Mulan is coming back to theatres.  

A few days ago, Disney launched a trailer for the live-action remake of the film that was first released in 1998.  

The story is about Mulan, a woman warrior who pretended to be a man to replace her father as a fighter for China’s imperial army. 

Twenty years ago, the film flopped in China, the birthplace of Mulan. Disney is exhausting every means this time to make sure that the country embraces its adaptation of China’s legendary heroine.

Film revenues

China was not among Disney’s major markets when the first Mulan was released two decades ago. But today, the country is on the second spot of Disney’s most significant market worldwide.

A big chunk of the revenues of Holywood films come from overseas, with China contributing millions to the box office profits.

Xueting Christine Ni, a writer and cultural analyst, said that a movie’s revenue nowadays is highly dependent on how the Chinese audience receives it.

Disney is very much aware of this, that’s why it’s willing to spend £240mon the film. Previous Disney films have not succeeded in becoming box office hits in China, unlike Dreaorks Studios’ Kung Fu Panda.

Stanley Rosen believes that for Disney to achieve their box office goal, they must correctly portray the cultural aspects of Mulan. Rosen is a political science professor at the University of Southern California.

Ni says the original Mulan was very stereotypical Chinese – think pandas, lanterns, and fireworks. On the other hand, the film’s humor and the pacing were undeniably American.

The crucial factors

The choice of artists to portray the film’s legendary roles has always been the crucial part, but Disney was able to cast a powerhouse of actors.

The titular role will be portrayed by Liu Yifei, a Chinese American actress. Martial arts expert Jet Li will play the part of the Chinese emperor while renowned actress Gong Li will play the role of the evil sorceress.

To perfectly capture the cultural aspects of the film, Disney used the original material, the Ballad of Mulan, for inspiration in writing the film’s script. They also shot part of the movie in China, and a female director was also employed to make sure the film stays female-centered.

According to Ni, the trailer of the current film looks more similar to the Hua Mulan that the Chinese people know.

The missing elements

With the release of the trailer, the film has received some criticisms.

The removal of some of the film’s original songs in the new adaptation caused discontentment to some fans.  The absence of Mushu, the fun-loving dragon who helps Mulan in her missions, also saddened some fans.

Mulan’s lucky cricket and grandmother were likewise not featured in the current adaptation. The heroine’s younger sister replaced them.

Some also pointed out the historical errors in the trailer, specifically the inconsistencies of the house where Mulan lived with the actual era when the Chines built those kinds of homes.

On the other hand, many fans also expressed their contentment with the upcoming film. One fan shared her joy of finally having a Chinese Disney Princess that no other nationality can own.

Mulan is expected to be hit the theatres on March 2020.