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The D23 Edition:

Every year Disney hold a massive fan event for journalists and fans lucky enough to get a ticket alike. Featuring a bevy of props, high profile signings and most importantly presentations of their upcoming films. With Disney now leading Lucasfilm, Marvel and Pixar it obviously contains some salivating glimpses and info on what are surely going to be the next few years’ biggest films. Sadly being a lowly blogger I was not in attendance (hey one day a man can dream of getting an invite) but here are the biggest moments:

  • First up was their animation slate, with the largest time spent on the next big Disney Animation (not Pixar) film Wreck-It-Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet. A surprising choice for a sequel but a welcome one, this time it focuses on Ralph (John C Reilly) having to leave the comforts of his video game home in order to, as the title informs us, fix the internet. This means a chance to feature copious pop culture references and in one notable post-modern twist the chance to poke fun at Disney itself. A scene shown at the Expo sees Ralph running into all the Disney Princesses, and brilliantly Disney have welcomed back all the original voice artists to play them again. Jasmine, Belle, Ariel, Pocahontas as well as more recent additions Moana, Rapunzel etc, will feature in a scene that will no doubt play a big part in the future marketing campaign. Wreck-It-Ralph 2 opens March 9th 2018.

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  • An update was given on Frozen 2, with no title unveiled but a brief clip of the creative team on a research trip to a number of countries that will influence the aesthetic. However although little was spoken of the 2019 sequel, footage was shown of the 21 min(!) short film Olaf’s Frozen Adventure that will be attached to Pixar’s Coco in Nov. It will have 4 new songs and centre on Olaf attempting to bring some Christmas cheer to Anna and Elsa. Although quite long for a short film that precedes another film (Disney’s shorts tend to last no more than 5 mins) it will inevitably be a hit in the continued Frozen behemoth.
  • Pixar plan their films so far in advance that they were able to bring some early test footage for currently untitled future projects. Key being an Untitled Suburban Fantasy film from Monster’s University director Dan Scanlon. A world with no humans but unicorns, elves and orcs living in a drab domestic society sounds like a concept rich with that Pixar potential to be something unique. A release date is unknown but expect 2019/2020 at the earliest.
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    Yes this is how early days this project is, the only image given!
    Pixar did manage to showcase projects closer to release, primarily The Incredibles 2. The film that most suited a natural sequel, we have had to wait 14 years to get one. Brad Bird returns to direct with a story that picks up minutes after the first film (that’ll feel weird after such a gap between them) as the family attempt to settle back into domestic life after coming out as superheroes. Elastigirl is said to be the central focus of a story that still remains under wraps. A scene shown at the Expo focused on Jack Jack using his powers unbeknown to Mr Incredible whom is babysitting him. Read here for a thorough breakdown of what occurred. The main thing I want to know though is whether Michael Giacchino will return to score after his delightful John Barry-esque work on the first?!
  • A brief update was given on Toy Story 4, a sequel none of us asked for and one I’m incredibly hesitant about. No footage or story details were revealed but Disney Animation chief John Lasseter (who directed the first two) announced that he would not be co-directing this one, instead leaving it in the hands of Josh Cooley. Toy Story 4 arrives June 2019.

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  • Now we arrive at the live-action slate and first out the gate was sci-fi novel adaptation A Wrinkle in Time. Fresh off her success with Selma and documentary The 13th, Ava DuVernay directs this far-reaching eccentric blockbuster. Featuring a terrific cast including Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon, Disney showed off the first teaser trailer which is now available online:

It certainly looks visually sumptuous, if a little too Alice in Wonderland-y at times, and the use of that sombre version of Sweet Dreams gives the whole thing a dark moody vibe, but I must confess to feeling a little distant from it as it currently stands. There isn’t any one tangibly effective moment that would signal a hook for audiences, but with release date being March next year there is still plenty of time to reel people in. But I’m glad a singular voice such as DuVernay is being given a chance to bring her skills to the blockbuster world.

  • The recent successes of The Jungle Book and this years Beauty and the Beast meant that Disney focused a lot of time on their upcoming live-action remakes. First up was the announcement of the main cast for Aladdin. Said to be having troubles finding their titular lead in the days leading up to the Expo, these rumours were all for nought with Mena Massoud landing the coveted lead role. Naomi Scott (Power Rangers) will play Princess Jasmine and in a move predicted a few months back Will Smith has been cast as the Genie. Smith could go either way here, with his hyper-energy and hyper-verbal nature pairing nicely with the Genie personality but his recent output has been lacking to say the least. Smith seemingly sleepwalking through projects that appear to be boring to him. Fingers crossed the kineticism of director Guy Ritchie (a choice I’m still wary of) inspires 100% out of him.

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  • Release dates were juggled around slightly with Aladdin and Mulan moved to 2019, with The Nutcracker (meh) set for November next year. Also released in June of 2018 is the one remake set to be their biggest yet. Jon Favreau’s The Lion King. Continuing the photo-real aesthetic he brought to The Jungle Book, Favreau came to the Expo to present his version of the Circle of Life scene, and reactions were suffice to say close to euphoric. Rumours were circling that Hugh Jackman was to be announced as Scar, Jackman seen in the Disney park prior to the event, but as of now that remains unconfirmed. But in a delightful casting choice satirical comedian John Oliver was announced as sardonic bird Zazu joining the likes of Donald Glover as Simba and the king himself James Earl Jones returning as Mufasa.
  • Continuing the live-action train was the confirmation that Tim Burton’s Dumbo has gone into production with Eva Green, Micheal Keaton, Colin Farrell and Danny DeVito set to star in the March 2019 release. Although I’ve gone off the Burton aesthetic recently, Miss Peregrine was a slight return to form, and it’s nice that he is avoiding his usual cast (goodbye Depp) in favour of a more eclectic group of performers. Not to mention that he will be utilising puppetry for Dumbo instead of full on CGI. The true horror of a Tim Burton ‘Pink Elephants’ scene though leaves me already quivering in fear.
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Disney bought with them the Dumbo puppet Burton will be using
  • Before the two way hit of Lucasfilm and Marvel Disney presented the first footage of their Mary Poppins sequel Mary Poppins Returns. Story details were shared for the Rob Marshall (Chicago) directed picture, which will see Mary (Emily Blunt) return to the Banks children in their adult years after they suffer a personal loss. She, with the help of singing lamplighter Jack (Lin Manuel-Miranda filling in the Dick Van Dyke role who subsequently also returns as a bank manager) attempt to return joy into their lives. Marshall has form with the movie musical and the cast is supercalifragi…you know the drill, so I’m comfortable that this will be a big Christmas hit come 2018. No footage online but they have released this spiffy motion poster:
  • Disney saved the best for last though. After bringing on most of the cast for their December epic The Last Jedi, Lucasfilm followed the marketing release pattern of previous Star Wars films by delivering a BTS featurette (new trailer will likely land Aug/Sept) which is filled with playful teases, salivating story hints and a lotta lot of good natured vibes on what looks to be an affectionate set. Saving the final words for Carrie Fisher may have brought a little tear to my eye, check it out:
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Some strikingly beautiful posters were also released shortly after the panel, something tells me the foreboding red doesn’t bode well for our heroes.
  • Marvel extraordinaire Kevin Feige then took to the stage to finally reveal some footage from their 2018 epic Infinity War. Eschewing previews for the upcoming solo films (look for a more thorough preview of those at next weeks Comic-Con) in favour of a film 10 years in the making. As a culmination of 22 films worth of story building Infinity War will redefine epic, especially as it is the first of two back to back Avengers films (Avengers 4 commences filming shortly) and Marvel proved this by bringing almost every Marvel hero on stage:

Disney's D23 EXPO 2017

Holy hell! Soon enough Disney surprised those in attendance with the first sizzle reel of footage. Now for those demanding it be released online, good luck. Marvel are very structured in their marketing plans, with teasers such as this usually saved for the Comic-Con and Expo crowds, before an official trailer is attached to their Winter release which this year will be Thor: Ragnarok. Things may change but I would add that footage this far out from release will most likely be rough around the edges, a fact generally forgiven by the Con attendees but not strong enough to pass Marvel’s high standards for the outside world. So be patient and enjoy the copious descriptions now online.

At least we got some cool reveals of The Black Order. Basically the minions of big bad Thanos, realised through motion capture and based on these life-size maquettes a foreboding threat to our heroes. I’m still hesitant about Thanos as the big bad. CGI villains tend to suffer from a lack of threat, and I hope returning directors The Russos give him an internal life outside of the generic universe conquering. Based on this first footage reaction we are at least going to get an epic experience come May and I’m chomping at the bit so see some footage.

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Comic-Con is next weekend so expect new DC trailers, more Marvel goodness and a whole lot more.

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