While most of the news out of this year’s Disney Investor Day was focused on what’s coming next to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars franchise, Disney and Pixar also announced a host of bold, new animated projects revolving around both characters we’ve met before and a variety of fresh faces.
Both Disney chief creative officer Jennifer Lee and Pixar chief creative officer Pete Docter emphasized in their respective presentations that, in the coming years, we can expect to see plenty more original content premiering on Disney+, though the studios still have big plans for future cinematic releases.
In 2023, Motunui’s newest chief and top Wayfinder Moana is coming to Disney+ in a new “longform musical series” presumably set after the events of the 2016 movie. When last we saw Moana, she’d just ushered in a new age of exploration for her people, which would work as the perfect jumping-off point for a new chapter of adventures in her life. Currently, there has been no announcement as to whether Moana’s original cast will reprise their roles in the new series.
In yet another long-form musical comedy series, newly crowned Princess Tiana of Maldonia is back and living life between her home in New Orleans and the fictional country where her husband Prince Naveen originally hails from. Tiana is also set to premiere in 2023, but no creative team or casting was announced.
The oddly-named Zootopia+ was one of the higher concept shows announced during Investor Day, as it explores the lives of various Zootopia characters through different in-universe television shows like So You Think You Can Prance? and The Real Mousewives of Little Rodentia. Zootopia+ premieres in the spring of 2022.
Big Hero Six director Don Hall made a brief appearance to announce Baymax!, a new series following the feature film that chronicles Baymax’s days in San Fransokyo as he travels around the city in search of people in need of different kinds of care that he can provide.
Hall also explained that the series will emphasize that Baymax is fulfilling his prime directive to act as a nurse and helper to others, and to assist in his goal, he’ll transform into a new mode that makes him more accessible to people. Baymax! comes to Disney+ in early 2022.
After a news piece about Tolu Olowofoyeku, Ziki Nelson, and Hamid Ibrahim’s Kugali anthology made its way onto Disney’s radar, the wheels were set in motion on Iwájú, a new animated story between Disney and Kugali Media set in a futuristic take on Lagos, Nigeria.
Though little was explained about Iwájú’s plot except that it would feature sci-fi themes, the concept art depicts two characters gazing at one another across a city divided a river, and connected by bridges. The story’s said to delve into ideas about class and power. Iwájú hits Disney+ in 2022.
In order to save the land of Kumandra from destruction, a warrior will team up with a gang of enemies in Raya and the Last Dragon. Lee presented a handful of new images of Raya, voiced by Kelly Marie Tran, as well as the dragon in question: Sisu, voiced by Awkwafina. Raya and the Last Dragon hits theaters and Disney+ on March 12.
Encanto, co-directed by Charise Castro Smith along with Zootopia’s Byron Howard and Jared Bush, tells the story of a magical family living in Colombia.
In addition to the promise of more music from Lin-Manuel Miranda, Disney also provided the tiniest tease of Encanto’s fantastical world ahead of the movie’s release in the fall of 2021.
On the Pixar side of things movie-wise, Academy Award winner Domee Shi is sitting in the feature director’s seat for the first time with Turning Red, a coming-of-age tale about an enthusiastic 13-year-sold girl who, for some reason, transforms into a massive red panda whenever she gets too excited. Turning Red will be the first Pixar feature solo-helmed by a woman, and the film is slated to premiere in the spring of 2022.
Forky Asks a Question’s Bob Peterson returns as Dug the “talking” dog in Dug Days, an Up spin-off about the suburban mischief Dug gets up to once he’s safely back home with Carl. Dug Days premieres in the fall of 2021.
Lightning McQueen and Mater are gearing up to go on a road trip across the country together in a new Cars Disney+ series debuting in 2021.
A little bit later down the line, Toy Story 4's Carrie Hobson and Michael Yates are bringing their own experiences in the workplace to Win or Lose, a new long-form animated series debuting in 2023. Docter explained that Win or Lose was born from Hobson and Yates taking away very different impressions from the same meetings, and realizing that there might be a story there. In the series, a co-ed softball team’s preparing for their championship game at the end of the week, and each episode follows the events of that week from the perspectives of a different character.
The biggest takeaway from all these announcements is that Disney’s quite serious about making Disney+ a success, which might explain why the service has suddenly gotten a little bit more expensive. Warner Bros.’ play for cinematic dominance in people’s minds might make HBO Max the name to beat in 2021, but Disney’s clearly got plans on playing the long game.
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