Disney is far and away the biggest studio in Hollywood. Aside from its own stable of characters, Disney now owns Star Wars and Marvel – basically a license to print money. More importantly, Disney has a long history of turning out good movies. You don’t get to be on the level of Disney without a track record of quality. Every year, the House of Mouse delivers a slate of diverse films designed to appeal to wide audiences without being watered down to the point of blandness. That’s not to say Disney doesn’t release an occasional turkey, but on the whole, its batting average is more than respectable.
From every appearance, 2018 is going to be yet another landmark year for the studio, both financially and creatively, thanks to a line-up of theatrical and made-for-television movies that will encompass a wide range of genres. Prepare to see the Disney logo in front of animated fare, comedies, fantasies, musicals, action pictures, and even a documentary. Some of the biggest stars in Hollywood will appear in Disney offerings, with notable writers and directors working behind the scenes.
What follows is a complete breakdown of Disney’s upcoming output. We’ll tell you what the films are about and why you should be excited to see them.
Here are 15 Disney Movies You Didn’t Know Were Coming In 2018.
15. Black Panther
After making a memorable debut in Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther now gets his own showcase with a movie bearing his name. Chadwick Boseman portrays the hero, also known as T’challa. The plot finds him returning to his home in Wakanda, where he must battle enemies intent on destroying his kingdom. The Dora Milaje – a special forces team of women – will figure prominently in that mission.
In addition to Boseman, Black Panther boasts an extraordinary cast of talented black actors. Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, and The Walking Dead‘s Danai Gurira co-star. Taking on directing duties is Ryan Coogler, whose Fruitvale Station and Creed established him as one of the most exciting filmmakers of his generation.
14. A Wrinkle in Time
Ava DuVernay’s last movie was the civil rights drama Selma, which has the distinction of being one of the most acclaimed films of recent years. It’s understandable that everyone wondered how she would follow up this masterpiece. As it happens, she choose to make a screen adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 Newberry Award-winning novel A Wrinkle in Time.
In case you’ve never read it, the story centers around Meg, a young girl lamenting the disappearance of her scientist father. Three celestial guides are sent to help her find him. They use a process called “tessering,” which involves traveling through the fifth dimension, in carrying out their search.
The director has assembled a powerhouse cast for this big-budget fantasy. The celestial guides are played by Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Oprah Winfrey. With those three women together onscreen and DuVernay behind the camera, who can resist?
13. Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2
Wreck-It Ralph is one of the most ingenious animated movies ever made. It invented lovable fictional video game characters, then surrounded them with references to real classics. A few recognizable icons, most notably Q*Bert, even showed up for cameos. The film was a love letter to gaming. Thanksgiving will bring the highly-anticipated sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.
From the sounds of it, this follow-up will be just as clever as its predecessor. Ralph (John C. Reilly) gets sucked into the internet when a Wi-Fi router is plugged into the arcade where he lives. He and friend Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) must navigate the online world, while also trying to locate a replacement part for the broken Sugar Rush game.
Zombies remain a hot property in entertainment. Amazingly, there have been a few attempts to make the undead kid-friendly, Laika’s Paranorman being a prime example. In early 2018, they’ll invade the Disney Channel, of all places, with the original movie Zombies. Presumably, there won’t be much brain-eating in this version.
The film is designed to adhere closely to the playbook established by the network’s wildly successful Descendants franchise. It’s got a cast of good-looking young actors, a glossy visual style, and a string of high-energy musical numbers. Count on a soundtrack album to climb the charts.
There’s also the requisite bit of romance. The story is about a suburban high school that zombies are allowed to attend, and it explores what happens when undead football star Zed (Milo Manheim) falls for very much alive cheerleader Addison (Meg Donnelly).
11. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Now that Disney owns LucasFilm, every avenue imaginable in the Star Wars universe is sure to be explored. That includes some stand-alone stories spun off from the main saga. Without a doubt, the concept behind Solo: A Star Wars Story is intriguing, as it focuses on the young Han Solo, prior to the events of the 1977 original film.
Alden Ehrenreich steps into Harrison Ford’s shoes to play Solo, and Atlanta‘s Donald Glover portrays the young Lando Calrissian. The movie will show the adventures leading up to their meeting and beyond. Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, and Thandie Newton round out the cast.
Of course, Solo endured a crisis when LucasFilm fired the original directing team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Ron Howard was brought on board to oversee the completion of the production. With any luck, the final product will show no signs of backstage drama in his capable hands.
10. Freaky Friday reboot
Freaky Friday is the gift that keeps on giving for Disney. The Jodie Foster/Barbara Harris original was a big hit in 1976, as was the 2003 Lindsay Lohan/Jamie Lee Curtis remake. Something about the mother-and-daughter body-switch concept lends itself to periodic updating.
The history of Freaky Friday is surprisingly long. First, it was a book by Mary Rodgers. Disney turned that book into the two movies we’re all familiar with, but also adapted it into a stage musical. The upcoming Disney Channel reboot is based on that latest version.
Heidi Blickenstaff will play the mom, and Dolphin Tale‘s Cozi Zuehlsdorff has been cast as the daughter. Pulitzer and Tony winners Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, who composed the music and lyrics for the stage show, are contributing to this screen version, as well. It looks like fans are about to experience the freakiness in a whole new way.
9. Avengers: Infinity War
For the past few years, the summer movie season has kicked off with a Marvel movie. 2018 will be no different. Avengers: Infinity War is, in many respects, the installment fans have been clamoring the hardest for, as it promises to bring together nearly every character in the MCU so far for a no-holds-barred action extravaganza.
Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War, the story follows what happens when the now torn-apart Avengers have to re-team in order to prevent Thanos (Josh Brolin) from collecting the Infinity Stones for his gauntlet. They get an assist from another Marvel team, the Guardians of the Galaxy.
There’s no doubt that Marvel is seriously upping the ante here, throwing so many popular characters into the same mix. If Infinity War delivers the goods, it will almost certainly be a blockbuster of epic proportions.
8. The Incredibles 2
Even by Pixar’s lofty standards, 2004’s The Incredibles is a big deal. Not only was it a blockbuster hit, but many people consider it to be the company’s best movie. For years, there were cries from fans, longing for a sequel. Strangely, one never materialized, which is odd given the steady rise in popularity of superhero cinema since the original came out. After a long fourteen-year wait, a follow-up is finally on the way.
The Incredibles 2 apparently ignores that gap in time, as Jack-Jack is still a baby. He’s left in the hands of Mr. Incredible (once again voiced by Craig T. Nelson) while Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) is out frighting criminals. When a new villian, The Underminer (John Ratzenberger), arrives on the scene, the family must reunite with pal Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) to stop him. Brad Bird returns as writer and director.
7. Mary Poppins Returns
In 1964, Julie Andrews played Mary Poppins and instantly created an all-time classic character. In 2018, Emily Blunt will take over the role for the sequel that’s been a long, long time in the making, Mary Poppins Returns.
The Banks children are now grown. Michael (Ben Whishaw) lives in the Cherry Tree Lane house with his children. After they endure a personal loss, Mary returns to the home in order to help everyone heal. Accompanying her is friend Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), a lamplighter with ties to Burt, the chimney sweep Dick Van Dyke played in the original. Colin Firth and Meryl Streep are also on board, portraying William Weatherall Wilkins and Topsy-Turvy Poppins, respectively.
6. Ant-Man and the Wasp
When Ant-Man was released in 2015, it ended with the tantalizing implication that the diminutive hero would next be joining forces with the Wasp. That is, in fact, what’s going to happen in the aptly-titled July release Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Paul Rudd returns as Scott Lang, with Evangeiline Lilly now getting the chance to play Hope van Dyne’s alter ego. The plot is said to focus on Scott’s attempts to balance being a good father with the demands of being a superhero. Michael Douglas is back as Hank Pym, who calls Scott into action with the Wasp. Michelle Pfeiffer is here, too, playing Hope’s mom, Janet van Dyne.
5. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Disney has something big in store for the 2018 Christmas season. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms puts a twist on a time-honored holiday tale. The film — which will be presented in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D — is about a young girl tasked with caring for a Nutcracker doll. Through a series of magical complications, she ends up being whisked away to another world and dropped into the middle of a war between mice and gingerbread soldiers.
Keira Knightley, Morgan Freeman, and Interstellar‘s Mackenzie Foy star in the movie, which Disney hopes will draw big crowds during the yuletide. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms hit a small snag when director Lasse Halstrom’s schedule prevented him from being part of some planned reshoots. The studio brought in Captain America: The First Avenger‘s Joe Johnson to take over. He should make sure the elaborate visual effects impress.
4. Disneynature’s Dolphins
The Disneynature label releases nature-themed documentaries, typically on Earth Day weekend. Previous films include Bears, Chimpanzee, Monkey Kingdom (looking at monkeys who live in the jungles of Sri Lanka), and, most recently, the panda-themed Born in China. The movies are never big money-makers at the box office, although they’re low-budget productions, which helps them turn an easy profit.
In 2018, Disneynature will unveil its latest, Dolphins. It follows a young dolphin named Echo and examines life in the coral reef, as well as how these creatures function within their society. A celebrity narrator is always part and parcel of a Disneynature feature, and this one is no different. Owen Wilson is set to fill that role for Dolphins. If the cinematography is as gorgeous and up-close as their past efforts, Dolphins will be a must-see for anyone even remotely interested in the titular aquatic mammals.
3. Paved New World
Paved New World is part classic coming-of-age comedy, part homage to the world of skateboarding. This project has actually been in development since the 1990s, which is also the time period in which the story takes place.
In the film, two best friends, who have recently graduated from high school, decide to do a little last-minute bonding before going their separate ways in life. They head to Widow Maker Mountain, a location so dangerous that it is believed to be “unskateable,” to watch a local legend attempt the seemingly impossible. That legend, Gibby, is played by YouTube celebrity and skateboarding expert Andy Schrock. Disney Channel actors Olivia Rodrigo (Bizaardvark), William Brent (Lab Rats), and Kamil McFadden (K.C. Undercover) co-star.
Director Alexander Garcia was once inducted into the Freestyle Skateboarding Hall of Fame, so that means the skating sequences in Paved New World should be both visually exciting and technically proficient.
2. Magic Camp
Magic Camp has a fun premise. Adam Devine plays Andy Tuckerman, a failed former magician who is lured out of retirement by his mentor, Roy Preston (Jeffrey Tambor), to become a counselor at a magic camp for kids. Andy hopes that this deed will bring his career in the prestidigitation field back to life. Of course, there is a gang of comically eccentric children to inspire him. He attempts to lead them to victory over a rival group of young magicians in an annual competition.
There’s an interesting backstory to Magic Camp. The original screenplay was written by Steve Martin — himself a former magician — and he was originally going to play the role now occupied by Tambor. When he left the project, his script was rewritten by Matt Spicer (Ingrid Goes West) and Max Winkler. Director Mark Waters previously made Mean Girls and Disney’s Freaky Friday remake.
1. Christopher Robin
Winnie the Pooh represented a large part of many people’s childhoods. The character and his friends have delighted kids for decades. The honey-loving bear will return to the big screen in an inventive new live-action/animation format with Christopher Robin.
Directed by Marc Forster (World War Z), the movie focuses on the now-grown titular character, played by Ewan McGregor. As an adult, he’s lost the sense of imagination he had as a kid — the very same imagination that brought his stuffed animals to life. Lo and behold, Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and the rest of the gang show up to help him get back in touch with his inner child.
Jim Cummings, the man who has distinctively voiced Winnie the Pooh for more than thirty years, will fulfill the same duties here, and Agent Carter‘s Haley Atwell appears as Christopher Robin’s wife.
Which of these upcoming Disney movies are you most eager to see? Which one do you think looks the best? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
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