The Disney D23 started on the night between Friday 9 and Saturday 10 September with the first conferences dedicated to the worlds of Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and 20th Century. After summarizing the numerous Disney video game announcements at D23the time has come to take stock of the panel dedicated to Disney and Pixar animation and the next live action coming from Mickey’s house. The meat on fire in Anaheim was so much, even more than we expected in our forecasts on this year’s D23 announcements: between welcome confirmations such as the re-presentation of Strange World and absolute novelties such as Inside Out 2 and the animated musical Wishso let’s see what Disney and Pixar will bring to the cinema in the coming years.
Wish is the centenary of Disney
The presence of Walt Disney Animation Studios at D23 it was perhaps the only one not to reach the expectations of the fans and leaks of the last few weeks. The house of Mickey Mouse, in fact, has limited itself to showing more details on Strange World, the new Disney animated film coming to American cinemas in the autumn, and to providing fans with the first information on Wishhis next animated musical of 2023.
Starting from Strange World, director Don Hall (Big Hero 6, Oceania, Raya and the Last Dragon) and screenwriter Qui Nguyen took to the stage of the D23 Expo, together with the very rich cast of voice actors of the film: among the latter we find actors and prominent actresses like Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Lucy Liu and Jabouki Young-White, who will give their voices to members of the Clades family, a dynasty of legendary explorers on their last adventure. Unfortunately, neither a trailer nor a poster of the film was shown on the stage of the D23: at the moment, in fact, the only images available are still those of the teaser trailer of Strange World last June. Apparently, however, the title will be out in time for Christmasat least in the United States.
In 2023 Wish will arrive, an animated musical with very special premises. The film, which will have the West Side Story star Ariana DeBose for protagonistwill be set in the Realm of Wishes, an ancient world that existed before all other Disney universes.
In fact, the film (which should be the Classic of 2023) will revolve around the theme of the realization of dreams, which from simple “wishes” can become “reality”, in the most classic Disney tradition. As some might already have guessed, Wish will be Disney’s 100th anniversary film, of which it should represent a real cinematic metaphor. In addition, it has been confirmed that well-known characters from the Burbank company will appear, completing a cast also consisting of some firsts. In the end, some much-loved Disney songs will also returnsuch as Pinocchio’s “When You Wish Upon a Star”, and Cinderella’s “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”.
Wish will be directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerashunthorn (the former former director of Tarzan and co-director of Frozen and Frozen II; the latter of his first experience behind the camera), while the screenplay was written by Jennifer Lee. Speaking of Lee, we would have expected to see some images of the Disney version of Bluebeard, due out in 2024 and made completely in traditional animation under the supervision of the co-director of Frozen.
There was not even room to talk about Penelope, film based on the story of the princess and the peawhose release slot (November 2023) was apparently occupied by Wish: at this point, it is possible that the title will be postponed to 2024, instead of Bluebeard, which in turn could be postponed to 2025. However, we can console ourselves with the new pictures of Iwajuthe afro-sci-fi series created by Disney in collaboration with the pan-African studio Kugalireleased during the Disney and Pixar panel.
An avalanche of Pixar films
Moving on to the Pixar side, the announcements of the D23 were numerous and unexpected. The most important is certainly that of Inside Out 2 sequel to Inside Out (2015), which was presented with great fanfare by Pete Docter (director of the original) and by Amy Poehler, who played Joy in the 2015 film.
From the plot details that emerged during D23 we find that Inside Out 2 will still be set in Riley’s head, the little girl “protagonist” of the progenitor of the series, who has now become a teenager. Furthermore, it seems that the number of emotions Riley feels will increase compared to those of the 2015 film, while Poehler will return to give voice to Joy: on the contrary, Pete Docter will be replaced by Kelsey Mann directing the work, which should make its debut in the cinema in 2024. The announcement of the new Pixar film Elio, of which the first official image was also released, went much more muted. The plot of the film promises to be very interesting, as it will see Elio, an eleven-year-old boy, being teleported around the galaxy after being mistaken for a planet Earth ambassador. The film, directed by Adrian Molina (Coco), will make its cinema debut in the course of 2024.
The other big announcement of the D23 was the full reveal of Elemental, which will be released in theaters on June 16, 2023. The film tells the relationship between Ember and Wade, a girl of fire and a boy of water, in a world that is based on the balance between four fundamental elements, namely the aforementioned fire and water, together with earth and air.
From Elemental, during the panel, we received a official poster and a new image, along with some cast confirmations: Ember will be played by Leah Lewis, while Wade will have the voice of Mamodou Athie. The director, on the other hand, will be Peter Sohn, who has already directed Arlo’s Journey and produced Luca. Finally, thePixar’s last product shown was Win or Losethe first Pixar TV series for Disney +, arriving in the course of 2023 on the streaming platform owned by the Mickey Mouse house. Among the confirmations on the series, in addition to the release in the course of 2023, we also have the voice of the protagonist, which will be that of Will Forte (How I Met Your Mother, Sweet Tooth). As for the plot of the production, however, we know that Win or Lose will feature Dan, a softball team coach of a small high school struggling with its first participation in a regional championship. The show should retrace the week preceding the team’s competitive debut, following its training and relationships between team members.
Disney live-action: from Disenchanted to Mufasa
We conclude our roundup on the announcements of the D23 by focusing on live-action produced by Disney coming in 2023 and beyond: as we had foreseen, there have been many innovations in this sense.
After a small space dedicated to Pinocchio, a film by Robert Zemeckis released on September 8 on Disney + (we talk about it in our review of Pinocchio), the panel got underway with the first trailer of Disenchanted, the sequel to the beloved Come d’Incanto (2007). The video confirms the return of the iconic protagonists of the first film, played by Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marsden and Idina Menzel. Among the new additions to the cast there will be instead Maya Rudolph, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jayma Mays and Gabriella Baldacchino. Directing will find Adam Shankman (Rock of Ages, What Men Want). As for the plot of Disenchanted, however, the cast said the film will be about “what happens after the happy ending of fairy tales“.
In addition to Disenchanted, a long line of live-action based on Disney Classics, following a corporate policy of Walt Disney Studios which, although much criticized by a slice of the public, seems to have now become a sort of tradition for the entertainment giant. In this respect, however, the biggest announcement was that of the prequel of the Lion King dedicated to Mufasa: the film will be released in 2024 and will be directed by Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins (Moonlight, If Beale Street Could Talk). The plot will focus on the life of Mufasa, while in the short clip shown in the room (not yet published on the net) we can hear the monkey Rafiki say: “In this place was born a lion who did not even have a drop of noble blood. The lion that will change our lives forever “.
Among the other confirmed live-action, then, we find Rachel Zegler’s Snow White, which will arrive in 2024, and the remake of Peter Pan and Wendy, of which a trailer and a promotional poster have also been released, the latter already published in network: the title will debut in 2023 on Disney + and will see as main players Alexander Molony (Peter) and Ever Anderson (Wendy). Finally, a trailer for the live-action Little Mermaid was also shown, starring Halle Bailey.
Among other announcements, we cannot fail to mention the new trailer for Hocus Pocus 2, which will arrive on September 30 on Disney + and which will see the return of the historic actresses of the original 1993 film as Mary, Sarah and Winifred Sanderson, who will therefore be interpreted respectively by Kathy Najimy, Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midler.
In 2023, Haunted Mansion will arrive, the live-action based on the historic attraction of all the Disney parks around the world: the D23 presented the trailer for Haunted Mansion), which, however, has not yet been published on Disney’s social channels and which shows Tiffany Haddish and Owen Wilson (who plays a priest) as they explore the interior of the haunted house with a group of children. In the cast of the film, weighty names such as Rosario Dawson, Danny DeVito, Winona Ryder, Dan Levy and Hasan Minhaj. Finally, the latest announcement from the Disney and Pixar panel was the National Treasure Edge of History live-action TV serieswhich will be a sequel to the 2004 cult The Secret of the Templars: the series will debut December 14 on Disney +, while the same Disney has released the first images of National Treasure at the end of the panel.