After winning its second biggest global box office in studio history in 2018, Disney is poised to outgross this year’s earnings with a powerhouse 2019 slate that includes Avengers: Endgame, Toy Story 4 and Star Wars: Episode IX.
Following its domination of the 2018 box office with blockbuster hits Avengers: Infinity War — only the fourth movie in history to earn more than $2 billion — and Black Panther, just the third film to earn more than $700 million at the domestic box office as part of its $1.3 billion worldwide haul, Disney has teed up a sequel-heavy pipeline for 2019 as well as intended franchise launchers Captain Marvel and Artemis Fowl.
As part of the three-a-year output from Marvel Studios — the most lucrative branch under the Disney film umbrella — Marvel creatively backs Spider-Man: Far From Home, produced and distributed by Sony Pictures as part of the deal that allows the Sony-controlled superhero (Tom Holland) to participate in the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Under its initiative to reboot its treasured cache of animated classics in live-action re-imaginings for modern audiences, Walt Disney Pictures readies a trio of cherished Disney animations — Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King — across just a five-month window, each hoping to win the same success earned by predecessors Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast.
On the tail of smash hit Incredibles 2 — Pixar’s highest-grossing film and the second biggest animated film of all time, behind only Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen — Pixar opens the toy box for a fourth Toy Story, months before iconic Disney Princess Anna and icy snow queen sister Elsa return in Frozen 2.
Disney will score a less-crowded holiday season in 2019 when compared to 2018, which saw the studio premiere The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Ralph Breaks the Internet and Mary Poppins Returns in the span of a six-week window.
Frozen 2 (Nov. 22) and Episode IX (Dec. 20) will be separated by a month and, following Warner Bros.’ shifting Wonder Woman 1984 from November 2019 to June 2020, will enjoy more breathing space than was allotted by 2018, where Poppins, Aquaman, Bumblebee and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse are battling it out in a crowded holiday period.
Captain Marvel – March 8
Marvel Studios launches its first female-led film with the ‘90s-set Captain Marvel, also the first Marvel film to be helmed by a woman (Anna Boden, who co-directs with It’s Kind of a Funny Story and Mississippi Grind partner Ryan Fleck).
Air Force pilot-turned-superhero Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) searches for answers surrounding her mysterious past as she’s caught between a galactic feud between warring alien races — the blue-skinned Kree and the shape-shifting Skrulls — as Captain Marvel sets to further expand the cosmic side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Joining Larson are returning Marvel stars Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg as Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, respectively, Guardians of the Galaxy stars Lee Pace and Djimon Hounsou, and franchise newcomers Gemma Chan, Lashana Lynch, Annette Bening, Ben Mendelsohn, and Jude Law.
Captain Marvel opens March 8.
Dumbo – March 29
Dumbo sees Tim Burton’s return to the Disney universe, after the Batman and Frankenweenie director helmed 2010’s Johnny Depp-starrer Alice in Wonderland for the studio — the $1 billion-plus earner that inspired Disney to take a second look at its most beloved animated classics.
Struggling circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) taps former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) to care for laughingstock newborn elephant Dumbo, whose oversized ears prove capable of magnificent flight. When entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton) recruits the flying elephant for the flashy Dreamland, Farrier and his family will soon uncover the dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.
A re-imagining of the Walt Disney-produced 1941 animated classic, Dumbo soars into theaters March 29.
Disneynature’s Penguins — April 19
Disneynature, the nature documentary unit of the studio, next debuts Penguins in the lead up to Earth Day 2019.
Narrated by Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), the G-rated documentary follows Adélie penguin Steve on his quest to find a life partner and start a family in the harsh and unforgiving Antarctic.
DeHaan is the latest star to lend his voice to a Disneynature production, joining past narrators Tim Allen, John C. Reilly, Tina Fey, Morgan Freeman, John Krasinski, Samuel L. Jackson and Meryl Streep.
Pengiuns opens April 19.
Avengers: Endgame – April 26
Avengers: Endgame, the highly anticipated sequel to Avengers: Infinity War, will see Earth’s mightiest heroes, among them Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), attempt to rally together and rise from defeat following Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) Infinity Stone-powered snap that obliterated 50 percent of all life in the universe.
“This is bringing to a close the first decade of stories. I think that alone has a dramatic power to it,” Joe Russo, who again directs with brother Anthony, says of the Infinity War sequel that comes just a year after Marvel Studios celebrated its tenth anniversary.
Starring Evans, Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame opens April 26.
Aladdin – May 24
Disney’s second live-action re-imagining for 2019 is a magical new spin on 1992’s animated Aladdin, this time helmed by Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword).
When a scrappy street rat (Mena Massoud) wishes to become a fanciful prince and win the heart of the beautiful Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott), he meets the enchanting Genie (Will Smith) and must contend with the conniving schemes of the villainous Jafar (Marwan Kenzari).
Co-starring Nasim Pedrad, Navid Negahban, Numan Acar and Billy Magnussen, Aladdin is unleashed May 24.
Toy Story 4 – June 21
Disney-Pixar continues its long-running Toy Story franchise with a fourth outing steered by first-time feature director Josh Cooley, a Pixar veteran who served as storyboard artist on past hits The Incredibles, Cars and Up.
After Bonnie adds new “toy” Forky (Arrested Development’s Tony Hale) to her room, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and friends embark on a road trip alongside friends both old and new as they learn just how big the world can be for a toy.
Joining franchise veterans Joan Cusack (Jessie), Wallace Shawn (Rex), Blake Clark (Slinky Dog), Estelle Harris (Mrs. Potato Head) are returning Toy Story 3 stars Kristen Schaal (Trixie), Bonnie Hunt (Dolly), Timothy Dalton (Mr. Pricklepants), and Jeff Garlin (Buttercup).
New to the series are Keanu Reeves (John Wick) and Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) in unspecified roles, alongside comedy duo Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key as carnival toys Bunny and Ducky.
Toy Story 4 opens June 21.
The Lion King — July 19
1994’s The Lion King is rebooted under Iron Man and The Jungle Book director Jon Favreau, who re-imagines the story that sees a runaway lion cub take his rightful place as king following the clandestine murder of his father.
Not so much “live-action” as it is a “virtual production” — a mostly CG-animated film shot on a blue screen stage that allows the filmmaker to direct as if helming traditional live action, utilizing such digital tools as computer animation and motion capture — The Lion King was crafted with the same tools used by James Cameron on the technologically ambitious Avatar.
Boasting a superstar cast that includes Donald Glover (Solo: A Star Wars Story), Beyoncé (Dreamgirls), Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage), John Kani (Captain America: Civil War), Florence Kasumba (Black Panther), Billy Eichner (Parks and Recreation), Seth Rogen (The Disaster Artist), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange), The Lion King opens July 19.
Artemis Fowl – August 9
Artemis Fowl, an adaptation of the eight-book fantasy novel series from author Eoin Colfer, follows young criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl II (Ferdia Shaw) and his kidnapping of fairy LEPrecon officer Holly Short (Lara McDonnell) to fund the search for his missing father in his hopes to restore the family fortune.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Thor) and co-starring Judi Dench (Skyfall), Josh Gad (Frozen), and Hong Chau (BoJack Horseman), Artemis Fowl opens August 9.
Frozen 2 – November 22
Frozen 2, sequel to the 2013 Walt Disney Animation Studios behemoth that pulled in a warm $1.2 billion at the global box office and two Academy Awards, will reunite sunny Anna (Kristen Bell), magical frost-powered sister Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel), huggable snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) as moviegoers return to the icy land of Arendelle.
Plot details are being kept under wraps.
Evan Rachel Wood (Westworld) and Sterling K. Brown (Black Panther) have joined the film in unannounced roles.
“The story is great, and they exude quality .... It took them a while because they wanted to figure out what story they needed to tell and what would be important and engaging and I think they found it,” Bell told Collider in 2016.
Frozen 2 opens November 22.
Star Wars: Episode IX — December 20
Disney closes out 2019 with Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: Episode IX, the reported conclusion of the Skywalker saga launched with 1977’s original Star Wars.
Plot details are being closely guarded for the third entry in the revived Star Wars sequel franchise, again under The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, who reclaims the director’s chair following a handoff to Rian Johnson for 2017’s The Last Jedi.
In addition to sending off General Leia Organa and the late Carrie Fisher, Episode IX will see the return of the killed-off Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and will see Lando Calrissian star Billy Dee Williams’ return to the franchise for the first time in 36 years.
Starring franchise headliners Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver alongside series newcomers Keri Russell, Matt Smith, and Richard E. Grant, Star Wars: Episode IX opens December 20, 2019.