Disney has made a huge surprise by announcing that Moana 2 is coming out this November! With almost no warning, a sequel to the 2016 animated hit coming out even as talk continues on a live-action version should be a fun thing for fans. However, there are a few red flags to make some worry this isn't going to be a great movie.
Premiering in 2016, Moana starred Auli'i Cravalho in the title role of a young girl residing in a lovely island village. When a dark threat endangers her home, Moana goes on a journey to save it, teaming up with the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson). The movie was a major hit, boosted by its fun music and a Disney favorite.
It has a presence with the unique "water gardens" at Epcot, and plans are being made for a live-action version that would have Johnson reprising his role as Maui, although Cravalho wouldn't take part. So Disney announcing this sequel, set to open in less than a year, is amazing, given the way Disney usually announces movies years in advance.
Yet that adds to the worries many have that this sequel is going to be less a wonderful journey like the first film and more a cynical cash grab. Here's why fans should be worried about Moana 2.
It was meant as a TV show
The reason this movie is being pushed so quickly is that, per reports, it was originally developed as a TV show. Bob Iger was impressed enough by the footage to push it into theaters, but the fact this was never meant to be a movie, let alone a theatrical release, is worrying enough.
It's a sad reminder of how the Disney Renaissance of the 1990s was undermined by the scores of direct-to-video sequels of lesser animation and story returns. Sure, the teaser that went with the announcement looks spectacular, but it's no secret. TV animation is less detailed and lush than feature animation. It's why Pixar movies are so expensive; they go whole hog for it.
It's also likely this means the production was rushed, and that is never a good thing in movies. The "animator crunch" has been the home for horror stories in the industry for years (not just Disney), so pushing a full-fledged animation movie to be released for Thanksgiving on such short notice when the original Moana took years to develop gets this on a bad start.