How Disney Animation Took A Trip To Find ‘Moana’ – The Contenders


It’s Disney’s crown jewel princess this holiday season, having racked up close to $250M worldwide since opening last month, along with six Annie Award nominations, and two Golden Globe nods for best animated film and original song “How Far I’ll Go”. Moana is one of the studio’s three animated feature submissions this Oscar season along with Zootopia and Finding Dory, and even against the $150M-plus fierce domination of the studio’s own Rogue One: A Star Wars Stor this weekend, the Oceania lordess never slowed down at the B.O., just 32% off in her fourth weekend with $12.5M.

Since the introduction of the Oscar Animated Feature slot in 2001, Disney has won 11 times here, and in fact the last time its animation studio was in this corner of the globe with 2002’s Lilo & Stitch (set in Hawaii), they notched an Oscar nom too in the category.

Here at Deadline’s Contenders, Moana producer Osnat Shurer explains the studio’s inspiration to journey to Oceania as well as how they hooked multi-Tony award-winning Hamilton star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda to write seven songs for the pic.

“It wasn’t until we got there (Oceania) that we really,really understood the true beauty of the islands, which is the beauty of the people,” says Shurer, “We came back with a completely different story, but changed ourselves forever.”


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