Moana, the next Disney princess, will hit the big screen in 2016. Disney has moved up the release date of its next princess movie. Responding to the wild success of Frozen and to fans’ eagerness for an ethnic princess, Disney has sped up work on the project. Originally scheduled for theaters in 2018, Moana will be completed almost two years early.
In addition to announcing an early release date, Disney has finally unveiled a sample of the artwork from the new movie. Moana will be completely CG-animated, but the painting-like art depicts a lush landscape that leaps off the screen. The artists have developed a style that captures the dreaminess of the south seas; sun-drenched islands and the feeling of antiquity. Moana is set 200 years ago in ancient Oceania. The heroine sets sail to find a fabled island in a quest to fulfill family obligations. She partners with the demi-god Maui. On her journey she encounters a variety of undersea adventures that include interpretations of oral folk tales.
Audiences are particularly looking forward to Moana because she will break the recent string of big-eyed, petite-nosed blondes that have “starred” in recent princess films. As wonderful as the generally girl-power Frozen was, its heroines reinforced the traditional princess physical stereotype. There has been a Middle-eastern princess, Jasmine; an Asian princess, Mulan; an African-American princess, Tiana; and a Native-American princesses, Pocahontas. But Elsa and Anna, along with Rapunzel from Tangled and Merida from Brave, have strongly tipped the balance towards Caucasian protagonists in recent years. Moana will make the Disney princess franchise more inclusive and introduce a new culture and mythology to the experience of young girls.
As Disney’s first Polynesian princess, Moana Waialiki should bring her own flair to the big screen. She will have to be a strong character if her co-star is a demi-god. Maui is the Polynesian trickster god responsible for creating the Pacific islands. He spent his life helping people but never achieved his desired immortality. According to Disney, the movie explores many stories and folktales of Oceania as Moana fulfills her quest.
The film is directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the well-credentialed creative team responsible for Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and The Princess and the Frog. They have experience with ocean movies as well as strong heroines. Musker says is an engaging character with a deep affinity for the ocean. Moana is an animated musical and the score has been put into the capable hands of Mark Mancina who wrote tracks for The Lion King, Tarzan and Brother Bear.
Can Disney possibly recreate the success of Let It Go? On November 23, 2016 the world may have a new song to sing. Two years is a long time to wait, but at least it is much sooner than 2018. The concept art for the film has whetted the public’s appetite and, if people are already talking about the movie, it is gearing up to have a huge opening weekend a couple Thanksgivings from now. Moana, the next Disney princess movie, will hit the big screen with a splash as the release date has been moved up to 2016.
By: Rebecca Savastio