Following their $71 billion merger this past spring, Disney and Fox made some major changes and additions to its theatrical release schedule Tuesday — not just for the current year but all the way through 2027. The moves include adding three untitled Star Wars movies to the slate, and shifting Fox’s four Avatar sequels to bow every other year beginning in 2021.
The lineup card is akin to the 1927 New York Yankees, and underscores the sheer theatrical strength of the newly combined studios which currently control more than 38% of the 2019 domestic box office with $1.4 billion through May 5, and more than $3 billion worldwide.
Note the combined quantity of titles isn’t so much the threat: Disney/Fox will count a total of 23 releases this year (15 of which are remaining) and 19 next year, totals under the 20-plus titles that Warner Bros, Universal and Sony each pumped out last year. However, it’s the IP power on the Disney-Fox schedule that is nuclear here. Two weekends ago, Disney opened Avengers: Endgame to an unprecedented record of $1.2 billion worldwide (current running grand total is $2.23B to date).
Of note, three new as-yet-untitled Star Wars films will release on the pre-Christmas weekend every other year beginning in 2022. Those dates are December 16, 2022; December 20, 2024; and December 18, 2026. Disney announced previously that two separate Star Wars series, outside of the Skywalker saga, were in development from Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
Also, the Avatar series, which counts four sequels, will launch later then expected. Originally, Avatar 2 was set to open on December 18, 2020, and it will now hit theaters on December 17, 2021. An Avatar pic will play the holiday period every other year thereafter all the way to December 17, 2027.
Moving in the holiday 2020 corridor is Fox/Amblin’s West Side Story adaptation, directed by Steven Spielberg, which will open on December 18, and Disney’s Cruella opening Wednesday, December 23, for the long holiday weekend.
Still not unveiled by Disney are next year’s Marvel movies on May 1 and November 6. Word is that it’s two of three titles: Black Widow, Shang Chi or The Eternals.
Diving into the details of the schedule, at the end of 2018 there were 11 untitled Marvel titles between Disney and Fox set to be released in the years followings Avengers: Endgame. Three of those belonged to Fox/Marvel release dates, and those untitled reserved slots have been removed from the schedule.
Also, Fox/Marvel’s New Mutants, which had been pushed several times on the release schedule after reshoots ahead the merger, moves again, jumping off August 2, 2020 and zipping to April 3, 2020. Coming away from Disney and Dolby’s CinemaCon presentations last month, it was clear New Mutants wasn’t headed to Hulu.
Fox 2000’s Kevin Costner-Amanda Seyfried movie The Art of Racing in the Rain moves up to August 9 this year, while Fox Searchlight’s horror-thriller Ready or Not will release August 23
Ad Astra, which was set to open over Memorial Day but is still in post, heads to September 20 as expected, while Disney’s Artemis Fowl based on the Eoin Colfer novel will no longer go August 9 this year but May 29 next year.
Fox awards-season blue chips will stay put on their release dates: The Woman in the Window on October 4 and Ford V. Ferrari on November 15. Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is still going in that third weekend of October slot made rich last year by Halloween: October 18. No changes for Disney Animation’s Frozen 2 on November 22, or Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on December 20. However, Fox/Blue Sky Studios’ Spies in Disguise, goes from September to Christmas.
Among early 2020 titles are Fox’s Underwater on January 10, a new Kingsman movie on February 14, and Call of the Wild now on February 21 instead of December 25. Pixar’s Onward will open on March 6 and Disney’s live-action take on Mulan on March 27, 2020 (no changes there).
“We’re excited to put in place a robust and diverse slate that lays the foundation of our long-term strategy, bringing together a breadth of films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox, Fox Searchlight and Blue Sky Studios to create an extraordinary collection of cinematic experiences for audiences around the world,” said Cathleen Taff, President, Theatrical Distribution, Franchise Management, and Business & Audience Insights, The Walt Disney Studios. “With a strong summer already in place, we are eager to carry that momentum forward over the coming years thanks to a creative wellspring of bold and imaginative stories coming from our world-class studios – including several new chapters of two revered franchises, Avatar and Star Wars.”
Below is Disney-Fox’s updated theatrical release slate (Fox releases in blue):
Tolkien (Fox Searchlight) – May 10
Aladdin (Dis) – May 24
Dark Phoenix (Fox) – June 7
Toy Story 4 (Dis)- June 21
Stuber (Fox) – July 12
The Lion King (Dis) – July 19
The Art of Racing in the Rain (Fox) – Aug 9
Ready or Not (Fox Searchlight) – Aug. 23
Ad Astra (Fox) – Sept. 20
The Woman in the Window (Fox) – Oct. 4
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Dis) – Oct. 18
Ford v. Ferrari (Fox) – Nov. 15
Frozen 2 (Dis) – Nov. 22
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Dec. 20
Spies in Disguise (Fox) – Dec. 25
Underwater (Fox) – Jan. 10
Untitled Kingsman Movie (Fox) – Feb. 14
Call of the Wild (Fox) – Feb. 21
Onward (Dis) – March 6
Mulan (Dis) – March 27
The New Mutants (Fox) – April 3
Untitled Marvel (Dis)- May 1
Artemis Fowl (Dis) – May 29
Untitled Pixar (Dis) – June 19
Free Guy (Fox) – July 3
Bob’s Burgers (Fox) – July 17
Jungle Cruise (Dis) – July 24
The One and Only Ivan (Dis) – Aug. 14
Death on the Nile (Fox) – Oct. 9
Untitled Marvel (Dis) – Nov. 6
Ron’s Gone Wrong (Dis) – Nov. 6
Untitled Disney Animation – Nov. 25
West Side Story (Fox/Amblin) – Dec. 18
Cruella (Dis) – Dec. 23
Untitled Disney Marvel – Feb. 12.
Nimona (Fox) – March 5
Untitled Disney Live Action -March 12
Untitled Disney Marvel – May 5
Untitled Disney Live Action – May 28
Untitled Pixar – June 18
Untitled Indiana Jones – July 9
Untitled Disney Live Action – July 30
Untitled Disney Live Action – Oct. 8
Untitled Disney Marvel – Nov. 5
Untitled Disney Animation – Nov. 24
Avatar 2 (Fox) – Dec. 17
Untitled Disney Marvel – Feb. 18
Untitled Pixar – March 18
Untitled Disney Marvel – May 6
Untitled Disney Live Action – May 27
Untitled Pixar – June 17
Untitled Disney Live Action – July 8
Untitled Disney Marvel – July 29
Untitled Disney Live Action – Oct. 7
Untitled Disney Live Action – Nov. 4
Untitled Disney Animation – Nov. 23
Untitled Star Wars (Dis) – Dec. 16.
Untitled Disney Live Action – Feb. 17
Avatar 3 (Fox) – Dec. 22
Untitled Star Wars (Dis)- Dec. 20
Avatar 4 (Fox) – Dec. 19
Untitled Star Wars (Dis)- Dec. 18
Avatar 5 (Fox) – Dec. 17