Walt Disney Animation Studios is currently experiencing one of the most successful spells in its almost-80-year existence since debuting in 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The studio has had a string of high-grossing, hugely popular hits, such as Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6 and, their most recent global smash, Zootopia, which has just passed the $1 billion mark. With Disney’s acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Studios over the past decade, it’s safe to say that the House of Mouse is a dominant, financially successful powerhouse, with mega hits such as Inside Out, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Captain America: Civil War collectively making over $4 billion, all within the last 12 months.
Yet Disney’s animated films are, and will always be, a cornerstone of the studio’s success. Classics like Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Lion King, and Aladdin are instilled in the minds of generations of film fans; and with animated movie Moana on its way towards the end of the year, anticipation is huge for the high-seas adventure. Starring Auli’i Cravalho as the title character, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as demi-god and fellow adventurer Maui, and Alan Tudyk in an unspecified role, Moana is about a young girl that embarks on a quest to save her people — with the aid of Maui, of course.
With the cast so far only consisting of those three — there’s only a matter of months until release, so either there’s a bare bones voice cast or Disney is keeping the rest under wraps — we can now add another name to the roster, as Variety reports that Broadway star of Hamilton, Phillipa Soo, has joined the project. She’ll be playing an island villager that lives alongside Moana by the name of Motunui, and it’s Soo’s first voice acting role of her career.
The Little Mermaid and Aladdin directors Ron Clements and John Musker will take fans on a sweet and no doubt gorgeously animated adventure that promises to possess the kind of heart, values, and subtext Disney has become synonymous with. Whether Soo’s role will be a significant one is still unclear at the moment, and going on details that’ve been released by Disney, the film will mainly focus on the two central leads played by Cravalho and Johnson, so it appears likely to adhere to the formula of two at-odds characters teaming up to achieve their goals; hopefully similar to how brilliantly Zootopia worked by pairing Jason Bateman’s Nick Wilde with Ginnifer Goodwin’s Judy Hopps.
There’s a good chance that, based on Disney’s current and seemingly unstoppable run of cinema hits, Moana will not only be a critical success, but will capture the imagination of its audience too, especially with the likeable Dwayne Johnson fronting the film.
Moana arrives in U.S. theatres on November 23, 2016.