Live-action Moana release updates, cast, and everything we know so far

Moana. Image courtesy Disney. © 2020 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
Moana. Image courtesy Disney. © 2020 Disney. All Rights Reserved. /

Updated: Oct. 6, 2023 – Disney is celebrating 100 years of creativity, magic, and wonder by re-releasing some of their most iconic films in theaters for the public to enjoy once more on the big screen. Among the movies being viewed is the 2016 film Moana. It’ll run for two weeks in theaters starting Oct. 13 and ending on Oct. 26. This big screen re-release has renewed the anticipation for the live-action Moana which was announced back in April 2023.

While we’re sure there’s been remake fatigue as the House of Mouse has been churning out live-action adaptations or reimaginations of their classic stories for years, this iteration–just like the animated version–is going to be a must see. In 2016 we fell in love with the titular character, voiced by Auli‘i Cravalho, whose encounter with the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) transformed her life and took her on a wild, fun ride of self discovery and recognizing the importance of learning from the past and those who came before us.

Now, with this re-imagined version of the tale that became an instant classic, fans like us and newcomers to Moana’s story can expect a tour de force in imagery, music, the celebration of the islands, communities, and traditions of Pacific Islanders, and more. That’s more than enough of a reason to get out and go to the theater upon its release. Here’s what we know about the upcoming movie!

Live-action Moana release date

It was previously announced that the new Moana movie will premiere on June 27, 2025. This change came during the WGA strike and before the SAG-AFTRA strike began. It was a move made by Disney to re-balance their calendar. We’ll keep you posted if the film is pushed, but it’s not likely since it was originally supposed to debut on July 2, 2025. This will be a theatrical release, and the film will make its streaming debut on Disney+ at a later date.

Filming for the movie has not taken place. Hollywood is currently in the middle of a strike. While the writers strike, which started in May, has concluded and writers rooms have opened up again, the actors strike is still ongoing even though there has been progress as negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP have resumed.

With the writers strike over, Jared Bush (who’d penned the original film) and Dana Ledoux Miller can go back to work adapting the live-action. However, until the actors strike finishes, casting calls aren’t an option due to the work stoppage required of SAG-AFTRA union members. Once the strike ends, actors in Hawaii will be able to resume going out for the available roles in the live-action.


Deadline reports Auli‘i Cravalho will not be reprising her role as Moana. When the live-action announcement was first made, the actress was billed as an executive producer on the project, but the lack of word on whether she’d be playing the titular character seemed to signal that she wouldn’t be a part of the film in that capacity. Cravalho’s Instagram post confirms this, per Deadline, she had the following message to share with fans:

"When I was cast as Moana at 14, it wonderfully changed my life and started my career. In this live-action retelling, I will not be reprising the role. I believe it is absolutely vital the casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell."

"So, as an executive producer on the film, I cannot wait to help 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 young 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 representations to come. Mahalo."

Dwayne Johnson, however, will be reprising the role of Maui and has also signed on as a producer for the live-action Moana. No other casting announcements have been made since the summer but that’s not surprising given the strikes.

There was a rumor that Zendaya would be cast in the role of Moana but that stemmed from a Youtube video of a fake teaser trailer that had gained traction online. The actress has not confirmed involvement with the film in any capacity and wouldn’t be up for the role as the titular role will likely be going to a teen actress of Pacific Island descent as Cravalho stated in her own post about why she wouldn’t be reprising the part.

A trailer for the movie has yet to be released, but you can check out the video below of Johnson announcing the live-action Moana‘s development and his inspiration for the beloved character he voiced and will soon embody:

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