December’s “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” was touted as the end of the stories involving this family of Force-users. We wondered what would come after that. Disney-Lucasfilm was insistent on continuing the sci-fi film franchise despite subpar reception of the two non-Skywalker spinoffs. By that we mean “Rogue One” and the unfortunate, unprofitable “Solo.”
Recently Disney released a timetable of their major releases from their various studios over the next several years. Naturally that includes more “Star Wars” film installments. But they’re no longer the episodic trilogy adventures of Force-users called Skywalker. And another thing, they’re more distantly spaced.
Following “The Rise of Skywalker” this year, Lucasfilm is holding back on a new “Star Wars” movie until around 2022. If a studio is looking for a way to address franchise fatigue, like with what happened between “The Last Jedi” and “Solo,” and “Rogue One,” a multi-year hiatus works great.
It’s not like the Disney umbrella would stumble over one film franchise taking a rest. Pixar, Marvel Studios, and Disney’s own studios themselves can handle the slack. And it’s not as if “Star Wars” will temporarily halt entirely. There are still the various animated and streaming spinoffs airing or coming.
The release of these future “Star Wars” films from 2022 on will also alternate with a new franchise from Fox. A movie about the Galaxy Far, Far Away will alternate with a sequel for the more recent sci-fi masterpiece “Avatar.” This one has four sequels.
It seems Marvel has been hitting on the idea of casting actors from HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Fox had gotten Maisie “Arya Stark” Williams for its “X-Men” spinoff film “New Mutants.” Iwan “Ramsay Bolton” again got to play a scheming villain in the panned one-season MCU-set ABC series, “The Inhumans.”
Now another veteran of the dark medieval fantasy is being courted by Marvel Studios. Richard Madden, who portrayed Robb Stark on the first three seasons of “Game of Thrones,” is being tapped to join the cast of “The Eternals.” Madden has remained a hot star on TV thanks to his lead role in BBC/Netflix’s “Bodyguard.”
Marvel Studios has yet to comment on casting, which may have already secured Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani. “The Eternals” is one of the MCU films being developed after the 10-year, 22-film and 3-phase “Infinity” saga. Matthew and Ryan Firpo are writing the script, with Chloe Zhao set to direct.
“The Eternals” in Marvel are another ancient race of super-humans, created by comic creator Jack Kirby in 1976. They came to be when primitive men millions of years ago were experimented by cosmic entities called Celestials. One Celestial has already appeared in the MCU. He is the “living planet” Ego (Kurt Russel), father of Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) on “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
Before work on “The Eternals” proceeds, Richard Madden will be appearing on film this year in the Elton John biopic “Rocketman.” No date on the release of “The Eternals” has been set. Meanwhile, the Maisie Williams Fox starrer “New Mutants” has been delayed until 2020.
It was bound to happen, that when Disney acquired the 20th Century Fox studio, some film production pruning was necessary. But even then, the expanded umbrella of the House of Mouse has a dominant film slate for several years. For their existing subsidiaries the MCU continues on, while for Fox they have a mind-boggling four sequels for James Cameron’s “Avatar.”
There are a lot of “untitled” movies on that timetable shared by Disney. But at least the year 2020 has finalized the names of the films airing by then. Here’s a chronological list of what Disney fans can expect on the big screen next year:
Onward (Disney Pixar) – March 6, 2020
Mulanlive-action remake (Walt Disney Pictures) – March 27, 2020
“untitled” (Disney Pixar) – June 19, 2020
Jungle Cruisetheme-park ride adaptation (Walt Disney Pictures) – July 24, 2020
The One and Only Ivan (Walt Disney Pictures) – August 14, 2020
“untitled” (Walt Disney Animation Studios) – November 25, 2020
Cruellalive-action “101 Dalmatians” spinoff a la “Maleficent” (Walt Disney Pictures) – December 23, 2020
It’s interesting to note that Pixar has two films slated for next year, more than the expected offering of Walt Disney Animation. Furthermore, no MCU productions have been finalized for 2020 either. Time will tell if these will change, and what the titles of the two mystery films will be.
In this day and age when political correctness has become a prominent part of life, even Disney toes the line. One of their past movies that they treat as an old shame is “Song of the South,” which has never been released wholly for home media.
A more recent change is “Dumbo,” which will remove the crows (and their leader Jim Crow) that befriend the elephant in the film, at least on its Disney+ streaming version. They already don’t exist in the live-action remake by Tim Burton, premiered this year.
Now there’s another upcoming production that will be given the PC treatment. Also appearing on Disney+, it’s the live-action adaptation of “Lady and the Tramp.” The alteration will be the removal of “The Siamese Cat Song,” a ditty that’s been criticized in more recent times as an offensive Asian stereotype.
This was revealed following the casting of Janelle Monae, who will voice and sing for the dog character Peg. Peg’s original animation voice actor was Peggy Lee, who also voiced and sang for the antagonistic Siamese cat twins. Monae will not only cover the song “He’s a Tramp” by Lee as Peg, she will write a different musical track to replace the “Siamese Cat Song.”
Such policing of content and themes from older films (and their remakes) by Disney is relatively new. They certainly didn’t think “Siamese Cat Song” as too offensive back in 2004. That was when it showed on “Disneymania 2” album, covered by Hillary and Haylie Duff.
The “Lady and the Tramp” remake is expected to be a possible launch title for the Disney+ streaming service on November 12. It will star Tessa Thompson as pet-dog Lady and Justin Theroux as stray-dog Tramp, along with Sam Elliot, Ashley Jensen and Benedict Wong.
When Marvel Studios released their first trailer for “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” fans tended to assume it was a prequel. Their opinion was that it took place before 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” where Peter Parker ultimately got “Thanos-snapped.” Such speculation died down with the release of this new movie trailer.
This fact was pretty much reinforced by current Spider-Man actor Tom Holland, who introduced the second “Far from Home” trailer. In his signature “bad secret-keeper” style, he confirms that the film happens after “Avengers: Endgame,” which premiered last month. With that, let’s do a list of major plot points revealed:
Peter Parker (Holland) is mourning the death of his mentor figure, Tony Stark/Iron Man as depicted in “Endgame.”
Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) notes to Peter that if Tony hadn’t known that Peter would return after the Thanos snap was undone, he might not have done his heroic sacrifice.
Even NYPD cops see Spidey as possibly trying to fill the void by becoming the “new” Iron Man. Peter denies this (“I’m too busy doing your work.”)
Apparently Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has been trying to contact Peter. He just puts the director of SHIELD on voicemail.
Peter’s high-school class goes on a summer vacation field trip to Europe. Cue Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) posing with historical re-enactors at the San Marco in Venice (and getting a groin attack from a passerby).
Peter seems to be getting closer with Michelle “MJ” Jones (Zendaya), with his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) as the snarky side witness.
We get to see a follow-up on Fury recruiting Peter/Spider-Man for a mission. Here he meets Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a costumed figure from Earth, “but not ours” according to Fury.
Apparently the various uses of the Infinity Stones on Earth tore a hole between dimensions, dumping Beck and several dangerous elemental-based beings on their doorstep.
Peter learns the other Avengers are busy elsewhere, and all SHIELD has left to turn to is the “Friendly Neighborhood” Spider-Man. Fury lampshades his “veteran hero” reputation by reminding Pete he’s gone to space already.
Apparently Michelle has already figured out that Peter is Spider-Man.
Peter discusses the points of heroism with Beck. The latter says that while he understands Pete wanting to keep a normal life outside of costume, “saving the world requires sacrifice” and that “sometimes people die.”
Seeing the damage the Elementals do spurs Peter to embrace his possible legacy as the next Iron Man. Cue him taking on the Elementals in his new black covert-ups suit.
The classic 1966 “Spider-Man” animated intro (rescored by Mark Giacchino) returns from “Homecoming” as possibly the default theme for for MCU Spidey.
Happy tries to evacuate Peter’s friends in a Stark jet during an Elemental attack. He gets distracted when his explanation of “working with Spider-Man” is misheard as “working for Spider-Man.” Cue exploding jet.
“Spider-Man: Far from Home” also stars Cobie Smoulders, JB Smoove, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, Angourie Rice and Hemky Madera. The film premieres on July 2.
It took only its own opening weekend for “Avengers: Endgame” to pass the $1-billion box office milestone. Since it’s been hyped as the definitive conclusion for a decade’s worth of MCU storytelling, that earning is expected. And with the rate it’s going, to double that take is apparently no sweat.
As of its second weekend in cinemas around the world, “Avengers: Endgame” has exceeded $2 billion in global box office. To summarize, the blockbuster superhero film’s combined domestic and overseas earnings are $2.188 billion. That achievement puts it past James Cameron’s “Titanic” (1997) as the new 2nd-highest all-time top grossers.
What really helped Marvel Studios’ big 3-plus-hour superhero bonanza earn that much was its very early release in China. That massive cinematic market contributed $575 million to the 1.56 billion that “Endgame” made outside North America. And in there, it’s now counted as the 9th highest all-time domestic film release.
By now, the only obstacle to the fourth “Avengers” film in become the all-time box office king is 2009’s “Avatar,” also by James Cameron. Its $2.787 billion mark will not be easily reached, especially this summer movie season. Other studios, even Disney itself, have major movie releases that might cut into further earnings for “Endgame.”
This is the 22nd installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the penultimate chapter of its massive “Phase 3” film classification. The final movie of that phase will be “Spider-Man: Far from Home,” which will follow up in July 2.
As everyone already knows, the final segment of the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy, “The Rise of Skywalker,” premieres this December. Said to take place a year after “The Last Jedi,” it’ll see the last battle between the Resistance and the First Order, as well as between Rey and Kylo Ren.
The movie has been hyped by Lucasfilm to be the definitive end to the generation-spanning saga of the Skywalker Family. But before the conclusion of that tale is told, some side-stories are waiting to be read. By this we mean a number of spinoff books detailing adventures between the films.
Chief among these related print media for the “new” “Star Wars” is the “Journey to” books. Published by Disney-Lucasfilm and various other publishers, they tell of events happening to the sequel trilogy characters before the events of each movie. Just as “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” had them, “The Rise of Skywalker” will have its own books too:
Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
A Little Golden Book’s Star Wars: We Are the Resistance – October 4; retells scenes from all three “Star Wars” sequel trilogy films for young listeners
Spark of the Resistance (Justina Ireland) – October 4; in which Rey, Poe and Rose answer a distress call from a planet under First Order occupation, wild flying beasts and a secret weapon
Star Wars: The Ultimate Pop-up Galaxy (Matthew Reinhart) – October 8; revisit the whole saga, from prequel to original to sequel trilogies, all presented in interactive pop-ups
Resistance Reborn (Rebecca Roanhorse) – November 12; about the rebuilding of the Resistance following their near-annihilation in “The Last Jedi”
Force Collector (Kevin Shinick) – November 19; about a teenager with awakened Force abilities looking for answers about his past
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – The Galaxy Needs You (Caitlin Kennedy) – December 17
The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Phil Szostak) – December 20
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – The Visual Dictionary (Pablo Hidalgo) – December 20
By now, the acquisition and merger by Disney of media assets from the former 21st Century Fox is old news. But even though said assets led by the 20th Century Fox film studios are now under the Disney umbrella, the whole process hasn’t finished yet due to some loose ends.
By that we mean Disney is still on a timetable to divest itself of several regional sports networks from Fox. That’s to pass antitrust regulations. Just over a month after the acquisition was finalized, Disney has somebody to buy those sports networks. It’s the largest broadcast owner in the US.
The Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group has inked a deal with Disney to take on the 21 sports networks from Fox. Their negotiations, made public this Friday, May 3, had the deal price pegged at about $10.6 billion. While the Department of Justice must yet approve, it should solve the potential antitrust problems Disney would have had if it retained the regional sports channels alongside ESPN.
Adjusted for minority equity interests, Sinclair only has to pay Disney $9.6 billion. The acquired sports networks will be packed under a new Sinclair subsidiary, Diamond Sports Group. Disney already sold another sports-regional, YES Network, this March to the NY Yankees whose games it broadcasts. That amounted to $3.5 billion.
With that proviso soon to be done, Disney can now return to integrating the former Fox media companies to its organization, and streamlining Fox productions to synergize with its own.
Guess what, it’s May! And three weeks from now Disney’s second live-action adaptation of their Renaissance-phase classic will hit cinemas worldwide. The “Aladdin” remake’s promised us a whole new world for its storyline. We can believe that with the plot tweaks we’ve seen so far in the trailer and TV-spots.
Speaking of which, two more TV spots for “Aladdin” have come out since our last update. They’re remarkably short compared to what’s already come before. Still, they pack some more new scenes, new dialogue, and new fragments of the song number that would establish the Genie’s character for the audience.
These will be short lists, but vital for those who want to dissect every preview before the actual movie premieres:
New scene of Genie (Will Smith) teaching Aladdin how to use his lamp to make wishes on: there are three wishes, and they must each begin with Al rubbing the lamp and starting his request with “I wish”
We got snippets of “A Friend Like Me” from two previous TV spots; now we hear Smith singing the refrain portion (“Mister Aladdin sir, one wish or two or three”)
I supposed it’s obvious now that rather than the straight Broadway-esque treatment by Robin Williams, Smith will be rap-singing his way through “A Friend Like Me”
Genie’s instructions on the limits of his power, though we only catch the second and third; rather than channeling Peter Lorre like Williams!Genie did, Smith!Genie does something else to illustrate “Can’t bring back the dead”
Mena Massoud’s Aladdin apparently has a short attention span; apparently after the song number he again asks how wish-making works; an exasperated Genie exclaims “The whole song was the instructions!”
Remix of earlier scenes that we’ve already experienced in the trailer and other TV spots; some diamonds in the rough/unseen footage is there however
More shots of Aladdin’s entrance into Agrabah as Prince Ali
On what appears to be the welcome banquet for Prince Ali at the palace (we saw him briefly dancing with Jasmine in the trailer), Aladdin impresses the assembly with his parkour-influenced dancing style: even Jasmine can’t help herself but smile
Another snippet from the Cave of Wonders has Abu with a drum rig on his back, cymbals and a kazoo in his mouth; apparently the “A Friend Like Me” sequence just finished and he retains his instruments; interestingly, he somewhat resembles his form as a toy after Jafar zapped him in the original animated film
Genie: We’re gonna need to talk about that monkey later
If you recall, films under the Disney umbrella got a respectable number of nominations in this year’s Oscars last February. True, only a lesser number became wins, but that’s beside the point. One of the Disney-affiliated nominees was Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther,” the first superhero film to get an actual Best Picture nomination (of a total 7, with 3 wins).
So, barring extreme circumstances, you’d all know that “Avengers: Endgame” premiered late last month and is now an unstoppable force in critics and box office. That it’s got strong reviews might factor into a recent action by Disney that might be the prelude to a major “Endgame” Academy Awards push.
Fandango managing editor Erik Davis noted on his Twitter page that Disney just held a screening of “Avengers: Endgame.” Why does this matter? It’s because the audience were members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. Yes, it’s the Oscars’ award-giving body themselves.
Is the House of Mouse getting an early start towards pushing their 2019 films for nominations at the 92nd Oscars? The company might be encouraged by the Best Picture inclusion of “Black Panther” in 2018. But is “Avengers: Endgame” worthy of that beyond being making oodles of box-office money worldwide?
“Endgame” is the culmination of directors Joe and Anthony Russo’s work in the MCU franchise. This is indicated by a total lack of mid and post-credits teasers for the movie. The Russo brothers also noted that they’re steeping back from the MCU for a time, but haven’t ruled out a return someday. “Avengers: Endgame” is currently still running in cinemas.