Walt Disney Pictures is developing a live-action movie based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan that serves as further proof of the studio’s commitment to diverse storytelling, TheWrap has learned.
Disney has purchased a screenplay from the writing team of Elizabeth Martin and Lauren Hynek that follows the Chinese female warrior, whose legend was first told in the 1998 animated movie “Mulan,” which grossed over $300 million worldwide and spawned a direct-to-video sequel.
“Mulan” told the story of a young woman who disguises herself as a man so she can join the army and fight in a war. The character first appeared in an ancient Chinese poem, and it’s unknown whether Mulan is based on a real heroine or if the poem was merely an allegory.
Chris Bender and J.C. Spink are producing the “Mulan” movie, which is the latest animated classic to get the live-action treatment at Disney, following “Maleficent” and “Cinderella,” with “Beauty and the Beast” and “Dumbo” on the horizon.
“Mulan” is the latest Disney movie to feature a protagonist of color. Young Indian-American actor Neel Sethi is playing Mowgli in Jon Favreau‘s “The Jungle Book,” while “Moana” follows a young girl as she searches for a fabled island in the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania. Disney has not cast the Polynesian princess yet, but Dwayne Johnson is poised to voice the male lead, a demi-god named Maui.
The lead character in Disney’s “Big Hero 6” was voiced by Ryan Potter, a half-Japanese actor, while “The Jungle Book” also features the voices of Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito. Nyong’o is also part of Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ensemble, which also includes John Boyega and Oscar Isaac.
Additionally, Disney cast Oscar-winning Spanish star Javier Bardem as the villain in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” and the studio recently released “McFarland, USA” about a young Latino cross-country team.
With the Chinese box office playing an increasingly important role in Hollywood’s mysterious greenlight process, “Mulan” is the perfect library title for Disney to adapt as a live-action movie, as the character appeals to Asian audiences. Disney is perhaps the most well-known studio around the world, and it’s clear the studio is going to great lengths to tell a wide range of stories featuring diverse characters and actors.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the “Mulan” news.