Walt Disney’s Mulan, New Zealand Director Niki Caro’s latest masterpiece, will release globally tonight (7pm Friday 4 September 2020).
Filmed on location around New Zealand, Mulan tells the epic tale of China’s legendary female warrior who risks everything out of love for her family and her country, to become one of the greatest warriors China has ever known.
More than 1500 New Zealanders worked on the movie, over a total of 143 shooting days. 70% of the filming took place in multiple locations around Auckland, with Canterbury’s Ahuriri Valley and the Waitaki District standing in for China.
Caro said the energy on set from day one was overwhelmingly positive. “As one of a small number of women directing large budget studio features, this was an amazing opportunity to come home to. In New Zealand, this crew just wrapped their arms around this movie and around me, and that gave me so much strength to hold this story up.”
More than 4000 weapons were made for the movie, over 1000 costumes created and 118 horses used in filming. Trick riders were brought in from Kazakhstan and Mongolia performing stunts on horseback during battle scenes. Local suppliers such as Weta Workshop & Weta Digital, The Rebel Fleet and Moxion brought expertise to the production. 400 people were employed by Weta Digital and over 50 by Weta Workshop.
Producer Jason Reed said it would’ve been hard to have made a film of this scale, with so much production value, in any other country. “There are two elements to that. The first is the dramatic scenery, and the second is having an infrastructure that is so film friendly, to have crews that know how to work on big movies, that know how to handle massive amounts of logistics that also are artistically driven. And we had Weta Workshop to do our armor and make our weapons.”
Mulan received the New Zealand Screen Production Grant and successfully secured the extra 5% uplift. A small number of international productions which qualify for the 20% grant and offer significant economic benefits to New Zealand may be invited to apply for the 5% uplift if it is anticipated they will provide significant additional economic benefits to New Zealand.
More than 2000 Kiwi vendors were used during the production with over $200 million dollars spent in New Zealand. $10m was spent on accommodation alone. Mulan is the largest feature film production to be based in Auckland to date and was the first to use the two state of the art sound stages at Kumeu Film Studios.
New Zealand Film Commission’s CEO Annabelle Sheehan says Mulan is another example of how the NZSPG is generating and attracting high value productions. “Projects like Mulan attract hundreds of millions of dollars into New Zealand and create thousands of jobs. This is new money, providing a massive boost to our economy. We are so proud of what Niki Caro and everyone associated with the production has achieved.”
Mulan will be available on Disney + with Premier Access from Friday 4 Septmber, 7pm.