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Disney continues to net box office gold with its live-action remakes of animated classics. Films such as Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King have brought in massive audiences and rekindled movie-going for families.

The studio’s upcoming film Mulan is already causing buzz due to its strong female heroine leading the story as well as being given the first PG-13 rating for a Disney live-action remake.

“Mulan” Director Niki Caro | Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

No Mushu?

Set to hit theaters on March 27, Mulan tells the classic story of a courageous young woman who disguises herself as a man to take the place of her ailing father in China’s Imperial Army. Exhibiting selfless bravery and devotion to her family and country, Mulan becomes one of China’s most honored warriors. Niki Caro, who already has several directorial credits to her name including Whale Rider and The Zookeeper’s Wife, serves as director, and actress Yifei Liu portrays the title role.

The live-action installment of the film will be a big departure from the animated version, which was voiced by Ming-Na Wen and Eddie Murphy in 1998 and was presented as a musical. According to Forbes, the 2020 dramatic interpretation eliminates the comical dragon sidekick and introduces a different villain (Gong Li’s evil witch).

Adding a number to the rating

The Motion Picture Association of America decided to give 2020’s Mulan a rating of PG-13 due to “sequences of violence,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. This film is the first Disney live-action remake of animated classics to receive a rating above PG. Disney’s live action studio has not received a PG-13 rating since Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in 2017. 

The film’s trailer depicts various scenes of war and action, giving the impression that this version of Mulan will focus more on the battle the heroine had to fight rather than going with a comedic bent as in the original animation.

Action sequences will be heavy on martial arts, where Caro wants to stay true to the cultural significance of the story. “In all my work that is centered in cultures not my own, I hope that comes through, because that is incredibly important to me,” she told the Hollywood Reporter in 2017 on the importance of cultural accuracy. “When I made Whale Rider, I saw that to be specific and authentic is to be universal, and I’ve continued to work in an identical way ever since. As the projects get bigger, the more certain I am that cultural authenticity and specificity is the only way to approach my work.”

Coronavirus could affect box office

Business Insider reports that a release date for Mulan has not yet been set for theaters in China due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus. With China being ranked the second-largest theatrical industry behind the U.S., studio forecasters are already anticipating a blow to the box office in China due to the health crisis.

“The longer this tragic situation continues, the greater the impact will be on all of the studios, their movies, and indeed all of the arts in China,” Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said. “Of course, there will still be a natural hesitation to avoid public spaces even when the situation is contained, so release dates for the 2020 overall movie slate in China could change dramatically.”

Mulan is schedule to hit theaters in the U.S. on March 27.