While Wall Street and Washington were working on trying to fix our economy, one of the strongest brands in Hollywood celebrated its upcoming lineup, perhaps remembering that movie going usually booms during a recession.
Walt Disney Studios previewed its upcoming movies at Hollywood's Kodak Theater, which hosts the Oscars, in a flashy, day-long show.
Digital 3-D played a big role in the event; Disneyreleasing five 3-D movies next year, more than any other studio. That includes a remake of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" starring Jim Carrey in his first Disney film. Carrey, who appeared at the event, is jumping right into this Disney relationship by playing seven characters in the movie. 3-D is ramping up this year -- Disney screened "Bolt" which opens November 21, in 3-D, though studio chief Dick Cook says the movie was only 80 percent finished.
With uncharacteristic "snark", Cook even made a dig at competitor DreamWorksAnimation's Jeffrey Katzenberg, who happens to be Disney studio's former chairman, and who has much-anticipated "Monsters vs. Aliens" in the works.
Franchises remain in the spotlight with the studio investing in sequels and remakes. Johnny Depp is returning to star in a fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean," Disney's cash cow franchise.
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Depp is becoming a Disney mainstay: he'll also play the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's remake of "Alice and Wonderland," called "Alice", as well as Tonto in a remake of "Lone Ranger." The studios is also making a sequel to 1982's "Tron", a sci-fi animated movie. Pixar Chief John Lasseter took the stage to talk about the sequel to "Cars," announcing its release date was pushed up a year tom 2011. And aiming to keep the "Cars" brand fresh Lasseter announced three "Cars" short films (Car Toons, get it?).
High-wattage names also played a leading role. Robin Williams and John Travolta are co-starring in "Old Dogs" coming out this Thanksgiving. "The Princess and the Frog," a hand-drawn (old fashioned) animated movie starring Disney's first African American princess will have a lead character voiced by Oprah Winfrey. Sandra Bullock, Tim Allen, and Zac Efron ("High School Musical") were also featured in the upcoming slate.
Disney is making fewer films than it used to, part of a strategy to focus on the "Disney Difference," and ideally have each film be more successful. The idea is to hone in on films that support the family-friendly brands, and that have potential to be expanded across Disney's other platforms.
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