When “Mulan” opens in theaters later this month, it will make history as the most expensive live-action film ever directed by a female filmmaker. The live-action Disney epic carries a budget of at least $200 million before marketing costs. At the center of that budget is Niki Caro, the New Zealand writer-director best known for Oscar-nominated dramas “Whale Rider” and “North Country.”
Several male directors have had the chance to work with a $200 million budget, but that hasn’t been the case for female filmmakers. Caro tells /Film directing “Mulan” presented several intimidating obstacles, but the budget was never one of them.
“The intimidating thing was my responsibility to the story, to the studio, and to the audience,” Caro told the outlet. “As far as budget goes, no, I was not intimidated. With every film I've made, ‘Whale Rider’ included, I've had a vision that was far bigger than the budget allowed. So this time, to be able to have a budget equal to the very epic vision in my head, was just really satisfying.”
The $200 million budget went towards giving “Mulan” the scope and feel of large-scale war epics, which meant Caro was tasked with directing thousands of extras and crew. The budget also means “Mulan” has to break the bank worldwide if it wants to be profitable. The coronavirus outbreak has shut down movie theaters in China, which could greatly affect the worldwide box office performance for “Mulan.” Based on first reactions, it appears Caro used the film’s $200 million budget to great effect.
Fandango managing editor Erik Davis reacted to film by calling it “exciting, vibrant, emotional” and giving a shoutout to its “stunning production design and fight choreography.” Peter Sciretta of /Film called Caro’s action scenes “thrilling,” while critic Angie J. Han calls “Mulan” the “best of the Disney live-action remakes since ‘Cinderella.'” Han adds the film “delivers gorgeous action, heart, and humor.”
Disney is opening “Mulan” in theaters nationwide March 27.
#Mulan is exciting, vibrant, emotional, and different from the animated version. It’s definitely its own thing, which I dug – a more mature Disney film, featuring stunning production design & fight choreography. Director Niki Caro & star Liu Yifei are the big stand-outs, imo pic.twitter.com/p6IEQUDNBu
— Erik Davis @ErikDavis March 10, 2020
#Mulan is the best of the Disney live-action remakes since Cinderella — I didn't even miss the songs. Finds new notes in a story we already know while delivering gorgeous action, heart, and humor. Liu Yifei is...
Although “The L Word: Generation Q” may have tried desperately to speak to a “new generation” of queer women and non-binary folks, fresher creative voices quickly rose to the top in its place. Though people still watched. Showtime’s “Work in Progress” was the best queer comedy of the year, Netflix’s “Feel Good” was an unexpected delight, and “Vida” is returning just in time for queer audiences to catch up on the best show about queer women of color on TV. Yet another contender released a promising first trailer today: “Betty” is a stylish and youthful portrait of Brooklyn teen skaters that already appears extremely queer.
The six-part half-hour arrives on HBO from filmmaker Crystal Moselle, who quickly made waves in 2015 with her her riveting documentary hybrid “The Wolfpack.” “Betty” is adapted from her second feature, the similarly hybridized “Skate Kitchen,” which followed a group of teenage girl skaters in New York City. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews and was released by Magnolia Pictures that year.
In his B+ review of “Skate Kitchen” out of Sundance, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote: “The streetwise alternative to ‘Girls,’ the movie weaves together such a complete vision of its subjects that the rest of the world barely exists. Of course, there's a long-standing precedent to capturing this subculture — ‘Kids’ did it, with more adventurous storytelling twists, more than 20 years ago — but Moselle's subjects hold their own with the surprising ability to clarify their emotions through the cathartic process of hanging out.”
“Betty” features many of the film’s original stars, most of whom had not acted before, including Kabrina Adams, Dede Lovelace, Nina Moran, Rachelle Vinberg, and Ajani Russell. All accomplished skaters in their own right, the first trailer shows the charismatic crew navigating various crushes and friendship trials with compelling panache and humor.
“Betty” is directed, co-written, and executive produced by Moselle. Lesley Arfin and Patricia Breen are also co-writers. Arfin, who also EPs, is a comedy writer best known for co-creating the Netflix series “Love” with Judd Apatow and Paul Rust.
HBO will release “Betty” beginning May 1 at 11 pm ET. Check out the exciting first trailer below:
Disney+ may benefit from further delays with the studio's theatrical releases as more movies may be going directly to the streaming service in the future. This, according to former Disney CEO and current Executive Chairman Bob Iger. It was recently revealed that Artemis Fowl will debut on Disney+ sometime this year, skipping a theatrical release. As Iger explains, that may not be the only title to make the move from theatrical to streaming, but don't expect to see it happen with the studio's upcoming tentpole releases.
Given what's going on in the world right now, most movie theaters are shut down entirely and virtually all major releases through June have been delayed. Some have wondered if Disney might put movies like Black Widow or Mulan on Disney+ instead. While that won't be happening, Bob Iger isn't ruling out other movies making the shift. Here's what Iger had to say about it in a recent interview.'There are some we've decided to put on Disney+. We already announced one, Artemis Fowl, that would have been released in theaters. Others we've simply delayed. In some cases we've moved things onto Disney+ faster than we would have. Frozen 2 was one of them, but Onward would be the biggest example. It was in theaters when this happened.' 'We moved to a pay-per-view period for a couple of weeks where people could buy it and own it. And then we ended up putting it on Disney+. In terms of movies going ahead after Artemis, there may be a few more that we end up putting directly onto Disney+, but for the most part a lot of the big tentpole Disney films, we'll simply wait for slots. In some cases we've announced new ones already, but later on in the calendar.'
There is a lot to unpack here. Black Widow and several other delayed movies were recently given new release dates as Disney reshuffled its 2020/2021 calendar. Black Widow and other big-budget tentpoles stand to make far more money in theaters, even with a relatively uncertain future ahead, than they could possibly generate via streaming. So putting movies like them directly on Disney+ doesn't make that much business sense.
In the meantime, taking riskier projects such as Artemis Fowl and giving Disney+ subscribers something flashy and exclusive is helpful. But what other movies might fit the bill for streaming debuts? The New Mutants perhaps? Whatever the case, as Bob Iger points out, the studio is content to wait until things return to normal. Disney, more than any other studio in Hollywood, is capable of raking in big dollars at the box office. So this truly isn't that surprising.
Other studios, on the other hand, may see value in doing a VOD/Digital release. Universal kicked that door wide open a couple of weeks back by putting recent releases such as The Invisible Man and The Hunt online. Trolls: World Tour, which was destined for theaters, will arrive digitally this month. Disney has not yet set a premiere date for Artemis Fowl, but it's...
Disney has shuffled around its 2020/2021 release calendar, including giving some new dates to some of its biggest movies that were on deck for this year. Namely, Mulan and Jungle Cruise. The former, a live-action remake of the 1998 animated classic of the same name, had previously been delayed from its March date. The latter is an action/adventure flick based on the classic theme park ride, cut from a similar cloth as Pirates of the Caribbean.
Mulan is now set to arrive in theaters on July 24, 2020. This feels like a relatively optimistic date, given that movie theaters all around the U.S., and throughout most of the world, remain shut down for an indefinite period of time, given what's going on right now. Virtually every studio in Hollywood has pushed its planned summer releases, anticipating that the situation will remain as is for at least a couple more months. Be that as it may, Disney is still hoping to get one major blockbuster on the books for summer 2020.
The live-action remake follows in the footsteps of similar Disney hits such as The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. It was directed by Niki Caro and, though full reviews had yet to arrive, early social media buzz from critics who had screened it was incredibly positive. The cast includes Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Yoson An, Gong Li and Jet Li. Unfortunately, Mulan taking up new real estate in July means that Jungle Cruise will be delayed a full year.
Jungle Cruise, which stars Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Emily Blunt, had been set to arrive on that July 24 date. The movie will now open on July 20, 2021. Disney had already released a couple of trailers for the Jaume Collet-Serra-directed adaptation of the Disney attraction. Major delays such as this are a sad reality that has come about due to the unprecedented situation the entertainment industry finds itself in. Similarly, the studio also was forced to push back the long-gestating Indiana Jones 5 a full year as well, which will now arrive in July 2022. It had previously been scheduled for a July 2021 release, but Disney needed to make way for Jungle Cruise instead.
Elsewhere, Disney had to shift around its entire schedule for Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black Widow was forced to vacate its previous May 2020 date and is now opening in November. That forced Eternals to shift to February 2021 and caused something of a domino effect with the other upcoming Marvel titles that were announced last summer. Meanwhile, Artemis Fowl, which was going to arrive in theaters, will now be going straight to Disney+. We'll be sure to keep you posted as any further information as the situation develops. This news was previously reported by Variety.