©Walt Disney Co./Everett Collection
A Moana live-action remake is coming. No more staring at the edge of the water, waiting for updates: keep scrolling to find out everything you need to know about the latest Disney animated film to get the live-action treatment.
The most notable recent reimaginings of beloved Disney animated films include The Little Mermaid starring Halle Bailey, Cruella starring Emma Stone, Mulan, Aladdin, and The Lion King; Disney has even more live-action remakes planned for the coming years, including 2024's Snow White starring Rachel Zegler, Lilo & Stitch, and Hercules.
The live-action remake of Moana was first announced on April 3, 2023, by the animated film's star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who voiced the shapeshifting demigod Maui. Posting across all socials, Johnson shared a special announcement video filmed on the island of Oahu where he grew up.
"Deeply humbled to announce we're bringing the beautiful story of MOANA to the live action big screen!" Johnson wrote in his Instagram caption. “This story is my culture, and this story is emblematic of our people's grace, mana and warrior strength. I wear our culture proudly on my skin and in my soul, and this once in a lifetime opportunity to reunite with MAUI, inspired by the spirit of my late grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia, is one that runs very deep for me. We're honored to partner with @DisneyStudios to tell our story through the realm of music and dance, which at the core is who we are as Polynesian people."
The Moana live-action announcement came only a few weeks after major production and casting developments for the live-action Lilo & Stitch movie made headlines. Talk about a huge live-action win for the Pacific Islander community.
Theatrically released in November 2016, Moana stars Auli'i Cravalho as the titular teenage heroine and follows her on the adventure of a lifetime as she embarks on a journey across the ocean to save her people. Moana is widely regarded as one of Disney's best animated films, grossing $643 million worldwide — the film was even nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. (On February 7, 2024, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced a sequel, currently titled Moana 2, would be arriving in theaters in November 2024 — Cravalho revealed a teaser snippet of the upcoming film on her Instagram that same day.)
Find out everything we know so far about the Moana live-action remake including the new cast, theatrical release date, trailer, and more.
When will live-action Moana be released?
According to Dwayne Johnson, Walt Disney Studios and its collaborators for the film are “still very early in the process” of development, with lots “more work to be done.” Live-action adaptations have historically taken Disney anywhere between 3-5 years to create. However, on June 13, Johnson shared an exciting update to Instagram, revealing the exact release date for the live-action version of Moana — and it's arriving just two years after its initial announcement.
“Humbled (and excited) to share our official release date for our live action @disneystudios MOANA June 27, 2025,” wrote Johnson in his post. “It’s my privilege to share our legends, songs, and dance of our Polynesian culture with all of you and your families.” Mark your calendars for June 27, 2025 now.
Who is playing live-action Moana?
Auli’i Cravalho was famously cast to voice Moana when she was only 14 years old, becoming the first teenager to ever play a Disney Princess, and the first Polynesian princess, at that. When it was revealed that the live-action version of Moana was in development, fans immediately began to speculate whether she'd return to reprise her role. On May 20, Cravalho shared a video message to fans on Instagram and answered our most burning question.
“When I was cast as Moana at 14, it wonderfully changed my life and started my career,” said Cravalho in the video. “In this live-action retelling, I will not be reprising the role. I believe it is absolutely vital the casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell.”
“So, as an executive producer on the film, I cannot wait to help find the next actress to portray Moana’s courageous spirit, undeniable wit and emotional strength," continued Cravalho. "I’m truly honored to pass this baton to the next young woman of Pacific Island descent, to honor our incredible Pacific peoples cultures and communities that help inspire her story. And I look forward to all the beautiful Pacific representations to come. Mahalo.”
Representation is something is extremely important to Cravalho, who has worked diligently in her other films, and even on the red carpet, to uplift the voices of others, specifically Indigenous and queer communities. While Cravalho's news is a bit of a bummer, the idea of an open casting call for Moana, with Cravalho's stamp of approval, is definitely exciting.
On February 8, 2024, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson revealed to Entertainment Tonight that the search is over: Moana has found its live-action leading lady. "One of the exciting things about that was actually finding our Moana and how exciting that has been," Johnson told the outlet. “The global search to find our Moana, which — between you and I, we found her — not gonna tell you yet... [It's] very exciting.” The suspense is almost unbearable, but since Johnson said the film aims to start production later this year, we might not have to wait too long to meet our new Moana.
Who else is involved in live-action Moana?
Though his costar Auli'i Cravalho will only return to the world of Moana in an off-screen, behind-the-camera capacity, The Rock will indeed be returning to reprise his role as Maui in the live-action version of Moana.
So far, no other casting details for the film have been shared. Here's what we do know: Johnson will play Maui and produce the movie along with his producing partners Dany and Hiram Garcia via their company Seven Bucks Productions; Beau Flynn will also act as producer via Flynn Picture Co.; Cravalho will serve as an executive producer; the original film's writer Jared Bush is reportedly expected to return to pen the remake with the help of Dana Ledoux Miller; and director Thomas Kail will take the helm of this live-action reimagining. Kail is perhaps best known for directing Hamilton on Broadway, for which he won a Tony Award, and for directing the 2016 Fox special Grease: Live!, for which he won an Emmy. Kail has also previously directed the Hamilton film for Disney+ and Broadway's In the Heights and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
The Rock confirmed Kail's attachment to the new adaptation of Moana on Instagram, writing: “I’ve been very inspired by Tommy’s spirit, drive, talent, passion and hunger to create something special with MOANA for the world to enjoy… He’s ‘the hardest worker in the room.’"
Will there be new music in the live-action Moana?
On February 8, Johnson confirmed to ET that “Lin-Manuel Miranda's coming back” to lead the music of the live-action adaptation. It's not clear yet whether the Moana remake will feature new music, but based on the track record of past Disney live-action adaptations, it most likely will; 2023's live-action The Little Mermaid received four new original songs and updated renditions of the classic soundtrack. If Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa'i also return to help Miranda compose the soundtrack, we'll definitely be getting new versions of “You're Welcome" and “How Far I'll Go.”
Is there a trailer for live-action Moana?
Moana has not yet started production, so there is no trailer available yet. Patience is a virtue.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue
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