The Lowdown on All Live Action Films Coming From The Walt Disney Studios

This presentation opened up with speech from the chairman of the Walt Disney Studios, Alan Horn. He was the host for the evening and provided a great introduction by offering some jokes and a great story about how he proposed to his wife using Bambi to win her over. His love of Disney is obvious and made him a great host.

The event started with very little news about the unnamed Star Wars: Episode VII movie. The only information he gave out was that the director is J.J. Abrams, the writer is Michael Arndt, who also worked on Toy Story 3, and John Williams will handle the score. The film releases summer 2015. The sparse info brought “Aww’s” and “Boo’s” from the audience but Alan Horn would not budge on any of the details.

Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston at the D23 Expo. ©2013 Disney. All rights reserved.
Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston at the D23 Expo. ©2013 Disney. All rights reserved.

The next studio to present was Marvel. President of Marvel, Kevin Feige, introduced Thor: The Dark World, which releases November 8th 2013. Alan Taylor directed this film, also known for Game of Thrones. Staring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, and Anthony Hopkins, the female lead Jane, Natalie Portman, is transported to Arsgard, where she begins to understand what it feels like to be a fish out of water. She will take the role of Thor from the last movie as the newbie to the planet. More than just this aspect, the film covers the fight between Thor and an evil so old that it predates the universe. After some talk about the plot, the president showed a clip of Jane’s first day on Arsgard. Apparently, Jane has contracted some kind of virus that is alive and protects itself through physical means. In the clip, Jane is being examined by some doctors on Arsgard with an energy-transferring machine, but Oden, Anthony Hopkins, wants her sent back. Oden stops the examination and a guard tries to remove her from the room, but there is a bright red flash and he’s thrown back, and the speculation on what exactly is going on with Jane only begins. At the presentation Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, and Tom Hiddleston made a short appearance.

Chris Evans at the D23 Expo. ©2013 Disney. All rights reserved.
Chris Evans at the D23 Expo. ©2013 Disney.
All rights reserved.

The next film coming out April of 2014 was Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The plot encompassed how Captain America is coming to terms with being in a different age. The biggest problems he faced were between what was right and what is wrong. It seems that in his age the ideas of how good people act are different from what he sees in front of him now. He struggles with an older American philosophy and is confused by how people, politics, and culture are so nuanced in this age. Captain America debates whether even S.H.I.E.L.D. is a protective force for freedom, or an organization that acts out of fear to control things. This compelling character study is not the only exciting part of this movie. In a few of the clips, we got to see Captain America take down at least 10 bad guys in an elevator with one hand practically tied behind his back. In another, he takes down almost a ship full of bad guys, all the while being stealthy and alerting no one to his presence. Interestingly enough, the winter soldier was revealed to be Bucky Barnes. It seems that this villain lived after the last movie and is back to wreak havoc. In this movie, the audience was introduced to a new her named Falcon. Played by Anthony Mackie, the Falcon will be an interesting addition to this old classic.

Unsuspectingly, Chris Pratt is to become a Marvel character in Guardians of the Galaxy. The funny and somewhat dim character from Parks and Recreation was a far cry from the character he plays in this movie. This film features a story about five … people I guess you could call them; even though most of them are aliens plus a raccoon, unite to stop the evil forces in the galaxy. Chris Pratt plays Peter Quill, also known as Starlord, is in charge of this rag tag team among other actors such as: Zoe Saldana, Benicio del Toro, John C. Reilly, Lee Pace, with James Gunn as the director.

Photo Courtesty of
Photo Courtesty of

One huge surprise at the D23 expo was the news that The Avengers will have a sequel to be released in the summer of 2015. It will be called The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Chimpanzees, Cats, and now Bears, Disneynature will release this movie on Earth Day 2014. This documentary follows one year in the life of a bear and her cubs. It follows bears living on the Alaskan coastal mountains and shores. If you go see this movie, Disney will donate a certain percentage of ticket sales to the seal island conservation fund. This movie hits theaters on April 18th 2014.

Sean Bailey, president of production at Walt Disney Studios, presented Muppets Most Wanted. This film debuting next April features Kermit and his evil look alike. The Muppets get mixed up in evil Kermit’s plans, which features the famous Miss Piggy, Tina Fey, Ty Burrell, and Ricky Gervais as Evil #2. Ty Burell appeared on stage during this presentation in a tiny car they use in the film. In the film, he plays a French Interpol officer that has to work with Sam the Eagle Muppet, but both definitely butt heads. In the clip both officers end up in a who’s badge is bigger showdown. The movie looks like a great one for kids, families, or anyone that loves the combination of Muppets and comedy.

©2013 Disney. All rights reserved.
©2013 Disney. All rights reserved.

What is Disney animation without some of the classics? Into the Woods by James Lepine and Stephen Sodheim will be coming to the big screen in 2014. Hapily After’s are always thought of as being perfect, but this movie will extrapolate on the reality of these characters. Directors Rob Marshall, of Chicago, and Mark Platt productions will head this film. The cast for this film is amazing, it includes Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, Johnny Depp as the Wolf, Emily Blunt as the Baker’s wife, and Meryl Streep as the witch.

Another Disney classic Cinderella will become a live action film in March of 2015. The writers are using the original fairy tale to guide the script. This means the story will revolve around the palace, royal court, and feature a childhood Cinderella that grows into a strong but also kind mature young woman. The infamous Sir Kenneth Branagh will be the director of this film. During the expo he showed some artist renderings of what he hopes to accomplish with this movie. His vision is spectacular. Sir Branagh wants to include all the grandeur as well as the more abstract concept of character development in Cinderella. Lily James will play Cinderella, the fairy godmother will be played by Helena Bonham Carter, the stepmother will be played by Cate Blanchett, and finally Prince Charming is none other than Richard Madden.

Angelina Jolie at the D23 Expo. ©2013 Disney. All rights reserved.
Angelina Jolie at the D23 Expo. ©2013 Disney. All rights reserved.

A highly anticipated movie staring Angelina Jolie is Maleficent. As she came on stage she described Maleficent as her favorite childhood character because of her elegance and grace, which have this edgy as well as dark elements to them. After watching the trailer, that is exactly what Jolie embodies on the screen. Rob Stromberg will direct this film with Joe Roth and Linda Woolverton as the writers for the script. The movie will follow Maleficent’s journey into darkness. It will begin with her life as a regular fairy, but leads into the events that finally harden her heart. The reasons she poisons Aurora will be clear, finally. Next summer, you will definitely see the dragon battle in this movie as well as an interesting conversation Maleficent shares with Aurora, played by Elle Fanning, right before she pricks her finger. Maleficent’s world will be fully realized in this film, and I personally can’t wait to really understand this now seemingly complicated maybe not so evil witch.

One movie that is a bit of a mystery was the Tomorrowland presentation. The focus here was on the long forgotten projects and history of Disney. The directors Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof came on stage with a box labeled 1952. There were some old photos and magazines. This presentation did not give much information about the movie other than the fact that George Clooney will be in it, and it will be a live action mystery adventure. I am still vexed as to what this movie will really bring. IT should be coming out around 2014.

Photo via
Photo via

Finally, we have Saving Mr. Banks. Marry Poppins was a book written by P.L. Travers before it became a Disney classic. Director John Hancock shows the audience the story behind the story of how Mary Poppins came to be apart of the Disney world. All of the struggles between Travers and Disney will be shown through Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. In the clip shown during the presentation, you can really see how different and eventually problematic the difference in personality that Disney and Travers have. Travers original opinion was that Poppins should not be made into one of Disney’s “stupid little” cartoons. She also opposed the music used in the movie as well. Fortunately for us, Travers and Disney could work out their differences; otherwise there would be no Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. After watching the trailer, this movie will be all about the subtleties and wit of both Disney and Travers. I would definitely watch for this movie’s break out to theaters in the holiday season of 2013.

Check out an interview with Natalie Portman and Chris Evans from Day 2 of the D23 Expo.

Video Courtesy of ©2013 Disney . All rights reserved.


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