Raya and the Last Dragon debuted on Friday with Disney's latest feature debuting both in theaters where available and on Disney+'s Premier Access due to the ongoing challenges faced by the entertainment industry due to the coronavirus pandemic. It isn't exactly the release structure that anyone envisioned when the film was first conceived and neither was how the film's story -- particularly that of the threat the Druun poses to the people of Kumandra -- would make it a very timely tale.
Speaking with ComicBook.com, Raya and the Last Dragon director Don Hall explained that they never could have predicted how the film's story would connect with the current pandemic and that the pandemic even led to a bit of a shift in how they referred to the Druun because it hit just a little too close to home.
"You're absolutely right. There's no way we could have predicted it," Hall said. "But we were certainly aware of it and, in fact, to a point where we actually shifted some of the dialogue of the film and the language in the film to not be that specific. I mean, we were always referring to the Druun as viruses before the pandemic. And then the pandemic hit and it was like, 'I think this is hitting a little too close to home maybe and it could also be perceived as if we're somehow being opportunistic because of the pandemic.' But we were certainly eerily aware of how that was mirroring real life because we were living it. We were living it with being on lockdown. We were living it with friends and family who got COVID. So, it was very top of mind, I will say, during the whole course of making this film."
Producer Osnat Shurer said that ultimately the parallels between the Druun storyline in Raya and the Last Dragon and real-world struggles with the pandemic has resulted in "epic" timing, letting the film deliver its message of hope when it is needed the most.
"It's epic. I mean, we were designing this movie over the last few years and we would call the Druun when we really moved from the idea that they're sentiment to them being almost like a force of nature because we wanted all the conflicts to be between people," Shurer said. "Because honestly, that's what's creating our problems here on this lovely planet."
She continued, "We talked about them sometimes as a plague. And so, this moment hitting us now and our movie coming out now, we could not be happier that we're able to deliver, because it took us hears to make this, that we're able to share a message like this right now, in the world. Even though we set out to make movies that aren't set in time, they're timeless, it just feels really timely."
Raya and the Last Dragon is in theaters (where available) now as well as streaming on Disney+ with Premier Access.