Will 'Avengers,' 'Frozen 2' and 'Star Wars' Dazzle at D23?

The Anaheim expo has a chance to steal thunder ahead of next week's San Diego Comic-Con.
Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (Left, right); Photofest (Center)
From left: 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi,' 'Frozen' and 'Black Panther'

It's going to be a magical few days for Disney fans.

The company's D23 Expo is coming to Anaheim Friday-Sunday, bringing a stacked lineup that rivals next week's San Diego Comic-Con in terms of the blockbuster footage that could show up. A few films have been confirmed, but many of the buzzy possibilities will be surprises if they do show up.

Possibilities include: Avengers: Infinity War; Frozen 2; Toy Story 4; Incredibles 2; Star Wars: The Last Jedi and many more. Here's a look at what is confirmed to be shown (and what could show up).

FRIDAY (film presentation is 2:30-4:30 p.m.)

Pixar’s Slate

With less than a year to go before the June 15 release of Incredibles 2, fans are hoping to finally see some footage from director Brad Bird’s sequel to his 2004 Oscar-winning superhero film. Bird, as well as producers Nicole Paradis Grindle and John Walker, are scheduled for a signing session on Friday, the same day as the slate presentation.

Disney has confirmed that it will show some exclusive new footage from Pixar's Nov. 22 release Coco, its Day of the Dead-themed film directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) and produced by Darla Anderson. Unkrich, Anderson and co-director and writer Adrian Molina are slated to appear for a signing event. The voice cast includes Benjamin Bratt, Gael Garcia Bernal, Edward James Olmos and Anthony Gonzalez as the film's protagonist, 12-year-old Miguel.

Fans are also hoping for some love surrounding Toy Story 4 (slated for June 21, 2019), which marks a return to the director’s chair for John Lasseter, as well as the feature directorial debut for Josh Cooley (an Oscar nominee for the Inside Out screenplay). What Lasseter has described as a “love story between Woody and Bo Peep,” the Toy Story 4 script was written by Will McCormack and Rashida Jones, based on a story powered by Lasseter, as well as “Pixar Brian Trust” members Andrew Stanton (Wall-E), Pete Docter (Up) and Unkrich. Oscar-winning songwriter and composer Randy Newman returns for the fourth film in the franchise, which launched the age of computer animated features with 1995’s Toy Story.

Walt Disney Animation Studios Slate

Disney has confirmed that its animation slate presentation will include Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, the sequel to the 2012 Oscar-nominated video-game-world-set hit that’s slated to open Nov. 21, 2018. John C. O’Reilly and Sarah Silverman are returning to voice Ralph and Vanellope. Rich Moore (who won an Oscar earlier this year for Zootopia) returns to the franchise to helm the sequel, along with Phil Johnson, who joined Moore as one of the writers on the original.

While not pre-announced, could we learn more about Frozen 2, the sequel to the 2013 Oscar winning hit, which is scheduled for release on Nov. 27, 2019? Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel are among the returning voice castmembers, and Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee are returning to direct. (Related: D23 will host a preview of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, a holiday-themed short also based on Frozen.)

Another film that might be featured during the slate presentation is Gigantic (slated for 2020), a take on Jack and the Beanstalk that’s being directed by Meg LeFauve (who is also writing) and Nathan Greno. LeFauve earned an Oscar nomination for Pixar’s Inside Out screenplay.

SATURDAY (film presentation is 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.)

The Lion King and Dumbo

Will Disney show art or provide news of the live-action remakes of these animated classics, which recently started production? Jon Favreau, fresh off The Jungle Book, is making The Lion King (schedule for a July 19, 2019 release) in Los Angeles, again using virtual production techniques by reteaming with Jungle Book’s Oscar winning VFX supervisor Rob Legato and lead VFX house MPC. Announced this week, John Oliver will join the cast as Zazu. Castmembers also include Donald Glover (Simba), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa) and James Earl Jones (Mufasa). Meanwhile, Tim Burton has started production on Dumbo in the U.K., reteaming with collaborators such as four-time Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood. The cast includes Eva Green, Michael Keaton, Colin Farrell and Danny DeVito.

As THR reported this week, Guy Ritchie’s live action retelling of Aladdin — slated to enter production in August — has hit some casting bumps. Will Disney wish Aladdin to D23?

Star Wars

Considering that it's been three months since the first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and that there's no Star Wars panel at next week's San Diego Comic-Con, don't be surprised if the Saturday "Live Action Films" panel features a new peek at Rian Johnson's upcoming movie. The fact that Lucasfilm's Star Wars Show promised "a ton of new Star Wars stuff" being revealed, including "something pretty interesting" just adds grist to that particular mill … unless audiences should prepare for an appearance from the cast of the troubled Han Solo movie, instead? (And perhaps, maybe, possibly, can we finally give that movie a title? It's out in less than a year, people.) And how about revealing what the next anthology film? Boba Fett and Obi-Wan have been waiting for their time in the sun.

Marvel

Quite what Marvel has planned for D23 is unclear — it wouldn't be too surprising if footage from Avengers: Infinity War made its debut, if nothing else. Looks at Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok are also strong possibilities. (But don't expect it to show up online afterwards, at least officially; Comic-Con is still a week away, after all.) There's also a stand-alone "Cup O'Joe" panel in the D23 Expo Arena on Friday, which might mean some exclusive news about Marvel's upcoming comic book rebranding, Legacy. That said, there's also a heavy Marvel presence at Comic-Con, which might mean that much of the big news will likely be held over for a few days and a more targeted audience …

A Wrinkle In Time

Audiences have been eagerly awaiting footage from Ava DuVernay's adaptation of the beloved fantasy novel, and this is where they're gong to get it: DuVernay has already spilled that there's a trailer coming, and don't be surprised if some of the cast end up making an appearance onstage, as well. The combination of director, cast and property might turn this into the sleeper hit of 2018, so consider this a chance to get in on the ground floor. (Well, you and the thousands of people watching in person, of course.)

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