While Disney is poised to make the new Walt Disney Animation Studios film Raya and the Last Dragon available on Disney+ with “Premier Access” (for $29.99) on March 5th, the film is also being released in theaters that are open, and those who decide to see Raya on the big screen will be given an added treat: the first new Disney Animation short film in five years.
Disney announced today that Us Again, a brand new short film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, will be released exclusively in theaters attached to Raya and the Last Dragon. But don’t worry, if you don’t feel safe visiting a theater right now, you’ll be able to watch Us Again on Disney+ in June.
The short hails from director Zach Parrish, who was head of animation on Big Hero 6 and who pulled from his personal life for this story that is told entirely without dialogue and set to an original funk and soul musical score reminiscent of the mid-60s. Us Again takes place in a vibrant city pulsating with rhythm and movement, where an elderly man and his young-at-heart wife rekindle their youthful passion for life and each other on one magical night. The years fade away as the joy of dancing propels them across the exciting cityscape of their youth and revives fond memories and ambitions.
Award-winning choreographers/dancers Keone and Mari (whose collaborations include Justin Bieber and Billie Eilish), and acclaimed composer Pinar Toprak (Captain Marvel) brought their unique talents to this experimental and musical fantasy, providing the soundscape for the dialogue-free story.
“Working with Keone and Mari was the key to making this film work,” recalls Parrish. “From the very beginning, I knew that I wanted this film to be music driven. And I felt that dance is a universal language that can translate into any culture. I loved that their dance style felt like it was made for animation, and that there was this genuine, honest and organic connection between them because they were actually a married couple in real life. The story itself was inspired by my own grandparents, who faced getting older in different ways, along with my own physical limitations in playing sports resulting from getting older and injuries. I started thinking about how someone might look at the world differently as things change and they grow older.”
The last theatrically-released Disney Animation short film was Inner Workings, which played before Moana in 2016. If you’re unlucky enough to recall seeing the interminable Olaf’s Frozen Adventure attached to Coco, that wasn’t a Disney Animation short film – it was produced to be a TV special that would air on ABC, but in the wake of Frozen’s success Disney decided to attach it to Coco, which confused and frustrated parents the world over.
But Us Again sounds pretty terrific, and may mark the return of Disney’s practice of premiering short films before each new animated feature.
Check out the official key art for the movie below.