In 2016, all was still right with the world for Disney: four of the 13 films released by the giant entertainment giant that year grossed over one billion US dollars worldwide (“Zootopia“, “The First Avenger: Civil War”, “Finding Dory”, “Rogue One”). These films were able to make up for the few box office flops – partly due to the strength of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the “Star Wars” universe at the time. The animated film “Moana” was also crowned with success, with worldwide box office takings of around 700 million US dollars.
In the meantime, the public’s enthusiasm for Marvel films has not only declined noticeably at the box office, but the “Star Wars” franchise is also still taking a creative break from the big screen and even Disney and Pixar’s once-so-successful animated film departments were no longer able to attract the really big audiences with “Wish” and “Elemental”. Clearly, the Mickey Mouse group is in a creative crisis.
For Disney boss Bob Iger, it is now a matter of returning to the company’s traditional strengths and listening more to the fans again. With “Deadpool 3“, there will only be one Marvel film in cinemas this year. This could turn the MCU back into a place of spectacle. Experiments are also to be scaled back on the animation front. The signs here point to sequels to successful and popular animated hits. “Upside Down 2” will not be the only sequel: In a complete surprise, Iger revealed in an interview with CNBC (via Deadline) that Disney fans can look forward to another sequel – namely “Moana 2“.
An animated film out of nowhere? Even though hundreds of employees have been working on it for months? Not quite. As the CEO of the Walt Disney Company has revealed, it was originally supposed to be an animated series, probably for the in-house streaming service Disney+. In the end, however, the quality must have been so convincing that those responsible decided to produce a direct sequel for the cinema. Especially as the first film on Disney+ also had many hits. And the sequel is due to be released in US cinemas on November 27, 2024:
“‘Moana’ continues to be an incredibly popular franchise; and we can’t wait to show you more of Moana and Maui when ‘Moana 2’ hits theaters in November.”
Shortly after this surprising announcement, the first teaser trailer was put online:
Live-action film adaptation with Dwayne Johnson still in production
“Moana 2” is being directed by David G. Derrick Jr. who was already part of the originally planned animated series. He has worked on animated films such as “Taming Dragons Made Easy” and “Raya and the Last Dragon” and is making his directorial debut with “Moana 2”. This time, Moana receives a message from her ancestors that leads her and demigod Maui on a dangerous adventure across forgotten waters.
This announcement is also interesting in that Disney has been working with Dwayne Johnson on a live-action adaptation of the first animated film for some time. This was announced around a year ago. The film has a US release date of June 27, 2025, with Johnson lending his voice to Maui in the original English version. It is unclear whether Johnson will also be heard in “Moana 2”.