For the past couple years, Disney has been slowly easing off on big Comic-Con presentations in July in order and saving up the new-movie buzz for its own D23 Expo in August. (The name refers to 1923, the year of the company’s founding.)
So while Disney’s 2012 tentpole movies The Avengers and John Carter were conspicuously absent from last month’s San Diego geek fest, they were front and center in Anaheim California this past weekend at the latest D23.
Here’s more of what Disney fans got to see:
Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Scarlett Johannson (The Black Widow), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki) were on hand at D23 to talk up the May 2012 superhero team flick. (With it Disney takes over distributing the Marvel-Avengers family of films from Paramount.)
Director Joss Whedon’s finishing up the final weeks of shooting on The Avengers, so attendees saw several near-completed scenes. One takes place between Loki and Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury in a security cell on board the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier (I’m not going to tell you how geek-giddy I got just typing that phrase). In the other, Loki threatens Downey’s Tony Stark by boasting, “I have an army.” To which Stark replies, “We have a Hulk.”
One reason Disney’s been tightening the purse strings on Johnny Depp’s The Lone Ranger is the studio has $130 million tied up in this March 2012 live-action and CGI adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs classic sci-fi fantasy series John Carter of Mars. Folks are talking up John Carter–which follows a Civil War hero (Taylor Kitsch) trapped between warring Martian races on the Red Planet–as one of the most visually ambitious CGI films since Avatar, so Disney is eager to explain who John Carter is and get folks excited for the movie.
Friday Night Lights‘ Kitsch, Willem Dafoe, and Wolverine‘s Lynn Collins presented scenes that showed Carter interacting with the nine-foot-tall, four-armed green Martian Tharks, led by motion-captured Defoe; being toyed with by a giant Martian dog-lizard Woola; meeting his human-looking love interest Dejah Thoris (Collins); and alongside Defoe’s Tars Tarkas trying to battle a “white ape” creature in a gladiatorial arena.
Disney purchased the Muppets franchise in 2004, so all eyes–both corporate and those of old-school Muppet fans–are on co-writers Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s The Muppets this November, the first theatrical Muppet film in a dozen years.
It’s helmed by Flight of the Conchords director and co-creator James Bobin and stars Segel, Amy Adams, Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and all the other Muppets (plus dozens of celebrity cameos) in what is described as a throwback to the original Muppet Movie.
Segel and Kermit came out at D23 to introduce several clips and were soon joined by Miss Piggy, who arrived on stage in the sidecar of a real motorcycle.
The clips played off both the Muppets’ fame (Kermit’s mansion is behind an electrified fence, to keep out obsessive Muppet fans) and out-of touch-ness (Kermit’s “’80s Robot” butler serves New Coke and Tab, the biggest celebrity in his Rolodex is Molly Ringwald, and the gang cleans up the old Muppet Theatre to a “We Built this City on Rock and Roll” montage).
The footage also addresses, and from all accounts pulled off, the movie’s main challenge: to please those of us in our 30s and 40s who grew up on The Muppet Show and its related movies, and capture a new generation of potential Muppets fans who’ve never made the rainbow connection.
John Lasseter and the Pixar team were at D23 to show off footage from Brave–next summer’s Medieval Scottish fairy tale adventure about Princess Merida (No Country for Old Men‘s Kelly Macdonald), a young warrior princess who defies her parents’ marriage plans.
A scene was screened of Merida showing up her potential suitors with her own archery skills, and it sounds like Brave–Pixar’s first period piece, first fairy tale, and first film centered on a heroine–looks amazing and is a post-Cars 2 return to the Pixar storytelling and character magic audiences have come to expect.
However, the big Pixar news out of D23 was the official announcement of two new feature-film projects to follow Brave (2012) and Monsters University (summer of 2013). As of yet untitled, they will be completely original projects (Huzzah!).
- The first will visit a modern-day Earth where the dinosaurs never went extinct and continued to evolve. It could come out around the holidays in 2013.
- The second will be directed by Up‘s Pete Docter and takes us on an animated tour inside our brains, promising amusing looks at things like why songs get stuck in our heads. (By the way, “We Built This City on Rock and Roll” is the most insidious earworm known to humans… I’ve had it stuck in mine ever since I wrote that Muppet paragraph and now I bet you do, too — bwahahahaha!) Docter’s Brain film (see what I did there?) could come out in the summer of 2014.
Related titles from redbox:
- Hulk vs. Thor and Thor: Tales of Asgard
- Iron Man on DVD and Blu-ray and Iron Man 2 on DVD and Blu-ray
- Jason Segel in Despicable Me on DVD and Blu-ray and Gulliver’s Travels on DVD and Blu-ray
- Toy Story 3 on DVD and Blu-ray