Disney is a studio that was built on animation and Pixar Animation Studios was bought by Disney to help save its animation legacy. The line-up for the next year is promising. John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, was dressed in this D23 Expo Hawaiian shirt design that featured the emotions from Pixar’s “Inside Out” and he gave the D23 Expo audience of 7,500 sneak peeks of the Disney-Pixar slate of animated features. Special guest appearances included Ellen DeGeneres, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, Ginnifer Goodwin, Dwayne Johnson, Randy Newman and Ty Burrell, among others.
“Inside Out” is already out, but for the DVD/Blu-ray, an animated short, “Riley’s First Date” will be one of the special features. The D23 audience got a special preview. The film bundled will be available digitally Oct. 13 and on Blu-ray Nov. 3, 2015.
“The Good Dinosaur” has been troubled and the feature seems to be totally re-imagined compared to what was presented at the previous D23 Expo. Director Peter Sohn and producer Denise Ream shared never-before-seen footage of a trio of T-Rexes in action. Think of them as lizard cowboys who don’t need horses to ride into the sunset or to run down rustlers.
In theaters on Nov. 25, 2015, the film is about Arlo, a sheltered Apatosaurus, whose father dies and he becomes separated from his family. On his journey home, he meets a human who he names Spot.
Taking animals out of the country and into an urban environment is “Zootopia” which is about a rookie rabbit officer named Judy Hopps who is voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin (ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” “Something Borrowed,” “Walk the Line”), who needs to solve a mystery with the held of a sneaky fox. International superstar Shakira is lending her Grammy®-winning voice to Gazelle, the biggest pop star in Zootopia. She will sing “Try Everything,” written by singer-songwriter Sia and songwriting duo Stargate, and performed by Shakira.“Zootopia” opens nationwide March 4, 2016.”
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ will be back at seas with “Finding Dory. ” Ellen DeGeneres (“The Ellen DeGeneres Show”), the voice of the forgetful blue tang. Other voices will be provided by Ed O’Neill (“Modern Family”), who lends his voice to Hank, a cantankerous octopus; Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), the voice of Bailey, a misguided beluga whale; and Kaitlin Olson (“Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), who voices Destiny, a kind-hearted whale shark. Dory with friends Nemo and Marlin searches for answers about her past and that leads her to Monterey, California and its famed aquarium/rehab center.
Attempting to answer a historical myster, “Moana,” will look at a girl from the South Pacific who is determined to return to the ways of her ancestors who once navigated the South Seas, but have suddenly stopped. In her journey to reclaiming the tradition of the wayfinders, her friends include the goddess of the volcano and its lava, the water, a demi-god Maui (voiced by half-Samoan Dwayne Johnson) and a optimistic pet pig and a stowaway rooster.
Tony®-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway’s hottest new hit “Hamilton,” Tony-winning “In the Heights”), Grammy®-winning composer Mark Mancina (“Speed”, “Tarzan” “The Lion King”) and Opetaia Foa’i (founder and lead singer of the world music award-winning band Te Vaka) blend their diverse and dynamic talents to the musical score.
“Moana” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.
Walt Disney Animation Studios wants to return to fairy tales and is making what they hope is the definitive retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. Their film will be called “Gigantic” and looks at a young Spanish man named Jack who meets a giant 60-foot tall girl named Inna and together they have an adventure during the Age of Exploration. Oscar®-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez will provide the music. “Gigantic” hits theaters in 2018.
With the rise of the Latino population as a cultural force, it should come as no surprise that there will be another animated feature based on the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Director Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”) and producer Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”) are working on Disney·Pixar’s “Coco” which will be the celebration of a lifetime, where the discovery of a generations-old mystery leads to a most extraordinary and surprising family reunion. No release date has been set.
Not all of the animated features on the Disney-Pixar slate are totally new. Toy Story fans will be happy to learn there will be a “Toy Story 4” and it will be a romance between Woody and Bo Peep. “Toy Story 4,” which will be directed by Lasseter and produced by Susman, is slated for release on June 16, 2017. There will also be a sequel to “The Incredibles.” The story line and the release date are unknown and was not discussed during the D23 Expo presentation.