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Theatrical release poster
|Produced by||Osnat Shurer|
|Screenplay by||Jared Bush|
|Edited by||Jeff Draheim|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios
|Box office||$643.3 million|
Moana (//) is a 2016 American 3D computer-animated musical adventure film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 56th Disney animated feature film. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, co-directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, the film introduces Auliʻi Cravalho as Moana and features the voices of Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, and Alan Tudyk. The film features songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Opetaia Foa'i and orchestral score composed by Mark Mancina.
The film tells the story of Moana, the strong-willed daughter of a chief of a Polynesian village, who is chosen by the ocean itself to reunite a mystical relic with a goddess. When a blight strikes her island, Moana sets sail in search of Maui, a legendary demigod, in the hope of returning the heart of Te Fiti and saving her people.
Moana was released theatrically in the United States on November 23, 2016 to generally positive reviews from critics, with particular praise going towards its animation, music, and vocal performances. The film went on to gross over $643 million worldwide. Along with Zootopia, it marked the first time since 2002 that Walt Disney Animation Studios released two feature films in the same year. It received two Academy Award nominations at the 89th Academy Awards: one for Best Animated Feature and another for Best Original Song ("How Far I'll Go").
On the Polynesian island of Motunui, the inhabitants worship the goddess Te Fiti, who brought life to the ocean, using a pounamu stone as her heart and the source of her power. Maui, the shapeshifting demigod and master of sailing, steals the heart to give humanity the power of creation. However, Te Fiti disintegrates, and Maui is attacked by Te Kā, a volcanic demon, losing both his magical giant fishhook and the heart to the depths.
A millennium later, Moana, daughter of Motunui's chief Tui, is chosen by the ocean to return the heart to Te Fiti. However, Tui arrives and takes Moana away, causing her to lose the heart. Tui and Moana's mother Sina try to keep her away from the ocean to prepare for her ascension as the island's chief. Years later, after Moana has grown older, a blight strikes the island, rotting the coconuts and dwindling the number of fish caught. Moana suggests going beyond the island's reef to find more fish, but Tui forbids it. Sina explains to Moana that Tui and his best friend tried going beyond the reef, but the latter perished. Moana and her pet pig Pua try conquering the reef but are overpowered by the ocean's tides and end up shipwrecked back on Motunui.
Moana's grandmother Tala shows her a secret cave, where a number of ships are hidden, revealing to Moana that their people used to be voyagers. Tala explains they stopped when Maui stole Te Fiti's heart and that Te Kā's darkness is poisoning the island, but it can be cured if Moana finds Maui and gets him to restore the heart of Te Fiti, which she gives to Moana. Tala falls ill shortly after and dies, but not before encouraging Moana to go and fulfill her destiny.
Moana sets sail on a camakau found in the cavern, accidentally accompanied by her dim-witted rooster Heihei. Moana is caught in a typhoon and shipwrecked on an island where she finds the stranded Maui, who traps her and steals the camakau, but Moana catches up to him with help from the ocean. She demands that Maui return the heart but he refuses. Maui is accompanied by a sentient "Mini-Maui" tattoo, acting as his conscience.
They are attacked by Kakamora—coconut-armored pirates—who seek to steal the heart, but Moana and Maui outwit them. Moana realizes Maui is no longer a hero, and convinces him to redeem himself by returning the heart. Maui first needs to obtain his magical fishhook, which is located in Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters, and is in the possession of Tamatoa, a giant, greedy coconut crab. Moana enters Tamatoa's lair, using herself as live bait to distract him and allowing Maui to climb atop the crab and retrieve his fishhook. However, Maui discovers he cannot control his shapeshifting and loses self-confidence, quickly becoming overpowered by Tamatoa. Moana's quick thinking allows them to escape with Maui's hook. Maui reveals that his first tattoo was earned when his mortal parents rejected him. After reassurance from Moana, Maui teaches her the art of sailing and regains control of his powers.
The two arrive at Te Fiti's island, only to be attacked by Te Kā, who badly damages Maui's fishhook. Tired of all the trials and tribulations and fearful he will lose his hook, and therefore his power, Maui angrily abandons Moana, who tearfully asks the ocean to find someone else to restore the heart. The ocean obliges and takes the heart from Moana. Tala's spirit appears, inspiring Moana to find her true calling. Moana decides to fulfill her destiny, retrieves the heart, and sails back to confront Te Kā. Maui returns, convinced by his Mini-Maui tattoo to change his mind, and buys Moana time to reach Te Fiti by fighting Te Kā, destroying his fishhook in the process. Moana discovers Te Fiti is missing, and realizes Te Kā is Te Fiti without her heart. Moana tells the ocean to clear a path while singing, allowing her to restore Te Fiti's heart, transforming her back to normal. Te Fiti then heals the ocean and islands of Te Kā's poison. Maui apologizes to Te Fiti, who forgivingly restores his fishhook and goes into a deep sleep. Moana bids farewell to Maui, returning home where she reunites with her parents. Moana takes up her role as chief and wayfinder, leading her people on a voyage, accompanied from afar by Maui (in a form of a giant hawk) and Tala (in the form of a manta ray).
In a post-credits scene, Tamatoa, still stuck on his back, addresses the audience, knowing they would help if he was named Sebastian and sang in a Jamaican accent (making reference to The Little Mermaid).
After directing The Princess and the Frog (2009), Clements and Musker started working on an adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Mort, but problems with acquiring the necessary film rights prevented them from continuing with that project. To avoid a recurrence of that issue, they pitched three original ideas. The genesis of one of those ideas (the one that was ultimately green-lighted) occurred in 2011, when Musker began reading up on Polynesian mythology, and learned of the heroic exploits of the demigod Māui. Intrigued with the rich culture of Polynesia, he felt it would be a suitable subject for an animated film. Shortly thereafter, Musker and Clements wrote a treatment and pitched it to John Lasseter, who recommended that both of them should go on research trips. Accordingly, in 2012, Clements and Musker went on research trips to Fiji, Samoa, and Tahiti to meet the people of the South Pacific Ocean and learn about their culture. At first, they had planned to make the film entirely about Maui, but their initial research trips inspired Clements to pitch a new idea focused on the young daughter of a chief.
Clements and Musker were fascinated to learn during their research that the people of Polynesia abruptly stopped making long-distance voyages about three thousand years ago. Their navigational traditions predated those of European explorers, beginning around 300 CE. Native people of the Pacific possessed knowledge of the world and their place in it prior to the incursion of foreigners. For example, Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) were well aware of the existence of far away islands, had names for these places, and were interested in exploring them to benefit their societies. This voyaging heritage was made possible by a geographical knowledge system based on individual perspective rather than the European cardinal direction system. The reasons for the halt of this voyaging tradition remain unknown, but scholars have offered climate change and resulting shifts in ocean currents and wind patterns as one possible explanation. Native peoples of the Pacific resumed voyaging again a thousand years later. Clements and Musker set the film at the end of that era, about two thousand years ago, on a fictional island in the central Pacific Ocean, which drew inspiration from elements of the real-life island nations of Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga.
Over the five years it took to develop and produce the film, Clements and Musker recruited experts from across the South Pacific to form an Oceanic Story Trust, who consulted on the film's cultural accuracy and sensitivity as the story evolved through nine versions. The Trust responded negatively, for example, to a depiction of Maui as bald, and to a proposed scene in which Moana threw a tantrum by throwing coconuts. In response, Maui was reworked with long hair and the coconut scene was scrapped.
Te Kā was referred to in early drafts of the film as Te Pō, a reference to the Māori goddess Hine-nui-te-pō, who was originally the life-giving goddess Hine-tītama, but became the goddess of death upon discovering that her husband the god Tāne was also her father. Māui set out to defeat her in order to bring immortality to humans, but failed and was himself killed.
During the 2015 D23 Expo's panel for Disney's slate of upcoming animated films, Moana's last name was given as "Waialiki", but that name was not retained in the final film.
Taika Waititi wrote the initial screenplay. The first draft focused on Moana as the sole daughter in a family with "five or six brothers", in which gender played into the story. However, the brothers and gender-based theme were deleted from the story, as the directors thought Moana's journey should be about finding herself. A subsequent draft presented Moana's father as the one who wanted to resume navigation, but it was rewritten to have him oppose navigation so he would not overshadow Moana. Instead, Pamela Ribon came up with the idea of a grandmother character for the film, who would serve as a mentor linking Moana to ancient traditions. Another version focused on Moana rescuing her father, who had been lost at sea. The film's story changed drastically during the development phase (which happens with most Disney films), and that idea ultimately survived only as a subtle element of the father's backstory. Aaron and Jordan Kandell joined the project during a critical period to help deepen the emotional story architecture of the film. They are credited with developing the core relationship between Moana and Maui, the prologue, the Cave of the Wayfinders, the Kakamora, and the collector crab Tamatoa (played by Jemaine Clement). Jared Bush received sole credit as the writer of the final version of the screenplay.
Like most Disney and Pixar animated films, several major story problems were identified in 2015 only after the film had already transitioned from development into production, but computer-generated films tend to have much shorter production schedules and much larger animation teams (in this case, about 90 animators) than traditionally animated films. Since Clements and Musker were already working 12-hour days (and Saturdays) directing such a large team of animators, Don Hall and Chris Williams (who had just finished directing Big Hero 6) came on board as co-directors to help fix the film's story issues. The scene in which Maui and Moana encounter the Kakamora is an intentional homage to Mad Max: Fury Road.
After the filmmakers sat through auditions of hundreds of candidates from across the Pacific, 14-year-old high school freshman Auliʻi Cravalho was cast as the lead character Moana. At that point in time, the design of Moana's face and personality was already complete, and Cravalho's obvious physical resemblance to her character was simply a coincidence. During animation production, Disney animators were able to integrate some of Cravalho's mannerisms into Moana's behavior as depicted onscreen.
The majority of the film's cast members are of Polynesian descent: Auliʻi Cravalho (Moana) and Nicole Scherzinger (Sina, Moana's mother) were born in Hawaii and are of Native Hawaiian heritage; Dwayne Johnson (Maui), Oscar Kightley (Fisherman), and Troy Polamalu (Villager No. 1) are of Samoan heritage; and New Zealand–born Rachel House (Tala, Moana's grandmother), Temuera Morrison (Tui, Moana's father), and Jemaine Clement (Tamatoa) are of Māori heritage.
Moana is Clements and Musker's first fully computer-animated film. One of the reasons for using computer animation was that the environment, including the ocean, benefited much more from the use of CGI as opposed to traditional animation. The filmmakers have also suggested that three-dimensional computer animation is well-suited to the "beautiful sculpturing" of the faces of the people of the South Pacific. Eric Goldberg worked on the hand-drawn animation used to depict Maui's sentient tattoos. During early development, the filmmakers considered the possibility of making the film with hand-drawn traditional animation, but only a few early animation tests were made in that style. In the final cut, only Maui's tattoos are hand-drawn.
Moana was produced in makeshift quarters in a giant warehouse in North Hollywood (together with Zootopia), while Disney Animation's headquarters building in Burbank was being renovated. Musker observed that Moana was similar in that respect to The Little Mermaid, which was produced in a warehouse in Glendale. Production wrapped on October 20, 2016.
The film's soundtrack was released by Walt Disney Records on November 18, 2016. The songs were written by Opetaia Foa'i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, while the score was written by Mancina. The lyrics are in English, Samoan and the Tokelauan language. The soundtrack peaked at number two on the Billboard 200.
On October 20, 2014, Walt Disney Pictures announced that it would be releasing the film in late 2016, and hinted that it might be the November 23, 2016 release window previously announced by the studio in March 2014 for a then-untitled film. In November 2014, Disney confirmed that it would be releasing the film on November 23, 2016. The film is accompanied by the short film, Inner Workings. The film's world premiere was held at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles on November 14, 2016.
In many European countries, the name of the titular character, Moana, was changed to Vaiana due to a trademark conflict. The film was released in those countries to bear the alternative name in the title. In Italy, the film was released with the title Oceania. Media outlets speculated that the name change was to avoid confusion with Italian pornographic actress Moana Pozzi, and Disney Italy's head of theatrical marketing, Davide Romani, acknowledged they were "thinking about the issue" at a meeting of Italian exhibitors in 2015.
On October 25, 2016, at a press conference in Papeete, it was announced that the film will be the first motion picture to be fully dubbed in the Tahitian language. This marks the third time Disney has released a special dubbing dedicated to the culture which inspired the film: the first case was The Lion King (1994), for which the directors travelled to South Africa to cast voice actors for a Zulu-dubbed version; and the second case was Mulan (1998), which was the first Disney film to have a Mandarin Chinese dubbing made in China, separate from and independent of the version released in Taiwan. In June 2017, a Māori-language dubbing of the movie was announced, premiering in Auckland on September 11, with 30 theatres screening it for free as part of Māori Language Week. Rachel House, Jemaine Clement, Temuera Morrison and Oscar Kightley reprised their respective roles in this version, directed by Rachel House herself. In November 2017, a Hawaiian-language dubbing was announced to be under way, with Auliʻi Cravalho reprising her role as Moana.
In India, popular music composer Bappi Lahiri (who is known to be India's "gold-man") voiced the character of Tamatoa in the Hindi-dubbed version of the film; mostly because in reality, he too, similar to Tamatoa, has an immense love and fondness for gold. In Russia, Tamatoa was voiced by a popular singer, Ilya Lagutenko, who performed Tamatoa's song with his distinctive soft "meowing" intonations.
There are currently meet-and-greets with Moana at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa. At Hong Kong Disneyland, there will be a stage show called Moana's Village Festival, which is scheduled to open in 2018.
Moana was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on Blu-ray (2D and 3D) and DVD in the United States on March 7, 2017, with a digital release on February 21, 2017. The releases include the short film, Inner Workings. The Blu-ray release also introduces a short film featuring Maui and Moana, titled Gone Fishing. The film is also available for streaming on Netflix.
Moana grossed $248.7 million in the U.S. and Canada, and $394.5 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $643.3 million. On January 22 and March 16, 2017, respectively, the film reached the $500 million and $600 million marks, becoming the fourth consecutive Walt Disney Animation Studios film to reach both milestones after Frozen (2013), Big Hero 6 (2014), and Zootopia (2016). Although Disney has not disclosed the film's production budget, most of its animated films cost around $150 million. Deadline Hollywood calculated the net profit of the film to be $121.3 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues for the film, making it the 12th most profitable release of 2016.
In the United States, Moana was released during the Thanksgiving weekend. The film played in 3,875 theaters of which a majority of them (80%) screened it in 3D. It also played in 50 premium large format screens and more than 400 D-Box screens. It was projected to take in around $50 million in three days, with $75–85 million in five days (some estimates going as high as $90 million). Deadline.com said the numbers were good for the original Disney film and marked a great rebound for the company in the wake of Pixar's The Good Dinosaur the previous year, which had made $55 million over five days off a production budget of $175–200 million.
Moana made $2.6 million from Tuesday paid previews which began at 7 pm, the highest ever for a Walt Disney Animation Studios film and for a non-Pixar Disney animated film. On its opening day, it made $15.5 million, a new record for a Walt Disney Animation Studios film opening on Wednesday (breaking Frozen's record) and the biggest opening day ever for a film released on pre-Thanksgiving Day. On Thanksgiving Day, it earned $9.9 million, a decrease of 36% from its previous day. On Black Friday—the highest-grossing day of the Thanksgiving stretch—it made $21.8 million, a 127% increase from the day before. Through Sunday, the film posted a three-day opening weekend worth $56.6 million over its Friday-to-Sunday debut and $82.1 million from Wednesday to Sunday, the third biggest three-day Thanksgiving opening (behind Frozen and Toy Story 2) and the second biggest five-day Thanksgiving opening (behind Frozen), dethroning Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them off the top spot. Among all films that did not necessarily open in this weekend but may have played, Moana ranks sixth among three-day weekends and fifth among five-day weekends.
In its second weekend, the film dropped by about 50% for a total of $28.3 million, a smaller drop than Toy Story 2, Frozen, Tangled, and The Good Dinosaur. The film managed to top the box office for its third weekend, despite competition from newcomers and holdovers, earning $18.5 million while falling by 34%. It became the sixth film of 2016 to top the box office three times, following Deadpool, Zootopia, The Jungle Book, Finding Dory, and Suicide Squad. The film was overtaken by Disney's own Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in its fourth weekend, despite only a marginal decline.
It fell to number six in its fifth weekend, due to competition from four new releases—Sing, Passengers, Why Him?, and Assassin's Creed—despite a small drop again; it grossed $2.9 million on Christmas Day. On the holiday week of December 23–29, the film finished at number four with a gross of $26 million, which was 14% up from the previous week, despite losing over 300 theaters. It finished at number four in its sixth weekend, going up 42% and 97%, respectively, during the three-day and four-day weekends; it grossed $3.6 million on New Year's Day.
Internationally, the film earned $17.2 million in its first weekend from 12 markets, the bulk of which came from China. In its second weekend, the film expanded to a total of 30 markets, adding an additional $33.7 million.
In China, the film had a November 25 opening day with $1.9 million from 38,000 screenings. However, it enjoyed a big weekend bump on Saturday—even though its screens dipped—and Sunday. In total, it scored an opening weekend of $17.2 million, the second best for a Disney animated title, behind only Zootopia. It was No. 2 behind Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Strong social media numbers showed among the highest the studio has seen there. Similar to how Zootopia started off slow and later became a blockbuster phenomenon. The film slipped 55% in its second weekend, earning $5.8 million, and $21.8 in total in China. It would eventually earn a total of $32.7 million in China.
It had similar successful number-one debuts in France, Russia, Mexico and Spain. The film also saw success in Belgium, the Netherlands and French-speaking Switzerland. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the film faced competition from Fantastic Beasts—which was playing in its third weekend—and as a result, it posted a low opening of only £2.2 million ($2.8 million).
The biggest earning markets to date have been Japan ($45.9 million), followed by France ($35.5 million), China ($32.8 million), the UK ($25.3 million), Brazil ($22.9 million), Australia ($19 million), Germany ($17 million), Italy ($15.9 million), and South Korea ($15.5 million).
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, Moana holds an approval rating of 96% based on 245 reviews, and an average rating of 7.9/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "With a title character as three-dimensional as its lush animation and a story that adds fresh depth to Disney's time-tested formula, Moana is truly a family-friendly adventure for the ages." Subsequently, the film is also listed as number 11 on the website's "50 Best Computer Animated Movies" list. On Metacritic, the film holds a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "universal acclaim." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on a scale ranging from A+ to F, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave an 89% overall positive score and a 71% "definite recommend".
Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal proclaimed that "Moana is beautiful in more ways than I can tell, thanks to the brilliance of more animators than I could count." Animator Eric Goldberg received praise from critics and audiences for his hand-drawn animation of Maui's tattoos, which they claimed "stole the show" from the actual CGI-animated motion picture. Wai Chee Dimock, writing in the Los Angeles Review of Books, compared the ocean in Moana to the one in "The Water Baby," a short story by Jack London, saying that both are animated: one, by the tension between digital and analog animation, and the other, by the tension between an encroaching future and a past in retreat still capable of pushing back.
Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com gave the film three and a half out of four stars, stating that "Moana would have been enormously entertaining regardless of when it came out, but its arrival at this particular moment in history gives it an added sense of significance—as well as inspiration." Peter Debruge of Variety praised the film, calling it "a return to the heights of the Disney Renaissance".
Disney has been accused of appropriating Polynesian mythology and culture. Through the film, the corporation has been claimed to perpetuate settler colonialist practices of exploitation and erasure by utilizing the knowledge and narratives of native peoples to spur a profitable capitalist enterprise of music, celebrities and merchandise. A Maui "skin suit" costume made to tie in with the film was pulled by Disney from its online store following complaints about it being culturally insensitive and for appearing to promote brownface.
The film takes specific cultural elements from a variety of native Pacific groups and incorporates them into one generalized portrayal of Polynesian culture. This conglomeration of cultures has been regarded as degrading to the diversity of the Pacific, falsely reducing all of Polynesia to a single cultural entity.
The film has also been criticized as a tourism advertisement for the Pacific. It has been accused of fetishizing Polynesian island nations as exotic vacation spots, the people and culture of which exist only to entertain foreign audiences. Disney initiating a partnership with Hawaiian Airlines to promote the film has been perceived as having this particular motive, as well as Auliʻi Cravalho speaking with The New York Times in an interview sharing travel tips for visitors to Hawaii. Critiques of these promotional tactics focus on how adverse effects of tourism have devastated native communities in the Pacific, resulting in environmental degradation and poverty.
Colin Philp, an educator on Polynesian history, noted that the sailing canoe used by the film's protagonists is believed to be a Fijian camakau, and that the film's concept artists based it on one of the canoes they saw when they visited the Korova settlement in Laucala. Philp said that using that design without permission of the Korova community could be viewed as a violation of the intellectual property rights of their elders.
Brigham Young University–Hawaii sociocultural anthropologist Tēvita 'Ō. Ka'ili stated that "despite its important girl-power message, the film had a major flaw. It lacked symmetry by its omission of a heroic goddess. Disney resorted to reducing the mighty god Maui to a one-dimensional, selfish, borderline abusive, buffoon to foreground the strength of the movie's protagonist Moana." He went on to explain that, "the omission of a goddess-heroine is significant because Polynesia is a culture with a vast pantheon of powerful heroic goddesses. Hina, a companion goddess to the god Maui, was nowhere to be found in Disney's imagineering of Moana."
Maui's Fish Hook, an item featured on Moana, makes an appearance in the seventh season of ABC's Once Upon a Time as an enchanted talisman, establishing that the film's history exists in its universe.
Disney won't disclose the budget of Moana, but major animated films typically run upward of $150 million.
Disney didn't release a budget, but most of the studio's animated films cost north of $150 million.
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