Written By: Nick Poulimenakos
Today, Saturday July 15, Disney opened its doors for the second day of their D23 Expo. The big event for today? The live action presentation. Thousands of fans flocked to the covention and lined up on sidewalks the night before and took their seats for the main event, a look at films from Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios and, of course, Disney. Welcome to the official Talkies Network live coverage of the second day of the D23 Expo!
The panel began at 10:35am PST:
The panel kicked off with a sizzle reel, including scenes from Doctor Strange, Coco, Civil War, Wreck It Ralph 2, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, The Last Jedi, The Incredibles 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Moana, Beauty and the Beast, Cars 3, The Jungle Book, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Rogue One.
Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn then takes the stage. He cracks a joke about the huge audience not getting any sleep but Mickey Mouse gave him a wake up call. The sizzle reel is cheered. Horn says “All of this is a thank you to all of you. These have been a phenomenal few years at Walt Disney Studios.”
Horn goes on “I have to tip my hat to Bob Iger. He doesn’t like to be mentioned but I already did! Not only did he have the vision to bring these studios together under one roof, but you could not ask for a better boss, a better colleague, and a better friend. So, thanks.”
Horn highlights Disney’s success in 2016 where they had the top five biggest films of the year.
Horn then introduces the Head of Production from Disney’s live action studio, Sean Baliey. He starts discussing the recent successes of Beauty and the Beast and Pirates 5. We then get to the first film being showcased: A Wrinkle In Time
A Wrinkle In Time
Bailey kicks off his portion with A Wrinkle In Time, which is directed by Ava Duvernay and comes out in March 2018. The film is written by Frozen scribe Jennifer Lee and is “New and unique interpretation that stays true to the heart of the original.” The story follows Meg Murray, who’s parents are physicists working with the idea of wrinkling space and time.
“Meg embarks upon a dangerous journey to save her father with her friend Calvin. Along the way, she is introduced to three celestial beings, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which.”
Storm Reid is Meg Murray, Reese Witherspoon is Mrs. Whatsit it, Mindy Kaling is Mrs. Who, Oprah Winfrey is Mrs. Which, Chris Pine is Dr. Alex Murray and the cast also features Deric McCabe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Levi Miller, Micheal Pena, Zach Galifinakas.
Several cast members enter the stage including new Disney Legend, Oprah Winfrey
Director Ava Duvernay begins to talk about how talented the cast is. She says she worked to create a very diverse cast that represents the real world.
Storm Reid admits to being nervous on stage but then goes on to praise the film. “Working on the film in general was amazing. Ms. Ava is so patient. Me and Mr. Chris, we had some intense scenes, and just being able to see him work and see how focused he was, was amazing. Ms. Reese and Mindy, you guys are amazing and you made me feel like you were my mom on set. Seeing Ms. Oprah work was magical because you can tell that she really loves what she does. She just made me feel comfortable and she’s an amazing actress.”
Bailey congratulates Pine on the success of Wonder Woman. Pine says he was interested in this film role for the director alone. “This happens a lot. These things are about chemistry and alchemy. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Within five minutes of meting Ava, I knew I was gonna have to do it.”
“As someone who is a chatterbox, I thought that was actually very challenging but it’s wonderful because this is a character who only speaks in the wisest sayings,” says Mindy Kaling of her character, who specifically speaks in riddles. “There’s so much wisdom in the world and I think I quote Jay-Z in the movie, in addition to traditional more classic scholars.”
We then go to Oprah who says “I had not read the book, either. When Ava mentioned it to me and told me it was a character who is one of the wisest women in the universe and is an angelic celestial being who is going to get to wear amazing costumes and work with Reese and Mindy as a part of the Misses team, who wouldn’t say yes to that?!”
In classic fashion after the debut of a new teaser poster, Oprah then says “You get a poster! You get a poster!”
Duvernay introduces a clip from the film which was still incomplete:
Alex Murray narrates the footage, questioning time travel. Meg stands in the woods with Calvin as a dust cloud storms towards them. Dr. Murray looks pushed to the edge. Meg meets Mrs. Oprah and is encouraged to stop what her father started. The three misses watched closes. Pena has red eyes. Megs stands in a neighborhood where kids bounce red balls in sync, everything looks perfect, and the mothers call the kids inside for dinner. “The only thing faster than light is the darkness,” Mrs. Which said. Meg and Calvin charge toward what looks like a tornado and hide among the chaos.
We then move to the second film, The Nutcracker
Keria Knightly stars as the Sugar Plum fairy in this film about The Nutcracker and The Four Realms. Also included The Land of Flowers tended by Hawthorne, The Land of Snowflakes commanded by Shiver and The Land of Sweets commanded by Knightly.
Footage then plays with jolly Christmas music. The young girl looks through an extravagant hallway as Morgan Freeman narrates. A colorful and vibrant world is revealed, dancers take stage, soldiers march, colorful costumes let and right. Nutcrackers march. Sword fights ensue. “Time has come.” The logo takes the screen.
Charles Riley, also known as Lil Buck, takes the stage for a classic dancing performance reminiscent of The Nutcracker.
It’s now time for Marry Poppins Returns
Mary Poppins Returns
Director Rob Marshall emerges on stage with producers John DeLucas and Mar Platt along with composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
“Two dozen years beyond the events of the original films,” “As we know it here in the States, the Great Depressions.”
The heartless Bank Manager, Mr. Wilkins played by Colin Firth, wreaks havoc on their life. “Dame Andrews is a very, very tough act to follow but I think we can agree that, in Emily Blunt, we have found the perfect actress to fill those shoes.”
Bailey showcases images of the crew and cast including Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury Lin Manuel Miranda, Dick Van Dyke and of course, Mary Poppins herself, Emily Blunt.
Emily Blunt enters the stage and begins talking about the film with Marshall.
“We both and the entire company and the creative time feel very protective of the original film because we love it so much. That’s that and will always be that. This is living in that world with a foot in the past and a foot in the future and telling that story.”
Blunt says “I watched about 15 minutes of the original and then just stopped watching it. I had to do my version of her. I think we were very loyal to the books.” She says they went in a direction of the books which see Poppins as a rude, sarcastic but still fun character.
According to Marshall, “It’s a dream cast. Every person we approached said yes immediately.” He then goes onon to call this film “a gift to the world” while it needs something of the sort before telling a story about Dick van Dyke coming on set. “He said, ‘It feels exactly the same. The same feeling of joy in making the film.’ And that was the highest compliment.”
The sequel will actually use set items from the original classic. Marshall was elated to find out that they were able to score the original table with the phone on it.
Marshall then talks about the composers saying they “bring a new joyous humor to it,” and calls their work smart and clever. He introduces brand new footage which, in his words is “a taste of what’s to come.”
Footage of the iconic house starts. Various characters flash by. A kite is taken from the ground and into the wind before a boy plays with it and the screen reads, “A new story to tell.” A storm catches the kite until the clouds clear and Mary Poppins is hanging from it. Later, she enters the house. The music becomes more upbeat. A captain fires a cannon. Poppins pulls her umbrella from a sink’s drain. More extravagant shots of characters amd dance numbers. Men dance on lamp posts, swing form ladders. The cast are introduced with names, right up to Dick van Dyke dancing on a table. Poppins slides up a railing to end the trailer.
Here’s the big one… The Lion King and Aladdin
The Lion King & Aladdin
We get a sizzle reel of Disney’s animated classics: Beauty and the Beast takes the screen, then Malifcent, Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book, Pete’s Dragon and Cinderella.
Bailey takes the stage again to stress the responsibility the story films to adapt these titles into live action.
He then announces “we are indeed in pre-production on a live action Mulan.” Nikki Cairo will direct, more announcements in the coming moments. Dwayne Johnson is working with Disney for Jungle Cruise. “In development on a new iteration of Aladdin from Guy Ritchie.” And here’s the biggest news: Aladdin will be played by Mena Massoud, Jasmine played by Naomi Scott and the role of the Genie will be played by Will Smith.
Tim Burton was announced to be directing a live action Dumbo. “We just started so there’s not a lot we can show you yet.” Burton sent a greeting. The circus elements play, including a train.” He is aboard a train and reveals Dumbo is one of his favorites among Disney movies and heads “off down the tracks” aboard the train.
Bailey brings on stage a maquette of the actual size Dumbo as he will be seen in the film. The elephant is brought onto the stage, equipped with massive ears. Dumbo will hit theaters on March 29, 2019. There is one more special surprise.
The screen the fades and we are shown footage from The Lion King. The sun rises of a “Disney Presents” logo. The iconic musc beings. The animal kingdom comes to life. Bugs carry leaves. Elephants and small birds. Rafiki, Simba, and the animal kingdom unite as Simba is held above them, with “The Circle of Life” blaring.
Jon Faverau, director of The Lion King takes the stage to thunderous applause.
He begins speaking: “Thank you all so much. Those of you here two years ago, we showed you what we were thinking with Jungle Book…I want to thank Disney but also thank the fans for trusting us with this. We know how important this is…As soon as I found out we were gonna be doing this film, my first question was, when is D23? The team, a lot of people scrambled for something to show you…we’re working hard, we love you guys, and thank you so much for the opportunity.”
And now, we have Star Wars
Sean Bailey is back and talks about Rouge One. “Last December we tried something new, we launched the very first standalone film, Rogue One, and then we killed them all.”
Bailey then moved on to The Last Jedi which he said begins right where The Force Awakens ended. He talks about the tragic passing of Carrie Fisher.
“We’re all stunned and shocked that had passed away. I know it seems hard to imagine that you could love her more than you already do but you will really, really appreciate her performance in this film.”
Bailey proceeds to call TLJ director Rian Johnson a serious Jedi Master and says “He’s as nice as he is talented. “He’s put together a spectacular Star Wars film.” Johnson then takes the stage.
He says the film is in post production now and that they’re mixing the film as he speaks.
He talks about the phenomenal cast and crew and how enjoyable the filming experience was, which gave way to the introduction of the cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Gwendoline Christie along with newcomers Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benecio del Toro.
Johnson says his favourite moments were in Ireland with Rey in the cockpit of the Falcon with Chewbacca. Daisy Ridley chimed in saying, “A few of us were in Ireland, not really much to say, except we had a really fantastic time and on the last night, Rian and I jigged for about an hour. We love Ireland and we love the Irish and it was a beautiful backdrop to what we did.”
John Boyega, who plays Finn in the film grabbed a mic and started to talk about his character. “Finn’s about to have a fight with a formidable opponent.” That formidable opponent is Captain Phasma.
Kelly Marie Tran talks about her involvement saying My mindset was, I got this golden ticket. I felt like I was Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. I felt like I wanted to do everything I could until I got in trouble and I didn’t get in trouble!”
A photo then appears of Laura Dern in the fog as her character Holdo. She is holding a gun. She calls Star Wars “the dream of our lives. I didn’t remember you don’t have to say the words you say when you’re eight.” Another photo appears of her intimidating Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron.
Del Toro then spoke about how ecstatic he was about joining the film. “When you called me up and you mentioned the title alone, I was like, let’s go! Let’s play! So, thank you.”
Johnson then brought out his main attraction, Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.
Hamill says “This is a real gamechanger. I said about seven, I just told all the fans, remember it’s impossible to please everyone. Headline: Star Wars 7 bound to disappoint says Mark Hamill! Not quite the way I phrased it, I don’t think!”
A behind the scenes feature was shown to the attendees.
Footage of various sets flash by. The droids are prepped. Various space crafts are parked. “Ryan has written a story that’s unexpected but right,” Ridley said. Rey hands Luke the lightsaber in an emotional moments. “It feels like its own thing,” Ridley said. An explosion takes place in a bunker. Stormtroopers prepare for choreography. Johnson makes Wookie sounds like Chewbacca. Rey charges down a water line with a lightsaber in her hand. Luke stands on an age. Leia is shown. Del Toro stands in his ship. Driver trains for a lightsaber fight. Ridley aims for a three on one fight. Johnson hopes the film will be ” a little shocking.” Kylo Ren helmets are on display — some are damaged. Explosions aboard ships play. Rey poses with a lightsaber. “It’s about family, and that’s what’s so powerful about it,” Fisher said. General Ackbar is shown at the very end.
Bailey then brings out the Marvel presentation.
He begins by saying that Marvel and Sony are now “frenemies” (ha). Kevin Feige then heads onto the stage. He calls the MCU at this moment “the first ten years because we hope there will be many more.”
He said “There’s one thing we’re doing next year that really is the culmination of these 10 years and it’s called Avengers: Infinity War.”
“Almost every single hero that we’ve ever introduced is gonna be in that film…because one person…you saw him grab a golden gauntlet at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Feige then brings out John Brolin who plays the fearsome Thanos on stage.
“Just yesterday in Atlanta, we wrapped the half-way mark of this production,” Feige said. The cast is then introduced: Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olson, Don Cheadle, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey Jr. Then come some Guardians of the Galaxy: Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, and Dave Batista.
After Brolin says “Drax ain’t shit” (ha again), director Joe Russo shows a cast photo. We then get yet another sizzle real on the past 10 years of the MCU.
Avengers tower comes into frame. Clips from The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Iron Man 2, and Iron Man 3 play. “We are arriving Mantis said to the Guardians. Teenage Groot in a seat. The body of Thor lands on their windshield. His hair is short. Rocket is startled. Mantis wakes him up. Thor is startled. The Guardians look at him and he asks who they are. The ship zips through the cosmos. Wanda dodges something and it breaks a truck. Loki stands in ruin, presenting the Tesseract to someone. Peter’s spider-Sense takes off as he rides a bus. Tony prepares for battle. He is in space with the Guardians. “Fun really isn’t something one considers when balancing the universe,” Thanos said. “This does put a smile on my face. The Guardians observe ruin in many places. Thanos warps into a new world. Star-Lord battles him. Strange battles him. Spider-Man, in his new suit, battles. Winter Soldier battles. Wakanda readies to defend their territory. Cap steps out of the shadows. Hulkbuster and Wakandan forces fight a four legged creature. Thor’s head is squeezed by Thanos Thanos beats Iron Man. The Guardians are defeated. Thanos has assembled his gauntlet. He throws energy from a hole in space.