The global Disney conglomerate could use a boost right about now. Sure, Cars Land at Disney California Adventure and the movie prequel Monsters University are big hits. The company is reeling, however, from the box office failure of this summer’s The Lone Ranger (Disney execs are predicting a loss of nearly $200 million) as well as less-than-spectacular ratings for its various non-ESPN television shows.
Fortunately, the third bi-annual D23 Expo arrives in Anaheim this weekend to celebrate all things Disney and reassure fans that all will be well in the Magic Kingdom. Tickets are completely sold out for this Saturday’s Expo events, which will feature previews and panels in support of Disney’s animated holiday film Frozen as well as an all-star sneak peek at upcoming live action movies including the Angelina Jolie-headed Maleficent, Saving Mr. Banks (starring Tom Hanks as none other than Walt Disney himself), next year’s sequel Muppets Most Wanted and Brad Bird’s shrouded-in-secrecy Tomorrowland. The various Marvel superhero adventures in the works will also be spotlighted, and there could well be casting or other news announced in regard to the upcoming Star Wars VII-IX trilogy. For better or worse, Johnny Depp will not be making an appearance as Tonto.
LA fixture Charles Phoenix, a humorist who regularly provides retro explorations of kitschy pop culture icons lost to history, will make his D23 Expo debut on Saturday with a time-travel tour of Disneyland that is guaranteed to be hilarious. The traditional Disney Legends Awards Ceremony will be held Saturday afternoon and honors such big names as Billy Crystal and John Goodman in addition to the late Dick Clark, Steve Jobs and actor Ed Wynn, among others. Saturday’s noteworthy closing event is a rare concert performed by two generations of Oscar-winning Disney songwriters: Richard M. Sherman (Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Jungle Book, et al) and Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, etc.).
A full day of events is planned for both Friday and Sunday, and numerous Disney-related exhibitors will be displaying their wares and giving away goodies all weekend long. An advance screening of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, inspired by Marvel’s The Avengers and directed by the movies’ shepherd Joss Whedon, will also occur on Sunday. For the full D23 Expo schedule and to purchase tickets for Friday and/or Sunday, visit the D23 website.
Preview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.