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Why Bob Iger Is So High on ‘Moana 2’ and What It Means for the Live-Action Pic

When Disney CEO Bob Iger announced Wednesday that an animated Moana sequel would swim into theaters in November of this year, it inspired both excitement amongst fans of the 2016 original and questions about the live-action remake set to star Dwayne Johnson.

The live-action Moana, announced a year ago by Iger and Johnson, is slated to hit theaters in June 27, 2025. Now, it is almost certain to depart that date to give both films space, according to insiders. Disney hasn’t broached the matter, and declined comment. Johnson and Dany Garcia’s Seven Bucks Productions, which is producing the live-action version, also declined comment.

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The two Moana films show how bullish Iger is on the property— and for good reason.

Disney was initially developing the Moana sequel as an animated TV show, but Iger and Disney Entertainment co-chair Alan Bergman upgraded it to a theatrical release based on the strength of what they saw, as well as the performance of the original Moana on Disney+.

The 2016 animated film has become a streaming sensation. Per Nielsen, it was the most viewed streaming movie of 2023 in the U.S. (It was No. 4 in 2022, and No. 2 in 2021 and 2020).

“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 during Wednesday’s earnings call.

Auli’l Cravalho is presumed to be reprising her voice role as Moana in the animated sequel alongside Johnson, who voices the shapeshifting demigod Maui.

Disney is in sore need of an animated hit. The once bullet-proof company known for its $1 billion animated movies has struggled in the post-pandemic era, with high profile misses including Pixar’s Lightyear and Disney Animation’s Strange World. The latest blow came when Disney Animation’s Wish bombed over Thanksgiving 2023 (before the COVID-19 crisis, Disney Animation often dominated the holiday with such entrees as Frozen).

On the call, Iger touted tried-and-true animated franchises such as Toy Story, Zootopia and Frozen, which all have sequels in the coming years.

“These films will not only reach global audiences in theaters, but as we’ve consistently
demonstrated, they will become important anchors on our global streaming platforms, driving
subscriptions and engagement, while also continuing to fuel growth in our Experiences
businesses,” said Iger.

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