In a surprising announcement, Disney has revealed plans for a sequel to its successful animated musical film Moana, scheduled for release in November.
Disney CEO Bob Iger shared during an earnings call on Wednesday that Moana 2 was originally conceptualized as a television series.
“We were impressed by what we saw and knew it deserved a theatrical release,” he said, adding that Moana had been streamed for more than 1bn minutes on Disney+ in 2023 alone, highlighting its continued popularity.
Taking place in Polynesia, Moana tells the story of a teenage heroine named Moana as she embarks on a voyage across the ocean alongside the demigod Maui to save her people. The film achieved considerable success, grossing $643 million globally and receiving two Academy Award nominations.
For Moana 2, Dave Derrick Jr., a former storyboard artist on the original film, will step into the director’s role. The songs for the sequel will be written by Abigail Barlow, Emily Bear, Opetaia Foa’i, and Mark Mancina. Foa’i and Mancina previously collaborated on the songs for the first film alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of Hamilton.
Moana 2, which will be released on 27 November, will be an “expansive new voyage with Moana, Maui and a brand-new crew of unlikely seafarers”, Disney said.
The film’s description 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.”
The announcement of a sequel to Moana so close to its cinematic release is uncommon, particularly considering that a live-action remake of the film is scheduled for 2025. The live-action version, like the original animated film, will feature Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson reprising his role as the demigod Maui. However, casting for the role of Moana in the live-action adaptation has yet to be finalized, with Auli’i Cravalho, the original voice actor, confirming that she will not be reprising the role.
During the earnings call, Iger also revealed that Disney+ had acquired the streaming rights for Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, slated to debut on the platform on March 15th. The Disney+ version will include five songs that were not featured in the theatrical or video-on-demand releases.
Additionally, Disney announced plans to invest $1.5 billion in Epic Games, the studio behind the immensely popular video game Fortnite. This investment is part of a collaboration to develop a new “games and entertainment universe,” incorporating characters from Disney’s extensive intellectual properties, including Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and Avatar, into both Fortnite and other Epic Games projects.