Disney Changes ‘Moana’ Title in Italy, Where It Has Porn Star Connotations

Moana, Walt Disney Animation Studios
Courtesy: Walt Disney Animation Studios

ROME – Disney’s “Moana” will soon roll out across Italy – but under a new name, “Oceania,” a change widely believed to be prompted by the fact that the name of the film’s titular Polynesian princess is also that of a famous Italian porn star.

For Italian adults at least, “Moana” is pretty much synonymous with Moana Pozzi, a porn actress and TV personality who is still a household name, even though she died in 1994.

While Disney Italy is not commenting on the name change, the company’s head of theatrical marketing in the country, Davide Romani, acknowledged during a meeting of Italian exhibitors last year that they were “thinking about this issue.” Shortly afterwards, Disney issued its first Italian poster for the pic, with “Oceania” as its title.

“There are two very simple reasons for the title change,” said an Italian marketing expert who did not want to be quoted by name. “One is that if you type ‘Moana’ and do a Google search in Italy you risk coming up with porn videos. And it’s very expensive and a waste of money to try and change that.”

The other reason cited by the marketing executive is that “in any Italian focus group ‘Moana’ is Moana Pozzi the porn star.”

Elsewhere in Europe, including France and Spain, the animated musical is being released as “Vaiana” for various reasons, including the fact that in Spain “Moana” is a registered brand.

It’s not unusual for Disney and other studios and international distributors to tailor film titles to national sensibilities.

Last year, drone warfare thriller “Eye in the Sky,” starring Helen Mirren, was retitled for Latin America with the Spanish words for “Invisible Enemy,” because of concerns that the large Catholic population there would perceive the original title as a reference to God watching from above.

Moana Pozzi, who appeared in dozens of porn movies, became a prominent Italian personality due to her personal charisma, which she used to cross over into TV and even politics, as co-founder of Italy’s Love Party in the early ’90s in tandem with another popular porn star, known as Cicciolina, who became a member of parliament and was briefly married U.S. artist Jeff Koons.

“Oceania,” as the Disney film is now known in Italy, is set for release in Italian movie theaters Dec. 22, one day ahead of the U.S. release.

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