The Lion King grossed $968.5m, Beauty and the Beast raked in $1.26bn, Jungle Book made $966.6m, and Aladdin $1.046m. Disney’s live-action remakes have consistently (apart from Dumbo) been up there with the most successful movies of the past few years. I will eat my hat if Mulan is any different.
The cast includes a large number of stars who have already made it big in the Chinese market, one of the biggest in the world, but are now making strides in Hollywood. Donnie Yen may be most well-known in the Western World for his part in the Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One, whilst Yifei Liu (Mulan) is no stranger to a box office hit due to her role in The Forbidden Kingdom. It’s a strong cast.
The story of Mulan has always been a favourite, the original was the 7th highest-grossing film in 1988. Interestingly, Mulan was initially Disney’s attempt (oh, how times have changed) to get in on the emerging Chinese market – Hua Mulan was a 6th-century Chinese ballad – only it somewhat missed the mark. Something to do with the uncomfortable stereotyping or the over-Americanisation of a traditional Chinese tale, bordering on cultural appropriation, perhaps? Whilst this didn’t affect sales at the time, a more culturally aware 2019 audience may feel differently if Disney were to repeat its faux pas.
Instead, the new Mulan will focus on its strong female lead and highlighting without trivialising Chinese culture… and yes, that means without the songs… no matter how catchy they are. Whilst this may have caused global controversy (really), may I take this opportunity to refer you back to the list I made at the start of this article – Disney seems to know what they’re doing here!