Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Toy Story Land to Be Built at Walt Disney World

After the immense success of Cars Land over in Disney California Adventure in Disneyland, another popular Pixar franchise will be getting a themed land all to itself, this time in Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida's Walt Disney World. Disney announced at D23 Expo this month that an 11-acre Toy Story Land is currently in development for the Orlando park.

Though Toy Story Land has been built before in both Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland, the Hollywood Studios version will be different from its overseas counterparts. Apart from adding a third track to the park's popular Toy Story Mania ride in order to shorten wait times, the new Toy Story Land will include all-new attractions, including a family-friendly Slinky Dog coaster and a flying saucer attraction hosted by the Little Green Men. More attractions are expected to be announced in the months to come.

Watch a video of the official announcement from D23 Expo with some sneak peeks at the attractions being developed for the new themed land:

Monday, August 24, 2015

'Coco' Officially Unveiled at D23 Expo

One of the most exciting parts of last week's D23 Expo was arguably when Lee Unkrich, director of Toy Story 3, and Darla K. Anderson, producer of Toy Story 3, walked on stage during the expo's animation panel to introduce their latest film; Coco. The film will center on a 12-year-old boy named Miguel and delve into the colorful world surrounding the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

Early concept art from 2012

Though the film was announced back in 2012, we had heard virtually nothing about the project since, leading many to believe that the film had perhaps been shelved. All fears of that being the case, however, were struck down last week when Pixar officially unveiled the film, and its title, to the world.

This was my reaction upon hearing the good news:

A clip featuring some test animation was shown for attendees of the expo. The scene starts in a graveyard with people paying their respects to those who have passed away before jumping to a vibrant street populated by singing and dancing skeletons. A skeleton mariachi band appears; one of its members, it turns out, is the film's protagonist, Miguel, in disguise. The clip ends with an aerial shot of the colorful streets where the celebration is taking place, which from the shape of a skull.

Unkrich and Anderson also talked briefly about the film and the themes it will explore, as well as the inspiration behind the project.

"I'd seen it portrayed in folk art," said Unkrich of Día de los Muertos. "It was something about the juxtaposition of skeletons with bright, festive colors that captured my imagination. It has led me down a winding path of discovery. And the more I learn about Día de los Muertos, the more it affects me deeply."

Though they certainly found the iconic visuals of Día de los Muertos incredibly appealing, Unkrich and Anderson explained that, above all, "it was the celebration's core themes of family, remembrance and connection across generations that resonated within and truly inspired [them]." They explained how "Día de los Muertos is as singular as the Mexican culture, while at the same time completely universal in its message."

The two went on to talk about the film's story, in which "the celebration of Día de los Muertos serves as the perfect backdrop for [the] main character to ask where he comes from, what his place is within his family, and how families stay woven together across time through the simple act of remembrance."

This is still very little information to go off of, but I am already sold. Not only will Coco be undoubtedly breathtaking to look at, but it already sounds like it will touch on some very powerful and emotional motifs.

Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson introduce Miguel (Photo credit: Inside the Magic)

Since the announcement last week, many have noted the peculiar nature of the film's title. What does "Coco" mean?

"El Coco" is, in fact, a mythical monster, much like the bogeyman, derived from Hispanic folklore. Given the new film's theme, this could very much be what the title alludes to. Perhaps the story will tie "el Coco" to Día de los Muertos somehow. Coincidentally, the word "coco" is also a word for "skull" in Spanish. Skulls, of course, are prominent in the Día de los Muertos holiday. The title could be referring to either of these two meanings, if not both. Though Coco won't hit theatres for another two years, we may learn more about why this particular title was chosen as the film's release date draws closer.

This may just be the Pixar film I am most excited for as of right now. It may be a while before we hear anything new about Coco given that it is currently scheduled for November 22, 2017, but stay tuned.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pixar Gives Sneak Peek at 'Toy Story 4' at D23 Expo

This past November, Pixar surprised the world by announcing that they are currently working on a fourth installment in the beloved Toy Story franchise. Though many believed that 2010's Toy Story 3 would be the final chapter of the series, Toy Story 4 has been in production since 2012 and will hit theatres in the summer of 2017. We learned a little about the film's plot at D23 Expo last week.

Before the animation panel at D23 started last Friday, Toy Story 4 director and Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter revealed that the upcoming film, which we had previously known would be a love story, will revolve around Woody and Bo Peep.

To fans of the Toy Story films, this was a surprising reveal. Bo Peep, of course, was Woody's love interest in Toy Story and Toy Story 2. Though she was an important character in the first two films, she was absent from Toy Story 3, which takes place about a decade after Toy Story 2. In that time period, Bo Peep eventually parted from the rest of Andy's toys and was presumably sold off at a yard sale or donated. During Pixar's presentation at D23, Lasseter revealed that Toy Story 4 will see Buzz and Woody going off on a quest in search of Bo Peep.

I have to wonder, will the Bo Peep in Toy Story 4 be the same one from Toy Story and Toy Story 2? Surely others were made. If that were the case, it would make for a very interesting story. How would Woody react to finding the one that he loves, only to realize she has no recollection of ever having known him?

From left to right: John Lasseter, Will McCormack, Josh Cooley, Galyn Susman

The film's story, Lasseter explained, was inspired by him and his wife, Nancy. WALL-E and Finding Dory director Andrew Stanton penned the film's initial treatment, and Rashida Jones and Will McCormack were later brought on to work on the script. Galyn Susman will produce and Josh Cooley, director of the new short Riley's First Date?, will co-direct.

I'll admit, it took me a while to warm up to the idea of a fourth Toy Story. The original three films form what is one of the greatest trilogies of all time, and like many people I thought Toy Story 3 wrapped things up beautifully. Doing a fourth one is risky business, considering it has three phenomenal predecessors to live up to. However, Pixar knows this, and I have to believe that they truly are making another installment in the series because they have a story that demands to be told. The little information that we got out of D23 certainly has me intrigued, and there sure seems to be a lot of love being poured into the film, which is very reassuring.

To celebrate the original Toy Story's 20th anniversary this year, the presentation finished off with a live performance of "You've Got a Friend In Me" by Randy Newman himself. Green Army Men descended from the ceiling and were joined on stage by other Toy Story characters as confetti erupted around the stage, ending the panel with a bang.

You can watch Inside the Magic's brief recap of the presentation here:

Toy Story 4 arrives in theatres on June 16, 2017.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

'Finding Dory' Makes a Splash at D23 Expo

I'd like to first of all apologize for that irresistible pun in the headline.

Though it's been two years since Finding Dory, the highly-anticipated sequel to Finding Nemo, was announced, Pixar has remained tight-lipped on the film and we have heard little about it. Thanks to D23 Expo, however, a couple of new details about the film have been unveiled.

From left to right: Lindsey Collins, Angus MacLane, Andrew Stanton 

During Pixar's presentation at D23 Expo on Friday, John Lasseter welcomed director Andrew Stanton, who also directed the original Nemo, to the stage, as well as Finding Dory co-director Angus MacLane (BURN-E, Toy Story of Terror) and producer Lindsey Collins. Stanton said that he had always wanted to delve deeper into the character of Dory and explore her history, which is precisely what Finding Dory will do.

From left to right: Ed O'Neill, Ty Burell, Kaitlin Olson, Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres, voice of Dory, then walked on stage to introduce her co-stars. Ed O'Neill (Modern Family) plays a seven-tentacled octopus (or septopus) named Hank, Ty Burell (Modern Family) voices a beluga named Bailey, who is convinced he has a massive head injury, and Kaitlin Olson (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) lends her voice to Destiny, a whale shark who considers herself a whale despite being a shark. Additionally, Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy play Dory's parents, Jenny and Charlie. Of course, Albert Brooks will return as Marlin, and it was announced for the first time that Hayden Rolence will replace Alexander Gould as the voice of Nemo. Since the film is set just six months after the events of the original, Gould, now 21, is too old to reprise his role, but Rolence's performance reportedly sounds impressively similar to the original voice.

The audience was given a first look at the movie as some clips were screened. In one of them, Dory finds herself "sleep swimming" and dreaming about her family, which leads to her wanting to go out and find them. The ever worrisome Marlin objects, but eventually decides to help Dory find her parents. She eventually ends up at the Monterey Marine Life Institute, where she meets the new cast of characters and her parents.

Darla's cameo in Finding Dory

During the presentation, Pixar released the still seen at the top, which gives us a look at Dory and Hank, the septopus, in the marine life facility. Those with keen eyes may also notice a picture of Darla, the cold-blooded fish murderer from the original film, in the background of the still.

Inside the Magic has some brief footage of the Finding Dory presentation from Friday:

So far, it sounds like Finding Dory will be a whole lot of fun, and hopefully a worthy successor to Finding Nemo, which I consider to be one of Pixar's best. The film is less than a year away, so a trailer shouldn't be far behind; it is likely we'll see it attached to The Good Dinosaur in November.

Finding Dory swims into theatres June 17, 2016.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

'The Good Dinosaur' Plot Details Revealed at D23 Expo

In just three months, Pixar will finally release their sixteenth feature-length film, The Good Dinosaur. The film has undergone a troubled production, having had its original director replaced and release date pushed back 18 months. Fortunately, the filmmakers at the studio have been working hard to ensure they release a quality film, and it certainly seems as if they've gotten the project back on track.

Pixar screened a couple of clips from the movie for D23 Expo attendees this past Friday; some audience members were reportedly moved to tears. One of the clips showed an emotional scene in which Arlo the Apatosaurus and the human boy Spot bond, drawing in dirt to communicate their feelings to one another. Another clip introduced the horned dinosaur seen briefly in the film's trailer, who believes the animals perched on his head give him power.

Photo credit: Inside the Magic

Director Pete Sohn also explained the role that the three T-Rexes in the film will play. Though menacing in appearance, the T-Rexes are actually friendly and "help Arlo find a way through his personal fears and ultimately teach Arlo what he's truly made of.” Sam Elliott voices Butch, the leader of the trio and father to Nash and Ramsey, voiced by A.J. Buckley and Anna Paquin, respectively.

The Good Dinosaur hits theatres November 25.

'Riley's First Date?' Premieres at D23 Expo

A long-running Pixar tradition is that of including an original short based on the latest theatrical Pixar feature on the home release for said feature. The Incredibles had Jack-Jack Attack, Cars had Mater and the Ghostlight, WALL-E had BURN-E, and so forth.

Inside Out is the latest film to receive a home media short film, and Pixar took advantage of this weekend's D23 Expo to screen the new short, Riley's First Date?, for attendees.

Photo credit: Inside the Magic

The short is reportedly very funny and was received warmly by the crowd. Director Josh Cooley, who is also co-directing Toy Story 4, took the stage alongside Inside Out director Peter Docter and producer Jonas Rivera to introduce the short, which they say was inspired by every father's fear of having their daughter show up one day with a boy. The short sees Riley's parents having to deal with this very issue, and hilarity ensues.

Fortunately the rest of the world will not have to wait long to see Riley's First Date? as it will, of course, be included on Inside Out's DVD and Blu-ray releases, which hit stores November 3, less than three months from now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Pixar Previews Upcoming Slate at D23 Expo

This weekend was jam-packed with excitement for Disney, Pixar, and animation enthusiasts alike, as Disney hosted its fourth biannual D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. The expo's animation panel, featuring looks at upcoming films from both Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, took place on Friday, and Pixar certainly did not come empty-handed.

The three-hour panel got off to a rousing start when Pixar and Disney Animation Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter took the stage wielding a shirt cannon. Known for wearing his signature (and custom-made) Hawaiian shirts, the animation honcho proceeded to gleefully bombard the crowd with, yup, Hawaiian shirts.

Pixar's presentation provided further details and looks at the upcoming The Good Dinosaur and next year's Finding Nemo sequel, Finding Dory. Additionally, the studio surprised the crowd in officially unveiling an all-new original film; Coco. The film was announced back in 2012 as "the untitled Pixar movie about Día de los Muertos," but we had heard little about the project since then. Many even believed the film to have been abandoned, but fortunately this is not the case. Coco will arrive in theatres in the fall of 2017. Lastly, Pixar previewed the recently-announced Toy Story 4 and gave new details regarding the film's plot. The presentation ended with a live performance of "You've Got a Friend In Me" from Randy Newman as Toy Story characters hit the stage in celebration of the original Toy Story film's 20th anniversary this year.

Full posts about each of the films previewed at the expo are on the way; stay tuned.

Cars 3 and The Incredibles 2, though present on the studio's poster slate on the expo floor pictured at the top, were absent from the presentation since they are still both in the early stages of development and will not be released until after 2017. We did, at the very least, get a look at those two films' logos.

All in all, it was an exhilarating day that left fans eager to experience what the future of Pixar has in store.

Edit: Disney posted a great brief recap on Twitter of all that went down during D23 Expo's animation panel. Check it out:

Friday, August 14, 2015

Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters To Replace Flying Tires at Cars Land

via Disney Parks Blog

Earlier this year we learned that the Luigi's Flying Tires ride in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure in Anaheim would be closing to make way for an all-new attraction. Last month the Disney Parks Blog offered a glimpse at the Flying Tires' successor, "Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters".

Picture from my July 2015 trip to Disneyland of the walls currently surrounding Luigi's Casa Della Tires

Luigi's relatives will serve as the ride vehicles in this new attraction, which will make use of the same trackless ride technology seen in Pooh's Hunny Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland. Though no fixed date has been set yet, Rollickin' Roadsters is expected to open in early 2016.

More details and images regarding the new Cars Land ride are bound to emerge as 2016 draws closer, so stay tuned!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

First Full-Length Trailer for 'The Good Dinosaur' Is Beautiful

Apologies for the blog silence this past month. I'll be catching up on some missed news this week, but things should be back to normal now, just in time for D23 Expo!

They've made you cry over toys, monsters, fish, and robots, to name a few. This November, the masterminds at Pixar Animation Studios will have you shedding tears over a young Apatosaurus and his pet boy. Only a little over a month after releasing the first teaser trailer for The Good Dinosaur, Pixar released a full-length trailer for the upcoming film. If you haven't already, watch it below:

There is much to take in here, but let's start with the visuals. From that two-and-a-half-minute trailer alone, it certainly looks as if The Good Dinosaur will be Pixar's most beautiful-looking film yet, which says a lot considering the studio's entire library consists of numerous visually stunning films. With Dinosaur, the studio seems to be pushing the limits of what computer animation can do. Everything from the dirt and plant life to the flowing rivers and wide landscapes looks phenomenal and almost real. That scene with the fireflies is particularly breathtaking. Even the film's cartoonish characters and creatures have touches of realism; upon closer inspection one will notice the scales on Arlo.

We know that the film will be light on dialogue, much like Walt Disney's Dumbo and Pixar's own WALL-E, and the trailer makes that clear. While the dinosaurs in the film do talk, the film revolves around the relationship between Arlo and the human boy Spot, who, being of different species, presumably cannot communicate verbally. The artists will have to rely primarily on visuals to tell the story, and I, for one, find that extremely exciting.

Lastly, though the trailer gives away little regarding the film's story, it definitely seems to have a strong emotional core, as is common with Pixar movies. Pretty visuals go a long way, but as one of Pixar's famous mottos says, "story is king". From the look of things though, the look isn't the only thing Pixar has done right here.

Thus far, The Good Dinosaur is shaping up to be a movie you won't want to miss out on. Mark your calendar; the movie arrives in theatres November 25.