D23 Expo Whets Appetites for Upcoming Toons

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Taking a marketing page from Comic-Con, Disney’s D23 Expo offered bits and pieces of news, highlights of upcoming animated fare and meet-and-greets with talent for die-hard fans this past weekend in Anaheim. Upcoming features such as Pixar’s Brave and Monsters University, Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, director Rich Moore’s Wreck-It Ralph and the studio’s live-action fare (The Muppets, John Carter of Mars, Oz: The Great and Powerful and The Avengers) were the focus of jam-packed panels during the three-day event. The studio’s John Lasseter, Rich Ross, Sean Bailey and Kevin Feige, directors Don Scanon, Billy Crystal, Bob Petersen, Peter Docter, Don Hahn, Jon Cryer, Jason Segal and Miss Piggy and Kermit were only some of the luminaries who showed up at the confab to introduce upcoming projects. Here are some of the news nuggets that were revealed during the event:

Monsters University

Monsters University

Frankenweenie

Frankenweenie

Pixar’s New Slate: Director Peter Doctor will follow up his Oscar-winning Up with a new feature set inside the human mind. The 2014 feature is just beginning its design stage and hasn’t been cast yet. The second movie is all about dinosaurs and will be directed by Up co-director Bob Peterson. It was inspired by the helmer’s visit to the 1964 and ponders the big question: “What if the massive asteroid never hit Earth and dinosaurs never became extinct?”

Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs

New Toy Story Short: Disney’s November release The Muppet Movie will be accompanied by Small Fry, a new Toy Story short, directed by Angus MacLane, the supervising animator on WALL.E. and the director of the short BURN.E

Planes Gets a Voice: Dusty, the small-town crop-duster from DisneyToon Studios’ upcoming direct to DVD/Blu-ray feature Planes will be voiced by Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men). Dusty is described as “the daring dreamer who takes on the most notoriously grueling air race in history, and in the process gives a spellbound world the inspiration to soar.” Directed by Klay Hall (Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, King of the Hill), the project will be released in the spring of 2013.

Planes

Planes

“We are incredibly excited to have Jon Cryer on board as the voice of Dusty,” said John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. “Jon brings so much comedy and believability to this character who dreams of soaring alongside his heroes in the ‘Wings Around the Globe’ Rally. Planes is a wonderful story that takes audiences on a great ride and Jon brings so much heart to the film.”

Here is a clip from the upcoming Cars spin-off:

More on Brave: Disney also revealed a more comprehensive description for Pixar’s Brave: “Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In “Brave,” a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts.

Pixar's Brave

Brave

Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.”