It’s been three years since Disney, Star Wars, and Marvel fans flocked to the Anaheim Convention Center for the D23 Expo. For fans, it’s three days of nonstop panels, memorabilia, and the opportunity to be in the know about what’s coming up from Disney and its subsidiaries. For Disney itself, it’s a chance to lay out the next several years of their programming and reveal details of their upcoming work, including the likes of animation and superhero films. And with the Disney-Fox merger cemented, and no Expo last year, there’s added interest to see if Disney will be using Fox properties more extensively than they have been.
The only thing that can be expected from D23 is the unexpected, so we’re looking at six burning questions we hope the D23 Expo will answer for us. No doubt there will be something we didn’t even think to ask, but start prepping now before it all becomes (sing-song) “once upon a dream.”
How Does Disney Plan to Downplay Disney+ Ads and Keep Old Subscribers?
Despite adding 14.4 million streaming subscribers to Disney+ this third fiscal year, the streaming service is continuing to try out new ways to make money, including adding ads to the service. Set to launch on December 8, the ad-supported version of the service will cost $7.99, which is the price of what a monthly subscription costs now. If you want no adds you’ll have to pay $10.99. On top of that, Disney’s big three-year annual subscription deal attendees signed up for at the 2019 Expo is set to expire this November. If Disney+ wants to keep those subscribers might they offer some type of similar extended discount or some other incentive to get them to re-up for three more years? It’ll be interesting to see how, if at all, Disney CEO Bob Chapek and crew try to find a silver lining to ads, especially with so many specialized streaming services, including Netflix, devolving to them.
Will Pixar Get Some Respect?
The Pixar animation studio saved the Walt Disney Company through some tough times, but it certainly doesn’t feel like there’s a ton of love between the two companies these days. Despite its history of critical and commercial success Pixar’s last three of their four feature films premiered on Disney+, the exception being “Lightyear,” a story about the “real” Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans) that many assumed got a theatrical release because it was existing IP. With the only Pixar movie currently announced being Peter Sohn’s “Elemental,” set for release in June, it’s possible Disney will make a decision one way or another as to whether they see Pixar as a theatrical company or a streaming one. Might they definitively declare that this Pixar title will go to theaters? There are also release dates for two other unnamed Pixar movies, and it’s a possibility Disney will announce information on those. Either way, it’ll appease a lot of Pixar fans if the studio could show a little love for the company that helped save them at one time.
What About Those Fox Properties?
This was actually a question posited during the 2019 D23 Expo and it still stands now: What will Disney announce with regards to Fox? No doubt there will be updates on the long-gestating “Fantastic Four” movie, with many pundits predicting that Disney will use the Expo as an opportunity to reveal the director and cast. On top of that, it’s hoped that something will be announced regarding the “X-Men,” especially considering the appearance of Evan Peters’ Quicksilver character in “WandaVision.” This is a long shot, but it would be great to know what Disney’s plans are regarding Fox’s extensive classic film archive, much of which remains unavailable on streaming services, including Disney+. Could they announce that Fox’s classic 1940s musicals might make their way to Disney+ or Hulu? Regardless, with the merger finalized, this is Disney’s big opportunity to show how they plan to utilize (or not) the massive archive they’ve purchased.
Will ‘Avatar’ Have a Presence at D23?
The “Avatar” franchise has been largely dormant since the original film hit theaters in 2009, but with its long awaited sequel “Avatar: The Way of Water” coming out this December (and more sequels already in the can), the world of Pandora is about to return in a big way. While “Avatar” was once the highest grossing film of all time, it didn’t leave as much of a lasting cultural impact as similarly lucrative films, so Disney has to be thinking about ways to reintroduce moviegoers to the Na’vi before rolling out the sequel. A large “Avatar” presence at D23 would signal Disney’s commitment to building out the franchise for years to come, reminding audiences that this could be a series on par with its Marvel and “Star Wars” films. Considering that Disney built a “Pandora – The World of Avatar” attraction at Disney World years before acquiring the property through its merger with 20th Century Fox, the synergy is already there.
What’s on the Docket in a Galaxy Far, Far Away?
Disney came roaring out of the gate after purchasing Lucasfilm, releasing five new movies between 2015 and 2019. But their “Star Wars” films have been plagued by behind-the-scenes drama, with directors frequently being replaced and trilogies appearing to be changed on the fly. After the embarrassing debacle of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” in 2018, Lucasfilm largely paused its filmmaking operation and has focused on making television shows. The pivot was a wise one, as shows like “The Mandalorian” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi” have earned strong reviews and provided valuable content for Disney+. But at some point, we all know that “Star Wars” will return to theaters. Several film projects remain in development, including an original “Star Wars” film from Taika Waititi and a new trilogy from Rian Johnson. Unless Disney has some major new shows to announce, giving an update on the film slate would be an excellent way to satiate the “Star Wars” fans who made the trek to Anaheim.
What’s the Latest on ‘Indiana Jones 5’?
With the “Star Wars” franchise appearing to focus on television for the moment, Lucasfilm’s biggest upcoming film project is the currently-untitled “Indiana Jones 5,” which is slated to hit theaters next June. While much of the supporting cast has praised Harrison Ford’s performance, little else is known about the plot of the James Mangold film. With the release date inching closer and closer, this weekend would be a fantastic opportunity for Disney to reveal the title and trailer for the highly anticipated sequel. Given the massive slate of films announced at Comic-Con, it’s unlikely that there will be many new superhero films announced at D23, so “Indiana Jones 5” could have the spotlight to itself. And Harrison Ford showed up at Disney’s Star Wars Celebration earlier this year to give fans a first look at the film, so he’s certainly not opposed to using Disney fan conventions to promote the film.