Moana – Will Audiences Embrace Disney’s Next Big Animated Feature?

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Will Audiences Embrace or Reject Moana’s Diversity

Frozen was a huge hit for Disney’s Animation Studio becoming the 5th highest-grossing film ever. The animated feature grossed $1.219 billion at the box office, and that doesn’t include the billions of dollars in revenue from merchandise.

While it’s obvious that audiences loved Frozen, many complained that it lacked diversity and criticized Disney for releasing yet another film starring a blonde princess. Moana breaks the mold when it comes to traditional princesses, but will audiences love her as much as they loved Elsa?

Do diverse animated films do well?

Princess and the Frog

Consumers can shout for diversity, but must show up to the theater in order to encourage change. In 2009, Disney released the Princess and the Frog. The animated feature starred an African American princess, and took place in New Orleans. The film was full of diversity, but only grossed $267 million at the box office. Lilo & Stitch (2002) another animated film that took place in Hawaii, also fell short of breaking records earning $273 million during its run.

However, there have been successes including Aladdin which earned $504 million in 1992 ($863 mil adjusted for inflation), and Mulan which earned $304 million in ’98, ($448 mil adjusted for inflation).


For Moana, Disney is headed back to the islands of Hawaii. Unlike Lilo & Stitch, Moana will introduce movie-goers to Hawaiian mythology, and give us a deeper look into traditional Hawaiian customs and culture. While Lilo & Stitch’s sound track featured mostly Elvis Presley hits, Disney enlisted Opetaia Foa’i and his group Te Vaka for Moana’s theme song.

In Moana the titular character seeks a mythical island that holds the key to saving her family. On her quest she meets Maui a demi-god, sea monsters, and more.

She’s not your typical Disney Princess

Moana disney princess

Audiences shouldn’t expect a makeover moment. There’s no transformation into a glittering gown, or magic blow-out. Moana is an adventurer, keen navigator, and big dreamer. She’s a roll model for anyone who wants more, and isn’t afraid to reach for the stars and beyond.

Here’s hoping audiences embrace Moana’s diversity, and Disney’s break from the formuliac princess.

Watch the trailer for Moana now

Michelle McKinley is a journalist and digital marketer from Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Journalism degree from Pepperdine University, and has been writing for the web since 2003. She’s a life-long Disney fan who travels and writes about her experiences for fun.

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