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History-Making $200 Million ‘Mulan’ Budget Didn’t Intimidate Niki Caro: ‘It Was Satisfying’

"Mulan" is the most expensive live-action film ever directed by a female filmmaker.




When “Mulan” opens in theaters later this month, it will make history as the most expensive live-action film ever directed by a female filmmaker. The live-action Disney epic carries a budget of at least $200 million before marketing costs. At the center of that budget is Niki Caro, the New Zealand writer-director best known for Oscar-nominated dramas “Whale Rider” and “North Country.”

Several male directors have had the chance to work with a $200 million budget, but that hasn’t been the case for female filmmakers. Caro tells /Film directing “Mulan” presented several intimidating obstacles, but the budget was never one of them.

“The intimidating thing was my responsibility to the story, to the studio, and to the audience,” Caro told the outlet. “As far as budget goes, no, I was not intimidated. With every film I’ve made, ‘Whale Rider’ included, I’ve had a vision that was far bigger than the budget allowed. So this time, to be able to have a budget equal to the very epic vision in my head, was just really satisfying.”

The $200 million budget went towards giving “Mulan” the scope and feel of large-scale war epics, which meant Caro was tasked with directing thousands of extras and crew. The budget also means “Mulan” has to break the bank worldwide if it wants to be profitable. The coronavirus outbreak has shut down movie theaters in China, which could greatly affect the worldwide box office performance for “Mulan.” Based on first reactions, it appears Caro used the film’s $200 million budget to great effect.

Fandango managing editor Erik Davis reacted to film by calling it “exciting, vibrant, emotional” and giving a shoutout to its “stunning production design and fight choreography.” Peter Sciretta of /Film called Caro’s action scenes “thrilling,” while critic Angie J. Han calls “Mulan” the “best of the Disney live-action remakes since ‘Cinderella.'” Han adds the film “delivers gorgeous action, heart, and humor.”

Disney is opening “Mulan” in theaters nationwide March 27.

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