Disney Touts Live Action Slate at D23

Disney showcases its live action slate with details of upcoming Disney and Marvel Studios films at D23 Expo.

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BURBANK, CA --

Disney and Marvel Studios revealed exclusive details about their upcoming live action film slates at this past weekend’s D23 Expo, aided by live and video appearances from talent and filmmakers and hosted by The Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn.

“Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm are some of the most powerful and beloved brands in entertainment,” said Alan Horn, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. “We have so many incredible cinematic adventures ahead of us, and it is especially exciting to be able to share the exclusive details with our biggest fans first at the D23 Expo.” 

Horn welcomed the crowd to the D23 Expo and introduced the live action slate by talking about the addition of Lucasfilm to The Walt Disney Studios and the excitement and anticipation surrounding Disney’s first Star Wars film, Star Wars: Episode VII, slated for release in 2015.

Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, and Sean Bailey, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production, presented overviews of the Marvel Studios and Disney live action slates.

A recap of the presentation follows:

Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World

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Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World thundered into D23 with an introduction by its producer, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who then introduced stars Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins to the excited crowd.

Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s Thor and Marvel’s The Avengers, Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos...but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano and Jaimie Alexander with Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World is directed by Alan Taylor, produced by Kevin Feige, p.g.a., from a story by Don Payne and Robert Rodat and screenplay by Christopher L. Yost and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, and is based on Marvel’s classic Super Hero Thor, who first appeared in the comic book “Journey into Mystery” #83 in August, 1962. The film releases November 8, 2013.

Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier stars Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie were on hand to greet the audience, which was then treated to a glimpse of Captain America in action via clips chosen especially for D23. Kevin Feige riveted the audience with details of the action-packed story’s highlights.

After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier.

Based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series, first published in 1941, Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier is produced by Kevin Feige, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, from a screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, and stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp and Hayley Atwell, with Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. In theaters April 4, 2014.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

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Kevin Feige then introduced the epic space adventure Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and thrilled the crowd with a clip from the film, which went into production in London in June.

Based on the Marvel comic book that first appeared in 1969, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is produced by Kevin Feige, directed by James Gunn from a story by Nicole Perlman and Gunn and screenplay by James Gunn, and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with Benicio del Toro, John C. Reilly and Glenn Close. The film is slated for an August 1, 2014 release.

Disneynature’s Bears

Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios Alan Horn hit the stage to share exciting news for Disneynature’s newest big-screen adventure Bears. Horn announced plans to support our National Parks through opening-week ticket sales. See Bears, Protect Our National Parks invites moviegoers to see the film during opening week (April 18-24, 2014) and Disneynature, via the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, will make a contribution to the National Park Foundation to protect wildlife and wild places across the National Park system. D23 Expo fans were among the first to see the film’s new trailer, which is slated to premiere online next week.

In an epic story of breathtaking scale, Disneynature’s upcoming True Life Adventure Bears showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life’s most important lessons. Set against a majestic Alaskan backdrop teeming with life, their journey begins as winter comes to an end and the bears emerge from hibernation to face the bitter cold. The world outside is exciting—but risky—as the cubs’ playful descent down the mountain carries with it a looming threat of avalanches. As the season changes from spring to summer, the brown bears must work hard to find food—ultimately feasting at a plentiful salmon run—while staying safe from rival male bears and predators, including an ever-present wolf pack. Bears captures the fast-moving action and suspense of life in one of the planet’s last great wildernesses—Alaska!

Directed by Alastair Fothergill (Earth, African Cats and Chimpanzee) and Keith Scholey (African Cats), Bears arrives in theaters April 18, 2014, to celebrate Earth Day.

Disney’s Muppets Most Wanted

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President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production Sean Bailey came on and stirred up Muppet mayhem with details about Disney’s Muppets Most Wanted, welcoming Ty Burrell to the stage—via Le Maxium, a tiny European car that aptly underscored the actor’s portrayal of French Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon. The film also stars Ricky Gervais, plus Tina Fey, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, who greeted guests of the D23 Expo “live” from the film’s international set—somewhere far, far away.

Directed by James Bobin and produced by David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, Disney’s Muppets Most Wanted takes the entire Muppets gang on a global tour, selling out grand theaters in some of Europe’s most exciting destinations, including Berlin, Madrid and London. But mayhem follows the Muppets overseas, as they find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine—the World’s Number One Criminal and a dead ringer for Kermit—and his dastardly sidekick Dominic, aka Number Two, portrayed by Gervais. Fey is featured as Nadya, a feisty prison guard. Bobin co-wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Stoller, who is also executive producer with John G. Scotti. Featuring music from Academy Award-winning songwriter Bret McKenzie, Muppets Most Wanted hits the big screen March 21, 2014.

Disney’s Into the Woods

Disney’s Into the Woods celebrated its first public introduction as Sean Bailey shared some details with the audience about the highly anticipated musical. Rob Marshall, the talented filmmaker behind the Academy Award-winning musical Chicago and Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is set to helm Into the Woods, which stars Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and Emily Blunt. Marc Platt, who produced the multiple Tony Award-winning musical Wicked on Broadway, will produce Into the Woods, along with producers Marshall, John DeLuca and Callum McDougall.

Into the Woods, based on the Tony-winning original musical by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim, surrounds a baker and his wife’s quest to break a witch’s curse in order to start a family. Along the way, they encounter several well-known fairy tale characters and together they learn what happens after “happily ever after.”

The film is slated for a December 2014 holiday release.

Disney’s Cinderella

Sean Bailey thrilled the D23 audience with an exclusive, very early, sneak peek at the vision of Disney’s Cinderella, courtesy of director Sir Kenneth Branagh. Though many of the elements are still in development and pre-production, like Cinderella’s gown, the audience enjoyed getting a taste of what they could expect when Disney’s live-action version of the classic fairy tale opens in theaters on March 13, 2015.

Although Disney’s magical and amazing Cinderella promises to be faithful to the original fairy tale, the filmmakers will elevate the story, the characters and the visuals to take audiences on a sweeping dramatic journey never seen before.

Disney’s Maleficent

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Academy Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie joined Sean Bailey on stage after the audience had an exclusive first look at Disney’s Maleficent. Starring as the title character in the highly anticipated live action film, Jolie chatted with Bailey about the film before exiting to wild applause.

Maleficent is the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty. A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal—an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom—and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well.

The film also stars Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Miranda Richardson, Juno Temple and Lesley Manville and is produced by Joe Roth and directed by Robert Stromberg. Linda Woolverton, the screenwriter of Alice in Wonderland, The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, wrote the screenplay. Maleficent opens in theaters on July 2, 2014.

Disney’s Tomorrowland

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The D23 audience was treated to a glimpse into the mysteries surrounding Disney’s Tomorrowland as Sean Bailey and filmmakers Brad Bird (director, co-writer, producer) and Damon Lindelof (co-writer, producer) talked about the inspiration of the secrets of the black box, which was featured in a short behind-the-scenes piece screened for the audience about the visionary Walt Disney. Although the audience was buzzing with questions, Bailey remained coy, but then announced a special, surprise Tomorrowland exhibit opening in the afternoon on the D23 floor that would reveal the contents of the box and more. Starring George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy and Thomas Robinson, the action-packed adventure hits theaters December 12, 2014.

Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks

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Sean Bailey set up the story and talented cast of Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney’s classic Mary Poppins made it to the screen, and reminded everyone that Mary Poppins is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary. After showing two clips from the movie to the D23 audience, Bailey introduced Jason Schwartzman and B. J. Novak, who portray the famous composing team of Richard and Robert Sherman, respectively, in the film. In a big surprise moment, Schwartzman and Novak welcomed Mary Poppins composer Richard Sherman on stage to greet the excited audience. The two talented actors then engaged the crowd in a rousing, confetti-filled, grand finale sing-along performance of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” the classic song from Mary Poppins.

Two-time Academy Award–winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar-winner Tom Hanks topline Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, which is directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, The Rookie) and produced by Alison Owen, Ian Collie and Philip Steuer. Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith wrote the screenplay.

When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins, he made them a promise—one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation. For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp. It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.

Saving Mr. Banks releases in theaters December 13, 2013, limited, December 20, 2013, wide.

Source: Walt Disney Studios

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