Disney Doubles Down on Live-Action Fairy Tale Movies with New Release Date Calendar

Disney has taken the success of The Jungle BookMaleficent, and Alice in Wonderland to heart if their new release date schedule is any indication. Though none of the following dates have hard titles attached to them, this will certainly change before long. Basically, Disney is marking its territory well before it has any final decisions about which movies will occupy which slots, daring any other studio’s film to try and compete with it.

Here’s a look at the new release dates revealed by Disney today:

This comes in addition to the already-scheduled Alice Through the Looking Glass on May 27th, Pete’s Dragon on August 12th, and Beauty and the Beast on March 17, 2017. Here’s more on the films that are currently in development that will eventually be matched up with the release dates above:


Cruella – As previously reported, Emma Stone will star in the title role with a script by Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. BanksFifty Shades of Grey). Stone was in early negotiations for the role just this past January while Marcel was reworking a script previously written by Aline Brosh McKenna (The Devil Wears Prada). While it’s all well and good for your fairy tale villains to curse pretty princesses or plot to kill heroic princes, it’s another thing entirely to have your protagonist be a puppy-killing-and-skinning fashionista in the modern world. They may just succeed in developing Cruella de Vil’s prequel story into something interesting, but I can’t imagine too many viewers will find sympathy for arguably Disney’s most reviled villain.

A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time – With Ava DuVernay (Selma) attached to direct and Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Zootopia) writing, you can best believe this is one of my more anticipated Disney non-Marvel live-action films. The classic story by Madeleine L’Engle follows a young girl’s search for her government scientist father–who was working on a tesseract…not that tesseract–after he goes missing. This journey takes her across space and time in a story that’s been destined for the big screen since its debut in 1963. With talent like DuVernay and Lee behind the camera, all that’s left is to find the perfect cast to bring this classic to life.

Image via Amazon

Jungle Cruise

Jungle Cruise – Dwayne Johnson himself confirmed a few months back that he’s set to star in the 1920s-set adventure picture scripted by Focus writers/directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra. All we know at this point is that Jungle Cruise is inspired by Disney’s theme park ride by the same name, it’ll be set slightly after the World War I era during which its previously reported inspiration The African Queen was set, and it will be cast in the mold of Disney’s blockbuster franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean.

Here’s The Rock’s latest update on the film:


Dumbo – Director Tim Burton and writer Ehren Kruger (Transformers: Age of Extinction) will attempt to tackle the live-action tale of Disney’s famous flying baby elephant. Slightly more specifically than that, “the new take involves the adaptation of the original movie adding a unique family story that parallels Dumbo’s story.” Kruger’s rough screenwriting track record aside, I’m most interested to see how Burton handles the adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, due out September 30th. The performance of that film will determine just how optimistic I am for a Dumbo remake, but at the moment, they have a lot of convincing to do.

'Mary Poppins' Sequel

Mary Poppins sequel – Director Rob Marshall has the benefit of a perfect casting pair in Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Blunt has long been making the most out of her starring and supporting roles in films as disparate as The Devil Wears PradaEdge of Tomorrow, and the upcoming thriller The Girl on the Train. Despite her action-packed filmography, Blunt could also make this generation’s perfect Mary Poppins, just as Broadway’s hottest thespian Miranda is primed to make a memorable character as Jack the Lamplighter, in the vein of Dick Van Dyke’s Bert the Chimney-Sweep. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for this one but it’ll be tough to top the original.

Maleficent 2

Maleficent 2 – Angelia Jolie is set to return in the title role of Disney’s anticipated sequel, scripted by returning screenwriter Linda Woolverton. The first film took in over three-quarters of a billion dollars before its theatrical run was all said and done, so having the talent back for a second go-round is already a big win. Can lightning strike twice for the Sleeping Beauty team? We’ll find out soon enough!

The Nutcracker and the Four realms

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms – Director Lasse Hallström (Chocolat) and writer Ashleigh Powell will take on a live-action retelling of The Nutcracker for Disney, as reported earlier this year. The adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s endlessly pleasing ballet and E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King that accompanies it, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms tells the story of a young girl who receives a nutcracker toy for Christmas, a toy which comes alive at the stroke of midnight. She’s then swept away into a land populated by dolls where she finds herself at the center of a war between gingerbread soldiers and a mouse army. This one’s tailor-made for Disney and the big screen, and you can bank that it’ll be dropping around the holidays.

The Jungle Book 2

The Jungle Book 2 – Director Jon Favreau and writer Justin Marks will return for the sequel, a movie that became inevitable when the currently-in-theaters film quickly tallied over $500 million in its first two weekends. The film’s success didn’t just encourage Disney to continue with the franchise, but also spurred Warner Bros. towards reconsidering their own Jungle Book project that has motion-capture master Andy Serkis at the helm, but also has Alfonso Cuarón on board as a “consultant.” WB’s picture is currently slated for October 19, 2018, meaning that Disney’s mysterious calendar could have its August 3, 2018 date carved out to get the jump on the other Jungle Book. However this all shakes out, there’ll be no shortage of Jungle-themed shenanigans in the near future.

Tinker Bell

Tinker Bell - A project with Reese Witherspoon set to star and Victoria Strouse (Finding Dory) writing, which is something we reported on back in May of 2015 but haven’t heard much about since. This latest take on Tinker Bell is said to “play with the idea and timeline of the well-known Peter Pan narrative,” and will follow in the footsteps of other similar prequel stories to tell the previously unheard story behind some of Disney’s most beloved characters.

Disney seems bullish on moviegoing audiences’ desire for unending live-action fairy tale stories, but time (and box office performances) will tell if the studio regrets that decision or makes absolute bank on their intellectual property. My bet’s on the latter.

Out of these announced movies, which ones are you most interested in checking out? Let us know in the comments!

image via Disney


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