To kick off my D23 Expo coverage, I am giving you the scoop on what the Walt Disney and Pixar Animations Studios have coming up over the next two years. John Lasseter took the stage and brought up filmmakers and voice talents to share clips, songs and more. Sharing new details about their upcoming movie slates, Lasseter introduced key voice talent, including Benjamin Bratt, Anthony Gonzalez, Josh Gad, Kristen Bell, Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Vowell, Samuel L. Jackson, Huck Milner and Sarah Silverman.
I think the highlight of the presentation was when Auli‘i Cravalho, Kristen Bell, Mandy Moore, Kelly MacDonald, Anika Noni Rose, Irene Bedard, Linda Larkin, Paige O’Hara and Jodi Benson came together on stage in a celebration fit for a princess. More on that below!
Walt Disney and Pixar Animations Studios
John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, teamed up with the stars and filmmakers from both studios to present new details, footage, behind-the-scenes looks and images from a host of upcoming films. Coming to the stage with a t-shirt gun in hand, he got the crowd nuts as he shot out some of his self-branded shirts, just like the one he was wearing.
“I’m so excited about our upcoming movies; they are all hilarious, emotional, beautiful and make you think,” said Lasseter, who serves as executive producer on all animated titles. “It’s a great mix of incredibly creative and surprising new worlds and characters and stories we love returning to. Our filmmakers are putting so much heart into these films – I can’t wait for people to see them.”
Here’s the recap video from the day!
Following, in the order of release, are the films presented on behalf of both studios.
We were treated to the first-ever public performance of “Remember Me” from Pixar Animation Studios’ upcoming feature film “Coco.” The voices of Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) and Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt) teamed up to perform the song written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The presentation was full of energy as it featured more than 160 performers who descended upon Hall D23 at the Anaheim Convention Center. 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 joined.
“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.”
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.
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure
It was a treat when Kristen Bell, the voice of Anna, took the stage to introduce fans to the new “Frozen” holiday featurette, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.” During the clip the video went bad (on purpose) which brought Josh Gad (Olaf) to the stage, surprising the crowd with a live performance of the all-new original song “That Time of Year.” 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.
Many Disney fans have been eagerly awaiting the return of everyone’s favorite family of superheroes The Incredibles. The D23 Expo crowd got a look at what the fashion world thinks of super-suit stylist Edna Mode. Showcasing fashion phenoms from Heidi Klum and Kendall Jenner to Zac Posen and Rachel Zoe.
“Incredibles 2” director Brad Bird (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 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 like any family.”
“Incredibles 2” hits theaters on June 15, 2018.
Ralph Breaks the Internet – Wreck-It-Ralph 2
Directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston introduced Emmy®-winning actress and comedian Sarah Silverman, who returns as the voice of Vanellope von Schweetz.
As I mentioned above, there were nine original Disney Princesses voice actors. Lasseter told the audience that filmmakers had asked the original voice actresses behind the Princesses featured to reprise their roles for the sequence. Then he brought them all to the stage. 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”) all were on stage for the largest gathering of Disney Princesses in history. It was a pretty epic moment.
What to expect!
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.”
Produced by Oscar® winner Clark Spencer, “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2” hits theaters on Nov. 21, 2018.
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.
Toy Story 4
Do you instantly sing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” like I do when I hear the words, Toy Story? The crowd’s anticipation for the next chapter in Buzz and Woody’s life was evident when Lasseter invited Pixar’s Josh Cooley (“Riley’s First Date?” short) to the stage. It was then that it was revealed 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.
Frozen 2 (Title TBA)
Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, and produced by Peter Del Vecho, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ feature-length follow-up to 2013’s Oscar®-winning film “Frozen” is slated for theaters on November 27, 2019. Bell, Gad, Menzel, and Groff are reprising their roles in an all-new story. Lasseter, Bell, and Gad shared with “Frozen” fans a behind-the-scenes video showcasing the filmmakers’ recent research trip to Norway, Finland, and Iceland.
Untitled Dan Scanlon Movie
Director Dan Scanlon brought us Pixar’s “Monsters University,” joined Lasseter on stage to share. He shared a few details about an all-new original feature film currently in production at Pixar Animation Studios. Scanlon lost his father at a very young age. That gave him the inspiration to bring into a story the question he’s always asked: who was my father?
The story will have 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.
Quite the lineup! With all of this on the horizon, you can bet I will be sharing lots of news on these projects.
*I was invited to the D23Expo event by Disney to share what I learned with my readers. All opinions are my own.