Things are crazy busy over at the Mouse House, which just barely hired a new screenwriter for Pirates of the Caribbean 5 and has The Muppets 2 entering production overseas in Europe this month. Meanwhile, the Sleeping Beauty-inspired Maleficent (starring Angelina Jolie) is in post-production, with director Brad Bird's sci-fi adventure 1952 (featuring George Clooney) readying to start filming in the upcoming months.
Disney has scheduled all four films (save for Pirates) to hit regular theaters next year (and, in some cases, 3D). Scroll on down to learn the exact release dates for these respective sequels, spinoffs and Bird's mystery project.
We were anticipating The Muppets 2 arriving by Fall 2013 (some two years after its predecessor), but Disney has instead slated the followup for March 21st, 2014. Muppets co-writer and star Jason Segel isn't involved with the sequel, but director James Bobin, co-writer Nicholas Stoller and songwriter Bret McKenzie are back. The under-wraps plot has been likened to The Great Muppet Caper, with Kermit the Frog and company getting caught up in a wacky European adventure that involves humans played by ex-Golden Globes hosts (and TV stars) Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey along with Modern Family's Ty Burrell.
Maleficent opens a few months later on July 2nd (in 2D and 3D). It was originally set for March 2014, but Disney's decided it's worthy of the Summer blockbuster season. Jolie headlines as the titular sorceress - here, portrayed in a sympathetic light (like what Wicked did for the Wicked Witch of the West) - with a cast rounded out by Sharlto Copley, Imelda Staunton (The Girl), Juno Temple (The Dark Knight Rises), Sam Riley (On the Road), Miranda Richardson (Phantom of the Opera) and Elle Fanning (Ginger & Rosa) as Princess Aurora. Alice in Wonderland production designer Robert Stromberg makes his director debut, working from a script penned by Alice writer Linda Woolverton.
1952 - which Bird has assured everyone is (sadly) not Star Wars: Episode VII in disguise - is arriving in 3D at the end of next year, on December 19th. Details are being kept under-wraps (rumors point to a film like Close Encounters of the Third Kind), but Clooney's casting is now official. Furthermore, this is the writing project that's helping to prevent Damon Lindelof from working on a Prometheus sequel (for better or worse).
Last (but not least), Pirates of the Caribbean 5 (official subtitle TBD) is washing ashore on July 10th, 2015, with Johnny Depp back as Captain Jack Sparrow (duh). The project doesn't have a finished script or a director locked down just yet, but is apparently not going to follow On Stranger Tides' example and be released in 3D (probably for the best). But don't quote us on that, should Disney heads change their minds.
[Update: Disney also confirmed 3D releases for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy.]
Sound off with your early feelings about all four of these films - Pirates of the Caribbean 5, The Muppets 2, Maleficent and 1952 - in the comments section.
Source: Walt Disney Pictures