Friday, August 28, 2015

D23 Expo 2015: Recap

     Hello, fellow Disnerds!   Not long ago, a conglomeration of superfans gathered to enjoy performances, costumes, and general nerdy knowledge all themed around the magical world of Disney.   This time, we'll just be covering the announcements from the event, but I suggest poking around the internet to see all the other neat events that took place.   (Here's some cool costumes to get you started.)

Disney Legends Awards

The biggest surprises of the expo came from the Disney Legends Awards, which took place on the 14th.   In case you're unaware, the Disney Legends Awards are the Disney equivalent of the Oscars.   Several men and women who have had a great positive impact on the Disney corporation are honored.   This year, the announced recipients were first Disney Ambassador Julie Reihm Casaletto, former Executive Chairman of ESPN George Bodenheimer, late Disney artist Eyvind Earle, daytime drama star Susan Lucci, Disney artist Carson Van Osten, Disney animator Andreas Deja, composer Danny Elfman, and (ever joyful) Star Wars creator George Lucas.   However, one award given was not pre-announced and was quite a surprise to the audience.   Johnny Depp, who plays Jack Sparrow, the Mad Hatter, and many other characters appeared at the end of the ceremony to receive his award.   Many Burton fans were made very proud at the event!

The Muppets ABC

At the D23 expo, there were appearances by many of The Muppets, as well as their puppeteers. They brought exciting news: The Muppets are returning to television with a show of their own starting this fall. This will be their first show since 1998.

This new incarnation of The Muppets bring us the return of Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Pepe, and more. It centers around a late night talk show, hosted by Miss Piggy herself. There's just one twist: she and Kermit the Frog are no longer together! The news hit us a few weeks ago with an eloquent statement by Miss Piggy. People were heartbroken, of course, and it was covered by the many news outlets, including Time. Could it be that we will see their reconciliation play out on the upcoming show? We shall see.

Though The Muppets reboot will bring some new ideas to the table, the idea and spirit behind it seems to be the same. Personally, I'm excited because this show will expose The Muppets to an entirely new generation. The Muppets were around when my parents were kids, and The Muppets were around when I was a kid. They've been universal, so I'm glad they aren’t stopping anytime soon. Hopefully their new show will be full of laughter, intrigue, and a whole lot of childlike fun. The Muppets premieres September 22nd on ABC, so tune in then to find out!

Upcoming Animated Films

This was my favorite part of the expo.   In this event, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Disneytoon Studios announced their upcoming films and gave updates on films coming up soon.   Firstly, directors and actors took the stage to discuss Animation Studio's Zootopia, which comes to theaters next year.   Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays bunny police officer Judy Hopps, is thrilled to join the animated Disney movie world.   You may know Goodwin from other Disney projects, such as Ramona and Beezus and Once Upon a Time.   The story thus far reminds me a bit of Artemis Fowl, because both have a small, cute police officer that could also kill you if she wanted to.

A new film announced by John Lasseter, Gigantic, is based on the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk.   It is a musical, and the songs are to be written by Frozen writers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.   I'm very excited about this one because I've been stuck watching Abbot and Costello's Jack and the Beanstalk, which is not the kind of movie you tell your friends about.   ☺ 

Moana, which comes out in 2017, is going to be the next Disney Princess film.   A few images which leaked online from this announcement prove that Disney is taking steps to use more body types and ethnic backgrounds, which makes me very glad.   (Maybe they'll start working on different looking faces now.   ☺)   Moana is based off of the stories of a legendary demigod, Maui.   Dwane "The Rock" Johnson is to play Maui.   He is the first of the cast to be announced.   We're glad to welcome him to the Disney family!

Pixar's The Good Dinosaur comes out this Thanksgiving break.   Director Peter Sohn  told fans that watching foreign films prepared him for working on this project, because they told a story without using many words.   In the same way, Dumbo told a story when  Dumbo's mom rocks  him to sleep from her prison cell.   True emotion does not come from feelings, it comes from action.   In animation, you must know how to portray emotions in this way.

No one expected anything from Finding Dory to swim its way into the announcements, but it did!   Pixar released a screenshot of the film at the event.   Several new characters were announced as well.   The film will talk about Dory's family (who are probably as forgetful as Dory, if not more so).   Ellen herself came to talk about the movie.   I think we can safely say that no one is more excited than Ellen when it comes to this film!

Lastly, Pixar announced a new film, Coco.   Coco is based off of the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.   Director Lee Unkrich describes the holiday as a family reunion that includes both living and dead members.   Despite the name of the holiday, it's not something scary or supernatural.   It's a celebration, and Coco is there to prove just that.   Also, a spoiler was told about Toy Story 4!   We already knew that this film would be a love story, but between who?   The answer: Woody and Bo Peep.   There are so many theories running through my head right now that I can hardly wait for this film to come out!

Upcoming Marvel Films

The live action part of D23 was definitely full of action and excitement!  The fun began with updates on Marvel-related films like Doctor Strange and Captain America: Civil War. Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon) and Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America) took to the stage to introduce footage a sneak peek of footage from Civil War. Chris Evans—who is known by his fans for his love for Disney—expressed his love once more by saying, “I grew up loving Disney. That’s my idea of heaven.” (Oh, Chris, you’re too cute). The footage they released for Civil War apparently showed Ironman, Ant-Man, and a surprise Easter egg only for D23. I say apparently because they haven’t yet to release any of the footage publicly (why, Disney, why????).

Upcoming Live Action Films

Next, they moved on to other productions, such as The Finest Hour. Chris Pine, who stars in the film based on true events of a Coast Guard rescue in 1952, was welcomed to the stage. Of course, they couldn’t forget to talk about next spring’s live-action Disney Classic remake: The Jungle Book! Set to release in April, they discussed their CGI techniques for the film to truly bring the classic to life. Their goal? To make the CGI so good it “disappears,” so movie-watchers feel it’s real. Some of the cast and the director appeared on the stage to give a few words. They even released a soundbite of Bill Murray singing the well-known “Bare Necessities” as Baloo (I’m not crying, you’re crying).
They released a “sizzle” of the next Wonderland movie, Alice Through the Looking Glass, which is a sequel to the 2012 movie. It’s set to release next summer in May. Another film to grace the theaters next summer is the live-action remake of Pete’s Dragon. Bryce Dallas Howard, who stars in the film, told the audience why she loves the story and is grateful for the opportunity to reintroduce the story (and dragons) to children once more.
The Queen of Katwe will star Lupita Nyong’o as a young Ugandan girl who becomes a chess master. This is the first I’ve heard of the film, and with Ms. Nyong’o starring, it promises to be a “vibrant,” wonderful story. She even stated herself how wonderful it felt to “go home” to make this movie.
It was confirmed (as if true fans didn’t already know) that the live-action Beauty and the Beast film slated for 2017 will indeed be a musical. They even showed off the cast’s singing ability with an introduction message video from the cast who did an a capella version of “Gaston.” This film will definitely be a fairy tale as old as time.
Another exciting announcement came in the form of scallywags and landlubbers—or for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Dead Men Tell No Tales! It was confirmed Orlando Bloom will be returning to the franchise to reprise his role as Will Turner (and all the fangirls screamed, right?). Johnny Depp appeared on stage in full Jack Sparrow garb as well (more fangirl screams).

Upcoming Star Wars Films

Last for the live-action panel—and certainly the one I’m most looking forward to—was the Star Wars franchise announcements. Star Wars Episode IX was confirmed to be released in 2019, directed by Colin Trevorrow (ohmygosh, ohmygosh, more Star Wars films already??? Disney, what are you doing to me?). Then they released the first cast photo for the Star Wars: Rogue One film. This film is about the team of rebels that steal the plans to the Death Star during the original trilogy events!

Then, J.J. Abrams and the cast of The Force Awakens—yes even Harrison Ford!—took to the stage to discuss various aspects of the most anticipated film of the year.

Last, they announced a new addition to the Disney Parks… and it’s Star Wars themed!! (Oh my gosh, I need to go now. Well, “now” when the build it. They need to build it now!)

Upcoming Park Attractions

Both the Florida and California parks will be harnessing the powers of the galaxy and the Force to build a new 14-acre, Star Wars land!  Complete with the opportunity to fly the Millennium Falcon (are you serious???), a full-size cantina (with roaming beasts and aliens), and new interactive stories and experiences from the films, this new land will take guests to a “galaxy far, far away.” There’s going to be a new Launch Bay opened in the next few months which will help guests prepare for The Force Awakens as well as take them through the previous six films. Next season, in 2016, will feature a re-imagined Space Mountain attraction called Hyperspace Mountain. This attraction will find guests joining an X-wing Starfighter battle! (I need to go. I need to do this.) Let’s just say, I’m now more than ever desperate to visit one of the Disney parks. Star Wars, Disney, and Marvel in one place—sign me up for a great adventures!
Besides the new Star Wars additions, Disney revealed that they plan to build a Toy Story themed land in Florida Walt Disney World's Hollywood Studios. This idea was made into an entire kingdom at Disneyland Paris, and I'm very glad they have decided to bring it to the states. The new land will let visitors see Andy's world from the perspective of one of his toys. Florida's park is also getting an expansion to their Animal Kingdom ride Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris. Plus, Animal Kingdom will be getting a new land based off the film Avatar, which will include new rides and other exciting additions. Oversees, Hong Kong is getting the first Marvel attraction to grace a Disney park: Iron Man Experience. Unfortunately, the game doesn't turn you into a billionaire (false advertising, Disney), but it will let you battle the forces of Hydra for yourself! Tron is also getting their own ride, and the beloved Soarin' (a personal favorite of mine) is getting an update that includes not only the state you are currently enjoying the park in, but places all around the world. I'm longing for another visit to Walt Disney World after these exciting announcements!

What is your favorite announcement from the D23 Expo?

(Disney Legends Awards and Upcoming Animated Films written by Anna Catherine.   The Muppets ABC written by Sky Destrian.   Upcoming Marvel Films, Upcoming Live Action Films, and Upcoming Star Wars Flims written by Jaime Heller.   Upcoming Park Attractions co-written by Jamie Heller [Star Wars] and Anna Catherine [other].)


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