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CinemaCon 2023 is almost halfway done with jam-packed presentations from Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. already setting a high bar. Walt Disney Pictures is up next at CinemaCon 2023, and they’ve got a wide variety of new films to exhibit from Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, and more. The official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), CinemaCon has risen in great notoriety since it debuted in 2011. Every year studios, distributors, exhibitors, industry professionals, and more unite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to celebrate the communal moviegoing experience on the big screen and discuss the future.
This is where all the big names – Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Lionsgate also included – present their upcoming slate of theatrical releases to actual theater owners. CinemaCon is not open to the public but fear not because DiscussingFilm is on the ground this year reporting the biggest announcements and reveals. Walt Disney Pictures is the next studio to give its presentation at CinemaCon and fans can expect a lot of exciting updates as the House of Mouse has an exciting theatrical slate for the next year.
Additionally, Disney will be screening Searchlight Pictures’ The Boogeyman early for attendees following their presentation. The horror flick based on the short story by Stephen King doesn’t release until June 2, 2023, meaning that the studio must be really confident screening it this early at CinemaCon. News related to major upcoming Walt Disney Pictures releases like The Little Mermaid, Elemental, Haunted Mansion, The Marvels, and Wish is to be expected. Disney is looking to have enough representation for all of its subsidiaries, including Searchlight Pictures, 20th Century Studios, Pixar, Walt Disney Animation, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Studios at CinemaCon 2023. But which films will leave a stronger impression? It’s time to find out.
Exclusive footage and first-look reveals from CinemaCon are never released to the public, so that’s where we come in. Aside from listing huge updates, we’ll also be describing all exclusive footage shown to CinemaCon 2023 attendees. Stay tuned as we cover all the announcements and reveals from Walt Disney Pictures’ CinemaCon 2023 presentation and make sure to follow along as we report the upcoming presentations from Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures.
Disney Updates from CinemaCon 2023
The Little Mermaid
Director: Rob Marshall
Release Date: May 26, 2023
Exclusive Footage Description: CinemaCon attendees got a sneak peek at Melissa McCarthy’s rendition of the classic Disney musical number “Poor Unfortunate Souls” as the villainous Ursula. The staging of the scene isn’t that far off from the timeless animated film, with Ursala and her eels dramatically dancing around her lair. Ursla’s tentacles are quite long and expressive, forming all these shapes and gestures as she sings.
She offers Ariel the deal of going to the surface world via a spell in return for her voice if she can’t make it back. Ursala’s lair is quite dark but the colors of the eels, her potions, and her cauldron light the musical number and bring it to life. It’s quite visually vibrant and energetic, making for a worthy take on the iconic song. Melissa McCarthy’s singing voice is very much up to par and fans shouldn’t be disappointed by this rendition.
Director: Peter Sohn
Release Date: June 16, 2023
Exclusive Footage Description: Disney gave CinemaCon a real special treat by showing the first 20 minutes of Pixar’s Elemental. Without giving too much away for excited moviegoers, we’ll describe the gist of the film’s first act. We start with two Fire people’s journey to Element City. They’re immigrating on a boat in search of a better life for their upcoming child. After they enter customs and register themselves, we see a montage of them raising their daughter Ember Lumen, voiced by Leah Lewis, and starting their own business called “The Fire Place” where they sell fire-related products for fellow fire people. It’s kind of like a one-stop shop where the fire elements can get all they need. As she grows older, Ember pursues her dream of one day taking over the shop and making her family proud since they have sacrificed so much to get here.
As we explore more of Element City. the origins of the world are teased and there are often tense relations between the different elements. Not every part of the city is made to benefit each element, leading to conflicts which honestly seem to be the film giving commentary on social issues and race relations in a way. When Ember’s father finally gives her the chance to prove herself and take ownership of the shop, she makes a huge mistake on the first day. Letting her fiery temper get to her, which leads her to turn purple hot. She causes a water leak in the basement because of this, a water person appears and it’s Wade Ripple, voiced by Mamoudou Athie. He’s awkward and can’t stop crying because of his watery personality. To Ember’s shock, Wade is actually a city inspector who cites The Fire Stop for pipes that don’t work.
What ensues is a visually thrilling chase through Element City as Ember tries to stop Wade from getting to his job and turning in the citation. As Ember pursues Wade, we get to see how each of the elements expresses their powers and uses them to get around in creative ways. Ember greatly underestimates Wade for being made of water, as he gets away from her with ease. Elemental plays excellently in 3D, with all the film’s vibrant colors popping off naturally. From the flames of Ember’s raging hair to Wade’s water droplets, everything on screen translates smoothly in 3D and keeps you in awe through and through. The footage sold that the extra price of admission is well worth it for Pixar’s latest film.
Director: Justin Simien
Release Date: July 28, 2023
Exclusive Footage Description: CinemaCon attendees got an exclusive look at Haunted Mansion. The footage kicks off with a montage narrated by Danny DeVito’s character, showcasing all the different ghastly corners of the mansion and photographs of the possible doomed souls who reside within its wall. DeVito’s narration gives some origin to the mansion itself, which further gives this adaptation its own unique story.
After the main ensemble, featuring LaKeith Stanfield, Owen Wilson, and Rosario Dawson, discover a hidden seance room in the mansion, we get a montage that introduces each of them and their roles in the film. LaKeith Stanfield plays the hero type, Danny DeVito plays an academic professor who’s been trying to get into the mansion for decades, and Owen Wilson plays the priest in the group. As they explore more of the mansion, plenty of recognizable ghosts from the ride start to spook them. From the hitchhiking ghosts to the Hatbox Ghost to Madame Leota herself, every ghoul looks just like they do in the ride.
A special treat for Disney fans, Haunted Mansion even features iconic parts of the famous Disneyland ride itself, not just the ghosts. The most notable part of this from the footage was the famous ride entrance when the walls of a circular room and its old-time paintings grow taller and taller, creating a nauseating effect. Haunted Mansion looks like a treat for knowing fans while having enough of its own original ideas, mainly seen with its main cast, to attract new audiences. The footage ended with Danny DeVito and LaKeith Stanfield’s characters describing the Hatbox Ghost to a police cartoonist after they get attacked, which leads to the cartoonist drawing an accurate drawing of the ghost and thinking they’re insane.
Director: Gareth Edwards
Release Date: September 29, 2023
CinemaCon 2023 got the very first look at 20th Century Studios’ The Creator from director Gareth Edwards (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Godzilla). This is an original new sci-fi epic that tells a story of man’s relationship with artificial intelligence. That may not sound like a fresh idea at first, but The Creator easily looks like a new hit in the making.
Boasting the full grand scale that Gareth Edwards has become known for, The Creator follows a protagonist played by John David Washington who traverses a not so distant cyberpunk future where society has managed to create what seems to be the most advanced kind of A.I. – cyborg looking beings with human faces and circular holes that make up the back side of their heads. These A.I. people look to be oppressed or suffering, with Washington’s character taking care a small robot child in what appears to be a rising war where humans are painted as the villains.
The rest of the sizzle reel for The Creator displayed vast new landscapes and spaceships that feel in the same vein of Star Wars. Washington is seen protecting this robot child with some sort of rebellion alonside Ken Watanabe who also plays an A.I. robot. In terms of what the film can be visually compared to, think Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium mixed with Rogue One. Breath taking with its visuals and led by John David Washington in what looks to be a very visceral performance, The Creator feels made to be seen on the big screen no doubt.
Director: Fawn Veerasunthorn, Chris Buck
Release Date: November 22, 2023
Exclusive Footage Description: CinemaCon attendees were treated to a full musical number from Disney’s Wish. Main character Asha, voiced by Oscar-winner Ariana DeBose, runs distressed out of her home after what seems to be a tense confrontation with her mother. She breaks into song while walking around her town which sits by hills nearby the sea, accompanied by her little cute goat companion who wears yellow pajamas. She’s singing about wishing for a better future for herself and her entire community while looking up to the wishing star that shines over the land.
The animation seen in the footage s new for Walt Disney Animation, blending 2D and 3D animation together smoothly. The song is incredibly catchy and Ariana DeBose’s singing talents are on full display. Furthermore, it was confirmed that King Magnifico, who seems to be the leading male character, will be voiced by Chris Pine.