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Disney and Warner Brothers Mine Old Favorites for New Movies

Logos and images of Disney and Warner Brothers

The Take

  • At the annual shareholder meeting, Disney announced it’s developing a live-action Moana based on the 2016 hit animated musical.
  • Reports emerged this week of Warners Bros. Discovery looking to close a deal for a Harry Potter series on HBO.
  • Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery are using their streaming services to help justify revisiting old IP since they have data to prove viewership.
  • Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery are returning to trusty IP as they look for ways to drive audience engagement and viewership.

Two major Hollywood studios are looking to their past projects to chart the path ahead. But unlike remakes in recent years that relied on movies generations removed from the original audience, Disney and Warners Bros. Discovery are using IP that is still fresh in viewers’ minds.

At Disney’s annual shareholder meeting this week, Dwayne Johnson made a special appearance from Hawaii to announce a live-action remake of the 2016 animated film Moana. Johnson voiced the role of Maui, a shapeshifting demigod, and will reprise the role in the remake.

While Disney has been remaking its animated catalog since the 2015 Cinderella live-action film, this is the first time Disney has reached into the 21st century for inspiration. (The company previously got as far as 1998 when they recently remade the animated classic Mulan.)

So, why is Disney remaking a movie that only came seven years ago?

In its announcement video, Disney noted that Moanadebuted on Disney+ with the streamer’s 2019 launch [and] is among the top 15 movies streamed in the United States in 2022.” Based on a list compiled by WhatsOnDisneyPlus, using tracking daily trending data, Moana was the #3 movie on Disney+ in 2022. (Moana was beaten only by Turning Red and Encanto—both animated movies released in the last two years.)

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported Warner Bros. Discovery is close to a deal to expand the Harry Potter universe. However, in this case, that means adapting the books into an HBO series, with each season correlating to a book.

Bloomberg noted, “Warner Bros. has been eager to do more with one of the best-selling book series of all-time.” Meanwhile, the Harry Potter books have already been made into two different movie series, a stageplay, and a theme-park attraction.

Just as Disney is using Disney+ numbers to justify a Moana, Warner Bros. Discovery is preparing to announce a new strategy for streaming, along with renaming its flagship service HBO Max. WBD executives want exciting content ready, “especially films and TV shows based on stories and characters that viewers already know,” Bloomberg reported.

Will the originals still be available?


While the Harry Potter series has shuffled between Peacock and HBO Max, all of them are available to stream whenever you want to visit Hogwarts.

Moana is a Disney original, so it lives exclusively on Disney+, along with all of the new animated movies from Disney and Pixar.

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