Hanks as Disney, 'Muppets Most Wanted,' Jolie's 'Maleficent,' and Marvel all shine at D23
ANAHEIM - Being in my seat inside the D23 Arena at the Anaheim Convention Center in time for this morning's live-action presentation meant I was out of bed by 6:00 this morning. That was the hard part, though, and now that we're actually here and seated, it seems like Disney's gone out of their way to make sure everything is smooth sailing once you're actually on-site.
Dave Lewis is going to be posting breaking news stories out of the live-action panel this morning, which Disney is calling "LET THE ADVENTURES BEGIN." We know they'll be featuring "Saving Mr. Banks," the film about Walt Disney wooing P.L. Travers so she'll let him make a "Mary Poppins" film, as well as "Thor: The Dark World," Brad Bird's mysterious "Tomorrowland," and beyond that, it's all pretty much a secret. I've heard there will not be a major "Star Wars" announcement, but of course, that could just be smoke and mirrors. We'll see.
I'm not normally a live-blogger, and when I see how good some of our guys are at it during Comic-Con, I know the bar is set high. I'll do my best today to give you some ongoing sense of what it's like to be here, though, and of the highlights as the various presentations unfold.
Just waiting for things to get underway now. Hopefully it will be very close to the 10:30 start time that was stated.
Alan Horn, Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios takes the stage as the footage ends to start the event.
The comments are aimed directly at the Disney fans in the arena, and that's actually important to remember... this is a fan event first. There is a press section, and I'm sure the studio wants the coverage, but the people who paid to be here are the hardcore Disney fans. Horn talks about taking his not-yet-wife on a date to see "Bambi," and what role the film played in their life, showing a ring that he presented to her when he proposed.
There were values taught to Horn as a child. Honesty, Loyalty, respect. They are the same values reflected in the creative works of this company, and that those values are what attract people to the work that Disney puts out.
He talks about how Pixar is pretty much a unique creative culture, and describes the Emeryville facility as feeling like a college campus.
He talks about what Marvel added to the portfolio. "Now we're in Sparta. This is a muscular place."
Then finally, last year, they acquired Lucasfilm. Talks about how beautiful the Lucasfilm facility is, and how there's an eight-foot-statue with Yoda on the top. He says it is not uncommon for meetings to end with "May The Force Be With You."
He also talks about making the transition from Warner Bros. to Disney. "How difficult could it be? Bunny, mouse. I have a history of working with small mammals." Talks about how every studio has a history and an iconography that you trade on, and how Disney's includes not just the characters they created, but Walt Disney himself.
10:40 - "The reason we make these movies is you. Without you, we don't have a company."
He referred back to yesterday's presentation about the animated slate of films they have coming up. He talked about how Lasseter travels with a ton of different Hawaiian shirts. Mentioned some of the titles that were discussed yesterday, including "Frozen," "The Good Dinosaur," and the "Planes" sequel that is already in the works. He also mentioned how show-stopping the musical number was that was performed.
Let's start by welcoming Lucasfilm to the Disney family.
"Our priority is, of course, 'Star Wars.' I remember being blown away by the first film in 1977. I remember driving home, I was pulled over by a policeman, and he asked me why I was going 80 miles per hours on Wilshire Boulevard, and I told him I needed to get to hyperspeed."
I'm thrilled to say that more than 35 years later, I get to be part of this saga. Look for Episode VII in the summer of 2015. Some images onscreen from the original trilogy, a few Prequel shots, and he mentions that they will also do the standalone films we've heard rumored now.
He mentions that JJ Abrams is the director of Episode VII, and he says that he is so well known now that all he needs is a first name now. "Hi, I'm JJ." He confirms info we already know, like Michael Arndt is writing, and John Williams is doing the score.
"I really wish I could tell you more, but…"
The "Imperial March" plays loudly, and a slide of Darth Vader comes up.
"… but there are dark forces. It will be wonderful." And that really is it for "Star Wars."
He mentions that there are over 7000 characters in the Marvel Universe, and how so far, the movies have hinged on characters that we already know. He uses the preamble to introduce Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, and Kevin comes out ready to go.
"The Avengers" was the culmination of Phase One, and Phase Two is starting. He says that "Iron Man 3" was the first of the Phase Two films, and the second will be "Thor: The Dark World." He brings out director Alan Taylor, mentioning his work on "Game Of Thrones" and "Mad Men," and he says Taylor has done great work for them.
They run down the names of the returning cast, and mention that Zach Levi is joining the cast as well. He talks about how the new trailer is in theaters now, and then intros the first extended clip.
The extended clip opens with the battle that the Warriors Three are fighting on what looks like another planet. Thor shows up and destroys a rock creature and then looks around. "Anyone else?" You see that in the new trailer.
Odin's voice-over about how there are dark forces that they need to fear ais played over shots of the alien craft arriving on Earth. Thor shows up, takes Janes with him, and then goes back to Asgard. We get to see a lot of Heimdahl in battle. We see the footage of Thor going to get Loki out of captivity. Lots of beats from the trailers we've scene. But the new things we see are more looks at the bad guys, and Eccleston's voice-over is about how there will be nothing that can ease Thor's pain, intercut with lots of hero shots, and then it ends with that amazing shot of Loki betraying Thor and cutting off his hand as the hammer races towards him.
And then Tom Hiddleston walks out onstage as the clip ends. Big applause.