By Beth Deitchman
Ewan McGregor is returning to the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi… Hilary Duff is reprising the role she made famous, Lizzie McGuire… Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy are coming to a short-form series… and the slate of live-action series from Marvel Studios continues to grow! Believe it or not, these are just a few of the awe-inspiring announcements and memorable moments from today’s Disney+ presentation in Hall D23 at D23 Expo 2019.
Today marked Disney+’s first presentation at D23 Expo, and talk about a spectacular debut! The cast of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series got our hearts beating a little faster when, joined by a drum corps, they performed the HSM classic “We’re All in This Together” to start today’s presentation. Yvette Nicole Brown, one of the stars of the upcoming Disney+ original film Lady and the Tramp (and a lifelong Disney fan), was our host for the afternoon. “November 12 can’t get here soon enough for me,” Brown said, making it clear that she’s as excited about the launch of Disney+ as we are.
Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment, kicked off the festivities. “With less than three months until launch, Disney+ will soon entertain and inspire audiences of all ages for generations to come, and we’re excited to preview some of the amazing original content being created for the service exclusively from our world-class brands today at the D23 Expo,” said Mayer. “Storytelling is the cornerstone of The Walt Disney Company, and we’re thrilled to unveil a new slate of original shows from the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universes, along with popular television franchises set to return with all-new series streaming only on Disney+.”
Today stars, filmmakers, and creatives previewed some of the incredible content that will stream on Disney+ when it launches on November 12. Here’s a roundup of all of the magic from today’s presentation:
“Dave Filoni was nice enough to bring me over to Star Wars Celebration. I had never been there before, and now it’s my chance to bring him to his first D23,” said brand-new Disney Legend Jon Favreau, who was joined by fellow executive producer Filoni on the Hall D23 stage to introduce The Mandalorian. “Because here—we’ve got Star Wars fans, right? And we’ve also got Marvel fans, too. And most of all… we’ve got Disney fans!”
Favreau and Filoni also revealed how they came to work together on the first-ever Star Wars live-action series. Years ago, both were working at the Skywalker Ranch—Filoni on Clone Wars and Favreau on what Filoni jokingly referred to as “a tiny movie about an obscure comic book called Iron Man.” When Favreau requested a sneak peek at the then-top-secret Star Wars animated series, Filoni was happy to oblige… if he could also enjoy a first look at Iron Man. The rest, as they say, is about to become streaming history.
The producers were joined in Hall D23 by series stars Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, and Giancarlo Esposito—as well as Taika Waititi, who brings the droid IG-11 to life—to premiere the teaser trailer for the first-ever Star Wars live-action series. Earlier today, Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger also announced that new Disney Legend Ming-Na Wen will join the cast of the series. Set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order, The Mandalorian follows the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic. You can see the incredible trailer for yourself below, and binge the series on Disney+ beginning November 12.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
Disney Channel President and Chief Creative Officer Gary Marsh previewed some of the amazing new content coming to Disney+ from Disney Channel—including all 127 episodes of Phineas and Ferb, along with a new animated movie starring our two heroes and their sister, Candace. The 10-episode scripted series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, set at the real-life East High, where the original movie was filmed, follows a group of students as they count down to opening night of their school’s first-ever production of High School Musical. D23 Expo attendees were the first to see a brand-new trailer for the series, which stars Joshua Bassett, Oliva Rodrigo, Matt Cornett, Sofia Wylie, Julia Lester, Larry Saperstein, Dara Reneé, Frankie A. Rodriguez, Kate Reinders, and Mark St. Cyr. You can see the start of something new in the High School Musical franchise right now:
Lady and the Tramp
The canine stars of the film—Rose (“Lady”) and Monty (“Tramp”)—joined Yvette Nicole Brown for a pawsitively unforgettable moment from the presentation that included the premiere of the first trailer from the original film. In the timeless re-telling of the 1955 animated classic, a pampered house dog and a tough but lovable stray embark on an unexpected adventure and, despite their differences, grow closer and come to understand the value of home. Take a gander at the first trailer, below, and you’ll fall in love with the precious pups—as Yvette Nicole Brown did. Brown revealed that one of Rose’s doubles, Harley, found a fur-ever home with her.
The holidays kicked off early, as stars Anna Kendrick and Billy Eichner unveiled a trailer for the film that will premiere on Disney+ on November 12. Anna Kendrick told Disney fans, “I’ve always wanted to be in a Christmas movie. My family and I have movies that we watch every year. We watch The Muppet Christmas Carol—we know all the words—and the idea that I have the opportunity to be in a movie that could be something that families watch together this Christmas, and it becomes part of their tradition and they have favorite scenes and they can’t wait to put it on is just so amazing and I was so happy to have the opportunity.”
In the upcoming holiday comedy, Kris Kringle’s daughter is full of Christmas spirit and holiday fun, but wishes she could do something “important” like her beloved brother Nick, who will take over from their father this Christmas. When Nick is about to crumble like a gingerbread cookie from all the pressure, Noelle suggests he take a break and get away… but when he doesn’t return, Noelle must find her brother and bring him back in time to save Christmas.
The World According to Jeff Goldblum
The mind of actor Jeff Goldblum has to be a pretty fascinating place to visit—and we’ll get to do just that in this new series from National Geographic. Today Goldblum, the series’ star and host, previewed a first trailer for The World According to Jeff Goldblum… where nothing is ever as it seems.
Self-described “musical theater junkie” Kristen Bell debuted a trailer for Encore!, the series that brings together former castmates of high school musicals for the most entertaining high school reunion we can possibly imagine, as we watch them re-create their original performance years after they last performed it. “For me, musical theater in high school was the time that I discovered who I was. I wouldn’t be standing here today if it weren’t for my musical theater club,” Bell shared.
Encore! will celebrate real people. “Extraordinary talent is not the point. Professional talent is not the point,” said Bell. “We are taking former high school musical theater casts and reuniting them—anywhere from millennials to baby boomers—getting them back on stage for their encore performance.” Check out the trailer, below.
Forky Asks a Question
Tony Hale, who voiced craft project-turned-toy Forky in Toy Story 4, returns in this sporktacular new shorts series from Pixar Animation Studios. He debuted the first of 10 episodes coming to Disney+, “Money,” and we’re looking forward to discovering, alongside Forky, the answers to such complicated questions about how the world works, such as: What is love? What is time? And, most crucially, what is cheese?
Disney fans come to Hall D23 eager for surprises, and Disney+ most certainly delivered, revealing six new titles that we can’t wait to stream.
In a Force-filled moment that literally brought the fans in Hall D23 to their feet, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy welcomed Ewan McGregor to the stage to announce his return to the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in a new untitled series from Lucasfilm.
Marvel Studios President (and proud D23 Member!) Kevin Feige announced three new live-action series that originate from Marvel comics, which are currently in development for Disney+. “The opportunities that Disney+ is bringing to the MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe] to grow and to evolve and to expand are tremendous,” Feige said. Stay tuned for more details about Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk.
Hilary Duff made a surprise appearance to reveal that she is reprising her iconic role of Lizzie McGuire in an all-new series from Terri Minsky, who created the original show. “It is so great to be home,” Duff enthused, before revealing details about the upcoming series. “The good news is, just like me and everybody who loved Lizzie and grew up with her, Lizzie’s also grown up. She’s older, she’s wiser—and she has a much bigger shoe budget, which is super exciting. She has her dream job, she has kind of the perfect life right now. She’s working as an apprentice to a fancy New York City decorator. She has her dream guy who owns a cool SoHo restaurant. She has her dream apartment in Brooklyn, and she’s getting ready to celebrate her 30th birthday.” Her life sounds pretty ideal… but, Duff reassured fans, “She’s still dealing with that 13-year-old no-holds-barred animated Lizzie that’s constantly babbling in her adult Lizzie head.”
And in news that makes you say, “Hi-Ho,” the Muppets are coming to Disney+. Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and the gang will appear in their first-ever unscripted short-form series, MuppetsNow. In a special teaser, Kermit revealed that the show will be full of “unspecified fun things”—but that’s all that Joe from Legal would allow our favorite frog to say… at least for now.
Some of the incredible talent from other upcoming Disney+ titles shared new details about films and shows that will also launch on the service in the very near future.
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made
In a first look, fans met the quirky Timmy Failure, who operates his own detective agency in Portland—with the help of his 1,500-pound polar bear (not to mention a deadpan sense of humor). Launching in early 2020, Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is directed by award-winning filmmaker Tom McCarthy from a screenplay by McCarthy & Stephan Pastis, and based on the best-selling book series by Pastis.
Togo (Launching in early December)
The untold true story is an exhilarating and uplifting adventure set in the winter of 1925 across the treacherous terrain of the Alaskan tundra. Togo stars four-time Oscar® nominee Willem Dafoe, along with Julianne Nicholson, Christopher Heyerdahl, Richard Dormer, Michael Greyeyes, Michael McElhatton, and Michael Gaston. Ericson Core directs from a screenplay by Tom Flynn. Kim Zubick is the producer.
Diary of a Female President (Premiering in January)
Gina Rodriguez executive produces (and is a recurring guest star) on the half-hour single camera that follows a 12-year-old Cuban-American girl’s journey through the trials of middle school, which sets her on the path to ultimately become president of the United States. Tess Romero stars as Elena. Rodriguez told Expo guests, “I’m excited to bring hope, positivity, and joy and a family comedy to your houses, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it.”
Stargirl (Launching in early 2020)
Series stars Grace VanderWaal and Graham Verchere introduced the coming-of-age film based on the critically acclaimed New York Times best-selling young adult novel of the same name by Jerry Spinelli. Julia Hart directs from a screenplay by Kristin Hahn and Julia Hart & Jordan Horowitz; Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Lee Stollman, and Kristin Hahn are producers. Karan Brar, Maximiliano Hernandez, Darby Stanchfield, and Giancarlo Esposito also star.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (Launching in 2020)
Following the events of Marvel Studios’ Avenger: Endgame, Falcon and the Winter Soldier (played by Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan, respectively) team up. During today’s presentation, Kevin Feige revealed that Emily VanCamp will reprise her role as Sharon Carter, and introduced Wyatt Russell, who will portray John Walker—a Marvel Comics character—for the first time on screen. Kari Skogland directs and Malcom Spellman serves as head writer.
Monsters At Work
The new series from Disney Television Animation takes fans back to Monstropolis, where they’ll meet a new cast of monsters—including Tylor (played by Ben Feldman) and Millie (played by Aisha Tyler)—in the series inspired by Disney and Pixar’s Oscar®-winning feature film Monsters, Inc. Monsters at Work will feature special appearances from the film’s beloved buddies, Mike and Sulley, who will again be voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman. Today, Feldman and Tyler shared a special look at their characters with fans, and revealed that the series takes place immediately after Monstropolis makes the switch to laugh power, as Tylor—a Monsters U. alum who graduated “scarum cum laude”—has to find his way through this new world of laughter.
WandaVision (Premiering in 2021)
As Vision and Wanda Maximoff, Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen play two super-powered beings trying to live ideal suburban lives… until they begin to suspect that things are not as they seem in this series that Feige describes as “half classic sitcom and half epic MCU adventure.” Bettany and Olsen made a surprise appearance at D23 Expo 2019, joined by Kat Dennings and Randall Park, who will reprise their roles from Thor and Ant-Man and The Wasp. They’ll also be joined by Kathryn Hahn (who will play a new character in the series).
“As the scripts keep rolling in, it’s so funny and it just ends up being this huge epic… The writing is so extraordinary,” Bettany said. Matt Shakman serves as director, with Jac Schaeffer on board as head writer.
Loki (Debuting in 2021)
Tom Hiddleston returns to play the fan-favorite villain Loki in a series set after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Kate Herron directs this eagerly anticipated series centered on the god of mischief, with Michael Waldron as head writer. In a video greeting to D23 Expo guests, Hiddleston promised, “It’s your boundless enthusiasm and your support that mean that Loki still has more story left to tell, and it will never stop surprising and delighting me that you think he’s cool. This journey isn’t over yet—in fact, it’s only just begun.”
What If…? (Premiering in 2021)
Marvel Studios’ upcoming animated series spotlights different heroes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and imagines what happens if the events in the films had turned out differently—how a single choice can branch out into infinite realities. Haley Atwell, who will voice Peggy Carter in What If…?, joined director Bryan Andrews and head writer Ashley Bradley today in Hall D23. “It feels like the gift that keeps on giving,” said Atwell regarding the opportunity to give life to the character in this new way, and she credits the fans for their love for Peggy. “They brought her back,” she shared.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Premiering in February 2020)
The Emmy® Award-winning animated series will return with 12 all-new episodes and will mark the return of classic characters Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and fan-favorites Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex.
A Second Lucasfilm Live-Action Series
Diego Luna and Alan Tudyk will reprise their roles of Cassian Andor and K-2SO, respectively, from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in this, the second live-action series from Lucasfilm for Disney+. The series, currently in development, follows Andor’s adventures as a rebel spy during the formative years of the Rebellion, before the events of A New Hope. “We’re going to look younger,” laughed Luna, noting that the show is a prequel to Rogue One. “We’re going to look gorgeous,” Tudyk added good-naturedly.
Throughout D23 Expo 2019, guests have the opportunity to see Disney+ in action and experience the app, complete with features and functionality confirmed for the global launch dates in November. Disney+ is available for a monthly price of $6.99 USD or an annual rate of $69.99 USD. Visit DisneyPlus.com to learn more about the service, and stay tuned to D23.com for all the Disney+ news that’s still to come.