Disney is ready to unspool another fantasy.
Announced Saturday at D23 Expo, Raya and the Last Dragon will be the next feature film from Disney Animation Studios, to open Nov. 25, 2020.
Inspired by “the beautiful and diverse cultures of Southeast Asia,” the film will be an epic adventure directed by Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins, written by Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians), and produced by Osnat Shurer.
Raya, voiced by Cassie Steele, is a young woman on a quest to find the last dragon and save her world, the fictional land of Kumandra.
That last dragon, named Sisu, will be voiced by Awkwafina. “She breathes fog through her nose, she flies by riding the raindrops, and she has this gem that channels this amazing power,” explained the actor.
But when Raya first finds Sisu, Sisu has the appearance of an old woman, and needs Raya to help her regain her dragon form and rediscover her power.
Footage shown at D23 offered a glimpse of the vibrant, beautiful world of Kumandra, as a voiceover explains that the world was created by dragons, who left behind a gift for the people.
A shadowy figure makes its way through a tunnel, carrying a torch. The figure turns to reveal Raya, who is annoyed with the narration — which was coming from a mischievous little boy carrying a flute. The two bicker for a bit, until the torch goes out, and a dragon emerges from the shadows.
“It’s about the transformative power of community and having hope in the face of darkness,” explained one of the filmmakers on the D23 stage.
Which, honestly? Sounds a lot like a story we could use right now.