ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Although Disney did its best to let "Star Wars" fans know that it would not announce any news about 2015's "Episode VII" at its D23 Expo here this weekend, fans were nevertheless hoping that it was all just misdirection intended to set up a big surprise.
But Disney stuck to its guns and had nothing to say about the seventh "Star Wars" installment during its presentation Saturday of its upcoming live-action film slate.
All Walt Disney Pictures Chairman Alan Horn would say, in fact, was that Disney was excited about welcoming Lucasfilm to the family. And "Star Wars" fans were none too happy about it, jeering the executive when he demurred.
After that, Horn, Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige, and Walt Disney Pictures president of motion picture production Sean Bailey led the audience of thousands through a high-energy, star-studded clipfest touting the studio's live action pictures for 2014 and early 2015.
The film that may have gotten the most audience reaction during the presentation was "Muppets: Most Wanted," the sequel to 2011's "The Muppets." One of the film's stars, Ty Burrell, drove out onto the stage in this tiny electric car, which is featured in the movie. In the new production, Kermit the Frog and his pals are unwittingly wrapped up in a global crime caper.
Disney did not reveal any new information about the forthcoming "Star Wars" films. But studio chairman Alan Horn did welcome Lucasfilm to the family and tout the recent announcement that John Williams would compose the score for "Episode VII."
The star of "Maleficent," Angelina Jolie, came onstage to talk about the film, which tells the story of "Sleeping Beauty" from the perspective of the main antagonist in Disney's 1959 animated hit. Jolie explained how the film pays homage to "Sleeping Beauty," but is told fully through the eyes of her character.
One major section of the live-action slate presentation was devoted to films derived from Marvel's deep collection of titles and characters. Among the films coming out this year is "Thor: The Dark World," which stars Chris Hemsworth as Thor. The film, which opens November 8, 2013, also stars film giant Anthony Hopkins as Odin. Hopkins appeared on-stage to help tout the film, garnering a standing ovation.
Actor Tom Hiddleston received a huge ovation from many of the female members of the audience at Disney's D23 live-action slate presenation. Hiddleston, who also appears in the forthcoming "Muppets" movie, plays Loki in "Thor: The Dark World."
Producer Damon Lindelof and director Brad Bird speak on-stage about their forthcoming film, "Tomorrowland," which is based on the contents of a fictional box found in the basement archives of Walt Disney Imagineering. The box is said to contain a treasure trove of materials that would direct Disney to create a futuristic Tomorrowland.
Contained in the box is a doctored photograph of Walt Disney together with Amelia Earhart, supposedly taken in 1945, after her famous disappearance. The photo, the audience was told, was a composite of an early picture featuring Cary Grant with Earhart, with Disney's head superimposed over Grant's.
The box also is said to have included a system that Imagineers used to send coded messages to each other, as well as blueprints for Disneyland's Small World ride that revealed a secret building only when under black light.
Another Marvel film showcased during the live-action presentation was "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which opens in April 2014. The film stars Chris Evans as Captain America, who appeared on-stage alongside several of his co-stars to tout the film.