UPDATE 8/5/20: Disney has announced that Mulan will be made available on Disney+ for $29.99 starting September 4. Here’s everything you need to know about the move.
If we play a little fast and loose with the definition, then Disney has released 16 live-action remakes of animated classics. Some of these have been varying levels of enjoyable while others have been downright laughable. While nearly all of these releases have proven to be massive moneymakers for Disney, they rarely measure up to their original predecessors in terms of quality.
The average Rotten Tomatoes score for a Disney live-action remake is a hair under 60 percent, hardly an ideal outcome for a content-first conglomerate like the Mouse House. Last year, Disney released four live-action remakes theatrically and while they generated more than $3 billion at the global box office combined, not a single one was certified fresh. Ouch.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying that the pressure is on Mulan. The upcoming blockbuster, directed by Niki Caro and starring Yifei Liu, is less a direct remake of the 1998 animated original and more of a retelling of the Chinese folk legend of Hua Mulan. With the coronavirus outbreak still locking down Chinese cinemas, Mulan will need to be a genuine crowd-pleaser to help make up lost ground. At $200 million, it’s also Disney’s most expensive remake to date.
Can the film become Disney’s first live-action theatrical remake to score a fresh Rotten Tomatoes score since 2018’s Christopher Robin (73 percent)? If the first reactions from critics are anything to go by, it’s off to a strong start.
However, not all media and critics who screened the film were as enthusiastic. As with every film, some had specific qualms. It’s been reported that Mulan was heavily tested and edited in order to ensure that it appeals to Chinese audiences, which may have played a role in the more negative reactions. General audiences are surely going to miss the classic songs as well.
It’s worth noting that social media reactions are often more positive than the eventual reviews for a film. But with multiple critics claiming that Mulan is the best live-action remake from Disney in years, it’s a safe bet to expect it to earn a fresh Rotten Tomatoes score overall. Anything above 75 percent should be considered a win.