Disney's "Raya and the Last Dragon" will be released in China on March 5, the same day as on Disney Plus and cinemas in other territories. Chinese actress Zhao Liying will be dubbing the main character, Raya, into Chinese.
A Chinese poster of "Raya and the Last Dragon." [Image courtesy of Walt Disney Animation Studios]
The film tells the story of a lone warrior, Raya, who must track down the legendary last dragon to stop an evil force that has returned after 500 years to threaten her home world, Kumandra, a fantasy world where humans and dragons once lived together long ago in harmony.
"Raya and the Last Dragon" is helmed by Don Hall, director of Disney's Academy Award-winning "Big Hero 6," and Carlos Lopez Estrada, whose feature film directorial debut was the critically acclaimed "Blindspotting." Veteran artist Paul Briggs, known for his work on "Frozen" and "Big Hero 6," and fellow longtime animator/story artist John Ripa, "Moana" and "Zootopia," are co-directors. Award-winning playwright and writer Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim, who penned "Crazy Rich Asians," wrote the screenplay.
The film is the first Disney film to have a Southeast Asia-inspired setting. It is inspired by the cultures and people of Southeast Asia, and throughout the making of the movie, filmmakers worked closely with the Raya Southeast Asia Story Trust, which consists of expert consultants from the region.
The animated movie features the voices of many actors and actresses of Asian descent, including Kelly Marie Tran as Raya, Awkwafina as the magical dragon named Sisu, as well as Sandra Oh, Daniel Dae Kim, Benedict Wong, Ross Butler and Gemma Chan. The Chinese version cast famous actress Zhao Liying to dub Raya.
"This is the first time I have voiced an animation, it's very challenging for me, and I need to understand more about my character, " Zhao said. "I felt my voice was hyperbole, but it's also very fresh for me. We will see adventure, friendship and courage in the film and I hope every audience can find something to resonate with."
Raya joins Disney's collection of culturally iconic female characters it has created this century, including Anna and Elsa ("Frozen"), Judy Hopps ("Zootopia") and Moana ("Moana").
It is worth noting that this is the first Disney Animation movie to be created by a team working remotely, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Nearly all production for "Raya and the Last Dragon" took place in the homes of more than 450 artists and crew members. In total, more than 900 employees of Walt Disney Animation Studios worked remotely contributing to this film and other upcoming projects.