This past weekend, Walt Disney Studios played host to the 2013 D23 Expo, where attendees waited for a number of surprises from the most magical filmmakers on Earth (mainly some tidbits of news from the Death Star). Between some unexpected celebrity appearances and an absolute Pixar announcement field day, die-hards seemed almost satiated with their trip to Anaheim, Calif.
First off, it was, naturally, a great weekend for Pixar fans. The Examiner reports that Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Bob Iger told fans, “Animation has been and will always be the heart and soul of Disney.” The proof was in the round-up when Disney-Pixar gave fans a glimpse of a few years worth of upcoming projects during the “Art and Imagination: Animation at The Walt Disney Studios” portion.
Co-director Peter Sohn and producer Denise Ream delivered a closer look at their prehistoric flick The Good Dinosaur, begging the question ‘what if dinosaurs never went extinct and, instead, co-existed with humans as… farmers?’ Sohn and Ream were also joined by the movie’s voice actors Bill Hader, Lucas Neff and Judy Greer. John Lithgow, Neil Patrick Harris and Frances McDormand also star.
Pixar also touched upon some 2015 releases, Inside Out and Finding Dory. Inside Out sees main character Riley acting as both lead and setting, as the film takes place inside of her mind. Amy Poehler stars as Joy, Mindy Kaling as Disgust, Bill Hader voices Fear and Phyllis Smith (The Office) takes on Sadness.
In Finding Dory, set one year after Finding Nemo, both Ellen Degeneres and Albert Brooks reprise their fishy roles with Diane Keaton, Ty Burrell and Eugene Levy set to lend their voices as well. (Oh, and note: Bill Hader isn’t in this one. Well, “not yet,” joked the actor, who appeared dressed as his ideal aquatic role—a sea cucumber.)
Also mentioned were Kristen Bell’s Frozen, Disney and Marvel’s first animated theatrical feature Big Hero 6 and the premiere mention of 2016’s animal feature Zootopia. You can check out more in the reel of highlights below via Inside the Magic.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the expo also saw a wicked appearance by A-lister Angelina Jolie for the presentation of the Sleeping Beauty revamp Maleficent. Told from the perspective of the evil witch, the narrative would reveal the events that shaped the hardened sorceress and led her to curse Princess Aurora. With no trailer and only a few photos, the film has both enchanted and mystified Disney fans, so it was exciting to see the first peek—a clip showing the witch casting a spell on Sleeping Beauty.
“Since I was a little girl, Maleficent was always my favorite. I was terrified of her, but I was always drawn to her,” Jolie told the crowd.
The movie titans also touched upon other live-action features such as Captain America: Winter Soldier, Saving Mr. Banks, the mysterious Tomorrowland, Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella adaptation and the musical Into the Woods. Disney Dose writes that Sean Bailey, head of Live Action for the Disney Studios, officially unveiled the film, naming Rob Marshall (Chicago) as the director of an all-star cast, including Meryl Streep as the Witch and Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf.
And finally, just as you have been waiting this entire article to read something—anything—about the upcoming Star Wars, you, like the fans at D23, will be sorely disappointed. The Force was not strong with Disney, who kept mum on the feature.
Deadline reports that Disney chairman Alan Horn told the crowd, “I really wish I could tell you more. It will come soon.”
However, there were hints that Star Wars would become more of a presence at Disneyland, according to Lucasfilms’ Star Wars expert Pablo Hidalgo. He didn’t elaborate, but SlashFilm says that the hints could be hidden within the Imagineering presentation. So yeah, we all have to table our lightsabers for now, but satiate your inner Na’vi with some Avatar Land.