Moana Live-Action Movie Officially Confirmed: Is this Moana 2? Who is Playing Maui? Your Questions Answered

By Klein Felt Updated:
Dwayne Johnson, Moana

A new Moana movie was announced with Dwayne Johnson attached to the project.

Since its release in 2016, Walt Disney Animation Studios' Moana has become beloved amongst fans. 

The film's soundtrack was the tenth-best-selling album of 2016 (via Billboard), selling more than 2.7 million units worldwide. And the characters and world of the film have become Disney mainstays, with significant investments being made to honor the film by way of Disney Parks experiences and even a streaming spin-off set for release on Disney+.

Is there going to be a Moana live-action movie?

Moana Announcement
Walt Disney Pictures

Announced as a part of the Walt Disney Company 2023 Shareholders Meeting, Moana is getting a live-action remake from Disney.

The news was shared by Moana star Dwayne Johnson as he remarked, "a live-action reimagining of Moana is in the works."

Johnson Moana 2
Walt Disney Pictures

Disney wrote in a press release sent at the time of the announcement that the film will be produced by Johnson, Dany Garcia, and Hiram Garcia via their Seven Bucks Productions, as well as Beau Flynn via Flynn Picture Co.

Executive producers on the project include the original voice of Moana, Auli’i Cravalho, as well as Jared Bush who wrote the screenplay for Moana and was a part of the writing/directing process of the Oscar-winning Encanto. 

Sean Bailey, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production (Disney Live Action) lamented that the project was "still early," but it's "thrilling" to "tell such a meaningful story on a live-action canvas:"

“'It’s still early, but the idea of working with these fantastic partners to tell such a meaningful story on a live-action canvas, particularly as we celebrate 100 years of storytelling at Disney, is thrilling.”

The full announcement can be seen below:

Who will play Maui in the live-action Moana movie?

Reports have suggested that Johnson is "expected" to play Maui in the live-action remake. Johnson will be executive producing the live-action remake of Moana, and "plans to return to the fictional world to set sail with Moana", indicating Johnson will in fact be playing Maui in live-action.

Johnson noted that everything fans know and love from the original animated epic would be back including him (who played Maui in the original):

"Moana, Gramma Tala, the music, the dance, Te Fiti, Pua the pig, the village, the beautiful powerful ocean, and one more...what's that guy's name? Oh! Yours truly."

The Moana actor revealed the film is "still very early in the process" and "there’s so much more work to be done:"

“Many of you may not know the brilliant team at Disney Animation, my partners, we found so much inspiration for Maui in the mana and the presence of my late grandfather, the legendary high chief Peter Maivia. He would walk and light up the room, the energy, the tattoos, the hair, the bod, when you’re staring at a demigod– Thank you. Sorry, I get caught up in the moment. So, as you guys can see, perfect timing as the sun comes out just how deep this story is for me, because in a way, when I bring Maui to life, I’m doing it in the spirit of my grandfather. So, it’s still very early in the process, there’s so much more work to be done."

Who will play Moana in the live-action remake?

It has not been confirmed who will be playing Moana in the live-action remake of the Disney classic. 

Auli’i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in the animated movie, has not been confirmed as Moana for the live-action remake yet. Cravalho will be involved in the project as an executive producer.

Native Hawaiian actor Cravalho, who was a part of developing 2016's animated Moana film, said that Moana has been "inspiring" and "had such a profound impact on how we think of Disney princesses:"

“She has had such a profound impact on how we think of Disney princesses. Moana’s strength and perseverance are inspiring—to audiences around the world, to me and to everyone who helped bring her to life. I’m looking forward to sharing her story in a whole new way.”

Will Disney's Moana Live-Action Remake Make an Impact?

While not surprising to see the news of another remake of a beloved animated Disney blockbuster being announced, it may astonish some to see such a recently released film getting the remake treatment. 

Disney has seen success with live-action remakes of classics like Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, and the studio will seek to hit box office gold yet again with the upcoming The Little Mermaid remake. But all of these films have come more than 20 years or so after initial their initial release. 

Moana is less than seven years old at the time of this announcement, and even though it will likely be years before this film sees the light of day, even then it will only have been about a decade or so when the live-action reimagining comes to the big screen. 

This epic story is worth telling in a new format, it is just hard to tell if audiences have even had time to miss the world of Moana before Disney goes back to it. 

Also, if Dwyane Johnson is back, who else from the cast will be making their return? One of the highlights for many in the original movie was Auli’i Cravalho's Moana, and while she is set to executive produce the project, will she also be back as Moana herself? Because her return could be what makes or breaks this remake for a lot of moviegoers. 

Moana is available to stream on Disney+ now, with no announced release date for the live-action remake or the upcoming streaming spin-off series. 

- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.