John Lasseter Reveals Disney Animation & Pixar’s Upcoming Projects At D23

D23Disney’s D23 Expo kicked off with a bang on Friday afternoon as fans packed together to hear John Lasseter, the Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation studios, talk about what’s coming soon. Lasseter, who directed the first Cars, said he loved Cars 3 and that he’s excited for everything set to come.

The first reveal focused on an upcoming, currently untitled film from Disneytoon Studios that examines aviation. Lasseter shared some test footage called “Speed Test” that looks incredible and reveals settings both in and outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Look for the currently untitled movie to hit theaters on April 12th, 2019.

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Olaf’s Frozen Adventure drew huge rounds of applause from the audience. Not only did Lasseter bring out Kristen Bell — Anna herself — to talk about the animated short film and introduce some new footage, but Josh Gad came out on stage to sing one of the brand new songs. The short, which will last 21 minutes and feature four new songs, arrives in theaters this November, playing before Pixar’s Coco. It will follow Olaf as he journeys across the land to learn about and gather holiday traditions to share with Anna and Elsa after they realize they don’t have any holiday traditions of their own.

“At last, Olaf is front and center,” Gad said with a smile.

While details were almost nonexistent, the three of them did turn their attention towards the tentatively titled Frozen 2. After sharing a few titles the movie will not have — like Thawed and Frozen Dinner — Lasseter revealed that the directing team traveled to Iceland, Norway and Finland to do research for some new artistic backdrops for the sequel. The move will help the art team include realistic images, but that doesn’t mean Josh Gad wasn’t jealous the performers weren’t included in the trip.

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Next, Lasseter shifted his attention to another one of Disney’s recent original properties: Wreck-It Ralph. The sequel, which sees both Phil Johnston and Rich Moore return to the property after their Oscar win for Zootopia, hits theaters in 2018 and will explore internet culture. Sarah Silverman joined Johnston and Moore on stage to share some new details. Oscar nominated actress Taraji P Henson (Hidden Figures, Empire) will join the ensemble cast as Yesss (the three “s” are essential), an algorithm who knows everything that’s hot and trending. The three of them shared some rough footage that introduces us to Yess and gives us a sneak peak at some of the things audiences will see in Wreck-It Ralph 2.  The best parts of the footage showcased some classic Disney synergy as we see Storm Troopers and Stan Lee walk around before Silverman’s Vanellope finds herself face-to-face with all the classic Disney princesses.

Not only were all of the princesses busting me up, but each of them will be voiced by their original actress. To celebrate the accomplishment, Lasseter assembled the voice talent behind Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, Anna and Moana for a massive princess photo opportunity (even though we couldn’t take any pictures).

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After the audience’s excitement died down from seeing all their princesses, the energy skyrocketed back up as a quick Incredibles II logo teaser was shown to the crowd. Lasseter said he’s been waiting for this movie longer than the D23 expo has been going on (the first event was in 2009) and is excited that they can make their old dream a reality. To help fans feel reemerged in the Incredibles world, Lasseter revealed a clip that discussed Edna Mode’s status as a fashion icon. Individuals ranging from Heidi Klum to Kendall Jenner came together to talk about how infamous some of Mode’s looks have become.

The voice of Edna Mode, director and writer Brad Bird, came out to talk about his excitement for returning to the franchise he helped create more than a decade ago. He said technological innovation has led to his team showcasing more emotions on the characters’ faces in a way that wasn’t possible in the first movie. While he kept details about the project close to the chest, he did say that Elastigirl will be more of the focus in this movie as Bob steps back into the role of stay-at-home father for Jack Jack. The core cast hit the stage, with first-timer Huck Milner joining the crew as the new voice of Dash. When Brad Bird solicited the rest of the cast for advice for Milner, Samuel L. Jackson knew exactly what to say:

“Never read the comments.”

A fun clip for the movie showed off some of Jack Jack’s new abilities and the moment Bob finally discovers the truth about his seemingly all-powerful baby boy. The Incredibles 2 will hit theaters next summer!

Toy Story

Lasseter returned to the stage to reveal some news a few fans might not be too happy about. Instead of co-directing Toy Story 4, Lasseter will serve as executive producer and Josh Cooley will be the only director on the project. Cooley started his career with Pixar as a story intern on Cars, and he calls his directorial gig “one of the greatest honors I could ever have.” Cooley will be joined by Jonas Rivera as producer, forming the first Pixar director/producer team that used to be interns at the studio. While Cooley showed off a cool behind the scenes video about the team’s work on the movie, no details were revealed about the plot or setting of the film. Toy Story 4 will hit theaters in summer of 2019.

Dan Scanlon, the writer of Cars 3, came out next to introduce a concept for a new Pixar movie. It doesn’t have an official title, but he referred to the project as Suburban Fantasy World, and promises it will feature settings never seen before in a Pixar movie. The film will feature a magical world without humans where unicorns are so common they’re essentially rodents. Scanlon said the inspiration for the project came from a tape he and his brother received that features the only audio recording of their deceased father. After spending his whole life wondering about his father and what type of person he was, Scanlon channeled those emotions into this film that he called a quest to find one’s meaning. Details were minimal, but Scanlon promised more at the next D23 Expo.

To close things off, Lasseter brought up the team behind Pixar’s upcoming movie Coco. Writer Adrian Molina called it an extremely personal story that touches on the power of family. It follows Miguel, a young boy with dreams of being a musician, on Dia De Los Muertos. After he steals a guitar that belonged to his world famous great grandfather — voiced by Benjamin Bratt — Miguel finds himself interacting with spirits and on the way to the land of the dead. Through the power of family, love and music, Miguel has to find his way back to the land of the living and persuade everyone that music isn’t the curse his loved ones think it is.

For more news from D23 keep your eyes peeled to Heroic Hollywood and follow me @ricknazden on Twitter, where I’ll be live-tweeting throughout the show.

The Walt Disney Animation Library, Ranked From Worst To Best

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Disney Disney had made an unconventional “franchise” out of remaking its animated classics as live-action blockbusters. Combined with their Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars stables, it has ensured the company’s continued domination in the film sphere. Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book were at the forefront of that charge the last few years. Now, with Beauty and the Beast hitting theaters (our review here), now is a great time to look back at Disney’s amazing animated catalog and how they stack up against each other.

Disney has had a lot of animated films released theatrically or direct-to-video, sometimes in collaboration with other studios. This list specifically focuses on those from the Walt Disney Animation department, so sorry Brave Little Toaster fans, of which I’m one. No Pixar flicks either, but fans of that studio are in luck, as we ranked their films last summer. You can check that list out below.

I haven’t seen Saludos Amigos, Make Music Mine, Song of the South, Melody Time, Fun and Fancy Free, & The Three Caballeros, hence their exclusionNaturally, we’ll most likely disagree about the specific ordering. Let’s think of it as a conversation starter. I’d love to hear what you guys think in the comments!

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Nick Kazden

Nick Kazden

I love Batman, movies and Tyrion Lannister. Check me out on Youtube!