Everything we learned at D23 Expo′s Pixar and Walt Disney Animation panel

Everything we learned at D23 Expo′s Pixar and Walt Disney Animation panel

In this photo illustration a Pixar Animation Studios logo is seen on a smartphone screen.

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The Walt Disney Company revealed new information about its upcoming slate of animated movies and TV shows during its Pixar and Disney Animation Studios panel at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California Friday.

Animated movies released theatrically have floundered at the box office in the wake of the pandemic. At first, parents were reticent to bring kids back to cinemas, but now it seems that lackluster titles and an increase in children’s content on streaming have contributed to keeping families at home.

Disney has exacerbated this issue since movie theaters reopened, as it has placed the majority of its new Pixar films on Disney+ including “Turning Red,” “Soul” and “Luca.” While these decisions were made at time when vaccinations were either not available to children and moviegoing foot traffic was slow, it trained consumers to expect these titles on streaming.

It’s part of the reason that “Lightyear” had a lackluster opening in theaters this summer. Of course, the film was also hurt by a confusing premise that deviated from what made the Toy Story franchise so special.

Disney revealed ew titles from Pixar and its Walt Disney Animation Studio as well as films associated with its live-action remakes during Friday’s panel. It will also share which films will head to theaters and which will arrive by way of Disney+.


Pete Docter, the chief creative officer of Pixar, took the stage at the D23 Expo to announce new titles from the animation studio that will arrive in theaters and on Disney+ in the coming years.

“Elemental,” arriving in summer 2023, tells the story of a bustling metropolis where earth, air, fire and water elements live. But when a fire girl and a water boy develop a connection the two must navigate how to interact while being polar opposites. Director Peter Sohn noted the film also touches on themes of immigration and finding your place in the world.

The company is launching its first ever long-form series on Disney+ called “Win or Lose.” The show is the brain child of two storyboard artists and tells the story of the Pickles softball team in the week ahead of their championship game. Each episode takes place during the same week, but from a perspective of a different main character.

“Elio” is a new project from the studio that centers on an 11-year-old named Elio who is just trying to fit in. His mother is working on a top secret military project to decode alien messages, but its Elio who accidentally makes first contact and becomes the de facto emissary for Earth. The film will debut in spring 2024.

Amy Poehler joined Docter on stage to announce Pixar will be making a sequel to 2015’s “Inside Out.” Riley is now a teenager and there are new emotions joining the mix. The movie arrives in summer 2024.

Disney Animation

Jennifer Lee, chief creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios, announced several new projects from the studio.

To start, Lee said “Zootopia+” will arrive in November. The show is a series of shorts following major characters from the 2016 feature film.

Disney is partnering with Kugali Media to bring “Iwaju” to Disney+. The series is set in Nigeria and follows a young heiress named Tola and a poor boy named Kole. It arrives on the streaming service in 2023.

The studio shared a trailer of “Strange Worlds,” which arrives in theaters Thanksgiving 2022. The film centers on the Clades, a family of explorers, who must rely on each other in spite of their differences to traverse an uncharted and treacherous new land.

“Wish” is Disney Animations 2023 feature film. It explores how the dreaming star, upon which so many Disney characters have wished upon, came to be. The film is set within the Kingdom of Roses and follows Asha, an optimist with a sharp wit. Asha sees a darkness in the kingdom that no one else does, so in a moment of desperation she makes a passionate plea to the stars. This calls down an actual star from the sky named Star with magical wish-granting powers.

Asha is played by Ariana DeBose as Asha and Alan Tudyk as Valentino, a goat. DeBose sang an original song from the film and Tudyk ran through his repertoire of Disney characters including Duke Weaselton from “Frozen,” Hei Hei from “Moana” and King Candy from “Wreck-it Ralph.”


Ahead of reveals about its animated content, Disney unveiled new trailers for “Hocus Pocus 2,” which arrives on Disney+ Sept. 30, as well as “Disenchanted,” the sequel to 2007’s “Enchanted,” out on the streaming service Nov 24.

On the heels of the release of “Pinocchio” on Disney+ on Thursday, the studio announced a slew of new additions to its catalog of Disney live-action remakes.

“Peter Pan & Wendy” starring Alexander Molony as Peter, Ever Anderson as Wendy and Alyssa Wapanatahk as Tiger Lily is slated for release on Disney+ in 2023. Jude Law portrays Captain Hook.

“Haunted Mansion” is slated to arrive in theaters March 10, 2023. Directed by Justin Simien, a former Disneyland cast member, the film is filled with Easter eggs culled from the famous Disney parks ride. During the panel, Simien announced that Jamie Lee Curtis will star as Madam Leota in the film.

Barry Jenkin’s formerly untitled Lion King project is called “Mufasa: The Lion King” and tells the origin story of Mufasa from cub to king. Clips shared with audiences at the D23 Expo shows the same stunning visuals as 2019’s “The Lion King” and will arrive in theaters in 2024.

The company also shared a brief glimpse of “Snow White” due out in theaters in 2024. The film stars Rachel Zegler as the title character and Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen. Fans erupted in applause when Gadot took the stage. The “Wonder Woman” actress said it was fun to play the villain, having been so often cast in more heroic roles.

Both Zegler and Anderson noted that the studio worked to give classic characters like Snow White and Wendy more agency and provide a modern take on these classic tales.

Rob Marshall, the director of Disney’s remake of “The Little Mermaid,” shared the entire sequence of “Part of Your World” from the film. Halle Bailey’s performance received raucous applause and a standing ovation when she stepped out on stage. The film arrives in theaters May 26, 2023.

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