A few days ago, Niki Caro, the director of Disney’s live-action adaptation of Mulan, said in a Moviefone interview that the remake of the animation classic will most likely not be a musical. Fans that were immediately crushed by the news that songs like “Reflection” or “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” will be missing out from the live-action version, however, shouldn’t break out the tissues just yet, because there’s a movie currently out there that might affect Disney’s decisions about Mulan.
Which movie is that? It’s a movie that has, according to The Hollywood Reporter, smashed several box office records, including the biggest opening for a PG film, both domestic and overseas, and the seventh-biggest domestic opening in all-time box office history. It’s not a Star Wars film nor a Marvel superhero film. It’s Disney’s live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.
Beauty and the Beast also happens to be Disney’s first live-action remake to hew closest to the musical format of its original animation film. Compared to Disney’s other live-action remakes that precedes it, including Alice in Wonderland and its sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass, Cinderella, Maleficent, and The Jungle Book – most of which included little to no songs from the animation films from which they were adapted – Beauty and the Beast is certainly the most musical of the bunch. Not only does it include classics like “Be Our Guest” and “Beauty and the Beast,” but it also boasts new songs that were made especially for the film.
So will the success of Beauty and the Beast sway Disney’s decision to at least incorporate a few of the most signature songs from the animation film into its live-action remake of Mulan? It seems highly possible.
In a piece published by Vulture regarding the operating logic behind Disney’s live-action remakes, sources close to production disclosed that while Mulan is currently not being envisioned as a movie that will include songs, decisions regarding Mulan have not been set in stone. And if the development history of other Disney remakes is any indication, strong box office performances of musicals can pave the way for future musicals and make it easier for them to be green-lit. In the case of Beauty and the Beast, director Bill Condon said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that it was the widespread popularity of Frozen and his determination to make the film a full-on musical that finally gave the studio heads enough confidence to make Beauty and the Beast a musical.
Another reason for Disney to include more of Mulan’s original music would be to help its live-action remake gain a competitive edge against Sony’s adaptation of Mulan. So far, Disney may have the upper hand as its remake of Mulan is slated for a release on Nov. 2, 2018, while Sony is still in very early stages of developing the project, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. But back when it seemed likely that Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book would go head-to-head with Warner Bros.’s darker re-imagining of the Rudyard Kipling book, Disney decided to include songs from the 1967 animation film to increase the movie’s appeal to audiences. Music, according to Sean Bailey, the president of Motion Picture Production at Walt Disney Studios, in a Vulture article, is one of the invaluable advantages Disney has over other studios.
“When Warners raced us on Jungle Book, we thought, Well, we’re putting ‘Bare Necessities’ in the movie because they can’t. We have certain characters and certain depictions of characters and we’re going lean into that. It’s an advantage to us.”
And while it’s unlikely that the live-action Mulan will get a full-on musical treatment, given that the movie is reported to be close in spirit to a “Ridley Scott film,” according to Vulture, there’s a high possibility that the success of Beauty and the Beast might lead Disney executives to reconsider including songs for Mulanà la The Jungle Book‘s “Bare Necessities” or Maleficent‘s haunting and slightly sinister rendition of the classic song “Once Upon a Dream.”
[Featured Image by Walt Disney Motion Pictures]