Will 'Moana' solidify Disney's rise out of box-office slump?

'Moana' will be released on Nov. 23. Disney has had several successes in a row, with films like 'Zootopia' and 'Big Hero 6' receiving good reviews and becoming box office hits.

'Moana' stars Auli'i Cravalho (l.) and Dwayne Johnson (r.).

The upcoming Disney animated movie “Moana” is receiving very positive reviews, the newest animated film from the studio to be the subject of good notices following what many saw as a creative slump. 

“Moana” stars Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson in the story of a young girl from a Polynesian island who must attempt to rescue those she loves. Mr. Johnson portrays the demi-god Maui.

Alan Tudyk, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Scherzinger, and Jemaine Clement co-star and the film will be released on Nov. 23. 

The film is the newest by Disney to receive mostly positive reviews. The studio experienced tremendous success during the late 1980s and 1990s, with Disney releasing films including “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “The Lion King,” some of which have been said to be among the best animated films ever made. “Beauty” is still the only animated movie to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in a year when only five movies were able to earn that honor (films like Pixar’s “Up” have since done so when between five and 10 movies were nominated, allowing more movies to qualify).

But Disney experienced what was seen as a creative and financial slump in the early and mid-2000s. Films like 2003’s “Brother Bear” and 2005’s “Meet the Robinsons” not only grossed below what the studio was used to, but they were also largely poorly received by reviewers. 

By contrast, recent movies have become huge hits and have mostly received positive reviews. We’ll see how “Moana” does at the box office this week, but critics are largely won over. Disney’s “Zootopia,” which was released this past spring, became a big hit, with the movie currently ranked as the sixth-highest-grossing film of the year so far domestically and the subject of mostly positive reviews. 

The story was the same for 2014’s “Big Hero 6,” which also became a hit and received mostly good notices, and 2013’s “Frozen” was the subject of good reviews in addition to becoming the highest-grossing animated movie of all time worldwide without adjusting for inflation.

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