Highlights from Walt Disney and Pixar Studios D23 Expo Panel
On the first day of the D23 Expo I sat in a room with over seven thousand people to learn about the upcoming releases from Walt Disney and Pixar Studios. Alan Horn, Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios came on stage and started the presentation that we were all came to learn more about. It was a panel filled with surprises and by the end I was speechless.
There was a few sneak peeks offered for attendees of the panel, including a few untitled films that are currently in the works at the studios. One is a high flying adventure, and the other involves two siblings on a journey to spend one more day with their father who died when they were just kids.
UNTITLED DISNEYTOON STUDIOS FILM
John Lasseter kicked off the presentation by announcing Disneytoon Studios’ original new animated movie, “Untitled DTS Film.” Directed by Klay Hall and Bobs Gannaway, and produced by Ferrell Barron, the theatrical feature film explores the future of aviation—taking moviegoers to the edge of discovery in the air—and beyond. “Untitled DTS Film” opens in theaters on April 12, 2019.
The film looked like one that anyone who’s a fan of aviation would love. I can’t wait to learn more about this film and see what comes from it. I know my nephew will love it because he loves anything with flying.
UNTITLED DAN SCANLON MOVIE
Director Dan Scanlon, who helmed Pixar’s “Monsters University,” joined Lasseter to share a few details about an all-new original feature film currently in production at Pixar Animation Studios. According to Scanlon, who lost his father at a very young age, the film is inspired by the question he’s always asked: who was my father? The story is set in a world with no humans—only elves, trolls and sprites—“anything that would be on the side of a van in the ’70s,” said the director. “In the film, we’re going to tell the story of two teenage elf brothers whose father died when they were too young to remember him. But thanks to the little magic still left in the world, the boys embark on a quest that will allow them a chance to spend one last magical day with their father.”
Kori Rae (“Monsters University”) will produce.
When Director Dan Scanlon talked about his film on stage I was intrigued to learn more. Growing up in Trinidad my cultural upbringing is different from a lot of people. It may seem odd to some but its something I think most people would do if given the chance. Who wouldn’t want to have one more day with someone they love.
Toy Story 4
Lasseter invited Pixar’s Josh Cooley (“Riley’s First Date?” short) to the stage, revealing that Cooley has assumed full director responsibilities for “Toy Story 4.” The pair brought with them a behind-the-scenes look at a day in the director’s life at the Northern California studio. Produced by Jonas Rivera (“Inside Out”), “Toy Story 4” is slated for release on June 21, 2019.
My oldest son is a huge fan of the Toy Story franchise. I believe over the years we’ve owned every Buzz and Woody that was available for purchase. He’s been a fan since he was about three and still going strong. We’ve been excited about the new chapter of Toy Story and have watched all the theory videos online. The panel didn’t share much about the film but we do know that as of now it’s still scheduled for June 2019.
Lasseter, who’s looked forward to the return of everyone’s favorite family of superheroes since “The Incredibles” was still in production, was excited to share with fans a look at what the fashion world thinks of super-suit stylist Edna Mode—the petite-but-powerful character introduced in Pixar Animation Studio’s 2004 Oscar®-winning feature. Showcasing fashion phenoms from Heidi Klum and Kendall Jenner to Zac Posen and Rachel Zoe.
“Incredibles 2” director Brad Bird—who lends his voice to Edna—joined Lasseter on stage to welcome to the festivities the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (newcomer Huck Milner) and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson). Bird revealed details of the upcoming caper, which puts the family into an expanded universe that includes new allies and a brand-new villain. “‘Incredibles 2’ is really a family film, it’s just that the family happens to have super powers,” said Bird. “They may have super speed or super strength, but they experience the same problems as any family.”
“Bob’s actually home with the kids this time and I’m the one out fighting crime,” added Hunter. She joked, “I’ve been working out 13 hours a day!”
“Incredibles 2” hits theaters on June 15, 2018.
We saw a clip of baby Jack and a raccoon and it was very amusing. I think he’ll be the strongest one in the whole family. If you’re a fan of the first film you’ll be excited about the new story. During the panel, several cast members were brought on the stage including the new voice actor for Dash and Samuel L. Jackson.
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2
Directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston hit the stage at D23 Expo 2017, introducing Emmy®-winning actress and comedian Sarah Silverman, who returns as the voice of Vanellope von Schweetz.
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ follow-up to 2012’s “Wreck-It Ralph” leaves the arcade behind, venturing into the expansive universe of the internet—which may or may not survive Ralph’s not-so-light touch. Outcasts-turned-BFFs Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz are reuniting with Fix-It Felix (voice of Jack McBrayer) and Sergeant Calhoun (voice of Jane Lynch). Filmmakers revealed a new character, Yesss, an algorithm who plays an important role in Ralph and Vanellope’s journey within the internet. Golden Globe®-winning actress Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”) lends her voice to the character. “Yesss is a new character who owns the website Buzzaholic,” said Henson. “Yesss knows about everything cool and on trend. And she does spell her name with a triple ‘s.’ Yesss is very savvy, smart and sexy.”
Fans were the first to see the global debut of a scene from the film that pays hilarious homage to the Disney Princesses. Lasseter revealed that filmmakers had asked the original voice actresses behind the Princesses featured to reprise their roles for the sequence, and in a moment no Disney fan will forget, Auli‘i Cravalho (“Moana”), Kristen Bell (Anna in “Frozen”), Kelly MacDonald (Merida in “Brave”), Mandy Moore (Rapunzel in “Tangled”), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana in “The Princess and the Frog”), Irene Bedard (“Pocahontas”), Linda Larkin (Jasmine in “Aladdin”), Paige O’Hara (Belle in “Beauty and the Beast”) and Jodi Benson (Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”) were welcomed on stage for the largest gathering of Disney Princesses in history.
Produced by Oscar® winner Clark Spencer, “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2” hits theaters on Nov. 21, 2018.
The Disney Princesses cameo in #Wreckitralph2 is amazing and hilarious #RalphBreaksTheInternet #d23Expo
— Nickida Stephens (@nickicoupons) July 14, 2017
Paige O'Hara just walked on the stage and I'm in tears #BeautyandtheBeast #RalphBreaksTheInternet #WreckITRalph2 #d23Expo
— Nickida Stephens (@nickicoupons) July 14, 2017
I loved that Princesses cameo in the movie. It was hilarious. I can’t wait for you all to see it. After the clip seeing all these women who voice these iconic characters on stage was so inspiring. My eyes filled with tears as Paige O’Hara walked on stage and one after the other they introduced a different princess. It was a great surprise.
OLAF’S FROZEN ADVENTURE
Kristen Bell, the voice of Anna, introduced fans to the new “Frozen” holiday featurette, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.” Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf, surprised the crowd with a live performance of the all-new original song “That Time of Year,” written by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson. The song is part of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new 21-minute featurette, which hits the big-screen in front of Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” on Nov. 22, 2017.
Joining Bell and Gad in the featurette are Idina Menzel as the voice of Elsa, and Jonathan Groff as the voice of Kristoff. The featurette is directed by the Emmy®-winning team Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton (“Prep & Landing”) and produced by Oscar® winner Roy Conli (“Big Hero 6”).
Josh and Kristen went back and forth in a funny clip about who’s the real star of Frozen, and they broke exciting news that Frozen 2 is heading to theaters in November 2019. The original voice cast will reprise their roles again. I’m looking forward to seeing what adventures are in store for us with the sisters, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven.
The main highlight for me was the Coco section of the presentation. I’ve been excited about this movie because of the cultural similarities it has to my childhood background. In Trinidad we never celebrated Halloween, we celebrated All Saints and All Souls Day. It was our way of celebrating our relatives that had passed on. We were treated to the first-ever public performance of “Remember Me” from Pixar Animation Studios’ upcoming feature film “Coco.” Anthony Gonzalez, who provides the voice of Miguel in the film, and Benjamin Bratt, who lends his voice to Ernesto de la Cruz, teamed up to perform the song written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
“Our film embraces a broad landscape of music,” said director Lee Unkrich. “We were fortunate to have Kristen and Bobby create ‘Remember Me’—it’s the signature song made famous by Ernesto de la Cruz, and it embodies the key theme in our story: the importance of remembering loved ones both in life and beyond.”
Unkrich, co-director and screenwriter Adrian Molina and producer Darla K. Anderson shared details about the original story with the crowd. In theaters, Nov. 22, 2017, “Coco” introduces Miguel, an aspiring musician whose family long ago banned music. Desperate to prove his talent and follow in the footsteps of his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, Miguel makes a fateful decision and finds himself in the Land of the Dead, where he meets his extended family and charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal). Together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.
“Coco” features an original score from Oscar®-winning composer Michael Giacchino (“Up,” “Rogue One”) and additional songs co-written by Germaine Franco (“Dope,” “Shovel Buddies”) and Molina. Also part of the team is musical consultant Camilo Lara of the music project Mexican Institute of Sound.
Fans in attendance all received an exclusive “Coco” poster depicting the film’s iconic skull guitar.
Capping the animation presentation, the grand finale featured more than 160 performers who descended upon Hall D23 at the Anaheim Convention Center, including the Grammy-winning Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea and Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles under the direction of Kareli Montoya, and the Grammy®-winning Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band.
More D23 Expo Coverage
Be sure to check out my other D23 Expo coverage including the Walt Disney Studios Live Action Panel, jumping into the Money Pit, the new Ducktales series and more.