Disney's live-action Moana finds its director and he's a perfect fit

2016 Tony Awards - Show
2016 Tony Awards - Show / Theo Wargo/GettyImages

Disney has tapped Tony Award-winning director Thomas Kail to helm the live-action reimagining of Moana.

Disney's live-action remakes of its beloved animated classics have been a mixed bag with moviegoers but one of the more anticipated projects in development is the live-action version of Moana. Plans for a reimagining of the beloved 2016 hit animated feature were first announced back in April 2023 but at the time no director was attached. That changed today and fans have a lot to be excited about with Disney's choice.

As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Disney has tapped Thomas Kail to helm the film. Kail is the Tony Award-winning director of Broadway's hit musical Hamilton.

Kail has an incredible resume that spans Broadway productions as well as film and television. Prior to Hamilton, Kail actually served as director for another Lin-Manuel Miranda musical, In the Heights, for which he scored a Tony for Best Director of a Musical. He directed a few more Broadway and Off-Broadway shows before becoming director of Hamilton in 2016.

Beyond the musical theater stage, Kail also has experience directing television and movies. He directed three episodes of 2 Broke Girls in 2012 as well as five episodes of FX's acclaimed Fosse/Verdon miniseries. Although he doesn't necessarily have traditional movie directing experience, he did helm Grease: Live in 2016 as well as the filmed stage production of Hamilton. He is also directing the movie versions of Silver Wings and Fiddler on the Roof.

As music is a key component of Moana, having a director with the musical directing pedigree of Kail is a huge get for Moana. I'm eager to see what he can do with the might of Disney behind him.

Casting details for the live-action reimagining of Moana are still being sorted. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is reprising his role as Maui, the exiled demigod, but we still don't know who will play the lead role of Moana. Auli‘i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in the animated movie, has already ruled out returning to the role. In a post on social media, Cravalho explained, "I believe it is absolutely vital that casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell." She will still serve as executive producer alongside Scott Sheldon of Flynn Picture Co. Jared Bush and Dana Ledoux Miller

Moana grossed over $600 million at the global box office when it was released but really found its audience on streaming services. In 2022, it was among the Top 15 most streamed movies in the United States. Suffice to say, there's a lot of excitement behind this live-action project, and bringing Thomas Kail on board should only raise the hype.