Congratulations to Niki Caro and Taika Waititi who have both signed on to direct major international projects.
Caro, will direct a live-action version of Disney’s Mulan and Waititi will direct a stop-motion animated film about Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee, Bubbles.
In taking on Mulan, Caro becomes the second female director to helm a Disney film with a budget of over US$100 million. The other is Ava DuVernay who is currently in New Zealand filming Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time.
Caro has made several films offshore since shooting to international attention with 2002’s Whale Rider. North Country, starring Charlize Theron was released in 2005, NZ/French co-production The Vintner’s Luck in 2009, McFarland, USA (also for Disney) in 2015 and her latest film, The Zookeeper’s Wife, which is scheduled to release in New Zealand cinemas in May.
Last year Caro mentored first-time feature director, Jackie Van Beek while she completed her film, The Inland Road, which premiered in the Generation 14plus section of the Berlin Film Festival last week.
Bubbles will be Taika Waititi’s first animated project. He is currently in post-production on Marvel’s Thor: Rangarok which is scheduled for a New Zealand release in October.
In 2016 Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople became the highest grossing New Zealand film of all time at the New Zealand box office, as well as being the top-grossing film of the year and taking home seven Moas at the 2017 Rialto Channel New Zealand Film Awards. This was the second of Waititi’s films to take the top grossing New Zealand film spot after 2010’s Boy which also won the Grand Prize in the Berlin Film Festival’s Generation section.
Waititi’s short film Two Cars, One Night was nominated for an Oscar in 2005. This short film was the genesis for Boy. In 2007 his debut feature, Eagle vs Shark premiered a the Sundance Film Festival and was picked up for the US by Miramax. In 2014 he co-directed with Jemaine Clement What we do in the Shadows, a spoof documentary about vampire flatmates which took over $2.5 million at the NZ box office and firmly cemented Waititi as a Kiwi favourite.