Friday, November 22, 2013

Disney Slate Update: Alice Returns, Jon Favreau Hits the Jungle

Disney is slowly but surely beginning to fill 2016 up with definite releases. For a while, 2016 only had three films: Two Walt Disney Animation Studios films (in reality, those two currently "untitled" films are Zootopia and Giants) and a Pixar film (formerly something untitled, now Finding Dory) - now it has a big live action tentpole release. Not the first Star Wars spin-off, not one of Marvel's untitled movies, not the delayed fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film...

Alice in Wonderland 2

When is it coming out? May 27, 2016.

For a while, I've been predicting that the long overdue sequel to the 2010 Tim Burton box office smash would be a summer release in 2016 since that's the earliest it can open at this rate. Well, it's now moving forward after talk of a new director (The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted director James Bobin) and a few other things. But one thing is definitely certain, it is not going to repeat the success of the first one - well, domestically at least.

Alice in Wonderland, as many have pointed out, happened to open at the best possible time. Avatar kickstarted a brief 3D craze, the marketing for the film was excellent and everybody and their brother wanted to see it hence that huge $116 million opening weekend gross. But the legs, despite the movie having pretty much the whole month to itself, weren't anything spectacular because the movie… Well… Wasn't all that good.

Anyways, it's sure to do very well overseas given how huge the first one was plus Johnny Depp and Mia Wasakowski are of course returning. I have no real interest in it, and if anything, I'd be happy if Disney took its Memorial Day weekend release date and gave it to Finding Dory instead, because that's currently set to open against How To Train Your Dragon 3, and Fox most likely won't move that DreamWorks sequel. After all, they are in something of a match with the Mouse House. (The Fantastic Four fiasco, putting films out on the same days as Disney's…)

The other new addition to their slate is Jon Favreau's live action take on The Jungle Book, which I have very little excitement for. I like Favreau and I think he'll make a pretty good film (as long as the script is alright, we don't want another Cowboys & Aliens), but I'm tired of Disney's dependence on live action re-imaginings of classic stories that they already adapted into animated features (see Maleficent and the 2015 Cinderella), which is why I'm hoping Brad Bird's Tomorrowland is not only good, but blows all of those films out of the water at the box office.

Disney is jettisoning original live action films and live action films based on riskier properties because of how poorly John Carter and The Lone Ranger did at the box office, though they'll never take the blame for the failures. It must be the movies, right? Right? Yeah yeah, you've heard it from me many times on here, but damn it I'm a broken record - bad marketing and corporate negligence killed those two films! That annoys me greatly, and it annoys me that Disney is holding potentially cool live action fare like The Stuff of Legend, the third TRON, Terra Incognita and Matched at bay, favoring the safest options possible. Oh… And remakes of other films, too. Do we really need remakes of classic live action Disney fare like Flight of the Navigator and Pete's Dragon?

Walt didn't start making live action films for nothing, he took big risks with live action from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Mary Poppins. Now the studio just wants to rehash what worked in the past, while Marvel continues to expand on a huge connected franchise and Lucasfilm will continue making Star Wars films… Tomorrowland better be a huge hit because we need some fresh, new stuff in the mix. Live-action Disney can't just be about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars and re-imagings/remakes…

The film could be good, and I hope it will be, because Walt's film is a very loose adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's stories and this is one that could be redone and fleshed out. Disney already tackled the books in a proper manner with a live action film in 1994, but Favreau could make something interesting. But still, I'm just not feeling it. I guess if Disney's game plan wasn't "remake our animated classics to go with the dark, gritty, updated fairy tale/classic story trend", I wouldn't mind its existence so much. Alice in Wonderland was one thing, and give them credit, it is a visually cool re-imagining… But it's Hollywood, of course they're going to milk that dry. I'd rather have something like Alice in Wonderland once in a blue moon, but no… Maleficent, Cinderella, an Oz sequel, a Cruella de Vil origin story (*cringe*). Bo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ring!

The film is set to open on October 9, 2015… A very interesting choice of release date for many reasons…

When's the last time Disney released a big budget tentpole movie in October? When do studios ever release big budget blockbusters in October?

If anything, the success of Gravity might've motivated them to place a film in the early October spot. The month will slowly but surely become a blockbuster month… All the months will be in due time. It's well-spaced out from The Good Dinosaur, which opens at the end of November that year and it's far enough away from Marvel's Ant-Man. Between July 31 and October 9, Disney will probably throw a few small-scale films out into theaters along with that IMAX space film that they announced for a 2015 release.

So now their 2015 slate should look like this…

Small-Scale Film - January/February
Cinderella - March 13th
Disneynature Film - April
The Avengers: Age of Ultron - May 1st
Tomorrowland - May 22nd
Inside Out - June 19th
Ant-Man - July 31st
Planes 3 - August (it's more or less confirmed, sorry folks)
Small-Scale Film - August
IMAX Space Film - September
The Jungle Book - October 9th
Small-Scale Film - October/November
The Good Dinosaur - November 25th
Star Wars: Episode VII - December 18th

The Mouse House will practically destroy every calendar in the future if they go by this template…

Now with another 2016 release being officially announced, when will we get more? Let's leave Marvel out, since Kevin Feige said that we won't get anymore big Phase 3 information until next spring. When will Disney outright say that Zootopia is in fact Walt Disney Animation Studios' March 4, 2016 release? When will Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales get a release date? When will Lucasfilm announce what the first Star Wars spin-off/origin (most likely Han Solo) film will be and when it'll hit theaters?

Ahhh, the waiting game...

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