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– by James Burns

And now… the moment we’ve all been waiting for! Today’s presentation was the most anticipated of the entire D23 Expo. And for good reason, as Disney has The Rise of Skywalker, MCU Phase 4, and a slew of other films on the horizon. Wasn’t able to attend? Don’t fret, dear Reader! We got you! LRM Online was in attendance during the whole thing, here’s the lowdown:

Walt Disney Studios Presentation Recap | D23 2019

“We do this together” Elsa said to Ana as a video showcasing the Walt Disney film family was shown. Footage from Jungle Cruise and Black Widow was debuted during the video.

Alan Horn took to the stage after the video to talk about how they’ve worked so hard to make great films because of the fans. It’s all about the fans he says.

Horn made emphasis that watching films with fellow fans on the big screen — theaters — is still a priority, regardless of Disney+. He started talking about 20th Century Fox and how they’re not quite ready to talk about Fox but they’re here in spirit due to their connection to Star Wars.

Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams took the stage to bring us The Rise Of Skywalker. They spoke about how much of a fan J.J. is and how this is the end of a saga that started 40 years ago.

The cast of The Rise of Skywalker — in it’s entirety — took the stage, even BB-8 and R2-D2! Each spoke about how excited they are for this film. They spoke about some of the new characters, including Zorri, who is an old friend of Poe’s. “Lando has never left me!” Said Billy Dee Williams as he thanked his fans and received a huge applause. Leia was mentioned being in the film — footage being used in new ways due to Carrie Fisher’s death. Carrie apparently thanked J.J. Abrams in her book “for putting up with me twice.” She apparently prophesied his return before he was even hired for this film.

A new poster shows Rey and Kylo fighting with the Emperor in the background. They showed a new teaser and Rey looks like she may be going dark? She seems to have a red double-bladed saber. More Palpatine dialogue as well! You can read a more in-depth description of the footage HERE.

Marvel and Kevin Feige took over. Promising new news he teased the audience before Ryan Coogler took the stage as the Black Panther theme blazed. Black Panther 2 announced for May 6th, 2022.

The Eternals was up next and the entire cast came out on stage. They showed art and announced Kit Harington playing the Black Knight!

The Black Widow cast sent a special message to D23 from the set. Scarlett Johansson was seen in a white jumpsuit which is straight from the comics. A trailer was shown which included Black Widow fighting another woman with similar fighting styles. The movie feels very much like a Bourne film.

Alan Horn came back out to introduce Disney live-action films with Shawn Bailey. Jungle Cruise was up first and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson came out on a life-size Jungle Cruise boat to a loud applause from the audience. Johnson introduces a trailer that has very little of Emily Blunt. It feels like The Mummy meets Pirates of the Caribbean. The Rock mentions Indiana Jones influences and jokes about how the film centers around him.

Emily Blunt emerges to show the “real trailer”, a less Rock-centric version. There’s way more Emily Blunt in it and it shows The Rock as goofier with his name really tiny. They bicker back and forth on stage, but both agreed they love Indiana Jones and that’s why they wanted to make the movie. Shawn Bailey said neither of those are the actual trailer. Emily and The Rock said get ready for “the adventure of a lifetime.”

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil came after that. Angelina Jolie was on stage to talk about the film. She talked about how this one is about the two main characters’ difference versus the last film, that was about the opposite.

Mulan Director Niki Caro came out to talk about the new movie and brought footage. The scenes shown are incredibly epic looking. Epic in both scale and tone. The film hits March 27th, 2020.

Cruella is an origin story set in 1970’s London but not too much else was discussed or shown other than the above photo.

Onward to Animation and Pixar, said Alan Horn who introduced Pete Doctor to the stage. Doctor speaks about being the new head of Pixar and shows an old photo of him during the older days of the studio. He explained that they have two films to speak about today. Soul is the first one.

Soul is about where your soul learns to be a soul at a place called the “You Seminar” and specifically about Joe who is a middle-school band teacher. He really wants to play Jazz, as he’s played since he was three years old. After twenty years of trying to get into the Jazz scene, “he gets the break he’s been looking for.” A trailer was shown and Joe dies! He finds himself at the You Seminar. He meets another Soul who has remained at the seminar for thousands of years and never wants to go to earth because it looks terrible. Musician Jon Batiste is working on the film as well as Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

There’s an emphasis on music, obviously, and Questlove, Phylicia Reshad, Daveed Diggs are all a part of the film. Jamie Fox and Tina Fey play the main characters in the film. Jamie Fox began to beat-box and the place almost turned into a concert. This feels like old school Pixar, back when they made mostly original stuff.

Onward was after that. Director Dan Scalon said it’s based on his and his brother’s experience trying to figure out who his father —whole died when they was young — didn’t really know. A teaser trailer was shown and it was filled with a lot of what has already been seen.

Tom Holland and Chris Pratt — who play Ian and Barley — came out to a huge welcome from the crowd. Tom could hardly get his words out because of the cheers. Lora Lightfoot is explained as the mother of the two and voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who came out on stage as well.

They showed the audience eight minutes of footage. It shows them being left a magic staff on their birthday from their father and with it, instructions to bring him back. But the spell doesn’t work until Ian tries it and it all goes wrong resulting in just the bottom part of their dad returning; his legs. The film will have them go on a quest to be able to do the spell correctly.

In addition to Tom and Chris, Octavia Spencer is in the film. Another clip was shown: Ian and Barley have car trouble. So Ian attempts to use magic in order to get extra gas. Of course, things go south and it results in Barley being shrunk. 

Of course, everyone was hoping for some Spidey related news given the bitter divorce between mommy Sony and daddy Disney. Tom Holland left the audience, and millions acorss the internet, in tears as he said:

“Listen, it’s been a crazy week, but I want you to know, I am grateful from the bottom of my heart, and I love you 3000.”

That’s right… you can cry. It’s okay!

Jennifer Lee was introduced for Walt Disney Animation Studio lineup. She spoke of Walt and Snow White — the legacy of the studio, before showing a sizzle reel of their recent films in addition to all the classics, all set to the tune from the beginning of Frozen.

She showed her childhood books — Mickey and the Beanstalk and Cinderella — that she was obsessed with. She said she never imagined them leading her to her dream job one day. She announced Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins teamed with Osnat Shurer and Adele Lim are working on Raya and the Last Dragon, an animated film coming Thanksgiving of 2020. It’s an epic fantasy adventure with an eastern-culture theme.

Kumandra is the fictional “land of the dragon” that’s been invaded by a dark force. Cassie Steele plays Raya and Akwafina plays Sisu the Dragon. Sisu breathes steam, rides the raindrops and has a human form. Sisu will need Raya’s help to become a dragon again. More footage was shown explaining the “Dragon Gem”. Hall D23 came alive as the lights and screen worked in sync to create a sort of 4D experience. 

We moved to Frozen 2, as Chris Buck took the stage. Why does Elsa have powers? That is to be the focus of Frozen 2. Apparently, we will get a lot of answers as the film will uncover a mystery which threatens Arendelle. Evan Rachel Wood will play Queen Iduna and Sterling K. Brown will play Lieutenant.

The first footage shown included a short clip of young Anna and Elsa being sung to by their mother and another of Sterling’s character talking to Anna. They continued by showing a little bit of the first act of the film including the characters playing charades. Olaf is terrific at charades because of the way he can change his body. When Elsa goes to play she starts to hear singing. She gets disturbed and goes off for bed. Kristoff tried to propose but Anna is distracted by Elsa acting weird. Anna and Elsa talk it out in a sisterly way. Anna encourages Elsa as they comfort each other and sing their Mother’s song from the earlier clip. Later that night, Elsa  hears the singing again. She tries to ignore it but gets up and begins to sing. She sings and we get the idea she’s singing to a Siren, whose call she’s blocking out. She doesn’t want to go “into the unknown”. Blue and purple ice-visions swirl as the siren’s tune begins to accompany Elsa in a bit of a duet. The purple obviously represents the Siren.

The cast of Frozen then delighted us with a song from Frozen 2. Autumn leaves rained from the ceiling of Hall 23 as they sang. A standing ovation followed directly after the finale, and with that, the presentation came to an end.

I have to say I’m kind of bummed there was no talk of Indiana Jones 5 today, being that it reportedly shoots in April. But besides that, the presentation was an epic display of awesomeness.

What are you guys most excited for? Sound off below! 

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