2019 D23 Expo announces animation programming: ‘Frozen 2,’ ‘Onward,’ ‘The Simpsons’ and more

June 25, 2019
D23 Expo

"The Simpsons" “The Simpsons” (Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox Television)

The following is a combination of press releases from  D23:

Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) are gearing up for an exciting weekend of announcements and presentations—sharing never-before-seen footage—plus interactive displays, artist autograph signings, sharable photo opportunities, and giveaways for 2019’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, California.

This year, Pixar and WDAS will join forces with Disney’s live-action team, creating a thrilling Walt Disney Studios slate presentation that promises to wow Disney fans in Hall D23 with new announcements, surprise talent appearances, and sneak peeks of select scenes from the films.

GO BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Saturday, August 24, 10 a.m., Hall D23

As a part of The Walt Disney Studios presentation, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee and Pixar Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Pete Docter will present never-before-seen footage, surprise announcements, musical performances, and appearances by all-star voice talent from the studios’ upcoming slate of animated films. Fans will get new looks at WDAS’ highly anticipated follow-up to 2013’s Oscar®-winning feature film Frozen when directors Chris Buck, Lee, and producer Peter Del Vecho reveal new details about Frozen 2. Director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae will introduce fans to the characters in Pixar’s upcoming original feature film Onward, while Docter and producer Dana Murray share details about next summer’s original feature Soul. Cell phones, cameras, and all recording devices will be checked for this presentation.

SHOW FLOOR
August 23–25, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

On the show floor, the two studios will once again team up for an immersive animation experience at D23 Expo. The studios’ upcoming slate of films, which include WDAS’ much-anticipated Frozen 2 and Pixar’s brand-new original feature film Onward, will be highlighted, including opportunities to meet the teams behind the movies and autograph signings of exclusive art and promotional item giveaways.

Pixar Animation Studios will also introduce fans to a real-life version of Guinevere, the van from their upcoming film Onward. Decked out with crescent moon windows and a “Pegacorn” (part Pegasus, part unicorn) painted on her sides, Guinevere will offer guests a taste of the adventure that two teenage elf brothers will embark upon in the movie.

ANIMATION PANELS

Sunday, August 25, 10 a.m., D23 Expo Arena.
The Little Mermaid: The 30th Anniversary Celebration! – Presented by H2O+
Fans of the classic film are invited to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of The Little Mermaid, recognized around the world as one of the greatest animated films of all time. Hosted by the voice of Ariel herself, Jodi Benson, it will be an unforgettable “Under the Sea” celebration.

Sunday, August 25, 12 p.m., Walt Disney Archives Stage
Hidden Gems of the Walt Disney Animation Research Library: Preserving and Inspiring the Disney Legacy
Fans will discover what it’s like to hold Disney history in their hands in this informative panel. The talented team at Walt Disney Animation Research Library (ARL) preserves millions of pieces of original Disney Animation art from Steamboat Willie to the films of today. Attendees will learn how the ARL shares these hidden gems, inspiring artists and audiences alike.

Sunday, August 25, 4 p.m., Stage 28.
World Premiere: Walt Disney Animation Studios Presents Short Circuit
In this exciting panel, Walt Disney Animation Studios will debut Short Circuit, an experimental short film program that will debut in Spring 2020 on Disney+. Talented artists and filmmakers will share their films for the first time anywhere and give behind-the-scenes insights.

The longest-running primetime scripted show in television history, “The Simpsons,” makes its first appearance at D23 Expo. Get insight on the upcoming all-new season in a lively panel Saturday, August 24 at 10 a.m. in the D23 Expo Arena with Creator Matt Groening, Executive Producer Al Jean, Executive Producer Matt Selman, Supervising Director Mike B. Anderson, and stars Nancy Cartwright and Yeardley Smith. Expect lots of surprises, including an exclusive Simpsons collectible item for everyone in attendance.

“The Simpsons” exploded into a cultural phenomenon in 1990 and has remained one of the most groundbreaking and innovative entertainment franchises, recognizable throughout the world. Recently finishing its historic 30th season, “The Simpsons” has won 33 Emmy® Awards, 34 Annie Awards, 9 Environmental Media Awards, 7 People’s Choice Awards and 12 Writers Guild of America Awards including the 2019 Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program Award.   It was the first animated series to win a Peabody Award and was nominated for an Academy Award® in 2012 for the theatrical short “The Longest Daycare.” The Simpsons Movie was a hit feature film, the mega-attraction The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios has received historic expansion updates with the addition of “Springfield,” and the show was honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000. It has been named the “Best Show of the 20th Century” by Time magazine and called the “Best TV Show Ever” by Vulture in 2016.

During the D23 Expo, “The Simpsons” fans will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with Bart, Lisa, and the rest of The Simpsons family on the convention floor. A few lucky fans will even get a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet Matt Groening and the rest of the panelists during a one-hour autograph signing session of an exclusive “The Simpsons” mini-poster following the panel.

About “The Simpsons”

“The Simpsons” is a Gracie Films Production in association with 20th Century Fox Television. James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, and Al Jean are the executive producers. The Gracie Films Worldwide Brand Division develops and produces the licensed content for the series. Visit “The Simpsons” website at SimpsonsWorld.com. “Like” the series on Facebook at facebook.com/TheSimpsons, and follow Homer Simpson @HomerJSimpson and @TheSimpsons on Twitter. Join the conversation using #thesimpsons and follow The Simpsons on Instagram @TheSimpsons.

About Walt Disney Animation Studios

Combining masterful artistry and storytelling with groundbreaking technology, Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) is a filmmaker-driven animation studio responsible for creating some of the most beloved films ever made. Located in Burbank, WDAS continues to build on its rich legacy of innovation and creativity, from the first fully animated feature film, 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to 2013’s Academy Award®-winning Frozen, the biggest animated film of all time. Among the studio’s timeless creations are Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana, and the upcoming Frozen 2, which opens in U.S. theaters on November 22, 2019.

About Pixar Animation Studios

Pixar Animation Studios, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is an Academy Award®-winning film studio with world-renowned technical, creative, and production capabilities in the art of computer animation. The Northern California studio has created some of the most successful and beloved animated films of all time, including Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., Cars, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL•E, Up, Toy Story 3, Brave, Inside Out, Coco, Incredibles 2, and this summer’s must-see feature film Toy Story 4. Its movies have won 36 Academy Awards® and have grossed more than $14 billion at the worldwide box office to date. Onward, Pixar’s 22nd feature, will open in theaters on March 6, 2020.

About D23 Expo 2019

D23 Expo—The Ultimate Disney Fan Event—brings together all the worlds of Disney under one roof for three packed days of presentations, pavilions, experiences, concerts, sneak peeks, shopping, and more. The event provides fans with unprecedented access to Disney films, television, games, theme parks, and celebrities. For the latest D23 Expo 2019 news, visit D23expo.com. Presentations, talent, and schedule subject to change. To join the D23 Expo conversation, be sure to follow DisneyD23 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and use the hashtag #D23Expo.

About D23

The name “D23” pays homage to the exciting journey that began in 1923 when Walt Disney opened his first studio in Hollywood. D23 is the first official club for fans in Disney’s 90-plus-year history. It gives its members a greater connection to the entire world of Disney by placing them in the middle of the magic through its quarterly publication, Disney twenty-three; a rich website at D23.com with members-only content; member-exclusive discounts; and special events for D23 Members throughout the year.

Fans can join D23 at Gold Membership ($99.99), Gold Family Membership ($129.99), and General Membership (complimentary) levels at D23.com. To keep up with all the latest D23 news and events, follow DisneyD23 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

James Gunn scandal: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director fired over controversial tweets; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ stars react

July 23, 2018

by Colleen McGregor

James Gunn
James Gunn (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios)

James Gunn, the writer and director of the first two of Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, was abruptly fired by Marvel parent company Walt Disney Studios on July 20, 2018, after tweets that he made from 2008 to 2011 in which he made crude jokes about rape and pedophilia were brought to the public’s attention on social media. After he was fired, Gunn made a public apology, saying in part that “when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out.” Reactions from Hollywood celebrities have been mostly sympathetic to Gunn. Actor/comedian Bobcat Goldthwait and actress Selma Blair have publicly defended Gunn and demanded that Disney hire him back. Meanwhile, several “Guardians of the Galaxy” stars have publicly stated directly or indirectly that they support Gunn, with Dave Bautista being the most vocal by expressing his outrage over Gunn’s firing.

Bautista tweeted: “I will have more to say but for right now all I will say is this. @James Gunn is one of the most loving, caring, good natured people I have ever met. He’s gentle and kind and cares deeply for people and animals. He’s made mistakes. We all have. Im NOT ok with what’s happening to him.”

He later added, in reference to Gunn’s tweets being exposed by politically conservative pundits: “What happened here is so much bigger then G3 @JamesGunn, myself, @Disney etc. This was a #cybernazi attack that succeeded. Unless we start to unite together against this crap, whether people are offended are not! …it’s going to get much worse. And it can happen to anyone.”

Blair has advocated for people to sign a Change.org petition for Gunn to be re-hired by Disney. By July 23, the petition had nearly 170,000 signatures.

Goldthwait went as far as asking Disney to remove his voice from an upcoming Disney attraction. Goldthwait posted on Instagram on July 23: “I love James Gunn. He’s a loyal friend, super talented, passionate and kind. I wanted to say something, here it is: Dear Disney, I would hate for you to come off as hypocritical, so I’m suggesting that you remove my voice from an attraction that’s coming to your park. It’s called WORLD OF COLOR – VILLAINOUS, and I reprise the tole of Pain, a role I played in Hercules.”

Dave Bautista, Michael Rooker, Pom Klementieff, James Gunn,  Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Debicki, Kurt Russell and Karen Gillan from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” at Comic-Con International in San Diego on July 23, 2016. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

“Guardians of the Galaxy” stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff and Michael Rooker made comments on Twitter that did not ask Gunn to be rehired, but seemed to imply sympathy for him.

Pratt tweeted: “‘Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters. Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.’ JAMES 1:19.”

Saldana tweeted: “It’s been a challenging weekend I’m not gonna lie. I’m pausing myself to take everything in before I speak out of [turn]. I just want everyone to know I love ALL members of my GOTG family. Always will.”

Gillan tweeted: “Love to every single member of my GOTG family.”

Klementieff, who joined the “Guardians of the Galaxy” cast for the second film in the series, tweeted: “We are Groot. We are a family. We stand together.”

Rooker tweeted: “This account will be inactive after today. We’re very tired & upset over the ongoing BULLS–T… neither I nor my rep will use Twitter again. Twitter sucks and I want nothing to do with it.  Thank you to all who gave kind words & support. See you on Instagram.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy” co-stars Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel (who voice animated characters in the films) have not yet commented on the controversy. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has also made no comment yet about Gunn’s dismissal.

Most of Gunn’s controversial tweets talked about pedophilia, rape and other sexual abuse of children. Disney’s firing of Gunn wasn’t the first time he got in trouble over remarks he made on Twitter. In 2012, he issued a public apology for homophobic and sexist tweets he made in 2011, when he speculated on what it would be like to have sex with fictional superheroes.

Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn issued this statement on July 20, 2018: “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him.”

Gunn then made this statement: “In the past, I have apologized for humor of mine that hurt people. I truly felt sorry and meant every word of my apologies. For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it.

“Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today. Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond offering my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”

Gunn was a relatively unknown director of independent films such as 2006’s “Slither” and 2010’s “Super” before he was hired to write and direct “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The first “Guardians of the Galaxy” film, released in in 2014, made $775 million at the box office worldwide, according to Marvel. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” released in 2017, made $860 million at the box office worldwide.

Before he was fired, Gunn had been set to write and direct “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which is expected to be released sometime in 2020. Gunn’s replacement for that film has not yet been announced.

On July 20, Gunn had been scheduled to be on a Comic-Con International panel in San Diego to promote a still-untitled horror film starring Elizabeth Banks that he is producing for Sony Pictures. His Comic-Con appearance was canceled, and Sony has not commented on the controversy or if Gunn is still involved in the movie or not. David Yarovesky will direct the movie, which will be written by Brian Gunn (James Gunn’s brother) and Mark Gunn (James Gunn’s cousin). The H Collective will fully finance the movie and produce it with James Gunn’s company Troll Court Entertainment. During the Comic-Con panel, James Gunn was not mentioned at all.

In a lengthy post on Twitter and Instagram, James Gunn’s younger brother Sean Gunn ( a “Gilmore Girls” actor who had small roles in the first two “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies) commented that being part of the Disney/Marvel world had changed James Gunn: “I saw that he was more open-hearted than the guy who needed to get a rise out of people by making nasty or offensive jokes … So I guess my hope is that fans continue to watch and appreciate the Guardians movies, not despite the fact that the filmmaker used to be kind of a jackass, but because of it. They are, after all, movies about discovering your best self. Working on those movies made my brother a better person, and they made me one too. I’m proud of that. Peace.”

July 30, 2018 UPDATE: As of this writing, nearly 350,000 people have signed the Change.org petition for Disney/Marvel to re-hire James Gunn. “Guardians of the Galaxy” stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Michael Rooker and Sean Gunn have all signed a group statement that has been posted on social media accounts and various other Internet outlets. The statement has called for James Gunn to be re-instated as the writer/director of “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie franchise. Here is the complete statement:

“We fully support James Gunn. We were all shocked by his abrupt firing last week and have intentionally waited these ten days to respond in order to think, pray, listen, and discuss. In that time, we’ve been encouraged by the outpouring of support from fans and members of the media who wish to see James reinstated as director of Volume 3 as well as discouraged by those so easily duped into believing the many outlandish conspiracy theories surrounding him.

“Being in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies has been a great honor in each of our lives. We cannot let this moment pass without expressing our love, support, and gratitude for James. We are not here to defend his jokes of many years ago but rather to share our experience having spent many years together on set making Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2. The character he has shown in the wake of his firing is consistent with the man he was every day on set, and his apology, now and from years ago when first addressing these remarks, we believe is from the heart, a heart we all know, trust, and love. In casting each of us to help him tell the story of misfits who find redemption, he changed our lives forever. We believe the theme of redemption has never been more relevant than now.

“Each of us looks forward to working with our friend James again in the future. His story isn’t over — not by a long shot.

“There is little due process in the court of public opinion. James is likely not the last good person to be put on trial. Given the growing political divide in this country, it’s safe to say instances like this will continue, although we hope Americans from across the political spectrum can ease up on the character assassinations and stop weaponizing mob mentality.

“It is our hope that what has transpired can serve as an example for all of us to realize the enormous responsibility we have to ourselves and to each other regarding the use of our written words when we etch them in digital stone; that we as a society may learn from this experience and in the future will think twice before we decide what we want to express; and in so learning perhaps can harness this capability to help and heal instead of hurting each other. Thank you for taking the time to read our words.”