Feature First


Industry Analysis: Hurdles For ‘Wicked’ And ‘Tiana’ Rise As ‘Moana 2’ Trailer Breaks Records

Industry Analysis: Hurdles For Wicked And Tiana Rise As Moana 2 Trailer Breaks Records
Moana 2 / Image Courtesy of Walt Disney Animation Studios

On Wednesday, Walt Disney Animation Studios released the trailer for their surprise 2024 theatrical release, Moana 2. In a report from Deadline, the trailer has amassed over 178 million views across TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. Moana 2 is set to release in theaters on November 27, with Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson reprising their roles as Moana and Maui.

The Thanksgiving weekend has always been the annual slot for Disney Animation’s theatrical movies. However, their latest releases, Wish, Strange World, and Encanto, all bombed at the box office (Only Encanto has since broken even following its release on Disney+). The diminishing returns of each entry to the Disney legacy poised an opportunity for Jon M. Chu’s Wicked movies to take the usual blockbuster slot, slating the first half of the story to release on November 27, 2024, and the sequel for November 26, 2025. 

Moana: The Series

In an unexpected turn of events, Disney announced they would be editing down the finished Moana: The Series project, developed for Disney+, during their quarterly earnings report in February. The decision to convert the series to a movie follows a disastrous past few years for Disney at the box office, leading to CEO Bob Iger admitting they invested too much in Disney+ original content. 

Industry Analysis: Hurdles For Wicked And Tiana Rise As Moana 2 Trailer Breaks Records
Moana 2 / Image Courtesy of Walt Disney Animation Studios

Moana: The Series was the second in a line of high-budget, animated, episodic mini-series’ for Disney+, announced during Disney’s 2020 Investor Day livestream. Alongside Moana, Walt Disney Animation Studios also announced Iwájú, an original series set in Nigeria, and Tiana, a Princess and the Frog sequel spinoff series. Though the initial plan for Iwájú was executed, and the series is now streaming, little word has been heard about Tiana since its announcement. In October 2023, Variety reported Joyce Sherri as head writer and director for the series, with the article revealing a hopeful 2024 release date. Though, this was before Wish bombed at the box office.

Tiana: The Movie?

Industry Analysis: Hurdles For Wicked And Tiana Rise As Moana 2 Trailer Breaks Records
Tiana / Image Courtesy of Walt Disney Animation Studios

Disney currently has six untitled Disney theatrical releases scheduled for 2025, one being the usual Thanksgiving slot on November 25. As production on Tiana hasn’t started yet, it is very likely the optimistic turnaround was possibly due to Disney quickly developing a theatrical movie instead, an attempt to surprise the general public, yet again, the year of release. If Moana 2, and the franchise’s subsequent live-action adaptation of Moana in 2025, proves successful, Tiana could even pave the way for a live-action adaptation of The Princess and the Frog, a long-awaited movie for the American audience.

If Tiana does end up being a theatrical release, taking Disney’s November 2025 slot, the untitled Wicked: Part Two battles against a strong Disney Animation blockbuster contender once again. 

Wickana and Wickiana

Industry Analysis: Hurdles For Wicked And Tiana Rise As Moana 2 Trailer Breaks Records
Wicked / Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

In my previous box office forecast for Wicked, I predicted that if Wicked underperforms, the sequel may have to be more creative in gaining attention. Taking a page from the release schedule for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 & Part 2, should Wicked feel intimidated by Tiana, Universal can always move up the the second part’s release date to be a summer blockbuster. Additionally, subtitling Wicked 2 to be more direct about the concurrent story with The Wizard of Oz (“The Wicked Wizard of Oz”?) could directly benefit the franchise’s longevity in the long run. 

Currently for Universal, gaining attention isn’t a problem as the marketing palooza for Wicked ramps up. The plans for merchandise span 100+ partnerships across various industries, teaming up with popular brands like LEGO, Mattel, Funko, Hallmark, Hasbro, R.E.M. Beauty, Box Lunch, Crocs, and many more. The simultaneous release of Moana 2 and Wicked could also be spun into a “Barbenheimer”-like event, though the overlap in audiences could hinder each other’s performances.

Additionally, live-action movies continue to be seen in a relishing light against animated movies, and the fantasy elements of Wicked cater to Asian countries and audiences. China, in particular, consistently contributes to the majority of the gross for domestically flopped American fiction movies, like Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Meg 2: The Trench, and Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom

Industry Analysis: Hurdles For Wicked And Tiana Rise As Moana 2 Trailer Breaks Records
Wicked / Image Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Though incredibly dry this year, as a result of last year’s SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, the box office towards the end of 2024 looks more competitive than ever. What holds next is the test to see if Disney’s animation houses still hold a place in theaters worldwide with Inside Out 2, out June 14. Though likely to break even, many are bullish on Inside Out 2 grossing over a billion dollars. If Inside Out 2 doesn’t make near or over $1B, given how deluded many are on this matter, Disney could risk losing further investors for their theatrical releases. Nevertheless, 2024 for Disney should be a strong recovery from last year’s embarrassing 100-year anniversary celebration.

Jon M. Chu’s Wicked Part One and Wicked Part Two, starring Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande, releases in theaters November 27, 2024, and November 26, 2025, respectively. The films are distributed under Universal Pictures.

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Moana 2, starring Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson, releases in theaters November 27, 2024.

Thanks for reading this article! For more reviews, breakdowns and more, check out some of our other articles here at Feature First. 

Based in Chicago, Illinois. An aspiring singer and director, Bhargav is currently pursuing his undergrad in Marketing, Information & Decision Sciences, and Film in Chicago. Since co-founding Feature First, Bhargav focuses on industry analyses, box office reports, quality movie reviews, and helping maintain consumer engagement across all social platforms.