It seemed the most consistent theme with D23 panels on Day 1 was that they all began late and they all ran long. Such was the case with the Disney Animation panel which began nearly a half hour late and ran nearly 90 minutes over it’s intended finish time.
The panel kicked off with Disney Animation. The first film up was Zootopia, which introduced fans to our new protagonist Judy Hopps, a bunny who leaves her hometown in hopes of becoming the first bunny cop in Zootopia. The four “zones” were revealed again – The Dunes (desert), Tundra Town, Rainforest District, and Bunny Burrow.
Character/voice actor reveals are all the rage with this panel and the first name drop went to Shakira, who will voice Gazelle in the film. The singer then appeared via pre-taped video to play a snippet of her original song for the movie.
Two clips were shown from the film, both with plenty of laughs.
The first centered on Nick Wilde, a sly fox voiced by Jason Bateman who takes his son to an ice cream shop run by an elephant. His son has a fascination with elephants, even transforming into one and adorably running around the shop. Meanwhile, Wilde dupes Judy Hopps into buying him a giant popsicle. Later, the filmmakers reveal that the fox melts the treat and then re-freezes it in Tundra Town in smaller doses, then sells them to lemmings for a profit.
The second clip was perhaps the funniest thing shown during the entire panel. In it, Wilde and Hopps are in a race against time and need to find out who a certain license plate belongs to. The only problem is, the DMV is run entirely by sloths who move and speak very slowly.
I’ll let the Schmoes describe the footage here:
Following up Zootopia was a “surprise” announcement by Lasseter. Deadline had reported that Breaking Bad creator Vince Gillian had been working with Disney on a re-telling of Jack and the Beanstalk back in April. Today, Lasseter confirmed that the studio was going to attempt their, “definitive version” of the tale with Gigantic.
The film will be set in Spain and center on a grown man who climbs a beanstalk up to Giant World where he meets an 11-year-old, 60 foot giant girl named Ema. The antagonists in the movie will be a group of giants called The Storm Giants, led by Ema’s father.
The songwriters for Frozen were then introduced as the songwriters for Gigantic and performed a song that they had arranged. It went over well enough, but it wasn’t “Let It Go.”
Next up came Moana, the animated feature set in the South Pacific which to date, had only revealed a few gorgeous stills. That all changed when the demigod character of Maui was introduced followed by the actor who would voice him – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
“He is strong, powerful, determined… tremendously and recklessly handsome,” Johnson said.
The footage and soundtrack compiled for Moana looks absolutely amazing and as Lasseter said, is “deeply inspired by the rich music of the South Pacific.”
We then got a stage performance associated with Moana that really wasn’t necessary and helped contribute to the prolonged nature of the panel.
Once the tropical beats and dancing were done, it was time for Pixar Studios. First, they screened the full Riley’s First Date short film that will be attached to the Inside Out DVD/BluRay this fall. Total running time is about 3 minutes, but it’s completely charming and entertaining.
The first film up was The Good Dinosaur.
We heard and saw much more from Pixar’s Thanksgiving 2015 movie. The environment of the movie was inspired by the Pacific Northwest and follows an apatosaurus named Arlo who gets separated from his family and has to find his way back home. He meets a young cave boy he names Spot and they band together with a group of T-Rexes as they trek back home.
The first clip was a painfully emotional bonding experience between Arlo and Spot and the family that they miss. The second clip was more upbeat with Arlo, Spot, and the T-Rexes trying to evade “Rustlers” in a field crowded with buffalo. The third clip saw Arlo and Spot running through the wild and ending with the two poking their heads through the clouds and seeing the tri-top mountains that signified their homeland.
Finding Dory was next and Lasseter introduced the film by saying that “someone has been talking about the sequel more than anyone else.” The video screens then cut to various clips of Ellen DeGeneres asking why there wasn’t a Finding Nemo sequel on her show numerous times during the past 7 years.
When the lights came up, DeGeneres appeared on stage. She was followed by Ed O’Neill who will voice Hank the Octopus, Ty Burrell who will voice Bailey the Beluga Whale, and Kaitlin Olson who will voice Destiny the Whale Shark.
Director Andrew Stanton said that Dory gets knocked out early in the film and that triggers a memory from her past. We then saw footage of that sequence, in which Marlin tries to stop her from racing off into the wild. Nemo then mentions “the jewel of Monterey, California,” (something Dory had been mumbling in her sleep) and that triggers the flashback.
The second clip was a humorous exchange between Dory and Hank in a marine aquarium rehabilitation center. Hank doesn’t want to be sent back to the ocean and wants Dory’s ID tag. Problem is, Dory keeps forgetting what he’s talking about. They strike a deal that if Hank helps her find her parents, she’ll give him her tag.
We got a brief mention of the Day of the Dead movie, which Lasseter said had an official title – Coco. There was very little reaction or applause to this reveal. A musical clip with skeletons dancing around was then shown.
Mercifully, we segued into the final film, Toy Story 4.
Lasseter, who is directing, said that the fourth film will start, “an entirely new chapter,” in the franchise and will be a love story between Woody and Bo Peep. Buzz will join Woody on a journey to help him find her.
We didn’t get any footage, but we did get Randy Newman to sing “You Got A Friend In Me,” followed by Army men rappelling from the rafters to throw shirts out to the audience.