Disney has itself a full mouse house.
The third annual D23 Expo got into full swing today as John Lasseter – the man who oversees Pixar, Walt Disney Animation, and Disneytoon Studios – unveiled a full slate of upcoming animated gems, all in various stages of development.
As we'd expect, most everything Disney presented looks like it's built for wonder, but here's the five animated worlds we're most excited to explore.
1. Like we weren't already overflowing with excitement about Pixar's "Finding Nemo" sequel, "Finding Dory," now we've got a better idea of what the film is about, and who will be swimming about with returning leads Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks. Director Andrew Stanton noted that ten years after "Nemo," he had "one unanswered curiosity," namely: where's Dory's family?
The story takes place a year after "Nemo," with Dory living happily aside Marlin (Brooks) and his son Nemo. But when a traumatic event causes Dory's homing instincts to kick in, she heads off to search for her family, which causes Marlin and son to search for Dory. The crowd was elated to hear that Dory's parents would be voiced by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy, and that Ty Burrell will give life to a beluga whale named Bailey.
"Finding Dory" swims into theaters November 25, 2015.
2. Lasseter described "The Good Dinosaur" as "the biggest what-if ever," based on the idea that the dinosaur extinction never happened. Exclusive footage showed a giant asteroid plummeting towards earth, only to zip right on by.
Apparently, in the Pixar universe, dino-survival allows the creatures time to become civilized. The dinosaurs take to farming, of all things, and we saw some beautiful footage of the giants working together to tend the crops, plow the fields, and even set up a complex irrigation system.
The crux of the story will center around Arlo, voiced by Lucas Neff ("Raising Hope"), an affable Apatosaurus who befriends the first human any dinosaur has ever seen, a hostile little bugger named Spot. The two must embark on a remarkable journey in order to bring peace back to the community. Rounding out Arlo's vocal family will be John Lithgow, Frances McDormand, Neil Patrick Harris, Bill Hader, and Judy Greer.
Pixar and dinosaurs? We'll take a dino-sized serving of that!
"The Good Dinosaur" opens May 30, 2014.
3. Usually, fairy movies aren't exactly our bag, but when you throw pirates into the mix, count us in. Disneytoon's "The Pirate Fairy," the latest from the Disney Fairies franchise, follows the adventurous fairy Zarina, (Christina Hendricks of "Mad Men") who befriends James (Tom Hiddleston of "Thor" fame), a cabin boy aboard a pirate ship.
Okay, Disney, you had us at Hiddleston. But you really got us when the ever-charming Loki actor came on stage to reveal that the cabin boy is just covering his cunning nature, and that he's actually Captain James Hook, but before getting the hook that made him infamous.
Hiddleston admitted that he's a lifelong Disney fan, that voicing a Disney character is a "dream come true," and that Baloo from "The Jungle Book" is his "spiritual grandfather." Then he sang "The Bare Necessities." And the crowd swooned. Sigh.
4. If you've ever wondered not just what your kids are thinking, but why they're thinking that way, then Pixar's "Inside Out" may blow your mind. The ambitious project takes us inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl, Riley, who is usually quite joyful, until her family moves to a new town.
Aside from Riley, her mom, and dad, the main characters are emotions inside their minds. Giving voice to Riley's emotions are Lewis Black (Anger), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Bill Hader (Fear), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), and Amy Poehler, who plays Joy, the "most important emotion," according to director Pete Docter.
The storyboarded footage of the family sitting down to an uncomfortable meal, trying to communicate as their emotions run the show, is some of the most inventive and poignant stuff we've seen in a long while. We don't think Lasseter was resorting to hyperbole when he introduced the film as "one of the most unique films I have ever been associated with."
"Inside Out" opens June 19, 2015.
5. Walt Disney gets his first acting credit since 1955 for voicing Mickey in the new short "Get A Horse!" The mouse house recently discovered animation from 1928, from what would have been the fourth Mickey Mouse short. They miraculously combined that with 3D computer graphics, and then took sound bites from Mr. Disney himself performing Mickey's voice.
What starts out as an old-school, black and white hay-wagon romp, quickly turns into a Technincolored 3D extravaganza. Mickey and friends seamlessly venture between black and white and Technicolored landscapes, while trying to save Minnie from the notorious Peg-Leg Pete. It's nothing short of Disney magic.
“Get A Horse!” opens in front of Disney's upcoming feature,“Frozen,” on Nov. 27, 2013.
See the teaser trailer for Disney's "Frozen":