Disney is Doubling Down on Sequels — And That’s Cause for Concern

And no one knows how far it goes.

Originally Published: 
Animated young girl with long wavy hair standing before ocean at sunset, wearing a necklace and patt...
Walt Disney Pictures

Walt Disney Pictures is known for its ability to produce iconic animated films that impact pop culture almost instantly. From Beauty and the Beast’s Oscar nomination to Frozen’s chokehold on the 2010s, Disney has constantly moved with the times to keep itself relevant. However, a recent release announcement suggests the powers that be may actually have lost sight of what makes Disney so great to begin with.

During a recent earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that Disney’s vacant November 2024 release spot would be occupied by Moana 2, a sequel to the 2016 Disney princess movie Moana.

It’s not the only project revisiting Moana. Voice actors Dwayne Johnson and Auli’i Cravalho are set to produce a live-action adaptation, with Johnson reprising his role as the demigod Maui. The movie, also titled Moana, is slated for release on June 27, 2025.

Moana 2 is actually a pivot from the original direction. During the Investor’s Day presentation all the way back in December 2020, a Moana Disney+ spinoff series was announced, but that series is now being retooled into a sequel feature film.

It’s a worrying announcement. As it stands, most of Walt Disney Pictures’ release schedule consists of spinoffs and sequels. In the years ahead, we’ll see Inside Out 2, Zootopia 2, Frozen 3, and Toy Story 5. Then, there are the live-action remakes like Moana and Snow White. There’s even Mufasa: The Lion King, which is both a live-action adaptation and a sequel series.

Moana’s sea-faring adventures apparently warrant both a sequel and remake within two years.

Walt Disney Pictures

While there is still a glimmer of hope — Disney/Pixar’s new alien abduction movie Elio is slated for 2025 — there’s a concerning focus on the past in Disney’s schedule. While that’s fine in the Marvel and Star Wars spheres, which are movie franchises that are entirely built on interconnectivity and worldbuilding, Disney has always been about variety — a quality that’s becoming more and more rare.

Hopefully, this is just proof that Disney is in a rebuilding phase, using these sequels and remakes to re-establish the studio so more risks can be taken in the future, but as it stands now, we may see fewer and fewer original Disney stories going forward.

Moana 2 premieres in theaters November 27, 2024.

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