One panel I was really looking forward to was the Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar one hosted by John Lasseter. John came out sporting the new addition to his 500+ collection of custom printed Hawaiian shirts, which featured adorable Tsum Tsums. What better way to get the panel started than using a bazooka to fire giveaways of this very shirt (retailing $99 at D23) into the audience!
The animation of Disney goes back to 1923, which is where the fan club name D23 came from. However, Walt Disney Animation Studios has changed from management driven to filmmaker driven. “It’s back because of its people,” according to John. We were given a not-so-quick summary of the upcoming animated movie slate and it looks good, really good. The animation in all of them is amazing!
Upcoming Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Films
Zootopia is coming March 4, 2016. This film follows natural enemies, a rabbit and a fox, as they aim to make things right. One believes anyone can be anything while the other believes you will always be who you are. They find out that, yes, we are who we are but, if you can look past that, maybe you can be more. This will feature music by Shakira, who plays Gazelle.
The filmmakers went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom as well as Kenya to research the animals they were animating. Deep research was done so that even the polar bears are given clear fur instead of white, a fact discovered along the way. They also copied the movement and behavior of each animal as much as possible. This is reflected the land of Zootopia which was designed to be for animals, by animals.
Currently in production is Gigantic, a definitive version of Jack and the Beanstalk. This larger than life film is set in Spain during the Age of Discovery. Jack discovers a whole world of giants and is befriended (tortured) by 11-year-old female giant, based on a real little girl the team met while researching in Spain. The Lopez duo, the ones behind the hits of Frozen, are back for Gigantic.
Moana (pronounced moh-ana) is the new film set in the Polynesian islands and draws upon local folklore. The art is gorgeous and follows the story of a young woman who is determined to bring the ancient tradition of navigating the seas back to her people. The Rock made a special appearance, as he voices the demi-god Maui, and we were treated to a live performance of music and dance.
Coming to the Blu-ray of Inside Out is the animated short, Riley’s First Date. We were able to see the world premiere of this. The parents’ reactions are priceless throughout. Can’t wait to see this again!
The second Pixar film this year is The Good Dinosaur. The story is about a dinosaur and his boy, instead of a boy and his dog. The dinosaur loses his family and sets off to find them along with his pet boy named Spot. The realism of the animation is jaw-dropping!
The biggest supporter of a Finding Nemo sequel, Ellen DeGeneres, comes back to voice of Dory in Finding Dory. This time Dory has a flashback and finally remembers her family. As she sets off to find them in Monterey, California, along with Marlin and Nemo, they meet a whole slew of new characters that all have, well, issues. However, Finding Dory is really about taking your shortcomings and turning them into strengths.
The upcoming film about Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) will be called COCO. Not too much information was given about this except for a preview of some celebration on both sides of life and death.
Happy 20th Anniversary Toy Story!
The panel ended with news about Toy Story 4. After all, this is the 20th anniversary of the first movie and a great way to celebrate. John Lasseter himself is going to be directing Toy Story 4. The only way Pixar was going to make another sequel was if it was a worthy story and if it could top Toy Story 3.
Planned as a love story, Woody and Buzz head out to search for Bo Peep. Yep, it seems another winner is in the works! Randy Newman will be bringing music to Toy Story 4 and treated us to a performance of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”
Whew, there are a lot of animated movies in the works from Walt Disney Animated Studios and Pixar. The Good Dinosaur, Gigantic, and Toy Story 4 are at the top of my list.
Which animated films are you looking forward to?
I was invited on an all-expense paid media trip as a guest of Disney in honor D23 Expo. Images are courtesy of Walt Disney Studios. All opinions are my own.