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Disney Announces Its Coming Slate of Animated Films at D23 Expo - The New York Times

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Media|Disney Announces Its Coming Slate of Animated Films at D23 Expo
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Disney Announces Its Coming Slate of Animated Films at D23 Expo

By BROOKS BARNESAUG. 14, 2015

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Photo John Lasseter at the D23 Expo on Friday. He is directing “Toy Story 4,” which is scheduled for release in 2017. Credit Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

ANAHEIM, Calif. — John Lasseter, the Walt Disney Company’s top animation executive, jogged onto a stage at a sprawling Disney fan convention here on Friday and started throwing red meat to the masses.

Or at least Hawaiian shirts. Noting that he was wearing one exclusively designed for the biennial gathering, which is called D23 Expo, Mr. Lasseter — who has more than 500 different Hawaiian shirts at home — began firing free shirts into the 7,800-seat hall with a cannon. The crowd went berserk.

“We are all family here!” he shouted, a bit out of breath.

Fans flock to D23 Expo — more than 20,000 are expected over three days — to meet stars from Disney-owned television networks; see exclusive footage from coming Disney movies; attend concerts staged by Disney’s music label; watch musical numbers from Disney-produced Broadway shows; learn about coming attractions at Disney-owned theme parks; and buy Disney-themed merchandise.

But Mr. Lasseter, at least on Friday, was in many ways the top attraction. He exuberantly held court in the cavernous hall for more than three hours, acting as a type of cheerleader in chief for Disney’s coming animated movies.

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“We have the strongest slate in our history,” he roared about Pixar, getting a roar in response. (Mr. Lasseter was also an outsize presence on the exhibition hall floor, where Disney had mounted a museum-style display of 20 of his most prized Hawaiian shirts.)

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Disney’s animation studio will be making a musical version of “Jack and the Beanstalk” called “Gigantic,” Mr. Lasseter announced, with songs written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the team behind the Oscar-winning “Frozen” score. (They are also known for “The Book of Mormon” and “Avenue Q” on Broadway, among other shows.) “Gigantic,” scheduled for 2018, will pair the diminutive Jack with an 11-year-old girl giant.

“Moana,” a 2016 animated movie about a teenage Pacific Islander princess and her adventures with a tattooed demigod, will also be a musical, or at least a semi-musical, with songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, known for his work on Broadway, as well as Mark Mancina (“Tarzan”) and the Samoan musician Opetaia Foa’i. Dwayne Johnson, also known as the Rock, will give voice to the demigod.

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Mr. Lasseter also announced that a coming Pixar movie known as “Dia de los Muertos” will be titled “Coco” and will follow a 12-year-old boy named Miguel. Last but not least, “Toy Story 4,” which Mr. Lasseter is directing and is scheduled for release in 2017, will find Woody falling in love with Bo Peep — a storyline inspired, Mr. Lasseter said, by his own marriage. “Awww,” the crowd collectively cooed.

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