Disney’s live action panel today at D23 started off with Alan Horn being heckled by disappointed Star Wars fans and pretty much turned into a clipfest afterwards. Only a surprise appearance by Maleficent star Angelina Jolie at the Anaheim event raised the temperature anywhere near Friday’s news filled Animation panel. The newest jewel in Disney’s crown, Star Wars was dealt with by the studio boss with a list of old announcements of approximate release dates, JJ Abrams being on board and spinoff films. “I really wish I could tell you more. It will come soon,” Horn told the crowd as a big “awww” and boos emanated from around the convention center from fans expecting a bone to be thrown their way today.
That was in sharp contrast to Jolie’s sudden walk-on later in the two-hour panel. Then it was cheers not jeers. “Since I was a little girl, I was drawn to her. But I was also terrified by her, but she had this elegance and grace,” said Jolie about playing in the upcoming backstory to the Sleeping Beauty character. “When I heard Disney was making the film, my brother encouraged me to take the role.” Jolie’s appearance in front of the audience of 7,500, came after Walt Disney live action production head Sean Bailey spoke about casting her for Maleficent. “You can pencil out a list of all the amazing actresses in the world and for us this list only had one name for the role, Angelina Jolie,” exclaimed Bailey over as sketches from the film played on the big screen. After Jolie’s brief turn on stage, Bailey showed the audience exclusive footage from Maleficent. In the clip, Jolie’s British-accented wicked Queen appeared amidst CGI fairies and green steam rising to curse the baby Sleeping Beauty. “Without a doubt, Maleficent will be a powerful movie experience when it comes to theaters next summer,” Bailey told the crowd. Maleficent is set to be release on July 2, 2014.
Related: Comic-Con: Marvel Announces ‘Avengers 2’ Villain & Title: ‘Age Of Ultron’
Though there were no Avengers: Age of Ultron revelations Saturday from Marvel but fans did get a very small taste of the sequel. A short sizzle reel was played with shots like Iron Man’s helmet, Captain America’s shield and the film’s title card. No images or scenes of cast members were shown but the D23 crowd loved it anyway.
There were more substantial clips revealed from other upcoming Marvel sequels and newcomers. Studio President Kevin Feige first followed Horn’s no-news Star Wars intro with a new clip from the upcoming Thor: The Dark World. Anthony Hopkins, who plays Thor’s father Odin, actor Tom Hiddleston, who plays the villain Loki in the Marvel universe, and Natalie Portman all came out on stage for a few words before Feige then introduced an exclusive clip of Portman’s Jane Foster character’s first day in the Asgard. Marvel also showed a two-minute clip from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and a trailer from the sequel. Star Chris Evans made an appearance along Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes from the first Captain America and now the aforementioned Winter Soldier) and new addition Anthony Mackie, who plays the Falcon in the pic. Packing it on, the studio also showed the trailer for Guardians of The Galaxy, which was played last month at Comic-Con. Though featuring some of Marvel’s more little characters, the studio chief expressed great optimism about the film’s reception to the D23 crowd. “We have the same feeling we did in 2006 and 2007 when we were making a movie called Iron Man,” said Feige of GOTG.
After showing a trailer for the upcoming Bears, Horn turned the stage over to Bailey once the Marvel presentation was done. Adding to the clipload, the production President then introduced a first look from Muppets Most Wanted. Afterwards, Ty Burrell, who plays bumbling INTERPOL agent Jean Pierre Napoleon in the sequel, came on stage in a tiny car from the film to applause as Bailey mentioned that the film is still in production. Unlike D23 2011, no live Muppets appeared on stage. Instead, they showed footage of Miss Piggy, Kermit and Tina Fey addressing the D23 crowd from Pinewood Studios. Cinderella director Kenneth Branagh also showed up via video to talk about his film and show some art from the pic.
Following Jolie’s appearance, Tomorrowland co-writers Damon Lindeloff and Brad Bird appeared on the panel to indulge in some Disney self-referencing. “So we have nothing to show you. We didn’t bring George Clooney, but we brought you this dusty old box,” Lindeloff said as he noted the film has just started production. The duo rifled through a file box onstage from the Disney archive that they said served as the inspirations for the duo in the futuristic film. Afterwards, Bird, who is also directing Tomorrowland, and Lindeloff showed a supposedly vintage, never-before-seen color animated reel produced by Disney on the future of society, from Egyptian times through modern day cities.
The panel ended with another exclusive look for the fans. This time it was Saving Mr. Banks with Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers. The clip showed Hank’s Disney placating an anxious Travers by promising, “the last thing I will do is tarnish a story I cherish.” After the preview and another clip of Travers visiting Disneyland, cast members Jason Schwartzman and BJ Novak, who play composers the Sherman brothers in the pic about the making of 1964 film, came out on stage. They were joined later by Richard Sherman himself for a rendition of “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” with Mary Poppins-era dancers.
D23 continues Sunday in Anaheim.
Deadline’s Dominic Patten contributed to this report