Yesterday, Disney kicked off their annual D23 Expo by showcasing several animated features they have in various stages of development, including The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, Finding Dory, The Pirate Fairy and more. As exciting as that news was, the big event is happening today with the two-hour panel Let the Adventures Begin: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios.
Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn, Disney Live Action Production President Sean Bailey, and Marvel Studios President and Producer Kevin Feige are hosting this two-hour panel, which will include footage from upcoming movies such as Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Saving Mr. Banks and Tomorrowland. And those are just the ones they have officially announced, with plenty of surprises (*cough* Star Wars: Episode VII news maybe? *cough*) in store throughout the panel.
I'll be updating this story with all the details as soon as they come in, so keep refreshing this story for the latest information, live from the Anaheim Convention Center floor!
10:38 AM: Alan Horn takes the stage and breaks down the studio's acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and, most recently, LucasFilm. He offered this anecdote about taking meetings at Lucasfim. "When you have a meeting at LucasFilm, it's not uncommon for someone to say, 'May the force be with you.'"
10:40 AM: Alan Horn welcomes LucasFilm to the Disney family, which gets massive applause. "Our priority is, of course Star Wars. I remember being blown away by the first film in 1977. After the first film, I was driving home and the police pulled me over. He said, 'Why are you going 80 miles per hour on Wilshire?' 'I have to get to light speed.'"
10:44 AM: Alan Horn briefly mentions the Star Wars spin-off movies, and talks about bringing on J.J. Abrams to direct. Alan Horn says, 'I wish I could tell you more...' and then the Darth Vader theme plays. The crowd goes nuts... but nothing happens. What a tease, that Alan Horn.
10:47 AM: Alan Horn moves to Marvel: "There are 7000 characters in the Marvel Universe, so we can look forward to 6,994 more movies."
10:49 AM: Kevin Feige presents an extended look at Thor: The Dark World. Footage is in the woods, the Dark Evlves doing battle with Sif and the rest of teh Warriors Three, when Thor's arrives. Sif: "I've got this completely under control." Thor: "Is that why everything's on fire?" Then we see the shot at the end of the latest trailer, where Thor encounters the massive stone giant. He says, 'Hello. I accept your surrender,' which wasn't in the trailer. Next sequence has Anthony Hopkins narration talking about dark forces. Thor takes Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) to Asgard, Thor speaking with Heimdall (Idris Elba). Crowd goes nuts when Loki (Tom Hiddleston) appears on screen. The last scene shows Loki cutting off Thor's hand!
10:54 AM: Tom Hiddleston shows up, apologizes for not showing up in costume, a nod to his Comic-Con performances. He then introduces Natalie Portman, who says "It's so nice to meet you all from afar." Anthony Hopkins comes out on stage, receives an immediate standing ovation from the entire crow, except me because I can't stand up and hold my laptop while typing.
10:56 AM: Kevin Feige introduces the first exclusive clip featuring Jane's first day in Asgard. She's lying on a strange bed/platform, with attendants/doctors around her. Thor is told that she cant' survive the amount of energy inside her. Odin shows up. "She does not belong in Asgard, any more than a goat belongs at a banquet table.' When the guards try to take her, the energy inside her knocks the guards on their feet. Very interesting stuff.
10:59 AM: Kevin Feige moves on to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, introduces the footage shown at Comic-Con 2013. Captain America (Chris Evans) meets up with Crossbones (Frank Grillo) discussing an operation. Cap has a bad feeling about this, as more keep piling into the elevator. Cap says, "Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?" All of them converge on Cap, who takes out all of them except for Crossbones, who says, 'It isn't personal.' Cap says, 'It feels personal.' Next sequence, Cap talking with Robert Redford's character, who talks about burning the old world down to make a new world. Nick Fury tells cap they have to neutralize a lot of threats before they happen. Cap says 'This isn't freedom, this is fear.' Great shot with Anthony Mackie's The Falcon, where he jumps off a building firing at a helicopter, before deploying his wings. Last sequence shows Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier.
11:05: AM: Kevin Feige introduces Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, and Anthony Mackie. When asked about his transformation from Bucky to the Winter Soldier, Sebastian says this: "I guesss you saw him crashing into the mountains, but, funny enough, he found his way back." Anthony Mackie says, "I am the Falcon. Don't let the pink shirt fool you." Chris Evans says, "He's still trying to aclimate. It's trying to get used to the way the world is now. Cap's always wanted to be a good guy, but it's harder for him now to understand the difference between good and bad."
Kevin Feige introduces the very first clip. Starts with Cap and Black Widow on a jet, with Black Widow asking if he's doing anything fun this weekend. He says, 'The guys in my barbershop quartet are dead." Cap jumps out of the plane, right into the sea. Crossbones notes that he wasn't even wearing a parachute. Rough animation of Cap climbing up a anchor chain onto a ship. Then footage of Cap taking out all the guards on this ship with ease. Action seems much more dynamic and fast-paced in this sequel. Great overhead tracking shot where we see Cap running and taking a guard out. Crossbones, Black Widow and the rest parachute in, and Black Widow keeps pressing Cap to get into the dating scene. Great stuff!
11:14 AM: Kevin Feige moves on to Guardians of the Galaxy. Says they are four weeks into shooting, and shows the Comic-Con 2013 footage. See Chris Pratt picking up some sort of orb, when Djimon Hounsou stops him and asks who he is. He says "I'm the Star-Lord." Djimon says 'Who?' then John C. Reilly introduces the rest of the team, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon. Awesome, awesome stuff, that seems to have writer-director James Gunn's humor firmly in place.
11:18 AM: Brief tease of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, featuring lines of dialogue from the Marvel Phase One movies, ending with Samuel L. Jackson's line, "They'll come back, because we'll need them to."
11:20 AM: Alan Horn comes back out and makes a joke about Guardians of the Galaxy, saying that after seeing Groot and Rocket Racoon, the "first thing" he thought of is DisneyNature, the studio's documentary series that continues with Bears. He announces that everyone who sees Bears in theaters will be donating to the National Park Foundation. The first trailer is shown. We meet Skye and her cubs as they go on a journey through the wilderness. There are a lot of Awwww's coming from the audience. It looks like another great documentary.
11:25 AM: Alan Horn introduces Disney Live Action Production President Sean Bailey. He introduces the first footage from Muppets Most Wanted, showing Constantine, a villain who looks just like Kermit the Frog. Also some great scenes with Tina Fey throwing Kermit the Frog in jail, Ty Burrell comparing "badges" with Muppet Sam the Eagle. Sean Bailey keeps talking about the movie, when Ty Burrell drives out on stage in the actual, super-tiny car that he drives in the movie. "Luckily, it's electric, so I got to use the carpool lane." When asked about working with the Muppets, the actor said, "Oh my goodness, it was so much fun. I grew up watching the Muppets on television, so the first day on set was mesmerizing." He also talks about the French accent. "If there are any French people here, I apologize."
11:32 AM: We go to a live feed from the Muppets Most Wanted set from London. Miss Piggy introduces a special tribute to us, "the world's greatest fans." Then Tina Fey and Kermit the Frog comes on wearing "P23" shirts. Miss Piggy thought that D23 was P23, and is a celebration about just her, but Tina Fey and Kermit the Frog inform her that is not the case. Kermit the Frog introduces a new clip. Dominic (Ricky Gervais) comes on with Constantine, trying to do his best Kermit impression, which is Russian and awful and kind of sounds like Borat doing a Kermit impression. Animal comes in and bites his arm. Constantine and Dominic meet up and talk about their global burglary scheme where they want to steal the crown jewels of England. Constantine breaks into a song where he's the number one criminal in the world, and Dominic is number two. Then Constanine makes Dominic dance and sing. Gervais actually has a pretty good singing voice.
11:40 AM: Sean Bailey moves on to the musical Into the Woods, just running down who has been cast. He also talks about Cinderella, saying they will be faithful to the original story. He introduces a video with director Kenneth Branagh talking about the film. 'You come to a story like Cinerdella as a filmmaker, and realize there are several moments people remember from the original film. Cinderella the character is like a family friend to the world." We see the new Cinderella Lily James' screen test. Kenneth Branagh proceeds to break down the rest of the characters, the prince (Richard Madden), the stepmother (Cate Blanchett), the fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter). The director talks about being inspired to meet the huge expectations fans have for the movie.
11:48 AM: Sean Bailey moves on to Maleficent, talks about how Angelina Jolie was the only actress they were interested in for the role. He says the movie will show how Maleficent becomes so evil. He then introduces Angelina Jolie, who gets a massive standing ovation. "Since I was a little girl, Maleficent was always my favorite. I wanted to know more about her, and who she was. She had this elegance and this grace, but she was so cruel. When it was announced that Disney was trying to make Maleficent, I got a call from my brother, who said I had to get in on this. Thankfully, I got that call."
She also speaks about working with director Robert Stromberg, who makes his directing debut after working as a production designer for years. "As beautiful as it was, it also had to have this edge, and we had to push it as far as we could, but stay true to the original." Tells a hilarious story about trying to greet children on the set while wearing her Maleficent costume with the horns. One kid said, "Mommy, tell the mean witch to stop talking to me." She talks about, as a parent, how comfortable she is taking her kids to Disney movies. The crowd goes insane as she leaves the stage.
11:56 AM: First footage from Maleficent. Three fairies come to greet the king's newborn baby, when Maleficent comes in, dressed in all black, those crazy horns on her head and a huge black crow (?) perched on her shoulder. She reveals her curse that she puts on Aurora/Sleeping Beauty (Elle Fanning). Angelina looks very convincing as this evil character. Quite impressive.
12:03 PM: They play a video that starts out as a tribute to Walt Disney himself, and then turns to Tomorrowland. We see part of the mysterious box named simply "1952" that inspired the story of Tomorrowland. Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof come out on stage with the actual 1952 box. Brad takes out a photograph that is of Walt Disney and Amelia Earhart which is dated April 1945, which is after she disappeared. They reveal it's a hoax, that Walt's head was put on someone's body, but they wonder why that was put in there? Then Damon shows an Amazing Stories comic book from 1928. Again, why is that in the box? Also a piece of cardboard with some strange insignia that says AS28 and page 42. You lay the cardboard over Page 42 of the comic book and it lays out a message from the comic book, which may have been secret messages between the Imagineers. Lindelof says production began this week, so they have nothing to show us, but he brings out a blueprint of the It's a Small World attraction, but, when you put the blueprint under a UV light, you see a mysterious secret blueprint, which is very intriguing. They move on to the "coolest thing in the box." which is a disc/record that they thought at first was a prop, but there actually is data on this disc, animation from the early 1960s, which they show to us. Very, very strange animation that teases a bizarre and future world.
12:10 PM: Sean Bailey introduces Saving Mr. Banks, with the first clip from the movie. Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) meets with Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), and musicians Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak) and Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman), who composed the music for Mary Poppins. It's clear, right away, that Travers does not want to be there, saying her beloved story should not be turned into a movie. We then meet Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), who is simply delighted to be actually meeting with the author. There's a funny line where Walt says, "I could just eat you up," to which Travers replies, "That would be inappropriate." Travers continues to show her resistance to a Mary Poppins adaptation, when Walt breaks into a fantastic speech about how he promised his kids, 20 years ago, to make this movie, and that he won't tarnish the story he loves. We see another scene where Travers and Walt walk through the Magic Kingdom, with little kids asking for Walt's autograph. When Walt insists that Travers gets on a ride, he reveals that he did it to win a bet that he couldn't get her on a ride.
12:15 PM: Stars B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman take the stage. B.J. Novak spoke about the incredible experience of meeting Robert Sherman, and Jason Schwartzman said that his counterpart, Richard Sherman, actually gave him lessons. "We would go over all the songs and give me master classes in songwriting. He's a really good winker. It's nice to get a wink."
12:25 PM: The panel closed with one final clip and a fun little surprise. The clip shown was during the writing process of Mary Poppins, with Travers in a meeting with Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), and musicians Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak) and Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman). She is very technical and precise, demanding that even the scene descriptions be written in a certain way. She also takes a few harsh jabs at Dick Van Dyke, who Robert Sherman says is "one of the greats." Travers laughs off that claim. Then, DaGradi and the Sherman's move towards the piano in the room and start singing the opening of "Let's Fly a Kite." When the clip ends, a piano is wheeled out onto the stage with both B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman singing this classic tune, and then, introducing the legendary Robert Sherman himself. They continue to sing the entire song, as legions of performers flood into the arena with these fake kites, dancing around in the aisles as the song continues.
That wraps up my coverage of the two-hour panel Let the Adventures Begin: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios. Sadly, there was no Star Wars: Episode VII news revealed, but it did prove that Walt Disney Studios has several intriguing live-action projects coming out over the last few years that will capture the imagination of the fans.