Disney to Release ‘Moana’ Earlier Than Expected

October 22, 2014, 8:42 AM HST · Updated October 23, 8:48 AM
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By: Malika Dudley

Earlier this week, Walt Disney Animation Studios announced it’s moving the release of its next full-length animated movie, Moana, from 2018 to 2016.

The CG-animated feature focuses on the adventures of a 14-year-old Polynesian girl named Moana. According to Pukui & Elbert’s Hawaiian dictionary, the name translates to “ocean, open sea or lake.”

Moana will be the second Disney heroine of Pacific Islander descent, following Lilo from 2002’s Lilo & Stitch.

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Directed by frequent Disney collaborators Ron Clements and John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Alladin, The Princess and the Frog), Moana will tell the story of a spirited teenage girl and “born navigator” who sets sail in search of a fabled island in the ancient south Pacific world of Oceania. On her journey, she teams up with her hero, legendary demi-god, Maui, and encounters mythical creatures and places along the way.

According to Disney’s official blog, Musker describes Moana as “indomitable, passionate and a dreamer with a unique connection to the ocean itself. She’s the kind of character we all root for.”

Musker and Clements spent a lot of time in the South Seas doing on-the-ground research for the film. In a Huffington Post interview Clements stated, “John and I were especially interested in meeting people who lived on islands where they had grown up surrounded by an ocean. We learned how the sea and the land are one and the same. And way before the European explorers or the Vikings, these people had very, very incredibly advanced techniques of navigation.”

Moana is scheduled to hit theaters in November 2016.

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