LIVE-ACTION MOANA CASTS CATHERINE LAGA‘AIA IN STARRING ROLE, TO BEGIN FILMING THIS SUMMER

A live-action Moana is coming, and the new actress taking on the ocean has been revealed — no more staring at the edge of the water, waiting for updates. Keep scrolling to find out everything you need to know about the latest Disney animated film to get the live-action treatment.

Theatrically released in November 2016, Moana stars Auli'i Cravalho as the titular teenage heroine and follows her on the adventure of a lifetime as she embarks on a journey across the ocean to save her people. Moana is widely regarded as one of Disney's best animated films, grossing $643 million worldwide — the film was even nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song. (On February 7, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced a sequel, currently titled Moana 2, would be arriving in theaters in November 2024 — Cravalho revealed a teaser snippet of the upcoming film on her Instagram that same day.)

The most notable recent reimaginings of beloved Disney animated films include The Little Mermaid starring Halle Bailey, Cruella starring Emma Stone, Mulan, Aladdin, and The Lion King; Disney has even more live-action remakes planned for the coming years, including Snow White starring Rachel Zegler, Lilo & Stitch, and Hercules.

Find out everything we know so far about the Moana live-action remake including the new cast, theatrical release date, trailer, and more.

→ Release date

→ Trailer

→ New Moana

→ Returning cast and crew

→ New music

→ Announcement

When was live-action Moana announced?

The live-action remake of Moana was first announced on April 3, 2023, by the animated film's star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who voiced the shapeshifting demigod Maui. Posting across all socials, Johnson shared a special announcement video filmed on the island of Oahu where he grew up.

"Deeply humbled to announce we're bringing the beautiful story of MOANA to the live action big screen!" Johnson wrote in his Instagram caption. “This story is my culture, and this story is emblematic of our people's grace, mana and warrior strength. I wear our culture proudly on my skin and in my soul, and this once in a lifetime opportunity to reunite with MAUI, inspired by the spirit of my late grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia, is one that runs very deep for me. We're honored to partner with @DisneyStudios to tell our story through the realm of music and dance, which at the core is who we are as Polynesian people."

The Moana live-action announcement came only a few weeks after major production and casting developments for the live-action Lilo & Stitch movie made headlines. Talk about a huge live-action win for the Pacific Islander community.

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When will live-action Moana be released?

Live-action adaptations have historically taken Disney anywhere between 3-5 years to create. Dwayne Johnson had previously shared that Walt Disney Studios and its collaborators for the film were “still very early in the process” of development, with lots “more work to be done.” During the summer of 2023, Johnson revealed a tentative release date of June 27, 2025 for the film. “It’s my privilege to share our legends, songs, and dance of our Polynesian culture with all of you and your families," Johnson wrote in a post on Instagram.

But as of June 12, 2024, Disney has a newer update — the live-action version of Moana is now confirmed to arrive in theaters three years after its initial announcement. Mark your calendars for July 10, 2026 now!

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Who is playing live-action Moana?

On February 8, 2024, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson revealed to Entertainment Tonight that the hunt was over: Moana had begun development and found its live-action leading lady. "One of the exciting things about that was actually finding our Moana and how exciting that has been," Johnson told the outlet this past winter, explaining that it took a “global search” to find the new star.

On June 12, 2024 Disney finally unveiled their live-action Moana, 17-year-old Sydney, Australia native Catherine Laga‘aia. “I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites,” Laga'aia said in a press release. “My grandfather comes from Fa‘aala, Palauli, in Savai‘i. And my grandmother is from Leulumoega Tuai on the main island of ‘Upolu in Samoa. I’m honored to have an opportunity to celebrate Samoa and all Pacific Island peoples, and to represent young girls who look like me.”

Representation is something is extremely important to Laga‘aia's predecessor, Auli'i Cravalho, who has worked diligently in her other films, and even on the red carpet, to uplift the voices of others, specifically Indigenous and queer communities.

Read More: Auli'i Cravalho Is 'Excited' to Pass the Baton for the Moana Live Action Movie

Auli’i Cravalho was famously cast to voice Moana when she was only 14 years old, becoming the first teenager to ever play a Disney Princess, and the first Polynesian princess, at that. When it was revealed that the live-action version of Moana was in development, fans immediately began to speculate whether she'd return to reprise her role. In May 2023, Cravalho shared a video message to fans on Instagram to put the rumors to rest.

“When I was cast as Moana at 14, it wonderfully changed my life and started my career,” said Cravalho in the video. “In this live-action retelling, I will not be reprising the role. I believe it is absolutely vital the casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell.”

“So, as an executive producer on the film, I cannot wait to help find the next actress to portray Moana’s courageous spirit, undeniable wit and emotional strength," continued Cravalho. "I’m truly honored to pass this baton to the next young woman of Pacific Island descent, to honor our incredible Pacific peoples cultures and communities that help inspire her story. And I look forward to all the beautiful Pacific representations to come. Mahalo.”

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Who else is involved in live-action Moana?

Though his costar Auli'i Cravalho will only return to the world of Moana in an off-screen, behind-the-camera capacity, The Rock will indeed be returning to reprise his role as Maui in the live-action version of Moana.

Joining Catherine Laga‘aia are John Tui as Chief Tui, Moana's “no-nonsense father”; Frankie Adams as Sina, Moana's “playful and strong-willed mother”; and Rena Owen as the “revered” Gramma Tala. (Fun fact: all three of these actors hail from New Zealand. Scroll through the gallery below to see their photos.)

Behind the camera, Johnson will produce the movie along with his producing partners Dany and Hiram Garcia via their company Seven Bucks Productions; Beau Flynn will also act as producer via Flynn Picture Co.; Cravalho will serve as an executive producer; the original film's writer Jared Bush is reportedly expected to return to pen the remake with the help of Dana Ledoux Miller; and director Thomas Kail will take the helm of this live-action reimagining. Kail is perhaps best known for directing Hamilton on Broadway, for which he won a Tony Award, and for directing the 2016 Fox special Grease: Live!, for which he won an Emmy. Kail has also previously directed the Hamilton film for Disney+ and Broadway's In the Heights and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

The Rock confirmed Kail's attachment to the new adaptation of Moana on Instagram, writing: “I’ve been very inspired by Tommy’s spirit, drive, talent, passion and hunger to create something special with MOANA for the world to enjoy… He’s ‘the hardest worker in the room.’"

“I am thrilled to have met Catherine, Rena, Frankie and John through this casting process," said Kail in a press release. "I am humbled by this opportunity, and I cannot wait to all be on set together. And there’s no better pair to be in a canoe with than Catherine and Dwayne — actually, trio: Heihei is ready, too.”

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Will there be new music in the live-action Moana?

On February 8, Johnson confirmed to ET that “Lin-Manuel Miranda's coming back” to lead the music of the live-action adaptation. It's not clear yet whether the Moana remake will feature new music, but based on the track record of past Disney live-action adaptations, it most likely will; 2023's live-action The Little Mermaid received four new original songs and updated renditions of the classic soundtrack. If Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa'i also return to help Miranda compose the soundtrack, we'll definitely be getting new versions of “You're Welcome" and “How Far I'll Go.”

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Is there a trailer for live-action Moana?

Moana has not yet started production, so there is no trailer available yet. Patience is a virtue.

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2023-05-22T15:34:10Z dg43tfdfdgfd