If it's crap ... We'll tell you
This weekend in Anaheim, Disney held their second D23 Expo - a weekend long event to promote and celebrate their upcoming films, projects, and attractions. Having previously skipped having a large presence at this year's San Diego Comic Con, the D23 Expo was chock-full of news, presentations, sneak previews, and interviews pertaining to their hottest upcoming films like:
Director Dan Scanlon and animator Ricky Nierva hosted a panel on the upcoming Pixar prequel, which takes a look back at cycloptic Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and the shaggy James P. "Sully" Sullivan (John Goodman) as teenagers entering college for the first time. Having been bitter school rivals for years, the pair are less than pleased to discover - on their first day at college - that they are roommates. The story revolves around how these two characters, who initially hate each other, come together as friends and form the bond that carries them into the original film.
Multiple pieces of concept art were shown to attendees, highlighting the design challenges inherent in de-aging the beloved characters: Mike is less round with fewer freckles and sports a retainer (either to straighten or make his teeth more crooked Scanlon remarked, he wasn't sure how braces work in a world of monsters); Sully is slimmer, more bright-eyed, and a tad scruffier with a serious case of "bed head":
The film - which is still in development and isn't slated for release until June 2013 - will feature a much wider variety of monster, as characters from all walks of life will be reflected at the University (goths, jocks, nerds, faculty, etc). Much in the same way that 'Monsters, Inc' poked fun at the 'Three Men and a Baby' scenario, 'Monsters University' will contain many nostalgic nods and references to 80's college films.
CCO John Lasseter took the stage to announce the many "firsts" that their new film 'Brave' represented for Pixar•Disney: their first female main character, their first period piece, and their first venture into fairy tales. Footage and images were shown from the film that revolves around young Princess Merida (Kelly McDonald) - a strong-willed young woman who would rather become a famous archer than be forced to marry one of three Scottish lords. In one scene screened for the audience, the three suitors - Lords Macintosh (Craig Ferguson), Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane), and MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd) all compete in an archery tournament to win Merida's hand, but Merida turns the tables by competing in the tournament herself.
Also explained during the presentation were the blue sparks of light seen in the poster - as director Mark Andrews explains, they are "will-o'-the-wisps": strange lights which can change a person's fate, lead a person to treasure, or lead them to their doom. In an effort to escape her prearranged fate, Merida follows the wisps to the house of a mysterious witch, who grants her wish to be rid of her regal duties. The wish (as most do in these films) has unintended consequences and it's up to Merida to set things right again.
The Untitled Pixar Movie About Dinosaurs
The first of two new films from the studio, the temporarily-titled film takes the concept that a massive asteroid collided with Earth 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs and asks the question - "what if it missed?" The new film centers around a young boy and his brontosaurus, and has actually been speculated about ever since screengrabs from the behind-the-scenes extras in 'Up' showed some early concept art:
Directed by Peter Sohn and Bob Peterson (co-director of 'Up'), the film also premiered a new piece of concept art showing a child riding an Apatosaurus in the savanna. Scheduled for a May 2014 release, the presenters were quick and vigilant to remind attendees that this was a wholly original concept (likely emphasized after the lukewarm reception of their previous film 'Cars 2').
The Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside the Mind
The next unnamed film to be announced (and also heavily promoted as an original) was Pete Docter's film that examines what really goes on inside people's heads. The film is still in the midst of pre-planning, so there was nothing shown but the director made it sound as if various thought processes would be made into anthropomorphized characters and that the film would revolve around how they relate to each other and how they pull together every time a person makes a decision or has a thought.
Toy Story Short: 'Small Fry'
The next short animation to come from the 'Toy Story' characters features Buzz being accidentally replaced with another Buzz Lightyear (wait... didn't that same thing happen in Toy Story 2? ...and sorta in Toy Story 3 as well?), only this time it's a cheap fastfood kids meal knockoff. While the rest of Bonnie's toys have to deal with the impersonator, Buzz has to deal with a support group for discarded toys.
The cast of Marvel's 'The Avengers' came out in force to promote the mega-franchise crossover, and showed a short teaser from the film. ***SPOILERS AHEAD*** In the scene, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has Loki (Tom Hiddleston) locked in a massive cell (designed to hold the Hulk if necessary, it's revealed) aboard the SHIELD Helicarrier. He warns Loki not to try anything and opens a panel on the floor of the cell to show the massive drop below them. Loki mocks Fury, telling him he was so close to possessing the power of the cosmic cube and that now Loki is there to remind Fury what "real power" looks like. Fury walks away with the cold response "let me know if "real power" wants a magazine or something". It pulls back to reveal that the Avengers were all watching the exchange and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) remarks "he kind of grows on you, doesn't he?"
The next scene shows Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) making himself a drink aboard the carrier and commenting: "we've got two trained assassins..." (cuts to a shot of the Black Widow and Hawkeye), "...a demigod..." (shot of Thor), "...a living legend who kind of lives up to the legend..." (shot of Captain America) "...and somehow you've managed to piss them all off." The camera turns to reveal that Stark is speaking directly to Loki. Loki responds "I have an army." to which Stark laughingly retorts with four words: "We have a Hulk." The final shots are of The Hulk rampaging directly towards the screen and the Avengers logo appears.
The very first black and white 3D stop-motion animated film (based upon Tim Burton's original short film) was officially announced and confirmed by the studio. Burton staples such as Winona Ryder, Martin Landau, and Catherine O'Hara will be voicing characters in the film, which was described as "Transylvania meets Burbank". Opening in time for Halloween of 2012, the film centers around young Victor - a child who harnesses his love of science to "rebuilds" his beloved dog after it is tragically killed. In addition to featuring a stable of Burtonites, the film will also be scored by longtime collaborator Danny Elfman.
Disney also unveiled their next 3D animated film 'Wreck-It Ralph', about an arcade game bad guy who longs to be the beloved hero. Voiced by John C. Reilly, Ralph laments his role in life as a massive destroyer of buildings (citing that he's only doing his job as the bad guy) while the game's hero, Fix-It Frank (30 Rock's Jack McBrayer), gets all the accolades. Scenes were shown of the arcade game world, which looks out into the real world. There's a scene at Bad-A-Non where Ralph is joined by a Ghost from Pac Man, Bowser from Mario Brothers, a Big Daddy from Bioshock and even Kano from Mortal Kombat (who rips another game character's heart out) as they all intone the group's motto: "just because you're a bad guy doesn't mean you're a bad guy". When a new shooter (ala Halo) arrives, Ralph takes the opportunity to try and win a medal (to prove himself a good guy), but accidentally releases a villain that could threaten the entire arcade. In addition to images of the characters, they also showed storyboards that reveal various game worlds that Ralph will have to travel to in order to save the day and change his ways.