Disney

April 16, 2015 | 4:00 a.m.

Fandom’s force awakens at Star Wars Celebration, and Disney knows it

"Star Wars" creator George Lucas poses with a group of "Star Wars"-inspired Disney characters on Aug. 14, 2010 at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park in Florida. (Todd Anderson / Getty Images)
“Star Wars,” the space-opera franchise that revolutionized the movie business and spawned a sprawling multi-billion-dollar multimedia empire, is back with a renewed force. “Star Wars Episode VII,” the first new “Star Wars” film in a decade, won’t hit theaters until Dec. 18. But the countdown begins in earnest Thursday, when grown men in Stormtrooper costumes, suburban moms dressed as Princess Leia and kids done up as cuddly Ewoks will descend in droves on the Anaheim Convention Center for the Star Wars Celebration fan convention. It marks a pivotal moment for one of the most lucrative series in film history — and for Walt Disney Co., which paid $4 billion to acquire Lucasfilm and its “Star Wars” franchise from creator George Lucas in 2012. Star Wars Celebration: Trailer unveiled | Watch the live stream | Fans gather | Preview Disney is […]
Feb. 26, 2015 | 2:37 p.m.

‘Avatar’ land: Disney unveils behind-the-scenes look at glowing forest

Concept art for Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom. (Disney)
Disney has revealed a behind-the-scenes glimpse of its upcoming theme park attraction based on James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi fantasy film “Avatar.” The addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Fla., is a re-creation of Cameron’s mythical jungle planet Pandora, the lush home of the film’s blue Na’vi protagonists. Imagineers have been working on the project since 2011, and Disney is finally unveiling some of their creations in a video and Disney Parks blog post. The video shows a recent gathering of executives, including Cameron, at Imagineering’s offices in Glendale, Calif. In the video, Cameron inspects models and walks in Disney’s version of Pandora’s bioluminescent forest; the ground lights up with each of his footsteps. “We’re having a lot of fun dreaming up ways to bring to life the land’s iconic elements from the magnificent floating mountains to the interactive […]
Jan. 16, 2015 | 3:33 p.m.

George Lucas details plans to make, but not release, two new films

George Lucas co-wrote and executive produced the new animated tale “Strange Magic,” which arrives in theaters Jan. 23.  The musical romp, directed by Gary Rydstrom, takes very loose inspiration from Shakespeare, telling the story of a monstrous Bog King (Alan Cumming) who finds unexpected love in a magical realm of elves and fairies. But it isn’t the only new movie Lucas has on the horizon. The 70-year-old “Star Wars” creator currently is writing two new features, both experimental movies that hearken back to his student days at the University of Southern California. However, he has no plans to ever release either project publicly. “The way [the films] are, they’re not really movies that can be released,” Lucas said of his upcoming projects during a recent phone call from New York City, where he was promoting “Strange Magic.” “They’re movies more […]
Nov. 24, 2014 | 11:46 a.m.

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens': See the 88-second first trailer this weekend

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' JJ Abrams Tweet
[This post has been updated to include the complete list of 30 theaters screening the trailer. Scroll to the end for the complete list.] The first trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is debuting this weekend, and according to director J.J. Abrams, it will reveal 88 seconds of footage from the highly anticipated seventh installment in the sci-fi mega-franchise. On Monday morning, Abrams tweeted a picture of a handwritten note, complete with Star Wars doodle, wishing fans “a most excellent Thanksgiving” and teasing the trailer. “A tiny* peek at what we’re working on — this Friday in select theaters,” Abrams tweeted. “*88 seconds.” THANKSGIVING pic.twitter.com/46811BgWiF — Bad Robot (@bad_robot) November 24, 2014 “Select theaters” could include nine Regal Entertainment Group venues; the movie theater operator announced on its website that the trailer would screen before each film playing Friday […]
Nov. 21, 2014 | 10:48 a.m.

‘Strange Magic’ trailer offers singing elves, fairies and goblins

Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull) is crazy for love; her sister Marianne (Evan Rachel Wood) takes a decidedly different stance in "Strange Magic." (Lucasfilm)
Disney has released the first trailer for the upcoming Lucasfilm animated musical “Strange Magic,” offering a glimpse of the movie’s eccentric world of fairies and goblins. The film, inspired by William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” pits the magical folk (sparkly fairies and elves) against the Dark Forest’s mysterious creatures (goblins and other troll-like creatures) in a battle over a dangerous potion. Based on a story by “Star Wars” mastermind George Lucas, “Strange Magic” will feature modern-day pop songs from the last six decades. The trailer features covers of “Wild Thing,” “Say Hey (I Love You)” and a rather grating rendition of “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch.” (Check out the trailer below) Gary Rydstrom, a seven-time Academy Award-winner for sound and sound effects editing, is directing the film from a screenplay penned by David Berenbaum (“Elf”), Irene Mecchi (“Brave,” “The Lion […]
Nov. 19, 2014 | 11:11 a.m.

‘Cinderella’ trailer: Disney brings magic to live-action fairy tale

Lily James in "Cinderella." (Disney)
The first trailer for Disney’s live-action take on Cinderella is out, and from the looks of it, the film adheres closely to the animated classic, right down to the cartoon-y mice. “Cinderella,” directed by Kenneth Branagh from a screenplay penned by Aline Brosh McKenna and Chris Weitz, sees “Downton Abbey” actress Lily James wearing the Disney princess’ iconic glass slippers. “Game of Thrones” alumnus Richard Madden portrays her prince, Helena Bonham Carter plays her fairy godmother, and Cinderella’s trio of tormentors include Cate Blanchett as the stepmother and Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera as the wicked stepsisters. The trailer, released Wednesday, is narrated by Hayley Atwell (“Agent Carter”), who plays Cinderella’s mother — a character who does not appear in Disney’s animated rendition of the fairy tale. “I want to tell you a secret that will see you through all […]
Nov. 13, 2014 | 5:01 p.m.

Star Wars Celebration: Exclusive first look at poster for Anaheim show

"Star Wars Celebration" will be held in Anaheim from April 16-19, 2015. (Lucasfilm)
For many fans, J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” looms on the 2015 release date calendar like a most eagerly anticipated holiday gift that can’t be unwrapped quickly enough. Organizers of Star Wars Celebration, the traveling confab that celebrates all things connected to George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away, are hoping to capitalize on that enthusiasm, looking to build attendance for the 2015 gathering, which rolls into the Anaheim Convention Center April 16-19. (Hero Complex readers can get an exclusive first look at the poster for the 2015 event above.) “It’s going to be really interesting, because we are way ahead with ticket sales from where we usually are this far out,” said Mary Franklin, senior events and fan relations lead for Lucasfilm. “I feel safe saying this is going to be the biggest one yet.” The Celebrations date […]
Nov. 11, 2014 | 10:36 a.m.

‘Strange Magic': Lucasfilm musical based on ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Bog King (Alan Cumming), Griselda (Maya Rudolph) and Marianne (Evan Rachel Wood) are part of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps in "Strange Magic." (Lucasfilm)
“Strange Magic,” a musical animated feature film inspired by William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” is coming to theaters in January, Disney announced Tuesday. The news comes after much speculation that the film would be a sequel to Disney’s record-breaking blockbuster “Frozen.” The rumor mill appears to have gotten it wrong, with nary a snowman in sight. Instead, the project — from Lucasfilm and Touchstone Pictures — is inspired by Shakespeare’s magical comedy and based on a story by “Star Wars” mastermind George Lucas, and will feature modern-day pop songs (Electric Light Orchestra, anyone?). Here’s the official description from Disney: “Strange Magic” is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked […]
Oct. 25, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.

‘Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved’ plays with remix culture

Utilizing only touch controls, "Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved" allows participants to play with colorful environments. (Harmonix/Disney)
THE PLAYER Walt Disney’s 1940 film “Fantasia” opens with a series of bold, inventive proclamations. Audiences are welcomed to a “new form of entertainment,” one in which the animation isn’t afraid to veer toward the abstract and the music isn’t concerned with what’s on the charts. But as the British narrator early in the new “Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved” says, “Let’s see how you handle something a little more contemporary.” Words that sent a shiver down the spine of this stubborn “Fantasia” loyalist. Indeed, the first voice we hear in “Fantasia: Music Evolved,” a just-released interactive interpretation of the experimental but venerable brand, is that of Lady Gaga. This is dangerous territory. Beethoven is timeless, but “Applause” is already dated, its glittery melodic tendrils firmly gripping 2013. Of course, those who own the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One are […]
Oct. 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m.

San Fransokyo architects built a new world for Disney’s ‘Big Hero 6′

The San Fransokyo cityscape in "Big Hero 6" is an urban mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo. (Disney)
Before the directors of the new Walt Disney Animation movie “Big Hero 6″ settled on their story, they created the world in which it’s set: a jammed, vibrant place called San Fransokyo. A mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo set in the not-too-distant future, San Fransokyo is a dense, hilly city with cable cars and cherry blossoms, Victorian row houses and glittering neon billboards. The filmmakers’ idea — never stated in the film — is that in a parallel universe after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the city split off and an influx of Japanese immigrants helped rebuild it. San Fransokyo is a quintessential example of the craft of world building, the process of constructing a wholly imaginary universe for films, television, video games and other media, that involves creating the look of everything from buildings, vegetation and vehicles to […]
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