Many Disney detractors like to ask how the studio’s recent deluge of live-action remakes are in any way different from their earlier, animated counterparts: well, now we seem to have our answer. In some cases at least, these live-action remakes will serve as jumping-off points to larger, wholly original franchises – based in the remakes, but then expanding beyond them into new, uncharted territory. So far, the 2019 remake of Aladdin has both a sequel and a spinoff series coming in the near future; 2017’s Beauty And The Beast has a spinoff series in the works; and now, according to rumors, the upcoming Mulan remake will also receive a sequel.
Now, if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know I’m excited to see what director Niki Caro and her team have done with my favorite Disney animated classic. Mulan is already a fabulous story, and Caro seems to have done her best to make this remake in particular a more unique and visionary interpretation of the source material – she has borrowed inspiration not only from the animated film, but also from the ancient Chinese ballad that is held dear by the people of Mulan‘s native culture. But still, one has to wonder: how can Disney be so confident in the film that they’ve already begun early production on a sequel, when they can’t even be confident in the film’s release date?
Mulan was originally supposed to premiere in theaters late last month, meaning this would be around the time we would probably have started hearing all these sequel rumors anyway. But now, with the swift advent of the coronavirus pandemic, Mulan‘s release has been delayed to late July, taking the spot that had been reserved for Disney’s Jungle Cruise. With no end to the crisis in sight, July seems very optimistic – even if movie theaters are reopened by then, will audiences feel comfortable going back to them? And the biggest question is what will happen in China, where Mulan has always been hoping to make a large percentage (or even a majority) of its money: that country, unfortunately, has been one of the hardest hit by coronavirus, and we simply have no idea when their economy will be up and running again – and their film industry, which had been one of the largest in the world prior to the virus, will likely suffer irreparable damage.
There is no word on what the sequel will be about, or how it will expand on the story in Caro’s Mulan. Caro herself isn’t confirmed to be returning yet, and nor are the cast (though, at the very least, one has to imagine that Liu Yifei will return as Mulan: unless, of course, the personal controversies surrounding the actress prevent her from staying with the franchise). But as someone who already loves the look of the new remake, I’d be very excited to see where a sequel could take us. With the amount of effort that has clearly been poured into every aspect of the film’s world-building, it seems almost a shame not to continue the story – but it also sounds like a risky endeavor at the moment, when we can’t even be sure that Mulan will (a) make its release date, or (b) make enough money to cover its huge budget, much less enough to warrant a sequel.
What do you think? Does Mulan need a sequel, or do you have to wait to see the movie before you can decide? Do you like the idea of more Disney live-action remakes being turned into new franchises? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!