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SYFY WIRE Jungle Cruise

D23 previews Maleficent, Jungle Cruise, Mulan, and more from Disney Studios

By Don Kaye & Benjamin Bullard
Movie poster for Maleficent sequel from Disney

Disney rocked and rolled out a star-studded casting call for a trio of the hotly anticipated live-action movies it’s got in the works, enlisting big names like Angelina Jolie, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and more to hype the fans at the studio’s D23 expo on Saturday.

Johnson teased the upcoming Jungle Cruise with a new in-house trailer for fans in attendance to preview, while riffing on making a movie about “a heroic man kicking ass” — just as Emily Blunt rolled onstage in a car to straighten him out and show off a second trailer that highlighted her character, Lily Houghton.

"We both grew up obsessed with Indiana Jones and movies like that," confessed Blunt. "So to make a movie in that spirit makes our hearts race." Jungle Cruise is slated to release in July of 2020.

Jolie then joined the full cast for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, teasing the movie alongside stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Elle Fanning. "I missed her and loved playing her," said Jolie. "In this one, we return and Aurora is older and facing challenges of the world, and it's being emphasized to them how different they are. They're being encouraged to not be a family."

Pfeiffer (Queen Ingrith) added that there was a feeling of safety working alongside female co-stars like Jolie and Fanning and that she was a big fan of the first film.

Fans were treated to a clip in which Maleficent and Aurora go to dinner at the palace of Queen Ingrith and her husband the king. Their son wants to marry Aurora (played by Fanning), and a tense conversation unfolds about Maleficent's dark past. When Pfeiffer finally says she now considers Aurora her daughter, Maleficent goes off — with wings flapping and green energy blazing. 

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil arrives in theaters on Oct. 18.

Disney also gave fans a brief tease of how its live-action return to the world of 101 Dalmatians is shaping up, showing off Emma Stone as the original dog-nabbing baddie Cruella de Vil in the upcoming origin story Cruella. Disney is letting the film, which also stars Emma Thompson, Paul Walter Hauser, and Joel Fry, off the leash in theaters just in time for Memorial Day weekend starting May 28, 2021. 

Finally, the live-action remake of Mulan got a quick shoutout and a for-fans’-eyes-only trailer. The new clip dropped in on Mulan in the scene in which she breaks all the teacups at the tea ceremony, just as larger forces begin to rudely impose themselves on her life — and catching her up in a much bigger adventure than clattering dishes at tea time.

Mulan sweeps into theaters beginning March 27, 2020.