Kit Harington joins the cast of Marvel's The Eternals (courtesy kitharingtonn)
On Saturday, the main stage of the on-going Disney expo D23 was packed with over 6,000 fans, who were eagerly waiting for the big announcements at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim. Disney didn't disappoint, they gave fans a lot more than they were expecting. The films that were announced were from across the network, which includes Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, Disney Live-Action, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Apart from announcing various films from different franchise, fans also got a preview of the already announced films Frozen 2, Stars Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker and Black Widow.
Director Ryan Coogler confirmed that Black Panther 2 (working title) will release on May 6, 2022. Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, who were on stage together, will be voicing the lead characters in Disney Pixar's Onward. Tom Holland didn't disappoint fans. Before leaving the stage he took the mic and said, "It's been a crazy week, and I love you all from the bottom of my heart, and I love you 3,000!" Fans are now hoping this is a good sign which may end the feud between Sony and Disney over the Spider-Man franchise and that he can continue to be seen with the Avengers.
Disney also announced Raya And The Last Dragon, which will star Cassie Steele and Crazy Rich Asians standout Awkwafina. It's slated to release on November 25, 2020.
Alan Horn, co-chairman and chief creative officer, The Walt Disney Studios – joined by Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy, Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige, Disney Live Action's Sean Bailey, Pixar's Pete Docter and Disney Animation's Jennifer Leo – offered guests a captivating look at Disney's upcoming film slate, including never-before-seen footage and a host of stars, plus a spectacular performance from Frozen 2 voice cast members Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad.
Here are the highlights:
President of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director/writer/producer J.J. Abrams showcased the conclusion to the Skywalker saga. Kennedy and Abrams revved up the audience, introducing nine stars from the film – many of whom marked this as their first D23 Expo appearance: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran and Billy Dee Williams, plus special appearances from R2-D2, BB-8 and the new droid D-O. A brand-new poster was revealed. And all were given a look back at the incredible legacy of Star Wars storytelling and treated to a sneak peek of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, which opens in U.S. theaters on Dec. 20, 2019.
Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, kicked off his presentation with a surprise visit from Black Panther director and co-writer Ryan Coogler. Together, they revealed that Black Panther 2 (working title) will hit U.S. theatres on May 6, 2022.
Feige also announced The Eternals inviting cast members from the much-anticipated film to the stage: Richard Madden, who portrays the all-powerful Ikaris; Kumail Nanjiani, who plays cosmic-powered Kingo; Lauren Ridloff, who portrays the super-fast Makkari, the first deaf hero in the MCU; Brian Tyree Henry, who plays the intelligent inventor Phastos; Salma Hayek, who plays the wise and spiritual leader Ajak; Lia McHugh, who portrays the eternally young, old-soul Sprite; Don Lee, who plays the powerful Gilgamesh; and Angelina Jolie, who stars as the fierce warrior Thena. Feige revealed concept art images of each character, and announced three new cast members and their characters: Gemma Chan, who plays humankind-loving Sersi; Kit Harington, who was cast as non-Eternal Dane Whitman, and Barry Keoghan, who portrays aloof loner Druig, and was on hand for the event. Directed by Chloe Zhao, who helmed the critically acclaimed Sundance film The Rider, The Eternals opens in U.S. theatres on November 6, 2020.
Feige concluded with the much-awaited Black Widow, the Cate Shortland-directed first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which hits U.S. theatres on May 1, 2020. Feige shared a pre-recorded greeting featuring stars Scarlett Johansson, who reprises her role of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow; David Harbour, who was cast as Alexei the Red Guardian; and Florence Pugh, who plays Yelena. The audience was also treated to an exclusive look at the upcoming film.
Disney Live Action
Sean Bailey, president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, took the audience through upcoming releases for the studio, including next summer's Jungle Cruise, a rousing adventure inspired by the classic theme-park attraction. Star Dwayne Johnson, who plays riverboat captain Frank Wolff, entered the main D23 hall aboard an original Jungle Cruise boat, introducing a trailer that showed off his character – so much so, that co-star Emily Blunt, who portrays Dr. Lily Houghton, arrived via classic car to share with fans her own trailer, offering a different perspective. Bailey laughingly informed Johnson and Blunt that neither trailer that was screened were official. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, Disney's Jungle Cruise hits U.S. theaters on July 24, 2020.
Bailey welcomed Angelina Jolie back to the stage to present exclusive footage and details about Disney's Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil, which is the follow-up to the hit 2014 film. Maleficent, portrayed by Jolie, and her goddaughter Aurora, played by Elle Fanning, begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies and new dark forces at play. Aurora's imminent marriage to Prince Phillip is cause for celebration-however, Prince Phillip's mother, Queen Ingrith, portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer, challenges Maleficent's role as Aurora's mother figure. Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Connal, one of the leaders of the dark fey who becomes Maleficent's ally. Ejiofor, Pfeiffer and Fanning were all welcomed to the stage by an enthusiastic audience. Directed by Joachim Ronning, who co-helmed 2017's Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil arrives in US theatres on October 18, 2019.
Bailey next introduced acclaimed filmmaker Niki Caro, director of Mulan, the upcoming live-action reimagining of the 1998 classic animated film. Caro expressed to fans her passion for the project, sharing several minutes of footage from the epic adventure inspired by one of China's fiercest warriors. Disney's Mulan opens in US theaters on March 27, 2020.
Next up, Bailey shared details about Cruella, an all-new feature film starring Emma Stone and Emma Thompson. Stone, who plays the iconic Cruella, sent D23 Expo fans a greeting from the London-based set with help from a spotted, four-legged co-star. Fans also got a glimpse of an image of Stone in full costume with Cruella's signature black-and-white hair. Director Craig Gillespie, who helmed I, Tonya and The Finest Hours, brings Cruella to the big screen on May 28, 2021, with a fresh, 1970s, punk-rock approach.
Pixar Animation Studios
Pixar Animation Studios' Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter showed the audience Pixar's upcoming film slate of originals. Docter began with next summer's release, Soul, which he directs. The film journeys from the streets of New York City to the never-before-seen cosmic realms and The You Seminar, the fantastical place where we all discover our unique personalities. Producer Dana Murray, co-director/writer Kemp Powers and writer Mike Jones joined Docter on stage, and together they set up the film for the audience and shared a sneak peek. The team revealed members of the voice cast who joined them on stage, including Ahmir Questlove Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Daveed Diggs, Tina Fey and Jamie Foxx. Foxx lends his voice to Joe Gardner, a middle-school band teacher whose true passion is playing jazz. Globally renowned musician Jon Batiste will be writing original jazz music for the film, and Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network), from Nine Inch Nails, will compose an original score that will drift between the real and soul worlds. Disney and Pixar's Soul opens in US theatres on June 19, 2020.
Docter next introduced director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae, who shared details and more than ten minutes of exclusive footage from Pixar's upcoming feature film Onward. The movie, which opens in US theatres on March 6, 2020, stars Tom Holland and Chris Pratt as two teenage elf brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot, who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left in the world. Set in a modern fantasy world, Disney and Pixar's Onward is inspired by Scanlon's personal experiences with his brother. Holland, Pratt and Julia Louis-Dreyfus-who voices Mom in the movie-joined the filmmakers on stage-much to the delight of the audience, who all received an exclusive Onward poster.
Walt Disney Animation Studios
Walt Disney Animation Studios' Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee presented an overview of the studio's next two features, beginning with the Thanksgiving 2020 fantasy-action-adventure, Raya And The Last Dragon. Directors Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins (Big Hero 6, Frozen), producer Osnat Shurer (Moana) and writer Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians) joined Lee on stage to set up the film, which introduces Raya, a lone warrior from the fantasy kingdom of Kumandra who teams up with a crew of misfits in her quest to find the Last Dragon and bring light and unity back to their world. The D23 Expo crowd was the first to get a look at the new film, viewing an exclusive three-minute piece. They also met two newly announced members of the voice cast: Awkwafina lends her voice to Sisu, the Last Dragon, who was left on Earth in case dark forces return to the world, and Cassie Steele voices the lead character, Raya. Raya And The Last Dragon opens in U.S. theatres on November 25, 2020.
Lee, who directs Frozen 2 with Chris Buck, and wrote the screenplay, invited Buck to join her on stage as the Oscar-winning duo revealed new details about the upcoming film, which opens in US theatres on November 22. Lee and Buck introduced two new Frozen 2 cast members: Sterling K Brown, who voices Lieutenant Destin Mattias, and Evan Rachel Wood, who voices Queen Iduna, Anna and Elsa's mother. The crowd-who received an exclusive D23 Expo Frozen 2 poster – saw never-before-seen footage of the new characters, including a scene that featured Wood as Iduna singing to young Elsa and Anna. The song, All Is Found, is one of seven all-new original songs by Oscar-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The audience also saw a sequence from the movie that showcased Elsa's yearning for answers about the past, culminating in another song, Into the Unknown.
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