Of all the film to be affected by the pandemic, few have had their release dates postponed quite as many times as Mulan, but the hotly-anticipated live action remake’s launch date is almost upon us at last.
Bypassing a cinema release altogether, the film is now on streaming service Disney+ at a premium of £19.99 for subscribers in what Disney has called a “one-off” plan.
Like the 1998 animated favourite, the film is based on the Chinese legend about a young woman who masquerades as a man to go to war, but there are a few differences between the two versions – including the absence of Mushu and a lack of songs. We’ve broken down the main Mulan changes detailing the reasons why.
It is the latest in a long line of classic films Disney is giving the live-action treatment to, joining Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Aladdin, The Lion King and Jungle Book, with more set to follow as well.
We’ve taken a look at who is playing the warrior, the controversy surrounding the rest of the cast, and whether there will actually be any songs in the new version. So let’s get down to business.
When is Mulan’s Disney+ release date?
Disney’s live-action Mulan became available on Disney+ on 4th September. There is a one off payment required to access Mulan and you need to be signed up Disney+ to the service to watch it. In the UK it cost you £19.99 for access to Mulan, but you can watch it as many times as you want. It’s also available in Ultra HD, HDR, and Dolby Audio.
And if that price seems a bit high for you right now, don’t worry: the film will be available at no extra cost just three months after its original release, with Disney confirming that it would be released to all Disney+ subscribers on 4th December 2020.
Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek announced the premier access plan in the company’s quarterly financial update, and said that in the US the cost for premiere access streaming of the movie via Disney+ will be $29.99 (£22.95). The film will still be shown in cinemas where the streaming service isn’t available.
Mulan was then set for released in cinemas in the UK and US on 27th March 2020 but thanks to the COVID pandemic it had to be postponed again. Earlier the same day Disney said it had cancelled the European Premiere red carpet “in an abundance of caution”. Mulan was later given a new date of 21st August 2020, but then Disney dropped it from the schedule. Now Mulan is finally getting its release on Disney+ and cinemas where the platform isn’t available.
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has decided on its Mulan rating, with the movie a 12A in the UK.
With the one off payment required to access Mulan, you can watch it as many times as you want.
Will there be songs in Mulan 2020?
One thing is for certain, the movie will definitely include some songs. It was announced in March 2020 that award-winning singer/songwriter Christina Aguilera had not only recorded original song Loyal Brave True for the live action feature, but that she will also reprise Reflection – a song she performed for the 1998 animation when she was just sixteen years old.
Speaking of her involvement, Aguilera said: “The film Mulan and the song ‘Reflection’ coincided with getting me my first record deal. It’s amazing to come back to such an incredible movie that’s full of power and meaning, and that meaning holds the test of time: staying true to yourself, being who you are, and teaching how to be fearless.
“My new song, ‘Loyal Brave True,’ represents the fine balance between vulnerability and strength.”
As for whether other songs from the original will feature in the Mulan 2020 soundtrack, well, this has caused quite a bit of confusion…
In an interview with Moviefone in March 2017, Caro said there would not be any songs. “From what I understand, no songs right now, much to the horror of my children,” she said.
However, later that month, Caro seemed to have changed her mind as she told The LA Times: “I don’t know where that’s come from. We’ve never talked about songs, and no decision has been made.”
Then in April 2017, Caro told The Hollywood Reporter: “We’re still exploring the role that music’s going to play in it, but for sure there will be music.”
Fans were understandably upset at the idea of not having hits like I’ll Make a Man Out of You, A Girl Worth Fighting For, and many more.
Deep breath! Now Caro has cleared up the confusion. She said at a presentation of footage from the movie: “I mean, back to the realism question – we don’t tend to break into song when we go to war. Not that I’m saying anything against the animation. The songs are brilliant, and if I could squeeze them in there, I would have.
“But we do honor the music from the animation in a very significant way. I guess that’s the biggest thing for me about making – remaking – an iconic title like Mulan in live-action. It’s the fact that it can be real, and it’s the real story of a girl going to war.”
Harry Gregson-Williams (The Martian, The Chronicles of Narnia) has scored the film.
Is there a trailer for Mulan?
The final trailer was released during the Super Bowl 2020. The film is the first Disney live-action remake to receive a PG-13 rating.
A trailer was also released on 5th December. “Loyal, brave and true. It is my duty to protect my family,” Mulan says.
Chinese actress Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu (The Forbidden Kingdom, Outcast) will play Mulan. The casting call asked for someone with “credible martial arts skill” and English language skills so Liu Yifei fits the bill.
Apparently not, the first initial cast list left off the wisecracking, fast talking dragon sidekick. That’s right – no Mushu.
“I think we can all appreciate that Mushu is irreplaceable,” Caro said at a Mulan footage presentation. “You know, the animated classic stands on its own in that regard. In this movie, there is a creature representative – a spiritual representation of the ancestors, and most particularly of Mulan’s relationship with her father. But an update of Mushu? No.”
The cast also shared snaps of them sporting sweatshirts with the fire bird symbol, suggesting a phoenix may play more of a role. Caro dismissed this too.
“So, on the left and right hand of the emperor is a dragon,” she said. “The dragon is representative of the masculine, and the phoenix is representative of the feminine. In a movie, in a story that so much explores gender fluidity, I thought that that was a really nice and appropriate way to go.”
Why there’s no Li Shang in the Mulan remake
No, Li Shang is not in the Mulan remake! This caused a lot of controversy when it emerged in 2017. A casting call notice listed the characters in the new movie, but left of Mulan’s love interest, instead listing Chen Honghui. Disney has since confirmed he will replace Li Shang as the main love interest for our heroine.
Much like the original 1998 animated version starring Eddie Murphy, the remake will follow the popular Chinese folktale about a young warrior woman, Mulan, who masquerades as a man. It’s thought the remake will follow the legend a bit more closely, for starters there’s a witch in it.
In the original movie, when Mulan learns that her injured father is to be called up into the army to fight the invading Huns, a mission he would not survive, she decides to disguise herself as a man and go to battle in his place.
But what Mulan doesn’t realise is that her ancestors are aware of her plan and, in order to stop it, order a tiny dragon, Mushu, to dissuade her.
Mushu agrees, but when he meets Mulan it soon becomes clear that she will not abandon her plan, so in the end the little dragon decides to support her on her dangerous journey.
Details of the remake have been kept largely under wraps, but director Niki Caro has said the new film will be “a big, girly martial arts epic. It will be extremely muscular and thrilling and entertaining and moving.”
The synopsis reads: “Mulan is the epic adventure of a fearless young woman who masquerades as a man in order to fight Northern Invaders attacking China. The eldest daughter of an honored warrior, Hua Mulan is spirited, determined and quick on her feet. When the Emperor issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army, she steps in to take the place of her ailing father as Hua Jun, becoming one of China’s greatest warriors ever.”
Who will direct Mulan?
Niki Caro has directed the remake with Crouching Tiger producer Bill Kong as executive producer, as first reported by Hollywood Reporter.
Disney had considered Wonder Woman’s Patty Jenkins and Michelle MacLaren (Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones) as well as Asian director Ang Lee.
Who wrote Mulan 2020’s script?
Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Jurassic World) were brought in to rewrite the original 2015 script – they’re also working on the Avatar sequel films.
The original writer’s spec was by Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin and was based on the legendary Chinese ballad and the 1998 film – the result was a story that fell somewhere in between according to Disney. Controversy arose when reports surfaced that the original spec had non-Chinese characters and a white male lead as a “30-something European trader” who falls in love with Mulan. Sounds more Pocahontas to us.
The anonymous letter that led to the report went so far as to claim that Jennifer Lawrence and Zac Efron had read for parts. Jason Reed will produce alongside Chris Bender and Jake Weiner.
Why are there calls to boycott Mulan?
There are already calls to boycott the movie though they are nothing to do with Mulan itself. Lead actress Liu Yifei expressed support for the Hong Kong police on Chinese social channel Weibo earlier this year sparking controversy. Hong Kong was experiencing a period of unrest triggered by draft legislation that would have allowed criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China.
Protests against the bill were happening in the country, though the bill was shelved for now. The protests grew into a wider pro-democracy, anti-government demonstration in Hong Kong that resulted in clashes between the police and protesters.
Liu posted: “I support Hong Kong’s police, you can beat me up now. What a shame for Hong Kong. #Ialsosupporthongkongpolice#,” and added her own post saying: “I also support the Hong Kong police.” Some have said her post supports police brutality and is anti-democratic.
Mulan remake’s record-breaking budget
Mulan’s remake is already on track to become the most expensive movie ever made, according to Pursue News. When the film was in pre-production in New Zealand it had already racked up a hefty budget.
Disney set aside $290m plus for the film, which makes Niki Caro the fourth woman to ever direct a solo live-action film with a budget of more than $100m. She also tops the list as the only female director to have led a project with a budget of $290m plus. Before the higher budget was leaked Caro was the second woman at the studio to direct a movie budgeted at over $100m (Ava DuVernay was the first, if you’re interested, for A Wrinkle in Time).
The sets, built by the same crew who worked on Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok, are apparently on an unprecedented scale.
Mulan’s box office
James Bond’s No Time To Die, which was set to be released in April, has now been moved to November after the producers assessed ‘the global market’. It makes sense the delays will have a monetary impact, but delaying could mean higher turn out when the film finally gets its release. Mulan was Disney’s bet at breaking the China market, but it’s looking like it may have to revise that expectation now.