Here’s the official plot synopsis from Disney:
“Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows exactly why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes Moana, a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho) meets the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.”
- The filmmakers auditioned hundreds of young women throughout the Pacific Islands for the film’s title role before finding native Hawaiian Auli’i Cravalho. Auli’i did not audition initially to play Moana–the film’s Hawaii-based casting director recalled seeing her perform on a video submission for a local talent showcase and asked her to come in for an audition.
- Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who voices demi-god Maui in the film, is one busy dude. He stars in the critically acclaimed Ballers for HBO, and he keeps starring in all sorts of blockbuster films, including the Fast and Furious franchise, San Andreas, Central Intelligence, and the upcoming big-screen adaptation of Baywatch. He was recently was named the highest-paid actor in the world by Forbes Magazine.
- The rest of the voice cast is top notch. It includes Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), Rachel House (Whale Rider), Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors), Nicole Scherzinger (The X Factor), and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ not-so-secret weapon Alan Tudyk (Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia).
- The team behind the film’s music includes Tony- and Grammy-winning lyricist/composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Broadway smash Hamilton; three-time Grammy-winning composer Mark Mancina, who co-wrote songs and produced and arranged music for the Broadway musical production of The Lion King among many other projects; and New Zealander Opetaia Foa‘i, founder and lead singer of the South Pacific fusion band Te Vaka and winner of numerous world music awards.
- Moana is the seventh Disney animated feature for directors Ron Clements and John Musker. The duo made their writing-directing debut on the 1986 Disney animated motion picture The Great Mouse Detective. They went on to write and direct the beloved Disney animated classics The Little Mermaid (1989) and Aladdin (1992) along with Hercules (1997), Treasure Planet (2002), and The Princess and the Frog (2009).
- Producer Osnat Shurer is producing her first film at Walt Disney Animation Studios with Moana after serving as the executive producer of the shorts group at Pixar Animation Studios, where she was responsible for Pixar’s short films as well as all DVD bonus materials. While at Pixar, Shurer produced or executive produced a host of hit shorts, including Boundin’ (2003), One Man Band (2005), and the Oscar-nominated Lifted (2006). She was also consulting producer on Arthur Christmas (2011) for Aardman Animations and Sony Pictures Animation.
And for a final treat, check out this fantastic visual development art for Moana and Maui by Walt Disney Animation Studios artist Bill Schwab courtesy of the Oh My Disney blog.
We are all stoked to venture into the Pacific with Moana and Maui! Moana opens in U.S. theaters in 3D on November 23rd. Follow Moana on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and on the film’s official website.
All images © Disney