I hope you’ve been following along with the announcements about all the new projects from Disney. You really couldn’t miss it as it’s been all over Google, the news stations and social media. But as I was there with 7,500 of Disney’s biggest fans, I have the scoop on what’s coming from Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, straight from the D23 Expo!
We’ve got so many amazing new stories to talk about! From a lost dinosaur to a master wayfinder, to a scheming fox and a forgetful fish, the stories coming out of these two studios are amazing! Chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, John Lasseter, was as excited as the audience!
We really have an unbelievable range of movies in production at our studios right now, said Lasseter. The stories are dynamic, fresh and so much fun; the characters new and old are so appealing. I’m excited to share some of our long-held secrets for the first time at the D23 EXPO.
What’s Coming from Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios
Let’s start with the lovely Ginnifer Goodwin, pictured above with John Lasseter, and starring in Zootopia.
Zootopia (follow along at #Zootopia)
International superstar Shakira will lend her Grammy®-winning voice to Gazelle, the biggest pop star in ZOOTOPIA, Shakira came to D23 EXPO via a taped message, sharing her excitement about Zooptopia. Ginnifer Goodwin (ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” “Something Borrowed,” “Walk the Line”), will voice the film’s rookie rabbit officer Judy Hopps. She spoke to fans alongside Directors Byron Howard (“Tangled”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph”), and Producer Clark Spencer (“Wreck-It Ralph”). This film is hilarious, and fans will adore the new song, Try Everything, performed by Shakira. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ ZOOTOPIA opens nationwide March 4, 2016.
Here’s the trailer!!
THE GOOD DINOSAUR (#GoodDino)
If fans were excited about Disney·Pixar’s THE GOOD DINOSAUR before, they were taken to a whole new level as Director Peter Sohn and Producer Denise Ream shared never-before-seen footage of a trio of T-Rexes in action.
In theaters on November 25, 2015, the film introduces audiences to Arlo, a sheltered Apatosaurus who finds himself far from home, and Spot, Arlo’s unlikely human friend. “Arlo and Spot journey through a world that has been greatly inspired by the American Northwest,” said Sohn. “It is epic in scope, soul-enriching and simultaneously beautiful and treacherous. In this world, we meet up with a very special family of T-Rexes, who help Arlo find a way through his personal fears and ultimately teach Arlo what he’s truly made of.” Yep, grab your tissues!
Check out the trailer!
FINDING DORY (#FindingDory)
This is kind of big. We watched a video of Ellen Degeneres mentioning over and over about how there were sequels to so many other movies, but not to Finding Nemo. We knew what was coming, that there would be an announcement about the new film, Finding Dory.
What we didn’t expect was for Ellen herself to walk out on to the stage, accompanied by Ed O’Neill (“Modern Family”), who lends his voice to Hank, a cantankerous octopus; Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), the voice of Bailey, a misguided beluga whale; and Kaitlin Olson (“Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), who voices Destiny, a kind-hearted whale shark.
Ellen DeGeneres (“The Ellen DeGeneres Show”), the voice of everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang, took a dip with D23 EXPO attendees this afternoon, celebrating Disney·Pixar’s upcoming film FINDING DORY. Joining DeGeneres on stage this afternoon were Oscar®-winning Director Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo,” “WALL•E”), co-director Angus MacLane and Producer Lindsey Collins (co-producer “WALL•E”) offered details about the all-new story, which reunites Dory with friends Nemo and Marlin on a search for answers about her past. What can she remember? Who are her parents? And where did she learn to speak Whale?
Also featuring the voices of Albert Brooks, Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton, Disney·Pixar’s FINDING DORY swims into theaters June 17, 2016.
Perhaps one of the biggest rounds of applause was for the man who will voice he mighty demi-god Maui in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ MOANA.
Dwayne Johnson was clearly excited about starring in a film that showcases the history of his mother’s Samoan heritage.“Our research took us deep into the South Pacific,” said Director Ron Clements. “The wonderful people we met there, their rich history and traditions, and their fantastic music changed us forever.” It was hard to get the crowd to calm down after Johnson walked on stage! You’ll see more of his “performance” in the video recap at the end of this post. You’ve got to watch it!
Renowned Directors John Musker and Ron Clements (“The Little Mermaid,” “The Princess and the Frog,” “Aladdin”), and Producer Osnat Shurer (Oscar®-nominated Pixar shorts “One Man Band,” “Boundin’”) shared dazzling early test footage and revealed plans for the film’s inspired music and the extraordinary team behind it. Tony®-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway’s hottest new hit “Hamilton,” Tony-winning “In the Heights”), Grammy®-winning composer Mark Mancina (“Speed”, “Tarzan” “The Lion King”) and Opetaia Foa’i (founder and lead singer of the world music award-winning band Te Vaka) blend their diverse and dynamic talents to help tell the tale of a spirited teenager who sets out to prove herself a master wayfinder.
We can’t wait to bring those experiences to MOANA,” added Musker. “We are incredibly lucky to be able to work with three amazing artists who are the absolute best at what they do. The sounds they create will be something we’ve never heard before—but it’ll feel like it’s been part of this world forever.
Foa’i and his band Te Vaka capped the presentation with a show-stopping performance illustrating the magic of the movie’s music. MOANA sails into U.S. theaters onNovember 23, 2016.
TOY STORY 4 / TOY STORY 20th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION (#ToyStory4)
My family is really excited about this one! Can you believe this year marks the 20th anniversary of the first Toy Story? My daughter is almost 19, and it was one of our favorites when she was little.
Said John Lasseter, “All the characters from ‘Toy Story’—especially Woody and Buzz—are so close to us. They seem more like family members than just creations. Not only do we dearly love the characters, but we also love the world of ‘Toy Story’—the world where toys come to life when people are not in the room has always been rich with many story possibilities.”
I think one of my very favorite parts of the entire D23 Expo was when Joh Lasseter introduced iconic two-time Oscar®-winning songwriter and longtime Pixar collaborator Randy Newman, whose Pixar credits include “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Cars.” Newman sang You’ve Got a Friend in Me, and had many Disney fans reaching for tissues. It was a moment I will never forget.
Also joining in the celebration were TOY STORY 4 co-director Josh Cooley (“Cars 2,” “Ratatouille”) and Producer Galyn Susman (“Toy Story OF TERROR!”).Screenwriters Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (“Celeste & Jesse Forever”) joined Buzz, Woody and Bo Peep for the celebration. “I’m very proud of our films,” said Lasseter. “When we made the first three TOY STORY films, we didn’t realize what we had done was to change the genre of each of the films’ story. For TOY STORY 4, we are doing a type of story we have not done before: a love story. It’s a story about a relationship between Woody and Bo Peep. “
And with all the excitement about Toy Story Land coming to Disney World, the next couple of years will be pretty magical for Toy Story. By the way, John Lasseter is coming back to his roots and directing Toy Story 4, slated for release on June 16, 2017.
Things are looking up at Walt Disney Animation Studios – way up. GIGANTIC, Disney’s unique take on “Jack and the Beanstalk,” will feature music from Oscar®-winningsongwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who greeted D23 EXPO fans in signature style—in song—alongside Director Nathan Greno (“Tangled”) and Producer Dorothy McKim (“Get A Horse!”). Did you see my interview with McKim about the all new Disney Short Films Collection?
“I always wanted to be part of the Disney legacy,” said Greno. “I loved those classic stories brought to life—‘Snow White’ or ‘Cinderella’—in a way that made those films the definitive version for generations. I want to carry on that tradition by bringing ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ to modern audiences. We’re taking parts of the story we all remember and adding twists and turns, emotion and humor.”
Set in Spain during the Age of Exploration, Disney’s GIGANTIC follows adventure-seeker Jack as he discovers a world of giants hidden within the clouds. He hatches a grand plan with Inma, a 60-foot-tall, 11-year-old girl, and agrees to help her find her way home. But he doesn’t account for her super-sized personality—and who knew giants were so down to earth?
GIGANTIC hits theaters in 2018.
This film looks really exciting. Director Lee Unkrich and Producer Darla K. Anderson, who worked together on Toy Story 3, revealed the title of their upcoming film. Disney·Pixar’s COCO is the celebration of a lifetime, where the discovery of a generations-old mystery leads to a most extraordinary and surprising family reunion.
Unkrich and Anderson shared, “As artists and filmmakers, we couldn’t help but be drawn to the striking visuals of Dia de los Muertos. But it was the celebration’s core themes of family, remembrance and connection across generations that resonated within and truly inspired us. Dia de los Muertos is as singular as the Mexican culture, while at the same time completely universal in its message.
“In our story,” they continued, “the celebration of Dia de los Muertos serves as the perfect backdrop for our main character to ask where he comes from, what his place is within his family, and how families stay woven together across time through the simple act of remembrance.”
This short video is from the EXPO and you have got to see it!! I’m still reeling that I was there!
By the way, if you are a true Disney fan, you will want to check out the Walt Disney Records Legacy Collection of songs from everyone’s favorite classic Disney Films!
You’ll be seeing a lot more from all these films over time, but it’s so exciting to know what’s in store over the next few years! Which film are you most looking forward to?