D23 Expo: Disney, Pixar preview upcoming films

By Ashley Carter, Attractions Insider
Last Updated: Sunday, July 16, 2017, 12:30 AM EDT

Disney brought surprise and spectacle to the D23 Expo in Anaheim Friday.

The biennial fan event features new merchandise, fan experiences and plenty of announcements.

On Friday afternoon, Hall D23 became the place to be to learn about what’s next for Disney animation. Pixar CCO John Lasseter hosted a nearly two-hour panel of sneak peeks, teases and guest appearances to showcase upcoming movies from Disney Animation, Pixar and Disneytoon Studios.

A sizzle reels started the presentation, with footage from “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Cars 3,” “The Jungle Book, “ and new titles such as “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Black Panther,” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.”

Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn then took the stage to highlight the morning’s Disney Legends Award Ceremony, and, of course, to talk animation. “None of this would exist without story animation,” he said, speaking of the company’s foundation. Lasseter then took the stage to discuss the Disney’s newest animated movies.


The first preview shared was an animation test from Disneytoon Studios featuring high-flying jets with animated faces. The style is similar to 2013’s “Planes,” a spin-off of Pixar’s “Cars.”  In the clip, the planes zoom across the sky before a title card appeared that read “Space.” Other words joined it to say, “This Space to be filled with a title when we think of one.” The untitled movie is slated for April 12, 2019.


The team behind the mega-hit “Frozen” shared footage of the holiday short “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.”  Kristen Bell introduced Josh Gad (voice of Olaf), who sang one of the short’s four new songs. In the 21-minute short, Olaf goes in search of holiday traditions to share with Anna and Elsa, who realize they don’t have any traditions of their own. “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure" will premiere in front of Pixar’s “Coco” in November.


One the biggest highlights of the animation panel was the segment dedicated to “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.” The never-before-scene footage started with Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) navigating the internet with a new character named “Yesss,” voiced by Taraji P. Henson. Once Vanellope finds a group of Disney princesses, hilarity ensues. "Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2" will hit theaters March 2018.


The much-anticipated sequel to 2004’s “The Incredible” received some love during Friday’s panel. To kick things off, director Brad Bird shared a special clip dedicated to character Edna Mode. It featured real-life fashion staples -- Heidi Klum, Rachel Zoe and Zac Posen. Each paid tribute to the popular character.  Bird also shared new renderings of the characters to highlight the advances in animation technology. 

In “The Incredibles 2” Elastigirl (voiced by Holly Hunter) will take the lead while Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson) takes a break from the action. To close the segment, Bird shared a clip of baby Jack Jack fighting a raccoon, revealing the infant's numerous powers.


Lasseter announced that he would be stepping down as director of “Toy Story 4” and that his co-director Josh Cooley would take over. Lasseter said he would remain an executive producer on the movie.


Pixar has another new movie in the works, an untitled project set in a suburban fantasy world. Lasseter introduced the movie by telling the audience it would take them into “worlds they’ve never seen before.” Dan Scanlon is attached to direct. He took the stage to say it is a deeply personal project for him. The story follows two brothers who go on a quest to find their father. Scanlon’s father died when he was very young.


The presentation ended with a extended preview of Pixar’s upcoming movie “Coco.” Benjamin Bratt and Anthony Gonzalez star. The two actors appeared on stage to sing one of the songs from the movie as marigold petals fell from the ceiling of the arena and traditional Mexican dancers filled the aisles. "Coco" hits theaters November 2017.

On Saturday, Disney is slated to hold a similar presentation for its live-action movies.​