Well, this was a wonderful surprise. On the Walt Disney Animation Studios Facebook page, Disney released a piece of concept art for its upcoming film Moana, in addition to a plot synopsis and some exciting information about its release date!
Here is the official announcement:
We’re thrilled to announce our 56th animated feature film, Moana! Renowned filmmakers Ron Clements & John Musker (‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Aladdin’) will direct the CG-animated comedy-adventure, coming to theatres late 2016.
Wowsers! 2016?! Last we heard, Moana was projected to be released in 2018, which made some eager Disney fans a bit disappointed that they wouldn’t get to see Disney’s “Polynesian Princess” for another few years. 2016 will also mark the first year since 2002 that Disney Animation has released two films in the same year with Zootopia being released in March 2016. It’s so exciting to see the studio climb back up to the top like it was in its glory days.
No reason was explicitly made as to why Moana‘s date was moved up, but obviously the film, directed by Disney veterans Ron Clements and John Musker, is moving along well behind the scenes. Also, perhaps the massive popularity of Frozen convinced Disney to streamline this project, since it has two things that made Frozen such as success: a “princess” (technically, daughter of a chief) and a musical.
Also, Disney’s press released revealed an updated plot synopsis for Moana. Be prepared to be blown away. This movie is going to be good:
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.
Co-director Musker chimed in about the main heroine: “Moana is indomitable, passionate and a dreamer with a unique connection to the ocean itself. She’s the kind of character we all root for, and we can’t wait to introduce her to audiences.” Clements also said, “John and I have partnered on so many films – from The Little Mermaid to Aladdin to The Princess and the Frog. Creating Moana is one of the great thrills of our career. It’s a big adventure set in this beautiful world of Oceania.”
Now onto the stunning concept art. The artwork show Moana (presumably) with a man or boy. The plot synopsis above mentions Maui, the tough, macho ancient demigod Maui described to be short and stocky like a fire hydrant–it’s most likely her companion in the scene is him. However, we also know that Moana Wailaki is the only girl and youngest child in a family of six older brothers. Possibly this could be one of her brothers. Maybe Wakaroa who is described as a big, gentle teddy bear or the youngest brother Umu, who is her tormenter. Then again, it could be her father the chief. But since Maui was mentioned in the plot synopsis, it’s most likely him.
The art itself show the two navigating a choppy sea towards a beautiful Polynesian paradise. Tall mountains are covered with lush green foliage and we even see a glimpse of a sky-high waterfall. Clouds and fog swirl around the scene, creating a lot of visual dimension and intrigue. The blue-green color palette of the landscape is also offset by Moana’s reddish sail boat and clothing. Let’s just put it this way: the concept art is gorgeous and we can’t wait for more!
Disney announced that Moana is setting sail in late 2016, but based what dates dates Disney Animation has nabbed, expect to see it November 23, 2016.