My friend Mike is what I’d call a true Disney expert! He’s been to the parks many times and as a travel agent, he’s coordinated many family vacations over the years. He’s written many posts on this blog over the past year (see my Disney page for all of them). Yesterday, Mike reached out to me to see if my readers would be interested in hearing about upcoming Disney & Pixar Movies. As we do share a fair amount of deals and posts related to this topic, I gave him the green light! Here’s what he has to say:
This weekend is the biggest event in Disney Fandom, D23, the mega super conference for all things Disney. From parks news, to new additions in TV, and of course Star Wars, Marvel, Disney Studio, and Pixar. As there are so many amazing things to be announced, D23 breaks them up into a few different sessions to give each its appropriate due time and love.
For many, the heart of the Walt Disney Company is still their animation department. After all, it all started with a mouse. And yesterday afternoon, Disney shared all about their next few future projects.
Big warning!! Spoilers are ahead. How much of a spoiler is hard to even say. We were shown rough and unfinished footage at certain points. The animation shown was amazing and I will share most of that experience. However, if you want to see these movies over the next few years knowing as little as possible, then reader beware!
An Inside Look at Upcoming Disney/Pixar Films
As we were ushered into Hall23, the largest and main hall at D23, we were given sealable plastic bags to put all phones and recording devices. As you can imagine, Disney wants to keep the footage from being leaked online. But the actual footage in many instances took a back seat to some of the fun suprises Disney pulled out.
We began with a montage clip featuring some of their largest and most recent hits, both animated and live action. Though a few new clips sped by our eyeballs of the next Marvel films, Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok. Disney certainly knows how to get your emotions going even with a montage clip.
Then Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, greeted the lucky few thousand who were able to get in. He soon introduced John Lasseter, Chief of ….. well, basically everything animated and many things Disney Park (but that’s another day), who took stage and was our guide. Firing his trademark shirts into the crowd from TShirt cannons, his level of excitement was contangious.
First, he showed us pictures of the research his team had done with learning the latest in aviation. The still pictures of the directors/producers in and around jets and pilots didn’t overshadow the few pictures of NASA logos.
Then began the footage. The first three cut scenes had footage that at first, I wasn’t sure was even animation. Featuring the southwest desert, an airfield, the empty land right before the sun rises. It looked real in a way I have never seen animation do before. Two jets screamed across the screen and shook the theater. It was at this point you could see the animation was not fully complete on the planes themselves. However, the footage was still heart poundingly exciting. The maneuvers the jets made harkened to Top Gun levels of cool. But then another jet screaming from the heavens, possibly even space(?), roared into the scenes putting the other two jets into their place. Far more advanced and cutting edge, it blazes past and then climbed back into the atmosphere. It was at this point that it was recognizable that all the jets did have faces ala Cars or Planes. The title appeared Space only to be filled in moments later with, “This Space left empty for the final title” which garnered a laugh from the audience. The untitled “Space/Jets” movie looked way cooler than anything from the Cars universe thus far.
Upcoming: Frozen 2
Next up, Lasseter brought out a favorite for Disney fans, Princess Anna, or at least the voice of, actress Kristin Bell. She began to explain that the crew from Frozen would be back this fall in a 21 minute short film featured before Coco called “Olaf”s Frozen Adventure.” Bell gave the basic overview that due to their childhood isolation, the princess sisters are realizing they have no holiday traditions. So Olaf takes the task to find the best holiday traditions from the villagers. Boasting 4 new songs, Bell said we would get to see one of them right then. And of course, a technical glitch occurred and the sound wasn’t able to be played.
But just as the crowd was becoming crestfallen, Bell said she could just bring out Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf, to sing it live! The sound glitch had been a ploy and it worked in getting us to go crazy as Josh Gad took the stage. Gad sang as the footage played behind him and it was magical. His voice is so animated itself, he clearly also enjoys the ability to play a part that is so much fun and infused with plenty of humor.
For those curious, the animation short looks great and the song made us laugh more than a few times. Olaf is going door to door and his usual outside perspective on what we would consider normal. If this is a taste of the quality we will see in Frozen 2, then there certainly is plenty of reason to be excited.
Speaking of Frozen 2, Lasseter, Bell and Gad took some time to give us a few details about that production. They acknowledged the title wasn’t perhaps the most creative. But also made sure that we knew Frozen 2: Thawed was not an option (ha). Lasseter did mention he had wanted to use the Norwegian word for 2, only to find that was just “to.” Even worse, it is pronounced “toe.” So, no, the movie won’t be called Frozen Toe either. Other rejected titles, Frozen Dinner, Froyo, Frozen Assets were all met with laughter from the audience. Gad did suggest Olaf’s Frozen: 2 until Bell pointed out that it was a ensemble cast. Though Gad rebutted that the short film wasn’t being called Ensemble’s Frozen Adventure. Touché.
Sadly, no footage of Frozen 2 was shown, but they did feature some documentary-like footage from the producers and directors on their research trips to Norway/Findland/Iceland. If that is any indication, Frozen 2 will be seeing a much grander adventure.
Upcoming: Wreck-it-Ralph 2
As Bell and Gad left the stage the director of Wreck-It-Ralph 2 came up and soon introduced Sarah Silverman, the voice of Vanellope Von Schweets. They clarified that in this adventure, Ralph would sojourn to the larger world of the internet to cause a bit of chaos. New character to this film “Yesss” would be voiced by Taraji P Henson of Empire and Hidden Figures fame.
Then some very sketched panels were shown of Ralph and Vanellope exploring and figuring out the internet. While the plot seems to revolve around Vanellope and Ralph scourering the internet for a way to fix Vanellope’s game, Ralph seems to have plenty of time to ask Yesss the questions he has about going “virus.” He would like to get more fame and attention, and Yess guides him to a spot on the internet where the most fandoms meet, Disney.com.
At first, I thought this very rough animation was just for us, for the fans. As Ralph and Vanellope saw this land that looked as if every Disney owned IP had been let loose to play in the Magic Kingdom, I was sure this wasn’t going to be in the actual movie. This feeling was only reinforced when Vanellope spotted a paparazzi surrounded posse that Yesss was sure to make sure they stayed clear of. Yesss told Vanellope they were the “princesses” and were not to be encroached upon.
With no hesitation, Vanellope glitches her way past the security and into the private room behind stage cordoned for Disney’s popular princesses. Now the footage changed from sketchpad like drawings, to fully animated, movie quality film. At this point, though it seemed far too cool to be a part of the actual film, the quality of the animation gave validity to the veracity of the content.
Vanellope walks into the room filled with every Disney princess from Snow White to Moana. And she begins to inquire and try to understand what makes them such a hot commodity. There is a lot of jokes taking to task some of the tropes of being a princess in the Disney universe. Including their ability to have parental issues, get enslaved, captured or cursed or that a man can often overshadow their own abilities and attributes. To which Vanellope is humorously horrified.
Then the princesses become inquisitive themselves about Vanellope’s more casual attire. Cut to: a modern day princess makeover where the ladies can dress down a bit and enjoy some leisure wear. As Vanellope sees some of their idiosyncrasies and as of yet untold human issues (Jasmine uses an inhaler due to her Cat/Tiger allergy, Snow White is in desperate need of glasses), she relates and finds more in common with the Disney Proncesses who now have claimed her as part of their own.
At this point Lasseter proudly announced that all of the original voices of the princess would be coming back in Wreck-It-Ralph 2 (though I assume that is sans Snow White, Auroa and Cinderella). And besides Elsa’s Idina Mendel and Mulan’s Ming-Na Wen, each other princess was brought on stage for quite an emotional moment. Though I hoped we would get a bit of a live performance from Jodi Benson (Ariel), Paige O’Hara (Belle) or any of the other amazing voice talents, they each took a moment to say “hi” to the audience.
Upcoming: The Incredibles 2
How do you top that moment? When the theater goes dark and the familiar theme from Pixar’s The Incredibles rings through as the logo for Incredibles 2 pops up. Sadly, after thunderous applause, no footage was shown. Director Brad Bird is brought out who guides us to through the new updated character models being used as well as the new locations featured in the film slated for summer 2018.
Taking place not much after the first film, the main voice talents are brought on stage including Holly Hunter (Elasti-girl), Craig T Nelson (Mr. Incredible) and Samuel L Jackson (Frozone). Bird then says there are some ideas that aren’t able to be fit in movies as the story takes its final shape. In the instance of The Incredibles this included a sequence involving Bob Parr falling asleep with baby Jack Jack in front of the TV. Jack Jack taking his cues from the crime show on TV, is enraged to see a raccoon scavenging through the trash outside his home.
This where we get to see some amazing footage. In all of the super hero movies available nowadays, chocked full of action sequences, this scene might be the best ever put to film. A baby, who is wildly manifesting a variety of super abilities fighting a rather unsuspecting raccoon unbeknownst to any of the rest of the family. With all the grace a child who just learned to walk could manage, it is funny, frightening and all together awesome. The Incredibles 2 looks like it is still in good hands.
Upcoming: Toy Story 4, Coco, and an Unnamed Film
Next, the director of Toy Story 4 is brought up. This time, no stars, no footage, no further glimpse into the story is given. We are given a behind the scenes look into its making at Pixar studios which including a quick glance at what are probably some new characters.
This is followed up by another director who announces an all new, yet to be named film. Introduced as “Fantasy World in a Suburban Setting,” is a movie with all mythical type creatures and no humans. Though the heart of the film will be about two boys reconnecting with a father taken too soon, it posits a world on which magic was rather tough to do. So the elfs, gnomes, trolls and other types began to develop modern technology instead. Now they live in a world much like ours. Mushrooms houses with satellite dishes, fast food joints like To-N-Fro, and unicorns are more like stray cats or raccoons. An interesting concept, and I was glad to hear so much heart is at the center of the story.
Lastly, Disney brought the upcoming Coco to the forefront. Coming to theaters this Thanksgiving, Coco takes place during Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Of course immediately comparisons could be made to 2014’s The Book of Life, which had a similar backdrop. However, those fears were put to rest when a couple different scenes were shown. Coco seems to be more of a film about family and the pressures from the expectations that can be set upon us as we mature.
My kids and I didn’t have strong feelings toward Coco prior to the session. However, the footage and humor and care for this story got us all excited for a film we would actually get to see in the near future. This was all brought to a culmination with a live performance of the film’s central song sung by the two stars Anthony Gonzalez and Benjamin Bratt. And boy can those guys sing! Mark your calendars for Coco I expect it will steal hearts much like Inside Out did.
Though no other new films were announced and Zootopia 2 and Gigantic were given no further updates, it still gave fans much to be excited for. Keep an eye for my next entry that tells of Disney live action features including Marvel and Star Wars!
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Mike Rinehart is an independent travel agent affiliated with MEI & Mouse Fan Travel. Follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MikesTravelThoughts/ or see his travel photos on Instagram by following @MikeOnMainStreet. Request your free no obligation quote on your next Disneyland, Disney World, Aulani, Disney Cruise (and any other cruise line) vacation by emailing him at Mike.Rinehart@mei-travel.com. Mention “The Coupon Project” and receive a free gift with your completed booking.