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Monday, September 14, 2009

Disney Odds and Ends

So, this past weekend, Disney held their first ever D23 event down in California. You know how George Lucas does his "Star Wars Celebration" official Star Wars conventions? Well, D23 is pretty much the same thing...it was the first official Disney convention. As such, a lot of news came out about upcoming Disney projects, and since a former co-worked once called me "Mr. Disney" because of my knowledge of all things House of Mouse, I figured I should comb through the news and highlight what I think are the highlights.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - They made it official at D23...a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film is on the way. Johnny Depp is back as Captain Jack Sparrow, Ted Eliot and Terry Rossio are once again writing the script, Jerry Bruckheimer is once again producing and...that's all that's been announced so far. Summer 2011 is when this'll be hitting theatres. But what got me excited is, as soon as their done making this, the entire creative team goes on to make....

The Lone Ranger - Always had a soft spot for the masked man when I was a kid. As I said, it's the same creative time as POTC. Bruckheimer producing, Eliot and Rossio writing, and Johnny Depp is NOT playing the Lone Ranger...Depp will be playing the Lone Ranger's faithful sidekick Tonto. The search is on for the Lone Ranger! Summer 2013 is when this comes out. But what will be filling the gap in 2012?

John Carter of Mars - Edgar Rice Burrough's other famous pulp fiction character comes to the big screen. (The first one, of course, is Tarzan.) John Carter is a soldier during the American civil war who passes out in a cave one day and wakes up on Mars. Mars -- or Barsoom, as the locals call it -- turns out to be a rich fantasy land with all kinds of dragons to slay and princesses to rescue. Oh, and because of Mars's weaker gravity, John Carter has super-strength. So, Barsoom is pretty much Eternia, John Carter is pretty much He-Man, and Mattel pretty much ripped off the whole thing for Masters of the Universe. But why I'm excited is this is going to be the live-action directorial debut of Andrew Stanton, the brilliant Pixar animator who wrote the Toy Story films and wrote and directed Finding Nemo and WALL-E. Summer 2012!

Toy Story 3 - Speaking of Pixar, there were a few more announcements on Pixar's blockbuster for next year. Newly added to the voice cast are Jeff Garlin, Bonnie Hunt, Whoopi Goldberg, and James Bond himself, Timothy Dalton. The only new character revealed was Mr. Pricklepants. Mr. Pricklepants is a lederhosen-wearing stuffed hedgehog that "one might buy as a souvenir from Europe." That's who Dalton is voicing. Summer next year.

Yellow Submarine - One of the most controversial announcements was that Disney is looking to do a remake of the classic Beatles animated film Yellow Submarine. Robert Zemeckis, who gave us the Back to the Future trilogy and Forrest Gump, looks to make this his next performance capture epic. Zemeckis, of course, has become the performance capture guru, having given us The Polar Express, Beowulf, and this Christmas's A Christmas Carol. Apple Corps, the company that manages all things Beatles, are officially on-board with the project. 2012 is when they want it in theatres.

The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made - Yup, Disney now owns the Muppets, and they announced that this is the title of the next Muppet movie. What raised eyebrows was that Jim Henson originally proposed a fourth Muppet movie back in 1985 that was called...The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made. The plot apparently had Gonzo as a film director, and his budget quickly got out of control. Frank Oz tried to resurrect the project in Y2K, to little success. This new one is being written by Jason Segel, the writer and star of the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Winnie the Pooh - So, Disney makes their triumphant return to traditional, 2D hand-drawn animation this Christmas with The Princess and the Frog. Their next traditional 2D animated film is going to be an all-new Winnie the Pooh movie. Head of Disney animation John Lasetter revealed what this new Pooh film will be about. Lasetter said that they decided to go back to the source. They poured through all the original A.A. Milne stories and found 5 Pooh stories that have yet to be adapted to another medium. So they took those five stories and wove them together into a singular plot. Christmas 2011.

Star Tours II - Lucasfilm was on hand to make this announcement! Ever since Episode I hit theatres 10 years ago, it's been rumored that Lucasfilm and Disney would be overhauling and/or updating their ever-popular Star Tours ride at Disneyland. And they finally made it official. The new Star Tours will be done with cutting edge computer animation, be in 3D, and incorporate many of the new planets we saw in the prequels. The original Star Tours will be closing next year, and the all-new Star Tours II opens up at Disneyland theme parks in 2011.

Disney's Double Dare You - This is an interesting project. Disney has teamed up with Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy director Guillermo Del Toro to create this new production arm at Disney, dedicated to creating spooky tales to provide thrills and chills for all ages. Del Toro will have a hand in everything that this label produces. Their first project is a film called Trollhunters, which will be written and produced by Del Toro.

The Bear and the Bow - And I do feel I have to mention this one, because Pixar was making a big deal about it. This Pixar animated film is due out Christmas 2011. Now, Pixar is regarded as the best computer animation studio working today, however, they are starting to get a lot of flak for the fact that they have yet to make a film with a female protagonist. The Bear and the Bow will be their first film where the main character is a heroine. Set in medieval Scotland, The Bear and the Bow follows the adventures of Princess Merida, who decides to renounce her title and become an archer. Sadly, though, this decision has dire consequences for her family, and she's soon on a quest to restore her parents to the throne. This is also Pixar's first film directed by a woman. Director Brenda Chapman who was a writer and storyboard artist on Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Chicken Run and Cars.

There was lots more news, but as I said, those were my highlights.

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