Disney’s D23 Expo opens its doors Friday across the street from Disneyland, treating fans to a slew of sneak peeks of the Mouse House’s upcoming slate, from the latest Star Wars and Marvel endeavors to live-action revamps of classic cartoons à la this year’s Beauty and the Beast to the best future animated features. The three-day, star-studded fest in Anaheim — which Disney purposely scheduled to steal some of Comic-Con’s thunder — will also highlight props and costumes, theme park expansions, hands-on video-game demos, and booths stocked with new merch for all ages.
Yahoo Movies will bring you the latest news, photos, and video from the exhibition floor and the panels; in the meantime, these are the half-dozen top storylines we will be following:
The biggest question going into D23 Expo is whether Disney chooses to do any damage control following Lucasfilm’s decision to fire Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from the untitled Han Solo movie last month. The surprise move rattled Star Wars fans and immediately overshadowed this December’s franchise installment, The Last Jedi. Will Kathleen Kennedy and crew try to allay fan fears by bringing out new director Ron Howard with some footage? With Howard in the midst of shooting, will they beam him in via satellite or at the very least via taped message? Or will they simply try to divert attention by focusing on shiny new clips (perhaps a new trailer?) from The Last Jedi. With Star Wars skipping Comic-Con, we can expect Disney to go all out for Jedi here, bringing Mark Hamill and returning cast members from The Force Awakens to pump up the crowd during Disney’s live-action film presentation on Saturday.
To Infinity War and Beyond
Casts and clips from Thor: Ragnarok (Nov. 3) and Black Panther (Feb. 16) are confirmed, but will Marvel Studios also take this opportunity to show off some early footage from the massive MCU team-up Avengers: Infinity War? Aside from some teasing social media posts and concept art, the film (coming May 4, 2018) has been kept under wraps so far. Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6, 2018) will also be in the house. With the success of Wonder Woman, we’re wondering if studio boss Kevin Feige chooses D23 as the platform to show off Brie Larson in her Captain Marvel costume — or maybe we’ll have to wait a week until San Diego Comic-Con, where Marvel will also have a presentation?
The Lion Roars
The previous D23 Expo in 2015 was the launching pad for Jon Favreau’s reboot of The Jungle Book, which was welcomed with an ovation rivaling the Marvel films. Let’s see if he gets the chance to repeat the magic by having his Lion King introduced during the live-action showcase. Disney also has a separate Sunday panel planned for the animated classic promising “special guests,” which has us giddy with anticipation. Lion King isn’t the only upcoming release mining the Disney vaults; we should also get a glimpse from the live-action reboots of Mulan as well as the decades-later sequel Mary Poppins Returns.
Oprah’s New Wrinkle
Along with Stan Lee, Mark Hamill, and the late Carrie Fisher, Oprah Winfrey will be enshrined as a “Disney Legend” — think Mickey’s Hall of Fame — during a ceremony Friday morning. We fully expect her to stick around for Saturday’s live-action panel, joining cast mates Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Chris Pine for our initial glimpse at director Ava DuVernay‘s reimagined take on Madeline L’Engle’s classic A Wrinkle in Time, due out March 9, 2018. DuVernay has already tipped a trailer premiere.
While Pixar‘s Coco (coming Nov. 22) is sharing top billing going into Friday’s animation presentation, there are a few other features we can’t wait to get more intel on, namely the Wreck-It Ralph sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, and The Incredibles 2, both due out next year, and 2019’s Toy Story 4 (which was a major part of the 2015 D23 Expo but has since assumed a lower profile amid production delays). And with the short film Olaf’s Frozen Adventure getting an early-bird screening on Saturday, there’s a chance Disney might take this opportunity to hype a film that needs no hype: 2019’s Frozen 2.
A Galaxy Not So Far Away
As noted earlier, the D23 Expo showcases much more than movies. Disney’s synergistic empire extends into TV, video games, books, theme parks, and loads of merchandise. We have an eye on the Disney Parks and Resorts panel slated for Saturday afternoon, where we expect a full update on the dual Star Wars Land expansions in Anaheim and Orlando opening in 2019.
D23 Flashback: Highlights of 2015 Live-Action Presentation:
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