DisneyFeature Film

Is The Dead Porn Actress Moana Pozzi Why Disney Renamed ‘Moana’ in Italy? (Updated)

It’s no secret that American film studios often change the titles of their films for international markets. For example, Zootopia is known as Zootropolis in the U.K. and other parts of Europe, while it’s called Zootopie in France.

But the name changes for John Musker and Ron Clements’ Moana have been more dramatic than any other animated feature in recent memory. Throughout much of Europe, the film (and title character) have been renamed Vaiana, while in Italy, the film is called Oceania, which describes the region where the film is set.

Why so many name changes? Disney’s Spanish subsidiary pointed out in a tweet last year that changing the character’s name from Moana to Vaiana was necessary, because Moana was a registered trademark throughout the European Union:

The reason for the name change in Italy to Oceania remains more mysterious, however. Disney Italy hasn’t offered any official explanation, but the running theory in Italian media is that Disney was compelled to change the name thanks to the notoriety of Italian porn actress Moana Pozzi, who passed away in 1994 at the age of 33. Like the Disney princess, Pozzi’s first name had Polynesian roots; she was named after a Hawaiian island that means “the point where the sea is deepest.”

In addition to her film career, Pozzi was the co-founder of the Italian political movement, the Love Party, and ran unsuccessfully for the mayor of Rome. Per a 2004 piece in the The New York Times that described Pozzi’s diverse activities:

Pozzi was—and remains—Italy’s most revered porn star. Stunningly beautiful with a razor-sharp mind, Pozzi created a public persona that in just a few years became as popular with hormonally charged young men as with devout grandmothers.…Indeed, even while Pozzi was performing in erotic cabarets and filming cheesy porn flicks, she lived a parallel life as a respected pundit on television talk shows, philosophizing about sexual freedom or holding forth on gay rights or denouncing the Mafia.

Pozzi was so well known before her death that she even starred in her own animated short, Moanaland (dir. Mario Verger), about a porn star who exposes political corruption:

moanaland

Whatever headaches these name alterations have caused for Disney, the company is likely taking the changes in stride, since the early buzz for Moana suggests they’ve got another big hit on their hands. Perhaps even as big as the career of Italy’s homegrown Moana.

oceania_vaiana

UPDATED: A Cartoon Brew reader told us on Twitter that Moana directors John Musker and Ron Clements were asked about this topic at Annecy, and confirmed that the Moana Pozzi connection played a role in the name change:

Latest News from Cartoon Brew