Johnny Depp, Miley Cyrus, and other stars show for the unveiling of Disney's upcoming movie slate

Bolt_lDisney just can’t get enough of Johnny Depp. At yesterday’s Walt Disney Studios Showcase, an all-day extravaganza of film previews and casting announcements, Disney revealed not one, not two, but three new projects for Depp. Dick Cook, the studio’s chairman and the event’s emcee, labeled the roles the "Depp trifecta." Might as well call it the "Depp monopoly."

First up is Tim Burton’s live-action/CG adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, in which Depp has been tapped to play the part of the Mad Hatter. The movie is scheduled to be released in 2010.

Then, as the USC Trojans marching band played the finale of the William Tell Overture, Depp appeared on the Kodak Theatre stage dressed in his Jack Sparrow outfit and holding the Lone Ranger’s mask. With just a few words of explanation, Cook confirmed it: Depp will star in a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean installment, as well as a Lone Ranger movie in which the actor will play the title character’s sidekick, Tonto.

But the day wasn’t all about Depp. Also stopping by to support their upcoming projects were Jim Carrey, Nicolas Cage, Robin Williams, John Travolta, Sandra Bullock, Dwayne Johnson, Tim Allen, Miley Cyrus, and the cast of High School Musical 3. Plus, there was a major casting announcement involving Oprah Winfrey. All of the juicy details are after the jump.

Let’s split the Disney news into three categories: animated movies,live-action movies, and Jerry Bruckheimer movies (because, really,they’re their own genre anyway).

Animated Movies

  • Disney screened its November toon, Bolt,in its entirety. Although the film was only 80% complete and containedmany unfinished shots, the audience seemed to eat it up. Playingparticularly well were two supporting characters: Mittens, a snarkystreet cat, and Rhino, a hamster with uninhibited enthusiasm.
  • John Lasseter showed a teaser for the next Pixar production, Up.The film, which is scheduled for May 2009, follows 78-year-old Carl(voiced by Ed Asner) as he travels the world in his balloon-poweredflying house. The movie gives off a definite Hayao Miyazaki vibe, andit’s bound to be compared to Howl’s Moving Castle, which also featured an elderly protagonist and a transportable house. Up will be Pixar’s first 3-D feature.
  • Oprah Winfrey will voice Eudora, the mother of the main character in The Princess and the Frog(December 2009), which marks Disney’s return to hand-drawn animation.Set in New Orleans, the movie will feature six songs written by RandyNewman.
  • Director Robert Zemeckis and star Jim Carrey were on hand to vouch for A Christmas Carol (November2009), which is being filmed with Zemeckis’ favorite toy, performancecapture, thereby enabling Carrey to play Scrooge at five different agesand all three of the Ghosts of Christmas.
  • The release of Pixar’s Cars 2 has been moved up a year to Summer 2011.
  • And, yes, Toy Story 3 is coming. It’ll be in 3-D and will focus on how the toys adjust to life after their owner, Andy, leaves home for college.

Live-Action Movies

  • Director Kenny Ortega and the cast of High School Musical 3: Senior Year presentedsome razzle-dazzle footage from the October movie. Strangely, Ortegadid all the talking while his hot, young stars stood silently by hisside.
  • When presenting the Robin Williams and John Travolta buddy film, Old Dogs, Dick Cook swore the title didn’t refer to the ex-Miramax presidents Bob and Harvey Weinstein.
  • John Travolta (again), Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy talked about Wild Hogs 2: Bachelor Ride. Things got awkward when Travolta and Lawrence admitted they hadn’t read the film’s script yet.
  • Sandra Bullock plugged the romantic comedy The Proposal; Dwayne Johnson charmed his way through a presentation of the remake, Race to Witch Mountain; and George Lopez described Beverly Hills Chihuahua as the "Citizen Canine" of dog movies (get it?).
  • And Hannah Montana: The Movie isa reality. Miley Cyrus performed asong from the movie, and it’s going to take more than a tablespoon ofgingko biloba for me to remember anything else about the song.

Jerry Bruckheimer Movies

  • Bruckheimer and Nicolas Cage announced a trio of collaborations. First was (no surprise) National Treasure 3. Then out of left field came The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, a live-action adaptation of the famous Mickey Mouse segment in Fantasia. Cage will play a New York sorcerer who, you guessed it, has to find an apprentice. Finally, there’s G-Force,which is about a team of genetically enhanced guinea pigs that has tosave the world. When it came time to describe the movie, it waspainfully obvious that Bruckheimer was reading off a teleprompter.
  • We got an early look at Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,which featured a ripped Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead. It seems the moviewill stick fairly close to the plot of the video games, and time travelwill play a significant role.

Finally, we saw the Comic-Con footage of TRON 2, which is going by the impossible-to-pronounce TR2N.I didn’t know which category to place the movie because it looks almostentirely CG-animated, but a live-action Jeff Bridges shows up at theend. The scene contained a nifty update of the "chicken race" from theoriginal TRON, and it felt simultaneously futuristic and retro.

PopWatchers, which of these upcoming movies are you most looking forward to?

Comments (28 total) Add your comment
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  • Dennis N.

    Most looking forward to: Alice in Wonderland. As afraid I am that Depp will be as overexposed as Carrey (EIGHT characters in one movie? It sounds more like a sideshow than an actual film), the concept sounds great.
    Least looking forward to: Toy Story 3 (and that’s only because I had to pick only ONE). I thought Pixar learned their lesson with sequels. Don’t stoop down to Shrek 3 proportions!

  • Jackie

    I’m sorry, I’m sorry, a 4th Pirates is bad enough, but A LIVE ACTION MOVIE WITH FREAKING NIC CAGE BASED ON THE SORCERER’S APPREENTICE FROM FANTASTIA??? oh hell-to-the-NO-FREAKING-WAY! walt disney is turnin over in his freezer-coffin. what the eff? that’s like the ONE THING of disney that you should NEVER EVER EVER TOUCH. and with nic cage? that makes it 40,000,000,000 times worse. WHAT IS DISNEY THINKING???
    also – cars 2? cars was probably one of the weaker pixar links (also, a bug’s life, oy). why would they ever make a sequel?????????????

  • Dennis N.

    Aw, Bug’s Life was so misunderstood. No one will ever top Heimlich in my book. But yeah, Cars is definitely a mononarrative. Yup, totally made that word up.

  • Cricket

    I’m actually looking forward to Pirates 4, Prince of Persia, and especially Alice. I love Tim Burton and really appreciate how he can take a normal plain Jane story and twist it into the dark side. Taking an already whacked story is just asking him to let loose his imagination and I think that’s what is going to really make it shine. That, and he hasn’t failed me yet. I have loved every movie he’s done. He and Johnny Depp are a match made in heaven.

  • Tenna

    Alice In Wonderland is shaping up to be pretty awesome — but I’m also really looking forward to the The Princess and The Frog too. :D

  • Nix

    ANDY’s off to COLLEGE?!?
    Why, God? I thought we had a deal! Let the others grow old, not me…!
    Huh. Did not know that Depp had a bit of Cherokee in him. That explains it.

  • Melinda65

    I’m actually looking forward to all of the animated movies (why do people claim that Cars is a weak movie? I thought it was visually stunning, and the story was a great moral fable. The last time I visited my parents, four generations watched the movie again and picked up things we hadn’t noticed before.) A fourth Pirates movie? Oy. I haven’t even seen the third yet; I loved the first, but found the second disappointing. Out of all the movies listed, I’m probably least interested in Old Dogs and Wild Hogs.

  • Anonymous

    I love Cars, as do all boys between the ages of 1 and 7. I am excited about Alice in Wonderland. Kinda looking forward to seeing this Jim Carrey Christmas Carol. Sounds interesting, should be funny, and it’s about time the man found a good movie.

  • jcarla

    Wait, how can Bolt be 80% complete when it is coming out in two months? This the time for final tweaking and edits, not major work.

  • Cpt.Sparrow

    I have been waiting for valid confirmation of a fourth Pirates movie, since the ending of the third one!!! And I cannot wait to see Tim Burton’s vision of Alice and Wonderland!

  • Cleo

    Jack’s BACK! Sweet.

  • Karen

    YES!!!!!! I am so glad that Johnny is going to play Captain Jack again!!! I love every movie he is in!! Way to go Johnny!

  • darwin

    Pixar has “learned their lesson” with sequels?! Toy Story 2 was AMAZING! They don’t rush into sequels like Dreamworks does. It’s been like 10+ years since TS2 so clearly they waited until they had a great story to tell. It’s gonna rock!

  • ColonelChi

    “Chicken Race”? Don’t you mean “Lightcycles?
    Their animated line up seems strong, but other than that, looks like they’re just sticking with familiar waters to ensure box office profits.

  • Jamie

    The only reasons I’d watch a fourth PotC film would be if:
    1. Johnny doesn’t play Jack as though he’s doing an impersonation, like he did in the other two sequels.
    2. Jack gets the Pearl in the end, and leaves behind/re-kills Barbossa.
    3. Some sort of mention of Anamaria is made…or maybe it’s too late for that. I can’t believe she was not only not in the sequels, but that her character was completely forgotten.
    4. No love interests for Capt. Jack…
    5. …and no children either.
    6. A good villain, as opposed to emo Davy Jones.
    7. A script filled with the wit of the first, rather than the boring callbacks and jokes from the sequels.
    8. Display Jack’s intelligent, multi-faceted nature as we saw in the first, rather than the buffon they made him into in “Dead Man’s Chest.”
    9. Less surrealism, thanks. No multiple Jacks or anything of that sort.
    10. No more revealing about Jack’s past–let him remain as much of a mystery as possible.
    That’s all I’ve got.

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