Disney’s new Mulan will be the first of the Disney live-action remakes to receive a PG-13 rating. Mulan has had a slightly bumpy road these last few years. The film was originally set to release in 2018, then moving to 2019, before finally settling on a March 27, 2020, release. Also, before Mulan even began shooting, it faced controversy over initial script drafts having Mulan join forces with a white merchant. Plus, last summer, after the film’s star, Liu Yifei, supported Hong Kong police as they were accused of using excessive force during an anti-government demonstration in Hong Kong, Mulan faced a boycott hashtag. However, despite the ups and downs, the rumored “biggest budget” Disney film, has shown plenty of promise with its new ideas for the legendary Chinese tale.
Directed by Niki Caro, the second female director to take charge of a Disney project with a budget of over $100 million, the live-action version of Mulan is not a carbon copy of the 1998 animated film. It is not a musical like previous live-action remakes, and it also does not feature prominent characters like Mushu. New characters like the villains Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee) and the female antagonist Xian Lang (Gong Li), a powerful witch, can be seen in the film’s trailer. However, despite the changes from the previous version, the story revolving around Mulan joining the army to take the place of her ailing father is still very much intact. With just over a month away from its theatrical release, along with its other changes, another announcement regarding the film has come out that will differentiate it from other Disney projects over the past few years.
Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Disney’s live-action version of Mulan was rated PG-13 for “sequences of violence.” With this, Mulan becomes the first live-action Disney remake to be rated PG-13. It’s also the first PG-13 film from Disney’s in-house live-action studio (which is separate from Marvel and Lucasfilm) since 2017’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
It’s interesting to see how Caro and Disney have approached Mulan, and it is also a breath of fresh air when compared to the rather pointless remakes like Aladdin and Beauty in the Beast. Although the film is a fantasy, the PG-13 rating seems to show how Caro has stuck with this somewhat grounded and intense approach to the live-action remake. Also, with the exclusion of Mushu, Mulan looks to be a more serious story this time around because there was next to no funny moments in the trailers, but there was plenty of action.
Whether this rating will hurt Mulan’s performance at the box office remains to be seen, as Disney will be hoping Caro’s retelling of the popular animated film will continue their streak of financially successful live-action remakes. Even the last Disney title to receive a PG-13 rating, Dead Men Tell No Tales, brought in big numbers at the worldwide box office. And with Mulan’s strong Asian cast, they will be hoping international markets will prove to be a big part of their success. Currently, due to fears surrounding the Coronavirus, a China release does not likely for Mulan, but hopefully, that situation can change.