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2016 was one of the greatest years in the history of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Two theatrical films were released. One was the incredibly popular, surprisingly mature, eventual Oscar winner Zootopia, and the other was the gorgeously animated and beautiful sounding Moana. It would only make sense that Disney would want to utilize the talents that produced these great films again, and so, it was little surprise that even before Moana hit theaters, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who co-wrote the film's songs, revealed there were already plans for himself and Zootopia co-director Byron Howard to work together on something new.
Later rumors had indicated that Lin-Manuel Miranda could be working on something with Disney that would include a Latina Princess and now, new information has seemingly brought everything together and shed some light on exactly what this new movie is. The DisInsider is reporting that Byron Howard and his Zootopia co-director Jared Bush are currently directing a project with the working title Encanto. The story will focus on a family living in Brazil who all have magical powers, all except a young girl, who will be the main character of the story. Lin-Manuel Miranda is writing the music for the film.
Nothing else is apparently known about the movie itself, but a few more behind the scenes names are known. Jared Bush is writing the script with Charise Castro Smith, whose previous writing credits include the likes of The Haunting of Hill House and The Exorcist TV series, which makes one wonder if this story might be a bit darker than your average animated Disney movie. Clark Spencer and Yvett Merino Flores will be producing the film.
Walt Disney Animation only has one movie officially on its release calendar with Raya and the Last Dragon, which is currently set for March 2021 after being pushed off it's November 2020 date due to the general calendar shuffling that every studio had to deal with. Currently there are a par of release dates set for Untitled Disney Animation movies, November 24, 2021 and November 23, 2022. Since it's unclear what the current state of the movie is, either of those dates could be when we might see Encanto, but one of them certainly seems likely.
Lin-Manuel Miranda has become joined at the hip to Disney in the last few years. After working on the music for Moana, he co-starred in Mary Poppins Returns. In addition to working on the music for Encanto, he's also handling musical duties for the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Finally, his Broadway hit Hamilton will be debuting on Disney+ next month. The partnership has been nothing but gold so far, and Encanto sounds like it could be a beautiful film. Hopefully, we won't have to wait too long to get a look at it, and maybe get a taste of how that music sounds as well.
If there's a downside to this news, it may be that if Byron Howard and Jared Bush are working in this, they're not working on Zootopia sequels and that's unfortunate.