Disney’s live-action reboot of Mulan has finally found a director: After announcing the project in March 2015, the studio has landed on Whale Rider director Niki Caro to direct, with Bill Kong (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) serving as producer.
The animated Mulan from 1998 was based on the Chinese legend of a young woman who pretends to be a man to take her father’s place joining the army against a Hun invasion. Caro’s hiring is notable as it’s only the second time Disney has tapped a woman to direct a big budget production. (The first was Selma director Ava DuVernay for the upcoming A Wrinkle in Time.)
Though Disney opted to not go with an Asian director for the live-action adaptation, the studio plans to have “extensive conversations with Chinese cultural consultants” to ensure the movie is authentic. In October, Disney came under fire when it was rumored the film would feature a historically inaccurate “thirtysomething European trader” love interest for Mulan, who would help her defend China against invasion.
“The spec script was a jumping-off point for a new take on the story that draws from both the literary ballad of Mulan and Disney’s 1998 animated film,” a studio source assured Vulture. “Mulan is and will always be the lead character in the story, and all primary roles, including the love interest, are Chinese.”
Sony Pictures announced plans for its own Mulan film around the same time Disney did, and is currently searching for an Asian director to helm its project.