After a detour for a sequel this summer, 2014 will see Pixar go back to original movies — and way back in time.
At the Disney D23 expo for fans on Friday, the studio revealed the first footage of The Good Dinosaur, a film that imagines a world in which the dinosaurs did not go extinct. The movie will have a big-name voice cast. In the starring role of little apatosaurus Arlo is Raising Hope’s Lucas Neff. He’ll have a little buddy named Spot — the first known human! — with whom to go on adventures.
Arlo’s family plays a big part in the film too, and it’s filled with big names. John Lithgow and Frances McDormand play the parental dinosaurs, while Judy Greer, Neil Patrick Harris, and Bill Hader are his siblings. Hader, Greer, and Neff showed up to do a little song and dance about their relationship.
Hader is becoming an unofficial mascot for Pixar, as he not only appeared in this summer’s Monsters University, but will also voice a role in Pixar’s NEXT big original, Inside Out. That movie has a massive cast too: Hader (as Fear), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Amy Poehler (Joy), Lewis Black (Anger), and Phyllis Smith (Sadness).
Disneytoons is pushing forward with its Tinkerbell focus, including a spin-off of sorts, with a movie about a pirate fairy named Zarina. She will be voiced by Christina Hendricks; Tom Hiddleston will voice a cabin boy named James — who one day becomes Captain Hook. He sang “The Bear Necessities” from The Jungle Book for fans, which could destroy the internet if video gets out.
The first teaser for The Good Dinosaur showed the asteroid that wiped out the lizard monsters missing the earth, which led to an advanced civilization of dinosaur farmers. The various dinosaurs have jobs based on their physical attributes — apatosauruses can use their long necks to plow and pick branches, for example — and early footage was pretty gorgeous and serene. Filmmakers Pete Sohn and Denise Ream were more than enthusiastic, and for good reason.
A trippy journey into the mind of a young teenage girl, Inside Out — first revealed by director Pete Docter at the expo — works in multiple layers. The young girl, Riley, has her own world, and then the world inside her brain is a second setting. It has a control center — think of something like The Truman Show — and then massive areas throughout the brain, from imagination (it looks like a film studio) and abstract thought (it looks abstract!) and even memory, which looks like something out of Blade Runner’s setting. The various emotions all contribute to running the place, which is connected by the Train of Thought — literally, a train.
Pixar isn’t abandoning sequels, though; there is that Finding Nemo sequel, Finding Dory on the way, remember. Director Andrew Stanton revealed a few plot details: It takes place a year after the original, and they’re trying to find Dory’s family (hence the title).
Dory’s parents will be voiced by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy. Ty Burrell will voice a beluga whale named Bailey.
Hader is not in Dory, even if he did come out dressed like a sea cucumber. He wants to be Pixar’s lucky charm, he said, which brought out John Ratzenberger — the man who has been in all of the studio’s films.
Walt Disney Animation Studios screened a sizzle reel from its forthcoming Big Hero 6, a story adapted from a Marvel comic. The director, Don Hall (co-director of Disney’s 2011 film Winnie the Pooh), also presented concept art. The movie follows the adventures of a young robotics whiz and his friendly robot; it’s set to be released in November 2014. Byron Howard, who directed Tangled, discussed plans for a comedy about a fox framed for a crime he didn’t commit and the rabbit-law enforcement officer who becomes his unlikely ally (working title: Zootopia).