Filmmakers from Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios introduced D23 EXPO 2015 fans to an array of new stories and characters—from a lost dinosaur to a master wayfinder, a scheming fox to a forgetful fish. The audience of 7,500 was treated to sneak peeks, musical performances and appearances from stars like Ellen DeGeneres, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, Ginnifer Goodwin, Dwayne Johnson, Randy Newman and Ty Burrell, among others.

John Lasseter, chief creative officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, led the presentations, calling on a host of filmmakers from both studios to introduce the upcoming slate of films. “We really have an unbelievable range of movies in production at our studios right now,” said Lasseter. “The stories are dynamic, fresh and so much fun; the characters new and old are so appealing. I’m excited to share some of our long-held secrets for the first time at the D23 EXPO.”

Following are the films presented on behalf of both studios.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR. Anticipation for Disney·Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” was amplified when director Peter Sohn and producer Denise Ream shared breathtaking sequences with fans, including never-before-seen footage of a trio of T-Rexes in action.

In theaters on Nov. 25, 2015, the film introduces audiences to Arlo, a sheltered Apatosaurus who finds himself far from home, and Spot, Arlo’s unlikely human friend. “Arlo and Spot journey through a world that has been greatly inspired by the American Northwest,” said Sohn. “It is epic in scope, soul-enriching and simultaneously beautiful and treacherous. In this world, we meet up with a very special family of T-Rexes, who help Arlo find a way through his personal fears and ultimately teach Arlo what he’s truly made of.”

ZOOTOPIA. International superstar Shakira is lending her Grammy®-winning voice to Gazelle, the biggest pop star in “Zootopia,” D23 EXPO fans learned via a taped message from Shakira. Ginnifer Goodwin (ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” “Something Borrowed,” “Walk the Line”), the voice of the film’s rookie rabbit officer Judy Hopps, saluted fans alongside directors Byron Howard (“Tangled”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph”), and producer Clark Spencer (“Wreck-It Ralph”). Hilarious new scenes from the film were unveiled, plus a tease of the all-new original song, “Try Everything,” written by singer-songwriter Sia and songwriting duo Stargate, and performed by Shakira.

Said Howard, “For the role of Gazelle, Zootopia’s most beloved superstar, there was only one person on our wish list: Shakira. Luckily for us, she said yes. Her immense talent and charm bring Gazelle and her song, ‘Try Everything,’ to life.” Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Zootopia” opens nationwide March 4, 2016.

FINDING DORY. Ellen DeGeneres (“The Ellen DeGeneres Show”), the voice of everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang, took a dip with D23 EXPO attendees, celebrating Disney·Pixar’s upcoming film “Finding Dory.” Joining DeGeneres on stage this afternoon were Ed O’Neill (“Modern Family”), who lends his voice to Hank, a cantankerous octopus; Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), the voice of Bailey, a misguided beluga whale; and Kaitlin Olson (“Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), who voices Destiny, a kind-hearted whale shark. Oscar®-winning director Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo,” “WALL•E”), co-director Angus MacLane and producer Lindsey Collins (co-producer “WALL•E”) offered details about the all-new story, which reunites Dory with friends Nemo and Marlin on a search for answers about her past. What can she remember? Who are her parents? And where did she learn to speak Whale?

Said Stanton, “In ‘Finding Dory,’ we can expect to address the one emotionally open-ended issue that remained from the first movie: Where is Dory’s family, and will this overly-optimistic fish with short-term memory loss ever be able to find them again? Her issue has also given us the opportunity to travel to very different locations, on land and sea, and meet a variety of new sea creatures that expand the world of Nemo, Marlin and Dory.”

Also featuring the voices of Albert Brooks, Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton, Disney·Pixar’s “Finding Dory” swims into theaters June 17, 2016.

MOANA. Dwayne Johnson (“San Andreas,” “Furious 7,” HBO’s “Ballers”), who lends his voice to the mighty demi-god Maui in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Moana,” hit the stage at D23 EXPO. Renowned directors John Musker and Ron Clements (“The Little Mermaid,” “The Princess and the Frog,” “Aladdin”), and producer Osnat Shurer (Oscar®-nominated Pixar shorts “One Man Band,” “Boundin’”) shared dazzling early test footage and revealed plans for the film’s inspired music and the extraordinary team behind it. Tony®-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway’s hottest new hit “Hamilton,” Tony-winning “In the Heights”), Grammy®-winning composer Mark Mancina (“Speed”, “Tarzan” “The Lion King”) and Opetaia Foa’i (founder and lead singer of the world music award-winning band Te Vaka) blend their diverse and dynamic talents to help tell the tale of a spirited teenager who sets out to prove herself a master wayfinder.

“Our research took us deep into the South Pacific,” said Clements. “The wonderful people we met there, their rich history and traditions, and their fantastic music changed us forever.”

“We can’t wait to bring those experiences to ‘Moana,’” added Musker. “We are incredibly lucky to be able to work with three amazing artists who are the absolute best at what they do. The sounds they create will be something we’ve never heard before—but it’ll feel like it’s been part of this world forever.”

Foa’i and his band Te Vaka capped the presentation with a show-stopping performance illustrating the magic of the movie’s music. “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.

TOY STORY 4. Pixar Animation Studios marks the 20th Anniversary of “Toy Story” this year. Said Lasseter, “All the characters from ‘Toy Story’—especially Woody and Buzz—are so close to us. They seem more like family members than just creations. Not only do we dearly love the characters, but we also love the world of ‘Toy Story’—the world where toys come to life when people are not in the room has always been rich with many story possibilities.”

Lasseter, who’s one of Pixar’s three founders, celebrated 20 years since “Toy Story” transformed the animation industry and the art of storytelling. He welcomed to the stage iconic two-time Oscar®-winning songwriter and longtime Pixar collaborator Randy Newman, whose Pixar credits include “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Cars.”

Also joining in the celebration were “Toy Story 4” co-director Josh Cooley (“Cars 2,” “Ratatouille”) and producer Galyn Susman (“Toy Story OF TERROR!”). Screenwriters Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (“Celeste & Jesse Forever”) joined Buzz, Woody and Bo Peep for the celebration. “I’m very proud of our films,” said Lasseter. “When we made the first three ‘Toy Story’ films, we didn’t realize what we had done was to change the genre of each of the films’ story. For ‘Toy Story 4,’ we are doing a type of story we have not done before: a love story. It’s a story about a relationship between Woody and Bo Peep.”

“Toy Story 4,” which will be directed by Lasseter and produced by Susman, is slated for release on June 16, 2017.

GIGANTIC. Things are looking up at Walt Disney Animation Studios – way up. “Gigantic,” Disney’s unique take on “Jack and the Beanstalk,” will feature music from Oscar®-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who greeted D23 EXPO fans in signature style—in song—alongside director Nathan Greno (“Tangled”) and producer Dorothy McKim (“Get A Horse!”).

“I always wanted to be part of the Disney legacy,” said Greno. “I loved those classic stories brought to life—‘Snow White’ or ‘Cinderella’—in a way that made those films the definitive version for generations. I want to carry on that tradition by bringing ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ to modern audiences. We’re taking parts of the story we all remember and adding twists and turns, emotion and humor.”

Set in Spain during the Age of Exploration, Disney’s “Gigantic” follows adventure-seeker Jack as he discovers a world of giants hidden within the clouds. He hatches a grand plan with Inma, a 60-foot-tall, 11-year-old girl, and agrees to help her find her way home. But he doesn’t account for her super-sized personality—and who knew giants were so down to earth? “Gigantic” hits theaters in 2018.

COCO. Director Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”) and producer Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”) revealed the title of their upcoming film: Disney·Pixar’s “Coco” is the celebration of a lifetime, where the discovery of a generations-old mystery leads to a most extraordinary and surprising family reunion.

“As artists and filmmakers, we couldn’t help but be drawn to the striking visuals of Dia de los Muertos,” said Unkrich and Anderson. “But it was the celebration’s core themes of family, remembrance and connection across generations that resonated within and truly inspired us. Dia de los Muertos is as singular as the Mexican culture, while at the same time completely universal in its message.

“In our story,” they continued, “the celebration of Dia de los Muertos serves as the perfect backdrop for our 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.”

Follow the official social media accounts of Disney and Pixar in the Philippines, namely (FB) WaltDisneyStudiosPH, (Twitter) @disneystudiosph and (Instagram) @waltdisneystudiosph.


joel edgerton, The gift

What if someone from your past forced you to confront something that you had been hiding—even from yourself? The line between teasing and bullying can be razor-thin, and fluctuate greatly depending on which side of the equation you’re on. What one person may chalk up to an act of harmless play, another person may internalize as deeply hurtful behaviour is what “The Gift” addresses the audience.

“The Gift started for me with a simple premise: what would happen if a high school bully ran into his victim fifteen or so years later? What would or could be the effects? How might the past come to bear on the present? How could the past, unaccounted and unresolved, rupture a present situation?  Edgerton shares.

People view their pasts through the prism of their own individual experiences.  What one person may remember as a harmless practical joke, another may internalize as a deeply wounding transgression. In any case, most people move forward with their lives, past grievances ultimately buried beneath the many layers of experiences and lessons that life offers. But what if you did something to someone who was unable to move on? A person for whom your actions had become fossilized and hardened: Unacknowledged. Unrepented.

There are those who are unable to let go, allowing a slight to gain momentum and reach critical velocity as resentment and anger seethe to a boiling point. The Gift  explores the impact of two people’s shared pasts colliding in the present, and the collateral damage that ensues. “I was interested in the aftermath of that kind of hurt; is it a good or bad thing to go and rummage around in the past,” explains writer/director Joel Edgerton, “and that’s really the starting point for the story.”

“There is a married couple,” producer Jason Blum notes, “and things seem to be going along fine until Joel’s character, ‘Gordo,’ comes into their life. It turns out Gordo and Jason Bateman’s character, ‘Simon,’ went to school together a long time ago. Gordo seems relatively friendly, although a little odd … and as we move through the course of the story, it turns out none of what you think at the beginning is true.”

“We’re all changeable beings,” Hall concurs emphatically, “it has to be possible, forgiveness. I think we’re in real trouble if you can’t get over bad things that happen to you.”

Recognized for his extensive career in front of the camera, Edgerton, in fact, began his career as a filmmaker in Australia, forming the Film Collective Blue Tongue Films in 1996 alongside other like-minded creatives. “The Gift” is Edgerton’s feature directorial debut. With long time aspirations to direct, it was important for him to develop a project for his debut that was strongly character driven and attractive to a strong smart cast and rooted in meaty ideas and themes. A long-time fan of intelligent genre films, the intricate plot was also reminiscent of the great performance-based thrillers and suspense films that had been a staple of his adolescence.

“The Gift” is now showing in cinemas nationwide from OctoArts Films International.


thomas mann and olivia cooke ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL
Thomas Mann as “Greg” and Olivia Cooke as “Rachel” in ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL. Photo coutesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures. © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
All Rights Reserved

“This is the story of my senior year in high school and how it destroyed my life,” so Greg said of his life in the highly acclaimed and award-winning movie based from the bestselling book by Jesse Andrews of the same title, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.”

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is this year’s winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.  In 2013, Jesse Andrews’ thought-provoking and moving young-adult novel Me and Earl and the Dying Girl took readers by surprise with a truly contemporary coming-of-age story, packed with smart original dialogue and fully realized teen characters.

Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who had directed highly successful episodes in teen-oriented television series “Glee” perfectly captured the book’s offbeat humor, rare sensitivity and unique worldview in a feature film that chronicles a young man’s journey into adulthood as he learns what it means to be truly selfless.  The innovative film also includes sly nods to legendary movies and tracks by the incomparable Brian Eno, including several previously unheard of compositions.

“The script was funny in an unusual and unpredictable way, as well as refreshingly honest,” says Gomez-Rejon. “At first, it reminded me of the wonderful John Hughes movies I grew up on, but then it very gently took an unexpected turn and became so much more than just a comedy. I had just lost my father and I felt that if I could make this film, it would be a way for me to express my own personal losses and transform them through humor.”

Greg, played by Thomas Mann, spends his life trying to present himself to the world as the person he wants people to see, rather than the person he actually is, according to Gomez-Rejon. “You can’t sustain an act like that forever,” the director points out. “You’ll have to eventually pull off that mask and deal with exposing yourself to rejection or, worse, indifference. Once you start to show who you really are, then the real world can react accordingly. Not everyone will like you and you’ll say things that you’ll regret.  But you will grow from it.”

The teenager’s deepening friendship with cancer stricken classmate Rachel, played by Olivia Cooke, makes his posturing more difficult to maintain. “Greg starts to face real-life challenges when he becomes close to Rachel,” says Gomez-Rejon. “He’s been living in a world of his own, walking around with an art-film score in his head. Now he is engaging with a world where reality isn’t of his design.”

Even though Greg’s story is set against the backdrop of his high-school senior year, the appeal goes far beyond a typical teen movie, as evidenced by the enthusiasm and commitment of the many adults involved in the production. “The movie will be a little bit nostalgic for older audiences,” says producer Steven Rales. “I think they will remember the challenges and complexities of what Greg is going through and the kinds of friendships that have a lasting influence on you. For younger audiences, it can be a reminder that there’s hope in the midst of all the chaos. It’s a time to make meaningful friendships that can be everlasting.”

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” opens September 16 in cinemas from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.  Film’s trailer here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PuuZffR_rQ


Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy, Victor Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic novel about the eccentric scientist, Victor Frankenstein, and his quest to create life, was first published in 1818 and has captivated generations of readers and later, cinema audiences, ever since.

With a screenplay by Max Landis, Paul McGuigan directs and his stellar lead duo  – including James McAvoy as Frankenstein and Daniel Radcliffe as Igor give life to the beloved legendary monster in “Victor Frankenstein.”   At the core of this new Frankenstein story – just like with Holmes and Watson – is the friendship between Frankenstein and Igor.

McGuigan’s film is an action adventure thriller where McAvoy plays the titular role of Doctor Victor Frankenste as a brilliant scientist at the forefront of pioneering medical research. He wants to save lives and then becomes obsessed with the idea of creating life itself.

Igor – a character that first appeared in movie versions of the story, but was not in the novel – is a lowly, downtrodden, disfigured clown at a travelling circus where his only friend is a trapeze artist, the beautiful Lorelei (played by Jessica Brown Findlay).

“He starts off in the script just known as ‘the hunchback’, and he works at the circus,” explains Radcliffe. “He’s grown up there, and he’s worked there all his life. His retreat, mentally, is to surround himself with medical books, medical dictionaries. He’s self-taught, very intelligent, and incredibly capable.

“One day, when there is an accident at the circus and Lorelei falls, he rushes out to treat her. Victor happens to be there and sees him performing impromptu surgery. He saves this person’s life, with Victor’s help, and that’s how they meet. At that point Victor obviously sees that he is this undervalued, abused, savant, who has been treated terribly.”

After Frankenstein rescues Igor from the circus, he operates to remove his disfiguring hump and Igor, physically transformed, becomes his trusted assistant and aids the doctor in his quest to save and, eventually, to try and create life.

McAvoy adds: “Our story is different from Mary Shelley’s novel; we’re not holding to the book’s narrative, we’ve changed it quite a bit. The two main players in it are Igor and Frankenstein, and Igor doesn’t feature in the book. It’s a clear departure, but it’s about the same thing.  But the film does pay homage to its heritage.  This film is very much born out of the zeitgeist. When you see ‘Frankenstein’ you go, ‘Big flat-headed monster, mad scientist, and Igor the hunchback.’ Igor was never in the book, but he is in it, because the zeitgeist says he’s in it.”

“Victor Frankenstein” opens November 25 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

Trailer reveal here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klQZzaHfep8


The Martian, Matt Damon

Left alone to survive, Matt Damon takes on the titular moniker in the latest space adventure set in the 2030s “The Martian” where his character Mark Watney got stranded on Mars when he was accidentally left by his team in their haste to abort the mission.

Based on the bestselling novel self-published by Andy Weir, the trailer further revealed the overwhelming odds Damon’s character Watney faces in order to survive…and after being presumed dead.  The trailer’s recent reveal held at Pasadena at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was attended by Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott together with the book’s author Andy Weir, astronaut Drew Feustel and NASA’s Planetary Science Division Director Dr. Jim Green.

In the reveal, NASA shared that the technology, the tools that helped the character survived in the 2030s are already being developed as it appears on the film.  “’We’re kind of on the cusp of being able to do everything that happens in the movie,” Matt Damon said, speaking of space exploration during the trailer reveal. “With the right funding and the right attention, these are the kinds of things that we will be exploring in the very near future and this is going to be a part of our kids’ lives.”

“The Martian” will open September 30 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.   Check out the film’s trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gsk2cYhef2c