Hollywood Movies

Disney Debuts Footage of ‘Moana 2’ at CinemaCon

April 12, 20244 Mins Read

Two months after Disney CEO Bob Iger‘s surprise announcement that Moana 2 was in the works at the studio and scheduled to hit theaters on Nov. 27, the animated sequel took center stage at CinemaCon.

Disney debuted an exclusive sneak peek of footage of the David Derrick Jr.-directed film in front of theater owners with the help of its superstar voice talent, Dwayne Johnson. He arrived to the stage after a mini-performance from Polynesian dancers. Johnson is back for the new installment alongside actors from the original including Auli’i Cravalho and others.

“As we say on the island, aloha,” Johnson said, dressed for the occasion in trousers and a white tank top. “Playing the character of Maui is one of the most life-changing life experiences for me and life changing roles.”

He added that the character is deeper than just a gig because it represents his culture, so much so that it’s on his chest with his tattoos, and it’s also special to his grandfather. “It’s so much deeper than a movie to me and I know it’s deeper for Disney, too.”

Per Disney, the story picks up after Moana receives an unexpected call from her wayfinding ancestors, so she sets off on a journey to the far seas of Oceania and into dangerous, long-lost waters for an adventure unlike anything she has ever faced. The footage featured new music and stunning visuals in the same vein as the original. Johnson promised “an all new crew, all new setting and, of course, new songs — you’re welcome,” he said, telling theater owners its going to be the perfect escape this winter.

Derrick’s film was initially developed as a TV series, Iger confirmed on the earnings call in February. “The original Moana film from 2016 recently crossed 1 billion hours streamed on Disney+, and was the most streamed movie of 2023 on any platform in the U.S. Along with the live-action version of the original film that’s currently in development, Moana remains an incredibly popular franchise, and we can’t wait to give you more of Moana and Maui when Moana 2 comes to theaters this November,” Iger said at the time, underscoring the film’s continued cultural cachet.

That 2016 film, also released in November of that year, was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker. It went on to gross more than $248 million at the domestic box office for an international haul of north of $643 million. It also received two Academy Award nominations, one for best animated feature and another for best original song, for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “How Far I’ll Go” sung by Cravalho.

Moana 2 is not to be confused with the other Moana project in the works at Disney, a live-action film set to star Johnson. The studio confirmed last week that Thomas Kail’s live-action offering was being pushed back from June 27, 2025, to a new release date of July 10, 2026. The move gives the remake breathing room from the animated Moana 2, which opens this November.

Also as part of the Moana segment, NATO chair Bob Bagby surprised Johnson by presenting him with NATO’s spirit of the industry award, the second trophy of its kind following last year’s, which was presented to Christopher Nolan. “This award honors your unequal passion and commitment to the theatrical experience,” Bagby said. In accepting, Johnson said, “I gotta tell you that, with all the changes, ebbs and flows and growth and progress, the one thing that will always remain is the theater experience.”

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