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Moana
Moana

Moana to get surprise cinema sequel this year

Moana is sailing back to cinemas after Disney's surprise announcement that a film sequel will be released this year.

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The story of an adventurous Polynesian girl who sets sail on a mission to save her people was a hit in 2016.

A sequel was mooted as a Disney+ series, but the company will now take it to cinemas instead after a string of underwhelming big screen performances.

The move sets up a box office battle with the first Wicked film, with both scheduled for release on 27 November.

Disney posted a short first trailer showing Moana standing on a beach and blowing into a shell.
The new musical will take audiences "on an expansive new voyage with Moana, Maui and a brand-new crew of unlikely seafarers", the description said.

"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 time, songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda - who was nominated for an Oscar for the original - will not work on the music.

That will be created by four composers including songwriting duo Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, who rose to fame in 2022 after creating an unofficial Bridgerton musical on TikTok.
Disney chief executive Bob Iger said the original Moana was the most streamed movie of 2023 on any platform in the US.

Speaking about the follow-up, he said: "This was originally developed as a series, but we were impressed with what we saw, and we knew it deserved a theatrical release".
A live action version of the original film is also in development, starring Dwayne Johnson as gregarious demi-God Maui, the character he voiced in the animation.

"Moana remains an incredibly popular franchise, and we can't wait to give you more of Moana and Maui," Iger added.

Movie studios usually arrange their schedules several years in advance, making Moana 2 a relatively late entry to Disney's line-up.

And the move suggests the company is still determined to generate successes at cinemas rather than focusing on streaming.

Walt Disney Animation Studios' last two films, Wish and Strange World, were both original stories that disappointed at the box office.
Iger said the company was now "leaning a little bit more into sequels and franchises", according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Marvels and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny were among Disney's other box office disappointments in 2023.

The company also announced on Wednesday that the concert film of Taylor Swift's Eras tour is coming to Disney+, and that it is buying a $1.5bn (£1.2bn) stake in Fortnite creator Epic Games.

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