Disney dominated headlines this week in the entertainment industry. After the company laid off over 30,000 employees, the studio has announced the billions of dollars invested in upcoming movies and Disney+ products. New projects from Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar have been announced.
Most exciting of all, Wonder Woman filmmaker Patty Jenkins is directing Star Wars: Rogue Squadron. Jenkins is the first woman to helm a Star Wars film in the history of the franchise. All Jenkins said of the film is it’s about fighter pilots. Rogue Squadron is the next Star Wars movie opening in theaters in December, 2023.
A Lando show is coming to Disney+, as well. It wasn’t announced whether Donald Glover (Atlanta) will return to the role after his performance in the financially and creatively underwhelming Han Solo movie. However, we do know Justin Simien is behind the series. Simien is the very creative creator of Dear White People and Bad Hair.
Ahsoka Tano is getting her very own series on Disney+. The fan favorite Jedi originally from the animated series was recently played by Rosario Dawson in The Mandalorian. Dawson will reprise the role in the series. Another series coming is Rangers of the New Republic, which Disney was hush-hush about but will presumably star Gina Carano.
In a very surprising announcement: Hayden Christensen, who played Annakin Skywalker, will star in the Obi-Wan Kenobi series. There are a total of ten new Star Wars shows and movies in-the-works now, including the Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) series.
Disney delayed Thor: Love and Thunder, but only by a few months. The studio did confirm Christian Bale is returning to the comic book world and playing the film’s villain. Also confirmed: Marvel will not recast Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. The actor tragically passed away this year. Marvel is still moving forward with a sequel.
The studio unveiled first looks at a few of Marvel’s Disney+ shows, including The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, the Ms. Marvel series, and Loki. As for She-Hulk, actor Mark Ruffalo will show up as Bruce Banner. In addition to Ruffalo, the great Tim Roth will be back as the Abomination, who was introduced in The Incredible Hulk 12 years ago but hasn’t been seen since. Unconfirmed but speculated: Samuel L. Jackson will star in a Nick Fury show.
Over the last few years, Sony and Marvel have been collaborating on Spider-Man. Both studios are linking up again for an unknown comic book property. For their next collaboration, Spider-Man 3, it was announced Tobey Maguire will be back. The actor’s return may tie into the next Doctor Strange film, bringing Spider-Man director Sam Raimi and Maguire back together again.
Marvel also announced Secret Invasion, Ironheart, Armor Wars (starring Don Cheadle as Rhodes), and I Am Groot television shows for Disney+. On top of those titles, Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn is working on a holiday special.
Other Disney News
The long-awaited and rumored Hocus Pocus 2 is officially happening. The original witches are returning for the Disney+ movie. In the next two years or so, we’ll see new Disney+ shows based on Moana and The Princess and the Frog. Both are delightful movies that could easily make for delightful shows.
Coming from Pixar is a Toy Story prequel. To be more exact, a Buzz Lightyear original story starring Chris Evans as the space adventurer, who hilariously discovered his inner voice in Toy Story 4. The animated film will come out on June 17th, 2022.
From the director of Bao, Domee Shi, Pixar is making Turning Red. The story is about a teenager who “when she gets too excited, she transforms into a giant red panda.” Turning Red opens in theaters on March 11th, 2022.
On the Walt Disney Animation front, the studio announced a new musical called Encanto. The story follows a family in Colombia. From the directors of the excellent Disney animated film, Zootopia, the story is about a family living in a magical home. The music is written by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame. Speaking of Zootopia, a show based on the movie is coming to Disney+, too.
The Disney news just keeps on coming. Even an Up spinoff is coming to Disney+. The series will follow Doug the dog, who was such a loveable presence in one of Pixar’s most heartfelt films. One of Pixar’s less beloved but still popular properties, Cars, is coming to Disney+ with an animated show. Last but not least, there’s Win or Lose. It’s an animated series about a middle school softball team and the big championship game.
And finally, the mouse studio announced the fate of several of their live-action remakes. Cruella, Peter Pan, and Pinocchio will all debut on Disney+. Once again, theater owners are probably fuming at the news, but Disney holds all the power.
New Release Dates
Hulu will start releasing Fox Studios and Fox Searchlight’s movies. Similar to the HBO Max decision, it’s disappointing. It means more adult-oriented films will go to Hulu instead of theaters. Disney didn’t specify which movies will go to the streaming service, but likely any movie without a cape or animated characters.
In the meantime, Disney has set new release dates for projects delayed by the coronavirus. The sequel to The Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, will now come out next September. As for the Ryan Reynolds-led Free Guy, it’ll come out next May.
What’s telling is, Antlers is the only Fox Studios film not to get a new release date. It’s an R-rated, Guillermo del Toro-produced horror movie that couldn’t be more off-brand for the studio. It wouldn’t be surprising if the mouse studio shipped the original movie to Hulu, which is a shame, given it’s one of their few adult movies in their upcoming library. Disney doesn’t make horror movies or, for the most part, movies aimed at adults.
However, Disney did announce one adult series coming to FX based on a famous Fox property. The Alien franchise may or may not live on in cinemas, but the story will continue thanks to Fargo creator, Noah Hawley. Ridley Scott may executive produce the series. The Alien series only visited Earth once, but the Alien series will follow characters on Earth in the future. Xenomorphs, the famous alien race, will return.
As we wait for all these mostly unoriginal properties to come to theaters and Disney+, the app remains the most popular app of the year. Disney+ reached over 86 million subscribers in the last year. And yet, Disney still couldn’t afford park employee’s minimum wage salaries. Starting next year, Disney+ will cost $1 more.