The premiere for the highly-anticipated follow-up to Disney’s 2015 “Descendants” brought an excited crowd to L.A.’s ArcLight Cinerama Dome on Tuesday, July 11. The music-fueled sequel adds a clever mix of fantasy and reality while shining a light on something that Disney has always done best – discovering new musical talent.
We first got a taste of the soundtrack when the song “Ways to Be Wicked” made its debut at this year’s Radio Disney Music Awards back in April. The instant smash has gone on to garner over 56 million views on YouTube so far, which is a trend that shows no sign of slowing.
Executive producer, director and choreographer Kenny Ortega (known for Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” and the “High School Musical” trilogy), has long-established a reputation for being a master at bringing together a talented team of creative artists who aren’t afraid to take risks and challenge the musical norm. “Descendants 2” stars Dove Cameron, Cameron Boyce, Sofia Carson, Booboo Stewart, Mitchell Hope, China Anne McClain, Dylan Playfair, Brenna D'Amico, Melanie Paxson, Dianne Doan, Jedidiah Goodacre, Keegan Connor Tracy and Dan Payne were all onsite with Ortega for the special occasion.
“This movie has so many great messages,” D'Amico told AXS at the premiere. “It’s about trying not to lose yourself while trying to please other people and about being confident. Plus, the music in it is so sick. ‘What’s My Name’ is my favorite. It’s amazing.”
The hip hop-inspired, pop-centric “What’s My Name,” performed by China Anne McClain, Thomas Doherty and Dylan Playfair, was the big winner of the night when it came to favorite musical numbers from the movie. “Whenever you hear it you just want to get up and dance,” said Ariana Greenblatt. The “Stuck in the Middle” star shared with AXS just how excited she was to not only hear the song, but to see it on the big screen.
Dan Payne, who plays “Beast,” described what it was like for him, jumping into such a musically talented cast not having been a dancer or singer. “It was daunting at first,” he said. “And then the response to the first movie was mind-blowing. I’m honored to be able to be a part of the dance numbers again. It’s a whole new and exciting experience. And the music – it’s just that good.”
As all the stars will attest, it really is that good. Mitchell Hope, who plays “King Ben" (son of Belle and Beast), listed his favorites which he noted are actually in his phone. They range from “What’s My Name” to “Chillin’ like a Villain” to the duet between Sofia and Dove. When looking at how a movie like “Descendants 2” sets trends in the music industry overall, the singer/actor pointed out, “I like to think that there are no trends set in music; that everything’s always changing and moving and we’re all constantly being creative.”
Dianne Doan, who stars as “Lonnie” (daughter of Mulan), further expressed how proud she was of the creativity behind the film. “I think musically, there’s so much variety in this one. There’s something for everyone. There are hip hop elements, there’s pop and there’s even some funk. It’s something that I don’t think people would expect. They really found a way to seamlessly blend the music with the storyline, where it’s just so natural, you almost don’t even realize the song is happening.”
“High School Musical” star Monique Coleman reflected on just what kind of an impact Disney’s films as a whole have on the music world. She would know, as Ortega’s previous film series produced a chart-topping phenomenon that shook up the whole industry. “I think that’s a testament to what people really love,” Monique explained to AXS. “And tonight, we’re looking at the next generation of beautiful, amazing, talented young artists. It is exactly like high school,” she laughed. “Even though we didn’t grow up together, it’s kind of like being the senior with a new class.”
The Disney Channel Original Movie "Descendants 2" makes its debut Friday, July 21, at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. The film will air in one extraordinary simultaneous premiere across six networks including ABC, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Freeform, Lifetime, Lifetime Movies and branded apps.
You can order the “Descendants 2” (Original TV Movie Soundtrack) here.