Now that another Disney+ Day has come and gone, we can get on to the meat of Disney’s big weekend: The D23 Expo, where the greatest fans in the world can get a look at the stuff they’ve already seen before but now reimagined.
Kicking off the day was Cynthia Orivio, our new Blue Fairy, who reminded the audience that there was a new version of Pinnochio currently being memory-holed on Disney+. Continuing the theme that these sorts of things were now the order of the day, Disney Studios chairman Alan Bergman took the stage to remind us that these reimaginings, such as The Lion King, Beauty And The Beast, Cinderella, and Cruella, were “iconic.” We assume he meant that the movies use “iconic imagery,” but regardless, more of these iconic reimaginings and sequels are coming down the pike.
Bergman then brought Walt Disney Studios president Sean Bailey out to take us through the upcoming ways they’re reviving old brands.
First up were the sequels. Hocus Pocus 2 debuts later this month, and since we already shared the trailer, we’ll move on to the other big sequel announcement: Disenchanted. Don’t get it twisted with Matt Groening’s Netflix comedy Disenchantment. This is a sequel to the wonderful Amy Adams comedy Enchanted from 2007. The whole cast is back, including Adams, Patrick Dempsey,
Adele Dazeem Idina Menzel, and James Marsden. They’ve upped the ante by adding a Maya Rudolph, too. And now, there’s a trailer.
Disenchanted lands on Disney+ on November 24, 2022.
The presentation was done round-robin style, with Bailey shuffling VIPs on stage for about five minutes, playing a clip, and then shuffling them off. So next up, Jude Law and the cast of Peter Pan & Wendy took the stage.
Directed by David Lowery, who directed one of the best films of 2021, The Green Knight, and Disney’s delightful remake of Pete’s Dragon, Peter Pan seems a bit more stylish than the other movies announced today. It’s still filled with nostalgic images pulled straight from the Disney vault, but also a distinct visual style, location shooting, and a fish-eye lens that won’t quit. So how will this differ from literally every other revisionist Peter Pans from the last 20 years? Those got theatrical releases.
Our new Captain Hook, Jude Law, said that this version gets into the “backstory a little more” when Peter and Hook “were once friends.” But, again, it remains to be seen how this one will differentiate itself from the numerous other Peter Pans.
Perhaps the trickiest aspect of the movie is Tiger Lily, a character that hasn’t been treated with much respect by Disney in the past. Nevertheless, newcomer Alyssa Wapanatâhk said she was very “excited to have the honor” of playing Tiger Lily. “To be able to tell the story for her, that was phenomenal for me.”
Peter Pan & Wendy [sigh] hits Disney+ next year.
After pushing Peter Pan back to Neverland, Sean Bailey introduced the trailer of The Haunted Mansion and announced that Winona Rider was joining the cast. Director (and former Disneyland employee) Justin Simin also mentioned that “according to TikTok,” Jared Leto is playing the Hatbox Ghost. We await the horror stories from his fellow castmates about how hard he tried to fit into a hatbox for the role. But really, this one is for the real Hatbox heads.
“That script was funny and filled with interesting characters, but it had a little bit of like a dark edge to it,” Simin told the crowd at D23. “I just really related to it. I felt like I knew how to make it. I felt like I understood New Orleans. And, of course, I’m a fanboy. So I felt like I understood the ride, and I felt like I got a responsibility here to make sure all the little details, all the Easter eggs are there because I’m a nerd for real.”
Bailey brought out Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins for a sneak peek of Mufasa: The Lion King. Jon Favreau’s The Lion King made over a billion dollars, so that means people liked it. However, the “live action” animation in Mufasa probably won’t convert anyone turned off by the last trip to Pride Lands. Still, then again, Barry Jenkins is very good at making movies. Here’s what Barry Jenkins said about the film:
Mufasa is the origin story of one of the greatest beings in the history of the alliance. Mufasa, all caps. It’s a story told in a few different time frames. Rafiki, Timon, and Pumbaa, who we all know and love, are relating the story of Mufasa and how he came to a very beautiful, awesome, fantastic young cub. It’s a story about how Mufasa rose to royalty. We assume he was just born into his lineage. But Mufasa was actually an orphaned cub, who had to navigate the world alone. And in telling this story, we get to experience the real journey of how Mufasa found his place and the circle of life. It is pretty awesome.
I felt I had to make this movie because when I was 14, I was helping raise two nephews. And there was a VHS tape that we watched maybe 95 times in the span of 20 days. So I really knew this character. I loved him. But then as I was reading this wonderful script, I was thinking about Mufasa and why he’s great and how people become great. And it’s crazy. I am not a king, but when I make my movies, I was on stage at the Oscars with Moonlight, and I was there and five of my best friends from college were also there. And what you are learning the story is that Mufasa is who he is. He is great because of the family and the friends he has with them. And so I saw myself in that. I thought, this is a really beautiful story to tell.
For Marc Webb’s Snow White, Gal Gadot and Rachel Zegler took the stage to show some footage. There are no dwarves yet—and seeing as they were cut from the title, who knows what their role will be. Thus far, it looks similar to the other remakes, recreating the look of the animated classic. But we’ll need to see Dopey to know how scary this thing is going to look.
Similarly, Rob Marshall invited Halley Bailey on stage to show off The Little Mermaid teaser and a clip of “Part Of Your World.” It doesn’t look like all the effects are done yet, but right now, it’s reminiscent of Avatar and the “merman” commercial from Zoolander. On the other hand, Marshall did promise four new songs from Alan Menkin and Lin Manuel Miranda, so that’s something.
The director of The Good Dinosaur, Peter Sohn, is back, and he brought some clips and concept art for the next Pixar movie Elemental. Sohn described the film as “very personal” and that the germ of the idea came from his parents. “We immigrated to the U.S. from Korea in the early seventies,” Sohn said. “They had no money, no family, no English. But they managed to create a life in New York.”
Similarly, Elemental files a “fire family” assimilating in Element City, “where Earth, air, water, and fire are characters in our community.”
More Pixar is coming in 2023 as we got a little more information on Win Or Lose, the studio’s first television series. The show stars Will Forte as the coach of a ragtag little league baseball team, the Pickles, and the week leading up to their big game. Each episode will focus on a different character’s perspective, allowing for various animation styles.
Disney Animation Studios will not be outdone. Today, they showed clips of their upcoming series Zootopia+ and Iwájú.
Zootopia+ is a six-part series that, like Win Or Lose, focuses on a different character and genre in each episode with various animation styles—some of which look really cool and others like Pixar.
On the other hand, Iwájú is a downright historic collaboration between Disney and an outside animation studio. Jennifer Lee, the Chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios, retold the story of how she had read about a Nigerian animation studio that was going to take down Disney. So she did like many Disney execs before her and bought the competition.
With the team from Kugali, Disney will premiere the futuristic sci-fi series Iwájú next year.
Finally, Lee brought out the cast from their upcoming 61st animated feature, Strange World. Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White, and Lucy Liu star in an outer space adventure about a dysfunctional group of explorers. This one comes out on November 23.
“Our film is inspired by some of the great adventure stories that we grew up with,” said co-director Don Hall. “Specifically stories about a group of explorers that stumble upon a hidden world.”
What are we most excited to discover? Jaboukie Young-White’s character, Ethan Clave, which Young-White described as “the vibe master” who makes “the vibe great.”
And that’s everything from the D23 Expo Disney Animation Studios and Pixar presentation. Check back tomorrow when Disney tries to bury us under a mountain of Star Wars and Marvel announcements.