Walt Disney Animation Studios has taken the wraps off its next project, unveiling at the D23 Expo on Saturday Raya and the Last Dragon, which will star Cassie Steele and Crazy Rich Asiansstandout Awkwafina. A November 25, 2020 release date has been set.
Awkwafina adds to her Disney credits that soon will include Shang-Chi and the live-action The Little Mermaid. Steele is best know for starring on Degrassi: The Next Generation and also voices Tammy on Rick & Morty.
Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins (Big Hero 6, Frozen) are directing with Moana‘s Osnat Shurer producing. Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians) penned the script. The plot: a lone warrior from the fantasy kingdom of Kumandra teams up with a crew of misfits in her quest to find the Last Dragon and bring light and unity back to their world.
Judging by the three-minute clip shown in the room, the epic fantasy is informed by the cultures of Southeast Asia, but the movie itself is set in mythical land. Raya is described as “a five-star bad-ass,” and a footage preview shows lush jungle glistening under sheets of rain and a clinging mist.
An evocative voiceover: “Our world was created by dragons, before they left they hid a gift for the people. A powerful but dangerous gift. One that could save an entire kingdom or bring it to an end. The question is what will we find? Hope of destruction?”
The crowd erupted when Steel and Awkwafina were introduced. Awkwafina said she likes the way she looks in her magical animated form as the dragon, named Sisu. “That’s me up there,” Awkwafina says while vamping. “I look good right? I like the hair. I look splendiferous.”
The news came during the studios’ presentation that also included new details on Frozen 2 like the voice roles being played by Sterling K. Brown (Lieutenant Destin Mattias) and Evan Rachel Wood (Anna and Elsa’s mom Queen Iduna).
Before Martin Gero created the popular NBC/Warner Bros. TV mystery series Blindspot and became one of WBTV’s most prolific developers, the Canadian writer-producer created and executive produced the soapy Canadian drama The L.A. Complex, which aired in the U.S. on the CW. Now the CW, Gero and WBTV have teamed to develop a reboot series. The new L.A. Complex will be written by Gero and his frequent collaborator Brendan Gall (Blindspot), whose first major TV job was as writer/co-executive producer on the original The L.A. Complex series. Based on the 2012 show, the sequel will revolve around a new crop of tenants who move into the Luxe hotel in the heart of Hollywood — a ragtag commune of twentysomethings all hustling to make it as actors, dancers, producers or comedians. Relationships rise and fall, beliefs and values are tested, as the drive to succeed pushes all characters to their breaking points.
Gero and Gall executive produce for Gero’s Quinn’s House in association with Warner Bros. TV.
The CW picked up The L.A. Complex as part of its strategy to offer original scripted programming in the summer; it was the network’s first major effort in that area. The L.A. Complex drew comparisons to the long-running Canadian teen soap Degrassi as well as the American Melrose Place. The series, which featured an international cast and ran for two seasons, was well received and developed a devoted following but could not attract a wide audience, possibly limited by its summer slot.
Gero spent five years working on several Stargate series: Stargate Atlantis — on which he rose to showrunner — Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Universe. He then worked on the HBO comedy Bored to Death before he created The L.A. Complex.
At the WBTV, in addition to creating, executive producing and showrunning Blindspot — heading into a fourth season on NBC — Gero also executive produced the ABC series Deception. Along with Blindspot co-exec producer Gall, Berlanti Prods. and WBTV, Gero recently sold a spy drama to CBS with a pilot production commitment. He is repped by WME.