Maybe it was the rumors. Maybe it was the prospect of hearing moderator John Lasseter tell his tales. Or maybe it was the promise of exhilarating never-before-heard announcements. Whatever the reason, on Sunday morning, fans from near and far filled the D23 Arena to maximum capacity for the “The Future of Disney and Pixar Animation” at the D23 Expo. And from the excited chatter buzzing around the room when it ended, they definitely got what they came for.
“Isn’t the D23 Expo amazing?” John asked the crowd when he stepped on stage and got a thunderous round of applause in return. “For the true Disney fan, finally, for Disney to do something so classy and so beautiful as D23 with the magazine, the club and especially with this expo, I think it’s fantastic!” And with that, the Pixar announcements began to fly.
John was pleased to let the fans know that in addition to a special two week showing of a 3-D double feature of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in theaters for two weeks in October, Toy Story 3, with the entire original gang back on board, was well under way and would hit theaters June 18, 2010. He surprised the audience with the announcement that there will be new toys, which means new actors doing the voices including Jeff Garmond, Bonnie Hunt and the always funny Whoopi Goldberg! Of course what those toys would be was still a secret.
Winnie the Pooh will be back in the spring of 2011 in an all-new, hand-animated feature film inspired by the original movies. “You won’t believe how funny this thing is and it’s not just for little kids!” said John. But one of the highlights of working on this project was getting to work with Disney legend and original Winnie the Pooh animator Burny Mattinson, who is one of the last remaining animators to have worked with Walt Disney.
For the Cars fans in the crowd, John had a few exciting updates. First, he showed the premiere of an all new Cars Toon, set to air on Disney Channel this fall called “Unidentified Flying Mater.” Next, and even more buzzworthy, was his announcement about the film Cars 2, set to hit theaters in the summer of 2011. It will take Lightening McQueen around the world in an international race of champions with his loyal pit crew consisting of all his Radiator Springs friends. But keep an eye on Mater who gets mixed up in the world of spies…”It’s going to be fast-paced and really, really funny and it’s got a lot of heart, which is the hallmark of a Pixar film,” John revealed.
He then took the fans into the world of The Princess and the Frog, showing a few never before seen animated sequences, gushing that this movie marks the return of the musical to Disney animation! With seven new songs by Randy Newman and brilliant hand-drawn characters from some of Disney’s top animators, John said, “It’s classic in every way, but it’s brand new. So we’re really excited about this.”
And for all those Tinker Bell fans in the audience, John told the crowd that in addition to the three new fairy films going straight to video (Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue and Tinker Bell and the Mysterious Winter), Pixar has decided to do a FIFTH film called Tinker Bell Race Through the Seasons which will come out in the summer of 2012, just in time for the Olympics!
But the announcement that captivated the room was the reveal of Pixar’s plans for a holiday 2010 release of Rapunzel, only the sixth film in the history of Disney to have a character so iconic that the name of the princess is the name of the movie! “This film also marks a number of milestones for Walt Disney Animation Studios,” John said. “Rapunzel will be the studios 50th animated feature film, it’s the Studio’s first computer-animated fairy tale and it’s also our first computer-animated musical with songs written by Disney Legend Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater!” John went on to announce that in addition to being directed by Byron Howard, the voice of Rapunzel will be singer and actress Mandy Moore and the prince will be voiced by actor Zachary Levi. With that talent on board, the film is sure to be another Disney hit!
John wrapped up the fact-filled session by showing a few minutes of this winter’s ABC special Prep & Landing and then screening the world premiere of another Cars Toon called “Heavy Metal Mater.” And as the presentation ended, fans were thrilled, Disney enthusiasts were dazzled and kids everywhere knew they had a lot of amazing things to look forward to in the coming years from Pixar!