Disney has announced its next animated film: Raya and the Last Dragon. As much success as the Mouse House now enjoys thanks to its big affiliates like Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, and Pixar Animation, its own in-house animation studio is still the heart of the company. In recent years, Walt Disney Animation Studios has even come to rival Pixar, as far as their critical darling status and creative accomplishments are concerned. With popular Oscar-winning hits like Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia under its belt, Disney Animation shows few signs of slowing down anytime soon, either.
The studio's winning streak should only continue this fall, when it releases the much-anticipated Frozen II in theaters (six years after its predecessor captured the zeitgeist and took home $1.3 billion). Disney Animation fans won't have to wait too long for their next original project, either. In fact, the studio announced their mystery animated feature for 2020 at the D23 Expo in Anaheim today.
Disney has now officially pulled the curtain back on its upcoming animated movie, Raya and the Last Dragon. The film opens in theaters on November 25, 2020 and features Cassie Steele (Degrassi: The Next Generation) and Awkwafina (The Farewell) as members of its voice cast. You can check out its concept art in the space below.
Just Announced: Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, starring @cassandrasteele (Raya) and @Awkwafina (Sisu, the Last Dragon). Check out all-new concept art, and see the film in theaters November 2020. #D23Expo pic.twitter.com/V40bv64IIp— Walt Disney Studios (@DisneyStudios) August 24, 2019
Written by Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians), Raya and the Last Dragon follows Raya (Steele), "a lone warrior from the fantasy kingdom of Kumandra who teams up with a crew of misfits in her quest to find the Last Dragon and bring light and unity back to their world". Awkwafina is lending her voice to Sisu, the Last Dragon, who was left behind on earth by the other dragons "in case dark forces return to the world". Disney story artists Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins (Frozen, Big Hero 6) are making their directorial debut on the film, with Osnat Shurer (Moana) producing. The project's D23 presentation confirmed it was heavily inspired by Southeast Asian myths, with places like Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia being studied for research by its creative team.
Raya and the Last Dragon brings Disney's animated Moana to mind, in the sense that both films tell an original story based on the myths and culture of a specific region in the world. It should provide some welcome representation in that regard, and ought to feel all the more authentic thanks to Lim (who was born and grew up in Southeast Asia, as she discussed at D23). Raya and the Last Dragon won't be the only original animated tentpole released in 2020 either, seeing as Pixar is planning to unveil two all-new movies (Onward and Soul) over the same twelve-month period. Needless to say, next year should be an exciting one for animation fans.