Saturday, 19 November 2016

Ang Lee turns down Walt Disney Pictures' Mulan remake

As Walt Disney Pictures continue to dig into their animated classic back catalogue for new live action projects, the Mouse House are currently preparing a live action remake of Mulan (1998) – and after billion dollar successes with the likes of Alice In Wonderland (2010) and The Jungle Book, you can hardly blame them. Things are already moving at pace on Mulan – Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin have developed a script, with rewrites by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Jurassic World), and a release date has been set, but we don't yet know who is going to be calling the shots. We do know who is not directing it, though, with news arriving via The Hollywood Reporter that Ang Lee (Life Of Pi) has turned down the offer.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lee was approached by Walt Disney Pictures, who are keen to find an Asian director for the China set tale, apparently sensitive to accusations of whitewashing. Disney also intend to have a predominantly Chinese cast, with both Mulan and her love interest to be played by Asian actors. Taiwanese born Lee, with experience in telling stories from both sides of the globe, would have been a smart choice. But he has turned down the offer, without giving a reason.

The ancient legend of Hua Mulan, a warrior woman from the 5th century who disguised herself as a man to fight in her father's army, has proved ripe ground for adaptations. Many films based on her story have already been produced, and continue to be – along with Disney's effort, Sony Pictures are also plotting their own rival version of the story, also live action. Sony's version is still in the embryonic stages, however, and will probably arrive a little later than Disney's, which is currently slated for a 2 November 2018 release date.

Ang Lee, meanwhile, is busy promoting his latest film, the war drama Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which is out in the US now and will arrive in the UK in January. Beyond that, he has been developing a film based on the famous Thrilla in Manila boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, which certainly seems about as far away from Mulan as it is possible to get.

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