A Look Ahead at Upcoming Disney Movies

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
November 15th, 2012

A Look Ahead at Upcoming Disney Movies

-- After a late summer and early fall permeated by 3D rereleases of classic films like "Finding Nemo," Disney is mostly focusing on sequels and original fare for the rest of fall and into winter. In fact, there are several original films in the works right now that are set to be released in 2013 and beyond. The only exception is a Christmas 2012 re-release of "Monsters, Inc.," also in 3D.

In early spring 2013, "Oz: The Great and Powerful" is set to be released. It stars James Franco as Oz in a prequel to the timeless classic "The Wizard of Oz." In the film, which also stars Michelle Williams as Glinda the Good Witch, the audience learns more about the origins of Oz himself and how he came to his position in life. Zach Braff of "Scrubs" fame, Tim Holmes, Rachel Weisz, and Mila Kunis round out the all-star cast for this highly anticipated film.

For the summer, Disney has "The Lone Ranger" starring Johnny Depp, who has made the company a ton of money with his comic portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise. Studio executives are hoping Depp can swing some of the same money-making magic playing Tonto to Armie Hammer's Lone Ranger. The film also stars Helena Bonham Carter and James Badge Dale.

Currently filming is "Maleficent," based on the witch character of the same name from "Sleeping Beauty." Unlike that film, "Maleficent" is live action instead of animated, which will give it a decidedly darker feel. Oscar winner Angelina Jolie has been cast as the lead, with lots of fanfare surrounding the release of the first pictures of her in full costume. Two of her six kids with fellow actor Brad Pitt have also been cast in small roles in the film, which has a release date of March 14, 2014.

A couple of movie titles have been divulged, but without release dates or concrete plot details attached to the announcements. One is "Jungle Cruise," which is rumored to be a live-action comedy that is loosely based on the famous Disneyland ride of the same name. There are also rumors that Tom Hanks and Tim Allen will be in the film, which will team up the "Toy Story" co-stars together for the first time in a film that isn't animated. The other rumored production is "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo," which director David Fincher is set to helm. No casting details are known yet, but there is a time crunch, since a rival studio is also producing a similar film with Captain Nemo as the focus.

While all of these films give plenty to look forward to, they arguably aren't the biggest thing that Disney has coming down the pipeline. In October 2012, the studio made the stunning announcement that they had purchased Lucasfilm for a reported $4 billion in cash and stock options from George Lucas. Lucas is famous for his "Star Wars" trilogies, which have earned billions of dollars worldwide in movie, DVD and toy sales. Disney hopes to release a new film in 2015, based on the Star Wars universe, with a new one to come out every two or three years after that. Both casual and diehard fans alike were overjoyed at the prospect of a new set of films in this iconic series.

In addition, Disney has films from Marvel Studios coming out in the next several years. After the success of "The Avengers" in 2012, it was a no-brainer to re-sign writer/director Joss Whedon for a sequel. In addition, individual sequels for characters such as Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America are also in the works, all of which will tie into each other in some way. Between the Marvel films, the Star Wars films, and the usual slate of animated films, Disney is set to be a dominant force at the box office for years to come.