Walt Disney Studios used a portion of their live action panel during their fan expo, D23, to set the record straight on some recent rumors. “Some of which are true and some of which are not,” president Sean Bailey explained.


What’s not true? Rumors that the studio is having troubles casting the live-action Aladdin. Mena Massoud will play the titular prince of thieves, Naomi Scott (Power Rangers) is playing Jasmine and Will Smith indeed has been cast as the Genie. This new iteration will pull from the animated classic, as well as folk tales of The One Thousand and One Nights.


RELATED: Disney & Pixar Animation Reveal New Details on ‘Frozen 2,’ ‘The Incredibles 2,’ ‘Toy Story 4’ and More During D23!


Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures



Disney is also in pre-production on Mulan, while Dwayne Johnson will front a Jungle Cruise movie. Meanwhile, Tim Burton’s live-action Dumbo recently began production in London, with a cast including Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and Eva Green. Though Dumbo himself will ultimately be CG, Disney brought along the adorable elephant he will be modeled on, which is three and a half feet of adorableness, with sparkly blue eyes and giant, floppy ears.


Photo: Getty Images



Dumbo hits theaters on March 29, 2019. Here is the movie’s official synopsis:



“Dumbo” introduces Holt Farrier (Farrell), a former circus star who finds his life turned upside down when he returns from the war. Circus owner Max Medici (DeVito) enlists Holt to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when Holt’s children discover that Dumbo can fly, persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Keaton) and an aerial artist named Colette Marchant (Green) swoop in to make the peculiar pachyderm a star.


One final announcement previewed director Jon Favreau’s upcoming The Lion King. The opening scene showed baby Simba — who is so cute — being “painted” by Rafiki and presented on Pride Rock. The footage is STUNNING. That all came in addition to scoop on Walt Disney Studios’ other films…


Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures



A Wrinkle in Time


No one was happier to be at D23 than A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay, who took the stage alongside her cast: Storm Reid, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine and newly minted Disney legend, Oprah Winfrey. “I just gotta say, I’m so excited to be here,” DuVernay squealed. “I was walking the floor yesterday and I was like, ‘I found my tribe.'”


The movie is an “updated” and “inclusive” adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1963 novel, about a girl named Meg (Reid) whose scientist parents discover proof of the wrinkling of time and space. When her father (Pine) goes missing, she sets out on an adventure to find him and ends up encountering three “very unusual” women: Mrs. Whatsit (Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Kaling, who reveals her riddle-speaking character now quotes Jay-Z) and Mrs. Which (Winfrey).


As for what attracted Winfrey to the project, she said, “It is a character who is one of the wisest women in the universe and is an angelic celestial being who is going to get to wear amazing costumes…who wouldn’t say yes to that?”