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Disney revealed the elephant in the room — sort of — showing the first footage from Tim Burton’s upcoming remake of the 1941 Disney animated classic Dumbo during its slate presentation Tuesday at CinemaCon.
But the company only showed concept art of the title character — with his big ears, blue eyes and sweet, emotive expression — who will be CG in the final film.
The clips did, however, offer a first look at its live-action stars including Eva Green, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and Colin Farrell under the big top in a dark but stylized Burton-esque circus.
The crafts look top-notch, including those from Burton’s longtime collaborators including Oscar-winning production designer Rick Heinrichs and four-time Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood. Burton also reteamed with his longtime editor, two-time Oscar nominee Chris Lebenzon, and the movie was shot by cinematographer Ben Davis, who recently was BAFTA-nominated for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Slated for a March 29 release, Dumbo is currently in postproduction in London. It was filmed in the U.K., at Pinewood and Cardington Studios.
Disney screened a featurette on another anticipated remake, the May 24, 2019, release Aladdin, which showed the making of the movie musical, everything from choreography to the bazaars of Agrabah. Stars Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott were interviewed for the promotion, with Scott talking about a more feminist and free-thinking portrayal of Princess Jasmine.
A big part of the presentation was devoted to Will Smith’s portrayal of the Genie, with Disney’s incoming distribution chief Cathleen Taff noting that the actor will put his own stamp on the character, which was much beloved in the original animation thanks to Robin Williams’ performance. Said Taff, “Let’s just say a little Fresh Prince, a little Hitch and whole lot of attitude.”
The studio also showed some behind-the-screen footage of director Marc Forster’s live-action/CG Christopher Robin, which opens Aug. 3 and features a grown-up Christopher Robin, played by Ewan McGregor, who has forgotten his childlike joy in the adult world when he is visited by Pooh bear and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood. The characters are seen in the forest, as well as in London (the film was shot on location and on stages in the U.K.).
There was also behind-the-scenes footage from Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms directed by Lasse Hallstrom. Guests got a look at concept art and clips of the four realms, shot by cinematographer Linus Sandgren (Oscar winner for La La Land) and featuring the lush production design of two-time Oscar nominee Guy Hendrix Dyas. Guests learned that the film will include a new ballet number that explains the history of the realms.
Also, the studio touted Rob Marshall’s holiday release, Mary Poppins Returns, with a montage including stars Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda in the animated painting, and the chimney sweeps dancing along Cherry Tree Lane.
Disney closed its presentation with a proof-of-concept clip for Jon Favreau’s upcoming The Lion King — featuring a photo-real opening to match the animated classic, which concluded with the iconic moment in which Rafiki introduces an adorable young Simba on Pride Rock as “Circle of Life” plays. (This clip was first unveiled last year at D23.)
Scheduled for a July 19, 2019, release, The Lion King is again using virtual-production techniques, with Favreau reteaming with his Jungle Book Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Rob Legato and lead VFX house MPC.
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