Moana 2 is coming! Disney announces sequel to hit 2016 animated film will be released in NOVEMBER… after the studio retooled plans for a streaming series

Disney CEO Bob Iger announced on Wednesday that the studio plans to release a sequel to its animated blockbuster Moana.

The upcoming feature film is set to be released in theaters in November of this year, he revealed during an interview with CNBC that was held just before the studio released its Q1 earnings.

Iger explained that Disney had retooled what was originally announced to be a sequel series on Disney+ into a feature film intended for theatrical exhibition.

The move comes as several studios and streaming services are pairing back streaming releases in favor of more financially lucrative theatrical features.

The announcement’s timing was particularly surprising, as Disney has already announced plans to release a live-action remake of the first Moana film, in which original voice actor Dwayne Johnson would reprise his role as the demigod Māui.

Disney CEO Bob Iger announced on Wednesday that the studio plans to release a sequel to its animated blockbuster Moana; still from Moana (2016)

The upcoming feature film is set to be released in theaters in November of this year, he revealed during an interview with CNBC that was held just before the studio released its Q1 earnings; a newly released image from Moana 2

 The upcoming feature film is set to be released in theaters in November of this year, he revealed during an interview with CNBC that was held just before the studio released its Q1 earnings; a newly released image from Moana 2

According to Deadline, Disney reliably locks in the five-day Thanksgiving holiday stretch from Wednesday through Sunday for an animated film release, so Moana 2 is likely to be released then.

‘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.

According to a synopsis provided by Disney, Moana 2 was described as an ‘expansive new voyage with Moana, Maui and a brand-new crew of unlikely seafarers.’

‘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,’ it added.

The sequel features a new director, Dave Derrick Jr., and composer Mark Mancina is returning to write the film’s score.

Opetaia Foaʻi, who co-wrote the film’s songs, will also be returning, but songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda was not announced as part of the new project.

The Grammy winners Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear will also be joining the project in the songwriting department.

Disney’s announcement didn’t mention if Auliʻi Cravalho would be returning as the title character or if Dwayne Johnson would be back voicing Māui.

However, whether or not he was to be a part of the previously intended series, the revamped feature’s higher profile could lure him back, particularly since he’s already committed to the upcoming live-action remake. 

A wordless short video that accompanied Iger’s announcement featured a character who appeared to be Moana stepping off a boat and onto the shore before blowing a signal through a conch shell.

Iger explained that Disney had retooled what was originally announced to be a sequel series on Disney+ into a feature film intended for theatrical exhibition; pictured January 23 in NYC

Iger explained that Disney had retooled what was originally announced to be a sequel series on Disney+ into a feature film intended for theatrical exhibition; pictured January 23 in NYC

According to a synopsis provided by Disney, Moana 2 was described as an 'expansive new voyage with Moana, Maui and a brand-new crew of unlikely seafarers'

According to a synopsis provided by Disney, Moana 2 was described as an ‘expansive new voyage with Moana, Maui and a brand-new crew of unlikely seafarers’

'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,' it added

‘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,’ it added

A short clip released Wednesday shows a figure that appears to be Moana stepping onto shore and blowing a signal through a conch shell before pulling back to reveal the title card

A short clip released Wednesday shows a figure that appears to be Moana stepping onto shore and blowing a signal through a conch shell before pulling back to reveal the title card

It's unclear if Dwayne Johnson will reprise his voice role as Maui, but he's already starring in a live-action remake of the Moana (2016) that is planned for a 2025 release; seen in 2015

It’s unclear if Dwayne Johnson will reprise his voice role as Maui, but he’s already starring in a live-action remake of the Moana (2016) that is planned for a 2025 release; seen in 2015

It was also not announced whether Auli¿i Cravalho would return for the sequel. She voiced Moana in the first film; pictured in November 2021 in Hollywood

It was also not announced whether Auliʻi Cravalho would return for the sequel. She voiced Moana in the first film; pictured in November 2021 in Hollywood

The camera then pulled back and revealed a title card for Moana 2.

After bringing in an impressive $687 million at the global box office after 2016 release, Moana has continued to be a popular streaming film on the Disney+ service, so it’s a logical choice for the studio to create a sequel.

As studios and streamers are confronted with diminishing subscriber growth and a lack of options to monetize streaming shows and films, more studios are turning to traditional theatrical releases to generate meaningful earnings.

A sequel to a hit family film is likely a safe bet for Disney, particularly coming on the heels of the box office bombs Indiana Jones And The Dial of Destiny and The Marvels, as well as the disappointing animated film Wish.

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