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Disney Highlights Upcoming Animated Slate

With DreamWorks Animation recently announcing its slate of upcoming films, Walt Disney Studios chairman Richard Cook announced Disneys forthcoming films at the Walt Disney Studios Showcase, which offered previews of the studio's slate through 2008 and featured cameo appearances by Johnny Depp, Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster and Elton John, reports THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The daylong event was held at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland for exhibitors, retailers, merchandisers and other business partners.

The presentation included a 10-minute sampling of never-before-seen footage from the THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE, a complete screening of CHICKEN LITTLE and a three-minute segment of CHICKEN LITTLE shown in digital 3D.

Working industry jokes throughout, Cook also offered a nod to Roy E. Disney, who was seated in the audience. When it came Pixars CARS, Cook impersonated its director, John Lasseter, saying, "I've told (Pixar ceo) Steve (Jobs) a thousand times, 'Why would (Pixar) ever want to go somewhere else when the best marketing and distribution teams in the world are here at Disney?" Lasseter did make a brief appearance, stating that CARS is "an extremely personal film."

The next animated film was MEET THE ROBINSONS, which is based on William Joyces novel A DAY WITH WILBUR ROBINSON. Directed by Steve Anderson, the film follows a 12-year-old orphan who meets a mysterious boy from the future. Disney plans to released the film in 2006.

For 2007, LILO & STITCH co-director Chris Sanders unveiled is new film AMERICAN DOG, which follows Henry, a famous TV dog who has never been left the set.

Next up was RAPUNZEL UNBRAIDED from famed Disney animator Glen Keane. The film will be Disneys first CG princess feature, which will put a modern twist on the classic tale.

A little bit of a surprise was the announcement that Disney is again backing the previously thought dead project, GNOMEO & JULIET, a CG feature placing gnomes in the classic Shakespeare romance. The film will be produced by Elton Johns Rocket Pictures and include new songs from the man who penned the tunes for Disneys THE LION KING.

Other live-action visual effects features included THE SHAGGY DOG, starring Tim Allen; Gibson, sporting a full beard, appeared to promote his upcoming Mayan-language film APOCALYPTO; and Depp stepped onstage in full Capt. Jack Sparrow garb to announce the summer 2006 release of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST.

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Rick DeMott
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