April 02, 2015 | 6:43 p.m.

WonderCon set for pop culture playtime in Anaheim

WonderCon feature trio
A legion of superheroes, zombies, Jedi Knights and more costumed fans will be descending upon the Anaheim Convention Center this weekend for WonderCon, an annual pop culture expo expected to draw some 60,000 sci-fi, fantasy, horror and comic book professionals and enthusiasts. The expo, which begins Friday and has its roots in the Bay Area but has been held in Disneyland’s backyard since 2012, serves as the unofficial kickoff for Southern California’s burgeoning convention season celebrating fandom and pop culture. This year’s lineup includes mid-April’s Star Wars Celebration, Disney’s D23 Expo in August, the gaming industry’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in June, July’s Anime Expo, Stan Lee’s Comikaze in fall and, of course, San Diego’s massive Comic-Con International, set for July 9-12. WonderCon is a sort of junior sibling to the San Diego mega-convention, which has drawn upward of 130,000 […]
Aug. 10, 2013 | 2:10 p.m.

D23: Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof explore the secrets of ‘Tomorrowland’

Brad Bird's mysterious box. (Twitter)
Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof might not have had star power to promote their upcoming film “Tomorrowland” at D23 — the film’s George Clooney did not appear at the Anaheim expo Saturday morning — but they did bring the “dusty old box” that inspired the mystery adventure set for release next year. The duo took to the D23 stage near the end of the studio’s live-action presentation Saturday, opening the box, which was supposedly found in the studio’s archives and is labeled “1952.” Together, they reviewed certain of the contents it initially contained, before introducing a bit of evocative animation that had been found inside, but it’s still not exactly clear what the new movie, which Bird is producing and directing, in addition to co-writing with Lindelof, is actually about. Bird noted that “the very word ‘Tomorrowland’ is evocative,” and […]
Aug. 10, 2013 | 1:55 p.m.

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier': Chris Evans marches into D23

Chris Evans on the set of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." (Marvel)
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” stars Chris Evans, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan took the D23 stage Saturday morning to promote the sequel, one of several Marvel titles — including “Thor: The Dark World” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” — to be touted at the Anaheim expo. The stars were joined on stage by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who caught the audience up on Stan’s character, Bucky Barnes. Steve Rogers’ best friend appeared to fall to his death in 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger,” but, of course, he returns in a much different incarnation in the sequel. “I guess you saw him crashing down into the mountains, but funny enough, he found his way back,” Stan joked. No spoilers here. Feige has said that Bucky’s role in the film will adhere closely to Ed Brubaker’s “Captain America: The […]
Aug. 10, 2013 | 1:30 p.m.

Angelina Jolie arrives in Anaheim to unveil ‘Maleficent’ at D23

Angelina Jolie is "Maleficent." (AP Photo / Disney Enterprises, Inc.)
“Maleficent” star Angelina Jolie arrived at D23 on Saturday morning, and like the evil sorceress she’s playing in the live-action retelling of the 1959 animated classic “Sleeping Beauty,” she knows how to make an entrance. Clad in a black sweater and black pants, the actress received a standing ovation from the audience, and she described her elation at starring in the film, saying that as a child she had an affinity for Maleficent. “Since I was a little girl, Maleficent was always my favorite,” Jolie said. “I was terrified of her, but I was also drawn to her. I wanted to know more about her. She had this elegance and grace, yet she was wonderfully, deliciously cruel.” Unfolding at the Anaheim Convention Center, the weekend-long D23 kicked off Friday with programming focused around Disney’s upcoming animated ventures. Saturday’s presentation emphasized news […]
Aug. 10, 2013 | 12:51 p.m.

‘Thor: The Dark World': D23 footage takes Natalie Portman to Asgard

"Thor": Natalie Portman plays Jane Foster, an astrophysicist who steals the heart of Norse god Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth. (Zade Rosenthal/Marvel Studios)
Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins took the D23 stage Saturday morning in Anaheim to promote “Thor: The Dark World,” the first of three featured titles upcoming from Marvel to be touted at the expo. Hopkins received a standing ovation from the audience, but Portman and Hiddleston were received almost as warmly, taking the stage after Marvel movie chief Kevin Feige, who presented both the footage from the “Thor” sequel that was screened at Comic-Con International last month and a new scene detailing Portman’s astrophysicist Jane Foster’s first day in Asgard. In the unfinished scene, Jane’s body seems to be having some trouble adapting to the Asgardian atmosphere, and she lies on a table being tended to. Odin storms in, noting, “She is mortal, she does not belong here in Asgard anymore than a goat belongs at a banquet […]
Aug. 09, 2013 | 2:32 p.m.

D23: Imagineer Tony Baxter on his decades shaping Disneyland design

Tony Baxter in 1996 discusses the redesign of Disneyland's Tomorrowland. (Los Angeles Times)
When a young Disney employee in the early 1970s by the name of Tony Baxter found his daily assignments to be lacking a certain luster, he opted instead to devote his time to building a model train. This self-described “little train” would eventually cost more than $15 million to construct. Known today as moderate thrill ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Baxter’s extracurricular hobby would ultimately become one of the premiere attractions at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts. It opened first at the Anaheim theme park in 1979. “Going into Big Thunder, I was a kid in a model shop. Coming out, I was a designer,” says Baxter. At 66, Baxter this year has transitioned from his senior executive position at Walt Disney Imagineering into a creative advisory role. Baxter officially will be recognized as a Disney “legend” at […]
Nov. 04, 2011 | 1:15 p.m.

‘Muppets’ director promises plenty of ‘anarchic stupidity’

(Scott Garfield / Disney Enterprises / D23)
After more than a decade away from the big screen, the Muppets are poised to return to the multiplex with the Nov. 23 release of their new self-titled movie musical. The film features the expected marquee names — Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear — but also introduces a newcomer, Walter. A sweet little guy from Smalltown U.S.A. who’s always sensed that there’s something a little bit different about him (especially growing up alongside his brother Gary, played by Jason Segel), Walter helps reunite the gang after he learns about a nefarious plot to tear down the old theater where they used to stage their variety show. Segel co-wrote “The Muppets'” screenplay with his “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” director Nicholas Stoller, and the pair, along with director James Bobin (HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords“), focused on capturing the same comic tone as […]
Aug. 20, 2011 | 2:50 p.m.

D23 news: Pixar is making a dinosaur movie

A scene from "Luxo Jr.," Pixar's animated short film that gave the studio its logo. (Pixar Animation Studios)
The Walt Disney Co. announced two new original Pixar feature films at D23 on Saturday, an untitled movie about dinosaurs directed by “Finding Nemo” screenwriter Bob Peterson due in 2013 and an untitled movie about the inner workings of the brain directed by “Up” and “Monsters Inc.” director Pete Docter due in 2014. Disney and Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter introduced the two new projects at the media company’s three-day fan event in Anaheim, in a demonstration that the animation studio best known lately for the sequels “Toy Story 3″ and “Cars 2″ is still committed to original stories. Peterson showed a single piece of concept art of a dinosaur walking in tall grass with what appeared to be a small child riding on it. The movie, he said, was about what would happen if “the asteroid missed the […]
Aug. 19, 2011 | 11:27 a.m.

D23: From ‘Frankenweenie’ to ‘Dalmatians’ this weekend

"101 Dalmations" (Disney), Tim Burton (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times) and Jake and the Never Land Pirates (Disney).
The Disney D23 Expo 2011 kicks off today at the Anaheim Convention Center with a weekend of all things Disney (as well as Pixar and Marvel),  and our Geoff Boucher caught up with Steven Clark, the head of D23, to get some insight into the three-day event. GB: This is the second D23 Expo. What are you hoping for this time around? SC: In the first year we didn’t necessarily know exactly what to expect from our fans or just in general what the response would be. We knew we had a good show and knew that we were giving people the insider look at across the company. The one thing we’re trying to do even more of this time is to provide the fans with that touch-point with the creative executives or the talent or the archivists — those people within the Disney organization who never get […]
Aug. 18, 2011 | 5:53 p.m.

D23 Expo: Disney says ‘Make Mine Marvel’

Marvel’s muscle-bound superheroes will join Mickey Mouse, Kermit the Frog and new characters from Pixar Animation this weekend for the Walt Disney Co.’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, marking the first time the company will attempt to bring together fans of the comic book world and devotees of other parts of its corporate kingdom. The three-day consumer event at the Anaheim Convention Center, which begins Friday, will feature star-studded panel discussions, presentations on theme park attractions and first-look footage from upcoming films and TV shows, a formula borrowed from Comic-Con International, the annual San Diego pop-culture extravaganza. Disney used that template for its first D23 Expo in September 2009, the same year that the company bought Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion. Now, for this second edition, Marvel heroes like Iron Man and Captain America will be part of the presentations. The […]
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