Walt Disney Studios just completed their huge Saturday presentation, “Let The Adventures Begin: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios.” It was an exciting event filled with first looks at upcoming Disney live action films, as well as some surprising celebrity guests, and even a show-ending musical number. Take a look at what went down today.
“In the universe of fans, you are a very special group.” So started the presentation, hosted by Alan Horn, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.
Things began with Alan welcoming Lucasfilm to the Disney Family, and telling the audience that Episode VII will be released in the summer of 2015, with standalone films set in the Star Wars universe to follow. The first notable announcement has been that John Williams will score Episode VII.
“I really wish I could tell you more,” he said, as a clip of Darth Vader appeared above him. “But there are dark forces.”
Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, then took the stage to talk about Marvel’s upcoming film slate.
First up, Thor: The Dark World. Tom Hiddleston, the actor who portrays fan-favorite character Loki, came out onto the stage. “I didn’t bring the costume, but I did bring some friends,” announced Hiddleston, as he was joined by actress Natalie Portman and actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, who received a standing ovation from the crowd. A never-before-seen clip from the film was shown, in which Jane (Natalie Portman) arrives for the first time on Asgard.
The film releases November 8, 2013.
Then it was time for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Actors Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie, and Sebastian Stan came out onto the stage to greet their fans. In an especially fun moment, Chris, who plays the titular Captain America, asked the audience if anyone wanted to go with him to Disneyland after D23 today. An exclusive never-before-seen clip of the film was also shown just for the D23 audience.
In theaters April 4, 2014.
Continuing the Marvel rollout, Guardians of the Galaxy was the next film in the spotlight. Just four weeks into shooting, the audience was treated to some early footage of this epic sci-fi superhero film starring an incredible ensemble cast including Chris Pratt, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro, and Zoe Saldana.
The film is slated for an August 1, 2014 release.
Lastly in the Marvel lineup, it was Avengers: Age of Ultron, due to be released in 2015. A teaser clip was shared for this follow-up to the immensely popular Avengers film.
Then Alan Horn returned to introduce Disneynature’s Bears, Disney’s next True Life Adventure featuring a year in the life of two mother bears and their cubs, set against a gorgeous Alaskan backdrop.
Bears arrives in theaters April 18, 2014, to celebrate Earth Day.
President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production Sean Bailey took his turn on stage presenting films for Walt Disney Studios.
First up, Muppets: Most Wanted. After showing footage from the film, actor Ty Burrell, who plays Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon, came out onto the stage driving a tiny, tiny car, to talk about the film. “Firstly”, he remarked, “if there are any French people here, I apologize.” He was followed by a live feed of Miss Piggy, Kermit, and Tina Fey, who plays Nadya in the film, and more footage from the film.
Muppets Most Wanted hits the big screen March 21, 2014.
The upcoming Into The Woods received the next announcements. That film, a musical based on a fantasy world filled with classic fairy tale characters, will be directed by Rob Marshall and will star Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, and Emily Blunt.
The film is slated for a December 2014 holiday release.
Then it was time to share a bit of the upcoming live action Cinderella, directed by Kenneth Branagh. The crowd got the chance to see some very exclusive early screen tests featuring actress Lily James as Cinderella and concept art of the famous Pumpkin Coach. The film will also feature Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, and Helena Bonham Carter.
Disney’s live-action version of the classic fairy tale opens in theaters on March 13, 2015.
Next was Maleficent, and two very big moments for the crowd at the D23 Expo: we finally got to take a look at footage from the film, and it’s star, Angelina Jolie, took the stage.
Jolie, who will be playing the Mistress of Evil herself, spoke about her love of the character. “She was just wonderfully, deliciously cruel.” Speaking for the creative team, Jolie told the audience, “We had to push it as far as we could, but stay true to the original, and we hope we did.” So far that a child on set once begged his mother, “Mommy, please tell the mean witch to stop talking to me.”
Jolie’s own daughter Vivienne portrays a young Aurora in the film, which was Jolie’s first for Disney. The star shared some thoughts with the attendees. “It’s something different than anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s so special to be a part of this family.”
Maleficent opens in theaters on July 2, 2014.
As hard as that might be to follow, the Disney live-action presentation didn’t hold back. Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof’s team effort Tomorrowland was the next film to be featured. In introducing the duo, Bailey recalled Walt Disney’s own imagination. “Walt was someone who believed in the impossible, especially if it was something that would make the world better,” he told the crowd. The film will be a mystery adventure, and Bird and Lindelof put the focus on the mystery for this presentation. The pair brought out a box to the stage labelled “1952,” which was found in the Disney archives and contained a number of objects, such as a doctored photo of Walt with pioneering pilot Amelia Earhart, dated after her famous disappearance. Also, issues of “Amazing Stories,” with a device for encoding messages into them, and a disc that played a short animation focused on the themes of progress and hope for the future. This box was the inspiration for the film itself, which will star George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, and Thomas Robinson.
The action-packed adventure hits theaters December 12, 2014.
Last up, it was Saving Mr. Banks, the story of Walt Disney’s collaboration with author P.L. Travers and the creation of the film Mary Poppins. “It’s a film that for the first time ever will bring a story from Walt Disney’s personal experience to the screen,” noted Bailey. The audience got to watch two extended clips, and were greeted by two of the film’s stars, Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak, who portray the famous songwriting duo and Mary Poppins composers, the Sherman Brothers. Novak spoke of working with Richard Sherman, saying that “One of the most incredible things about making the movie was getting to meet Richard Sherman and getting to play the songs with him in the room.”
“He’s beyond a Disney Legend,” added Schwartzman. “He’s a human legend.” The two then left the stage and returned with a piano, only to be joined by Richard Sherman himself, who sang “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” with them as dancers came onto the stage and confetti fell.
Not a bad way to end a presentation!
“Saving Mr. Banks” releases in theaters December 13, 2013, limited, December 20, 2013, wide.
If you also want to know what got announced for Disney’s animated film slate, make sure to read Oh My Disney’s article, D23 Expo Animation Panel: What You Need to Know, for all of the big news about Zootopia, Inside Out, and more!
And for more on the D23 Expo, visit D23.com.