Everything Announced at the D23 Disney Films Panel
The centerpiece of D23 Expo 2019 on Saturday morning was the Disney films panel. Disney now owns Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox, Pixar — in addition to all the movies under the actual Walt Disney Studios banner. As far as Hollywood is concerned, Disney is the biggest game in town. And the size of this massive panel reflects that.
We are going to do our level-best to update this live with all of the new announcements and revelations out of the panel. (Please excuse any typos, we’re doing our level best here.) There are no photos and video allowed at the panel, so we’ll try describe what we see. Here’s everything that happened:
-The panel opened with a video of recent Disney film highlights, including The Lion King, Avengers: Endgame, and Toy Story 4. The tagline of the video was “You’re more than fans; you’re family.” Then there was a bunch of clips of new movies including Frozen II, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Jungle Cruise, Artemis Fowl, and Black Widow.
-Disney’s Alan Horn came on stage showing a list of all the films who have come out since the previous D23 Expo. He hailed the 7,000 people in the room for the presentation, and ran down all the announcements he made at the previous D23 two years earlier.
-Horn ran down some of Fox’s big projects: Ford v Ferrari, Spies in Disguise, The King’s Man, Avatar — but noted that they would not be showing any footage from those films today.
-Horn then segued from Fox, who released the original Star Wars, the galaxy far, far away. He then introduced Kathleen Kennedy from Lucasfilm, and The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams. Kennedy praised Abrams, noting she’s known him since he was 15 years old.
-Abrams thanked the fans for their support, and talked about the end of the Skywalker saga after 40 years. He brought out the cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, and many more. They showed several new pictures, including Rey wearing an interesting necklace, Keri Russell in her character’s costume wielding a blaster. Her character was referred to as “a criminal” and “an old friend of Poe’s.”
-“Lando has never left me,” said Billy Dee Williams. He thanked the fans as well. Anthony Daniels said it was hard to understand that the story was ending. “But what an ending,” Daniels added.
-Abrams said they couldn’t talk about the cast without talking about Carrie Fisher, calling her “the heart of this story.” He discussed how they had footage left over from Episode VII that they could use in The Rise of Skywalker. “I was not supposed to be directing this movie,” Abrams said.
-Kennedly unveiled a new poster for the film, showing Rey and Kylo Ren fighting with the outline of the Emperor behind them. Everyone in attendance was getting one. And here it is:
-Abrams then introduced a special exclusive footage reel. It included footage from several of the films, starting with the very first Star Wars, and going up through the prequels. “We’ve past on all we know,” Luke Skywalker said in voiceover. Then they showed new footage from The Rise of Skywalker. It included C-3PO with red eyes, Kylo and Rey fighting on top of a ship that was being tossed in stormy scenes, and lines of Star Destroyers up against a bunch of Resistance ships. The end of the trailer was Rey wearing a cloak and unfolding a double-sided red lightsaber like Darth Maul’s.
-That was it for Star Wars; Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige were next. Feige was wearing a Black Widow hat. He said they needed to give new news, and then brought out Ryan Coogler director of Black Panther.
-Cooger refused to announce the title of the film or the opening or the villain, but they did announce the release date: May 6, 2022.
-Kevin Feige then brought out the cast of Eternals, including Richard Madden as Ikaris, and Salma Hayek as Ajak, and Angelina Jolie as Thena. He also revealed Gemma Chan is playing Sersi, Kit Harington is in the film playing Date Whitman (who is Black Knight).
-They showed a video of the cast of Black Widow from the set, then a trailer that first featured tons of clips of Black Widow from throughout the MCU. This was largely the same trailer that they showed at Comic-Con, with a long fight between Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh, followed by some action, and ending with Black Widow fighting the Taskmaster, the film’s villain.
-Jungle Cruise was next, with Dwayne Johnson entering the hall on a Jungle Cruise boat.
-Johnson introduced the trailer for Jungle Cruise. It featured Johnson as the hero and Emily Blunt largely in a secondary role. Then Emily Blunt came out, and showed her trailer, where Emily Blunt got top-billing and her part was emphasized.
-Next Angelina Jolie returned to the stage to discuss Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. She introduced an exclusive clip of Maleficent and Aurora.
-Mulan was up next. They showed scenes from the film. The first saw Mulan getting dressed and made up, then being taught the values that make someone a good wife. At a tea ceremony, she does not do what she is told. In the next scene, a soldier arrives in the village and demands one man from every family to serve in the army. Mulan’s father volunteers to fight. A montage of scenes then showed Mulan wielding a sword, vowing to bring honor to her family, and training with soldiers, and then showing off some impressive martial arts moves with a sword on the battlefield.
-They then discussed Cruella, which is about the “early days” of the classic Disney villain, with the concept of explaining “What made Cruella so cruel?” A video featuring Emma Stone played, where she described the film as having a “punk rock” vibe, and then berated an adorable dog. They also revealed the first look at Emma Stone in costume as Cruella de Vil:
-Pete Docter of Pixar came out next. He introduced his new movie Soul, saying it asks the big questions “Why am I here? Where did I come from? And what am I here for?” and described it as a story about “metaphysics.” They described a place where souls are trained for life, but Joe, a middle-school band teacher, feels like his life has not gone the way he wanted. The only thing he loves is when he’s home playing jazz. He dreams of playing at The Half Note, New York’s most prestigious jazz club, but it’s never happened.
-A trailer for Soul played. In it, Joe plays jazz, gets a gig, and the falls down a manhole and ... dies? The footage ended and they continued describing the story. Joe’s soul apparently then goes to the “You Seminar” where he goes on a spiritual adventure in an attempt to return to Earth. The music in the film is from Jon Batiste (original jazz) and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (original score).
-Docter then introduced the cast of Soul. Questlove plays Curly, a drummer, Phylicia Rashad plays Joe’s mother, Daveed Diggs plays Joe’s nemesis, Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey are Joe and 22, a soul that Joe meets at You Seminar. This movie looks weird, wild, and potentially incredible.
-A trailer for Onward played next. The stars, Chris Pratt and Tom Holland then came out on stage. The D23 crowd was then treated to eight minutes of footage, basically setting up the premise. Barley (Pratt) and Ian (Holland) find a wizard staff and a “phoenix gem” which can bring their late father back for one day. The spell goes awry, and only their dad’s bottom half comes back — literally from the waist down. So to bring the rest of him back, they must go on a quest to find one more phoenix gem before the spell wears off and their dad is gone forever.
-Another clip was shown with Ian trying to cast a spell, and accidentally shrinking Barley down to tiny size.
-Jennifer Lee of Walt Disney Animation Studios came out next. She unveiled fall 2020’s new animated movie: Raya and the Last Dragon. It was described as a blend of Disney animation and Hong Kong animation. It is set on an ancient version of Earth known as Kumandra which is ruled by five clans. The hero is a lone warrior woman named Raya who must find the last dragon, which she believes has the power to save Kumandra. Cassie Steele plays Raya and Awkwafina plays the Sisu the dragon.
-A clip of the film was shown. The animation was very photoreal and beautiful. It showed Raya exploring a waterfall and ruins, and encountering a young boy with a flute and Sisu. A second clip was shown that was very brief, but interacted with the lights in the convention hall. The clip ended with the tagline “Keep The Light Alive.”
-Frozen II was the next and last movie. Co-director Chris Buck joined Lee onstage. Lee said the big reason they wanted to make the film was to explore the question of why Elsa has ice powers. That led to more questions about Anna, their parents, and whether there is such a thing as happily ever after. They claimed Frozen and Frozen II tells one complete story together.
-Evan Rachel Wood will voice Elsa and Anna’s mother in a flashback scene in the film. Lt. Mattias, a man who has been lost in an enchanted forest that is a key location in the film for years, is voiced by Sterling K. Brown. They played a clip of Elsa and Anna’s mom singing a lullabye to her girls, and a scene of Mattias and Anna talking in the forest about never giving up.
-They showed an early sequence from the film. The characters were introduced playing charades. Olaf can use his quirky snowman body to do extremely well. When it’s Elsa’s turn she’s distracted by some strange voice in her head only she can hear. Kristof tries to propose to Anna, but she is distracted and doesn’t notice. Anna goes to check on Elsa and sings her the same lullabye heard in the earlier scene. Later, Anna is asleep but Elsa is still awake, and she begins to sing a song about that mysterious voice in her head and how she doesn’t want to go on another adventure. Based on the chorus it seems like the song is titled “Into the Unknown.”
-The presentation closed with the original Frozen cast: Josh Gad, Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff singing a new song.
We’ll have lots more from D23 Expo 2019 all weekend long.
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