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D23 Expo 2017: Walt Disney Studios Live-Action Presentation

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Walt Disney Studios revealed its slate of live-action films through 2019 at the D23 Expo, so let’s break down everything from the first third of the panel, which covered everything from A Wrinkle in Time and Mary Poppins Returns to remakes of DumboMulanAladdin, and The Lion King!

A Wrinkle in Time

Things kicked off with the reveal of the first trailer for A Wrinkle in Time, the live-action film adaptation of the book by Madeleine L’Engle. The film, to be released on March 9, 2018, is directed by Ava Duvernay and stars Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Chris Pine.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Next up was The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, which was announced for release on November 2, 2018, the date that was previously reserved for the upcoming Mulan remake. The film is directed by Lasse Hallström and stars Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Ellie Bamber and Miranda Hart. Footage and concept art were shown exclusively to attendees, who have described it as highly stylized with shades of Alice in Wonderland and Beauty and the Beast.

Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns came next, which we know quite a bit about already even though it won’t be hitting theaters until December 25, 2018. It’s directed by Rob Marshall of Chicago and Into the Woods and stars Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, and even Dick Van Dyke. We learned that shooting wrapped a few weeks ago, and the film is now in post-production. Rob Marshall presented a teaser trailer and a series of images from the film accompanied by a full, live orchestra conducted by Marc Shaiman. Unfortunately, the trailer has not been released online, but we do have the motion movie poster below.

Mulan & Jungle Cruise

Mulan was name-dropped, as was Jungle Cruise starring Dwayne Johnson, but nothing was said about either film aside from the fact that they are both in development.


Surprisingly, the cast of the Aladdin remake was announced despite reports that Disney was struggling to find actors for the lead roles. Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott will play Aladdin and Jasmine, respectively, and Will Smith is confirmed to fill the shoes of Robin Williams in the role of the Genie. Massoud co-stars in Amazon’s Jack Ryan series, while Scott starred in the Power Rangers reboot that was released earlier this year.



Tim Burton’s been developing a live-action re-imagining of Dumbo for some time now, and it’s finally in production and set for release on March 29, 2019. Attendees were shown some brief footage and concept art from the film, which will star Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, and Eva Green.

Lion King

Jon Favreau’s Lion King remake capped off this portion of the panel. The film utilizes the same technology that earned Favreau’s Jungle Book remake an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and from what we’ve heard, will be every bit as impressive on a technical level.

A teaser trailer was shown, which attendees have described as being a nearly shot-for-shot remake of the opening scene from the animated film. Hugh Jackman was reported to have been cast as Scar, but there was no mention of his casting during the panel to my knowledge. Donald Glover, James Earl Jones, Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, and John Oliver star in the not-quite-live-action film, which is set for release on July 19, 2019.

What do you think of all the announcements made at the Walt Disney Studios live-action presentation? What are you most excited for?

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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