At today’s animation panel at Disney’s D23 Expo, chief creative officer John Lasseter showed off a lot of the company’s upcoming slate.
We got our first look at Wreck-It Ralph 2, where the arcade gets a w-ifi connection and Ralph and Vanellope are sucked into the internet, an update on The Incredibles 2, which will return to Brad Bird’s original superhero universe, and an extended look at Coco, inspired by Día de los Muertos.
Due this fall, Coco is the most imminent of Pixar’s current films, but Lasseter also took time to reveal the opposite as well: a new, as yet untitled project in early development with an interesting hook.
The brainchild of Monsters University director Dan Scanlan, the film takes place in a world of “suburban fantasy.” A title card mock-up showed the skyline of a small town, complete with mundane streetlamps and a water-tower on the outskirts — and a dragon in flight above it, just to the side.
There are no humans in the world, he explained, instead it is populated by the peoples of fantasy stories: trolls, elves, sprites, centaurs and more. Unicorns are included, one image showed, but as annoying, trash-eating pests, like raccoons or possums. Another evocative piece of concept art depicted a living tree, complete with a huge face on its trunk — growing from a square island of earth in the middle of a small parking lot.
In this universe, people made machines that could do everything magic could do, but easier, and so these trolls and elves and centaurs have phones, cars, fast food chains and washing-machine salesmen. The feel was like The Flintstones, but fantasy instead of dinosaurs — or Zootopia, but fantasy creatures instead of anthropomorphic animals.
Plot-wise, the movie was inspired by Scanlan’s own childhood, in which he and his brother grew up never knowing their father, who died when Scanlan was only a year old. The director said that he’s always been captivated by the question of “Who my father was, and how I’m like him.” His film will follow two brothers who go on a quest to find a way to spend a day with their long-lost dead father.