D23, the big Disney fanfest, just concluded three days of programming at the Anaheim Convention Center.
There was a lot of news! New movies announced! New theme parks and attractions! Music! New versions of old favorites! And, yes, even a new emoji! (No, not of Uncle Walt…)
All of the headlines below have embedded links, which will lead you to the official Disney blogs posts. (Yes, it’s a bit light on superheroes and Marvel.) Yes, it’s all sunshine and rainbows, because, well, when the Happiest Place on Earth is a block away, it’s hard to be cynical.
To explain: Sohn talked about his immigrant parents and about how they didn’t understand the movies that he loved as a child because they didn’t speak English. But with animated Disney films, she could understand them because of their emotional content, and they would share this very powerful bond. While Sohn was talking, sketches that he had drawn of his own life flashed on the giant screen behind him. It was moving and sentimental without being sappy (like Disney•Pixar movies in general) and really set relatable bedrock for a movie that takes place in a world where the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs missed.
Moana is a young woman who sets off to discover her destiny on the open ocean. She encounters a demigod named Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson, otherwise known as The Rock) and battles ancient creatures, including an incredible character made out of molten lava. Oh, and she has a couple of adorable sidekicks in the form of a pig name Pau and an uppity rooster name Hei-Hei. It’s a story that’s totally new and yet utterly timeless, and the presentation, which included a pair of animated sequences (including one where Maui recounts his epic past and another where a young Moana wades into the ocean, who plays back with her), left us speechless (and a little weepy). After the presentation, there was a musical number from the film (composed by the team of Tony-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer Mark Mancina (The Lion King) and Opetaia Foa’i (founder and lead singer of the world music award-winning band Te Vaka).
That’s concept art from the film, above. In this version of the story, set in the Spanish Age of Discovery, Jack travels to the most new and unusual land, high above the clouds, a land populated with giants. That’s where he befriends Inma, a precocious 11-year-old giant (based on a young girl the filmmakers met on a research trip) and attempts to stop the villainous storm giants who are wreaking havoc on the giant community. It sounds incredible, and the preproduction artwork was so gorgeous that you could frame any image (like the one above), which hasn’t even been finalized or animated yet.
The husband-and-wife songwriting team have a long list of songwriting accolades to their respective names, but are most widely known for penning songs in Frozen. Their acclaimed song “Let It Go” reached the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and won both the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2014 and the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media in 2015. They also wrote seven songs for the 2011 Winnie The Pooh movie, and Kristen voiced the role of Kanga. Robert has been awarded an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award, and is the only person to have won all within a decade.
International superstar Shakira is adding a wild new addition to her list of accomplishments: she will be voicing the character of Gazelle in upcoming comedy-adventure Zootopia. The Latin songstress’ role was announced today at D23 EXPO, and it was revealed that she will sing a song for the film called “Try Something,” written by Sia and Stargate.
“It was great because it comes down to three elements: the hair, the beard, and the plaid,” [artist Truck] Torrence told us. “And so as long as I nail the hair, the beard, and the plaid, I was good. I had to finesse the hair for a while because he has that perfectly coiffed curl. So I had to really perfect that. I went through a few iterations of plaid before I figured what best suited him. But once I got all those three together, they were the holy trinity of George Lucas iconography.” Indeed they are! The Force is strong with this emoji!
I attended the Met-Pirates game on Saturday (the Mets lost, after fourteen innings). Afterwards, there was a stadium concert by Ne-Yo, lasting about an hour, featuring about seven songs. I didn’t recognize any of them, but they all had a great sound, there were teens of all diversities dancing in the seats, and he worked the infield crowd like a showman. (Not a bad way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ inventing the stadium rock concert.)
Click the headline to get a song list, and to pre-order the CD/download/whatever-the-kids-call-it-nowadays.
Avatar at Animal Kingdom! Shanghai Disneyland! Tron! Tomorrowland rebranded as a night club!
The main character in the film is a spirited 12-year-old boy named Miguel, who somehow finds himself in the fantastical realm of dead. After the brief explanation, Unkrich and Anderson treated the D23 attendees with a “diorama,” meant to express the general feeling of Coco (even though the designs might change dramatically before the movie is done). This “diorama” was incredible and visualized as a single shot moving through the mortal version of Dia de los Muertos, with people celebrating and lighting candles for the family members who have passed on, and moving into the uproarious landscape of the dead. This is where things really take off, with skeleton mariachi bands, colorful designs, and lots and lots of fun. John Lasseter described it as “breathtaking, beautiful and fun,” and based on the diorama presented, we couldn’t agree more.
Here’s what was announced in the panel: a pair of 14-acre lands that will feature creatures, characters and vehicles pulled from Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as the older films. Iger teased a Mos Eisley-style cantina, as well as the two signature attractions: one that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the Resistance and the First Order and the other that allows you pilot the most famous ship in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon. The lands will be located in both Disneyland in California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. This is very, very exciting news indeed.
It’s perfect! We previously announced that actress Amy Manson is stepping into this lass’s shoes and she couldn’t inhabit them better. Show creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis confirmed that we’ll meet Merida in episode one of the upcoming season and hinted that we’ll meet her family as well!
Brad Kane, the singing voice of Aladdin (who is also now a television writer), said that throughout the years he’s been approached to duet on a rendition of “Whole New World.” And he’s always refused… except for one time, when he told his eventual wife that, “When we get married, I will sing the song with you and you do the Jasmine part in front of the whole wedding.” And that’s exactly what happened. He said, “I sang it that one time and never again since.”
The Lion Guard, a new Disney Channel series premiering this fall following Kion, Simba and Nala’s second-born cub looks all kinds of awesome and we have an exclusive clip that just aired on stage at the D23 Expo:
3. Frozen FANdemonium was a family affair: Their daughter Annie joined them for “Fixer Upper”.
Kristen and Bobby’s daughter Annie had two lines in “Fixer Upper,” and she nailed them. (She also happened to be adorable).
3. Things got pretty wild for one filmmaker in particular during one of the safaris. Nate Warner, director of cinematography for layout, was bitten by an ostrich, nipped by a zebra, and clawed by a cheetah, earning him the nickname: “Nate the Bait.”
Ginnifer Goodwin, who:
- plays Mary Margaret Blanchard/Snow White in the ABC series Once Upon a Time.
- married her “Prince Charming” on TV and in real life!
- voices Lieutenant Judy Hopps in the upcoming animated feature Zootopia.
- frequently visits Disneyland incognito.
- is one of Tinkerbell’s friends.
- is the Royal Inventor of Enchancia.
I’ve been writing for The Beat since July of 2010.
I’ve been reading comics since 1974, collecting since 1984, and spreading the graphic novel gospel since 1994.
I’m a bookseller, a librarian, an amateur scholar, a cool uncle, and a comics evangelist.
Ask me anything!