CineEurope 2012: Disney Slate Draws Enthusiastic Response

"Iron Man 3" production still
"Iron Man 3" production still
 Marvel

BARCELONA, Spain --  The first audience whoop at this year's CineEurope rang out for John Goodman and Billy Crystal after the duo delivered a taped message Tuesday to introduce Monsters University, the prequel to Disney/Pixar's 2001 hit Monsters, Inc.

The duo, who return as the respective voices for monsters Sulley and Mike for the prequel about their characters at monster college, told the audience to put on their 3D glasses for the footage before Crystal adorned his eyes with his own old-fashioned red and green halved monster mask glasses.

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The enthusiastic whoop came as Disney became the third Hollywood studio to present its upcoming wares to movie owners and exhibition execs at this year's confab.

Before the whoop came applause as Disney split its showcase into three separate sections on the second show day of CineEurope 2012.

The first part was dedicated to Marvel Studios, the next to Disney and Pixar animated output and the final segment for Disney's upcoming live-action films.

The first third certainly owes a lot to the huge success of Marvel's The Avengers -- described by Dave Hollis, exec vp theatrical distribution at Walt Disney Studios, as "history in the making" as it continues its record-breaking box-office run of $1.4 billion worldwide and counting. (The film was released as Avengers Assemble in the U.K. and Ireland.)

Disney had European exhibitors clapping with release dates penciled in for a slew of Avengers superhero character sequels in the works with Iron Man 3 (summer 2013), Thor 2 (fall 2013) and Captain America 2 (spring 2014) but kept them on tenterhooks about the plans for Avengers 2, which has no firm release date yet.

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Disney's Lee Jury came to the stage to introduce some unfinished raw footage and trailers from Disney Animation and Pixar.

Highlights for the popcorn-hungry exhibitors included a scene from Planes, an airborne story from the makers of Cars; a sequence from TinkerBell and the Secret of the Wings; and footage from the 3D retooling of Finding Nemo, which garnered enthusiastic applause.

Jury then kicked a soccer ball over to Disney colleague Tony Chambers, an Irishman whose national team this month failed to qualify for the next stage of the ongoing European Championship soccer finals. Jury's national team, England, beat Ukraine on Tuesday to ensure its safe passage into the quarterfinals.

Chambers gathered the ball, batting down Jury's sporting quips, to talk up Tim Burton's Frankenweenie.

With most CineEurope showcases so far being all about large-scale, big-budget Hollywood gloss and 3D, certain European exhibitors were surprised to learn that the stop-motion puppet movie has been shot in black and white in 3D, by Burton, to keep it close to the classic 1931 Frankenstein movie starring Boris Karloff.

During Chambers' segment, Jennifer Garner garnered some local fans by sending besos to the Spanish contingent in the audience during Disney's showcase for her upcoming film The Odd Life of Timothy Green.

Also trumpeted was Disneynature's Chimpanzee, which will start its international rollout early next year, and People Like Us, a drama starring Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Hollis returned to tell exhibitors that former White Stripes frontman and musician du jour Jack White is on board to write the entire score for The Lone Ranger, directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp.

Hollis told the exhibitors the studio hopes Lone Ranger will do for cowboys what Pirates of the Caribbean did for swashbuckling movies.

Hollis also gave the audience a peek at the look and feel of Oz: The Great and Powerful, starring James Franco alongside Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams as the three witches.

With physical production just finished, the Disney exec said the effects-heavy picture should hit international theaters in March.

The studio unspooled its Disney/Pixar Scottish animation adventure Brave in 3D using the MasterImage 3D system to an auditorium packed with local children from the American school in Barcelona.

Judging by the youngsters' enthusiastic response to the 3D and the film, exhibitors can look forward to plenty of business.

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