One of the highlights of the 2015 D23 Expo, was sitting in on the Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Upcoming Films Panel, hosted by none other than John Lasseter himself. Between gigantic movie announcements, legendary Disney animators/creators, awesome celebrities, and fun surprises, this was quite an experience!
Are you excited for what’s in store from Disney for the next few years?! You should be! We got some amazing first-looks and special sneak peeks of the animated Disney films slated for release the next 2-3 years…and I can tell you that there are some AWESOME things coming! Let’s take a look at what we found out about the upcoming Disney Animation & Pixar Studios Slate in order of slated release dates:
Riley’s First Date? (Disney-Pixar Short) – Inside Out Bluray/DVD release – Nov. 3, 2015
“Inside Out” filmmakers Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera, introduced the short, which debuted at D23! And, it was HILARIOUS! The short revisits Riley, now 12, who is hanging out with her parents at home when potential trouble comes knocking. Mom’s and Dad’s Emotions find themselves forced to deal with “Riley’s First Date?” The short will be included as a bonus feature in the digital HD & Blu-ray releases of Disney·Pixar’s “Inside Out,” (available digitally Oct. 13 and on Blu-ray Nov. 3, 2015). Super fun!
The Good Dinosaur (Disney-Pixar) – Nov. 25, 2015
The Good Dinosaur introduces us to Arlo, a sheltered Apatosaurus who finds himself far from home, and Spot, Arlo’s unlikely human friend. “Arlo and Spot journey through a world that has been greatly inspired by the American Northwest,” said Sohn. “It is epic in scope, soul-enriching and simultaneously beautiful and treacherous. In this world, we meet up with a very special family of T-Rexes, who help Arlo find a way through his personal fears and ultimately teach Arlo what he’s truly made of.”
We got to see a decent sneak peek at this movie and it looks so good (there were tears shed in just the 5-10 minutes that we got to see). And, the scenery shots in this film are incredible – we all thought that it was real footage. But, it’s not. It’s 100% animated. Just check out the rain shot 4 seconds into this trailer and you’ll see what I mean:
Zootopia (Disney Animation Studios) – March 4, 2016
In addition to getting to see some great sneak peek footage at Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, audience members at the panel were treated to some great clips of Zootopia. One scene in particular, involving the DMV and some sloths, was absolutely hilarious! So, we are really excited for this one! And, it was revealed at the D23 Expo that Shakira voices the character, Gazelle, as well as lends her vocals to an all-new, original song for the movie!
The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when optimistic Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery.
Here’s a look at the Zootopia trailer:
Finding Dory (Disney-Pixar) – June 17, 2016 Talk about a much-anticipated release! This part of the panel started with a hilarious montage video of all the numerous times Ellen ragged on the franchise for not yet doing a Finding Nemo sequel. Well, the wait is almost over and Ellen looked thrilled when she took the stage (and of course the crowd went wild)! In addition to Dory though, there are some fun new characters in Finding Dory – who also happened to join Ellen on stage for all the fun! Joining DeGeneres on stage this were Ed O’Neill (from “Modern Family”), who lends his voice to Hank, a cantankerous octopus; Ty Burrell (also from “Modern Family”), the voice of Bailey, a misguided beluga whale; and Kaitlin Olson (“Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), who voices Destiny, a kind-hearted whale shark. I LOVE the addition of characters like a beluga whale and a whale shark. SO fun!!! We can’t wait of June 2016 for this one!
MOANA (Disney Animation Studios) – Nov. 23, 2016 All the movies on the upcoming slate look fantastic, but MOANA completely stole my heart at the show! I am SO excited for this one. The animation is beautiful and it comes from the legendary directing team of John Musker and Ron Clements (who did classics like “The Little Mermaid,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and “Aladdin”). I had the chance to interview these guys in the past and I think they’re fabulous! They shared with us some of the story-line for MOANA, as well as some of the concept art and one first-look clip of the movie. It is breathtaking! Here’s a brief movie synopsis:
MOANA introduces a spirited teenager who sails out on a daring mission to fulfill her ancestors’ unfinished quest. She meets the once-mighty demi-god Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), and together, they traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage.
They also introduced us to Maui, a demi-god character in the movie. He’s voiced by Dwayne ” The Rock” Johnson who thrilled fans with his on-stage appearance. And, was he ever fun on stage – so energetic and so genuine. Johnson is half Samoan, so this movie really has some deep personal, cultural ties for him. He also talked about always wanting to be a part of the Disney family. So special!After our recent trip to Hawaii, I’m SO extra excited for MOANA.
Toy Story 4 (Disney-Pixar)- June 16, 2017
Can you believe that this year marks the 20th anniversary of Toy Story?! Crazy! And, Toy Story fans got some BIG surprises at D23, with not only the announcement of an all-new Toy Story Land coming to Walt Disney World, but that a Toy Story 4 is in the works! Lasseter shared that he has always said he wouldn’t make another Toy Story film unless the story line was worthy. But, they seem to have found a perfect fit… and this time it’s a love story. Toy Story 4 will be a love story about Woody and Bo Peep in which Woody and Buzz set-off on a mission to find Bo.
And last but certainly not least, we got a brief introduction to a new, BIG production for Disney Animation Studios, Gigantic! Gigantic is a re-telling of the classic fairytale, Jack and the Beanstalk.
Set in Spain during the Age of Exploration, Disney’s GIGANTIC follows adventure-seeker Jack as he discovers a world of giants hidden within the clouds. He hatches a grand plan with Inma, a 60-foot-tall, 11-year-old girl, and agrees to help her find her way home. But he doesn’t account for her super-sized personality—and who knew giants were so down to earth?
If you’re a fan of Disney musicals, this should be right up your alley! We learned that Oscar-winning Frozen songwriters, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, are working on the original songs for the film. They even treated us to a work in progress – “Little Man” – which was adorable! So, this one should be a big hit in 2018!
WHEW! As if that weren’t enough, the movie posters within the D23 Expo show floor confirm that Disney-Pixar has plans for Cars 3 and Incredibles 2. While no mention was made during the panel, the official posters were there (seen in the 1st shot). So, stay tuned for more information on that!
And, if you’d like a little taste of what it was actually like inside the panel, here’s a short video from D23:
Which upcoming Disney animated picture are you most excited about?
Disclosure: I attended the D23 Expo at the invitation of Disney for the purposes of this coverage. As always, all opinions, experiences, and love of Disney are entirely my own.