Disney kicked off CinemaCon earlier today with a mic-dropping presentation that left no doubt: right now, no force in Hollywood is as unstoppable as the Mouse House. In between the studio's Star Wars offerings, Pixar's animated features, Disney's live-action remakes and everything in between, The House That Walt Disney built is dominating the pop culture landscape. To see this year's offerings laid out end-to-end was impressive (and, if you're the type who fears monopolies of any kind, possibly kind of frightening).
After an opening sizzle reel that touched on both Tim Burton's Dumbo and December's Mary Poppins Returns, the presentation immediately launched into the goings-on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For starters, we were shown about 10 minutes' worth of Avengers: Infinity War, a scene wherein the Guardians encounter Thor floating in space and bring him aboard their ship. The footage was funny, dynamic and featured about half a dozen excellent exchanges between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Star Lord (Chris Pratt), the latter of whom seemed determined to establish himself as the Alpha (as you might expect, Star Lord only ends up making himself look more foolish in the process).
We were then shown the full trailer for Ant-Man And The Wasp, which looks like an absolute blast: the trailer opens with footage of Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) in Giant Man mode, riding a large truck through the streets of San Francisco like a Big Wheels cart. Characters from Ant-Man were all trotted out onscreen (including, crucially, Michael Peña's Luis), as were random shots from the film: a human-sized ant playing a drum set, a new villain who seemed capable of phasing through solid objects, Michael Douglas looking utterly baffled while sitting in an office with Luis. This sequel looks much bigger in scope than the original, and I was left with the impression that we have a very good time ahead of us with this one.
We were also shown a full trailer for Mary Poppins Returns. Intriguingly, the trailer's almost completely devoid of dialogue (until the very end, when a few lines get exchanged), but the trailer itself was filled with intriguing imagery (Poppins appears to be summoned through a thundercloud via....kite?), elaborate choreography, and even some hand-drawn animation. If we're being honest, I have long questioned the need for another Mary Poppins movie, but I'll admit to being very impressed by the footage on display here. I'm suddenly looking forward to a Mary Poppins sequel, which is not something I expected to be reporting to you today. And yet, here we are.
Elsewhere in the presentation, we were shown an absolutely hysterical clip from Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks The Internet (the scene, which is best not described in full to maintain the surprise, involved all of the Disney princesses and a whole lotta roasting), behind the scenes footage from Guy Ritchie's live-action Aladdin (which included our first look at Will Smith's Genie, who appeared to have ... well, let's call it "an unfortunate hairdo", though it was clear he'd be alternating looks throughout the film), and - last but not least- the first footage from Tim Burton's Dumbo.
What can I tell you about Dumbo? We were shown a photo of Dumbo himself, which looked about how you'd expect a live-action version of Dumbo to look, along with a sizzle reel/behind-the-scenes clip showcasing footage that was definitely not immediately recognizable as the work of Tim Burton. This appears to be Burton in Big Fish mode, reigned in and aiming for awards consideration. I got a The Greatest Showman vibe from some of what we saw, but that probably has a lot to do with the fact that a) much of the footage was circus-based and b) I'm still getting over the trauma of having seen The Greatest Showman.
Last but certainly not least, we were shown a work-in-progress scene from Jon Favreau's live-action/CGI remake of The Lion King. If you're guessing it was the "Circle of Life" scene, you're dead-on, and lemme tell ya: this footage was jaw-dropping. Though all the animals have clearly been brought to life via CGI, they seemed borderline photorealistic to my eyes, perhaps even moreso than the effects that brought Favreau's The Jungle Book to life. I looked at this footage and I thought to myself, "This movie is going to easily make one billion dollars", and I'm willing to stand by that bet.
That's all for now, but stay tuned for more on the happenings at CinemaCon 2018 all this week. Much, much more to come.