Over 4,000 people put a halt to their freebie gathering early Saturday during the D23 Expo. They did so in hopes of being the first to see what the house of the Mouse has in store for their future movie going experiences. The crowd left the arena with no doubt their favorite franchises were in very good hands.
As the lights turned down, the arena and overflow room roar drowned out the music accompanying the opening montage of all of Disney’s franchises both new and old. Chairman of Walt Disney Studios Alan Horn arrived on stage to talk about his own transition from Warner Bros to Disney and towed the company line like a pro. He talked about visiting all the headquarters of the companies owned by Disney like Pixar and the recently acquired LucasFilm. He noted about how each of the companies had a different approach to making film but one thing was clear, “Quality is the best business plan.”
Horn opened by talking about LucasFilm and gave little details on upcoming Star Wars films, all of which, we already knew going in. We can expect Star Wars Episode VII in 2015 and subsequent standalone films. He also mentioned John WIlliams is set to do the film’s score. Absolutely no other details were given. I found the presentations lack of Star Wars news disturbing.
The presentation then transitioned into Marvel, where Horn talked about the 7000 character library in the Marvel universe and fans could expect “6994 more movies.” Could it be time for a surprise movie announcement we didn’t get during San Diego? Nope, but Kevin Feige did come out to talk about their phase two plans. A phase which really begins with Thor: The Dark World. The same footage from SDCC was shown to the audience and afterwards Feige brought out Tom Hiddleson minus Loki costume, but the ever charismatic actor did bring out on stage Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins.
Portman talked about the fish out of water element of the movie being flipped this time around with her being the stranger in Asgard. Then the audience was shown a clip of the film where Portman’s character Jane Foster is on an exam table in Asgard. The clip hints that Foster is the victim of some infection that could destroy her and the nine realms.
Then the lights went down and it was time for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Again the Comic-Con trailer and footage of the elevator scene was shown to the crowd. When the lights came up Sebaastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, and –Cap himself– Chris Evans were on stage. Evans talked about Cap’s challenge this time around wasn’t technology shock but trying to figure out what is right and wrong in the modern world. A new scene from Captain America is show to the crowd. Cap is on a jet with Black Widow and Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo) and is about to go on a mission. He dives out of the jet to the ocean below (and as Brock points out, he’s not wearing a chute). Cap climbs up the anchor and begins to take out all of the guards. It’s an ass-kicking sequences and features some awesome action.
Now it’s time for Guardians of the Galaxy. This time we got to see the Comic-Con footage again! For only being four weeks into principle photography, this film looks so polished and amazing. It nails the tone of the book and more we see Chris Pratt as Peter Quill on screen the more we buy it.
Marvel’s portion closed with the same Avengers: Age of Ultron tease. Which continues the trend of closing out a segment on a whimper. A surprise announcement of Doctor Strange or Ant-Man preproduction stuff would have showed Marvel wasn’t completely recycling their stuff from three weeks ago.
Alan Horn came back on stage and transitioned from Raccoon to Bears. He talked about Disney Nature’s new documentary Bears that will be coming out next year on Earth Day. A few clips drew plenty of laughs and awws from the crowd.
Now, President of live-action production Sean Bailey was up to present Disney’s direct in house films. First up was Muppets Most Wanted. A funny trailer was shown that righted the wrong of Danny Trejo being cut out of the first film. n the movie Kermit is mistaken for an international criminal and they are forced to go on the run around Europe. Best scene has Ty Burrell and Sam The Eagle fighting over the sizes of their Interpol and CIA badges.
Bailey then talked about Into The Woods! Rob Marshall is directing and the movie is a twist on the classic fairy tales. Meryl Streep is playing the Witch, Johnny Depp is playing the Big Bad Wolf, and Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and Emily Blunt are all on-board as well. No footage was shown as the film is set to start production.
Cinderella is also coming in March 2015, and they plan on sticking to the original story while also making it as an epic journey. Kenneth Branagh is directing the film – and while he couldn’t be here, he delivered some pre-production tests via satellite! The concept art looks very pretty, showing off Cinderella’s flowing blue dress, a sparkly pumpkin carriage. Lily James is playing the princess to be, Richard Madden is starring as Prince Charming, Cate Blanchett is playing the evil stepmother, Helena Bonham Carter is playing the Fairy Godmother. Branagh says that the movie is all about big reveals and having the power to take you into the world of a fairy tale. “Your dreams can come true!”
Disney wasn’t done there. Maleficent! The movie is coming to theaters next July, and is based on the story of the classic Sleeping Beauty villain. Robert Stromberg is directing the film, Joe Roth (Oz The Great and Powerful) is producing, and Linda Woolverton (Beauty and the Beast, Lion King), is writing the script.
Sean Bailey says that their list of names of actresses for the titular role had only one name on it: Angelina Jolie. The movie will follow her life and see what led her to curse the young Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning). The movie sees Malificent sees Aurora grow into “a spirited teenager,” and could very well change who we cheer for in the story. A clip from the film was shown to the audience. The clip begins with three fairies coming in to grant wishes for the new-born Princess Aurora. Unfortuantely, the ceremony is interrupted when Malificent shows up. Sharlto Copley, who plays the king, warns her that she is not welcome, but that doesn’t stop the villain. She instead curses the child, saying ,”Before the sun sets on her 16th birthday and will fall into a sleep-like death woken only by true love’s kiss.” Very stylish and cool looking.
After Jolie and Bailey left the stage, a featurette was shown about the visionary Walt Disney which turned out to be a preview for the film Tomorrowland. We’ll talk about this separately tomorrow as there was also a viral campaign going on at the park that tied into footage they showed the audience.
To close out the live action presentation was what is sure to be an Oscar contender for the studio with Saviing Mr. Banks. The true story of the acquisition of the P.L Travers book Mary Poppins involving Walt Disney himself. We saw lots of this movie during the presentation and it served to make the wait for the films release excruciating.
Travers arrives at Disney Studios in a car and is met by Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman. Travers is very against the idea of making the movie, particularly as a musical. She just wants to be pointed in Walt’s direction, and refuses to be toured around the studio – she just wants to leave. She even complains about taking a cart around the lot when she can walk. They get to Disney’s office and sit in the waiting room – and Whitford warns Travers that Walt hates being called Mr. Disney. Walt then appears and is absolutely delighted to meet her (even though she calls him Mr. Disney). They go into her office to talk about the project. Travers never loses her cold edge even though Walt is being incredibly funny. Walt talks about his daughter giving him the Mary Poppins book and promising her that he would turn it into a movie. He has been trying to make the movie for the last 20 years, but Travers has never agreed. Walt wants to make both his daughters and kids everywhere happy. Travers is insistent that Mary Poppins doesn’t sing – she is a governess and an educator. She won’t be one of Walt’s silly cartoons. Walt promises that he would never tarnish something he loves, and he loves Mary Poppins. He insists that Travers shares her with him.
The clip showed great chemistry between Tom Hanks playing Disney and Emma Thompson portraying Travers. As if that wasn’t enough we get to see some of the Disneyland sequences of the film.
The scene has Travers arriving at Disneyland for the first time, and once again she just seems epically displeased. Walt is loved by fans and signs autographs while also singing Travers’ praises. He says hi to all of the people at the park as he takes Travers to go on a ride: namely a carousel. Travers reluctantly agrees to get on the ride. They talk shop as the ride is about to start, but then Walt reveals that he has actually brought her on for monetary gain, as he has made a $20 bet that he could get her to get on one ride at Disneyland. Big laughs from the audience.
B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman came on stage to close this part of the presentation and the arena show itself. The two talked about what it was like to play iconic figures in Disney history. Then they brought out none other than Richard Sherman himself to sing ‘Let’s Go Fly A Kite!” and with kites in the air and confetti raining down on the crowd, this show had come to an end.