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Raya And The Last Dragon - What We Know So Far

Disney fans get suited up, because we're heading off on a quest to find the Last Dragon. After spending the last few years exploring the icy kingdoms of Frozen, adventurous seas of the South Pacific in Moana, and the land of the dead in Coco, we're getting an epic adventure influenced by Southeast Asian culture with Raya and the Last Dragon.

On August 27, Entertainment Weekly released new details about the upcoming Walt Disney Animation Studios film, which is the first from the studio to draw inspiration from countries such as Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, and Indonesia. We've known about the movie since summer 2019, when Disney first teased the film (via ComingSoon). Since that initial announcement, there have been some major changes. These include a new lead actress and a new team of directors in the form of Big Hero 6 co-director Don Hall and acclaimed music video director Carlos López Estrada. Paul Briggs and John Ripa are also serving as co-directors. Crazy Rich Asians screenwriter Adele Lim had already been announced as the film's scribe, and we've now learned that she's being joined by playwright Qui Nguyen to write the script.

There's a lot of information to break down when it comes to Raya and the Last Dragon. Let's start our journey and discuss everything we know so far about the release date, cast, and plot.

Raya and the Last Dragon has a confirmed release date

In their report on the upcoming film, Entertainment Weekly notes that Raya and the Last Dragon is one of the first Disney Animation Studio films to be produced remotely. Due to the ongoing disruptions to the film and TV industry, work on the movie has been happening at the homes of the various crew members. Now, don't let that freak you out. Even though the production has had to adapt to a different set of circumstances, the movie does have a release date that is not TBD 202X.

According to Polygon, when Disney first announced Raya and the Last Dragon, it had a November 25, 2020 release date, aligned with Thanksgiving weekend. Since then, the date has been pushed back a bit. According to Entertainment Weekly, the film is now scheduled to premiere on March 12, 2021. That means that, even with a bit of a delay, we'll still be stepping into Raya's world within the next year.

Who has been cast in Raya and the Last Dragon?

The biggest news that Entertainment Weekly dropped in their report on the upcoming film was a huge casting change-up. Originally, actress and singer Cassie Steele was announced as the lead in the film. But now Star Wars: The Last Jedi breakout star Kelly Marie Tran will be playing the role of Raya. She becomes the first actress of Southeast Asian heritage to lead a Disney movie.

According to the Entertainment Weekly report, the directors of the film were blown away by Tran's audition. Co-director Hall said, "[S]he is Raya — just her buoyancy and her positivity, but yet there's a strength as well to Kelly and the character." They also reported that Tran's improvisations during the audition process even lead to alterations in the script because the directors were so impressed with her work.

Tran also spoke to the magazine about her new role. She expressed excitement about her character, who is a literal princess, but also so much more: "Raya is totally a warrior. When she was a kid, she was excited to get her sword. And she grows up to be a really badass, gritty warrior and can really take care of herself."

One thing that hasn't changed about the film is the other big-name performer co-starring with Tran: Awkwafina. The musician and Golden Globe-winning actress from The Farewell will play the part of Sisu, a dragon who takes the form of a human who must team up with Raya to achieve a shared goal.

What we know so far about the plot of Raya and the Last Dragon

What we know so far about the plot of Raya and the Last Dragon should sound comfortingly familiar to fans of the kind of heartfelt adventures that Disney's known to produce. The movie takes place in a fictional land called Kumandra, where our hero, Raya, lives with her animal sidekick, Tuk Tuk. Raya is the daughter of a powerful chief, and when a villainous entity called Druun needs to be taken out of commission, Raya and Tuk Tuk set off to find the titular Last Dragon in order to harness its powers.

Although we've gotten a fair amount of information thus far about Raya and the Last Dragon, there are still lots of questions left to answer. Who, or what, is Duun? Is Tuk Tuk going to be an anthropomorphic creature, as have been featured in past Disney animated films? Is Sisu the Last Dragon itself? Who else will be lending their voices to the movie?

We're sure we'll be getting some more information as the film continues its production. Until then, we'll be waiting patiently to be transported to the land of Kumandra on March 12, 2021.