Disney has announced a bevy of Maleficent 2 news this morning, including a brand new 2019 release date for the sequel. The 2014 film Maleficent put a new spin on a classic story, as Angelina Jolie filled the titular role of the Sleeping Beauty villain with a story told entirely from her point of view. Once upon a time, this appeared to be the way forward for Disney’s live-action movies—new spins on classic stories told from different points of view. But the smashing success of The Jungle Book instead put Disney on the track of simply remaking their animated films in live-action (or photoreal CG) form.
Maleficent 2 is now called Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and its release date has been shifted from May 2020 to this coming October 18, 2019. The only film currently slated for release that weekend is an untitled Blumhouse horror movie, and it lands one week after Zombieland 2: Double Tap and the Will Smith-fronted Gemini Man. The only other family film currently slated for release in the whole month of October is the animated adaptation of The Addams Family, so one imagines Maleficent 2 could do quite well here.
However, and this is pure conjecture on my part, the press release only notes that the film will be “released nationwide” on that October date. No mention of theaters. We’ve known for some time that Disney’s streaming service Disney+ is scheduled to debut this coming fall, which will boast original films and TV shows. Could Disney be using the release of Maleficent 2 to launch Disney+? It wouldn’t be entirely outside the realm of possibility, and Maleficent 2 would be a major property with which to launch Disney+, so that makes a lot of sense to me. But I suppose we’ll find out for sure soon enough.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales co-director Joachim Rønning is at the helm of the follow-up, which finds Jolie reprising her role as the title character. The sequel takes place years after the first movie and continues to explore the complex relationship between the horned fairy and the soon to be Queen (Elle Fanning) as they struggle to protect the moors from new adversaries. So in addition to being a Maleficent follow-up, it’s also pretty much a Sleeping Beauty sequel.
Check out the first Maleficent 2 poster below, and stay tuned for more news on the sequel. The cast for the film also includes Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Ingrith and Harris Dickinson as Prince Philip, with Chitwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, and Robert Lindsay filling out the new additions. Reprising their roles from the first Maleficent are Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville.