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Breaking: Disney Sets ‘Moana’ For Late-2016 Release


Disney announced this afternoon that Moana, their 56th animated feature, will be released into theaters in late-2016. The film will mark the CGI directing debut of Disney stalwarts Ron Clements and John Musker, who have helmed many of the studio’s beloved hand-drawn films of the last 30 years.

“John and I have partnered on so many films—from The Little Mermaid to Aladdin to The Princess & the Frog,” said Clements. “Creating Moana is one of the great thrills of our career. It’s a big adventure set in this beautiful world of Oceania.”

The studio offered the following film description on their Disney Insider blog:

In the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania, Moana, a born navigator, sets sail in search of a fabled island. During her incredible journey, she teams up with her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui, to traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous sea creatures, breathtaking underworlds and ancient folklore.

“Moana is indomitable, passionate and a dreamer with a unique connection to the ocean itself,” Musker said. “She’s the kind of character we all root for, and we can’t wait to introduce her to audiences.”

  • Alyosha

    Nice painting! Looks like a female lead possibly with island tribal community or perhaps a world with rising sea levels from global warming?

    The sail also looks like a strong nod to Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker. Great game and great material to draw from aesthetically!

    • Leaf Well Enough Alone

      I don’t see the resemblance to the King of Red Lions. Do you mean the symbol on the sail?

  • Is this the one where they’ll attempt to make CG look like hand-drawn (Paperman)?

    • Fbt

      I was wondering that too! If it’s not in Paperman style then I will be disappointed…

      • Mesterius

        Paperman style? Not cutting it for me. If it looks hand-drawn, it might as well BE hand-drawn. I don’t want fake substitutes like Paperman to be accepted as good enough, and as another excuse to not actually do real, hand-drawn animation.

        • tt

          its not substituting hand drawn, its another medium of its own. Meander.
          also, CG replaced hand drawn in the US. should CG be called a fake substitute? not really.

          • But CG isn’t pretending to be hand drawn. Unless it’s Paperman.

          • Fried

            And Paperman isn’t “pretending” to be hand drawn, it’s being influenced by the aesthetic. Similar to how 2D films build a style based on other existing aesthetics (Hercules for example).

          • Mesterius

            Paperman WAS pretending to be 2D – the kind accociated with hand-drawn animation – as far as press releases and promotional material went. And that perception is what I had in mind when I said “fake substitute”. If audiences begin accepting the Paperman tecnhique, which is actually CGI, as a valid replacement for true, hand-drawn animation… well, I personally find that notion disturbing.

        • Adzl33t

          There’s some advantages the 3d can bring to the graphical look of 2d, such as harder camera movements that would be insane to do in with hand drawn.

          Disney and even Dreamworks was pushing 2d techniques with 3d movements with late 90s and early 2000’s films, my favorite example of this Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmarron, though sometimes you can notice the 3d models, but with even more improvement to animation we have now, I think we can push 2d-3d animation even more

        • kkkouuj

          My thoughts exactly.

        • Dusty Ayres

          I loved Paperman and think that the process used to make it is just a valid as cel is. People need to give the CGI hate a rest and get on with their lives.

  • ReindeerFlotilla

    Sounds like trips to Hawaii for the entire development team.

    • tt

      They’ve been there twice lol. Not Hawaii, the while Oceania in general. This is one of the reasons why I wanna work there: u can travel wherever u feel like u need to for the film, and it just feels amazing.

  • Társio Abranches

    I liked Frozen, but in terms of animation it was very poor.

    Disney needs to risk more, at least one scene of the movie has to be, like, mindfuck.

    • I wouldn’t say it is ‘poor’, but rather just quite generic. Disney has experimented with different art styles in the past (ie Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, The Emperor’s New Groove) while still maintaining the ‘Disney look.’ Hopefully the art style of this film will offer us something different than thier last couple of movies.

      • bob

        are you guys talking about the animation or the design?

        • In general (for me), the issue was the design. As with practically all Disney films, the motion is very fluid (i.e. around 24 frames per second on average).

    • Strong Enough

      you want Disney presents “Oldboy” don’t you

      • Társio Abranches

        hahaha Oldboy with a lot of songs in the place of violent fighting. Cool.

      • Dusty Ayres

        Maybe they want Disney to make this movie.

    • tt

      Its not poor per se. Its really just how different it looks. It feels kind of rough on the edges compared to other Disney CG films. Ralph and Tangled were very lush and vibrant, where Frozen had a very realistic feel to it, making it feel different and dull to some people. But its also probably becoz they rushed the production at the end, since the idea of Elsa as misunderstood and not evil was thought up really late and they had to redo the entire thing.

      But no worries, coz did u see Big Hero 6 trailers? Lush, vibrant, bright, amazing lighting: Disney isn’t having any troubles there. If they don’t rush productions in the future, they’ll be fine.

    • Adzl33t

      They are cheapening Rapunzel character design, who is one of my favorite Disney Princess

    • Something Or Other

      Very poor? Just because you wish it was broader and more ‘animated’ doesn’t mean it was very poor. Step through scenes, especially with Anna. The amount of clarity in her facial is friggin’ nuts. They nail the thinking process behind her dialogue. It can’t all be flourishes and overlap.

  • Hey Now

    Ugh. I respect these two directors, but their last two films were Treasure Planet and Princess and the Frog. Hard to believe they’re getting another feature.

    • Tony

      I understand about Treasure Planet (although I kinda dug it), but Princess and the Frog was a great return to form for Disney, and I’m sure most people will agree.

      • James VanDam

        Every read Ed Hook’s final analysis? It’s a good film but not one of Disney’s best.

      • Ravlic

        I think Frozen is a true return to form for Disney. The songs in that movie actually felt like they came from a musical. In Rapunzel and Princess and the Frog, I didn’t have that impression in the least. In Frozen, not only do the songs sound like they came from a real musical, they’re also meaningful, both in their plot relevance and the fact that they’re not what they seem at first. Love is an open door is actually a villain song, For the first time in forever is actually about Anna’s loneliness and Do you want to build a snowman starts off upbeat, but ends as a tragic explanation of the sisters’ separation. And the movie’s kind of set apart from the others by the fact that it’s using the familiar Disney tropes not just to appeal to nostalgic audience members but to make the plot twist in the end work. It’s Disney, but it’s different enough to draw the attention of non-Disney crowds.

    • Mesterius

      Agreed. It’s kind of sad that John and Ron got chosen to revive the hand-drawn animated feature format, considering both how badly Treasure Planet performed and how uneven it was as a film. Princess and the Frog, of course, is just as flawed and uneven as a whole. It really wasn’t a good enough movie to revive audiences’ (and more importantly, executives’) interest in big-screen, hand-drawn animation.

      • Christian Z.

        It’s my understanding that Treasure Planet got killed by executives, not by Ron and John.

  • Jacob Boelman

    They sure picked a good piece of concept art to introduce the film. I didn’t even need the description. If you give me a movie close to the visual power of this art piece, I am all in.

  • Inkan1969

    World? Oceania is a region: the Continent of Australia plus many island nations and other political entities, spanning from New Zealand to Hawaii, and Eastern Indonesia to Easter Island.

    • jonhanson

      It seems they’re using the more loose secondary definition which gives us terms like the English speaking world, the Arab world, the ancient world, etc.

      Though I will admit I can see people getting confused because the name Oceania isn’t as widely known as it could be.

  • We really hoped that this one was going to be in 2D..
    well then we hope there’s is a chance to see the Meander technology
    used in this movie, we would love to see the ”Paperman effect” once
    again! (maybe improved) fingers crossed!

  • Toonio

    Another tie-in for the brand new Disney Resort I’m Hawaii.

    Or did you think this project is just for the sake of the animation audience?

    • tt

      If it makes a great film, why not lol? But I doubt that’s it. Ron and Clements are veterans, so they know what they’re doing.

      But seriously, there upcoming films really match some other their things in Disney parks. Frozen (Norway), big hero 6 (japan), zootopia (animal kingdom?), moana (resort and tiki). But that’s about it.

    • Sh00tingstar_NZ

      ummm Maui is the demi god of the Maori people. Maori people are from the pacific, typicial americans thinking that the only part of the inhabitated pacific is hawaii…the ‘american part’.

      • Thomas

        I would add, for the record, that the original script is by New Zealand film director Taika Waititi, who often writes about Maori.

        Seems probable it will be ‘streamlined’ into a familiar (for Americans) pseudo-Hawaiian setting, due to insular/lazy designers or suits scared of putting ‘risky’ alien visuals/cultures on the screen.

    • Fried

      You do realize that being able to merchandise your product is the key to be a successful artist in today’s world, right?

      Or did you think artists were able to make it in life because they believed hard enough?

      • Dusty Ayres

        He (like a lot of people here at this blog, IMHO) think that all that you have to survive on is sunshine and rainbows.

  • Aaron

    I’m gonna guess it will have the Feast look to it instead of Paperman so it can be Disney’s answer to the Flash animation, A Long Way North. http://vimeo.com/38442550

    • Bruce Wright

      That’s beautiful!!! Thanks for sharing it!!!

    • Crispy Walker

      Thank you for posting this! It’s beautiful. And honestly, if Disney goes with the Feast look for Moana, and it comes out anything like this, I’ll be stoked. Both are gorgeous ways of solving that creative challenge of making 2d-looking animation with CG technology and processes.

  • DangerMaus

    Man, I always thought I was a cynic. But after reading a few of these comments, I’m a dazzling ray of bright sunshine compared to some of you. LOL

    I thought the synopsis sounded pretty good. It sounds like it could be great if only they could manage to tell the story in a Miyazaki or Takahata way, rather than the typical Disney way.

    Of course, I’m one of the few people that actually liked Treasure Planet, so what do I know? (Shrug).

    • tt

      If they did, animation fans would cheer. But they would not do very well at the box office. Miyazaki styles of storytellings don’t really click well with US audience afterall

  • Van

    Reiterating what somebody had said earlier this year. Disney is using the formula of alternating between boy and girl-centric films. Starting from Tangled (Girl), then Ralph (boy), then Frozen (girl), then BH6 (boy), now Moana (presumably girl). Predictable formula that might work well for now but it’s going to get boring and dated after a few more films. If only they had the sentiments of Ghibli films.

    • tt

      How is this boring? U get 2 different gender centric films every year. And u forgot Winnie the Pooh (kids) and Zootopia (male). Pixar had only 1 female centric film, and they’re doing great. What works in films isn’t predictability of release dates, its the movie itself. All the films they did since Frog are amazing.

      If u wanna talk about formula and predictability, the Renaissance had it worse. Musical, sidekick, female love interest, fairy tale-like theme. Very predictable.

      And what dobu suppose they do? Adult centric? HA! US adults don’t even regard animation as a medium, let alone a mature film. Or is there some other demographic they should focus on? Most of Ghibli films have girl protagonist, magic, adventures, etc. Very similar to Disney. Or unless u want Disney to go so non-mainstream that they’ll shut down like Ghibli.

      Seriously, some complaints I don’t even understand exists.

      • Van

        You’re entitled to your opinion tt, so we agree to disagree but Ghibli’s films still has more charm than Disney’s modern day formulaic doldrum. Commercial success doesn’t always mean critical success. And don’t even get me started about Pixar. They’re losing more charm than DFA these days. Their girl – centric film Brave was one convoluted mess. My point is that these companies only care about making money so they will continue to pump out films with the same formula. I get that its a business. But it doesnt mean itll be any good IMO. Btw, I don’t really care if you understand anyone else’s complaints. Makes you sound like an elitist that only comprehends your own opinions. I’m not surprised if you actually work for Disney since you’ve been so vocal about defending them here.

      • Adzl33t

        I think Ghibli is getting stale too, most just copying Miyazaki, after Miyazai retirement I expect as much interesting output as 70 to mid 80s Disney films where they just play it safe, (such as Arietty and EarthSea) I hope after the old guard is retire, there will be new fresh animators to give something interesting.

        I think these (Post-Renaissance, second renaissance, whatever we can call this new era) new Disney films are getting fun and intersting again with reconstructions and other genres, such as Superheroes

        • AnimationGuy

          I guess you missed the news about Ghibli halting feature films for the foreseeable future.

    • Adzl33t

      Ghibli is getting boring now, they usually have a plucky girl with plantonic relationship with a boy, Arietty as someone else calls it, similar to 70s Disney films

    • Ravlic

      Having main characters of different genders now counts as “formulatic”?

      • Dusty Ayres

        If you’re an animation connoisseur, yes, it is.

  • George Comerci

    I’m glad we’re getting it earlier. I’m not as excited for this movie as most people are (it just sounds like a Polynesian Odyssey to me) but I’m still looking forward to it.

  • This sounds like a movie for girls directed by men. The premise sounds kind of “meh” to me.

    • starss

      A movie for girls DIRECTED BY MEN?? As opposed to what? You mean, like every single previous girl-oriented Disney animated movie ever??

      • Ravlic

        I don’t agree with Andrea’s sentiments in the least, but she means that it sounds like a movie that male directors would make based on what they think girls would be into (because putting a woman in charge is still unthinkable in the animation industry).
        And I sure hope you don’t think Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid were “girl-oriented” based on the mere fact that they had female leads.

  • James VanDam

    The horses in frozen looking like a re-skinned Maximas didn’t help in that department.

    • Társio Abranches

      Yeah, totally. The horse, the sisters Elsa and Anna, too much thing alike.

      And, like Natalie Belton said, even the most silly Disney traditional animation have some graphic design or experimental scene that stands out. Like Dumbo’s drunk dream.

  • Corrie Francis Parks

    As long as they keep the singing volcanoes out of it, I’ll keep an open mind…

    • KW

      Id say as long as they keep singing out of it altogether. It takes me out of the story every time and I hate it.

  • Andrew KIeswetter

    I’m interested in seeing both Zootopia and this.

  • CG Animator

    It’s not drawn on paper, painted on cells, and shot on an old fashioned animation camera stand like “the good ‘ol days” so its obviously EEEEVVVVIIIILLLLLLL.

    • Googamp32

      It’s not evil. Some of my favorite shows were made with with Flash. “Friendship is Magic”, “Mucha Lucha”, “Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja”,”Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends”.

      • DangerMaus

        I’m pretty sure he was being facetious, not serious.

        • CG Animator

          Exactly hehe.

      • CG Animator

        Hehe I’m kidding. Just making fun of the elitist attitude a lot of purist animators have against Flash and CG. I happen to love Flash animation! I do a lot of it myself.

  • Fried

    What about Feast…?

  • d. harry

    Whew, 2D must really be dead over there.

  • Adzl33t

    Waterworld the animated movie?

  • Adzl33t

    Jorge R Guitarrez complained about that

  • Elisa

    Well, I Like more “Princess and The Frog” and “Treasure Planet” than “Frozen” and “Tangled”, those last two where boring as hell for me. Just saying.

  • Ravlic

    Aside from lifeless, too smooth inbetweening, nothing.

    • CG Animator

      It doesn’t need to be that way though. Just like in traditional animation or CG, if you time your animation correctly so the inbetweens aren’t too even and properly ease in and out of poses it won’t look that way.

      Anyway, we’re getting off the subject… Moana looks like its going to be awesome!

  • Tory

    I am personally more concerned with them doing justice to the culture they’re representing. I’m also hoping Moana doesn’t have a love interest…or have Maui be her love interest because I can tell you right now people will have a fit especially the Native Polynesian/ Hawaiian community.

  • This really does sound interesting, and I hope they have more reign in the storytelling for this project. I also hope they can have a chance to come back to hand drawn animated features in the future.

  • WarriorMermaids

    I’m pretty excited for this movie. Been a while since that’s happened. I hope it’s really good.

  • LLJ

    That’s a great picture. Preliminary artwork always seems to look more interesting than the final product. I’ll never forget how blown away I was by some of the preliminary artwork and visions for how Tangled MIGHT have looked, only to be disappointed in how generic looking the final product turned out.

  • Justin

    Meander is not incompatible with color… it is just brush strokes overlayed on and transformed by a CG model. Those brush strokes could easily have been colored. And Feast did not use Meander, it was rendered with global illumination using Hyperion, the same renderer used on Big Hero 6.

  • Mesterius

    The characters of “Princess and the Frog” weren’t too bad, but as you say, several of them could have been developed better. I particularly agree when it comes to the villain (whom I actually liked, too). However, I will have to disagree completely with you on the story… it was a convoluted mess. One of the muddliest examples of storytelling I’ve seen in a Disney film since “The Black Cauldron”. By contrast, the storyline in Disney’s next feature “Tangled” was simpler and more character-focused, and all the better for it.

  • Mesterius

    “I am willing to appreciate things like Meander or Toon Boom if I know going in what to expect, but I do not want to see such things passed off as true “traditional animation.”

    My sentiments exactly.

  • Mesterius

    It’s funny how whenever we say reportedly, we don’t have an actual report to refer to. :P

  • Dusty Ayres

    Exactly what was/is wring with the concept (not execution) of a Blue Lagoon scenario? It wouldn’t have to be sexual.

  • Dusty Ayres

    What was the production company supposed to do? Maybe there weren’t any Maori actors to do the character in question available..

  • KnickKnackMyWack

    Because ad hominems and hyperbole are the in-thing right now.

  • The pacing in Frozen was way too fast and hard to handle. I agree with you Barret.