Here’s a look at the 12 movies Disney plans to release in 2015. They include some efforts that are guaranteed to top the box office, some examples of the company’s new trend of making live-action adaptations of its classic animated films, and new Pixar movies after the beloved animation studio sat 2014 out, plus the first efforts resulting from the purchase of Lucasfilm.
Disney had a big year in 2014, having made $3.4 billion worldwide at the box office (per Variety) during a year that people just didn’t go to the movies as much as in the past. Guardians of the Galaxy, Maleficent, and Captain America: Winter Soldier were all huge hits for the company, but 2015 could prove to be even bigger. Here are the movies Disney has planned for the coming year.
1. Strange Magic
A cartoon from Lucasfilm will kick off the year for Disney. Strange Magic was already in production when Disney bought the studio and is about some goblins, imps, and fairies that meet for the first time. The plot is based on a story by George Lucas, inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The voice cast includes Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, and Maya Rudolph, and it comes out January 23.
2. McFarland, USA
This is the next low-budget sports movie from Disney after 2014’s Million Dollar Arm. The drama is based on the true story of a Latino high school cross country team from McFarland, California, that negotiates its way through social issues to win a championship during the 1980s. Kevin Costner plays the team’s coach, who recognizes their running ability and helps guide them to reach their full potential. McFarland, USA comes out February 20.
After the success of the Angelina Jolie-starring live-action update of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent, last year, Disney is trying the formula again with the classic Cinderella. Lily James is playing the princess in the Kenneth Branagh-directed movie, which also stars Cate Blanchett as the evil stepmother and Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother. The movie will largely follow the plot of the original 1950 animated classic but with a few changes, including that Cinderella meets the prince before attending the ball and that the fairy godmother’s character is more prominent. Cinderella comes out March 13.
4. Monkey Kingdom
Monkey Kingdom is the newest nature documentary film from Disneynature. The movie is about a family of monkeys found living in ancient ruins deep in the South Asian jungle and their interactions with other animals, including a mongoose, leopards, monitor lizards, and other monkeys. It comes out April 17 to mark the celebration of Earth Day.
5. Avengers: Age of Ultron
The next Avengers movie is likely to be one of the highest-grossing films of the year as Marvel’s many fans rush into theaters to see what happens next with the gang of superheroes. Iron Man, Black Widow, the Hulk, and more will be back, joined by new characters Silver Witch and Quicksilver, played by Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, respectively.
According to Box Office Mojo, The Avengers is the third highest-grossing movie of all time domestically, having raked in $623 million when it came out in 2012. Since sequels typically make more than their predecessors and Marvel has proven successful even in a year when people spent less going to the movies, Age of Ultron stands to be huge in 2015. The movie comes out May 1.
The Incredibles director Brad Bird’s next film stars George Clooney as a scientist and inventor who, together with a curious teenage boy, discovers a fantasy world. Bird’s last film, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, wasn’t exactly up to snuff when compared with his Pixar efforts, but his Pixar pedigree makes Tomorrowland a highly anticipated movie. Bird’s first directorial effort was the Warner Bros. movie The Iron Giant, which is now considered a modern animated classic. He then joined Pixar and earned acclaim for The Incredibles and Ratatouille.
Tomorrowland will be Bird’s chance to prove himself at writing and directing a live-action film that’s not part of an existing franchise. The movie comes out May 22.
7. Inside Out
Fans of Pixar should be excited for 2015, as the beloved animation studio didn’t release a movie at all in 2014 and has two new original films up for release in the coming year. Inside Out comes from the Oscar-winning director of Up and is about the inner workings of the human mind. The main character is a young girl named Riley who’s dealing with her family’s move across the country when her father takes a new job.
Her emotions are portrayed as living in a control center in her mind, with an all-star cast voicing them, including Amy Poehler as Joy, Mindy Kaling as Disgust, and Lewis Black as Anger. Riley’s emotions must help guide her through the big changes she faces in her life that come with the move. The movie’s trailer makes it look like it will be Pixar’s signature mix of hilarious and heartwarming. Inside Out will hit theaters June 19.
Ant-Man is another anticipated Marvel effort coming out this year and the beginning of another new franchise from the comic book studio. Ant-Man is a hero created with a substance that decreases a man’s size while increasing his strength, like an ant. Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang, the petty criminal who becomes Ant-Man.
Evangeline Lilly co-stars as Hope Van Dyne, the daughter of Dr. Hank Pym, who invented the Ant-Man technology and used to be Ant-Man before becoming Lang’s mentor. Pym will be played by Michael Douglas. The movie faced some controversy during its production stages, as Edgar Wright was originally attached to direct but ended up leaving the project due to creative differences he faced with Marvel. Ant-Man comes out July 17.
9. The Jungle Book
Jon Favreau’s live-action Jungle Book adaptation continues with Disney’s endeavour to adapt all of its animated classics into live-action movies with all-star casts. The Iron Man director has gotten an enviable cast to voice the animal characters that populate Rudyard Kipling’s story.
Bill Murray will voice the bear Baloo, Ben Kingsley is the panther Bagheera, Christopher Walken is the orangutan King Louie, Scarlett Johansson is the python Kaa, Lupita Nyong’o is the wolf mother Raksha, and Idris Elba is the evil tiger Shere Khan. Newcomer Neel Sethi will play Mowgli, the boy who is raised by animals in the Indian jungle. Weirdly enough, Warner Bros. has also gotten the rights to the story and is planning its own star-filled adaptation that’s coming out almost exactly a year later. Disney’s film will be released October 9.
10. Untitled Steven Spielberg Cold War spy thriller
Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are reuniting to make this as-yet-untitled movie about the true story of attorney James Donovan, who was hired by the CIA to sneak past the Iron Curtain and help the U.S. negotiate the return of an American U-2 pilot who was taken as prisoner after his spy plane crashed in Russia.
The Coen brothers are writing the script, while Amy Ryan, Alan Alda, Billy Magnussen, and Eve Hewson feature in co-starring roles. Spielberg and Hanks are frequent collaborators, having made Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, and The Terminal together. Audiences who liked any of those films will be interested in catching this one, and critics will be watching to see how filmmakers as different as Spielberg and the Coens work together. The movie comes out October 16.
11. The Good Dinosaur
The next Pixar movie for 2015 is The Good Dinosaur, which explores what Earth might be like had the dinosaurs never gone extinct. The movie follows a teenage apatosaurus named Arlo who must bring peace back to his community after the apatosauri suffer a traumatic event and the human boy he makes friends with along the way. The voice cast includes Neil Patrick Harris, John Lithgow, Frances McDormand, and Bill Hader.
12. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
As if Disney wasn’t already guaranteed to dominate the box office in 2015 with the new Avengers film, the company is also releasing a reboot of Star Wars directed by J.J. Abrams that’s sure to make a huge sum while critics and fans await anxiously to see if the film lives up to the iconic franchise. Many fans are hoping that Abrams can return the science fiction tale to its original glory in the wake of the three prequel films made in the 1990s that were considered to be nowhere near as good as the original three movies.
Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm also entails more Star Wars movies to come, so a lot rides on this introduction of the new Star Wars cinematic universe appealing to critics, fans, and those new to the franchise. Casting and plot rumors about the film swirled throughout 2014, but fans will still have to wait almost an entire year before getting to see the movie, as The Force Awakens doesn’t come out until December 18.
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