Behind The Scenes of Disney’s D23

Behind The Scenes of Disney’s D23: Disney Teases Upcoming Animated Movies at D23 Expo

By Elora Powell, Contributing Writer

Disney teased an action-packed reel of its upcoming animated movies Friday to a packed hall at the Anaheim Convention Center, located right across from Disneyland in Calif. The audience response was energetic and enthusiastic to the program, titled “Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios:  The Upcoming Films.”

Disney Chairman Alan Horn responded in kind. “It makes me want to be sure we always deliver the very best films to you,” he said.

Horn spoke briefly before introducing the master of ceremonies, and Disney Animation and Pixar’s chief creative officer, John Lasseter. He described the revered animation studios under the Disney brand as “always pushing the envelope of this time-honored medium.”

John Lasseter arrived on the Hall D23 stage and began by shooting off some of his iconic Hawaiian tees to lucky audience members. He began a survey of the upcoming animated films coming from Disney with a brief clip of an as-of-yet untitled movie in the works at Disney Toons Studios.

Lasseter described the studio as “hard at work to re-invent the studio and elevate the storytelling to new heights.”

The clip was an exhilarating rush of flight and sound, with character design reminiscent of the CARS spinoff, PLANES. The untitled film, revolving around the idea of the future of aviation, is set to be released April 12, 2019.

Lasseter moved onto the developments happening in the Walt Disney Animation Studio.

“We have many stories in the works, with new characters in new worlds.” However, for the convention, the studio brought out some clips set in more familiar context, with beloved characters. First, the crowd got a sample of a 21-minute short, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” which will be released in theaters this November with Pixar’s COCO. The short will feature four new songs, and the original cast members from FROZEN in a heart-warming Christmas adventure. Walt Disney Animation brought out stars Kristen Bell and Josh Gad for a live performance of one of the songs, and some on-stage banter. The yet-untitled FROZEN sequel was teased as well, with a reel from the animation team’s research trip to Norway, Iceland and Finland.

Also from Walt Disney Animation, WRECK-IT RALPH 2:  RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET was promoted.

Actress Sarah Silverman, who plays Vanellope von Schweetz, brought out a host of guest stars, including Auli‘i Cravalho (MOANA), Kristen Bell (Anna), Kelly MacDonald (Merida), Mandy Moore (Rapunzel), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana), Irene Bedard (“Pocahontas”), Linda Larkin (Jasmine), Paige O’Hara (Belle), and Jodi Benson (Ariel) who cameo as their original Disney princess characters in the movie.

After audience excitement over the surprise appearance of the princesses died down, Lasseter said, “We weren’t sure how we were going to follow that up.”

He didn’t disappoint however, when he announced the long-awaited INCREDIBLES sequel from Pixar. The audience was treated to some clips of the new models of the Parr family, and was introduced to the cast, which remained the previous movie, aside from a new, young actor, Huck Milner, playing Dash.

Lasseter explained the appeal of the INCREDIBLES series:

“What separates THE INCREDIBLES from other superhero films is that it’s fundamentally a story about family – they just happen to have superpowers.”

INCREDIBLES 2 is scheduled to hit theaters in the summer of 2018.

Another beloved Pixar franchise is returning in the summer of 2019, TOY STORY 4. John Lasseter introduced the new director of the film, Josh Cooley, who introduced his team with a fast-paced, goofy video.

Director Dan Scanlon came on stage next, to pitch a previously unannounced Pixar movie.  He described the untitled movie as a “suburban fantasy.” The movie is inspired by Scanlon’s own life, and tells the story of two brothers searching for a connection with a father they never knew.

The event ended with a grand spectacle promoting Pixar’s COCO, which comes out in theaters November 22.

After the audience watched a few clips of the movie, stars Anthony Gonzalez and Benjamin Bratt came out to serenade them with the song “Remember Me” from the movie. They were joined on stage by Ballet Folklorico de Los Angeles, directed by Kareli Montoya, and Grammy Winners Divas de Cindy Shea and Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band, as orange, petal shaped confetti (the petals are a prominent symbol of the movie) rained down.

Disney also showed clips of a couple of its upcoming live-action movies, including A WRINKLE IN TIME, based on the classic children’s book, a science fantasy novel, by Madeleine L’Engle.

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