Movie Songs

Moana 2 Trailer Debuts at CinemaCon With New Song, Dwayne Johnson

April 12, 20243 Mins Read

What can Disney say to cinema owners except “you’re welcome“? After all, the studio is revisiting the island of Montunui, where “Moana” takes place, a lot sooner than movie theaters were expecting.

Earlier this year, the studio announced a surprise sequel to the 2016 animated feature for release on Nov. 27. The follow-up was initially commissioned as a television series for Disney+ but it was retooled into a feature film after executives were reportedly impressed by the footage.

Disney shared the first look at the scenes that wowed those Magic Kingdom creatives during its CinemaCon presentation in Las Vegas on Thursday. In the music-heavy clip, Moana returns to her home island of Montunui and is greeted with a hero’s welcome. The clip offered a taste of one new song, which appears to be about the wayfinding natives eager to be “back to who we’re meant to be.” Although the sequel will feature entirely fresh melodies, the music harkens back to the original film as the islanders hum: “The village believes in her, the village believes…” 

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who penned “How Far I’ll Go,” “You’re Welcome” and other earworms from “Moana,” won’t be back either. Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, the duo behind “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical,” are writing new songs with Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina, who worked on the first film.

There must be plenty of musical numbers in “Moana 2” because at one point in Thursday’s first look, a character asks: “Do we have to sing?” Everyone promptly responds: “Yes, we have to sing.”

Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson are reprising their voice roles in the animated “Moana 2.” First-time director Dave Derrick Jr., whose animation credits include “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “Encanto,” is taking over filmmaking duties from Disney veterans John Musker and Ron Clements.

Johnson surprised at CinemaCon to perform a Polynesian dance and introduce the “Moana 2” footage. “It’s so much deeper of a movie to me, and it’s so much deeper of a movie to Disney as well,” he said. “We are so excited to welcome back audiences all over the world to a new adventure.”

The 2016 film became a success for Disney, grossing more than $680 million at the global box office. It’s now resonating with new generations after exploding in popularity last year on Disney+. The musical parable was the most-streamed movie of 2023 in the U.S. with 11.6 billion minutes watched, according to Nielson. The studio is working on a separate, live-action “Moana,” which was originally set to debut in 2025 but was recently moved to 2026.

Disney showcased “Moana 2” as part of its hours-long presentation to theater owners at CinemaCon. The studio also offered extensive looks at Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” Marvel’s “Deadpool & Wolverine” and “Mufasa: The Lion King.”

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