Ida Yoshinaga


Disney’s screenplay development process for Moana (2016) reflects a larger labor management and marketing strategy to build a transmedial global empire. I map out two factors characterizing the corporation’s deployment of this strategy toward its “Pacific” princess: (1) the unequal production relations of US white male screenwriters and directors who served as the film’s managers, in contrast with the indigenous Oceanic cultural consultants who constituted its contract labor; and (2) the company’s ineffective adaptation of Western genre modes and colonial story structures within the “cultural” script itself. Using the tools of screenwriting studies, production studies, and creative industries, this article concludes that the fantasy-specialty corporation extracted spiritual and cultural labor from Native Pacific Islanders to legitimize the movie’s “authenticity” and expropriated intellectual property from those communities for its worldwide consumer lifestyle brand.