Entertainment Weekly is providing fans with a first look at Disney’s upcoming original animated feature “Raya and the Last Dragon”.
Featured in the picture are Raya and her trusty steed Tuk Tuk, a creature described as a fuzzy bear meets “an insect version of an armadillo.” As an evil force threatens the fictional kingdom of Kumandra, the two must leave their Heart Lands home and track down the last dragon to help stop the villainous Druun.
The upcoming film will be one of the first Disney Animation features to be developed from remote locations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With production ramping up around March just as the pandemic hit, the team had to quickly reshuffle, working with equipment at home and communicating through Zoom.
Director Don Hall says the studio’s various teams rallied to create what he calls “the most beautiful animated film I’ve ever seen.” As the filmmaker behind beloved pictures like Winnie the Pooh, Big Hero 6, and Moana, Hall knows what he’s talking about.
Not only will Raya be Disney Animation Studios’ first movie inspired by Southeast Asia, but Kelly Marie Tran, who voices Raya, is the first Southeast Asian actress to lead a film from the company. Tran overtakes Cassie Steele, who was originally dubbed for the role. Awkwafina will voice Sisu, a dragon in human form who needs Raya’s help to reclaim their power.
Raya’s creative team is chugging toward the finish line, Hall says, with the film 50 percent animated at this point. What’s astonishing to the filmmakers isn’t the fact that they’ve been able to accomplish so much in the time of coronavirus and global unrest, it’s how much Raya mirrors the state of the world.
“Raya and the Last Dragon” is set to premiere March 12, 2021.