Disney’s live-action Mulan, now being prepped for a March 2020 release, has replaced guardian dragon Mushu with a phoenix and its stars will not perform songs from the original 1998 animated classic, according to a report from The DisInsider.
Citing a source who has screened an early cut, DisInsider claims the tough-talking dragon, originally voiced by Eddie Murphy, is replaced by a phoenix. The report does not clarify if the phoenix is anthropomorphized or whether or not it fills a similar role as Mulan’s original animal sidekick.
In February, DisInsider claimed Disney was eyeing comedy superstar Kevin Hart (The Secret Life of Pets, Jumanji: The Next Level) for the role of Mushu.
The source close to DisInsider also reports classic songs from the animated musical are included in the Niki Caro-directed remake, but her cast will not perform the songs: instead, the songs are presented as purely instrumental versions. Disney’s animated Mulan highlighted such classic songs as “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” performed by Donny Osmond, and “Reflection,” performed by Lea Salonga and later Christina Aguilera in her debut single.
In March 2017, Caro sparked online worries when she said her Mulan would not be a musical, telling Moviefone, “From what I understand, no songs right now, much to the horror of my children.”
When later approached by the Los Angeles Times and asked about chatter there would be no music, Caro said, “I don’t know where that’s come from. We’ve never talked about songs, and no decision has been made.”
Disney president of production Sean Bailey told EW in March 2017 Mulan, then in early development, is “not currently intended to be [a musical].” Bailey did add “nothing is off the table.”
The studio found big success in translating two other 1990s animated musicals, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, into live-action musicals that blended classic and all-new music. 1989’s The Little Mermaid, which also has a re-imagining in development at the studio, will take this same approach by re-imagining familiar songs alongside new music, director Rob Marshall confirmed with ComicBook.com.
Caro said her Mulan will be a “big, girly martial arts epic” that is based on both the traditional Chinese ballad and the animated Disney classic. Disney releases Mulan March 27, 2020.