Disney recently unveiled its slate of upcoming animated films, including a brand-new musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Charise Castro Smith, and Zootopia’s Jared Bush and Byron Howard. Encanto might be coming just a few years after Miranda’s previous work with Disney on Moana but it’s a whole new experience for him.
In an interview with io9, Miranda shared some of the first information about Encanto, a Disney animated musical that “takes you to Colombia, where a magical family live in a magical home.” He said what’s unique about this film is, instead of being about one or two heroes who leave the nest to seek adventure, the “intergenerational family” in Encanto is a key part of the story. They don’t disappear the moment the plot arrives to take someone on a grand quest—something we’ve often seen in Disney animated movies like Moana, Onward, and Inside Out.
Miranda said the team’s goal was to create a family-friendly story that’s actually about a family, and he said that’s been a blast to write. “One of the things that we really kind of all talked about—all the creators, Charise and Byron and Jared and I—we were like, ‘We really want to tell a family, an intergenerational family story with all the complexity that brings,’” Miranda said. “So often when you get into story mode, it turns into the hero and the quest—and you lose characters, then you lose complexity because everything becomes the quest. And I think what’s been thrilling about this is, since that’s been our mission statement, it’s been really fun to sort of write, you know, musical family dynamics in a really fun and complicated way. I’m really excited for the world to finally see it.”
The project—which is set to be Disney animation’s 60th feature release—has been loosely in the works since 2016, though it ramped up more recently and Miranda’s been part of it since the very beginning. It looks to be his most in-depth contribution to the Wonderful World of Disney so far. He even got to go on the research trips to Colombia.
Miranda told us how being involved from the start—unlike with Moana, where he was brought in to write the music after the film was well underway—has given him a chance to connect with (and influence) the plot in a new and exciting way. “The biggest difference is that I’ve been able to be sort of in since the ground floor. With Moana I was kind of the last guy hired. And they were really a couple of years into the development of the story before I started working on it,” he said.
“[Encanto’s] been really fulfilling to have worked on. It’ll be three years by the time the movie comes out,” he added, “And I’m still writing! Like, as soon as I hang up with you, I go back to work on those songs.”
Encanto is set to be released in theaters on November 24, 2021. We’ll have more with Miranda about his role on His Dark Materials next week.
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