The Walt Disney Studios—including studio leaders and filmmakers from Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, Disney live action, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios—offered guests at D23 Expo 2019 a captivating look at Disney’s upcoming film slate. Alan Horn, co-chairman and chief creative officer, The Walt Disney Studios, was joined by Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy, Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige, Disney live action’s Sean Bailey, Pixar’s Pete Docter and Disney Animation’s Jennifer Lee for the presentation in Hall D23 at the Anaheim Convention Center, featuring never-before-seen footage and a host of stars from films such as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Marvel Studios’ The Eternals, Jungle Cruise, Onward and Frozen 2.
“You’re not just fans, you’re family,” Horn said, as he kicked off the highly anticipated presentation. “It’s because of you that we keep working so hard to make great movies, and we love D23 Expo because it’s where we can share them with you first.”
Here are the films that were in the spotlight today:
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy welcomed director/writer/producer J.J. Abrams to the Hall D23 stage to celebrate the end of a saga that began 40 years ago. They were joined by nine stars from the film—returning cast members Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, and Billy Dee Williams, and newcomers to the galaxy far, far away, Naomi Ackie and Keri Russell. A brand new poster was revealed for the audience, who were also given a look back at the incredible legacy of Star Wars storytelling and treated to a sneak peek of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which opens in U.S. theaters on December 20, 2019.
Black Panther 2 (working title)
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was joined by Black Panther director and co-writer Ryan Coogler to confirm that a sequel to the blockbuster 2018 film will be released on May 6, 2022.
Marvel Studios’ The Eternals
“We’ve pulled back the cosmic curtain on the MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe] in ways you can’t imagine,” Feige said, as he brought the cast of The Eternals to the stage. Richard Madden portrays the all-powerful Ikaris; Kumail Nanjiani plays cosmic-powered Kingo; Lauren Ridloff portrays the super-fast Makkari, the first deaf hero in the MCU; Brian Tyree Henry plays the intelligent inventor Phastos; Salma Hayek plays the wise and spiritual leader Ajak; Lia McHugh portrays the eternally young, old-soul Sprite; Don Lee plays the powerful Gilgamesh; and Angelina Jolie stars as the fierce warrior Thena. Feige revealed concept art images of each character and announced three new cast members and their characters: Gemma Chan, who plays humankind-loving Sersi; Kit Harington, who was cast as non-Eternal Dane Whitman, and Barry Keoghan, who portrays aloof loner Druig, and was on hand for the event. Chloé Zhao, who helmed the critically acclaimed Sundance film The Rider, directs. The Eternals opens in U.S. theaters on November 6, 2020.
Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicks off with Black Widow, opening in U.S. theaters on May 1, 2020. Cate Shortland directs the film, which stars Scarlett Johansson, reprising her role of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, David Harbour, as Alexei the Red Guardian, and Florence Pugh, who plays Yelena. Today, Feige gave the D23 Expo audience an exclusive look at the upcoming film.
Sean Bailey, president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, kicked off a preview of upcoming releases for the studio with next summer’s Jungle Cruise, a rousing adventure inspired by the classic theme-park attraction. Star Dwayne Johnson, who plays riverboat captain Frank Wolff, “sailed” into Hall D23 aboard an original Jungle Cruise boat, introducing a “trailer” that showed off his character—so much so, that co-star Emily Blunt, who portrays Dr. Lily Houghton, arrived via classic car to share with fans her own “trailer,” offering a different perspective. Bailey laughingly informed Johnson and Blunt that neither trailer was official.
“We are keenly aware of the responsibility we have for such a beloved property, and that property is Jungle Cruise, the ride,” Johnson told fans, acknowledging the reverence fans have had for the attraction for generations. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Disney’s Jungle Cruise hits U.S. theaters on July 24, 2020.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
In the follow-up to the hit 2014 film, Maleficent, portrayed by Angelia Jolie, and her goddaughter Aurora, played by Elle Fanning, begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies and new dark forces at play. “We really pose the question and fight for the belief that what is different makes you stronger,” Jolie shared today. “And what is family and what defines family is what you believe in and how you love and what you stand for—it’s not just blood, and it’s not because you’re the same.” Jolie and Fanning were joined today at D23 Expo by Michelle Pfeiffer, who portrays Queen Ingrith, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, who stars as Connal, one of the leaders of the dark fey who becomes Maleficent’s ally. Directed by Joachim Rønning, who co-helmed 2017’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil arrives in U.S. theaters on October 18, 2019.
Niki Caro, directs Disney’s Mulan, the upcoming live-action reimagining of the 1998 classic animated film. “What drew me to this project was Mulan herself,” Caro detailed. “Her journey from village girl to male soldier to warrior to hero, I think represents all of us. And the story is as relevant and inspiring today as it was when it was first written over 1,500 years ago. In Mulan, which opens in U.S. theaters on March 27, 2020, the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders. So, the eldest daughter of an honored but ailing warrior masquerades as a man, transforming into a heroic warrior to ultimately earn her the respect of a grateful nation and a proud father.
Emma Stone and Emma Thompson star in the all-new feature film Cruella, which director Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya; The Finest Hours) brings to the big screen on May 28, 2021. Stone, who plays the iconic “Cruella,” sent D23 Expo fans a greeting from the film’s London-based set. Additionally, fans were able to get a taste of the fresh, 1970s, punk-rock approach Gillespie is bringing to the film through an image of Stone in full costume with the title character’s signature black-and-white hair.
Pixar Animation Studios Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter, making his first Expo appearance since taking the helm of the Emeryville-based studio, shared exclusive looks at Pixar’s two original films slated for release in 2020. “Sequel or original, the most important thing for us at Pixar is making films that speak to everyone,” Docter said. Soul journeys from the streets of New York City to the never-before-seen cosmic realms and “The You Seminar,” the fantastical place where we all discover our unique personalities.
Producer Dana Murray, co-director/writer Kemp Powers and writer Mike Jones joined Docter on stage, and together they set up the film for the audience and shared a sneak peek. They were joined by members of the voice cast, revealed for the first time in Hall D23: Jamie Foxx stars as Joe Gardner, a middle-school band teacher whose true passion is playing jazz; while Tina Fey is 22, a soul-in-training who has an unexpected encounter with Joe when he accidentally finds his way to the “The You Seminar.” Together, they embark upon finding a way to get Joe back to Earth, making him think again about what it truly means to have soul. Rounding out the cast—and joining Foxx and Fey today—are Ahmir Questlove Thompson as Curly; Phylicia Rashad as Libba; and Daveed Diggs as Paul. Filmmakers also revealed that globally renowned musician Jon Batiste will be writing original jazz music for the film, and Oscar® winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network), from Nine Inch Nails, will compose an original score that will drift between the real and soul worlds. Disney and Pixar’s Soul opens in U.S. theaters on June 19, 2020.
The movie, which opens in U.S. theaters on March 6, 2020, stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt as two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left in the world. Set in a modern fantasy world, Disney and Pixar’s Onward is inspired by Scanlon’s personal experiences with his brother. Holland, Pratt and Julia Louis-Dreyfus—who voices Mom in the movie—joined the filmmakers on stage—much to the delight of the audience, who watched an eight-minute clip from the film and also received an exclusive Onward poster.
Raya and the Last Dragon
“For nearly a decade, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most incredible artists and technicians in the world. And like me, they came to Disney because they were inspired and they wanted to help create the animated films of the future: adventures in completely original, fantastical worlds; stories from around the globe; and the next generation of musicals,” said Jennifer Lee, who, today, marked her first D23 Expo appearance as Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Lee presented an overview of the studio’s next two features, beginning with the Thanksgiving 2020 fantasy-action-adventure, Raya and the Last Dragon.
Directors Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins (Big Hero 6, Frozen), producer Osnat Shurer (Moana) and writer Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians) joined Lee on stage to set up the film, which introduces Raya, a lone warrior from the fantasy kingdom of Kumandra who teams up with a crew of misfits in her quest to find the Last Dragon and bring light and unity back to their world. The D23 Expo crowd was the first to get a look at the new film, viewing an exclusive three-minute piece. They also met two newly announced members of the voice cast: Awkwafina lends her voice to Sisu, the Last Dragon, who was left on Earth in case dark forces return to the world, and Cassie Steele voices the lead character, Raya. Exploring themes of community and hope, and inspired by the beautiful and diverse cultures of Southeast Asia, the fantasy-action-adventure Raya and the Last Dragon opens in U.S. theaters on November 25, 2020.
Lee, who directs Frozen 2 with Chris Buck, and wrote the screenplay, invited Buck to join her on stage as the Oscar®-winning duo revealed new details about the upcoming film, which opens in U.S. theaters on November 22. Lee and Buck shared with Disney fans that together, along Oscar®-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, they realized they still had more of Anna and Elsa’s story to tell, and that together, Frozen and Frozen 2 form one complete story.
Two new Frozen 2 cast members were introduced: Sterling K. Brown, who voices Lieutenant Destin Mattias, and Evan Rachel Wood, who voices Queen Iduna, Anna and Elsa’s mother. The crowd received an exclusive D23 Expo Frozen 2 poster and saw never-before-seen footage of the new characters, including a scene that featured Wood, as Iduna, singing to young Elsa and Anna. The song, “All Is Found,” is one of seven all-new original songs by Oscar®-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The audience also saw a sequence from the movie that showcased Elsa’s yearning for answers about the past, culminating in another song, “Into the Unknown.” The studio presentation drew to a close with a climactic performance of the song “Some Things Never Change” by Menzel, Bell, Groff and Gad that brought the audience to its feet for a spectacular finale to a truly unforgettable presentation at D23 Expo 2019.
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