Moana Live-Action Remake Taps Hamilton Director Thomas Kail – The Hollywood Reporter

Thomas Kail, the Tony Award-winning director of Broadway’s Hamilton, has been tapped to direct Disney’s live-action take on the studio’s 2016 animated musical sensation Moana.

Disney announced the remake earlier this spring and has secured Dwayne Johnson to return to the role of Maui, the grandiose demigod of the wind and sea.

Johnson is producing via his Seven Bucks Productions along with Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia. Beau Flynn is also producing via Flynn Picture Co.

Jared Bush, who wrote the screenplay for the original movie, penned the remake, along with Dana Ledoux Miller.

Taking inspiration from Polynesian myths, Moana told the story of a young woman who disobeys her father, the chief of an island that is dealing with an impending ecological disaster and goes off on a quest to reunite a mystical relic with its owner, a goddess named Te Fiti. Along the way, she releases Maui from his island prison, is captured by a monstrous crab, and finds the strength to become the chief her father believed she could be.

Per the studio, the new take is meant to, like its animated predecessor, celebrate the islands, communities and traditions of Pacific Islanders as seen through the eyes of a young woman eager to pave her own path.

Auli‘i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in the original, will executive produce with Scott Sheldon of Flynn Picture Co.

Kail caught Broadway’s attention when he directed Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights in 2008, earning a Tony for best direction of a musical. He reunited with Miranda in 2015 for Hamilton, this time winning the best direction prize while the musical won 11 awards out of the whopping 16 for which it was nominated.

That brought Hollywood to his door, with the helmer then tapped to direct Grease: Live, which earned him two Emmys for direction and producing, and then five episodes of FX’s acclaimed Fosse/Verdon miniseries, on which he earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding directing and met his now-wife, Michelle Williams.

Although he directed the filmed staged production of Hamilton for Disney+ in 2020, Moana will act as his feature narrative directorial debut.

He has in no way left Broadway behind and his production of Sweeney Todd starring Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford recently debuted on Broadway to rave reviews. It has received eight Tony nominations, including best revival of a musical. 

Kail is repped by WME.

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