Over the weekend, fans who attended the D23 Expo were inundated with news as Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Bergman and executives from Disney Live Action, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, and 20th Century Studios shared new projects, cast reveals, and exclusive new content…so – much – content!
Here are some highlights from the event:
DISNEY LIVE-ACTION SLATE
On Friday, fans were treated to “When You Wish Upon a Star” perfored by the incomparable Cynthia Erivo. The iconic song is of course featured in Disney’s all-new live-action version of “Pinocchio,” now streaming on Disney+, starring Erivo as the voice of the Blue Fairy alongside Tom Hanks as Geppetto and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth voicing Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio, respectively.
Next up, “Hocus Pocus 2” stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy, appeared via video to surprise the room with the new trailer.
It’s been 29 years since the 17th-century sisters have been resurrected, and they are looking for revenge. It’s up to three high-school students (Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, Lilia Buckingham) to stop the ravenous witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc before dawn on All Hallow’s Eve. Directed by Anne Fletcher and produced by Lynn Harris, “Hocus Pocus 2” also stars Sam Richardson, Tony Hale, and Hannah Waddingham. It debuts exclusively on Disney+ September 30.
Next, stars from “Disenchanted” entered the stage, including Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, Maya Rudolph, Gabriella Baldacchino, James Marsden, Idina Menzel, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Jayma Mays. The musical comedy picks up 15 years after Giselle (Adams) and Robert (Dempsey) get married when their family heads to suburbia in search of happily ever after. Fans were among the first to see the trailer of the film, which is directed by Adam Shankman, produced by Barry Josephson, Barry Sonnefeld, and Adams, and features new music from Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. “Disenchanted” streams on Disney+ beginning November 24.
“Peter Pan & Wendy” spotlights iconic characters in a whole new way. Joining Sean Bailey (President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production) on stage were cast members, Alexander Molony, who plays Peter Pan, Ever Anderson, as Wendy, Alyssa Wapanâtahk, as Tiger Lily, and Captain Hook himself, Jude Law. The new film dives deeper into Wendy’s story as she joins the boy who refuses to grow up on a magical journey to Neverland and reveals the history behind Peter Pan’s rivalry with one of Disney’s most memorable villains. The cast discussed what fans can expect from the new film and revealed an exclusive first look for the D23 audience. Directed by David Lowery and produced by Jim Whitaker, the live-action reimagining of the 1953 animated classic will stream on Disney+ in 2023.
“Haunted Mansion” director Justin Simien joined Bailey to discuss the ghostly adventure. Inspired by the classic theme park attraction, “Haunted Mansion” is about a woman and her son who enlist a motley crew of so-called spiritual experts to help rid their home of supernatural squatters. They shared a sneak peek of the film exclusively with the D23 Expo crowd, then welcomed the queen of scary movies, Jamie Lee Curtis, who made an unforgettable entrance aboard a Haunted Mansion doom buggy. Curtis plays Madame Leota in the film, which releases in theaters next year.
“Mufasa: The Lion King,” a prequel to “The Lion King,” won’t release in theaters until 2024, but director Barry Jenkins was on hand to show a never-before-seen sneak peek and share a little about the film, which is currently in production. Told in flashbacks—Rafiki, Timon, and Pumbaa tell the story of Mufasa to a young lion cub, “Mufasa,” which reveals the rise of one of the greatest kings of the Pride Lands.
“Snow White” is a live-action reimagining of the classic tale starring Rachel Zegler in the title role and Gal Gadot as Snow White’s Stepmother, the Queen. The film’s two stars joined Bailey to talk about their roles and to share a very early glimpse at the iconic characters in the 2024 theatrical release, which is directed by Marc Webb, produced by Marc Platt, and features new songs by Pasek and Paul.
“The Little Mermaid” director Rob Marshall took a break from post-production to share more about the live-action version of the beloved tale. Marshall screened exclusive footage for fans in Hall D23 and afterwards invited the film’s Ariel, Halle Bailey, to the stage amidst rousing applause. Halle greeted the audience and shared her excitement about her new role before Marshall unveiled a teaser trailer. Featuring fan-favorite songs plus four new songs penned by Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the feature film also stars Melissa McCarthy as Ursula and Javier Bardem as Triton. “The Little Mermaid” swims onto the big screen next summer.
PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS
Pete Docter, chief creative officer of PIXAR ANIMATION STUDIOS, was excited to share the upcoming slate for the Emeryville-based animation studio.
Up first, filmmakers Pete Sohn and Denise Ream and stars Leah Lewis and Mamoudou Athie joined Docter on stageto discuss “Elemental,” an all-new, original feature film releasing on June 16, 2023. Sohn, who directs the film, shared the personal inspiration behind the film—a story of immigrants pursuing dreams in beautiful neighborhoods where language and cultures come together. Audience members got an exclusive look at the film and received a mini poster featuring Ember and Wade.
“Win Or Lose” directors Carrie Hobson and Michael Yates provided a closer look at Pixar’s first-ever long-form series. “Win or Lose” follows the Pickles, a co-ed middle school softball team, in the week leading up to their championship game. Hobson and Yates revealed that Will Forte will voice Coach Dan in the series and shared a shout-out Forte recorded for the occasion, followed by a special clip just for fans. “Win or Lose” streams on Disney+ in Fall 2023.
Docter welcomed to the stage director Adrian Molina and producer Mary Alice Drumm to showcase, for the first time ever, plans for the original feature film “Elio.” In the story, 11-year-old dreamer Elio is artistic, creative, and an avid INdoorsman who finds it hard to fit in. Meanwhile, Mom Olga, who runs a top-secret military project, is working to decode a strange signal from outer space. But it’s Elio who makes contact, gets beamed into space, and is subsequently mistaken for an intergalactic Ambassador for Earth. The voice of smart and super-confident Olga, America Ferrera, was invited on stage alongside Yonas Kibreab, who lends his voice to Elio and revealed to the audience that “Elio” will release in Spring 2024.
Amy Poehler arrived on stage to huge applause and shared that “INSIDE OUT 2” is in the works at Pixar. Director Kelsey Mann, producer Mark Nielsen, and writer Meg LeFauve are hard at work on the all-new adventure inside the head of now-teenager Riley—who may or may not be feeling all kinds of new Emotions. “Inside Out 2,”the follow-up to 2015’s Oscar®- and Golden Globe®-winning feature film, is slated for release Summer 2024.
WALT DISNEY ANIMATION STUDIOS/DISNEY+
Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios Jennifer Lee came to the stage to close out the amazing presentation. “It started with something as small as a mouse, and look what it’s become,” he noted. “All of this, built on a wish in Walt’s heart, a dream that’s brought everyone in this room together.”
Lee then came to the stage to share the stories that will take Disney Animation into its second century. She first previewed the slate of shows heading to Disney+, including new series like “Zootopia+,” launching November 9. Fans saw a trailer for the new short-form series, which heads back to the fast-paced mammal metropolis, diving deeper into the lives of some of the Oscar®-winning feature film’s most intriguing residents.
Coming to Disney+ in 2023 is “Iwájú,” an all-new original long-form series created in collaboration with Pan-African comic book entertainment company Kugali. Lee invited to the stage Kugali filmmakers Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, Hamid Ibrahim, and Tolu Olowofoyeku, who introduced the setting of the series—a love letter to Lagos, Nigeria, and shared a first look at the new series.
“Strange World,” directors Don Hall and co-director/ screenwriter Qui Nguyen took to the stage to reveal their personal connections to the film about an incredible family who must get past their differences to save a strange world full of danger and surprises. The audience was treated to an all-new trailer from Disney Animation’s 61st feature film before voice cast members Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White, and Lucy Liu joined the festivities. Fans also got a glimpse at an action-packed sequence from the film and received an exclusive poster. Produced by Roy Conli, “Strange World” also features the voice of Gabrielle Union. The film opens in theaters November 23, 2022.
Lee returned to the stage to officially unveil Disney Animation’s next original feature film, “Wish,” set to release Fall 2023 – the Studio’s 100th year. An epic animated musical inspired by the legacy of films from the studio that asks the question: “How did the wishing star, upon which so many characters wished, come to be?” Alan Tudyk, who voices a goat named Valentino in the film, joined filmmakers Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn before Lee introduced actress Ariana DeBose, who brought down the house singing “More for Us,” an all-new original song written by Julia Michaels. Lee is a writer on the film, Peter Del Vecho produces, and Juan Pablo Reyes co-produces.
Saturday, Kathleen Kennedy, president of LUCASFILM guided the audience through its incredible upcoming slate.
“Andor,” a 24-episode spy thriller set over two seasons, included stars Genevieve O’Reilly, Kyle Soller, Adria Arjona, and Cassian Andor himself, Diego Luna, came on stage to reveal their character posters and show the final trailer.
The series also stars Stellan Skarsgård, Forest Whitaker, Denise Gough, Fiona Shaw, and Faye Marsay. Kennedy, Tony Gilroy, Sanne Wohlenberg, Luna and Michelle Rejwan executive produce. Tony Gilroy is also the creator and showrunner. With action, adventure, and suspense filmed against a cinematic landscape, the first three episodes premiere exclusively on Disney+ September 21.
“Willow,” from Lucasfilm and Imagine Entertainment, was announced as they welcomed Warwick Davis, who shared his excitement to return to Andowyne before being joined by series stars Joanne Whalley, Ruby Cruz, Erin Kellyman, Ellie Bamber, Dempsey Bryk, Amar Chadha-Patel, and Tony Revolori. To the delight of surprised fans, Christian Slater was also welcomed to the stage as a member of the ensemble cast and a brand-new trailer was shown.
Set in a magical world where brownies, sorcerers, trolls, and other mystical creatures flourish, “Willow” is the story of an unlikely group of heroes who set off on a dangerous quest, facing their inner demons and coming together to save their world. An epic period fantasy told with a modern sensibility and plenty of humor, heart, energy, and vibrancy, “Willow” begins streaming on Disney+ November 30.
“Star Wars: The Bad Batch,” will begin streaming on Disney+ with a two-episode premiere January 4, 2023. Months have passed since the events on Kamino, and the Bad Batch continue their journey navigating the Empire after the fall of the Republic. “Star Wars: The Bad Batch” features the voices of Dee Bradley Baker and Michelle Ang, with Filoni, Carrie Beck, Athena Portillo, Brad Rau, and Jennifer Corbett serving as executive producers. Rau is also serving as supervising director, with Corbett as head writer.
“Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi” – Six brand-new animated shorts featuring parables built around Jedi from the prequel era. All six shorts will debut October 26 on Disney+. The series is created by executive producer Dave Filoni, with Carrie Beck and Athena Portillo serving as executive producers.
“Ahsoka,” a new live-action series heading to Disney+ starring Rosario Dawson in the title role. Set after the fall of the Empire, “Ahsoka” follows the former Jedi knight Ahsoka Tano as she investigates an emerging threat to a vulnerable galaxy. The new series is slated for 2023 and will be exclusive to Disney+. The executive producers are Filoni, Favreau, Kennedy, Colin Wilson, Carrie Beck, with Karen Gilchrist as co-executive producer.
“Star Wars: Skeleton Crew” tells the story of four kids who find themselves lost in the vastness of the galaxy, trying to find their way home. Applause erupted when star Jude Law came out to greet fans. Favreau, Filoni, Watts, Ford, Kennedy, and Michelle Rejwan executive produce.
“The Mandalorian,” – Season 3 is set to launch exclusively on Disney+ in 2023. Kennedy and Colin Wilson also executive produce, with Karen Gilchrist and Carrie Beck as co-executive producers.
To close out the Lucasfilm slate, and with the help of the iconic John Williams theme, Kennedy welcomed director James Mangold to discuss the upcoming fifth installment of the “Indiana Jones” franchise.
The director wowed the crowd with an exclusive sizzle reel from the movie, and then the audience took to their feet to welcome to stage the one-and-only Harrison Ford, alongside co-star Phoebe Waller-Bridge, to discuss the movie, which opens in theaters June 30, 2023.
Kevin Feige, producer and president of MARVEL STUDIOS, discussed recent announcements, including the Multiverse Saga—the conclusion of Phase 4, the Phase 5 slate and the Phase 6 titles that include “Fantastic Four” and two new Avengers films: “The Kang Dynasty” and “Secret Wars,” but not before treating fans to a live performance of “Save the City,” from the fictional Broadway musical “Rogers: The Musical” in “Hawkeye,” directed for Hall D23 by songwriter Marc Shaiman himself.
“Ironheart” executive producer Ryan Coogler offered fans an early look at the new series that takes place after the events of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Dominique Thorne returns as Riri Williams, a young, genius inventor determined to make her mark on the world. Her unique take on building iron suits is both brilliant and flawed, and “Ironheart” delves into the dynamics of tech versus magic. Feige invited Anthony Ramos to the stage to greet fans and share a little about his character, Parker Robbins, aka The Hood. The new series is slated for Disney+ next year.
Streaming on Disney+ beginning October 7 is Marvel Studios’ first-ever special presentation, “Werewolf by Night.” Director Michael Giacchino joined Feige on stage alongside stars Gael García Bernal and Laura Donnelly to give fans new details and preview the first trailer.
The thrilling new event series “Secret Invasion” launches on Disney+ in 2023. Don Cheadle, who reprises his role of Colonel James Rhodes, was on hand to talk about the new show. The cast includes Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and Ben Mendelsohn as the Skrull Talos—plus Olivia Colman, Emilia Clarke, and Kingsley Ben-Adir. Fans were shown a scene and the brand-new trailer that showcases a faction of shapeshifting Skrulls who have been infiltrating Earth for years.
Cheadle segued into another Disney+ project he’ll star in, “Armor Wars,” in which fans will get to see his character in a whole new light, and, considering the title of the series, get to see all-new suits for the hero featuring different types of armor.
Production on season 2of “Loki” is already underway, but Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Sophia Di Martino, and Ke Huy Quan flew in directly from the set. Fans got a glimpse at the upcoming season that picks up in the aftermath of the shocking season finale when Loki finds himself in a battle for the soul of the Time Variance Authority. Season 2 of “Loki” begins streaming on Disney+ in 2023.
Cast members from “Echo,” including Alaqua Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, Devery Jacobs, Graham Greene, Cody Lightning, and Chaske Spencer, hit the stage in Hall D23, providing some insight about Maya Lopez, whose ruthless behavior in New York City catches up with her in her hometown. Audience members were treated to a special look at the upcoming series that also stars Tantoo Cardinal and Zahn McClarnon. The new series is coming soon to Disney+.
Production on “Daredevil: Born Again” does not begin until next year, but Feige and D’Onofrio were eager to chat about the new show coming to Disney+. Fans went wild when Charlie Cox appeared on stage to discuss the 18-episode new season of the show. Fans were shown a clip from an upcoming episode of “She-Hulk: Attorney at Law,” now streaming on Disney+, that features the superpowered hero.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to thrill fans of the big screen, starting with the last film of Phase 4: “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Director Ryan Coogler shared an exclusive look at a scene and some highlights from the much-anticipated follow-up to 2018’s “Black Panther.” Much to the crowd’s delight, cast members Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, and Tenoch Huerta joined Coogler and Feige on stage. The film, which also stars Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Florence Kasumba, Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Mabel Cadena, Alex Livinalli, and Martin Freeman and is produced by Feige and Nate Moore, hits the big screen November 11.
Joining Feige on stage to officially kick off Phase 5 of the MCU were “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Jonathan Majors. The audience was treated to an exclusive look at the film hitting theaters February 17, 2023.
Feige then officially confirmed that Matt Shakman, who directed every episode of 2021’s “WandaVision,” would be directing “Fantastic Four,” opening in theaters November 8, 2024.
Continuing Sam Wilson’s journey as Captain America is a brand-new film heading to theaters in 2024. “Captain America: New World Order” director Julius Onah joined Feige on stage to welcome “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” returning stars Anthony Mackie, Danny Ramirez, and Carl Lumbly. They join new cast members Tim Blake Nelson, who was also on hand, as well as Shira Haas. “Captain America: New World Order” hits theaters May 3, 2024.
The identities of the “Thunderbolts” were unveiled, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, David Harbour as Red Guardian, Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost, Sebastian Stan as James “Bucky” Barnes/The Winter Soldier, and Wyatt Russell as John Walker/U.S. Agent. They joined directorJake Schreier on stage to thunderous applause. The esteemed team also features stars Olga Kurylenko and Florence Pugh, who recorded a special greeting for the D23 Expo audience. “Thunderbolts” opens in theaters July 26, 2024.
Feige capped the Marvel Studios presentation with “The Marvels,” welcoming to the stage director Nia DaCosta and cast members Iman Vellani, Teyonah Parris, and Brie Larson. Fans were given a special look at scenes from the new movie, which opens in theaters July 28, 2023.
20TH CENTURY STUDIOS
“Avatar: The Way of Water,” which opens in theaters December 16, welcomes back to the big screen returning cast members Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, and Stephen Lang, who appeared on stage with producer Jon Landau. The crowd was treated to fun anecdotes and exciting revelations about the new film before meeting the new-generation cast members Jamie Flatters, Jack Champion, Bailey Bass, and Trinity Jo-Li Bliss. Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, “Avatar: The Way of Water” begins to tell the story of the Sully family, the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive and the tragedies they endure. Before the show concluded, the lucky fans learned they’d be among the first to see scenes from “Avatar: The Way of Water”—right now. Each was invited to don a pair of Dolby 3D glasses—a Hall D23 first—to get fully immersed in the brand-new footage.