Disney’s Moana makes enormous waves with its massive box office sales

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Moana and Maui, voiced by Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, ready to travel the sea and save people.

Caroline Katz, Copy Editor

On Nov. 23, Disney released their newest animated film, Moana. The highly anticipated movie features top billed actors Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Nicole Scherzinger, and it stars 16 year old Auli’i Cravalho as the title character.

Moana also features music written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, writer of the hit Broadway musicals In the Heights and Hamilton. The film has already reached immense success, and it is reviewed at 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.1 on IMDb.

“I loved the music from Moana,” said junior Matt Gawley. “Lin-Manuel Miranda is extremely talented, and I had high expectations for the music. I was not disappointed, the music was catchy and uplifting.”

Moana follows the journey of the 16 year old daughter and successor of the chief of a small Hawaiian village. As a plague strikes the village’s animal and plant life and the island faces grave danger, Moana fulfills her destiny as a voyager chosen by the ocean and travels far and wide to save her people.

Along the way, she meets Maui (Johnson), a good-intentioned but self-centered demigod, and demands that he uses his powers to help her return prosperity to her village.

“I loved the plot of Moana.  She was so inspiring and strong, and she never gave up on herself,” said sophomore Brittany Polevikov.  “It was really cool to see a Disney female lead carve her own path.”

This movie is a first on several fronts, the most significant of which being the independent and strong female lead, in addition to Moana being the first Polynesian princess.

Moana is not your typical Disney princess—she is not rescued by any man, she can fend for herself, and she was purposefully given a realistic body type.  In fact, Maui, a muscular, larger-than-life demigod, is her sidekick in her mission to save her island.

“Certainly some of the women involved in the film, our producer and some [others], were very supportive and more involved in that as well—pushing, ‘Let’s not have her be a wasp-thin woman. Let’s have her be a more realistic body shape and feel like she’s not going to be blown over by a strong wind,’” said director John Musker in an interview with Buzzfeed.

Of course, Moana still has classic Disney elements, such as family tragedy and animal sidekicks, but it brings a more progressive twist on a story of self-determination and confidence.

Its opening weekend, Moana grossed $91.5 million in the box office, making it the second in Thanksgiving 5-day opening ranks behind Disney’s Frozen.

Moana was a new and amazing twist on Disney movies, and the music is fantastic,” said senior Jay Peierls.  “Even people that say they hate princess movies should really give it a shot.”