Disney Announces 'Aladdin' Casting, Previews Live-Action 'Lion King' and 'Dumbo' and More at D23
By John Boone
Walt Disney Studios used a portion of their live action panel during their fan expo, D23, to set the record straight on some recent rumors. "Some of which are true and some of which are not," president Sean Bailey explained.
What's not true? Rumors that the studio is having troubles casting the live-action Aladdin.Mena Massoud will play the titular prince of thieves, Naomi Scott (Power Rangers) is playing Jasmine and Will Smith indeed has been cast as the Genie. This new iteration will pull from the animated classic, as well as folk tales of The One Thousand and One Nights.
Disney is also in pre-production on Mulan, while Dwayne Johnson will front a Jungle Cruise movie. Meanwhile, Tim Burton's live-action Dumbo recently began production in London, with a cast including Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and Eva Green. Though Dumbo himself will ultimately be CG, Disney brought along the adorable elephant he will be modeled on, which is three and a half feet of adorableness, with sparkly blue eyes and giant, floppy ears.
Dumbo hits theaters on March 29, 2019. Here is the movie's official synopsis:
"Dumbo" introduces Holt Farrier (Farrell), a former circus star who finds his life turned upside down when he returns from the war. Circus owner Max Medici (DeVito) enlists Holt to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when Holt's children discover that Dumbo can fly, persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Keaton) and an aerial artist named Colette Marchant (Green) swoop in to make the peculiar pachyderm a star.
One final announcement previewed director Jon Favreau's upcoming The Lion King. The opening scene showed baby Simba -- who is so cute -- being "painted" by Rafiki and presented on Pride Rock. The footage is STUNNING. That all came in addition to scoop on Walt Disney Studios' other films...
A Wrinkle in Time
No one was happier to be at D23 than A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay, who took the stage alongside her cast: Storm Reid, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine and newly minted Disney legend, Oprah Winfrey. "I just gotta say, I'm so excited to be here," DuVernay squealed. "I was walking the floor yesterday and I was like, 'I found my tribe.'"
The movie is an "updated" and "inclusive" adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's 1963 novel, about a girl named Meg (Reid) whose scientist parents discover proof of the wrinkling of time and space. When her father (Pine) goes missing, she sets out on an adventure to find him and ends up encountering three "very unusual" women: Mrs. Whatsit (Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Kaling, who reveals her riddle-speaking character now quotes Jay-Z) and Mrs. Which (Winfrey).
As for what attracted Winfrey to the project, she said, "It is a character who is one of the wisest women in the universe and is an angelic celestial being who is going to get to wear amazing costumes...who wouldn't say yes to that?"
D23 was treated to a special teaser trailer (above), and it is hard to describe the beautiful, bizarre visuals within, but oh my goodness, the costumes. After debuting the film's teaser poster, Oprah hilariously shouted to the crowd, "You get a poster! You get a poster! Everyboooody gets a poster!" A Wrinkle in Time hits theaters on March 9, 2018.
Mary Poppins Returns
Perhaps no movie received a bigger round of applause than the sequel to Mary Poppins, set 25 years after the original film amid London's Great Depression. The Banks children are all grown up and Michael (Ben Whishaw) has inherited the iconic home on Cherry Tree Lane. But after losing his wife, he and his family have fallen onto hard times. Enter Mary Poppins, with Emily Blunt taking the reigns from Dame Julie Andrews.
"I always found the film incredibly magical. I just wanted to be the Banks children," Blunt said, admitting that when she was tasked with playing Mary Poppins, she only re-watched 15 minutes of the original. "Nobody is ever going to out Julie Andrews Julie Andrews."
Director Rob Marshall, with live accompaniment by the Disney orchestra, previews "a taste of what's to come" in the movie: The Cherry Tree Lane home in disrepair. A kite blowing in the wind and Lin-Manuel Miranda's lamplighter Jack helping pull it down, revealing Mary Poppins floating amid the clouds. Then there are rapid-fire shots that reveal Meryl Streep singing, partially animated sequences, loads of dancing through the London streets and Dick Van Dyke dancing on a desk. Mary Poppins Returns hits theaters on Christmas 2018.
Disney's take on the iconic ballet will officially be in theaters on Nov. 2, 2018. It's the tale of a young girl, Clara (Mackenzie Foy) who receives a music box with a cryptic note that reads, "Everything that you need is inside." With a key nowhere to be found, she must explore the titular four realms "that will lead her to her destiny."
In an exclusive first glimpse, Clara makes her way through each realm, including the Land of Flowers, the Land of Snowflakes and The Land of Sweets, which is presided over by the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley with cotton candy pink hair). Still, I have a feeling Helen Mirren's wicked Mother Ginger -- and her insane wig -- will be all that we talk about when Nutcracker premieres. Or perhaps this take on the Mouse King, who will be a CGI creation made up of thousands of mice -- does that sound like a nightmare to anyone else?