2015 is shaping up to be a fruitful year for the Walt Disney Company at the box office, what with new Marvel films, a Star Wars movie, two Pixar features, and promising tentpoles (such as Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland) opening in theaters. The Mouse House has plenty of big projects waiting in the wings for 2016 and 2017 too, not including the handful that joined the list today.
Disney has moved director Jon Favreau’s live-action The Jungle Book back to 2016, while bumping up the true-story inspired The Finest Hours to take its old Fall 2015 spot. Meanwhile, the studio’s Pete’s Dragon remake and DreamWorks’ Ghost in the Shell movie – which shall be distributed in theaters via Disney’s Buena Vista arm – have both gotten official release dates in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Jungle Book – featuring a celebrity-studded voice cast as the animal companions to Mowgli (played by Neel Sethi) – will now reach theaters on April 15th, 2016, while Finest Hours (the Coast Guard rescue thriller starring Chris Pine) will arrive on October 9th, 2015. Favreau’s Rudyard Kipling adaptation opens against Sony’s Goosebumps on its new date, while Finest Hours (from Million Dollar Arm director Craig Gillespie) will debut against the new Vacation movie. The Mouse House’s releases ought to do fine on their new dates, even given the competition.
Ghost in the Shell is now set to open in theaters nearly a year after Jungle Book does, on April 14th, 2017 – one week after Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim 2 debuts. Ghost recently locked down Scarlett Johansson as its star, with Ruper Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) onboard to direct from a script by William Wheeler (The Reluctant Fundamentalist).
The live-action film (based on the manga/anime brand of the same name) has already stirred up controversy within the Ghost in the Shell fanbase for its lead casting and choice of director, but that also means that awareness surrounding the film is now all the higher. And as we saw last year with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, April can be a lucrative frame for genre tentpoles (all the more so when Johansson is one of the leads).
Last, but not least, Pete’s Dragon is now scheduled to open in theaters on August 12th, 2016, which is also when such films as Seth Rogen and Evan Golberg’s raunchy Sausage Party animated feature and the Robert De Niro comedy Dirty Grandpa are currently marked down to make their debut in theaters.
Pete’s Dragon is slated to begin production in New Zealand later this month, under the direction of David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints). The remake will mix CGI/live-action, drop the musical aspect of the original 1977 film, and feature a cast that includes Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World), Robert Redford (All Is Lost), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), and Wes Bentley (American Horror Story: Freak Show). Should be interesting to see, how this particular Disney remake is received, compared to similar projects (like Jungle Book).
The Finest Hours arrives in theaters on October 9th, 2015, followed by The Jungle Book on April 15th, 2016, Pete’s Dragon on August 12th, 2016, and Ghost in the Shell on April 14th, 2017.