“Everywhere the light touches is our home,” says Mufasa at the start of a reel that celebrates the far reaches of Walt Disney Studios. Singing princesses, superheroes, and even bugs have all been celebrated parts of the Disney universe.
Alan Horn, co-chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Studios hosted the presentation. He started off by welcoming fans:
“You’re not just fans, you’re family. It’s because of you that we keep working so hard to make great movies, and we love D23 Expo because it’s where we can share them with you first.”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”
From there, he welcomed Kathleen Kennedy, President of LucasFilm, to talk a little bit more about “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
We may not know yet how the Emperor fits into the story, but the rest of the cast was on hand to talk a little bit about how excited they are for the final film. Keri Russell plays newcomer Zorri. Russell describes her as “cool, shady, a criminal, and an old friend of Poe’s.” This, of course, led to a lot of playful speculation about just how good a friend she was.
Kennedy concluded the “Star Wars” segment by rolling a sizzle reel of new footage that shows star destroyers lined up in attack formation, Rey and Kylo doing battle, and some possibly familiar places. The footage, which has not yet been released ends with a jaw-dropping moment where Rey wields a fiery, red, double light saber.
More Marvel News
Kevin Feige kicked things off by welcoming Ryan Coogler to officially announce “Black Panther 2.” That is not the official title. In fact, the script isn’t finished yet, so they wouldn’t reveal the title, the general synopsis, or even the villain. But the film is coming to theaters on May 6, 2022.
But long before we get there, “The Eternals” are coming. In addition to the cast we already know about, we can now confirm that Kit Harrington will also join the film, but as a “non-Eternal.” Who he is or what that means is still anybody’s guess. But this movie just seems to get more exciting with each new announcement, so we’ll see what happens next November.
Feige finished up his segment with more news about “Black Widow,” including the footage first revealed at San Diego Comic Con in July. The film is currently in production somewhere in Europe, but will be in theaters next May.
Disney Studios has had mixed reactions to its slate of live-action films in recent years. Remaking all of their beloved animated classics has been box office gold for the company, but each film is generally met with tepid reviews at best.
After a year that included “Dumbo,” “Aladdin,” and “The Lion King,” they are ready to put a whole lot of energy and enthusiasm into their next film inspired by a theme park ride.
“Jungle Cruise” stars Dwayne Johnson as Frank, a riverboat captain guiding tourists through the treacherous Amazon. Emily Blunt stars as Lily Houghton, a scientist from London who wants to hire Frank for a very dangerous mission. Johnson joyfully entered the arena aboard a riverboat, talked a bit about his character, and then announced the first trailer, which shows a very heroic Frank bravely taking on alligators and creditors. But then Emily Blunt rode onto the stage in an old 1930s car and announced they would now play the real trailer, which shows Lily saving Frank from debt and despair by offering him a lot of money for a simple job.
While neither was the official trailer and they still weren’t ready to release one, the footage looked great and this movie has the potential to reach the level of fun and adventure achieved by “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.”
But before “Jungle Cruise” embarks next summer, Disney will release “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” this fall. Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning are back as Maleficent and Aurora. A little more grown up now, Prince Phillip has asked for Aurora’s hand and his parents have invited her and her godmother to their castle. Michelle Pfeiffer plays Aurora’s would-be mother-in-law, and how could anyone resist that? Chiwetel Ejiofor also stars as we learn more about Maleficent’s background and heritage.
Niki Caro got to introduce D23 to “Mulan” with new footage that shows a very bright, cheerful, and funny world. At least before Mulan leaves her family behind to go and join the Emperor’s army in order to save her father. The arena went crazy for the scene they revealed, which shows Mulan visiting the Matchmaker. Anticipation for this film is high.
Earlier this week it was announced that “Cruella,” the film that attempts to explain why Cruella De Vil has such a thing for dalmations, had been delayed. But the good news is that it is currently in production, Emma Stone will star as the De Vil herself, and here is the first official production photo to prove it:
“Cruella” is set in the 1970s with “a fresh, punk-rock approach.” Craig Gillespie, director of “I, Tonya” is directing this film that is sure to be devilishly fun.
Newly appointed Chief Creative Officer of Pixar, Pete Docter finally got the chance to talk about two original Pixar films coming in 2020.
Out next November, Docter is directing “Soul,” which the studio has explained like this:
The film journeys from the streets of New York City to the never-before-seen cosmic realms and “The You Seminar,” the fantastical place where we all discover our unique personalities.
“Soul” stars an awesome voice cast that includes Jamie Foxx as Joe, a middle-school band teacher who has always dreamed of a career playing jazz. When he finally gets his big break, something goes wrong and Joe finds himself at the You Seminar where he meets 22 (Tina Fey) a soul-in-training who has been at the You Seminar far longer than anyone is meant to. Together they team up to help Joe reunite with himself.
Jon Batiste is writing at least one original song while Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are writing the original score. The cast also includes Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, and Daveed Diggs.
But in 2020, Pixar will first release “Onward,” which puts all sorts of mythical, fantastical beings into the modern world. Feral unicorns eating out of trash cans. Trolls running the corner market. And two elf brothers going on a quest to connect with the father who died when they were very young.
Tom Holland and Chris Pratt voice the brothers, Ian and Barley, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing their loving and devoted mom. Pixar treated guests to a clip of the film and it looks like a very funny and charming addition to the Pixar collection.
Walt Disney Animation Studios
Jennifer Lee, Chief Creative Officer of Disney Animation, closed out the presentation with some very exciting announcements.
Next Thanksgiving, Disney’s big release will be “Raya and the Last Dragon,” written by “Crazy Rich Asians” scribe, Adele Lim. Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins are directing the animated film that stars Cassie Steele as Raya and Awkwafina as Sisu, the dragon. Lim described the film in such a poignant way when she said, “At its heart, our movie is about the transformative power of community.”
Once again, they did are not revealing a trailer just yet, but they did show eight minutes of footage and the animation looks stunning. It is truly incredible to see how far animation has come in recent years.
But this Thanksgiving, “Frozen II” is coming and Disney wants to make sure people know this is about so much more than just cashing in on the success of the first.
Jennifer Lee returns to co-direct with Chris Buck. They said that as they traveled the world for the first movie, the one question they had been asked over and over and had never been able to answer was: Why does Elsa have powers?
And so, they set out to answer that question and others in this story that reunites Elsa (Idina Menzel), Anna (Kristen Bell), Christophe (Jonathan Groff) and Olaf (Josh Gad) as they go out in search of the answers to some very important questions. Why does Elsa have powers? Why doesn’t Anna? And where were their parents really going when their boat sank?
Evan Rachel Wood will appear as Queen Iduna in a flashback scene where she has her own brand new song. Sterling K. Brown also joins the cast as a military captain with ties to Arendale.
Chris Buck explained that “Frozen” and “Frozen II” will be one complete story. They then rolled footage of one of Idina Menzel’s new songs, “Into the Unknown,” after which Menzel, Bell, Groff, and Gad all came to the stage to sing another rousing new tune, “Some Things Never Change.”
Between the theatrical schedule and Disney+, this company is going to be keeping fans very busy for many years to come.
What do you think of the big announcements from Disney Studios? Which new films are you most excited to see? Comment below and share your thoughts!