"The Rock's crying! Oh, that's funny!"
Dwayne Johnson wiped away tears as he chuckled onstage at the D23 Expo in Anaheim on Friday. Disney had just debuted a clip from his upcoming animated movie Moana, in which he voices a Polynesian demigod named Maui, and he was clearly touched. “If you don’t get emotional over that...,” he trailed off.
Johnson, who got a very enthusiastic standing ovation when he took the stage, explained, "When I first got into this business, I had a goal: to be in the Disney family...I am proudly half Samoan, half black. This is in my blood. To tell a story inspired by the South Pacific is truly a great honor."
Here’s all the scoop we learned during the Pixar and Disney Animation Panel:
Moana: Johnson plays Maui, a shapeshifter with animated tattoos. Moana also has a pig, Pua, as a sidekick and a cranky chicken named Hei Hei. The villain of the movie is a lava monster and we got to see some early footage of her that looked insanely cool. (And SCARY!) The music is being done by South Pacific musician Opetaia Foa'i, composer Mark Mancina, and songwriter Lin-Manel Miranda, of Broadway’s hit Hamilton.
Zootopia: Ginnifer Goodwin plays Judy Hopps, a bunny traffic cop who has 48 hours to solve a missing otter case with the help of a sly fox voiced by Jason Bateman. Early clips look heavy on the hilarity and adorableness -- Bateman’s character has a 4-year-old baby fox who thinks he’s an elephant! We also heard a snippet of an original song called “Try Everything” that Shakira recorded for the movie. FYI, she plays a gazelle.
Gigantic: A new film Disney announced and is calling “the definitive version” of Jack and the Beanstalk. It’s set in Spain during the “Age of Discovery,” and it follows Jack as he discovers the world of giants and befriends an 11-year-old giant named Ema, who was inspired by a girl the Disney team met in Spain who referred to herself as the “princess of her people.” Heads up, parents: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who did the music for Frozen, are the songwriters here! They performed a cute song, “My Little Man,” that will be in the scene where Ema meets Jack and plays with him like a doll.
The Good Dinosaur: “The story has always been about a boy and his dog," the Pixar team explained. "Except the boy in our story is a dinosaur and this little boy is his dog." They also showed off the new technology that allowed them to create EXTREMELY realistic landscape shots, and premiered a few clips from the movie. Spoiler alert: Pixar is killing off parents now too! One depressingly sweet clip showed Arlo and Spot bonding over the death of their parents.
Finding Dory: The Pixar team wanted to be confident that if Dory ever got lost, she could find her way home. They weren't, hence this sequel. (It also helps that Ellen DeGeneres, who also got bonkers applause when she hit the stage, has been begging Pixar to make it since Finding Nemo became a hit.)
Ellen revealed that Ed O’Neill is playing an octopus -- or septopus, since he’s missing a leg -- named Hank, his Modern Family costar Ty Burrell plays Bailey, a beluga whale who thinks he has a head injury (because he doesn’t realize that’s how all beluga whales look), and It’s Always Sunny’s Kaitlin Olson plays Destiny, a whale shark who thinks she’s a whale.
Coco: Pixar’s long-in-development Dia de los Muertos movie officially has a title, apparently named after one of the characters in the movie. But the main character is a 12-year-old boy named Miguel and the story is, naturally, set in Mexico. Early footage was heavy on dancing and singing skeletons, and we can't wait for more.
Toy Story 4: This year marks the 20th anniversary of Toy Story and the Pixar team is ready to take the franchise into “new and exciting directions.” Disney Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter is back in the directing chair on this one and he says, “Each Toy Story movie is a different genre. Toy Story 4 is a genre we’ve never done before: It’s a love story. I’m proud to announce it’s a love story between Woody and Bo Peep.” He went on to explain that the movie will center on Woody and Buzz going out into the world to find Bo, who was missing from Toy Story 3.
Then Randy Newman came out and sang “You’ve Got a Friend in Me," a bunch of Army men rappelled from the ceiling and did a dance number onstage, and Woody, Buzz, and Bo Peep hit the stage to wave to fans as confetti guns shot off into the audience. D23 truly is a magical place.
Speaking of Disney, the Frozen director says Elsa and Anna’s brother is Tarzan!