Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, and Disney rolled out their live-action film slates at D23 Expo 2017. Executives did not come empty handed – surprise video clips were wrapped up in the unveiling.
“At The Walt Disney Studios, we could not do what we do without the support of the many Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars fans around the world,” said Alan Horn, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. “We feel like our fans are a part of the family, and the D23 Expo is our chance to give a little something extra back to them.”
After welcoming the crowd to D23 Expo 2017, Horn introduced Sean Bailey, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, to present overviews of the Disney live-action slate. Later Horn returned to the stage to introduce writer/director Rian Johnson for a look at Lucasfilm’s upcoming film and ended by introducing Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, for a rousing presentation to close the event.
A recap of the live-action presentation follows.
A Wrinkle in Time
Sean Bailey welcomed “A Wrinkle in Time” cast members Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Chris Pine along with newcomer Storm Reid and visionary director Ava DuVernay to the D23 stage, where they thrilled fans with a first look at the film’s teaser trailer and teaser poster. The film, which is an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic, takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and ultimately, the triumph of love.
Directed by Ava DuVernay from a screenplay by Jennifer Lee based upon the beloved novel by Madeleine L’Engle, “A Wrinkle in Time” is produced by Jim Whitaker and Catherine Hand with Doug Merrifield serving as executive producer. The film also stars: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peña, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, André Holland and Rowan Blanchard, with Zach Galifianakis.
“A Wrinkle in Time” opens nationwide March 9, 2018.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Sean Bailey shared with D23 Expo 2017 fans Disney’s all-new take on a classic story in “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.” Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, newcomer Mackenzie Foy as Clara, Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger, Morgan Freeman as godfather Drosselmeyer, and featuring a special performance by Misty Copeland, the movie is inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale.
The film largely takes place in a strange and mysterious parallel world—home to Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. But it’s the ominous Fourth Realm where Clara must take on a tyrant called Mother Ginger as well as a gang of mice who’ve stolen a coveted key from Clara.
Said Bailey, “The Mouse King is made up of thousands of mice—a cutting-edge CG creation. But we wanted him to move in a way that would be wonderfully surprising and incredibly cool, so we called on Lil Buck to provide the style of dance that defines the character. He is so talented and the way he makes this character move is unbelievable.”
Los Angeles-based dancer Lil Buck hit the stage at D23 Expo 2017 to demonstrate the kind of street dancing—called jookin—that informed the way his character moves in the film. The performance earned a standing ovation.
“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is directed by Lasse Hallström and produced by Mark Gordon and Larry Franco. The film will open in U.S. theaters on Nov. 2, 2018.
Mary Poppins Returns
To the delight of D23 fans, Emily Blunt, the star of Disney’s sequel “Mary Poppins Returns,” took to the stage with director/producer Rob Marshall to talk about the eagerly-anticipated return of the practically-perfect nanny. In this original musical sequel to the 1964 “Mary Poppins.”
Blunt and Marshall answered questions from Sean Bailey, with Blunt offering insight on how she made the character her own. “I needed to try to pay homage to Julie Andrews, but carve out a new space for myself,” said Blunt. “And we were very loyal to the books.” Rob Marshall shared, “I was incredibly honored to be approached by Disney about directing a sequel. This is a brand-new original film musical from top to bottom, which is very rare, and it is a wonderful opportunity to create something specifically for the screen.” D23 attendees were then treated to an exclusive first look at the film, which was accompanied by a live orchestra performing original new music from the film conducted by composer Marc Shaiman, eliciting thunderous applause.
“Mary Poppins Returns” will be released in U.S. theaters on Dec. 25, 2018.
Bailey confirmed and revealed new films underway at the studio:
- “Mulan,” a live-action take on Disney’s 1998 feature, which will be helmed by Niki Caro (“McFarland, USA,” “Whale Rider”).
- “Jungle Cruise,” a live-action nod to the popular theme park ride. The studio is working with Dwayne Johnson, recently heard as Maui in “Moana,” on the project.
- “Aladdin,” directed by Guy Ritchie, with Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Jasmine and Will Smith as the Genie.
- D23 Expo 2017 fans were greeted from across the pond by visionary filmmaker Tim Burton, who is busy directing his next project—a live-action reimagining of Disney’s 1941 animated classic “Dumbo.” “’Dumbo’ was always one of my favorite Disney films,” said Burton. “We’re trying to give it the same heart, feeling and emotion that we all loved about the original.”
The film stars Colin Farrell as Holt Farrier, a former circus star and war-veteran charged with the care of a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock of an already struggling circus. Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins were cast as Holt’s children, who discover that Dumbo can fly. Danny DeVito portrays circus owner Max Medici who tries to capitalize on the novelty. And Michael Keaton is persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere who swoops in with aerial artist Colette Marchant, portrayed by Eva Green, to make Dumbo a star. “Dumbo” is slated for release on March 29, 2019.
- Alan Horn joined Bailey to surprise the D23 Expo crowd with a special look at director Jon Favreau’s new live-action take on Disney’s 1994 classic animated film “The Lion King.” The technology team behind the movie are introducing all-new filmmaking techniques that promise striking visuals never before seen on the big screen—bringing celebrated characters to life in a whole new way. Favreau’s live-action version of “The Lion King” is slated for theaters on July 19, 2019.
- Alan Horn welcomed Rian Johnson, the writer and director of the latest chapter in the Skywalker saga, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Johnson thrilled the audience by introducing talent from the film, including Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro. The audience was then treated to a special sneak peek of behind-the-scenes footage from the highly anticipated movie. Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in U.S. theaters on Dec. 15, 2017.
- For the finale, Horn brought Kevin Feige to the stage for Marvel Studios’“Avengers: Infinity War.” To start the ball rolling, Feige unveiled the Marvel Studios’ official 10th anniversary logo to the excited audience. Marvel Studios’ 10th anniversary begins with the release of “Avengers: Infinity War” and covers an impressive decade of Marvel Studios’ blockbusters released from 2008 through the “Avengers” untitled film in 2019. “Avengers: Infinity War” releases in U.S. theaters on May 4, 2018.
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