With more Pirates, more Toy Story, more Tron and a host of new projects on the way, things have never looked more exciting at the house of mouse! There are roughly 300 films released in Ireland every year, some great, some not so great. It can be difficult for any movie to make it without a certain degree of hype, otherwise it will just get lost amongst the other 299 movies competing for attention. Walt Disney Studios made a decision in 2006 to reduce the number of films they make every year, instead of releasing an average of 18 films they would make half that amount. This would allow more focus on their releases and a higher level of quality control. So has it paid off? Disney recently held a Hollywood showcase to announce their future slate and Movies.ie went along to check it out. Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook was host for the day, referencing the above he told us of a question he was asked recently at a party “Why doesn’t Hollywood make more hits?” It’s a fair question, so he called the studio’s head of production and told him to start making more hits. It’s easier said than done, but with the aid of some fancy graphics and equations Cook explained that Disney’s new strategy would be providing the best possible quality, which would in turn provide the best possible value for cinema goers. He promised that 2009 would offer “the most creative slate of films in Disney history.” However, as mentioned above, you could have the best movie in town but without hype, no one is going to see it so Disney provided plenty of hype. We witnessed a show that would put the Olympics opening ceremony to shame. They had a 40+ strong orchestra open the show, they closed with the entire USC Marching Band, they had dozens of toy soldiers swing from the ceiling to introduce Toy Story 3. If that wasn’t enough, every film was accompanied by a major actor, actress or director. Stars like Jim Carey, Robin Williams, Sandra Bullock, Johnny Depp, Nicholas Cage, John Travolta, Tim Allen, Dwayne Johnson, Zac Effron, Miley Cyrus and Martin Lawrence were in attendance. Were we excited? Hell yeah… We were even amused by a talking dog that they coaxed out onto the stage.. Here we take a look at some of the highlights coming to a cinema near you soon. BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUAThis was the first movie previewed by Disney, we had no idea what to expect, it doesn’t sound like the type of movie we’d normally enjoy, that was until Disney chairman Dick Cook brought a talking Chihuahua out on stage for an interview. The encounter was the most hilarious thing we seen that day and the proceeding footage had our audience in stitches. The film is currently number one at the American box office. It is of course extremely popular with families but word is that it has built up a cult following amongst college students who are organising late night viewings under the influence of something a lot stronger than popcorn. Beverly Hills Chihuahua opens in Ireland early in 2009 HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 & HANNAH MONTANA – THE MOVIE Dick Cook described the Disney channel as a creative fountainhead for feature films. It has of course spawned High School Musical, the third movie opening here in less than two weeks has already broken box-office records for advance bookings in cinemas across Ireland and the UK. Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus recently starred in a 3D concert film, she is now filming her own feature film. BEDTIME STORIES, WITCH MOUNTAIN & OLD DOGS Bedtime Stories is Disney’s Christmas movie this year, it’s Adam Sandler’s first turn for the studio and it looks like he’s toned things down a lot since Zohan. While the premise sounds a little confusing in summary it looks like it could play very well, if anything its special effects budget looks like it was very well spent. View the Bedtime Stories trailer herehttp://www.apple.com/trailers/disney/bedtimestories/trailer_large.html Race To Witch Mountain is an updating of the original Disney Classic opening in Ireland in March 09. View the Witch Mountain trailer here http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/racetowitchmountain/ Old Dogs was something of a surprise, a comedy with John Travolta and Robin Williams might not sound good on paper but the advance footage shown to us on the day was comedy gold. Both stars were on location for a brief chat. Williams couldn’t resist poking fun at the fact that he played father and husband to John Travolta’s real life family in the movie, much to our amusement. ANIMATED FEATURESJust some of the animations previewed include ‘The Princess and the Frog’ which marks the return of the classic Disney fairy tale and ‘Bolt’, which was shown to us in 3D, there are so many good things to say about Bolt. Its a wonderful premise that can only be described as a Truman show but with dogs. It is without doubt the finest 3D project We’ve seen on the big screen to date. Visit the Official Bolt site: http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/bolt/ John Lasseter was on hand to talk about Pixar, his excitement for Cars 2 was inspiring, you could tell his genuine passion for the project. He told us the movie is being made because of an amazing idea he had on where the characters could go next. The conversation then moved to next summers ‘Up’, we saw more footage of what is shaping up to be another Pixar classic. Disney Chairman Dick Cook tells us that Disney’s slate includes more 3d releases than any other studio. With that an army of plastic toy soldiers swing from the ceiling to introduce the re-release of the Toy Story movies in 3D. Which will lead to the release of Toy Story 3 in 2011. A CHRISTMAS CAROL Disney set up a special workshop for us to walk amongst the sets and see the motion capture process in place. Jim Carey and director Bob Zemeckis were on hand to talk about the project, when asked why they chose A Christmas Carol for their next film, they replied “Well, the writing is pretty good”. Carey will play seven different characters in the movie, including Scrooge and the ghosts. Carey asked the Disney execs if he was being paid seven salaries for his appearances in the movie, to much laughter. ALICE IN WONDERLANDWe’re huge Tim Burton fans here at Movies.ie, so we were very excited to see early concepts of all the characters appearing in this unique re-imagining of Lewis Carroll’s classic fairytale. It appears much more wacky and outlandish than previous Burton adventures. Cook took the opportunity to formally announce that Johnny Depp had been signed to play the Mad Hatter, stating “Any time this guy wears a funny hat, it’s good news for Disney”. Alice is scheduled for a March 2010 release. MIRAMAX AND DISNEY NATURETwo different arms of Disney showed us two different slates, Disney Nature revealed stunning images from their new movie ‘Earth’, a year in the life of three animal families, elephant, whale and polar bear. Read our recent article on Disney Nature http://www.movies.ie/html/article.aspx?articleid=2278 Miramax unveiled a host of exciting projects, the most interesting of which was Doubt, an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning play. Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman star in the film set in Catholic school in the 60s. Streep plays a nun who accuses Hoffman of abusing young students. Trailer for Doubt: http://www.apple.com/trailers/miramax/doubt/ JERRY BRUCKHEIMERProducer Jerry Bruckheimer is the million dollar man at Disney, he’s responsible for so many huge blockbusters, including the Pirates of The Caribbean franchise, National Treasure, Pearl Harbour and Armageddon to name but a few. When he arrived on stage, everyone sat up to take notice, his movies always bring box office glory. SOME OF HIS NEW DISNEY MOVIES INCLUDE… National Treasure 3G-Force The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Prince Of Persia andConfessions of a Shopaholic All of which look very exciting, especially the little bit we seen of Prince Of Persia, it looks like it’s staying very faithful to the original platform game. Jake Gyllenhall is playing one very flexible prince! TR2N (TRON 2) Scheduled for a 2011 release, Tron 2 will be presented entirely in 3D. The original 1982 movie was acclaimed for its cutting edge graphics, so this sequel will have a lot to live up to. We were treated to the same footage that leaked after being previewed earlier this year at Comic-Con. The leaked footage does not do it justice, the footage on screen is mesmerising and so atmospheric. Watching it, we could only imagine how great it would look in 3D, this is a movie that will push the concept of 3D into the mainstream. JOHNNY DEPPDick Cook wound up the day with two more Johnny Depp announcements. As we reported earlier Johnny Depp will play Tonto in the ‘Lone Ranger’ movie, this was announced by the arrival of a masked man on a horse and a 30 man strong marching band playing the Lone Ranger theme tune. Subsequent rumours suggest George clooney is interested in playing the Lone Ranger opposite Depp, but nothing was announced on the day. The final announcement of the day was more of a teaser than an a formal announcement. Johnny Depp straddled out on stage dressed as Captain Jack to say that negotiations were in place for another Pirates movie. Again, there are many rumours suggesting that this will be a new adventure, without Orlando Bloom or Keira Knightley by his side. While this is actually a welcome rumour, nothing has been confirmed, so we just have to watch this space. As you can see, it was a day of information overload. We can honestly say that every movie was presented in such a manner that everyone of them looks like a hit, in reality this can’t be the case and we won’t know what the films are like until we’re sitting in a cinema with a bucket of popcorn on our lap but at this early stage it looks like Disney has a cracking slate on their hands. Roll on 2009!