Over the past few years, I’ve had the good fortune to count The Walt Disney Studios among the best friends of myself and the site, a relationship that has thrown open the gates to the “Magical World of Disney” to a big kid from Illinois who grew up loving Mickey Mouse and friends. With each group of new films and projects from the Disney family (Studios/Animation/ABC/Disney Channel/etc), teams of 25 writers/bloggers are welcomed to Los Angeles to get an inside look – and sometimes take part in events that go above and beyond what I would’ve ever expected. I’m thrilled to officially announce that this week I’m returning to Los Angeles as a guest of Disney to attend the red carpet premiere of The BFG – the new film from Director Steven Spielberg! While there, I’ll have a chance to meet with much of the cast and crew, screen the film (twice – once before the premiere), and will be getting a look at the upcoming film QUEEN OF KATWE and Disney XD’s FUTURE WORM in what is one of the most tightly-packed three day itineraries that I’ve ever taken part in. As always, YOU can follow along and interact with our crew LIVE on social media, tweeting/facebooking questions and comments. Check out all the details on #TheBFGEvent below!
On Monday, June 20th, we’ll fly to Los Angeles, arriving in-time for a private screening of The BFG at one of my favorite places on the planet – The Walt Disney Studios lot.
On Tuesday, June 21, we’ll start the day off with short interviews with cast from The BFG including Ruby Barnhill (“Sophie”), Jemaine Clement (“Fleshlumpeater”), Penelope Wilton (“The Queen”), Rebecca Hall (“Mary”) and recent Academy Award winner Mark Rylance (“The BFG”). The best part for this CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND-watching, E.T.-loving, INDIANA JONES-admiring kid whose wife notes JAWS as her all-time favorite movie? Our first meeting of the day is with Director Steven Spielberg!
From there we’re off to lunch at ABC, followed by a screening of QUEEN OF KATWE, which is being released this September. Starring Academy Award-winner and recent Tony Award-nominee Lupita Nyong’o, who I’ve interviewed twice in just the past seven months – first for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (in which she plays Maz Kanata) and again for THE JUNGLE BOOK (in which she voiced Raksha) – is the colorful true story of a young girl selling corn on the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion. David Oyelowo (SELMA) and newcomer Madina Nalwanga also star.
That night comes the main event, where we’ll be walking the red carpet in front of the famed El Capitan Theatre for The BFG. Helmed by Spielberg from a screenplay by the late Melissa Mathison (who wrote E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial) based on the book by Roald Dahl, and featuring music by the legendary John Williams, The BFG tells the imaginative story of a young girl and the Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. The BFG (Mark Rylance), while a giant himself, is a Big Friendly Giant and nothing like the other inhabitants of Giant Country. Standing 24-feet tall with enormous ears and a keen sense of smell, he is endearingly dim-witted and keeps to himself for the most part. Giants like Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) on the other hand, are twice as big and at least twice as scary and have been known to eat humans, while the BFG prefers Snozzcumber and Frobscottle. Upon her arrival in Giant Country, Sophie, a precocious 10-year-old girl from London, is initially frightened of the mysterious giant who has brought her to his cave, but soon comes to realize that the BFG is actually quite gentle and charming, and, having never met a giant before, has many questions. The BFG brings Sophie to Dream Country where he collects dreams and sends them to children, teaching her all about the magic and mystery of dreams. Having both been on their own in the world up until now, their affection for one another quickly grows, but Sophie’s presence in Giant Country has attracted the unwanted attention of the other giants, who have become increasingly more bothersome. Sophie and the BFG soon depart for London to see the Queen (Penelope Wilton) and warn her of the precarious giant situation, but they must first convince the Queen and her maid, Mary (Rebecca Hall), that giants do indeed exist. Together, they come up with a plan to get rid of the giants once and for all.
On Wednesday, June 22, it’s over to Disney Animation’s temporary facility to screen FUTURE WORM!, an offbeat comedy adventure that follows Danny, an optimistic 12-year-old who creates a time machine lunch box and befriends Future Worm, a fearless worm from the future with titanium-enforced abs. We’ll have breakfast with creator/executive producer Ryan Quincy (SOUTH PARK). The series premieres this summer on Disney XD.
Finally, it’s back to The Walt Disney Studios for some top-secret Rock Father business, and then back to LAX to head home to Chicago!
Please follow the adventures of our group with hashtags #TheBFGEvent, #QueenOfKatwe and #FutureWormEvent on all of your favorite social networks. Have questions about these projects or for any of the folks involved? Let me know!