If you want to feel the true definition of anticipation, then you should look no further than the Live Action line-up from Disney, Marvel and Lucasfilm over the next few years. The Live Action panel at d23 Expo was full of excitement in the crowd, and on the stage. From superheroes, to dangerous storms, and even a talking bear named Baloo, we are in for lots of on-screen adventures from 2015 to 2017.
New Marvel Films In 2016
Kevin Feige led off with a glimpse into the world of Marvel’s DOCTOR STRANGE, featuring a video greeting by Benedict Cumberbatch, who stars as the title character, followed by a pre-production piece that offered fans a taste of the look and feel of the upcoming film, opening in U.S. theaters on October 26, 2016. If you’re a fan of the comic books, you would have loved the piece we were shown during the session. It was weirdly awesome, and a great homage to the original story.
Next, Kevin Feige introduced Marvel’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. Because D23 Expo is all about the big reveals, Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie showed up on stage to help Feige show never-seen-before footage from the movie. Before the footage rolled, Feige revealed that there was a special “Easter egg” for fans to find: it was aptly a nod to D23 EXPO. Most of the audience didn’t catch it at first, but Feige gave us a little hint. I can’t wait to see the Easter eggs while watching it in the theater!
Marvel’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR picks up where “Avengers: Age of Ultron” left off, as Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain. Through the trailer, we spotted Iron Man, Scarlett Witch, and Ant-Man!
Marvel’s CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR opens in the U.S. on May 6, 2016.
The Finest Hours
Sean Bailey took the stage to introduce the first film in the Disney live-action lineup, THE FINEST HOURS, which is based on the remarkable true story of the most daring rescue mission in the history of the Coast Guard. Chris Pine, who plays Bernie Webber, the captain of the rescue boat, also joined Bailey on stage and caused a commotion before showing footage from the film.
Presented in Digital 3D™, Real D 3D and IMAX® 3D, the film, which is directed by Craig Gillespie and also stars Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz and Eric Bana, transports audiences to the heart of the action, creating a fully-immersive cinematic experience on an epic scale.
THE FINEST HOURS storms into U.S. theaters on January 29, 2016.
The Jungle Book
Jon Favreau, director of Disney’s upcoming THE JUNGLE BOOK, welcomed to the stage newcomer Neel Sethi, who was selected from thousands of candidates to play man-cub Mowgli; plus Oscar® winners Ben Kingsley, who brings Bagheera to life, and Lupita Nyong’o, who lends her voice to the protective mother wolf Raksha. Favreau treated fans to a sneak peek of footage from the film, and each guest received a copy of the dramatic teaser poster following the presentation. The Jungle Book is one of my husband’s favorite animated films, and he was very excited to hear about the line-up for the live-action film. The all-new, live-action epic adventure showcases Mowgli’s journey of self-discovery when he’s forced to abandon the only home he’s ever known.
Based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s 1967 animated classic, the film features state-of the-art technology that immerses audiences in the lush world like never before. THE JUNGLE BOOK also features the voices of Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito and Christopher Walken.
THE JUNGLE BOOK hits theaters in stunning 3D and IMAX 3D on April 15, 2016.
Alice Through The Looking Glass
Alice herself, Mia Wasikowska took the stage with Bailey, to share a preview of the all-new spectacular adventure, ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. Director James Bobin brings his own unique vision to the spectacular world Tim Burton created on screen in 2010 with “Alice in Wonderland,” in which Alice (Wasikowska) returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter.
The film, which once again features Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and the voices of Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall, introduces several new characters as well: Zanik Hightopp (Rhys Ifans), the Mad Hatter’s father, and Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen), a peculiar creature who is part human, part clock. I love the addition of Sacha to the cast, and that we get to learn more about the Mad Hatter. He’s my favorite Alice in Wonderland character, and I think we’ve all wondered why he’s just so “mad.”
Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd, and Tim Burton produce and John G. Scotti is the executive producer. The screenplay is by Linda Woolverton.
Presented in Digital 3D™, Real D 3D and IMAX® 3D,Disney’s ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS opens in U.S. theaters on May 27, 2016.
If you’re a fan of the Main Street Electrical Parade at Walt Disney World, you squeal when you see Pete and Elliott pass by. OK, maybe it’s just me and my husband. Pete’s Dragon is a childhood favorite of ours, and we are so excited to see it turned into a live-action film.
Bryce Dallas Howard took the stage at D23 Expo to talk about her starring role in PETE’S DRAGON, a reimagining of Disney’s cherished family film. The heartwarming adventure of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliott, who just so happens to be a dragon, PETE’S DRAGON is directed by David Lowery, produced by Jim Whitaker, and executive-produced by Barrie Osborne, and also stars Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence and Robert Redford.
PETE’S DRAGON opens in U.S. theaters on August 12, 2016.
Queen of Katwe
Sean Bailey, with the help of Lupita Nyong’o, introduced the crowd to the upcoming film QUEEN OF KATWE, which is based on the inspirational true story of a girl from the poverty-stricken slums of rural Uganda who dreams of becoming a champion chess player. Directed by Mira Nair from a screenplay by William Wheeler based on the book by Tim Crothers, QUEEN OF KATWE stars Nyong’o, David Oyelowo and newcomer Medina Nalwanga.
When speaking about the film, Lupita remarked that The Queen of Katwe “is full of life and hope.” Can we take a quick break and point out that Lupita will be in THREE Disney Live-Action Feature Films over the next few years? She is absolutely breathtaking, and her talent is being recognized all over, especially by Disney. Way to go, Lupita!
Beauty and The Beast
Bailey next presented BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, including a musical greeting from stars Emma Watson, Josh Gad and Luke Evans—sent from the London set where they are currently filming. The “musical greeting” included Evans and Gad (who we know as Olaf from Disney’s FROZEN) singing a few bars from the song “Gaston.” No one sings at D23 Expo like Gaston, you guys. Ha!
The live-action musical, a retelling of the studio’s animated classic, stars Watson, Dan Stevens, Evans, Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonaldand newcomer Nathan Mack. The film is directed by Bill Condon. Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the animated classic, provides the score, which will include new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Tim Rice, as well as several new songs.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.
Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
A surprise visit by Johnny Depp, who showed up on stage completely decked out as Captain Jack Sparrow, brought down the house and thrilled fans at Sean Bailey’s presentation of the next exciting film in the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES. The word thrilled is an understatement when it comes to Depp’s appearance on stage. The crowd lost it completely, as Jack Sparrow threw grapes into the crowd and almost broke into song at the end of his appearance. Captain Jack is a rockstar!
Thrust into an all-new adventure, a down-on-his-luck Captain Jack Sparrow finds the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost pirates led by his old nemesis, the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea…including him. Captain Jack’s only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that bestows upon its possessor total control over the seas. Did we also mention that the gorgeous Orlando Bloom will return as Will Turner? Yes!
The film is directed by Espen Sandberg & Joachim Rønning and stars Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kevin R. McNally, Kaya Scodelario, Golshifteh Farahani, Stephen Graham, David Wenham and Geoffrey Rush. Jerry Bruckheimer is the producer and Chad Oman, Mike Stenson, Joe Caracciolo, Jr. and Brigham Taylor serve as executive producers. Jeff Nathanson wrote the screenplay.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES releases in U.S. theaters on July 7, 2017.
STAR WARS: The Force Awakens
Of course, we have to end with the biggest and best of the line-up (in my opinion): Star Wars!
Alan Horn took the stage again to present the Lucasfilm slate and timeline. Horn told the audience that there were only 124 days to the release of Episode VII, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, on December 18, 2015 and added that there have been record-breaking trailer views and fantastic fan response. I’d like to point out that 300 of those views are just from our family.
Touching on STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII, Horn reminded the audience that Rian Johnson will be directing the film slated for release on May 26, 2017. Then in a surprise announcement, Horn informed everyone that Colin Trevorrow (“Jurassic World”) has signed on to direct STAR WARS: EPISODE IX, which is scheduled for release in 2019.
Moving on to the new Star Wars stories series, Horn touched on the “Untitled Han Solo” stand-alone film, slated for release on May 25, 2018 by reminding everyone that it will be directed by Christopher Miller & Phil Lord, with Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon Kasdan writing the screenplay.
Horn then took the audience by surprise, announcing the cast for ROGUE ONE, the first of the standalone Star Wars stories to hit the big screen, which has commenced principal photography. Gareth Edwards is directing ROGUE ONE, which tells the story of resistance fighters who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star.
The film is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and is slated for a December 16, 2016 release.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS ended the live-action presentation with a bang as J.J. Abrams introduced stars John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and Lupita Nyong’o. The crowd cheered when John Boyega announced that everyone there would get a Drew Struzan D23 EXPO commemorative poster to take home, which is now selling for hundreds on eBay. Rightly so! Then, in a bringing-down-the house surprise moment, Harrison Ford, who is reprising his role as Han Solo, joined Abrams on stage to wild applause.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Max Von Sydow. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk are producing with Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The screenplay is by J.J. Abrams & Lawrence Kasdan.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS releases in U.S. theaters on December 18, 2015.
Disney, Marvel and Lucasfilms are bringing it over the next few years, and we are so happy they are taking us along for the ride! Which live-action films are you most excited about seeing?