By Ed Diokno
Views from the Edge
Mulan, the live-action version, has found its director. New Zealand native Niki Caro will direct the Disney production, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Caro is not new to films with women lead characters. Her breakout film was Whale Rider, a highly praised film about a Maori family starring a young Keisha Castle-Hughes in the lead role.
Caro’s most recent film, The Zookeeper’s Wife, has been praised for its gender-inclusive production crew by its star, Jessica Chaistain.
Disney had initially sought an Asian director for the project, meeting with Ang Lee (who passed, citing scheduling) and Rogue One star Jiang Wen, a well-known director in his native China.
To help ensure the movie’s cultural authenticity, the studio is bringing on Hong Kong-based super-producer Bill Kong as executive producer. Kong produced the most successful Chinese films to cross over — Hero, House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, for which he received an Oscar nomination — as well as many of China’s biggest hits, including Monster Hunt, Wolf Totem and Journey to the West.
Disney had to fight off rumors during the writing of the script when rumors started to circulate that the male lead would be changed by casting a white actor by assuring that the cast will be all Chinese, or at the very least, all-Asian.
Bad news for AAPI actors: According to THR, the studio is focusing its casting search in mainland China for the main roles, including the legendary woman warrior herself.
Like most Hollywood studios, Disney hopes to cash in on the growing China market. The actress must be fluent in Mandarin and English. Casting decisions will probably be announced soon. Production will be in China and shoot from April through to October.
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