Part one of the two-part live-action “Wicked” adaptation is currently set to open against “Moana 2” on November 27, which could make for an unfavorable showdown. That said, one of these movies could easily move off of that date between then and now. Moreover, if “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” proved anything last year, it’s that two big movies can absolutely co-exist at the same time under the right circumstances. The Thanksgiving frame can also be a lucrative one, and theaters could use more than one big movie during that stretch.
All of this to say: a sequel to a hit animated movie is a no-brainer for Disney. This is what the studio does and historically does very well. “Frozen” grossed $1.28 billion in 2013, only for “Frozen II” to pull in a record $1.45 billion in 2019. There are numerous other examples, but you get the idea. The notion of a sequel would’ve never raised eyebrows by itself; it’s the way it happened that’s gotten tongues wagging.
Without knowing the details, the presumption is that the planned “Moana” Disney+ series would have been made for a lower budget than a theatrical sequel would have. Now? That series is going to be trimmed down to a feature-length follow-up and Disney is getting the original cast members back, including Dwyane Johnson as Maui, to make it feel like the genuine article. If The Rock wasn’t already under contract, he would’ve pretty much been able to name his price, and Disney would’ve no doubt paid it to make this seem legit.
That’s not to say it’s not legit, but we can’t pretend this was the plan from the beginning. Still, this change provides Disney with a likely box office success in a year that is short on surefire hits thanks to last year’s Hollywood strikes.
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