Robot 6

D23 | Day one’s big movie panel

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My wife and I flew down to Anaheim, Calif. last night to attend Disney’s first-ever D23 Expo, a fan convention focused on anything related to the House of Mouse. The event kicked off on Thursday with a presentation by Bob Iger, Disney CEO, which we unfortunately missed, but you can read about what he said about the Marvel deal over on CBR.

We picked up our badges — or, actually, wristbands — last night, and headed over to the Anaheim Convention Center this morning for our first full day.

We had a few things on our agenda for today, not the least of which was the big movie presentation by Dick Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios. Cook’s presentation basically covered everything that fell into the live-action category; John Lasseter of Pixar fame will be here on Sunday to talk about their animation slate.

And let me tell you, if there’s one thing Disney knows how to do, it’s put on a good presentation. Cook spoke in the convention center’s huge arena, to a crowd of about 5,000 I think was the number he gave. Before we headed into the arena, we stood in a long but fast-moving line and had to give up all electronic devices to a friendly Disney employee. Cameras, cell phones, laptops, etc. weren’t permitted into the presentation, which killed any thoughts I had about Twitter updates or live coverage, or even photos to share later.

But anyway, you could tell this wasn’t going to be a normal presentation or movie panel when the orchestra and singers took their places next to the stage. It kicked off with a musical/video tribute to past Disney films, everything from Pretty Woman and Pearl Harbor to Mary Poppins and Sleeping Beauty. The orchestra performed all sorts of music from the Disney mainstays, i.e. Circle of Life, Beauty and the Beast, etc.

Then Cook went into the films and started bringing out the stars:

–Robert Zemeckis as there to talk briefly about A Christmas Carol, a 3-D stop motion thing (think Polar Express) starring Jim Carrey as Scrooge and a lot of other characters. They provided 3-D glasses, of course, so we could watch the trailer and some scenes from the film. Zemeckis is also working with Disney on a Yellow Submarine film.
–John Travolta, his wife Kelly Preston and their daughter were there to promote Old Dogs, a film with all three of them, Robin Williams, Seth Green and a lot of other folks. Travolta and Williams are two older single guys, best friends, and they find out Williams’ character has twins from a previous girlfriend. They showed the trailer and a clip, and the crowd seemed to find it hilarious; it just kind of reminded me of something akin to Wild Hogs (which people also went nuts over when they heard there would be a sequel).
–Jerry Bruckheimer was there to talk about Prince of Persia, which comes out next summer. I thought the clips they showed were pretty cool, but the crowd didn’t respond as loudly to them as they did to other clips.
–Nicholas Cage was there to talk about the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This is one I wasn’t too sure about going into it, but after seeing the clips and behind-the-scenes stuff they showed, I’m probably a little more excited about this one. Cage plays an older sorcerer who has been looking for an apprentice for centuries … and he finds him in New York City. Alfred Molina plays the bad guy. I don’t know; this could end up being really bad, but I dug what I saw during the presentation. Cook also asked Cage if he was up for a third National Treasure movie, which made the crowd roar.
–Tim Burton was on hand to talk about Alice in Wonderland; I was half expecting Johnny Depp to pop out while he was talking, but it didn’t happen. I also had to chuckle when Burton told Cook he wanted to make an Alice in Wonderland film because he thought no one had ever done it justice … cough, cough.
–After showing the Wonderland trailer, Cook said that they were doing a full-length version of Burton’s Frankenweenie short from many moons ago.
–Live via video from New Zealand, Guillermo del Toro talked about the new movie studio he formed with Disney, called Disney’s Double Dare You. They plan to make animated films with a bit of a horror/adventure bent. del Toro mentioned he was a big fan of rides like The Haunted Mansion, and he wanted to capture the storytelling feel of those sorts of rides in these films. The first one is called The Trollhunters, based on one of del Toro’s ideas.
–Miley Cyrus came out to perform a song from … well, I’m not exactly sure. But I can check “See Miley Cyrus perform live” off my bucket list.
–Also performing on stage were the Muppets, who came out from behind the curtain in a big boat and performed a number. This was one of the highlights, but probably not THE highlight … Cook said a new Muppet film was in the works, called The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made.
–Cook also spoke about other films that are further in the future, like John Carter of Mars and The Lone Ranger. They debuted some concept art for the former and said Johnny Depp would play Tonto in the latter (not sure if that was “new” news or not.) It seemed like there were a couple of other films mentioned as well, but I can’t remember what they were. But watch for a report on the main site.

People were already getting up to leave when Cook pulled a Steve Jobs and said there was one more thing he wanted to mention. At that point, the Pirates of the Caribbean logo appeared on the big screen, with the words “On Stranger Tides” underneath it, followed by “Summer 2011.” Of course, the crowd was going nuts, then was standing and cheering as the curtains were pulled back to reveal a giant masthead and sail. You could the silhouette of someone in the sail, and as it rotated around, there was Johnny Depp, dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow, who swaggered out on stage. He stayed in character as he spoke to Cook, saying he was looking for a talking frog because he likes them — “they taste like chicken” then made a reference to it being time for Rum. Overall, it was a really cool moment and a really cool way to end the presentation.

I’ll have more about what we did and saw soon …

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Comments

17 Comments

Everything sounds good except the Muppet movie. I mean seriously, puppets? In the 21st century?

Miley sang “The Climb” from Hannah Montana: The Movie

If you don’t like the Muppets, you have no soul. Seriously.

Thanks Jen — my eight-year-old niece has been asking us what she sang.

Who doesn’t like the muppets?

Who cares if it’s the 21st Century?

Everyone in my household LOVES the Muppets, including my 14-year-old son. Don’t tell him puppets don’t belong in the 21st century!

Johnbo probably thinks that 2D animation shouldn’t be continued as well, some things are better in the classical way, and come on Muppets rock definitely my fave news.

I tried turning my kids onto the muppets – bought the Muppet Show DVD. They couldn’t care less, thought they were boring. I myself was surprised until I watched the thing myself. Very dated. Time marches on, I guess…

I’ve got to assume that was sarcasm. If not I’d just start crying.

What,

no mention of The Princess and the Frog?

This was the live action panel … they have one just on all their animated projects today. They also had a Princess and the Frog specific panel yesterday.

The new Muppet movie will (hopefully) be cool… Yes, the old Muppet Show, while still cool on some levels, is pretty dated. In part, perhaps, because kids have been exposed to things a lot less innocent in the 30 years or so since that show began, and in part because the majority of guests stars on that show are now dead and kids have no idea who they were. Even the ones still alive (musicians Paul Simon, Elton John and Alice Cooper all come to mind, Steve Martin too) aren’t known to kids.

That said, show the kids some of the Muppet movies instead. Nearly every human in The Muppet Movie is dead now too, but that shouldn’t matter. The Muppets are the focus of that movie, and it’s still a great, funny, magical movie. If your kids are of Sesame Street age, they’ll love Big Bird’s cameo. Great songs too. Most of the movies hold up. The Great Muppet Caper and Muppets Take Manhattan are fun too.

The ones after that are a mixed bag,., but still good movies, IMO. I love the Muppet Christmas Carol, though that one might be too slow for children. I watch it every year though, and dare I say that’s my favorite Xmas/holiday movie of all time (along with Nightmare Before Christmas). Michael Caine is fantastic in that movie. Muppet Treasure Island isn’t my favorite, but I still like it a lot. Funny. Muppets From Space has a lot of detractors, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. I love Gonzo, so making him the lead character was a treat. Plus I love Pepe (“I am a KING PRAWN!”)… Easily my favorite of the newer Muppets.

Anyhow, from what I know about this Muppet movie, it’s supposed to be something of a throwback to the classic Muppets style. Jason Segal’s apparently writing it, so it should mix in some modern humor too. I hope it’s good.

I was going to add, it’s about time Disney’s finally doing something with the Muppets! Now they just need to make a new, better, 3D film to update the old one that’s been playing for there for the past two decades.

As for the rest of the movie slate, I’m looking forward to John Carter and Alice in Wonderland both. Those should both be a blast! I’ll pass on Christmas Carol, as I hate that motion capture stuff. The people look creepy (they sure were in Polar Express). Add Jim Carrey to that, and it’s pretty much my idea of Hell. I’ll stick with my Muppet Christmas Carol DVD, thank you.

I didn’t know there was going to be a Lone Ranger film… Can’t say I care. Depp as Tonto? Does he have any Native American blood? If not can see there being an uproar over that casting.

Pirates… I dunno. I was indifferent about the first one, LOVED the second one because it was just such goofy fun (the chase scene, with the giant wheel was hilarious), and the third one was seriously disappointing, aside from the Keith Richards cameo. Not sure what they can do to make a fourth one interesting.

Nothing on Toy Story 3 or The Princess & The Frog??

Ah, I should’ve read on to JK’s comments… Now I know why no Toy Story or Princess & Frog. Mea culpa!

Shaun – Depp is part Cherokee. His grandmother was full blooded and his grandfather was part.

Thanks Cindy… I wasn’t slamming the casting, just wondering if he had any “authenticity” to lend to the movie. No worries.

I hope they do the books that started what we call modern sci-fi right. Go John Carter!!! 2012 seems so far away. Now if we could only get a big time Mizuyaki movie push.

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