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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 rankings named “Moana” as the top-streamed film aimed at kids and families in 2023, with 11.6 billion minutes of viewing.

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

Disney’s animation studios — Walt Disney Animation and Pixar — have struggled at the box office in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. That stemmed in part from the company’s decision to pad its fledgling streaming service Disney+ with content, stretching its creative teams thin and sending theatrical movies during the pandemic straight to digital.

The decision trained parents to seek out new Disney titles on streaming, not theaters, even when Disney opted to return its films to the big screen. Compounding Disney’s woes was a general sense from audiences that the company’s content had grown overly existential 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 since 2019.

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

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