A excited crowd of roughly 8000 people were treated to some exclusive Disney Pixar footage and announcements this Friday, with chief creative officer of Walt Disney and its animation studio, John Lasseter, leading the event. Known as D23, the expo is essentially Disney’s bi-annual version of San Diego Comic-Con, giving fans the opportunity to participate in a variety of exhibits, panel events, and interactive shows, accompanied by on-stage performances and a huge amount of merchandise.
Lasseter introduced several clips from projects that Pixar is currently working on and talked extensively about upcoming projects that they – as well as their fans – are looking very forward seeing complete, including the ‘Finding Nemo’ sequel Finding Dory, Toy Story 4, The Good Dinosaur, and many new titles that aren’t in the spotlight as much (yet).
A film by the name of ‘Gigantic’ was previewed, giving the audience a look at some art stills and a listen to some of the movie’s great music written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez of Frozen fame. The studio is effectively trying to make a definitive version of the classic ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ fairy-tale, crafting a story that features an entire civilization of giants that live in the sky and what happens when a young 20-metre tall girl comes face to face with Jack after he climbs the beanstalk.
“We’re taking parts of the story we all remember and adding twists and turns, emotion and humour.” said director Nathan Greno.
Then fans were treated to clips from the new movie Zootopia, which is set to hit theatres in Feburary. The film centers around a world inhabited by talking animals and features artist Shakira as the voice of a singing Gazelle. It also stars Ginnifer Goodwin and Justin Bateman playing the main characters – a rabbit and a fox.
More information was also given about the next instalment of the Toy Story series, with the fourth film said to be prominently focusing on the love story between Woody and Bo Peep, a relationship that has been surprisingly ill-explored in the previous Toy Story movies.
“It’s the 20th anniversary of the original Toy Story,” expressed Lasseter. “I’m sorry to make you feel old.”
Lasseter explained that we will follow Woody and Buzz as they travel into the world to find Bo Peep, and even brought Randy Newman on-stage to close the presentation with a performance of the classic theme “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”.
Perhaps the most interesting looking endeavour, though, was the sneak-peak of the upcoming ‘Moana‘, a movie about a Polynesian princess who sets off on a dangerous journey to explore the Pacific Ocean in order to prove her adventurous ability to her family. Wrestler turned actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson appeared on stage to a roaring applause to help promote the film, as he voices the demi-god and side-character Maui. Moana is looking at a release somewhere in November 2016.
“I’m half Samoan, half black, so to tell a story inspired by the South Pacific is a great honour,” said Johnson.
Furthermore, we were given some test footage and info on ‘Coco‘, a film inspired by the Mexican tradition known as ‘Day of the Dead’, which will follow a brave 12 year old boy named Miguel who is said to go on an adventure that changes his life forever. Then we were given a look at some clips from Finding Dory, with star Ellen Degeneres coming on stage alongside other cast members like director Andrew Stanton, Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, Kaitlin Olson and co-director Angus MacLane. The audience also got to see an early version of the soon-to-hit-theatres ‘The Good Dinosaur’, as well as a short-film based off of Inside Out called ‘Riley’s First Date‘, which again goes into Riley’s head to see how her emotions tick, only this time during her first date.
Needless to say it was quite an eventful expo, and that was only day one! D23 continues into Sunday, with tons of Disney’s other divisions getting their chance to build up some hype in conjunction with Pixar Animation.