The recently announced live-action remake of “Moana” is still in development, but Auli’i Cravalho won’t be returning, a least not in front of the camera. The actress took to Instagram to pass the proverbial torch to whoever will be playing the title role for the next go-around.
“When I was cast as Moana at 14,” stated Cravalho in an upbeat and affirmative statement, “it wonderfully changed my life and started my career.” The 22-year-old continued, stating “In this live-action retelling, I will not be reprising the role. I believe it is absolutely vital that casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell.”
“I can’t wait to find the next actress to portray Moana’s courageous spirit, undeniable wit and emotional strength. I’m truly honored to pass this baton to the next woman of Pacific Island descent to honor our incredible Pacific peoples, cultures and communities that help inspire her story, and I look forward to all the beautiful Pacific representation to come. Mahalo.” Cravalho will serve as an executive producer on the film.
The project was announced in April via a surprise video courtesy of Dwayne Johnson. In it he stated that he was “deeply humbled and overcome with gratitude to bring the beautiful story of ‘Moana’ to the live-action big screen.”
“This story,” he continued, “is my culture, and this story is emblematic of our people’s grace and warrior strength. I wear this culture proudly on my skin and in my soul, and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reunite with Maui, inspired by the mana and spirit of my late grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia, is one that runs very deep for me.”
The project is something of a watershed moment, presuming it comes to fruition, in that it’s a live-action remake of a relatively recent Walt Disney animated feature. This won’t be capitalizing on nostalgia for the likes of “101 Dalmatians” or “Dumbo,” and certainly not for the prized Katzenberg-era animated blockbusters like “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”
“Moana” opened theatrically just over seven years ago, over Thanksgiving weekend in 2016, earning strong reviews and $683 million worldwide. It has since been near the top of the various PVOD rating charts from the moment Disney+ first launched in November 2019.
There are no more “Waking Sleeping Beauty”-era toons to remake, although slightly later offerings like “Hercules” and “Lilo & Stich” are in various stages of development either for theaters or Disney+. It is all but presumed that the 2010s entries, think “The Princess and the Frog,” “Tangled,” “Frozen” and “Moana” will be next in line. After all, if Universal can greenlight a live-action version of “How to Train Your Dragon,” that metaphorical line has already been crossed.