to direct a $100+ million movie at Disney, after Ava DuVernay on A Wrinkle in Time. Previous reports indicated Disney had been seeking an Asian director for the job. The studio did meet with Ang Lee and Jiang Wen (Rogue One's Baze Malbus, who is also a director), but for whatever reason, neither worked out. A similar situation occurred at Sony, which also hoped to find an Asian filmmaker for its own Mulan movie but ultimately decided to go with white guy Alex Graves (Game of Thrones).

Still, Disney would like you to know that they are taking pains to ensure Mulan is respectful and authentic. To that end, they've hired Kong, a Hong Kong producer who's worked on massive crossover hits like Hero and House of Flying Daggers. He was also behind two of China's biggest homegrown hits, Monster Hunt and Journey to the West. The studio will be collaborating closely with Chinese cultural consultants and its own China-based team. While there was a bit of early controversy when a spec script called for a white male lead, Disney has since clarified that "all primary roles, including the love interest, are Chinese." The search for a star is already underway in mainland China.

The new Mulan is set for release on November 2, 2018, 20 years after Disney's animated version hit theaters.