By Brian VanDenBergh 16 August 2015
I may not be there my twitter feed certainly did explode Saturday afternoon with the unprecedented amount of news coming out of the D23 convention. For those who don’t know, D23 is the Disney equivalent of Comic Con and they release all their upcoming slates from live action and animated, to Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel and more. That’s just the movies. You also have Disney interactive making a display about the upcoming Star Wars Battle front and Disney Infinity 3.0 which houses an impressive roster of Star Wars characters. Mix that it with some crazy new information about the world’s most popular vacation destination and Johnny Depp in a costume, and you got yourself a party. I’ll try to segment this as best I can but I’m writing this as it unfolds and holy shark repellent batman…it is a lot.
Lets start out with Disney’s Live Action movie slate. Disney Proper, Star Wars, and Marvel all had big announcements. Jon Favreau was on hand with Sir Ben Kingsley to discuss the April 2016 release of the The Jungle Book. They added a beautiful poster to the mix as well which will be in the gallery at the end of this article. Next we got another poster and a release date to the sequel of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, titled Through the Looking Glass. Although not directed by Burton, the original cast, with a few additions, is back. It opens May 27th 2016. The live action adaptations kept coming with news that Beauty and the Beast will be in fact be a musical and will have 2 new songs from Grammy, Tony, and 8 time Oscar winning songwriter Alan Menken. Bryce Dallas Howard was on stage and showed off some footage of the new adaptation of the classic Pete’s Dragon as well. The last traditional Disney live action news came from the front of Pirates of the Caribbean’s fifth installment. The film is entitled Dead Men Tell no Tales and will bring Orlando Bloom back into the mix along with Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa.
Coming up fast in 2016 we will have the highly anticipated Captain America: Civil War, dropping May 6. A sizzle reel showed Cap, Scarlet Witch, Vision, War Machine, Black Widow, Ant Man, Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, Falcon and Iron Man in various stages of battle. In an interview, when asked about the tension between the two sides Anthony Mackie, who plays Falcon, said it’s akin to a family debate. It comes from love and has elements of sibling rivalry. The wall crawling web-head was nowhere to be seen. Benedict Cumberbatch was also there to talk about his upcoming Dr. Strange and how it will expand the Universe of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. See what I did there. Hopefully in a way like Guardians did last year.
After Marvel we got the Star Wars News. Harrison Ford was in attendance reportedly getting a bit emotional. We love you Han. Huge news and huge SPOILERS!!!! The first poster for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released which was painted by the same artist who did all of the past Star Wars and Indiana Jones posters. The news however, is that it shows the character of Finn wielding Luke/Annakin Skywalker’s blue lightsaber. This is coming hot of the heels of the Entertainment Weekly interview with director J.J. Abrams who noted that the central question the spurned the film is “Who is Luke Skywalker?” and also that the blue bladed lightsaber will be a key element to the film. For those of the nerds who basically know the character of Rey will be the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia…what is going on? Looks like Finn might be our main hero after all. Have to keep an eye on that one. Also…what if Finn’s last name is Calrissian. Sorry, fan boying out a bit. Aside from The Force Awakens, we got the first incredible cast photo of Star Wars: Rouge One. Rouge One is a subset of the Star Wars trilogies and Disney had initially called these subsets “anthology” films but it was just announced that they will be re-named to be called “Star Wars Stories.” Finally, the last bit of news on the Star Wars film front is that Episode 9, the finale in the new trilogy, will be releasing in 2019 and will be directed by Collin Trevorow who recently directed a little indie film called “Jurassic World.”
Sticking with the film vein, we got some animated news as well. Moana, the upcoming Hawaiian mythology film was discussed with voice actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Ginnifer Goodwin was there to introduce and discuss the animal buddy cop film Zootopia. Finally, Gigantic was announced which is a take on Jack and the Beanstalk with the giant of the film being a BIG little girl. In addition, Gigantic will be directed by the director of Tangled and will feature songs from the writing duo whose last movie was called Frozen.
Pixar also had a strong showing. As usual. It was simply 6 bright movie posters offering titles and release dates of their upcoming slate. The Good Dinosaur coming Thanksgiving of this year, Fining Dory – next summer, Toy Story 4 – Summer 2017, Coco – Fall of 2017, and Cars 3 and the Incredibles 2 – dates tbd. Coco is the film about the Mexican day of the dead that has been in development forever but seems to be finally on it’s way. It’s being directed by Lee Unkrich who previously helmed Toy Story 3. John Lasseter, creative icon clad in his trademark Hawaiian shirts and armed with a t-shirt cannon explained that Toy Story 4 would take on a new genre this time out. A love story, to be more specific. It will have Buzz helping Woody find and re-unite with his long lost love, Bo-Peep.
Disney CEO Bob Iger was up next. Iger’s presentation was announcing of all the things coming to Disney Parks. This is the good stuff. First off is an interactive attraction called, The Iron Man Experience. This will mark the first ever Marvel attraction to come to a Disney Park, unfortunately it’s going to Shanghai Disney Land. James Cameron was there…
…Honestly can I just take a minuet to breathe and look back at all the names of the people that are at this thing? If you didn’t think Disney ran the table on the entertainment industry before, they sure as hell do now. Dwayne Johnson has massive appeal right now, so what do we do, put him in a movie. Should we be pissed that Jurassic World took down not just Age of Ultron, but also dethroned the original Avengers in terms of biggest opening weekend ever. Hell No! What should we do? Go out and Sign the mother f***** for Star Wars 9. Disney is officially the New York Yankees of the entertainment industry. The biggest names in writing, directing, songwriting, and acting all eventually end up in their seemingly infinite universe…
Ok so James Cameron was telling us about the expansion to Animal Kingdom in his world of Avatar. It will include new ride, The Flight of Passage, which guests will simulate riding on a banshee. Animal Kingdom will also take on a nighttime display, there first ever, called the Rivers of Light. This show also takes inspiration from Cameron’s wildly successful film. Then they dropped the hammer. If you’re a fan of Disney, specifically the parks, you’ll know that recently at Hollywood Studios, they removed Mickey’s Sorcerer hat, which was the icon in the center of the park. Details were released that big things were coming to the Hollywood Studios. It was only a matter of time…
…STAR…WARS…LAND. For all you nerds out there this is the absolute fu***** dream. Star Wars land is the biggest expansion in park history covering an unprecedented 15 acres of badass intergalactic awesomeness. It will include an updated Star Tours with The Force Awakens content, a ride that puts you in the middle of the battle between the Resistance and the First Order, and wait for it…a millennium falcon ride. Oh and did I mention they are building the cantina. What is life? Star Wars Launch Bay will also be added, which like the Iron Man experience will be an interactive attraction with a number of cool things to see and do.
Also adding to the massive Hollywood studios overhaul will be Toy Story Land. Toy Story Land will essentially take over Pixar Corner, which is basically just Toy Story Mania anyway, and will add a ride based on “The Claw” along with a Slinky-Dog themed Roller Coaster. Now lets hope they do fans some justice and build a new Pizza Planet that is at all reminiscent of the actual restaurant from the film.
Across the parks there will also be a new event that I’m guessing will either replace or be added to Star Wars Celebration. It’s called Season of the Force and will stretch into the Magic Kingdom, where for the duration of the event, Space Mountain will be re-themed and re-named “Hyperspace Mountain.” <shut up and take my money>
Ok, so that was day 1. More on day 2 as it happens.