Taking the stage at the D23 Expo 2022, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee shared the studio’s plans for the yearlong 100-year anniversary celebration.
Lee told the audience: “At Walt Disney Animation Studios, the studio that started it all, on the eve of our 100th anniversary, we see today as a moment of privilege and promise…a privilege to be stewards of a studio and a dream that Walt and his brother, Roy, started a century ago and a promise to continue to take risks in our storytelling—and to explore and expand and turn the possible into the actual, just as Walt did.”
Here are the upcoming Disney Animation projects that were revealed:
Lee discussed the opportunities Disney+ has created at Disney Animation, reviewing the slate of shows heading to the streamer, including new series like “Zootopia+,” based on the hit 2016 film, “Zootopia.”
Fans saw a trailer for the new short-form series, which heads back to the fast-paced animal metropolis, diving deeper into the lives of some of the Oscar-winning film’s most intriguing residents.
“Zootopia+” launches on Disney+ November 9, 2022.
“Iwájú” is an all-new original long-form series created in collaboration with Pan-African comic book entertainment company Kugali.
Lee invited Kugali filmmakers Olufikayo Ziki Adeola, Hamid Ibrahim, and Tolu Olowofoyeku to the stage, who introduced the setting of the series, which is a love letter to Lagos, Nigeria.
Olowofoyeku and Ibrahim described the world of Iwájú as a futuristic depiction of a world bursting with color, unique visual elements, and technological advancements inspired by the spirit of Lagos, which is physically divided into an island and a mainland separated by both water and socio-economic status.
The coming-of-age story introduces Tola, a young heiress from the wealthy island, and her best friend Kole, a self-taught tech expert and loving son from the mainland.
The filmmakers also shared a first look at art from the new series with the audience, which is coming to Disney+ in 2023.
Lee then set the tone for Disney Animation’s next feature film, introducing the filmmakers behind “Strange World.”
Director Don Hall and co-director screenwriter Qui Nguyen revealed their personal connections to the film about an incredible family who must get past their differences to save a strange world full of danger and surprises.
The audience was also treated to an all-new trailer from Disney Animation’s 61st feature film (not online yet) before voice cast members Jake Gyllenhaal (Searcher Clade), Dennis Quaid (Jaeger Clade), Jaboukie Young-White (Ethan Clade), and Lucy Liu (Callisto Mal) joined the festivities.
Strange World marks Gyllenhaal’s first time in Disney animated movie, and he said, “Being here is so cool and to share this trailer for the first time. I’ve always wanted to be in a Disney animated movie so it’s kind of a dream come true.”
Fans also got a glimpse at an action-packed sequence from the film and received an exclusive poster.
Produced by Roy Conli, the film premieres in theaters November 23, 2022.
In the finale moment of the presentation, Lee returned to the stage to officially unveil Disney Animation’s next original feature film, “Wish.”
The epic animated musical is inspired by the legacy of films from the studio and asks the question: “How did the wishing star, upon which so many characters wished, come to be?”
Directors Chris Buck (“Frozen”) and Fawn Veerasunthorn (“Raya and the Last Dragon”) outlined the story, which is set in Rosas, the kingdom of wishes where wishes can literally come true.
The audience was introduced to 17-year-old Asha, an optimist with a sharp wit, who cares endlessly about her community.
In a moment of desperation, Asha makes an impassioned plea to the stars, which is answered by a cosmic force, a little ball of boundless energy called Star.
Together, they face the most formidable of foes to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.
The filmmakers said the pic blends timeless watercolor style with 3D CG animation.
“Fawn and I both grew up on Disney classics and fell in love with them,” Buck said. “Truly is no greater power in the universe than someone with a true wish in their hearts.”
Disney Animation good-luck-charm Alan Tudyk (“Frozen,” “Moana,” “Encanto,” “Zootopia”) joined filmmakers on stage to share an animation test for his newest character, a goat named Valentino, who is a friend of Asha’s.
Buck, Veerasunthorn, and Lee then introduced the voice of Asha, actress and Oscar-winner Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”), who brought down the house singing an all-new original song, “More for Us,” written by Grammy nominee Julia Michaels. Michaels is also writing all of the songs for the film.
Lee is a writer on the film, Peter Del Vecho produces, and Juan Pablo Reyes co-produces.
“Wish” is set to release to theaters Fall 2023, during the Studio’s 100th year.
Which of these Walt Disney Animation Studios projects are you excited to see? Let us know in the comments.
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