This weekend has been one wild ride for Disney at the D23 Expo. Probably the most ground-shaking news has come with the announcement that Tom Holland will no longer feature in the MCU as Spider-Man, leaving the entire MCU community dismayed. But there’s still hope knowing that Disney have announced a slate of new films in production to lighten our spirits.
One of the more unusual offerings during the expo was an offbeat animated film from Pixar, entitled Soul (a play on a soul and the musical genre). We’ve previously alluded to Soul’s similarities to Inside Out, and it was initially described as taking on the not-so-lighthearted topic of “life’s most important questions” on a journey that travels from New York City to the “cosmic realms.” We also had the impressively vague tagline “Ever wonder where your passion, your dreams and your interests come from? What is it that makes you … you?”
Descriptions have been sketchy at best, but in any case we now have a more concrete idea of what the project entails with plot and cast details via Disney’s Twitter. Just prepare yourself for some bizarre plot points.
Just Announced: @iamjamiefoxx and Tina Fey will lead the cast of #PixarSoul, coming to theaters June 19, 2020. Hereâ€™s a first look at their characters, Joe Gardner and 22, and a new piece of concept art. #D23Expo pic.twitter.com/Ls8JDvOsCe
— Walt Disney Studios (@DisneyStudios) August 24, 2019
The film tells the story of Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a middle school band teacher and jazz lover who gets a chance to play at a high-end club. But unfortunately, Joe apparently dies before he can get there (that’s right — dies) and finds himself newly arrived in the “You Seminar.” I’m not sure yet what the “You” seminar looks like — something like a Yes Man convention?
Moving on, the crux of the story is that Joe’s soul will get a chance to commune with a multitude of other souls that are awaiting a chance at consciousness. If this is all a little strange to you and a little too close to a seance for a Disney/Pixar movie, I can assure you that I agree with you. With a soul-in-training named 22, Joe needs to find a way to get back to Earth, thinking again about what it truly means to have soul. Perhaps it feels a bit consciously geared towards parents rather than children, dealing as it does with themes of finding one’s way in life again. But there’s little doubt it will make a dent at the box office with a summer release date.
The film is redeemed cast-wise, though. Pixar have got Jamie Foxx on board, voicing Joe Gardner, and Tina Fey playing 22. Co-starring are Ahmir Khalib Thompson (aka Questlove), Phylicia Rashad, and Daveed Diggs. Helmed by director Pete Docter (Up, Inside Out), the production team also includes co-director/writer Kemp Powers, writer Mike Jones, and producer Oscar-nominee Dana Murray.
Disney’s release of the first few images have been in my opinion quite standard fare, even a little lacklustre, looking similar to other Pixar productions. But if the formula works, why fix it? The thing I’m most looking forward to, though, is the score, composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Their collaborations on The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and others have refined their ability to produce a distinctly ghoulish sound, which I’m sure will lend itself well to the new project.
Soul is scheduled for wide release on June 19, 2020, and you can take a look at the concept art below.
Walt Disney Studios [via Twitter]