As Broadway star Indina Menzel sang Let it Go from the upcoming animated film Frozen, artificial flakes fluttered down from the rafters, gently covering the 5000 faithful fans who gathered for the first of two star-studded early-look previews.
The convention featured over 200 presentations, panels and concerts, but these sneak peek events, which focussed on Disney’s reverence for their past and their commitment to the future, were among the most highly anticipated.
At Friday’s event, Disney chairman and chief executive Bob Eiger and chief creative officer John Lasseter were greeted with the kind of audience response usually reserved for rock stars and royal babies.
They unveiled the new short film Get a Horse, which mixes 85 year-old Walt Disney Mickey Mouse sketches and state-of-the art 3D computer animation. It also features a vocal performance from Walt himself, pieced together from old tapes. “Someone has to update his IMDB page,” joked director Lauren MacMullan.
Advance looks at The Good Dinosaur, which imagines a world if dinosaurs had survived, Inside Out, a movie Lasseter described as “one of the most unique films I have ever been associated with,” and Finding Dory, the sequel to one of Pixar’s most loved films, were met with cheers.
Saturday’s presentation unveiled teases from Disney’s live action slate. Paying tribute to Disney’s past Kenneth Branagh will direct a live action Cinderella, and another film revisits one of Disney’s great villains. Maleficent stars Angelina Jolie as the Sleeping Beauty villain, a role she’s coveted since youth. “Since I was a little girl Maleficent was always my favorite,” she told the crowd. “I wanted to know more about her.”
Tomorrowland, a sci fi film starring George Clooney, was inspired by a box found in the Disney archives. Labelled simply 1952, the “dusty old box” contained a mysterious mishmash of items, including a copy of Amazing Stories magazine and a short animated documentary, that inspired Lost screenwriter Damon Lindelof to pen the speculative story.
The most obvious tribute to Disney’s legacy is Saving Mr. Banks, which brings the late visionary to life on the big screen. Tom Hanks stars as Walt attempting to buy the rights to Mary Poppins from writer P.L. Travers, played by Emma Thompson. Shot on location at the Burbank Studios where Walt worked, the film is timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Mary Poppins.