Moana Originally Titled Mighty Maui

Walt Disney Animation projects are known to be of the highest quality, but, as you could guess, there’s no easy way to achieve such success. According to the studio members, the development process inevitably consists of two major steps: putting the idea into effect and dismantling that same idea. These two are then repeated as many times as necessary until the team working on the project is completely satisfied with what they’ve done. Thus the final product delivered to you probably differs significantly from the original idea that inspired the project.

This is the case with their upcoming animated movie as well. “Moana” was initially supposed to be titled “Mighty Maui,” and, as that title suggests, the film would have focused on Dwayne Johnson’s character, demi-god Maui, who is now just a side character. However, directors Ron Clements and John Musker (who have already worked together on some Disney classics, including “Aladdin” and “The Little Mermaid” decided to set out on a trip and further research the history and mythology behind the story they wanted to create.

The directors talked about the course of the film production in an interview at the “Moana” Los Angeles press event. Clements explained that the initial project was Musker’s idea, for he wanted “to do a film in that part of the world” and they decided to portray the legendary demi-god. He also said: “So our very first version of the story, our sort of title for it was Mighty Maui, and it was a Maui-centric story, based on two or three Maui myths that we just kind of mashed together.”

Once they came up with this idea, they put it forward to John Lasseter, the executive producer. He immediately found it interesting and worth elaborating, but he also thought that it was necessary to visit some Pacific Island locations and learn more about the topic they had in mind. Lasseter proved to be right since the journey the two filmmakers took had a pivotal role in further project development. “We kind of maybe had a more stereotypical view, and really didn’t know that much – and our views changed dramatically coming out of that trip,” said Clements, adding that it was right after the trip that they decided to “threw out the first version of the story.”

Thus the idea of a brave young girl Moana being the main character hit both Musker and Clements. Having found out how important the history of navigation was to the Pacific Ocean region, they chose to pay special attention to it, portraying it through the adventurous journey of Moana and her guide Maui.

While you might think that the production went on smoothly afterward, that was not the case. Once again, the team members went through the same two phases mentioned above several times, so as to figure out what Moana’s mission would look like. Musker said: “In the earliest drafts she actually was going on a different mission. Her father went out to sea and got lost and she had to go save him. That went away, and these various other elements that were there and came and went.”

Moana Release Date

Finally, after all these changes, “Moana” will be delivered in just a couple of days – the release date is set for November 23.