Day Two of the Disney fan explosion known as D23 2015 and the sneak peek at the company’s upcoming money making machines continued this morning with a long – sometimes a little too long – presentation devoted to the Disney live action tentpoles. Disney studios chairman Alan Horn officiated, while Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Disney live action films were all represented. After weeks of rumors, Colin Trevorrow was officially confirmed as the director of Star Wars: Episode IX, We saw the first Rogue One cast photo and later learned the full cast, plus footage from several of the films, and we learned that leaked information earlier this week was true – Disney is planning a massive Star Wars-themed expansion of its theme parks.
If you’re a Disney superfan, being there was its own reward, but for average observers the presentation was a mixed bag. At least it started out strong enough with a bully showing from Marvel, who gave the crowd the first glimpse of Doctor Strange, and showed off the first trailer for Captain America: Civil War.
The Civil War footage was thrilling stuff, everything expected and more from a film that has for some months been described as “The Avengers 2.5”. Of note however, still no glimpse of the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Spider-Man (Spidey has a small role in Civil War). But the Ant-Man stuff was comedy gold. As for Doctor Strange, the film doesn’t start shooting until November, so not footage was possible. But a flip book style reel made from concept art was shown off, and it’s clear the film is going to be weird as hell, something like Inception meets the stranger parts of Harry Potter.
Disney Studios then showed off its wares – You can read through the liveblog for the pertinant details, but the long story short is that the company is, for the most part, mining its history to the last nugget. Shown off were the live action versions of Pete’s Dragon, The Jungle Book, and Sleeping Beauty, as well as (inevitably) the next Pirates of the Carribbean. The Pete’s Dragon footage was mysterious rather than whimsical, a big departure from the 1976 Disney classic that combined live action with cartoon. The Jungle Book looks gorgeous, even if it’s a little on the nose, humor-wise. Probably the biggest information to come out of this portion is that Orlando Bloom is returning to Pirates franchise to reprise the role of Will Turner in Pirates Of The Carribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Fun fact about that: When the film hits theaters in 2017 it will have been ten years since Bloom’s last appearance, which is the same amount of time Will Turner was cursed to captain the flying Dutchman at the end of At World’s End.
Only two of the six Disney Studios films presented today are not based on earlier Disney classics. What those two films have in common is their highly inspirational tones. The Finest Hours starring Chris Pine, is about a true life, daring Coast Guard rescue mission, while the second, The Queen of Katwe, is the true story of Ugandan Chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi.
Of course the reason everyone bothered to spend more than two hours in that auditorium is because of the final presentation for Lucasfilm. There was never any chance of a new The Force Awakens trailer – JJA pretty much ruled that out before D23 – but hopes were high for some news, and perhaps even footage or concept art from Star Wars: Rogue One or the still-untitled young Han Solo movie. Nope. Only a solitary cast photo from Rogue One, confirming that the film stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, and Riz Ahmed.
We did learn that Jurassic World director Colin Treverrow has landed the job of directing Star Wars Episode 9. If you liked Jurassic World and all that… But the real news out of the Lucasfilm portion of the live action film presentation wasn’t even about a film, but about Disneyland – confirmation that the leaked story of a Star Wars Land at Disneyland was true. The 14 acre extension will be the largest single-theme expansion of a Disney park in history and promises an immersive jump into the Star Wars galaxy including live action spontaneous events, an assortment of droids and creatures, and best of all, a Cantina. No word on when the attraction will even open – that’s a lot of space to construct – but expect it to open huge when it does. See more details here.