While journalists have been talking for years about the decline of San Diego Comic-Con as a source of industry news — even for the studios that produce nerd-friendly blockbuster sci-fi tentpoles — there’s a special reason why this year’s convention may be less exciting than previous shows.
The reason is D23 — or the D23 Expo, the Walt Disney Company’s own convention, which the corporation holds in Anaheim, California, every two years. (The D stands for Disney, and the 23 comes from 1923, the year Walt Disney founded the company.) In 2017, D23 runs from July 14-16, exactly one weekend before and just a hundred miles northwest of San Diego Comic-Con.
This means that Disney has every motivation to release its biggest and most exciting announcements, sneak peeks and trailers in an environment that it has created and completely controls — not San Diego Comic-Con.
This might make you shrug. After all, you’re not refreshing Twitter over and over for news on the latest animated kids musical, right?
But now we live in a world where the Walt Disney Company owns the two biggest franchises on the movie release calendar: the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars. We’re expecting big news from both at D23, including the announcement of Marvel’s post-Infinity War slate and updates on the still untitled Han Solo film.
And beyond those juggernauts, Pixar will be there with updates on its latest tearjerkers-in-the-making, and Disney is plowing ahead with live-action remakes of animated classics, which nobody asked for ... but everybody still goes to see. And Polygon’s entertainment team will be reporting right from the ground.
Here’s what to expect from D23 Expo
Disney proper will be bringing news of The Lion King, Mulan, Aladdin and maybe even Dumbo — at least, the live-action remakes of those animated classics. (Or as close as you can get to live-action, when the main cast consists of incredibly realistic CG animals.) We also might get a nice good look at Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, an adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless science fiction novel of the same name, starring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peña and Zach Galifianakis.
Pixar is expected to show off new footage and updates — if not full teasers or trailers — for Coco, its upcoming film inspired by Mexican folklore about a young boy’s adventures in the Land of the Dead, and The Incredibles 2, the long-awaited follow-up to Brad Bird’s original animated superhero film.
The house that George Lucas built is bringing all its news to D23 this year — Lucasfilm won’t be stepping inside the San Diego Convention Center at all next week. This is the last major press moment that the company has to update fans before Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters this December.
Still, don’t expect a new full trailer for Jedi just yet. It’s more likely that attendees may see a behind-the-scenes featurette, as we got for Rogue One and The Force Awakens in the lead-ups to their respective premieres. This would also be a prime opportunity for Lucasfilm to reassure a nervous public that despite a very last-minute directorial changeover, the Han Solo prequel film is on track and going well. Maybe we’ll even get an official title for it.
An even bigger maybe? The company’s third anthology film, the first to hit theaters after the conclusion of the modern Star Wars trilogy, is still without an official subject or name. For years, however, it has been heavily rumored to be a planned Boba Fett feature, and with its release only three years away, it may finally be time to tell the public what the heck it’s really about.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe
Unlike Lucasfilm, Marvel Entertainment will have a presence at San Diego Comic-Con — but it’s expected to drop all its major announcements and trailers at D23. And they’re likely to be very big announcements and trailers.
Avengers: Infinity War is solidly into filming and will be released next year, so seeing our first lengthy clip from it wouldn’t be surprising. With Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther getting record buzz online, it would behoove Marvel to fan those flames with teases and appearances.
At the same time, the end of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on July 5, 2019, is rocketing closer and closer — at least, it is at the speed of major blockbuster franchise development. Captain Marvel, Ant-Man and the Wasp and the as-yet untitled Avengers sequel to Infinity War are all due for updates.
But the biggest announcement that Marvel might bring to D23 would be the lineup of Phase 4, which, according to studio head Kevin Feige, will mark the beginning of a brand new arc of story for the franchise. Starting with the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming (another as-yet-unnamed installment), and including Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Phase 4 will also consist of ...
We don’t know. Doctor Strange 2? Other sequels? New franchise leads? The canvas is uncharacteristically blank for Marvel, but the company may very well fill it in this weekend.