Moana is setting off on a new seafaring journey. While we've known about the live-action remake of the hit 2016 animated film, Disney surprised everyone today by announcing an animated sequel to the movie. What's more, it's set to release this year!
Ahead of Disney's earnings report, CEO Bob Iger announced that Moana 2 will be released in theaters this November 27.
Directed by Dave Derrick Jr., Moana 2 will be an animated musical with music by Grammy® winners Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, Grammy nominee Opetaia Foa’i, and three-time Grammy winner Mark Mancina. The original movie featured music from Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, Encanto).
We don't know if the original Moana stars Auliʻi Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson will reprise their roles.
The accompanying press release teased that the all-new feature-length sequel will take audiences "on an expansive new voyage with Moana, Maui and a brand-new crew of unlikely seafarers. The synopsis reads:
"After receiving an unexpected call from her wayfinding ancestors, Moana must journey to the far seas of Oceania and into dangerous, long-lost waters for an adventure unlike anything she’s ever faced."
This is quite unusual for Disney. Typically, when the company announces a new film, we have to wait at least a year or longer for it to hit theaters. For example, Iger announced Toy Story 5 back in February 2023 and we still don't have a release date for the movie.
So how is it that Moana 2 was just announced today and already has a November theatrical release?
According to Iger, it was originally planned as a television series, likely destined for Disney+. However, the company opted to turn it into a second film instead, probably sensing the popularity from the first one could bolster its performance at the box office. After a string of misses, Disney is in desperate need of a box office win, and what better way than to release a sequel to a movie that made over $680 million?
That being said, I do have my reservations. The fact this project originally started as a television series is giving me Disney animated direct-to-video sequel vibes. Let's hope this is truly a well-thought-out project and not just a quick cash grab.
In addition to Moana 2, Disney is also working on a live-action movie based on the original film. While Auli’i Cravalho will not return for the live-actin movie, Dwayne Johnson will be playing the character of Maui.