For years we have awaited 2015, a period that would produce so much awesome entertainment unlike no other. With Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tomorrowland, Pixar’s Inside Out and Star Wars: The Force Awakens on the short-term horizon on the film side, Disneyland’s 60th on the theme park side, and a variety of exciting television/digital projects to debut, Disney continues to demonstrate its power in the media world.
Last week’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders revealed a few upcoming plans, complemented by a slew of headlines that have rocked the industry — and, most of all, rocked in a great way. Needless to say, there is likely no better time to be a Disney fan. At the very least, divisiveness acknowledged on some issues, we can have more substantial and more frequent discussions on Disney’s entertainment dominance and interesting avenues for extending its branding reach.
MORE TALES TO BE TOLD
Woo-hoo, absolutely! A new DuckTales series involving our friends from Duckburg will hit Disney XD in 2017. Michael Lee shared this news with you Geeks of Doom readers when it was released during the “tale” end of February, but the excitement persists. And so does the head scratching. Why now? After all, we have not seen some of these characters on television screens for more than 20 years. Is this a sign that few original ideas exist, or that Disney has more greatly embraced this brand that has garnered a more vocal fanbase in recent years? Some of that is the focus of a future edition of Disney In Depth. For now, we can appreciate that a new era of DuckTales will emerge in just a few years, leading another generation of kids to know who Scrooge McDuck is. Well, that, and wish they had a giant money bin in real life.
A TALE AS OLD AS TIME – NOW IN LIVE-ACTION FORM!
“True, and a bit alarming,” are the lyrics Belle sings from “Something There” in Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s Academy Award-nominated film, and the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture. But some may be chanting these words for another reason: Belle is coming to life! For real. Yes, Emma Watson will step away from Hogwarts and will walk into the iconic princess role in Disney’s live-action adaptation to hit theaters on March 17, 2017. Additionally, several cast announcements in recent weeks have ramped up the anticipation for this new envisioning of this classic story. Dan Stevens will play Beast, along with Luke Evansas Gaston, Josh Gadas LeFou, and Kevin Kline as Maurice and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts. But who will be Cogsworth, Lumiere, and Chip? If the next several weeks reflect what has unfolded since the start of the month, we may find out soon. Glad to see songwriters Alan Menken and Tim Rice are on board, considering Menken is responsible for the Oscar-winning music and both were pivotal to the Broadway musical.
LET (SEQUEL HOPES) GO! IT’S HAPPENING!
Josh Gad must be on cloud nine right now. In addition to Frozen Fever, recently released with Cinderella, his bright-eyed snowman Olaf returns to the screen with a sequel to the monumental 2013 musical comedy Frozen. Frozen 2, under the same creative team, was announced at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders. “Do You Want To Build a Sequel?” may not be one of the tunes, but this signifies Disney’s commitment to ensuring that we do not forget about Anna, Elsa, and Olaf anytime soon. As if we could, between the constant merchandise and theme park presence. Money prospects and popularity may dictate the choice to reveal a sequel at this point, but I suspect we are at least three — if not four — years out from seeing this come to theaters.
MUPPETS TAKE THE SMALL SCREEN FOR THE LITTLE ONES
Disney Junior has revealed a new series of interstitials featuring everyone from Animal to Gonzo. Muppet Moments, as they will be called, start on Friday, April 3 and continue every day through Friday, May 8. These little bits center on conversations between our Muppet favorites and tiny tots. What is better than watching these comical characters and adorable kiddos paired together? Well, a ton of these videos. If Disney has no plans to create another film in the short while, more original pieces and shorts are certainly the way to go. Check out a behind-the-scenes look in the video below.
THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH THESE NEWS ITEMS
Star Wars: Rogue One, the first of the spin-off films to hit theaters, will launch onto the big screen on December 16, 2016, just one year after the anticipated next installment of the main series directed by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens. Renowned composer Alexandre Desplat takes the orchestration reins for this project. We also heard that Star Wars: Episode VIIIwill debut on May 26, 2017. You know that every Star Wars fan screamed a little bit in unison with delight over these revelations. The cynical part of me wonders if this is too much too soon. After all, we will be receiving three Star Wars-related films over the period of 18 months. I question if a setback might take place for one of the latter projects, though I hope that the filmmakers are taking their time to refine the storylines and special effects.
THE WEIRD AND THE WONDERFUL
After months of speculation, we know that Dumbo is, in fact, returning to the big screen. Or rather the big tent. He will fly into theaters in non-animated form — not completely, at least. Serving as ringmaster is none other than Disney’s go-to guy for wacky movies: Tim Burton. Yes, the revered filmmaker who brought us 2010’s even more psychedelic version of Alice in Wonderland will give us his take of Dumbo. You can only imagine what the “Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence will look like with Burton on hand. In any case, I hope Burton’s re-imagining speaks to the modern issues of elephants as entertainment fodder. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’s recent announcement of discontinuing its elephants on stage over the next few years is greatly appreciated, albeit long overdue. Whether or not Burton tackles this subject matter remains to be seen, but his films often involve insightful messaging and political statements. Perhaps this new Dumbo can accomplish the same.
In other news, Disney’s Hollywood Studios may be no more. The park’s title, rather, will likely disappear. As countless Disney fans and I have suspected over the past few years, a name change is coming. Disney CEO Bob Iger accidentally slipped when answering a young fan’s question at that aforementioned Shareholders meeting that suggested an alteration to the Walt Disney World theme park’s name will be announced. When? I would guess that by this August’s Disney D23 Expo, if not much sooner, we will discover the name of the newest iteration of the park about to undergo a major makeover.
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. What news most excites you? Share your thoughts! Follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth, Thursdays on Geeks of Doom.