This morning The House Of Mouse decided to hold a press conference in a swanky Venue – called The Venue – in Melrose Arch. Alongside a couple of reports about how well Disney has done in the past year, there were one or two montages of TV programs and films, some toys on display and best of all: announcements about upcoming releases. There was also news of a new Leon Schuster film, but you probably don’t want to know about that.
Here’s a breakdown of what we thought were the tastiest morsels from #DisneyAfrica’s presentation
1. Star Wars is getting the Marvel treatment
Disney held off on dishing out any news until the very end of the press conference – we’re not going to be as cruel as that here. There was nothing new to show about the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so we were treated to a look at the teaser, the trailer and the footage shown at Comic-Con. (We’ve embedded them below in case you’re one of the six people on planet earth who haven’t seen them yet!)
Disney did have some news to impart about the Star War franchise although it wasn’t in the form of some new footage: apparently The Force Awakens isn’t the only Star Wars film in fans’ near future. Apparently two new standalone Star Wars films are in production and they’ll be released at a later date. The first is called Rogue One and it’s about the team of Rebel Alliance soldiers who stole the plans for the original Death Star and the second is an origin story for the most loveable rogue in the galaxy far away, Han Solo. The Anthology Films – as they’re called – will presumably keep fan interest high between the major tentpole Star Wars releases.
So it looks like Star Wars is getting the Marvel treatment in that the franchise will follow Marvel’s battle plan of releasing a couple of films – focussing on a handful of characters – in the lead up to marquee releases. The Anthology Films are to The Force Awakens as Iron Man 3 and Ant Man are to The Avengers movies.
2. Christopher Walken is King Louie
Yes, you read that correctly, and no we’re not talking about Louie B. Armstrong. We’re talking about the Orangutang King from The Jungle Book. Confused? Let us help you out:
Continuing the trend it started with the releases of Maleficent and the recent Cinderella, Disney is re-making two animated classics with live actors – The Jungle Book and Beauty & The Beast. Well, in the case of the former, live-actors is something of a stretch because the only live actor in the film we know about is Neel Sethi, who plays Mowgli.
The rest of the cast provide voices to the animals in the film, which will be a mix of live performances, motion capture and animation. Sir Ben Kingsley provides the voice of Bagheera the panther, Bill Murray is Baloo the bear, Idris Elba is Shere Khan the tiger and Scarlett Johansson is Kaa the python.
The biggest surprise in the cast is Christopher Walken, who’ll be playing King Louie. We’re figuring that this mean there might be less singing and more dancing in the performance. You be the judge:
3. Star Wars is coming to Disney Infinity
The news that Disney Infinity players will soon get to plonk Star Wars figurines on the game’s Infinity Base wasn’t exactly surprising. With a new Star Wars film (or three) in the pipeline it makes sense to produce another set of plastic toys to help children separate their parents from their cash this Christmas.
Alongside the characters from the prequel trilogy of Star Wars – you know, the films everyone over the age of 35 hates – there are new packs of Marvel Superheroes and classic Disney characters set for release. By the end of the year, you’ll be able to play with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Iron Man in his HulkBuster armour. Parents, we suggest you start saving…
4. The Doctor Strange movie looks like it’ll be quite dark
We have to confess that we weren’t exactly over the moon when we heard that there was going to be a Doctor Strange movie. To be honest, Marvel’s resident caped occult dabbler isn’t exactly what we’d call a marquee name when compared to the likes of Iron Man, Captain America or Thor. If Hawkeye and Black Widow don’t rank highly enough to star in their own movie then why does Stephen Strange rate a movie all to himself?
Once we saw the concept art and a couple of stills of the movie, however, we changed our minds quite quickly. Doctor Strange looks dark. Very dark. As in scraping the edge of ‘horror-movie-dark’ and information imparted about the film from Marvel Studios head, Kevin Feige, supports this appraisal. According to Feige, the film will have a firm footing in the shadowy world of the occult and supernatural. While we’re not expecting it to be a true blue horror film, but if it could provide as many chills as say Constantine (the TV series, NOT the film), then that would be great.
Oh, and Benedict Cumberbatch looks very fetching in his Doctor Strange get-up. Very fetching indeed…
5. Finding Nemo is getting a sequel (and so is Alice In Wonderland)
Ellen DeGeneres is very happy. Apparently the popular talk show host and sometime Academy Award compere has been after a sequel to Finding Nemo for years.
Well, now Finding Nemo has a sequel in the form of Finding Dory. Apparently the film will centre on the discombobulated regal blue tang who helped Marlin track down his son. Alongside Ellen, Finding Dory will also feature the voice talents of Diane Keaton, Idris Elba (he’s so hot right now) and Willem Dafoe. There’s also an octopus called Hank, but we don’t know who will be playing him yet.