A new year is here. That means an abundance of new content from The Walt Disney Company across its many divisions, from film and music, to television and the theme parks. What is most worth seeing and experiencing?
Here’s my picks for Disney’s 10 Most Exciting 2017 Projects!
10. Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! to open at Disney California Adventure
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror purists lament the demise of their beloved attraction at Disney California Adventure, an inferior version of the masterful original at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. In an effort to bring Marvel characters to the domestic parks, Disney decided not to build a new attraction, but rather redesign a classic one. New story. New theming. New thrills. Timed to open around the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the attraction will feature an escape from the Collector’s fortress. Presumably an elevator drop will figure into the equation. While this may not have been my first choice for a re-do of Tower of Terror, at least this property infuses some fresh energy into an older attraction. Fingers crossed that the Florida version remains safe from Rocket Raccoon, though.
Watch a preview of what the Imagineers have in store from the attraction in this video from the Marvel Entertainment YouTube channel:
9. Broadway-bound Frozen music to premiere in Denver
Imagine how quickly tickets will be sold out when Frozen takes Denver by storm during its tryout at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The show is set to begin there toward the end of the summer in an effort to get some exposure, work out the kinks, and prepare everyone for its Broadway premiere in 2018. Perhaps no theatrical production in Disney’s history has obtained as much buzz as Frozen due to the film’s remarkable box office figures, merchandise sales, and overall cultural phenomenon status. Disney has to deliver, and this testing time in Denver should hopefully mitigate any problems that may rise upon heading off to The Big Apple.
8. Tangled: Before Ever After TV series to air on Disney Channel
Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi are back to voice the dynamite duo of Rapunzel and Flynn Rider in a long-awaited, 2D-animated television series. It takes place after the 2010 film, yet prior to the pair’s marriage, as depicted in the 2012 Tangled Ever After short. How the show reconciles the loss of Rapunzel’s luscious and long locks of hair is a mystery, as the advertisement seems to show all of it. In any case, the show is the first time Disney has translated one of its main animated films into a TV show since the days of The Emperor’s New School. Tangled is a viable and appealing brand. Let’s hope that the new songs from Alan Menken and Glenn Slater are as amazing as the film tunes.
The video below from the Disney Channel YouTube channel shows a brief commercial of the show, listing its former name:
7. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales sets sail in theaters
Johnny Depp returns as the iconic pirate that revitalized his career, and in an interesting marketing move, Disney determined not to show Jack Sparrow in the teaser trailer. Instead the focus is on Javier Bardem‘s ruthless Captain Salazar. The mystery behind Sparrow’s absence only greatens, though I suspect he will appear in the next trailer. Since this fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series has experienced many delays and production problems, seeing how the finished product turns out makes it a must on my list.
Here is the teaser from the Disney Movie Trailers YouTube channel:
6. Big Hero 6: The TV Series to debut on Disney XD
No reason to say bye to Baymax. The huggable and helpful robot gets his very own series, along with heroic pals Hiro, Honey Lemon, Fred, and the rest of the gang. Disney made a wise move to bring the fun of San Fransokyo to our television sets, considering the push for a sequel has been so high. Even if that does not materialize, the anticipation for this new way to experience Big Hero 6 is strong. Much of the original voice talent, including Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Jamie Chung, and Genesis Rodriguez, is back as well.
IGN News excites fans of the film in this YouTube video that reveals most of the cast returning for the television show:
5. DuckTales new TV series to air
Once again, Disney has assembled a capable crew of voice actors for an animated series. Bobby Moynihan, Danny Pudi, David Tennant, and Kate Micucci are only a handful of them in the new DuckTales. Those of us whose recollections of watching Scrooge McDuck and other feathered pals on TV are distant memories need not feel sad. Everything that’s old is new in the world of capitalizing on familiar properties. Disney has opted to harken back to the citizens of Duckburg in a DuckTales reboot on Disney XD. Fans have been waiting for more than 25 years to see these characters once again in this television format, so we can only cross our fingers that Disney will not disappoint in appealing to both younger viewers and adults.
Catch the voice stars singing their duck hearts out in a preview from the Disney XD YouTube channel:
4. New books to be released about the history of The Walt Disney Company
3. Beauty and the Beast live-action film soundtrack to debut
Considering Beauty and the Beast is my favorite modern Disney animated feature, I am in many ways a purist through and through. I want Disney to inject new energy into a classic property without compromising the unique qualities that defined the 1991 film. Of course, the defining element of Beauty and the Beast is its music. Eager moviegoers want to know if Emma Watson, Luke Evans, and Emma Thompson, among others in the cast, possess the capacity to capture the range and dynamism of the original stars, which included the likes of stage legends Paige O’Hara, Richard White, and Angela Lansbury. In only a matter of time we shall discover their abilities, as well as hear a few new original songs from Alan Menken. Hopefully it’s “something sweet.”
A promo audio clip of Emma Watson singing “Something There” can be heard in this YouTube video by Comicbook.com:
2. Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to be unveiled
More than five years have passed since a new land was announced for the fourth Walt Disney World theme park. Some would call the choice to build an entire area around a singular modern film, as opposed to an established and adored franchise, a questionable move. Not Disney. It’s taking a gamble on Avatar, James Cameron’s flawed, but unforgettable vision that raised a new standard in CGI storytelling. Pandora looks absolutely grandiose under the leadership of Joe Rohde and colleagues within Disney Imagineering, as well as the guidance of Cameron and the Lightstorm Entertainment crew. Pandora: The World of Avatar tentatively debuts this summer, assuming no unforeseen delays, and will undoubtedly up the stakes in immersion with its unbelievable attractions and atmosphere.
A more in-depth preview of the land launched on the Disney Parks YouTube channel recently. Take a look:
1. Star Wars Episode VIII to launch in theaters
No surprise here. Everyone who has not lived under a rock knows about the forthcoming entry in the Star Wars saga. The Force Awakens shattered box office records and even if the next episode cannot do the same, interest has only risen in light of Carrie Fisher‘s recent passing. Fisher completed all of her scenes for Star Wars: Episode VIII, but she was planning to return for the ninth film, too. Now Disney and Lucasfilm will need to determine how to write out the character of Princess Leia. Episode VIII will be our chance to see Fisher’s final film role, in addition to catch up with Mark Hamill‘s Luke Skywalker. May the force be with all who endure the long lines to catch Star Wars: Episode VIII on opening day.
This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Follow me on Twitter for alerts of new editions of Disney In Depth, released on the first and third Thursdays of each month on Geeks of Doom.