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D23: 'Maleficent' Star Angelina Jolie Thrills Arena, Johnny Depp Signs Up for New Musical

Once the sci-fi, superheroes and Muppets were done, Disney shifted its live-action presentation to its fairy tale-adaptation genre.

Here are the highlights from that portion of the presentation.

First up was Into the Woods, an adaptation of an award-winning musical. We already knew some of the talent who had signed on to the film, but a few of the actors were spotlighted. Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, Anna Kendrick and Emily Blunt will appear in the film. 

Into the Woods, which puts a new twist on popular children stories, is due in theaters Christmas Day 2014.

Next up was Cinderella. The live-action adaptation of the Disney classic is currently filming with Kenneth Branagh at the helm and Lily James (above) as the title character

- Castingwise, we were reminded of the other actors in this film playing various familiar characters. Richard Madden is portraying Prince Charming while Cate Blanchett is playing Cinderella's stepmother. The biggest applause came when Helena Bonham Carter was shown as portraying Cinderella's Fairy Godmother.

- Branagh couldn't be at the Expo given that he is currently filming the movie in London, but had a prerecorded message for the crowd. The message then segued into a behind-the-scenes featurette, which included a screen test for James, concept art and Branagh talking about how excited he was to bring the timeless classic to life.

- "We want to remain faithful to the original but also take you behind the story of Cinderella. We'll see her before the original film when she's just a teenager and we'll follow her to when she becomes a princess," Sean Bailey, president of Motion Picture Production said.

- Cinderella is slated to arrive in theaters March 13, 2015.

The next film up was Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie

- The film tells us the "untold story of Maleficent and takes us behind to the events that drove Maleficent to curse baby Aurora, as seen in the original feature film."

- The film will intersect at times with the animated classic, but will also tell its own story.

- In the beginning, we will see Maleficent as a teenage fairy. She'll encounter a ruthless king played by Sharlto Copley, who will cause Maleficent to commit a great betrayal.

- The first clip from the film that was shown looks fantastic. The scene features three pixies coming to meet baby Aurora and each one proclaiming their wish for the young child. As the second pixie is saying her wish, Maleficient appears and casts the spell we all know about Aurora pricking her finger on her 16th birthday and falling into a deep sleep only to be awaken by true love.

- The epic battle with the dragon from the end of the original film will still be in the film, though, "This time, we might be rooting for a different outcome," Bailey said.

- Angelina Jolie then surprised the crowd by appearing onstage. She received a standing ovation.

- Jolie talked about how much the character had always appealed to her. "There's something wonderfully, deliciously cruel about her."

- Jolie shared a story of how, while on set in full costume, she would approach children thinking she was a Disney character, but ultimately scaring the kids. "One boy even said, 'Mommy, tell that mean witch to leave me alone.'"

- If you're wondering what Maleficent sounds like, her speech is very deliberate and bent with a slight English accent.

With the fairy tale portion of the presentation complete, the attention then turned to Disney-centric films in Saving Mr. Banks and Tomorrowland.

 

More D23 Expo coverage:

Find out what Marvel, DisneyNature and Star Wars (?) have planned in the coming years.

Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson look like Oscar contenders in new Saving Mr. Banks clips.

Get caught up on Pixar's latest including new looks at upcoming films.

Loki Sings! Tom Hiddleston Sings a Jungle Book Song, Will Play Young Captain Hook in Upcoming Disneytoons Movie

Disney Animation Studios Reveals 2016 Movie, New Casting Details

 

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Next Article by Derrick Deane

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