Live Action News from Disney, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm at D23 Expo

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After an amazing Animation panel at D23 Expo, we got another full day of surprises for the Live Action panel to discuss upcoming films and get updates about films we already knew about. While some was old news and had very little info, it was fun to get confirmation and a touch of excitement. 

Clif notes version of the Live Action Panel (click on the title to jump to that section):

A Wrinkle in Time

Sean Bailey welcomed A WRINKLE IN TIME cast members Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Chris Pine along with newcomer Storm Reid and visionary director Ava DuVernayto the D23 stage, where they thrilled fans with a first look at the film’s teaser trailer and teaser poster. The film, which is an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic, takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and ultimately, the triumph of love.

“I’m such a Disney fan, any time they call I’m like, ‘what is it? I’ll do it!’ Just love Disney!” Reese Witherspoon said to the crowd as she shook with excitement. 

Disney/Image Group LA
OPRAH WINFREY, MINDY KALING, REESE WITHERSPOON, CHRIS PINE, STORM REID, AVA DUVERNAY

We also got a look at the first trailer for the movie.

Meg Murry (Storm Reid) is a typical middle school student struggling with issues of self-worth who is desperate to fit in. As the daughter of two world-renowned physicists, she is intelligent and uniquely gifted, as is Meg’s younger brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe), but she has yet to realize it for herself. Making matters even worse is the baffling disappearance of Mr. Murry (Chris Pine), which torments Meg and has left her mother (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) heartbroken. Charles Wallace introduces Meg and her fellow classmate Calvin (Levi Miller) to three celestial guides—Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon) and Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling)—who have journeyed to Earth to help search for their father, and together they set off on their formidable quest. Traveling via a wrinkling of time and space known as tessering, they are soon transported to worlds beyond their imagination where they must confront a powerful evil. To make it back home to Earth, Meg must look deep within herself and embrace her flaws to harness the strength necessary to defeat the darkness closing in on them.

The three celestial beings, Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) in Disney’s A WRINKLE IN TIME.

The highlight of talking with them was when Oprah told everyone that “You’re getting a poster, and you’re getting a poster. You’re all getting a POSTER!!!!!” Priceless moment. Can’t wait to watch this movie in theaters March 9th, 2018!

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

We got a trailer for the upcoming movie and it looks like it is going to be fantastic. 

Sean Bailey shared with D23 Expo 2017 fans Disney’s all-new take on a classic story in THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS. Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, newcomer Mackenzie Foy as Clara, Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger, Morgan Freeman as godfather Drosselmeyer, and featuring a special performance by Misty Copeland, the movie is inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale. THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS is directed by Lasse Hallström and produced by Mark Gordon and Larry Franco. 

The film largely takes place in a strange and mysterious parallel world—home to Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. But it’s the ominous Fourth Realm where Clara must take on a tyrant called Mother Ginger as well as a gang of mice who’ve stolen a coveted key from Clara.

Said Bailey, “The Mouse King is made up of thousands of mice—a cutting-edge CG creation. But we wanted him to move in a way that would be wonderfully surprising and incredibly cool, so we called on Lil Buck to provide the style of dance that defines the character. He is so talented and the way he makes this character move is unbelievable.”

Los Angeles-based dancer Lil Buck hit the stage at D23 Expo 2017 to demonstrate the kind of street dancing—called jookin—that informed the way his character moves in the film. The performance earned a standing ovation.

THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS open in theaters everywhere on November 2nd, 2018!

Disney/Image Group LA)
SEAN BAILEY (PRESIDENT, WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURE PRODUCTION)

Mary Poppins Returns

To the delight of D23 fans, Emily Blunt, the star of Disney’s sequel MARY POPPINS RETURNS, took to the stage with director/producer Rob Marshall to talk about the eagerly-anticipated return of the practically-perfect nanny. In this original musical sequel to the 1964 “Mary Poppins,” Mary and her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, embark on entirely new adventures with the next generation of the Banks family to help them find the joy and wonder missing in their lives.

Blunt and Marshall answered questions from Sean Bailey, with Blunt offering insight on how she made the character her own. “I needed to try to pay homage to Julie Andrews, but carve out a new space for myself,” said Blunt.”No one is going to out Julie, Julie Andrews!” she continued. “And we were very loyal to the books.” Rob Marshall shared, “I was incredibly honored to be approached by Disney about directing a sequel. This is a brand-new original film musical from top to bottom, which is very rare, and it is a wonderful opportunity to create something specifically for the screen.” D23 attendees were then treated to an exclusive first look at the film, which was accompanied by a live orchestra performing original new music from the film conducted by composer Marc Shaiman, eliciting thunderous applause.

Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

P.L. Travers first introduced the world to the no-nonsense nanny in her 1934 children’s book “Mary Poppins.” However, the subsequent adventures of Mary Poppins remained only on the pages of the seven other P.L. Travers’ books…until now. MARY POPPINS RETURNS is drawn from the wealth of material in these additional books.  The film also stars Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks, Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks, Julie Walters as the Banks’ housekeeper Ellen, with Colin Firth as Fidelity Fiduciary’s William Weatherall Wilkins and Meryl Streep as Mary’s eccentric cousin Topsy. Angela Lansbury appears as the Balloon Lady and Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Dawes Jr., the retired chairman of the bank now run by Firth’s character. MARY POPPINS RETURNS is directed by Rob Marshall. The screenplay is by David Magee and the screen story is by Magee & Marshall & John DeLuca based on The Mary Poppins Stories by P.L. Travers. The producers are Marshall, DeLuca and Marc Platt with Callum McDougall serving as executive producer, and the music is by Marc Shaiman with songs by Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

MARY POPPINS RETURNS opens in theaters everywhere on December 25th, 2018!

Dumbo

D23 Expo 2017 fans were greeted from across the pond by visionary filmmaker Tim Burton, who is busy directing his next project—a live-action reimagining of Disney’s 1941 animated classic DUMBO.  “’Dumbo’ was always one of my favorite Disney films,” said Burton. “We’re trying to give it the same heart, feeling and emotion that we all loved about the original.”

© 2017 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The film stars Colin Farrell as Holt Farrier, a former circus star and war-veteran charged with the care of a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock of an already struggling circus. Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins were cast as Holt’s children, who discover that Dumbo can fly. Danny DeVito portrays circus owner Max Medici who tries to capitalize on the novelty. And Michael Keaton is persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere who swoops in with aerial artist Colette Marchant, portrayed by Eva Green, to make Dumbo a star. Katterli Frauenfelder, Derek Frey, Ehren Kruger and Justin Springer are producing from a screenplay by Kruger. Filmed entirely in England, DUMBO is utilizing state-of-the-art visual effects to portray the big-eared elephant and many of his animal counterparts.

DUMBO flies into theaters everywhere on March 29th, 2019!

The Lion King

Alan Horn joined Sean Bailey to surprise the D23 Expo crowd with a special look at director Jon Favreau’s new live-action take on Disney’s 1994 classic animated film THE LION KING. The technology team behind the movie are introducing all-new filmmaking techniques that promise striking visuals never before seen on the big screen—bringing celebrated characters to life in a whole new way.

Disney/Image Group LA
JON FAVREAU

Favreau, who was behind 2016’s blockbuster live-action remake of THE JUNGLE BOOK, joined Bailey on stage. “This is a story that belongs to everyone who grew up with the original film,” said Favreau. “I wanted to demonstrate that we could be respectful of the source material while bringing it to life using new techniques and technologies. We wanted to do something special for the D23 Expo audience and give them a first look at what we’re up to.”

THE LION KING is one of the biggest animated films of all time with a lifetime global box office gross of $968.8 million. It won Academy Awards® for the original song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (Elton John, Tim Rice) and original score (Hans Zimmer). In 1997, the stage production inspired by the film made its Broadway debut, subsequently winning six Tony® Awards; 19 years later, it remains one of Broadway’s biggest hits. 

Starring Donald Glover as Simba, and James Earl Jones as—naturally—Mufasa, Favreau’s live-action version of THE LION KING is produced by Favreau, Jeffrey Silver and Karen Gilchrist.

THE LION KING roars into theaters everywhere on July 19th, 2019!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The only thing new we got from Star Wars: The Last Jedi since the Star Wars Celebration is a behind the scenes clip with the cast on stage. 

(L-R) Actors Gwendoline Christie, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Director Rian Johnson, actors Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI opens in theaters everywhere on December 15th!

Avengers: Infinity War

Probably the highlight of the Live Action panel was the Avengers: Infinity War trailer and nearly the entire cast coming out on stage. Next year marks 10 years in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and all of the films have been leading up to this movie. The Infinity Stones are finally making their way to Thanos (Josh Brolin) and the war is about to begin. Marvel Studios’ 10th anniversary begins with the release of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and covers an impressive decade of Marvel Studios’ blockbusters released from 2008 through the AVENGERS untitled film in 2019. In celebration of the anniversary, fans can expect exclusive consumer products and collectibles, along with in-theater events and much more in the coming months.

(L-R) Actors Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier), Dave Bautista (Drax), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Josh Brolin (Thanos), and Chris Hemsworth (Thor), producer Kevin Feige, and actors Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Tom Holland (Spider-Man), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch), Paul Bettany (Vision), Don Cheadle (War Machine), and Anthony Mackie (Falcon) Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR opens in theaters everywhere on May 4th, 2018!

Mulan

A live-action take on Disney’s 1998 feature, which will be helmed by Niki Caro (“McFarland, USA,” “Whale Rider”). Set to release on November 2, 2018

Jungle Cruise

 

Disney/Image Group LA

A live-action nod to the popular theme park ride.  The studio is working with Dwayne Johnson, recently heard as Maui in MOANA, on the project. Set to release in spring 2018.

Aladdin

Directed by Guy Ritchie, with Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Jasmine and Will Smith as the Genie.

What we didn’t get at D23 Expo

Disney/Image Group LA

Unnamed Han Solo : A Star Wars Story – Recent news that the movie has a new director, Ron Howard, is the only news we’ve gotten so far. Set to be released May 25th, 2018.

Ant-Man and the Wasp – while we got NOTHING at D23 Expo, there is news that came out at Comic Con that Michelle Pfeiffer has joined the cast to play the original Wasp. Set to be released in theaters July 6th, 2018.

The slew of Live Action remakesThe Little Mermaid, Christopher Robin, James and the Giant Peach, Oliver Twist, Pinnochio, Cruella Deville, Tinker Bell, Peter Pan, and The Sword and the Stone.

Avengers Untitled Movie 

Black Panther – I guess the following films are so close to coming out they weren’t worth mentioning but here are some lovely new releases for you! 

Thor: Ragnarok 

The new trailer was released at Comic Con!

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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle.

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