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'Mulan' Director Announced: Niki Caro to Direct Live-Action Film

Niki Caro, best known for her award-winning film "Whale Rider," will direct Disney's live-action "Mulan," which is scheduled for a 2018 release.
Mulan is currently Disney's only Princess from East Asia.
Mulan is currently Disney's only Princess from East Asia.Buena Vista Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Niki Caro, best known for her award-winning 2002 film "Whale Rider," will direct Disney's live-action "Mulan" film, a source close to the project confirmed to NBC News Tuesday.

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" producer Bill Kong will also serve as the film's executive producer.

The news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

Caro's "Whale Rider" received numerous awards, including an Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Film and the World Cinema Audience award at Sundance. The film's star, Keisha Castle-Hughes, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress at 13 years old.

According to THR, Caro will be the second woman at Disney to direct a film with a budget of more than $100 million. (Ava DuVernay's "A Wrinkle in Time," scheduled for 2018, was the first.)

Disney's upcoming production is just one of the "Mulan" films expected in the coming years. In September, Sony announced plans to produce its own "Mulan" film, which will be directed by Alex Graves ("The West Wing," "Game of Thrones").

THR also reported that Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee and "Rogue One" director Jiang Wen both met with Disney last year about directing the film. (Lee passed, citing his commitment to "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.")

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Since both films were announced last year, there have been renewed calls for both studios to cast Asians or Asian Americans. Concerns grew last October after an anonymous letter posted on the blog Angry Asian Man about the initial spec script purchased by Disney, which featured a while male lead who "ultimately gets the honor of defeating the primary enemy of China, not Mulan."

Although neither films have announced a cast, Disney clarified the primary cast would be Chinese, said it is currently on a "global casting search" for a Chinese actress to play the lead.

Disney's film is scheduled for a November 2018 release.

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