Now that Star Wars: Episode IX‘s theatrical release has been shifted back from May to December of 2019, Disney has announced release dates for a handful of projects that are either in active development or have already begun filming. Among those titles are three key live-action titles from the Mouse House: director Guy Ritchie’s live-action Aladdin (which is now in production), director Marc Forster’s own live-action film Christopher Robin (which is currently putting together its cast) and director Kenneth Branagh’s live-action movie adaptation of the young adult fantasy novel series, Artemis Fowl.
Episode IX‘s delay comes on the heels of a change-in-director on the film, with Jurassic World‘s Colin Trevorrow having stepped down and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens helmsman J.J. Abrams having now formally taken his old spot. Aladdin has replaced Episode IX as Disney’s big tentpole for the end of May 2019, following the release of Avengers 4 earlier that same month. Artemis Fowl is also now scheduled to arrive during the 2019 summer movie season, while Christopher Robin (or, rather, Untitled Christopher Robin Project, as it’s currently known) will arrive a year ahead of then.
Aladdin will take Episode IX‘s old theatrical release date of May 24, 2019, pitting Ritchie’s film against the opening weekend for the Minecraft video game movie adaptation. Artemis Fowl will open in theaters a few months later on August 9th and currently has that opening date to itself. Christopher Robin, as mentioned before, will be arriving sooner than either of those movies on August 3rd, 2018 – a date where the Disney fairy tale sequel will serve as counter-programming to that weekend’s release of Shane Black’s R-Rated sci-fi action/thriller, The Predator.
Aladdin, which features a cast primarily composed of lesser-knowns and/or lauded character actors (with Will Smith as The Genie being the movie’s sole A-lister), is a live-action reimagining of Disney’s Oscar-winning 1992 animated film adaptation of the centuries-old folk tale, complete with most of the same characters and musical numbers – plus some new ones to boot, courtesy of Alan Menken and Oscar-winning songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land).
Alternatively, Christopher Robin is a sequel to Disney’s previously-released animated Winnie the Pooh movies (including, 1977’s The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and 2011’s Winnie the Pooh) in the vein of Steven Spielberg’s Hook – picking up with Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood in the present-day, as they set out to reunite with a now grown-up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor). Jim Cummings and Brad Garrett will be among those lending their voices to the film as, respectively, computer-animated versions of Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore.
It’s not currently known whether Artemis Fowl will be based strictly on the first book in the original Artemis Fowl novel series written by Eoin Colfer, or if it will draw inspiration from multiple installments in the eight-book saga (which Colfer published from 2001-2012), recounting the misadventures of the eponymous boy genius/mastermind. Irish playwright Conor McPherson is currently writing the script for Branagh’s film adaptation and it’s quite possible that Disney’s plan is for the movie to be the first in a long-running franchise of films, a la the Harry Potter movies. Branagh previously turned Disney’s animated version of Cinderella into a critical/commercial success with his 2015 live-action adaptation – perhaps he will prove able to do the same with Artemis Fowl?
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