At Saturday’s Walt Disney Studios panel at the D23 Expo, reps from Disney Animation announced that the company’s next animated film will be Raya and the Last Dragon, an original movie.
Raya will be an epic fantasy adventure with southeast Asian themes, writer Adele Lim said at the panel. The film is set in a realm called Lumandra, described as “a reimagined earth inhabited by an ancient civilization.” Five clans form the land of the dragon, and Raya is determined to find the last dragon.
Cassie Steele is the protagonist and the rapper Awkwafina (Nora Lum) plays the dragon, named Sisu. “She’s not like any other dragon that you’ve seen before; she’s a water dragon,” Awkwafina said.
Raya and the Last Dragon’s development goes back to 2017, when Disney shelved Gigantic, a re-telling of Jack and the Beanstalk that would’ve taken place in 15th century Spain and focused on the young hero befriending an 11-year-old giantess. “We are focusing our energies on another project that has been in the works,” Ed Catmull, the Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios president, said at the time.
The then-untitled animation project had a Nov. 25, 2020 release date announced when Disney revealed its theatrical release plans through 2022. Raya and the Last Dragon will follow two Pixar flicks: Onward in March 2020 and Soul the following June. Disney Animation will also release Frozen 2 on Nov. 22, 2019.