Choice List of Major Fox Film Premieres Now Under Disney Distribution for 2019

With the acquisition of 20th Century Fox, its affiliated studio labels, and various other media networks by Disney finally completed, the House of Mouse now has control over a significant number of movie releases before the year 2019 is out. This multi-studio blitz of numerous films has been described, both in awe and derision, as the “Disney Death Star” phenomenon.

While Disney may have shuttered the Fox 2000 label as part of its ongoing reorganization, and layoffs are expected as divisions considered “frivolous” to the post-merge are removed, it has now taken over distribution of a number of Fox film releases for this year under Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Here’s a selection of 2019 Fox movies now releasing under Disney. Compare with the release schedule for Disney’s own films, and you’ll see that the year’s practically covered by both:

  1. Breakthrough – April 7, a book adaptation based on a real-life story
  2. Ad Astra – May 24, sci-fi film starring Brad Pitt
  3. X-Men: Dark Phoenix – June 7, Marvel film featuring X-Men
  4. Stuber – July 12, action-comedy
  5. New Mutants – August 2, Marvel film featuring X-Men related characters
  6. Spies in Disguise – September 13, animated film starring Will Smith aka Genie for 2019’s “Aladdin”
  7. The Art of Racing in the Rain – September 27, comedy film adapted from novel
  8. The Woman in the Window – October 4, mystery thriller adapted from novel
  9. Call of the Wild – December 25, adaptation of classic book by Jack London

That would now cover the blank month of September where Disney’s existing studios don’t have a film premiering. That’s the Disney Death Star in action, and it’s only going to become very obvious in the years to come.

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Lists of Panels and Guests Confirmed for Star Wars Celebration 2019 in Chicago

This coming April will see the biggest gathering to celebrate one of the most iconic space opera franchises ever made, “Star Wars,” happening in Chicago. We already know this is the best place to reveal the subtitle and footage for “Episode IX.” Initial reveals for the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian” are also a good bet.

We can certainly expect lots of panels from the creative minds behind the franchise’s many different segments as well as guest stars who have been part of the cast for such a long-running storyline. Here’s a double list of panels and celebrities confirmed thus far for Star Wars Celebration:

Panels

  • Star Wars Episode IX – Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and film director J.J. Abrams
  • The Mandalorian on Disney+ – show-runner Jon Favreau
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 7 – Lucasfilm Animation
  • Star Wars Rebels look-back – same here
  • Star Wars Resistance – ditto
  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed area – Disney Parks and Attractions
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order videogame – EA Games
  • LEGO Star Wars animated series (Freemaker Adventures and All-Stars) – executive producers Bill Motz and Bob Roth

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Guests

  • Original Trilogy
  1. Billy Dee Williams – Lando Calrissian
  2. Peter Mayhew – Chewbacca
  3. Ian McDiarmid – Emperor Palpatine
  4. Julian Glover – General Veers (Empire Strikes Back)
  5. Michael Pennington – Moff Jerjerrod (Return of the Jedi)
  6. Micael Culver – Captain Needa (Empire Strikes Back)
  7. John Ratzenberger – Major Derlin (Empire Strikes Back)
  8. Warwick Davis – Wicket W. Warrick (Return of the Jedi), also SWC host
  • Prequel Trilogy
  1. Ahmed Best – Jar Jar Binks
  2. Hugh Quarshie – Captain Panaka (Phantom Menace)
  3. Ray Park – Darth Maul (Phantom Menace)
  4. Greg Proops – Fode (Phantom Menace)
  5. Daniel Logan – young Boba Fett (Attack of the Clones)
  6. Temuera Morrison – Jango Fett (Attack of the Clones)
  • Other Films
  1. Joonas Suotamo – Chewbacca (Solo)
  2. Hermione Corfield – Tallie (Force Awakens, Last Jedi)
  3. Greg Grunberg – Snap Wexley (Force Awakens)
  4. Alan Tudyk – K-2SO (Rogue One)
  5. Riz Ahmed – Bodhi Rook (Rogue One)
  6. Forest Whitaker – Saw Gerrera (Rogue One)
  7. Paul Bettany – Dryden Vos (Solo)
  8. Erin Kellyman – Enfys Nest (Solo)
  • Animated
  1. Ashley Eckstein – Ahsoka Tano
  2. Dee Bradley Baker – Clone Troopers
  3. Donald Faison – Hype Fazon (Resistance)
  4. Taylor Gray – Ezra Bridger (Rebels)
  5. Jason Isaacs – the Grand Inquisitor (Rebels)
  6. Matt Lanter – animated Anakin Skywalker
  7. Vanessa Marshall – Hera Syndulla
  8. Freddie Prinze Jr – Kanan Jarrus (Rebels)
  9. Katee Sackhoff – Bo Katan (Rebels)
  10. Tiya Sircar – Sabine Wren (Rebels)
  11. James Arnold Taylor – animated Obi-Wan Kenobi
  12. Sam Witwer – animated Darth Maul
  • Book Authors
  1. Claudia Gray
  2. Justina Ireland
  3. Timothy Zahn – “originator” of Expanded Universe/Legends continuity

Star Wars Celebration runs April 11 to 15.

List of Major Production Locations for Disney’s “Frozen” Musical

There’s no doubt that Disney hit a massive jackpot with their 2013 animated film “Frozen.” From its awesome casting, endearing characters and unforgettable (borderline annoying) soundtrack, this adaptation of the “Snow Queen” story just hit all the right notes. No wonder that Disney developed two animated shorts, included the leads in a “crossover” with another animated movie, and produced a sequel coming out this November.

And let’s not forget that “Frozen” got adapted into a musical as well. With the main creative minds of the film (Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, plus Jennifer Lee) working on music, lyrics and book, the theatrical version has begun crossing the US and started appearing in overseas productions as well.

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What we have here is a list of major productions that have either staged or will be staging the “Frozen” musical since its 2017 debut:

  1. Pre-Broadway (2017) – Buell Theatre in Denver, Colorado
  2. Broadway (2018) – St. James Theatre
  3. US National Tour: first stop (November 2019) – Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady, New York
  4. Australian Production (July 2020) – Capitol Theatre in Sydney, New South Wales
  5. UK West End Production (late 2020) – Theatre Royale, Drury Lane

“Toy Story 4” Trailer: Points to Discuss

When Disney and Pixar released “Toy Story 3” in 2010, critics and audiences felt it concluded an awesome animated trilogy. The departure of a key character after entrusting the rest of the cast to another seemed a definitive end to the story. Nobody expected a “Toy Story 4,” but here it is coming this year.

Any doubts regarding a fourth “Toy Story” disappeared November last year with the first teaser. A follow-up preview showcased two new toy characters. But it was a full trailer released this week that finally shed light to the cast and the plot. Here’s a quick rundown of what we learned:

  1. Woody (Tom Hanks) true to form has become a leadership figure among his friends and the toys of their new person, Bonnie. He specializes himself in helping toys be the best children’s companions they can be.
  2. Bonnie turns a spork into a doll she calls Forky (Tony Hale) for a class project. Bringing her home, she becomes her favorite toy. But the act of turning a non-toy into a toy is traumatizing for Forky, who doesn’t like his new “alive” state and wants nothing to do with being a toy despite Woody’s encouragement.
  3. In his obsession to escape his toy-hood, Forky escapes from the Anderson Family’s camper while Bonnie and her parents are on a road trip. Woody follows him without hesitation to bring him back.
  4. Forced to go on foot, Woody and Forky arrive at the town of Grand Basin, where in an antique shop they run afoul of an old talking doll named Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) and her army of non-talking “Benson” ventriloquist dummies.
  5. Woody and Forky are rescued by a figure from Woody’s past: Bo Peep (Annie Potts), former “toy” of Andy’s sister Molly that was sold in a yard sale before “Toy Story 3.” Having spent years passing hands without real owners has made her an independent spirit who thinks toys can exist outside of being children’s playthings, a notion that Woody is conflicted with.
  6. Bo tries to sway Woody from returning to Bonnie with Forky by showing him her current hangout: the Grand Basin fairgrounds. Woody seems affected, to Forky’s concern.
  7. With Jessie (Joan Cusack) and the rest of the toys wondering what to do about the missing Woody and Bonnie, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) decides to copy his old buddy and jump from the camper, finding his way to the fair (where he gets picked up as a stall prize)
  8. Bonnie wasn’t going to not notice her toys disappearing. Her emotional hurt is something everybody with a favored toy – past and present – feels.
  9. Bo Peep introduces Woody to the fairground toys (including a cameo from Pixar’s “Tin Toy” from 1988). She tries to argue that children frequently lose toys anyway, to further dissuade Woody from going back “home.”
  10. During his time as a carnival prize, Buzz antagonizes fellow prizes Ducky and Bunny (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele).
  11. On the road of life, there are old friends, new friends and stories that change you.”
  12. Woody starts feeling an existential crisis towards the end when he muses, amid memories of Andy and Bonnie, “I was made to help a child. I don’t remember it being this hard.”

Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” premieres on June 21.

It’s Done: Disney-Fox Asset Acquisition in Effect Today

As Tony Stark mentioned in the first teaser released for “Avengers: Endgame” next month, “Part of the journey is the end.” An epic journey began in December of 2017 when Disney announced its bid to buy the major media assets of 21st Century Fox. On Wednesday midnight, said journey ended.

Effective 12:02 AM (ET) of March 20, entities such as 20th Century Fox, Fox TV Group, National Geographic, Fox Networks, stakes in Endemol and Hulu and more, are now merged with the larger umbrella of Disney. That not bad for an acquisition value of $71.3 billion, even as the remnants of 21st Century Fox is now reorganizing into Fox Corp.

Analysts from Wall Street agree that the megadeal goes a long way in providing Disney with more media content, especially as it primes to launch its exclusive digital streaming platform Disney+. Marvel fans might be gladdened to know that the film rights for “X-Men” can potentially be transferred by Disney from Fox to Marvel Studios, reuniting the two major labels of the superhero publishing brand.

In a press release, Disney CEO Bob Iger named the newly-finalized Fox acquisition as an “extraordinary and historic” moment, adding, “Combining Disney’s and 21st Century Fox’s wealth of creative content and proven talent creates the preeminent global entertainment company, well positioned to lead in an incredibly dynamic and transformative era.”

And as seen above, the header image for the official Walt Disney Company website now includes Fox franchises in the image montage: “Simpsons,” James Cameron’s “Avatar” and “Deadpool” among others. Speaking of Deadpool, despite the R-rating of its Fox films starring Ryan Reynolds, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige is sure that the Merc with a Mouth still has a place for himself in the MCU.

While many are celebrating the conclusion of the asset merging, none perhaps can approach the hilarity level of actor Reynolds himself, posting his impression of how great it is to have his character under Disney.

The first few months following the megadeal going through will be spent integrating the new Disney subsidiaries in the greater organization, as well as addressing the inevitable layoffs that will take place in its wake.

Marvel Studios Head Gives Blanket Name to First 3 Phases of the MCU Franchise

It can’t be stressed enough how next month’s Marvel Cinematic Universe film “Avengers: Endgame” can be considered a storyline ending. It’ll wrap up most ongoing plot threads and myth arcs from this and the previous 21 films of the franchise. Ever since Thanos appeared in the last MCU Phase 1 installment, “Avengers,” this was expected.

In the latest issue of Empire Magazine devoted to “Endgame” and the conclusion of this initial MCU narrative, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige revealed he has an overarching name to give the 22 MCU films from 2008’s “Iron Man” to “Avengers: Endgame” this coming April.

He’s denoting MCU Phases 1 to 3 as the “Infinity Saga” of the franchise, which isn’t much of a surprise. While not all the films in the era involved the cosmic-bending Infinity Stones sought by Josh Brolin’s Thanos, they were the driving force in many of the previous movies’ plots (in different, alternate forms even).

Feige notes that calling the first 22 MCU films as the Infinity Saga collectively also helps in establishing finite durations for the franchise’s arcs. “Harry Potter had an ending because there were only so many books,” he explains. “Lord of the Rings, too. But we thought, 22 movies in, wouldn’t it be fun to bring some finality to the storyline?”

Real-life considerations might also factor into the saga branding. Many of the top stars for the Phase 1-3 MCU films will be bowing out after “Endgame,” necessitating perhaps new characters to become the faces of the franchise, like Brie Larson’s “Captain Marvel.” She could perhaps front the MCU following the departure of the likes of Robert “Tony Stark” Downey Jr. and Chris “Steve Rogers” Evans.

Whatever the case, “Avengers: Endgame” is premiering on April 16. Don’t miss it to catch one ending of the MCU’s Infinity Saga. Worry not, the franchise will continue with new adventures when Phase 4 begins.

MCU’s “Black Widow” Film Project to Potentially Cast Florence Hugh

Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is starting to take even more shape after July’s “Spider-Man: Far from Home.” Aside from recently announced films (and the return of a director), new casting additions have been made for long-discussed projects. In particular, a potential “Black Widow” solo movie may have just gotten an antagonist character.

Variety reports that Marvel Studios may have started discussion with actress Florence Pugh for a role in the “Black Widow” movie starring Scarlett Johansson. Her potential casting appears to have gone full circle, as she was among the first names to be dropped for the “second lead” role to Johansson, but was kept on the back burner while Marvel Studios considered other possible candidates, before ultimately setting back on her.

The decision to take on Pugh may have been due to positive reviews for her lead outing in “Fighting My Family” from MGM. She also has prior experience playing a spy of sorts in BBC and AMC’s “The Little Drummer Girl.” Scant notes about the probable plot of “Black Widow” would have Pugh’s role be that of a rival agent to Romanov, if the movie being a prequel rings true.

Jac Schaeffer has been tapped to write the story for MCU’s “Black Widow” delving into the origins of SHIELD operative Natasha Romanov, who in her original comic book source began as a Soviet KGB agent. Florence Pugh might portray Yelena Belova, a post-Soviet Russian spy that trained in the facility that produced Romanov and also used the Black Widow moniker.

Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland will direct the movie, which might be released as part of MCU Phase 4 but with no definitive premiere date yet.

Disney World to Create Commemorative Bricks for to-be-Dismantled “Walk Around the World” Attraction, for Original Sponsors and Collectors

Sometimes there are ways to gain from a loss. Walt Disney World seems to think so with their plans for the personalized hexagonal decorative bricks at the Disney’s “Walk Around the World” attraction in Magic Kingdom theme park. These bricks were sponsored by guests when they were installed years ago, and while they’e being removed those sponsors will be able to claim commemorative replicas.

Disney World is thus opening Commemorative Brick Kiosks at Magic Kingdom as well as Disney Springs, to both facilitate old sponsors in redeeming commemorative versions of the Walk Around the World bricks, as well as to print blank bricks with customizable text for interested buyers.

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Verified sponsors of Disney’s Walk Around the World bricks from years ago will be given a one-time-use voucher (or code if done online at shopDisney.com) with which to purchase a commemorative 6-inch hexagonal brick for $10 plus tax this spring.

Non-sponsors on the other hand can proceed to the Commemorative Brick Kiosks in Magic Kingdom’s Tommorowland Light & Power Co., or Disney Springs’ Marketplace Co-Op. There they’ll find a special digital printing service that’ll print blank commemorative bricks with their choice of logos, personalized names or special occasion and date.

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It should be noted that collectors will have limited customization options compared to the Walk Around the World sponsors. Non-sponsor commemorative bricks can range from 6 inches at $29.99, 8 inches at $49.99, and the coming-soon ornament ($24.99), all with tax to be added. This opportunity for keeping a remembrance of “Walk Around the World” lasts only until August 31.

Points for Discussion Regarding the Season 1 Finale of “Star Wars Resistance” on Disney Channel and XD

Last Sunday, the inaugural season of “Star Wars Resistance” had its finale on Disney Channel and Disney XD. It was certainly an action-packed temporary farewell to the Aces team of the Colossus Platform as they finally openly stand against the First Order. It was also an ending to some important relationships as characters cement their alignments on two opposing factions.

Here’s a list of discussion points regarding the two-part “Resistance” season finale “No Escape.” The first part of the episode aired back in March 10:

  1. Major plot tie-in to the 2015 sequel film “The Force Awakens,” as First Order General Hux denounces the New Republic by having Starkiller Base destroy the Republic capital on the Hosnian System. Among the numerous lives lost is the family of Resistance spy Kaz Xiono.
  2. Following the imprisonment of most of Team Fireball, the Aces and Commander Doza, Kaz leads his remaining allies to find a way to escape from Colossus. The solution: the platform itself, revealed to be a giant spaceship long concealed underwater.
  3. That realization plays into how the Colossus people begin to systematically remove First Order Stormtroopers from the place. Through quick decoy play they trick the troopers into sections that can be flooded, flushing them out into the ocean where the monster fishes eat their fill.
  4. First Order Agent Tierney has completely brought over Fireball mechanic Tam Ryvora, who willingly joins them and becomes hostile to her former friends. Since her only reference to the First Order’s predecessor the Empire, is her very kind factory worker grandfather, Tam supports their successors.
  5. After most of the season being spent in starfighter races, the Aces finally get into all-out combat with First Order TIE Fighters. Even ex-Imperial Griff Halloran seems genuinely invested in protecting Colossus from them. More aerial combat ensues and Kaz saves Jarek Yeagar by shooting down Vonreg in a dogfight.
  6. Space pirates have been the initial antagonists for the Colossus’ Aces before the First Order arrived. This time around they return to help their erstwhile victims against the TIEs. Granted, they have their own beef against the First Order, but a new alliance forms here.
  7. The appearance of a Star Destroyer forces the Colossus crew to fall back and escape into hyperspace. Their planned destination is the planet D’Qar, headquarters of the Resistance. Unfortunately the entered coordinates were incomplete, ensuring the Colossus will reappear somewhere else in the Galaxy. And in any case, the Resistance would ultimately abandon D’Qar as of “The Last Jedi” anyway.

“Star Wars Resistance” season two premieres this fall on Disney Channel and XD. It’ll be close to the cinematic arrival of “Star Wars: Episode IX.”

James Gunn Rehired to Direct “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”

One factor for the unlikely box-office success of 2014 MCU film “Guardians of the Galaxy” can be attributed perhaps to the inspired direction of James Gunn. He was able to repeat that triumph with the 2017 sequel, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” Unfortunately, work on a “Vol. 3” was stalled by some unfortunate circumstances.

When social media in 2018 floated old tweets (2008-2012) by Gunn, filled with jokes regarding touchy subjects like rape and pedophilia, Disney cut ties with him. This action upset MCU and “Guardians” fans even as he was hired by Warner-DC to pen a script for a possible “Suicide Squad” sequel/reboot.

Ultimately however, as CNN tells it, Disney decided to take James Gunn back. On Friday, March 15, Marvel Studios has reinstated him ad director for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” a possible installment in the upcoming Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.

This is great news for fans of more adventures by Star-Lord and friends. Gunn had already finished a script for “Vol. 3” before he was fired in July 2018. Disney-Marvel decided not to actively pursue a replacement director and event moved back the film’s production to 2021. Now, development could pick up from the break.

But not immediately; Gunn is already committed to working on the new “Suicide Squad” film for Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment. He will be resuming work on “Guardians” afterwards, though Disney has given no further comment beyond confirming Gunn’s reinstatement.

The initial axing of Gunn from Marvel Studios was met with criticism by fans and pushback from both “Guardians of the Galaxy” cast members and sympathetic celebrities. It was pointed out that the director’s old offensive tweets were recovered by ultraconservatives in retaliation for Gunn’s criticism of US President Donald Trump, and that Disney’s action was caving to political pressure.

Both “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Vol. 2” combined earned Disney-Marvel a $1.6 billion take in the international box office.