Now armed with the upcoming releases of 20th Century Fox, the Walt Disney Co on Tuesday set forth a shock-and-awe release schedule spanning the next eight years, including the yet-again-postponed ‘Avatar’ sequels, a new batch of ‘Star Wars’ releases and Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ adaptation.
Since Disney’s $71.3 billion (Dh63.53 billion) acquisition of Fox was completed in March, the studio hadn’t budged on the listed release dates of a number of Fox releases, even as it was increasingly apparent to the industry that high-profile upcoming films were sure to be delayed under the Disney shake-up.
But the most notable delay announced Tuesday was a familiar one: The long wait for more ‘Avatar’ films will go on a little longer.
James Cameron’s long-delayed ‘Avatar 2’ will now open in theatres on December 17, 2021, instead of its most recent date of December 18, 2020 — which itself followed numerous already scrapped release dates. The subsequent ‘Avatar’ sequels have moved to 2023, 2025 and 2027, respectively.
Cameron’s original ‘Avatar’ came out in 2009. Disney’s ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is currently approaching the film’s $2.8 billion box office record with $2.2 billion in worldwide ticket sales after less than two weeks of release. Disney previously dated eight Marvel movies over the next three and a half years, though it’s yet to map out its post-’Endgame’ cinematic universe.
Disney also dated three untitled ‘Star Wars’ films to arrive in theatres in 2022, 2024 and 2026. The company hasn’t revealed details of those projects. ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ director Rian Johnson is developing a new trilogy for the space saga.
That means that Disney, which this December will release ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’, is set to rule the next nine Christmas box office seasons with either an ‘Avatar’ or a ‘Star Wars’ movie, except for one. For the lone exception, December 2020, the company has dated Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ (December 18) and ‘Cruella’ (December 23), a Cruella De Vil origin story starring Emma Stone.
As expected, a number of upcoming Fox films were delayed. James Grey’s science-fiction tale ‘Ad Astra’, with Brad Pitt, has been pushed from May 24 to September 20. ‘The New Mutants’, an ‘X-Men’ movie, was pushed from this summer to April next year. The ‘X-Men’ spin-off ‘Gambit’ has been removed entirely. The YA adaptation “Artemis Fowl” moved from this August to next May.
Disney is already poised for a summer string of blockbusters including ‘Aladdin’, ‘Toy Story 4’ and ‘The Lion King’.
“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,” Cathleen Taff, head of distribution for Disney, said in a statement.