We’re just 24 hours away from the release of Mulan exclusively to customers with Disney Plus Premier Access, in a move that’s split opinion straight down the middle. For larger families, the decision to watch the movie from the comfort of their own home works out a lot cheaper than shelling out for a trip to the cinema, while single person households aren’t thrilled at the idea of paying an extra $29.99 towards a service they already subscribe to.
Theater owners have definitely got the short end of the straw here, with the latest in Disney’s long line of live-action remakes virtually guaranteed to be one of the biggest box office hits of the year before the Coronavirus pandemic struck, and now an industry that’s still in the early stages of recovery has lost out on a marquee title that had the potential to drum up significant business.
A lot of Disney’s remakes of their classic back catalogue have suffered from relying too heavily on their animated counterparts for inspiration, something that plagued both Aladdin and The Lion King. However, director Niki Caro looks to have re-imagined the 1998 original as a sweeping historical epic that draws inspiration from Eastern wuxia, with the filmmaker making it clear very early on that there won’t be any songs in the movie.
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One major omission that had the fans in uproar is the lack of Mushu, the fast-talking dragon sidekick voiced by Eddie Murphy in the animation. As well as leaving him out to avoid direct comparisons and have the new version of Mulan stand on its own merits, the lucrative Chinese box office also played a huge role in the decision.
Disney didn’t want to upset or offend audiences in the country, who might not have been happy at the idea of a symbol of respect and strength being depicted as wise-cracking comic relief. But getting rid of Mushu looks to have had little bearing on the more grounded Mulan that Caro wanted to make in the first place.