Monday, July 6, 2015

The Name Game: 'Moana' Title Confusion [UPDATE]

Disney held another big presentation of their upcoming projects at CineEurope, a presentation that consisted of Walt Disney Animation Studios' next two films, Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, some of the live-action reimaginings, The Finest Hours (one of the few non-reimagining films the live-action studio has on the docket), and obviously... Marvel and Star Wars stuff...

Interestingly enough, Moana footage was shown during this presentation. But what kind of footage was it? Storyboards? Early, unfinished renders? The Hollywood Reporter says the Zootopia footage that was shown was unfinished, so...

It's been heavily rumored for a while that Moana will be that very Disney Animation film that will seamlessly combine computer animation and traditional animation into one great look, a sort-of "Feast: The Movie" in terms of the visuals. The film is still a year and a half away, so I assume that actual animation work on it hasn't even been started yet. It's possible that storyboards were shown, or pencil tests, since Disney has been doing those for their CG films as of late.

I wish they had specified what kind of footage it was, that way we know what the visuals will be like: Are they going to look like Frozen and Big Hero 6's visuals? Or will it resemble Paperman and Feast? Another story for another day...

What caught attention, however, was a comment by Lee Jury... He said that Moana is a "tentative" title for the film...

Of course, this brought up some bad memories. The days when we were upset over Rapunzel's replacement title, Tangled. The days when we had to hear about the executives being concerned over what adolescent boys wanted to see in theaters, as if adolescent boys are the audience Disney should be answering to. Because that clearly worked for films like Treasure Planet! (To be clear, I like Treasure Planet a lot, I'm simply criticizing how it was marketed.)

Those were frustrating times, and then for a little while we had to hear that Disney Animation was going to cease making fairy tale films, because the newbie higher-ups - especially the then-new Disney Pictures chairman - were close-minded fools that barked death to everything. Tangled was a hit and proved them wrong about fairy tale princess movies being passe, if that hadn't gone over, there wouldn't have been a Frozen. Not for a long while, at best.

So Disney Animation was allowed to continue making fairy tale movies, but because The Snow Queen was resurrected when Ross was still in charge, it had to have a boy-centric title. (Though I think Frozen is a much better title than Tangled, and is actually suitable considering that the film only uses some elements from the original Hans Christian Andersen tale.) Then in June 2013, we learned via Blue Sky Disney that Disney's next fairy tale adaptation was going to be Jack and the Beanstalk, but it was going to be called Giants. So it seemed like they weren't going to use the original titles of the tales, whether they had female names/"girly" words (like princess, queen, etc.) in them or not.

Rich Ross was ousted in spring 2012. Alan Horn replaced him as Disney Pictures Chairman in the summer of that year. The marketing department might or might not have gotten an overhaul, too. Was the "pander to adolescent boys" rule no longer in the book?

That same day in June 2013, Blue Sky Disney informed us that Ron Clements and John Musker's untitled project was going to be called Moana. There was a little rejoicing there, a Disney animated film whose female-centric title wasn't compromised for the suits!

Then worries came again...

A fake Disney Animation slate surfaced in spring 2014 on Tumblr and other sites, a slate that claimed that Disney would change Moana's title to "Spirited". A lot of people got very worried, but a lot of us knew the thing was fake. Everything was put to rest in October of last year, when Disney finally announced the film and its title to the public. It was called Moana, so we all assume that it'll keep that title.

However, these reports may cause people to worry again. But I think we shouldn't worry, because...

Lee Jury. The man who said that the title is "tentative"...

Who is Lee Jury?

A UK Disney marketing executive.

I think Jury is implying that Moana could get a UK-only title change, which is nothing new for Disney releases or movies in general. Tomorrowland's UK title adds the subtitle A World Beyond, due to the fact that there's a Belgium-based music festival called Tomorrowland and Disney owns the "Tomorrowland" trademark in the US only. Zootopia will be titled Zootropolis over there as well, and I've seen no really good reason for that title change. The Avengers was retitled Avengers Assemble, most likely due to the fact that a spy TV show called The Avengers existed two years before the Avengers formed in the comics and that very show was big in the UK, not so much here in the states. Oh, and it also got a movie in 1998. A bad one, but still...

I think the epic musical adventure film that Walt Disney Animation Studio is releasing next Thanksgiving will indeed be called Moana in the end... Here in the states. Whether it is or isn't going to be called that in the UK or other countries is up in the air...


It looks like we might have an answer to all of this.

Iry, who writes for Impero Disney and who has contributed to this blog before, told me on Facebook that the name change could be due to a certain someone: Moana Pozzi.

In case you readers didn't know, Moana Pozzi was a famous porn star in the 80s and early 90s. She died in 1994, but she starred in over 100 pornos, acted in a few films, wrote, and even founded a political party that ended after her death. Anyways, yes, obviously Italy knows her very well to this day, Iry told that me most of Europe knows her, so this could be what Jury is alluding to, and that Moana could possibly see a name change in Europe only because of that, not here. Maybe, maybe not. With this in mind, it's easier to see why Disney would want to change the film's title in Europe. If Moana is called Moana in Europe, then the first thing people over there will think of is a porn star, and Disney probably doesn't want that correlation.

Just a thought. What say you?

If it is retitled in Europe, what do you think it could be called over there?


  1. There are so many alternate non-English titles for Disney films, and even different character names in those languages, I don't know where to start.

    1. For example, "Inside Out" became "Vice Versa" in France, "Fun Mind" in Brazil, "Intense Mind" in Mexico and South America, "Upside Down" in Spain and "Inside Head" in Japan.

  2. Tangled. Frozen. And now maybe Spirited. It's only a matter of time before they name their next fairy tale movie "Past-tense-verbed"

  3. I'm from Europe. I'm 32. I had no clue who this porn star was untill I read this article trying to find out what the trademark issues was XD I highly doubt this is the reason. But who knows.

  4. Just saw the Dutch release has been called 'Vaiana'

  5. Vaiana here in Hungary as well. it seems very random to me... I guess this was the only name that had no relation to porn industry at all