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Disney's Moana set to challenge Frozen for box office title

Sydney Morning Herald logoSydney Morning Herald 24/11/2016 Tim Doutré
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Disney's latest production Moana is set to challenge Frozen in the animated movie stakes, after setting a new box office record overnight.

The CG animated film, a Polynesian-inspired story about a teenager setting sail in search of a demigod, set a record $2.6 million in previews as the US Thanksgiving holiday weekend kicked off.

Moana (pronounced Mo-wunna) topped the previous Tuesday preview record of $1.3 million held by The Good Dinosaur, and more than doubled 2013's Frozen, which earned $1.2 million on its opening Tuesday, according to Variety.

Disney's Moana set a box office record. © Disney Disney's Moana set a box office record.

Frozen went on to rake in $93.9 million on its opening weekend.

The highly anticipated film, which officially opens on Boxing Day, is Disney's twelfth entry in its 'princess canon', and features Hawaiian-born Auli'i Cravalho as Moana and Dwayne Johnson (yes, The Rock) as demigod Maui.

But can Moana reach the dizzying heights of Frozen's Let It Go?

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the man behind musical juggernaut Hamilton, has written the songs, and the cast is littered with actor/singers, including Temuera Morrison (Once Were Warriors), Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Nicole Scherzinger (The Pussycat Dolls).

But with The Rock stepping up to the microphone, only time will tell.

The film, directed by Ron Clements, the man behind The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, has not been without controversy.

Earlier this year, New Zealand MP Jenny Salesa criticised the film's portrayal of Maui, a figure from Polynesian folklore, as grossly obese, describing it as "not acceptable" and saying it perpetuates negative stereotypes.

Samoan rugby player Eliota Fuimanono Sapolu also led viral criticism over the mythological figure's depiction, with a widely shared Twitter meme.

"Hottest men in Hollywood are Polynesian," the post said, alongside pics of Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Game Of Thrones' Jason Momoa.

"But Disney's Polynesian Maui is half pig half hippo."

Disney was also forced to change the title of the film in Italy to avoid confusion with the country's most famous porn star: Moana Pozzi.

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