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Disney Showcases Their 2016-2017 Live Action Films at D23


Finest hours logo

The film to hit the big screen will be The Finest Hours on January 29, 2016. Directed by Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl), the Finest is based on true accounts of the most harrowing rescue in Coast Guard history. In February 1952 during a turbulent storm in the New England area, two tankers were in distress; one received the full dispatch of the Coast Guard. With the majority of the Coast Guard rescuing the first tanker, there was but one boat remaining to find the second tanker before its entire crew is lost to the sea. Bernie Webber (played by Star Trek’s Chris Pine) and his able crew are charged to find and rescue the crew with their tiny wooden lifeboat, despite the risk to their very own lives.

The Finest Hours

"Worlds, Galaxies, And Universes: Live Action At The Walt Disney Studios" Presentation At Disney's D23 EXPO 2015

The Finest Hours also stars Casey Affleck (Interstellar), Ben Foster (Lone Survivor), Holliday Grainger (Cinderella), John Ortiz (Steve Jobs) and Eric Bana (Hanna, Special Correspondents), is produced by Jim Whitaker and Dorothy Aufiero and Doug Merrifield is the executive producer. The film is based on the book by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman and the screenplay was written by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson.


Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book has been a hotly anticipated rendition of Rudyard Kipling’s classic stories about a young boy who discovered the deepest parts of humanity from his unlikely animal family. Although the 1967 animated film is held with a deep regard, Disney and Favreau wanted to retain the spirit of that film while honoring Kipling’s stories for today’s more mature audience.

The Jungle Book

At D23, the audience was formally introduced to newcomer Neel Sethi who plays the gentle Mowgli. Also on stage were Oscar® winners Ben Kingsley, who portrays the panther-turned-mentor Bagheera and Lupita Nyong’o lends her voice to the protective mother wolf Raksha. “The Jungle Book” also features the voices of Bill Murray as Baloo, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa, Giancarlo Esposito as Akela and Christopher Walken as King Louie. Jon Favreau and Brigham Taylor produce and the screenplay is by Justin Marks. The Jungle Book hits theaters in 3D and IMAX 3D (naturally!) on April 15, 2016.

Looking glass logo

With the President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production Sean Bailey, actress Mia Wasikowska made public the plot and trailer for the all-new adventure in the Wonderland series, Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Of course, Johnny Depp reprises his role as the mercurial Mad Hatter, along with Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, Anne Hathaway as the White Queen, and Alan Rickman, Michael Sheen and Stephen Fry returning to voice Absolem, the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat, respectively. In an all-new tale written by Linda Woolverton (The Lion King, Mulan, Maleficent), Alice returns to Underland to help her friend the Hatter who appears to be getting even madder.

Through the Looking Glass

Alice seeks the help from the original character Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), who sends her to a more joyous era in Underland’s history to discover what is causing such strife in the present. Another new character Alice will meet during her travels is Hatter’s father, Zanik Hightopp played by Rhys Ifans.

Alice Through the Looking Glass is directed by James Bobin (The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted) with Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd and Tim Burton produce. John G. Scotti is executive producer. Presented in Digital 3D™, Real D 3D and IMAX® 3D, opens in U.S. theaters on May 27, 2016.

Looking glass poster

Bryce Dallas Howard joined Bailey on stage to talk about her starring role in Pete’s Dragon, a reimagining of Disney’s cherished family film. The heartwarming adventure of an orphaned boy named Pete and his best friend Elliott, who lived in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. By the way, it just so happens Elliott is a dragon.

"Worlds, Galaxies, And Universes: Live Action At The Walt Disney Studios" Presentation At Disney's D23 EXPO 2015

Pete’s Dragon is directed by David Lowery, produced by Jim Whitaker, and executive-produced by Barrie Osborne, and also stars Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games), Karl Urban (Star Trek), Oona Laurence (Southpaw) and Robert Redford. Pete’s Dragon opens in U.S. theaters on August 12, 2016.

Disney wouldn’t be Disney without producing a heartfelt tale about overcoming the odds and striving to be the best one can, the next film during their presentation – The Queen of Katwe – has the making of being a truly uplifting experience. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo (Selma) and newcomer Medina Nalwanga, Katwe is an adaptation of the book by Tim Crothers. The story a young girl from the poverty-stricken slums of rural Uganda who dreams of becoming a champion chess player.

"Worlds, Galaxies, And Universes: Live Action At The Walt Disney Studios" Presentation At Disney's D23 EXPO 2015

Directed by Mira Nair with a screenplay by William Wheeler, The Queen of Katwe is currently in production.

Bailey next presented Beauty and the Beast, which was held in great secrecy in Hall D23. Fans did receive a musical greeting from stars Emma Watson, Josh Gad and Luke Evans—sent from the London set where they are currently filming. The live-action musical also stars Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle), Audra McDonald (Private Practice) and newcomer Nathan Mack. The film is directed by Bill Condon (Chicago, Dreamgirls).

Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the animated classic, provides the score, which will include new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Tim Rice, as well as several new songs.

Beauty and the Beast will make its grand entrance in theaters on March 17, 2017.

"Worlds, Galaxies, And Universes: Live Action At The Walt Disney Studios" Presentation At Disney's D23 EXPO 2015

Last and certainly not least, Sean Bailey described the plot of the next installment of the extremely popular (and profitable!) Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales. Directed by the esteemed duo Espen Sandberg & Joachim Rønning (Kon-Tiki), the fantastic misadventures of Captain Jack Sparrow continue as yet another nemesis from his past returns after escaping The Devil’s Triangle. Enter Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) as Captain Salazar and his motley crew of ghost pirates seeking vengeance against all of their brethren… especially Jack.

Also starring in Dead Men Tell No Tales are Brenton Thwaites (The Giver), Kevin R. McNally (AMC’s TURN), Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner), Golshifteh Farahani (Exodus: Gods and Kings), Stephen Graham (Boardwalk Empire, Gangs of New York), David Wenham (300, Lord of the Rings) and reprising his role as Captain Barbossa, Geoffrey Rush! Bailey had one other very exclusive casting announcement for the crowd that nearly made them flip their chairs. I’ll just leave this pic right here…

"Worlds, Galaxies, And Universes: Live Action At The Walt Disney Studios" Presentation At Disney's D23 EXPO 2015

Was there any other way Disney could have concluded their prolific segment of the “Worlds, Galaxies and Universes” panel? Well since you’re pondering…

"Worlds, Galaxies, And Universes: Live Action At The Walt Disney Studios" Presentation At Disney's D23 EXPO 2015

Dead Men Tell No Tales is written by Jeff Nathanson, and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Chad Oman, Mike Stenson, Joe Caracciolo, Jr. and Brigham Taylor. Prepare to have your buckles swashed on July 7, 2017!

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About Rexlor Graymond (493 Articles)
Rex Graymond is 24.6kg tripolymer composite, 11.8kg beryllium-nickel-titanium alloy. Constructed in Northern California. Loves comics and films almost as much as pancakes. ALMOST.
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