It was another rip-roaring ride through Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios’ D23 session this year. On Day 1 of the biannual fan convention, the animation department went big with its reveal of as-yet-untitled projects, some enticing sequels (Frozen 2, Toy Story 4, Incredibles 2, Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks The Internet) and plenty of celebrity appearances including Josh Gad belting out the audio for Frozen spinoff featurette Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, which will hit theaters alongside Disney Pixar’s brand new showpiece Coco.
Big news was what the crowd was waiting for, and the panel definitely didn’t disappoint. Perhaps the best reveal of the day was that Taraji P. Henson will voice a main character on the new Wreck-It Ralph sequel, Ralph Breaks The Internet. Sarah Silverman, the voice of Ralph’s gal pal Venellope, was on hand to deliver the big news. As Ralph and Venellope escape the arcade and penetrate the inner workings of the Internet, they meet Henson’s character Yesss–an algorithm–who can change her hair and clothes at will since they’re made of mere fiber-optics.
When John Lasseter appeared in his signature loud-print shirt, the crowd went wild. That screaming only continued as Lasseter revealed a clip from the as-yet-untitled possible Planes sequel from Disneytoon Studios. We saw an evil-looking space shuttle bearing down on a couple of friendly fighter jets. Lasseter joked the working title was Space as in, “here’s a space until we think of a title.”
Lasseter also had news regarding his own role. He announced he will step down as director of Toy Story 4, handing the reins entirely to Josh Cooley (Riley’s First Date). He will remain as an EP and consultant for the movie and promised to teach Cooley all his old tricks.
Another new reveal was a Pixar project with the working title Suburban Fantasy World. Dan Scanlon (Monsters University) explained the loss of his father at an early age had inspired this story in which two young elf brothers try to find their father to spend one last magical day with him. The elf boys live in a world otherwise populated by sprites, trolls, and so many unicorns “they’re like rodents.” There’s no release date yet, but Scanlon promised more info at the next D23.
Of course there was also the hotly-anticipated Frozen 2, slated for November 27, 2019. There were no new plot details, but we saw scenes from the directors’ and producers’ research trip to Iceland, Finland and Norway. Then we heard from its stars Gad and Kristen Bell all about the spin-off featurette Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. Apparently, once Elsa and Anna realize they have no holiday traditions of their own, Olaf, with the help of Sven, goes door-to-door in the village asking to borrow other family’s holiday rituals. The results are of course comical. Gad’s sing-along with the clip got a huge roar from the crowd.
Incredibles 2 also prompted loud cheers. Director Brad Bird, who voices Edna, brought the rest of the Incredibles’ voices up onstage: Mr. and Mrs. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter), Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (newcomer Huck Milner) and Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson). We learned that Bob will be on Dad duty for the majority of this movie, while his wife is out fighting crime. The family also got a brand new, bigger house, built in mid-century modern style. We’ll also see plenty of Elastogirl, and Bob will finally realize Jack Jack has superpowers. In the clip the truth dawns on Bob as Jack Jack tries to fry a raccoon in the backyard using his handy laser beam eyes. We’ll have to wait until June 15, 2018 for rest of that story.
Disney saved its fanciest, flashiest new baby for last: Coco. In the clip, we saw the 12 year-old aspiring musician Miguel steal his great-great grandfather–and legendary musician–Ernesto De La Cruz’s guitar. For his crime, Miguel crosses over to the land of the dead via a bridge of marigold petals. He meets his ancestors and an Artful Dodger-type skeleton called Hector voiced by Gael Garcia Bernal. By his side is his best friend Dante the dog, last seen in the short Dante’s Lunch. Miguel’s discovers his family is cursed, but he must get their blessing to be a musician by sunrise or he will join the dead as a skeleton forever.
D23 wrapped up the animation portion of the day with a big closing number: Anthony Gonzalez, who voices Miguel, and Benjamin Bratt, who plays Ernesto de la Cruz, sang the hell out of the Coco song “Remember Me.” Coco hits theaters November 22, 2017, and will show alongside Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.
With confetti falling from the ceiling, 160-plus dancers filling the aisles, and a Coco poster giveaway on the way out, every fan left with a smile on their face–looks like the animation studios continue to be huge crowd pleasers as usual.