Walt Disney Studio heads and celebrity film casts debuted never-before-seen footage, trailers, and images from highly anticipated upcoming Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar films to nearly 7,000 excited fans in Hall D23 on Saturday at the D23 Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Celeb surprise appearances included: Angelina Jolie, Selma Hayek, Brian Tyree Henry and the Eternals cast; Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and the Star Wars : Rise of the Resistance cast; Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Jamie Foxx, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, the Frozen cast, and many more.
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 Lee—offered guests a captivating look at Disney’s upcoming film slate, including never-before-seen footage and a host of stars.
“You’re not just fans, you’re family,” said Horn to the packed room. “It’s because of you that we keep working so hard to make great movies, and we love D23Expo because it’s where we can share them with you first.”
TOP 5 BIGGEST CHEERS WHEN FANS MASSIVELY APPLAUDED, STANDING APPLAUSE and/or WENT NUTS
1. Tom Holland appeared on stage with massive applause when he promoted Pixar film Onward, with co-star Chris Pratt. At the end of the presentation, he made a subtle reference to what was on many people’s minds weekend: the Disney – Sony Spider-Man rights battle. Tom said: “Listen, it’s been a crazy week, but thank you from the bottom of my heart and I love you 3000,” to amazing cheers and tears.
2. Angelina Jolie on stage – twice! – to talk about Maleficent AND the Eternals.
3. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker cast appeared on stage including Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Keri Russell, Naomi Ackie, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Producer Kathleen Kennedy, and Director/producer/writer J.J. Abrams. R2-D2 and BB-8 joined them. But the big cheers and applause came with the new video clip, which ended SPOILER! with a dark-hood clad Rey with a red double-ended lightsaber.
4. The Rock know how to make an entrance, arriving on stage via Jungle Cruise boat that was pulled onto the front of the stage. He got off the boat, and walked to the stage, high-fiving attendees in their seats.
5. Frozen 2 voice cast members Idina Menzel (Elsa), Kristen Bell (Anna), Jonathan Groff (Kristoff) and Josh Gad (Olaf) appeared on stage with a surprise performance, and fall leaves confetti finale.
6. Black Panther II logo appeared on screen with director Ryan Cooler. Massive applause because there were no announcements about fan favorite. Black Panther at Marvel Studios’ San Diego Comic-Con. However, the only actual news was that the actual title is NOT Black Panther II, and will be announced later. And the date was announced: May 6, 2022, which is the big summer opening timeslot. Yes, that’s a whole three years away, but Kevin and Ryan said they wanted time to get it right. The three years also results in online fan speculation: Also to allow time for other Marvel Universe films and Disney+ series to develop stories to lead into it.
7. Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones) was announced as the Black Knight in the Eternals. Massive applause when Kit walked out on stage. Also applause when it was announced Gemma Chan will be joining the Eternals cast as Sersi.
Highlights from each of the 5 studios presentations in order: Lucsafilm, Marvel Studios, Disney Live Action, Pixar, Disney Animation. All photos and images courtesy Disney Studios, photographer Jesse Grant.
President of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” director/writer/producer J.J. Abrams showcased the riveting 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 gifted to the entire audience. 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. theaters on May 6, 2022.
Feige segued to next year’s “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 Chloé Zhao, who helmed the critically acclaimed Sundance film “The Rider,” “The Eternals” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 6, 2020.
Feige concluded with “Black Widow,” the Cate Shortland-directed first film in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which hits U.S. theaters 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 Hall D23 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 was 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,” the exciting 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 Rønning, who co-helmed 2017’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” arrives in U.S. theaters on Oct. 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. In Disney’s “Mulan,” which opens in U.S. theaters on March 27, 2020, the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders. So, the eldest daughter of an honored but ailing warrior masquerades as a man, transforming into a heroic warrior to ultimately earn her the respect of a grateful nation and a proud father.
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
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 U.S. theaters 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 Lee, and Frozen 2 Director invited writer Chris Buck to join her on stage as the Oscar®-winning duo revealed new details about the upcoming film, which opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 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 D23Expo “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.” And a climactic performance of the song “Some Things Never Change” by Menzel, Bell, Groff and Gad brought the audience to its feet, capping off the studio presentation in extraordinary style.
Lee then presented an overview of he Thanksgiving 2020 fantasy-action-adventure,
SPOILERS: Here’s what happens in the clips and trailers. Look away if you don’t want to know!
– Star Wars 9: Rey and Kylo battling on probably that downed Death Star in the ocean. Rey appears in a black hood and double red lightsaber like she’s cosplaying Darth Maul for a second
– Frozen 2: Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf play charades in the Castle. Elsa is distracted by a Ahhhhaaaa voice calling her and sings ‘Into the Unknown’ which will likely be the breakout song. Kristoff fumbles a ring trying to propose to Anna.
– Mulan. The town matchmaker teaches Mulan to be the perfect quiet invisible wife and serve tea. But she sees a spider and upsets the whole table and is cast out. Soldiers come into village and try to recruit her dad to join the army.
– Onward: Two elf brothers discover a magic staff to resurrect their dad. But it only brings him back from the pants down (yes it’s weird). They have one day quest to lug him around (like Weekend at Bernie’s) to find a gem to resurrect the rest or he will disappear.