For the “Art and Imagination: Animation at The Walt Disney Studios” presentation that occurred Friday at the D23 Expo 2013 in Anaheim, CA, Walt Disney Animation Studios took center stage to showcase its upcoming films along with a very clever and funny new (well, “old”) short film. The presentation was marvelous and it showcased how the filmmakers at the revered studio are taking the Disney animated feature film in new and exciting directions while still honoring the legacy of the genre that was created by Walt Disney himself.
To start the Walt Disney Animation Studios presentation, John Lasseter brought Burny Mattinson to the stage to publicly honor him for his 60 years of service to the Walt Disney Studios. He is one of the few living animators to have worked personally with Walt Disney himself. A wonderful tribute video was shown highlighting great animation moments in Burny’s career. Burny was then treated to a large standing ovation from the audience.
Lasseter then began to bring out the filmmakers working on the upcoming films from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Highlights included:
Big Hero 6: Director Don Hall showed us a very cool summary clip of Big Hero 6, which is based on an obscure underground comic book series from Marvel. The clip introduced all of the characters along with more shots of the cool hybrid city of “San Fransokyo” where the movie takes place. Done in a very graphic comic book style, the film looks fantastic. I spoke with Don Hall after the presentation at the Walt Disney Animation Studios pavilion on the D23 Expo show floor. He expressed his excitement about the film and told me that it’s a wonderful challenge for everyone involved. Big Hero 6 opens November 7, 2014.
Zootopia: We were given a formal announcement about Zootopia, the next film from Tangled co-director Byron Howard. Howard expressed his love for Disney’s animated films with anthropomorphic animals, particular Robin Hood. Zootopia will take place in an animal world where there are no humans. I also got to speak with Byron Howard at the Walt Disney Animation Studios pavilion along with producer Clark Spencer and they couldn’t have been more gracious. The main character is a fox named Nick Wilde, who’s been paired with a bunny named Lt. Hopps. No voice talent was announced, although Jason Bateman has been rumored to be the star. Some of the locations for the film announced were: Anamalia, Tundra Town, Wild Times, Rain Forest, Sahara Square, The Canals, and The Burrows. The film looks incredibly clever, original and fun. Zootopia opens in U.S. theaters on March 4, 2016.
Get a Horse!: We were also shown the clever new short film Get a Horse!. We were asked not to divulge anything about, so I’m going to honor that (but check out other stuff that we’ve written up about it on the Animation Fascination site…). John Lasseter also confirmed that Get a Horse! will be shown in front of Frozen.
Frozen: Speaking of Frozen, we were shown extended clips from the movie, heard from the films directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, got to see Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, and last but not least, hear Idina Menzel belt out a gorgeous rendition of a new song from the film called “Let It Go” while imagery from the movie played on the screen above her. It was a fitting way to end a marvelous presentation. As a side note, after the presentation I got to speak with animator Darrin Butters on the D23 Expo show floor who told me that he had just finished his last shot on Frozen on Friday. We can’t wait to see this film. Frozen opens in U.S. theaters on November 27, 2013.
Kudos to our friends at Walt Disney Animation Studios for keeping the legacy alive in such new, creative and exciting ways!