Just as they did Friday (August 9) with their animated slate, Disney is ready to preview their upcoming live-action movies. Expected for the presentation are previews of “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Muppets Most Wanted,” “Tomorrowland,” “Maleficent” and “Saving Mr. Banks.” If previous D23 Expos are any indication, there’s also bound to be quite a few surprises.
Let’s all send out positive thoughts that there’s a “Star Wars: Episode VII” announcement. That’s what the people are really here for, even if Bob Iger tried to convince fans it wasn’t going to happen during the animation panel. There may also be news related to “Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron” or “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Stick with Zap2it as we live blog the entire presentation. This shindig is scheduled to get underway at 1:30 p.m. ET. A Disney employee assures us they won’t be running late like yesterday.
All times are ET.
1:28 p.m. – Just got the warning that it would be starting momentarily. Maybe it really will be on time.
1:30 p.m. – Starts right on time with the same sizzle reel as yesterday. People still going nuts for everything, especially the glimpse at Yoda. The quick shots from “Guardians of the Galaxy” look fantastic, especially Drax the Destroyer. Disney Chairman Alan Horn is out first.
1:35 p.m. – Horn says he and his then girlfriend/now wife shared a mutual love of “Bambi” early in their relationship, earning a chorus of “Awwww” from fans in attendance. He’s talking about the company’s Disney has acquired, including Lucasfilm, which gets big cheers from the crowd. He says Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm are all part of Disney’s live-action film group, “which you will hear from shortly.” Maybe there will be a “Star Wars” announcement, after all.
1:45 p.m. – Horn is reiterating what we already know about “Star Wars: Episode VII,” J.J. Abrams is directing, John Williams is scoring and “it will be great.” Nothing new, though. He then talks about there being 7,000 Marvel characters to draw from for movies. That brings out president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige. He’s going to talk about phase 2.
1:50 p.m. – An extended look at “Thor: The Dark World” shows Thor easily beating up bad guys with that hammer of his. When reading off the cast names, Tom Hiddleston and Zachary Levi got the biggest cheers. These people love Hiddleston. Maybe he’ll sing for them, too. The clip ends with Loki turning on Thor, of course, and making it impossible for him to use the hammer.
1:55 p.m. – Hiddleston is out to introduce Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins, who are both on stage. The crowd went crazy for both, Hopkins got a standing ovation. Time for another clip, which has never been seen before. It’s Jane’s first day on Asgard. She;s impressed with the magical technology. In a world of super-serious Asgard, Natalie being adorable plays perfectly.
2:00 p.m. – Next up is “Captain America,” which they’re showing a first look at. Cap battles a group of ten in a pretty impressive elevator fight. It also includes the first look at The Winter Soldier and the destruction of the SHIELD helicarrier. Sebastian Stand, Anthony Mackie and Chris Evans take stage. Evans salutes someone who screams “You rock Chris!” They’re right. He says Cap is still adjusting the way the world works in the modern day. He’s not still blown away by technology or anything, but politics are something he’s trying to figure out.
2:10 p.m. – The second clip has never been seen before and is still rough. Lots of blocky animation, some black and white. Cap fights his way through a tanker ship, easily dispatching of the bad guys. Lots of fighting with his shield in the clip. The running joke is Black Widow trying to set him up with a woman. “Guardians of the Galaxy” time!
2:15 p.m. – They show the footage that from Comic-Con, which introduces the various characters (including Rocket Raccoon, thankfully). They’re only four weeks into shooting.
2:20 p.m. – As for what comes after “Guardians,” Feige closes with the”Age of Ultron” tease from Comic-Con and it looks amazing.
2:25 p.m. – Next up is Disney Nature, which will be releasing the documentary “Bears.” Seeing it opening week means Disney will make a donation to national parks. After that, Disney Studios is up, First comes a new trailer for “Muppets Most Wanted.” There’s a world-famous criminal with a striking resemblance to Kermit the Frog. Kermit lands in a Russian jail for the crimes.
2:30 p.m. – Ty Burrell, one of the human stars of the movie, drives onto stage in a tiny car, which would be horrible in traffic. Why isn’t Gonzo here? Oh =, looks like the Muppets are here “via satellite.” Miss Piggy has put together a tribute for the fans, with Tina Fey and Ketmit. When she realizes that fans aren’t there just for her though, Piggy throws a fit and storms off. Instead we get another clip! The fake criminal Kermit is posing as the genuine article and somehow fooled all the other Muppets. There’s even a new song and some dancing by Ricky Gervais, because why not? Evil Kermit is pretty entertaining, right down to tap dancing on Gervais’ head.
2:40 p.m. – They are also announcing some of the cast of their musical “Into The Woods,” based on the Broadway production. Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp join Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine and Emily Blunt. The Depp-Disney connection continues on, forever. Sadly, none of them are here. This place would have come unglued for Depp. It will be out in late 2014.
Then there’s the live-action “Cinderella.” Kenneth Branagh is directing the movie. He can;t be here, but sent along a very early first look. Lily James plays Cinderella, with Richard Madden as Prince Charming. Cate Blanchett is the wicked stepmother and Helena Bonham Carter is the fairy godmother, in one of the coolest casting decisions ever. There’s no footage yet, but lots of concept art.
2:50 p.m. – Time for “Maleficent,” which focuses on the “Sleeping Beauty” villain. The lead is played by Angelina Jolie. The story will follow Maleficent, discovering how she became so hardened and evil. Elle Fanning will portray Princess Aurora. Angelina is introduced and gets the day’s second standing ovation. She says the character has been a favorite since she was a little girl. “I was so terrified of her, but I was drawn to her.”
She says it was her brother that said the movie was happening and that she should go after it. Angie tells the story of meeting children while in costume, because she’s a Disney character. She forgot that she was a villainous witch. Kids screamed, terror ensued. She also says her daughter Vivienne had a small part in the movie as a young Aurora.
2:55 p.m. – Time for a first look at “Maleficent.” Jolie looks creepy in the costume. It’s understandable that children were freaked out. She delivers the curse to a baby Aurora and it’s pretty intense.
3:00 p.m. – A video package features many Disney employees talking about how Walt Disney was always thinking to the future. This has to be leading toward “Tomorrowland.” It includes weird archival footage of Walt in some kind of robotic suit. A box was found marked “1952,” which had lots of Walt’s documents. It was handed to Damon Lindelof. Yup, it’s “Tomorrowland.” Brad Bird is writing and directing, with Lindelof co-writing. George Clooney stars. Damon and Brad appear, with the mysterious “1952” box.
In the box is a photo of Walt and who is believed to be Amelia Earhart. It’s not real, though. It’s actually Cary Grant’s body with Walt’s head super-imposed. Why? No one knows. There’s also an early issue of “Amazing Stories” and a piece of paper with holes punched into it, which reveals a hidden message in the story. Early imagineers were evidently passing coded messages back and forth. Working at Disney sounds nutty and fun.
3:10 p.m. – Finally, Brad shows off the original blueprints for the ride “It’s A Small World” from the World’s Fair. Hidden in the blueprint, which can only be seen under black light, is plans for something else. They’re unsure if it was something built under the original “It’s a Small World.” They also found some kind of disk that had an old animation on it, which they are showing. It’s evidently very rough with “crappy old sound.” They’re still trying to clear it up.
3:25 p.m. – “Saving Mr. Banks” is the last movie up from Disney Studios. A clip is shown of P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) visiting Disney Studios for the first time. On the visit she keeps in control of everything, including her beloved creation Mary Poppins. The clip also shows the introduction of Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), who is preceded by the horse sounds for some reason. Disney tried for 20 years to get a “Mary Poppins” movie made, which Travers constantly shut down.
What’s funny is how sternly Travers was against the movie being a musical. “I don’t want her to be turned into one of your silly cartoons,” she says to Walt. Of course, we all know how that turns out. The head of Disney Studios reveals that Hanks crashed some meetings on the lot in costume as Walt. That would be a sight to behold.
3:35 p.m. – Next they show a clip from the film that was shot at Disneyland itself. Travers first visit to the Magic Kingdom was as a guest of Walt, himself. She’s not impressed. When a group asks him for an autograph, he hands out pre-signed cards. Clever and time-saving, that Walt Disney was a visionary. Jason Schwatzman and B.J. Novak, who play the legendary Disney songwriters the Sherman Brothers, are here.
Jason talks about how they got to work with Richard Sherman himself to perfect their characters.”He’s a big winker, he throws a lot of winks,” Jason jokes. He also says it was amazing to watch to watch the man behind the iconic “Mary Poppins” songs play them on his piano.
3:40 p.m. – One last clip finds Travers working with the movie’s creative team on the script. How this movie ever got made is incomprehensible. Turns out she wasn’t much of a Dick Van Dyke fan. After the clip, Novak and Schwartzman are brought out with a piano to lead the crowd in “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” They then introduce Richard Sherman, who gets the day’s third standing ovation. Then a bunch of dancers with kites show up. They’re on stage and in the audience. This has to be the finale, which means likely no “Star Wars.”
3:45 p.m. – That’s all she wrote. Sorry “Star Wars” fans, maybe next time.