Disney had plenty to offer movie fans at its biennial D23 Expo, with previews of two new animated features and an announcement that the entertainment giant’s centennial next year will include a sequel to Pixar hit “Inside Out.”
A constellation of stars filled Hall D at the Convention Center in Anaheim, California for the expo on Friday, as Disney presented exclusive images and made the surprise announcement about “Inside Out 2.”
The sequel to the 2015 film will again portray a series of competing emotions (anger, joy, fear, sadness, disgust) struggling to coexist in the head of young Riley. Amy Poehler will again voice Joy.
But this time, Poehler told fans at the Expo, Riley is a teenager, and will be experiencing a new emotion — which the actress would not reveal.
Kelsey Mann (“Lightyear,” “The Good Dinosaur”) directs the film, set for a summer 2024 release.
There were other surprises on the opening day of D23.
Disney subsidiary Pixar announced plans for “Elio,” an animation about an 11-year-old boy who feels he doesn’t fit in, but, after an alien encounter, accidentally becomes Earth’s ambassador.
First images of the production, also set for a 2024 release, depict colorful aliens as well as the faces of Elio, played by Yonas Kibreab (from the “Obi-Wan Kenobi” mini series), and his mother Olga, voiced by America Ferrara (of “Ugly Betty” fame).
Mufasa grows up
The studio also presented a clip from its first long-form series, “Win or Lose,” which follows the adventures of a ragtag school softball team. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character.
Expo attendees also saw early scenes from “Elemental,” set for a 2023 release. The film tells the story of the love between Ember (Leah Lewis of “Nancy Drew”) and Wade (Mamoudou Athie, “Jurassic World: Dominion”) who live in the city of Elemento.
The catch: the city’s inhabitants are literally made of the basic elements — fire, air, water or earth — so they face an elemental struggle to live together despite their obvious differences. (Wade is described as a “sappy water guy” — while Ember, of course, is fire.)
The Expo’s afternoon session also brought the first clips of Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid,” starring Halle Bailey, and of “Mufasa: The Lion King,” which with computer-generated images follows the transformation of the orphan cub into the ruler of a lush kingdom.
Disney also showed a short clip of “Wish,” which is set in the Kingdom of Wishes and tells the origins of magic.
The animated production marks the studio’s celebration — through late 2023 — of its 100 years of existence. Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”) stars.
We all accept each other
The festivities began Friday at the Convention Center with stars such as Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kristen Bell, Jude Law, Patrick Dempsey, Amy Adams and Maya Rudolph in attendance.
Disney said it will include “100 Years of Wonder” in its logo, and it introduced fans to its Memorabilia exhibit, which tells the story of the company founded in October 1923 by Walt Disney and his brother Roy Disney.
A prominent part of the exhibit: the Mickey Mouse One, an aircraft that belonged to Walt Disney himself.
Thousands of fans of “the happiest place on Earth” lined up early to enjoy interactive experiences, purchase products and meet friends.
Princesses and Peter Pan, witches, storm troopers and an array of fantastical creatures filled the halls as the Expo — normally held every two years but canceled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic — returned.
“Feels like I’ve got to get emotional, because I’ve been so looking forward to come back,” said actor Allen Waiserman, who arrived on opening day disguised as Cinderella’s wicked stepmother.
Waiserman said he had worked for months on his outfit, and the transformation on Friday took five hours.
“It’s not just about the Disney brand anymore. It’s about all the fans that we’ve met, who become like family for us — who accept you for whoever you are,” he said.
“All of my friends here accept me for being dressed in drag.”
He added, “You know, we’re just so happy to be back together.”
D23 runs through Sunday.
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