D23 Expo Gives Look at New Films from Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios

Last weekend’s D23 Expo gave us a look at many new and exciting things coming from the Walt Disney Company, but perhaps nothing was more exciting than the big arena presentation from Walt Disney Studios on Saturday, August 20. The presentation gave a look at some of the highly anticipated upcoming films from Walt Disney Studios, including their live-action division, Marvel, Pixar Animation Studios, and Walt Disney Animation Studios. We’ll be giving you the details on the live-action and Marvel presentations soon, but here are some highlights of what audiences were treated to from Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios:


John Lasseter introduced this brand-new film, explaining how it was their first film to be made in the Cars universe that explored some of the other vehicles found there. The film stars Dusty, a crop duster plane with big dreams. He will be voiced by Jon Cryer, who made an appearance at the presentation and made it clear how excited he was to be involved with the film. Check out the trailer for the new film below, which was shown to the audience at the presentation:

Planes will make its debut on Blu-Ray and DVD in 2013.

Wreck-It Ralph:

Lasseter also gave us a look at this upcoming film from Walt Disney Animation Studios, which centers on an 8-bit video game bad guy, “Wreck-It Ralph.” Stuck in a game where he can only do what he’s best at, destroying things, while everyone rallies around good guy “Fix-It Felix,” Ralph goes on an adventure through the video game arcade to prove he is truly a good guy after all. The film will feature beloved video game characters and a look at what their lives are like “behind the screen.” At the presentation, the audience was treated to the first 4 1/2 minutes of the film, which currently only exist as a series of storyboard drawings. The opening of the film introduces the character of Ralph and the world he lives in, and shows his discontentment with the idea that he must accept his fate as a bad guy. Ralph will then set off from “Game Central Station” on his quest to prove his inner good, which takes him to such games as “Sugar Rush,” as well as modern games, where he finds that he does not quite fit in. The film’s director Rich Moore and stars Jack McBrayer and Sarah Silverman were also on hand to give an audience a taste of what to expect when Wreck-It Ralph makes its 2012 release. The stars expressed their excitement about the film and about Disney in general, with comedian Sarah Silverman saying that she has a “love/hate relationship with Disney/Pixar because they make her feel.” While we had not heard much from this new animated film prior to the presentation, after seeing the hilarious footage from the film, it’s clear that this is a film that audiences should be sure to see in 2012.


The presentation then turned to Pixar Animation Studios and its upcoming release, Brave. The film, which takes place in ancient medieval Scotland, has been one of the biggest challenges for Pixar thus far, but the sneak peeks that the presentation audience was given shows that their hard work will truly pay off. Audiences were treated to appearances by the film’s director Mark Andrews, producer Katherine Sarafian, and stars Kelly MacDonald (Merida) and Kevin McKidd (Lord MacGuffin), who treated the audience to several clips, scenes, and pieces of art from the upcoming film. It was definitely apparent that everyone involved was very passionate about the project, with Andrews even donning a kilt for the occasion. From what we can tell from these short clips and artwork, it will certainly be a beautiful film, and unlike anything that Pixar’s ever done before.

Here is a newly updated synopsis from Disney that reveals some of the plot points D23 audiences were treated to:

Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In “Brave,” a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts.

Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.

Monsters University

The final Pixar film to be discussed was the 2013 film Monsters University. The film, a prequel to the 2001 film Monsters Inc., will take a look at how the film’s main characters, Mike and Sulley, first became friends. The pair, it was revealed, were originally enemies throughout grade school, and the film will introduce them in college, where their rivalry comes to a head. Both aiming to become professional Scarers, the highest profession one can achieve in their world, the film will focus on their combative relationship and how it evolved into the true friendship we saw in Monsters Inc.

The film will feature both new and familiar characters, but transform them and the Monster world to fit the college atmosphere. A look at both Mike and Sulley’s “college selves” were revealed, which features the characters as we know them, but younger. Mike will wear a retainer, and Sulley looks to be smaller and shaggier than the monster we knew in 2001. Director Dick Scanlon spoke a bit about the research that was being done for the project, where Pixar animators traveled to colleges, primarily in the Northeast, to find the right atmosphere for the film. Scanlon joked that the research was necessary, as most of the Pixar animators went to art school and didn’t get to experience “real college.” As a result of their research, the film will be set in a classic college atmosphere reminiscent of such Northeastern schools as Harvard and MIT, but “monsterized,” as the traditional look is combined with such monstrous touches as roofs with horns and mouth-like archways.

The new film will bring together the original lead voice actors from the film once again, John Goodman (Sulley) and Billy Crystal (Mike Wazowski), as well as some new voice actors, including Dave Foley, Julia Sweeney, Joel Murray and Peter Sohn. On hand at the Expo to help introduce the new film was Billy Crystal himself, who said that the new film was “different than anything you could imagine Monsters Inc could become.” The film will make its debut in theaters on June 21, 2013.

In addition to the exclusive looks at these four films, Pixar also announced two new, original films that they will produce at the event, as we previously announced. Their section concluded with a celebration of Pixar’s 25th Anniversary, complete with cupcakes for everyone in the audience of the 4,000 seat arena. There has been a lot to get excited about over the past 25 years from Pixar Animation Studios, and based on their presence at the D23 Expo, it looks like there will be a whole lot more to look forward to from them and Walt Disney Animation Studios in the future as well.

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