It’s the first day of the D23 Expo and the real big session was presented by Walt Disney Company Chief Creative Officer John Lassiter. This session focused on Disney’s three animation studios: Pixar Animation, Disney Toon Studios and Walt Disney Animation.
Party Central. We were all treated to the next pixar short featuring the cast of Monsters University. In Party Central, every fraternity at Monsters University is having a party. The problem is that no one is showing up at Oozma Kappa’s party. Mike and Sully decide through the use of scare doors, they would steal the party from the other fraternities. They succeed through a hilarious series of events.
Bill Hader comes out to talk about being a part of a Pixar movie.
Party Central will debut to the public as the short for Pixar’s next movie, The Good Dinosaur.
The Good Dinosaur. Pixar movies answer the question “What If?” What if toys came to life? What if a rat became the best chef in all Paris? In the Good Dinosaur, what if the meteor missed the earth?
The Good Dinosaur tells the tale of an earth run by dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are farmers and they live in communities. The movie tells the tale of a dinosaur named Arlo, who must leave his family and community to venture out into the real world.
The Good Dinosaur stars Lucas Neff (Raising Hope), Bill Hader, Judy Greer, Neil Patrick Harris, John Lithgow and Frances McDormand. It comes out in Spring 2014.
Bill Hader, Judy Greer and Lucas Neff come out on stage and talk about playing siblings in the movie. They said it wasn’t easy since this was the first time they met and they soon started fighting like siblings on stage.
Inside Out was forming “The Untitled Pixar Movie About What Takes Place In The Mind.” It’s the story of a young girl named Riley, who moves from the Midwest to San Francisco. The focus of the story though is her emotions…five to be exact and we see how these five characters sees life through her eyes. The stars of the movie are Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader), Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith)…a practical Office reunion.
We were treated to a segment in storyboard form and if the entire movie is like the clip, this is going to be a great movie.
Bill Hader and Phyllis Smith come out on stage and Phyllis wonders why she’s cast as sadness. It’s one of those you had to be there moments.
Finding Dory takes place one year after Finding Nemo. Dory has found a home with her new friends, but she’s the only one of her kind. In Finding Nemo, she mentioned her family and an urge causes her to go out into the deep blue and find her family.
Back are Albert Brooks and Ellen Degeneres. Dory’s parents will be played by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy. Ty Burrell plays the part of a beluga whale.
Bill Hader comes out begging to be a part of the movie. He wants to be a Pixar good luck charm. He’s soon interrupted by John Ratzenberger and a marching band. John scoffs at how tough it was for Bill to only appear in three movies.
Toy Story of Terror is set for an October 16 release on ABC. We got to see the first 10 minutes of the special and it’s going to be great with lots of suspense and laughs. The original Toy Story cast returns including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.
Disney Toon Studios
This is the first time I’ve gotten an explanation of Disney Toon Studios. The studios was created to produce all the direct to video sequels. Then they were challenged with creating the Fairies series, which has been a huge success. Now they are taking on the characters from Pixar’s Cars with the movie Planes.
Tinker Bell and the Neverbeast focuses on the fairy Fawn. She had befriended a large cat-like creature called the Neverbeast. Everyone thinks it truly is a beast and can not be tamed. It is up to Fawn to prove otherwise before the beast destroyed Pixie Hallow. Tinker Bell and the Neverbeast comes out in Spring of 2015.
Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy comes next and is the story that leads into Peter Pan. Tinker Bell and gang run into a pirate ship whose captain is also a fairy named Zarina. Her crew consists of seasoned pirates and a cabin boy name James. Captain Zarina is voiced by Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks and cabin boy James is voiced by Loki himself, Tom Hiddleston. Both actors made an appearance at the session to talk about the influence of Disney films in their lives.
What was revealed is that cabin boy James has dark motives and will in fact become Captain Hook (before the hook).
Planes: Fire and Rescue. Today, the movie Planes starring comedian Dane Cook hits theaters. There is already a sequel in the works and it will premiere next year. While Planes focuses on Dusty become a race plane, this version of Planes honors the men and women who protect our forests from fires. Dusty is moving on from racing to rescue. The movie will star Dane Cook and Julie Bowen (Modern Family) will also join the cast as a fan of Dusty’s.
Walt Disney Animation
Walt Disney Animation is approaching 90 years old. The movies produced and will be produced by this studio must produce quality films because it bears the name of “Walt Disney.”
John Lassiter took a moment to honor the oldest member of the Walk Disney Animation, Burney Mattison. Burney started at Walt Disney Animation straight out of high school. He knew he wanted to work at the studio. His mother drove him to the lot with portfolio in hand. He didn’t have an appointment so the guard would not let him in. After 30 minutes, waiting for Burney’s mother to return, the guard looked through the portfolio and liked what he saw. He called the head of personnel and got a job in Traffic. The rest is history.
Mickey Mouse Short Get-A-Horse. Next John Lassiter brings out a member of the Walt Disney Archive team and they discovered a print of Walt Disney’s fourth Mickey Mouse short, never seen before. We all got a chance to watch this little piece of history. There were some stereoscopic effects, so we used our 3D glasses. The story featured Mickey and Minnie Mouse being chased by Pete who has become smitten with Minnie Mouse. It was very classic Mickey Mouse and featured the voice of Walt Disney himself.
This short will appear in front of Frozen and I highly suggest watching it in 3D.
Big Hero 6 is next year’s major release from Walt Disney Animation. Don Hall is the director and he talks about his love of comic books. Big Hero 6 takes place in a mash-up city of Tokyo and San Francisco called San Fransokyo. It the story of a 14-year-old robotics genius who tragically looses his brother and builds a robot to bring him healing. The boy also puts together a team of friends who he turns into superheros. This is an origins story and based on a Marvel comics limited series.
In 2016, Zootopia comes to the big screen. After his success with Bolt and Tangled, director Byron Howard pitched to John Lassiter the idea of animals wearing clothes, ala Robin Hood and Wind and the Willow. Lassiter said run with it and we have Zootopia. What if animals ran the world without humans.
Zootopia is a city featuring 5 ecozones: Sahara Square, Tundratown, Rainforest Zone, and Borrow Buroughs.
Anna Voiced by Kristen Bell
Finally there’s Frozen, based on the Han Christian Andersen tale of the Snow Queen. It’s the story of two sisters, Elsa and Anna, played by Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell respectively.
Elsa has the power to control frost and Anna is just ordinary. When her power goes awry and trajedy strikes, Elsa runs away into seclusion causing her kingdom to fall into an eternal winter. In order to save the kingdom, Elsa’s sister Anna decides to talk to Elsa and help her with her problem.
Those of us in attendance are treated to an appearance by Josh Gad (Book of Mormon) who plays Olaf the snowman. The biggest reason for doing Frozen was the “Disney Residuals”. We are treated to a scene from the movie where his character sings about how wonderful life would be when summer comes.
Then Kristen Bell joins us and talks about how she loves how ordinary and flawed her character Anna is. Then we finish with a song from Idina Menzel, that John Lassiter calls his favorite Disney song ever. The song was powerful even with some sound problems.
The songwriters for Frozen are Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, who wrote Avenue Q, Book of Mormon and Finding Nemo the Musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
That was a full 3 hour star studded session which took up over half my day at D23.