You knew it was coming – Moana is getting a live-action movie, and this is what we know about it so far.
Moana is one of Disney’s beloved 2010s features. While plenty of films were released in that ten-year time-frame, from the almost too-successful Frozen to Zooptopia to even Big Hero 6, I have always been a vast Moana fan. I have rewatched Moana countless times, so much so that I’m sure everyone around me knows the Lin-Manuel Miranda lyrics.
It was only a matter of time before Moana became the next Disney film to receive the upcoming live-action treatment from Disney. Surprisingly, the animated movie is getting a live-action remake this close to the original release date since the film only came out in 2016. But regardless, Moana is coming to live-action – and we know plenty about the upcoming movie.
What Is The Moana Live-Action Release Date?
According to The Hollywood Reporter, in June 2023, it was confirmed that Moana would be released on June 27, 2025.
I know that secretly, some of us were all wondering if the movie would be released as part of the 2024 movie schedule, but 2025 feels like a much more accurate timeline as filming hasn’t even begun yet. For a film as visually stunning as Moana is, I don’t know how long it takes to film the live-action version.
Disney does already have a few live-action films lined up over the next few years, from the prequel film Mufasa to the live-action version of Lilo & Stitch, so if I have to wait a little bit for Moana, I’m alright with God knows we’ll have plenty of live-action Disney movies to hold us over until then – with plenty of live-action Disney villains, too!
Dwayne Johnson Will Portray Live-Action Maui
Aside from the titular character, Maui in Moana was certainly a scene-stealer. The shapeshift, voiced by Dwayne Johnson, has become a massive hit with children and adults, from the fun-loving song of “You’re Welcome” to the funny animals and combinations that the demigod can shift into.
It must take a heck of a person to portray the live-action version of a demigod, but Johnson is up for the challenge.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter in August 2023, Johnson confirmed that he would return in the live-action, portraying Maui himself. He announced this as part of the original announcement for the live-action series, saying that the story was a part of his culture and he wanted to bring it to life in live-action:
Johnson has appeared in various movies and TV shows over the last few years, with some of his most prominent appearances being Fast X, Black Adam, Red Notice, and more. Moana will only add to the list the number of films this wrestler-turned-actor has been in.
Auli’i Cravalho Will Not Reprise Her Role As Moana – But Will Serve As An Executive Producer
While Auli’i Cravalho originally voiced Moana in Moana, the actress confirmed on her Instagram in May 2023 that she would not return to play the live-action version of Moana. Instead, she’ll be working as an executive producer this time around:
This isn’t that surprising to me. Johnson is of the age where if he played a demigod, I could see it, but Moana is a teenager in the film. Cravalho is now in her early twenties and working on several different projects, from the 2023 series The Power to the upcoming Mean Girls musical movie adaptation.
However, this does mean that the live-action could also give way to some fresh talent for whoever gets to play Moana. The titular role has not been cast yet, but I feel that whoever gets it will be great.
The casting for the film was put on hold for the SAG-AFTRA strike in July 2023, according to Hawaii News Now, but the strike did end in November 2023, so it won’t be long before we hear some news on who might play Moana.
The Film Is A Live-Action Remake Of The Original Animated Disney Movies
You might recall what Moana is about since the film only came out in 2016. However, if you need to remember, that’s what I’m here for.
According to the movie’s announcement, Moana will be a live-action remake of the animated film of the same name. In the movie, Moana sets out on an adventure across the sea to find the demigod Maui. Once she finds him, her goal is for the powerful being to restore the heart of Te Fiti so her island (which is dying) can survive.
In doing so, she must sail across the great ocean, facing many battles, strange creatures, and trying to find her destiny out on the waves while trying to work together with Maui.
The movie was huge when it was released, grossing $687,228,908 at the worldwide box office, according to Box Office Mojo. As I said, it was only a matter of time before the film received the live-action retelling.
Thomas Kail Will Serve As Director
Announced by The Hollywood Reporter in May 2023, it was confirmed that Thomas Kail would direct the upcoming live-action Moana. It will be his feature film directorial debut.
Kail is primarily known for directing Hamilton, the hit Broadway musical. Kail also directed In the Heights on Broadway as well. Both of these Broadway productions ended up in the film world. In the Heights received a film adaptation, while Hamilton premiered a recorded stage production as one of the best films on Disney+.
This news is also significant because Kail has worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda twice before, so we might get Miranda back for music for the live-action adaptation, but nothing is confirmed yet. Only time will tell.
Jared Bush Is Returning To Pen The Screenplay
The last piece of news we know about the live-action Moana is that Jared Bush, the screenwriter for the original Moana film, is returning to pen the screenplay for the live-action version. Bush confirmed the news in a Twitter post, showing his excitement about coming back to the film:
Cheehoo!!! So excited that not only is #Moana LIVE-ACTION happening, but that this story, so close to my heart, will be brought to life by an absolute dream team, including dear friends at Disney Animation, my stunt double @therock, EP @auliicravalho – (now my boss!), members of… pic.twitter.com/Se1wdJk86hApril 3, 2023
Bush also confirmed in a lower reply to a fan that Disney is still working on the animated Moana TV series and is “phenomenal,” but it’s still exciting to see him returning for the live-action movie. Bush has worked as a writer on Zootopia and Encanto, so it’s nice to have him back here.
What are you the most excited about regarding the live-action Moana? 2025 seems so far away – can these next two years fly by, please?