Disney is releasing the ‘Moana’ series in theaters this Thanksgiving

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Still from Disney Animation’s “Moana.”


How far will Disney go? Back to ancient Polynesia, it seems.

On Wednesday, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that the untitled Disney Animation film slated for Thanksgiving is a sequel to the beloved 2016 film “Moana.”

The news comes just a day after Nielsen’s year-end ratings named “Moana” as the highest-grossing movie aimed at kids and families in 2023, with 11.6 billion minutes watched.

“This was originally developed as a sequel, but we liked what we saw and knew it deserved a theatrical release,” Iger said during the company’s earnings call.

Disney’s animation studios – Walt Disney Animation and Pixar – have been struggling at the box office due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That came in part from the company’s decision to pack its new streaming service Disney + with content, stretching its thin creative teams and sending theatrical films through the pandemic directly digitally.

The decision trained parents to seek out new Disney titles on streaming, not theaters, even as Disney chose to return its films to the big screen. Disney’s woes were the general awareness of the audience that the company’s content had become too animated and too concerned with social issues beyond the reach of children.

As a result, no Disney animated feature from Pixar or Walt Disney Animation has generated more than $480 million at the global box office as of 2019.

The sequel to “Moana” comes about six months after the theatrical release of “Inside Out 2,” a sequel to the hit 2015 animated film about what goes on inside a person’s head.

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