Jolie, Marvel superheroes bewitch Disney expo

Associated Press
FILE - This publicity photo released by Walt Disney Studios and Marvel shows Natalie Portman, left, as Jane Foster and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, in Marvel's "Thor: The Dark World." Disney is previewing several of the studio's upcoming live-action films for fans at the D23 Expo, Aug. 9-11, 2013, a three-day Disney extravaganza at the Anaheim Convention Center. "Thor: The Dark World," "Captain America: Winter Soldier," "Muppets Most Wanted," "Saving Mr. Banks" and "Tomorrowland" are just some of the movies that will be teased at a Saturday morning presentation. (AP Photo/Walt Disney Studios/Copyright Marvel, Jay Maidment, File)
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Angelina Jolie cast a spell on the crowd at the D23 Expo.

The star of the upcoming film "Maleficent" appeared on stage at the Disney extravaganza for a Saturday presentation promoting the company's upcoming assortment of live-action films.

"Since I was a little girl, Maleficent was always my favorite," Jolie told the crowd of 4,000 fans about her role as a real-life rendition of the "Sleeping Beauty" villainess. "I was terrified of her, but I was so drawn to her. I wanted to know more about her."

Jolie said her daughter, Vivienne, who turned 5 years old last month, was cast in the film as a young version of Princess Aurora, mostly because she was the only child who wasn't afraid of Jolie in her horned attire on the set.

"One little kid even said, 'Mommy, please tell the mean witch to stop talking to me,'" said Jolie.

Other stars that appeared at California's Anaheim Convention Center included a few allies of "Marvel's The Avengers."

Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins from "Thor: The Dark World" and Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie from "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" were on hand to tout their upcoming sequels.

Hiddleston apologized for not wearing his Loki costume, which he donned earlier this summer at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

"I'm not gonna get this crowd to kneel," he said. "We're at Disneyland."

Later, when the "Captain America" crew came on stage, Evans comically invited the audience to join him at the theme park across the street.

"Anyone wanna go?" the "Captain America" star joked. "Let's go!"

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige screened footage from both sequels, including two never-before-seen clips, and teasers for both "The Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Guardians of the Galaxy."

The clip for "The Dark World" showed Portman's human character Jane being examined on Thor's home realm of Asgard, while the rough "Winter Soldier" footage showcased a stealth assault on a naval ship by Cap with plenty of boomeranging shield action.

Other films previewed Saturday included the globe-trotting Muppets sequel "Muppets Most Wanted," fairytale musical "Into the Woods," live-action retelling of "Cinderella" and the mysterious "Tomorrowland," which stars George Clooney and is inspired by contents from a box found in the Disney archives.

"Tomorrowland" filmmakers Brad Bird and Damon Lindelof showed off some items from the box on stage.

"They want us to pull Clooney out of the box," said Lindelof. "It's not gonna happen, guys."

The items included a blueprint of the "It's a Small World" ride, a doctored photo of Walt Disney with Amelia Earhart and a large silver disc that the pair said contained the remnants of an animated film.

"In 20 short years, we will share this extraordinary place with the entire world, so would you like to see it?" a booming narrator said at the end of the clip, which began with an animation of cave paintings and ended with a futuristic cityscape.

Despite the plethora of stars and footage, the Force was notably absent from the D23 Expo, despite the Walt Disney Co. acquiring George Lucas' Lucasfilm empire last year. Disney didn't tease anything new about its plans for "Star Wars" films at D23. The studio previously said it plans to unleash a new "Star Wars" trilogy and two spin-off films beginning in 2015 with "Star Wars: Episode VII."

"I really wish I could tell you more, but there are dark forces and they are watching," said Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn.

Saturday's presentation concluded with several clips from "Saving Mr. Banks," which tells the story of Walt Disney's collaboration with "Mary Poppins" author P. L. Travers, and a performance of "Go Fly a Kite" from B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman, who portray "Mary Poppins" songwriters Richard and Robert Sherman in the film. The pair were joined on stage by the real-life Richard Sherman.

Patterned after San Diego's wildly popular Comic-Con, the biannual D23 Expo, which Disney launched in 2009, isn't just about movies. On the show floor this weekend, the 45,000 expected attendees are snapping up exclusive merchandise, trading collectible pins and meeting stars from Disney Channel shows.

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Online:

http://d23.com/d23-expo

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Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang

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