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Johnson hypes live-action ‘Moana’ on Oahu beach

INVISION / ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2016
                                Actors Dwayne Johnson, left, and Hawaii’s Auli‘i Cravalho appear at the “Moana” world premiere in Los Angeles.
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INVISION / ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2016

Actors Dwayne Johnson, left, and Hawaii’s Auli‘i Cravalho appear at the “Moana” world premiere in Los Angeles.

What can we say except “You’re welcome.” Or — too soon?

“Moana” star Dwayne Johnson announced Monday that a “live-action reimagining” of Disney’s 2016 hit musical “Moana” is in the works.

The sidelined “Black Adam” action star, who is producing the remake under his Seven Bucks Productions banner with the Flynn Production Co., will reunite with co-star Auli‘i Cravalho, the Native Hawaiian actor who voiced the wayfaring daughter of the village chief in the Oscar-nominated animated film.

Cravalho is executive-­producing the new project with “Moana” screenwriter and “Encanto” co-director Jared Bush and Samoan expert Dana Ledoux Miller. The announcement was also made by Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger during Monday’s Walt Disney Co. meeting of shareholders.

The live-action film is still in its early stages of development, and there’s “so much more work to be done,” Johnson said in an idyllic video announcement. The video featured the actor with his two young daughters playing on a beach on Oahu, where the former WWE star grew up.

Johnson teased the return of Moana, “village crazy lady” Gramma Tala, the music of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Polynesian dancing for the new project. He also suggested he would return as the demigod Maui.

“As 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 in, light up the room — the energy, the tattoos, the hair, the bod …” Johnson continued, trailing off into Maui’s ingratiating anthem “You’re Welcome.”

The “Jungle Cruise” star also added that the story is personal for him because when he brings Maui to life, he does it in the spirit of his grandfather.

“This story is my culture, and this story is emblematic of our people’s grace and warrior strength,” Johnson said in a separate statement from the studio. “I wear this culture proudly on my skin and in my soul, and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reunite with Maui … I want to thank my partners at Disney for their strong commitment to this special endeavor, because there is no better world for us to honor the story of our people, our passion and our purpose than through the realm of music and dance, which is at the core of who we are as Polynesian people.”

No release date or casting confirmations have come out yet, but the studio said that the new film, like its animated predecessor, “will celebrate the islands, communities and traditions of Pacific Islanders as seen through the eyes of a young woman eager to pave her own path.”

“Moana” was a box office smash and grossed $644 million globally. It saw a resurgence in 2019 when it launched on the studio’s streaming platform, Disney+.

The beloved film and its titular character have had “such a profound impact on how we think of Disney princesses,” Cravalho added in the statement. “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.”

The film’s catchy and chart-topping soundtrack featured the songs “You’re Welcome,” “How Far I’ll Go” and “Shiny.” Miranda won a Grammy for song written for visual media and landed an Oscar nomination for original song for the film’s stirring anthem, “How Far I’ll Go,” which Cravalho performed at the 2017 Academy Awards.

The new “Moana” project is the latest in Disney’s slate of animated-film remakes, including “Cinderella,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” 2022’s “Pinocchio” and the upcoming reboots of “The Little Mermaid” and “Snow White.” Each film has come with its own share of fan dissent, whether over casting or issues with how the stories were updated.

Many said Monday that reimagining the 6-year-old “Moana” movie was too hasty.

“What can I say (except) no thank you don’t think there would ever be a right time to do a live-action film of #Moana, but it’s definitely too soon!!!! this animated film is precious and should remain untouched wah,” one fan tweeted.

“I love Moana, and I know a live action adaptation could be great, but this is way too soon. Animated features needs time to breathe, become a classic and garner a generation at least to grow up with it. That’s why 90’s content is ripe for picking now. This is way too short,” another wrote.

“Look, I’m generally fine with Disney doing live-­action remakes. But it’s too soon for ‘Moana’ to get one. If we’re going to have the same cast, I’d honestly just prefer an animated sequel,” added another.

“This is cool & all but it seems like the fans want more original content and storytelling and I agree with that You can only make remakes for so long,” a different user said.

“I suspect that the reason for this remake is to allow the rock to clean up its image after all the disaster with Black Adam and all the controversy born from it,” another observed.


This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times (latimes.com) and was distributed by Tribune Content Agency LLC.


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