Brow Beat

Moana’s Box Office Win Proves Disney’s Progressive Age Is Paying Off in Huge Ways



Moana, Disney’s latest animated feature, opened to big box office numbers over the holiday weekend, scoring $81.1 million and one of the best five-day Thanksgiving day weekends ever. Its stiff competition was the Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, in its second week—but thanks in large part to glowing reviews (it currently holds an 81 score at Metacritic and a 98 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and the star power of Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson (the exuberant voice of demigod Maui) and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical took the top spot easily.


Also not to be discounted in its commercial success is the fact that Moana is part of Disney’s new and more progressive golden age, one that finds its most recent line of films openly and emphatically embracing feminist and multicultural themes. This is especially crucial to note now that we are embarking upon the age of Trump—an era that has been framed by many as an explicit reaction to and rejection of inclusion and diversity. As Trump-related hate crimes increase and the formation of his terrifying administration continues to directly threaten the livelihoods of those who are not straight, white, Christian, and male, it’s important to seek out the small victories where we can find them. And an animated movie celebrating the rich cultural history of people of color finding a huge audience is further proof that more inclusive stories must be told—and can indeed be incredibly lucrative to boot.