Walt Disney Animation announced via Twitter that David G. Derrick Jr. will be directing the upcoming Moana series for Disney+. Derrick joined Disney Animation specifically to work on Moana, which “deepened his connection with his family’s Samoan roots.” After working as a storyboard artist on The Lion King, Raya and the Last Dragon, and the new hit film Encanto, Derrick will be returning to the world of Moana. The Moana series will also be the first project produced at Walt Disney Animation‘s new studio in Vancouver.
Moana, which came out in 2016, was about the eponymous Moana, the daughter of her Polynesian village’s chief. After being chosen by the ocean itself, the film follows her journey to save her people alongside the demigod Maui. Moana was played by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho and Maui was played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. They were joined by Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Jermaine Clement, Nicolle Scherzinger, and Alan Tudyk. The film was a massive success, in large-part due to the catchy music by Lin-Manuel Miranda with notable songs “How Far I’ll Go” and “You’re Welcome.”
The new Moana series will pick up right after the film left up, and will follow Moana’s adventures. The musical series marks one of the first times that Walt Disney Animation will be producing a spin-off television series rather than Disney Television Animation. The series was announced in late 2020 at a Disney Investors meeting, where Disney Animation CCO Jennifer Lee announced it would begin streaming in 2023, which has since been pushed to 2024. Cravalho is expected to return to the role of Moana, but there is currently no confirmation that any other cast members will return. Moana will also be the first project to be produced out of Walt Disney Animation Studios Vancouver, which is expected to be a major hub for Disney+ projects.
Derrick will be stepping into the director role for the first time. He previously worked at Dreamworks, having worked on such films like Bee Movie, How to Train Your Dragon, and Megamind. After joining Disney Animation to work on Moana, Derrick has worked on multiple projects, including the chart-topping Encanto. Speaking on this opportunity, he said:
“Working on Moana was a gift personally and professionally. The film Moana caught and shared the spirit of Polynesia with the world. I am honored to continue her story to celebrate the rich and beautiful cultures of the pacific islands.”
You can view Disney‘s official statement below. The Moana series is expected to start streaming in 2024.