D23 Expo 2013: Art and Imagination (Part I: Pixar)

The 2013 D23 Expo kicked off with a presentation of upcoming animated feature releases from the various Disney studios.

We were welcomed by Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company.   (Bob was here live this year; two years ago his introduction was taped).   He mentioned that since the last Expo, Disney has acquired LucasFilm, but that we wouldn’t be getting details of Star Wars Episode VII during the Expo.   He also said this Expo was the biggest yet.

Bob then turned the floor over to Bob Lasseter, who was the host for the remainder of the 3-hour presentation.   John is the Chief Creative Officer at Pixar, Disneytoon, and Walt Disney Animation Studios, as well as the Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering (in other words, he has ALL the best jobs at Disney).

The presentation was divided by studios, so I’ll divide the blog posts accordingly.   First up:  Pixar.

We first heard about the success of Monsters University, currently in theaters.   John mentioned that one of the break-out characters from the film that really surprised them was the slug.   And then John was joined on stage by SNL alum Bil Hader, the voice of the slug.   They had a brief bit of banter before John announced the first D23 Exclusive of the day:  we were shown a new Monsters University short film, Party Central.   This was a really cute short film  that will be released theatrically in front of The Good Dinosaur.

And that lead us in to a discussion of The Good Dinosaur, Pixar’s next film.   The premise here is: what if the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs missed the Earth?   director Pete Sohn and producer Denise Ream came on stage to discuss the film.   The first clip shown was of the dinosaurs engaged in farming activities.   This was a very lovely, pastoral scene that was different in tone from the funnier scenes that followed.    The animation style (particularly the character design) is more cartoony, and less photo-realistic, than I had anticipated based on what I heard previously.

The voice cast includes John Lithgow, Frances McDormand, Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Green, and Lucas Neff.    Bill and Lucas came out to talk a bit about the film, they both play siblings in the featured dino family.   We then saw another clip of the film, where Arlo (Luca’s character) meets a human for the first time.

The Good Dinosaur will be in theaters in 2014.

The next film presented was Inside Out.   (Announced at the 2011 Expo as The Untitled Pixar Film That Takes You Inside the Mind, but for some reason they chose not to stick with that title).    I can’t help but think of this as Cranium Command: The Movie — fans of that shuttered Epcot attraction will recognize the story line similarity.

The movie as about 11 year old Riley, a young girl whose family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco.   As she adjusts to her new surroundings, we see her emotions personified as characters in her head.   The voice cast features Lewis Black as Anger; Mindy Kaling as Disgust; Bill Hader as Fear, Amy Poehler as Joy, and Phyllis Smith as Sadness.

Phyllis Smith (The Office) and Bill “I’m not Dwight” Hader then came out to talk about the film.   Phyllis certainly nailed the Sadness role as she was in character throughout.

The film takes us various places inside the brain, from HeadQuarters (the command center) to Long Term Memory, Imagination Central, Abstract Thought, and Dream Production.   All these areas are connected by the Train of Thought.

We saw a story reel (essentially storyboards plus temp voice tracks) showing how a family dinner goes with the family — we get to see the inner emotions of the Mom and Dad as well as Riley, and the hilarious scene went over very well with the audience.   This looks like a gem.

Next:  Finding Dory.   Director Andrew Stanton and producer Lindsey Collins set up the film, which takes place about a year after Finding Nemo.   Dory’s homing instinct kicks in and she takes off to search for her original family; her new family then has to search for her.   Voice cast includes returning Albert Brooks (Marlin) and Ellen DeGeneres (Dory), plus Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy as Dory’s parents, Ty Burrell, and more voice cast to be announced later.    At this point Bill Hader came on stage dressed as a Sea Cucumber to beg to be cast in the movie … with 3 Pixar films in a row under his belt, if he could just get one more, he could become Pixar’s “Lucky Charm”.

Well, that comment just could not be allowed to stand.   At this point Pixar’s reigning lucky charm, John Ratzenberger, came onto stage accompanied by a full brass band that punctuated his every joke with a rim shot or appropriate flourish.    We saw a slideshow of all 14 of the characters John has voiced in Pixar films.    I don’t think Bill will be unseating John anytime soon.

John Lasseter then explained that Pixar has been thinking about TV specials even before they did the first Toy Story, but now have finally created their first.   Toy Story of Terror will debut this Halloween, and we were treated to the first 10 minutes of the special.

That concludes the Pixar portion of the animation presentation … the next post will pick up with the Disneytoon Studios project calendar.

 

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This entry was posted in Animation, D23, D23 Expo 2013, Disney and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to D23 Expo 2013: Art and Imagination (Part I: Pixar)

  1. Pingback: D23 Expo 2013: Art & Imagination (Part 2: Disneytoon Studios) | Epic Mikey

  2. Pingback: D23 Expo 2013: Art & Animation (Part 3: Disney Animation) | Epic Mikey

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