Disney's lengthy presentation at this year's CinemaCon is currently happening right now, revealing quite a lot of ambitious plans that the studio has for the future.
As of this writing, a full-length but unfinished cut of Monsters University is being shown. In a little while, we'll know what this upcoming Pixar prequel will be like. I'm anxious to know whether it's good or bad or not. I'm optimistic, as you all know...
This entry will be updated frequently...
Early on in the presentation, Disney hyped up the future of Star Wars. The company hopes to have a Star Wars film ready for each year starting in summer 2015. This implies that Star Wars Episode VII, despite my earlier predictions, will in fact come out in May 2015 regardless of whether The Avengers' sequel opens that month or not. Think about it... Disney is literally going to own that month, all the other summer flicks will have to pray for mercy! As for a film each year, that means the character-centric spin-offs are probably entering pre-production as we speak. So much to come out of this!
Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn announced that Disney hopes to have at least fourteen films ready for release each year, eight of which will be tentpoles. But I have one major concern. With people getting laid off at Walt Disney Animation Studios and Disney's own motion picture division, I fear that Disney might be morphing into your regular distributor like 20th Century Fox or Paramount or Warner Bros.
What was unique about Disney was that they started out as a production company and made all of their films. Starting in the mid 1950s, they self-distributed all of their own films and they still do that. But I hope that they don't slowly phase out their own studio or the animation unit in favor of Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm. Those three studios are the ones bringing them their biggest hits. Walt Disney Animation Studios has been seeing hits recently, particularly Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, so they need to continue. They may have (possibly) jettisoned hand-drawn animated full-length films, which was a bad enough blow, but I don't want the studio to possibly be phased out. They're a separate entity from Pixar and they need to continue alongside the Emeryville house.
I'll be fine with having to wait a while for a new Walt Disney Animation Studios film... I just don't want them to abandon the studio. I fear it could happen given their satisfaction with what they're getting from Pixar, Marvel and LucasFilm and their recent attitude towards the animation studio. I mean, why the layoffs in that department and their live action film studio? Something doesn't seem right...
Worrisome speculation aside, Disney also hyped up their racing game adaptation Need for Speed, which is part of their Touchstone 30-film deal with DreamWorks SKG. I see the sudden enthusiasm for this April 2014 release as a response to the success of the Fast & Furious franchise, especially since the last one did very very well and the new one is bound to blow up the box office come May 24th. Like any smart competitor, they see that doing well and they want a piece of that pie. I expect Need for Speed to become a big franchise for them.
Footage from Saving Mr. Banks and Maleficent (opening July 2, 2014) was screening to overall positive reception. Looks like Disney will make sure that their film about P. L. Travers and the making of Mary Poppins won't be a dud, even though I'm personally not too keen on the project. Maybe a trailer will prove me wrong. Maleficent is one that I'm still on the fence about. A logo for Brad Bird's Tomorrowland was also unveiled, which also got praise. First Showing's Alex Billington had this to say about the logo reveal.
We're geeking out over the Tomorrowland logo from Disney's CinemaCon PowerPoint slide. But it does look cool, atomic symbol in the middle.
— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) April 17, 2013
Oh... And as for Pixar... Inside Out was confirmed to be the title of Pete Docter's upcoming film and it will in fact open on June 19, 2015. We knew this a while back, so that's nothing new. The real news here is the unveiling of footage from The Good Dinosaur. Given Pixar's tradition of giving us a teaser for their upcoming films when a film of theirs opens, we'll most likely see a teaser for this. From what I hear (I've mostly been following Peter Sciretta of /Film's tweets and updates), the footage they showed was incredible.
UPDATE - 4:30 PM - MONSTERS UNIVERSITY SCREENING CONCLUDES
The screening of Monsters Univeristy drew... Wait for it... Very positive reception! That's right, the whole film. Not the first 30-40 minutes, the whole film!
Monsters University (by @mrdanscanlon) is a fun broad college comedy set in a cleverly designed world, surprising turns & gutsy message
— Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) April 17, 2013
Disney just screened MONSTERS UNIVERSITY in its entirety! It's smart, funny and makes me want to rewatch MONSTERS INC immediately.
— silaslesnick (@silaslesnick) April 17, 2013
#MonstersUniversity my favorite full screening of #CinemaCon. Reminded me why the world/characters are so special. (Not that I ever forgot.)
— Perri Nemiroff (@PNemiroff) April 17, 2013
Any skepticism? Leave it at the door. We have another Pixar classic coming!
UPDATE - 9:00 PM
The presentation concluded after the Monsters University screening. Nothing about Frozen was revealed (the film comes out this autumn, I want a good excuse, Disney!) nor anything having to do with Marvel. I was hoping that we'd get some tidbits on the Phase 2 films and maybe a little taste of Phase 3... Oh well...
What's your take on all this news? Sound off in the comments below.