This past weekend was Disney’s bi-annual D23 Expo in Anaheim. While much of the internet was on fire over the weekend of the lack of any new Episode VII information, this was still the best Expo since the original in 2009.
Those who didn’t attend the Expo and only got their information from angry people on Social Media may think there was no Star Wars presence at the show at all, and that isn’t the case. There just wasn’t any new information about Episode VII. Lucasfilm was focused on first at the Live Action panel on Saturday, but Alan Horn just reiterated what’s already been announced.
There was also a very large Darth Vader Evolution of a Villain display at the Disney Consumer Products booth, and Star Wars had a definite presence in the Journey into Imagineering pavilion with “Orange Harvest” teasers for Florida’s Hollywood Studios Star Wars expansion.
The first day of D23 kicked off with the animation presentation by John Lasseter. He unveiled Pixar’s 2014 “The Good Dinosaur”, 2015’s “Inside Out” and “Finding Dory”, and showed the crowd the hilarious Monsters University short that will go out with “The Good Dinosaur” and the amazing new Mickey short that we’ll see with “Frozen” this November.
Pixar’s stuff looks great, as expected, but as a lifetime fan of the original Disney animation studio; what they’re working on has be really excited. They showed a lot about “Frozen”, which was previously “The Snow Queen”. I originally was worried that this was just going to be “A Tangled Christmas” due to the similarity in the character designs, but this is something different.
If “Tangled” could be considered Feature Animation’s new “Little Mermaid”, then “Frozen” would be the new “Beauty and the Beast”. Many felt that “Tangled” brought back that long-lost fairy tale that’s been missing from Feature Animation just as Mermaid did so many years ago. It was a promising start to what could be a Third Golden Age for Walt’s original animation studio, and based on what they showed us of “Frozen”, I believe we’re in for an amazing few years from them.
Also, based on the song that was sung live for the Arena, the Best Original Song Academy Award is locked down.
Lasseter then said he was going to announce the 2016 movie from Walt Disney Animation Studios (what the official name for Feature Animation is now). As Feature Animation is working on “Giants” and “Zootopia” for 2016, I wasn’t sure which they’d be announcing. It was “Zootopia” from the “Tangled” directors, who came out with concept art to explain the world the movie would be set in. There was no confirmation whether or not Jason Bateman would be playing the Fox main character as previously rumored.
With Zootopia unveiled, that means at the 2015 Expo we’ll likely see Giants and then they’ll hopefully bring out Ron Clements and John Musker to talk about “Moana”. That 2018 Polynesian story is rumored to be animated with the same Meander software that was used on “Paperman”.
Disneytoon Studios is known as the “cheapquel” or direct-to-video studio, but when Lasseter took over animation he really turned them around. They’ve been churning out some quality direct to video movies with the girl-focused Tickerbell discs, and are now trying to lure boys with the “Planes” movies.
The Planes film in theaters now doesn’t really look that great, but the “Fire and Rescue” sequel they unveiled at the presentation does. The studio is also working on two new Fairy movies, and one of them (“The Pirate Fairy”) is actually one I want to see as it deals with Captain Hook when he wasn’t yet a captain.
Following the Arena presentation on Friday, I spent the rest of the day in the couple Imagineering-related panels of the day such as Marty Sklar’s. My friends and I are huge Disneyland amateur historians, so we had to see all of Marty’s panels this past weekend.