Sunday, April 19, 2009

Disney Screens 'Toy Story 3' Trailer at NAB

Showing off Disney's digital handiwork at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas today, Mark Zoradi, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group, gave a sneak peek of upcoming 3D releases including "Toy Story 3," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Tron 2." Security was extremely tight, so there are no photos or video clips to share, but here's a brief description of what what was shown and what you can expect from Disney in the coming months. There are some potential spoilers, so be warned:

Toy Story 3 Teaser Trailer

In a 3D trailer that will be released in theaters in about a month, Woody is organizing the gang to put together an elaborate "Toy Story 3" sign. We see the army men shimmying down a jump rope, on their way to assist. Cowgirl Jessie bounds around on a pogo stick. Mr. Potato Head throws out his back (literally) helping Mrs. Potato Head carry a blackboard. Rex the dinosaur is generally confused and almost mucks up the operation. Hamm the pig scoots across screen in a wagon, "supervising," he says. Woody (Tom Hanks), of course, is all positive energy and encouragement as the sign is finally assembled amid bouncing balls and tangled Christmas lights. Pan over to Buzz (Tim Allen), who has created nearby a more impressive, professional looking "TS3" sign by himself.

In introducing the trailer, Zoradi said the story will be about what happens to the toys when their owner Andy grows up and prepares to leave for college. "TS3" premieres on June 18, 2010. It will follow the re-release of "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" as a 3D double feature on October 2nd of this year.

Beauty and the Beast

Disney will bring "B&B" back to the big screen on February 12, 2010 in "Disney Digital 3D" because, well, they can. I'm not sure if this will really add to the film's legacy, but I will say the preview clip--the entire "Belle" opening musical sequence--looks fantastic. In the busy street scenes, particularly, there is incredible depth between the foreground and background animations, something I don't think Walt even envisioned when they first fired up the multiplane camera. Zoradi hinted that Disney will be doing more 3D enhancements of their 2D animation library. Gilding the lily, if you ask me, but stay tuned.

Tron 2 (or Tron 2.0 or Tr2n)

The original "Tron" is a movie that's often remembered for being better than it actually was. It's computer animated visuals were groundbreaking at the time, but they masked a film that was otherwise pretty stiff and bland. Still, fanboys are going ga-ga over the announced sequel and today's preview clip didn't disappoint. It's a test sequence showing (what else?) a light cycle race on an elaborate 3D game grid. Two cycles dodge each other (or not) on virtual chutes and straightaways and maneuver through a winding canyon. Cut to a grizzled Jeff Bridges appearing to observe the game from a real-world vantage point, only to reveal himself as one of the cyclists. And, hey, doesn't that cyclist look like him circa 1982? OK, you got my attention.

"Tron 2" is scheduled for a 2011 release and, according to Zoradi, started principle photography last week.

A Christmas Carol

Robert Zemeckis directs the latest version of the Dickens classic, using motion capture technology like he did with "The Polar Express." Jim Carrey will play Ebenezer Scrooge (great choice), and, like Tom Hanks did in "Express," will play multiple characters. The preview was a montage of enhanced production stills--Zemeckis is keeping a tight lid on the final product--but they looked quite lovely even as their style suggested a dark interpretation of Currier and Ives.

"A Christmas Carol" will be in theaters November 6th.

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