Disney Movie Releases for 2018
We are only a week away from one of the most highly anticipated movies of 2018…and it’s only early February! Then again, Disney has to start early since they have one of the most impressive movie slates for any studio in any year ever. During the first six months alone, they’ll release two Marvel films, a Pixar sequel, an adaptation of a beloved children’s book franchise, and a Star Wars standalone title featuring some dude fittingly named Solo. Disney fans are going to have a wonderful year, as you’ll have 10 new movies to catch over the next 11 months! Here’s a quick look at each one.
Black Panther (February 16)
A word of warning: if you don’t already have tickets for Black Panther’s opening weekend, you may be in trouble. Online movie vendors have reported record sales, and the expectation is that it’ll open better than any first Marvel film to date. Early projections place its first weekend in the $150+ million range, a remarkable number for a largely unknown comic book character.
The titular Black Panther is the king of a fictional African country known as Wakanda, a place with advanced technology that makes your iPhone look like the phone Alexander Graham Bell used back in 1876. Black Panther appeared in several key scenes in Captain America: Civil War, and it apparently whetted the appetite of Marvel fans. Next weekend’s movie headlines will almost all involve the box office dominance of Black Panther.
A Wrinkle in Time (March 9)
I don’t think I’m exaggerating much to say that Madeleine L’Engle was the J.K. Rowling of the early 1960s. In an age dominated by male science fiction writers, she won the prestigious Newberry Award given to the author of the best work of fiction aimed at children. At the time, the concept of tween lit was largely unknown.
More than 50 years later, Disney has developed the most successful of L’Engle’s stories into a major motion picture. And it stars Oprah Winfrey! I don’t want to reveal too many plot details, as that would ruin the surprise, but A Wrinkle in Time is a gripping tale about a daughter willing to travel the universe to find her missing father. Chris Pine aka Captain Kirk aka Wonder Woman’s Steve Trevor plays the father. It’s the kids who drive the action here, though. If things go well, Disney expects this movie to evolve into a franchise. L’Engle wrote five novels in the series, which means there’s plenty of story left to tell.
Avengers: Infinity War (May 4)
It all comes down to this. Starting in 2008, Marvel developed an audacious plan to create an entire cinematic universe based on their characters. At the time, critics assailed them, and I vividly recall a friend who is a major studio executive scoffing at the notion. A decade ago, the perception was that Batman was the only comic book character whom people would pay to see.
Today, Avengers: Infinity War is one of the most anticipated movies of our era. Realistically, only two recent films rival it in scope. Those were Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the final Harry Potter movie. The Russo Brothers, the directors of Infinity War, debated more than 60 Marvel characters for inclusion in this film. We already know from the trailer that the Guardians of the Galaxy will join forces with at least some of The Avengers, meaning that it’s really two sequels in one. Every film on this list could be huge, but Infinity War is likely to become the number one domestic and global release of 2018.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 25)
This film is a good news/bad news situation. On the plus side, everyone’s dream of a Han Solo origin story has finally come to fruition after forty years of anticipation. On the down side, Disney famously fired the directors of the film, the team behind the 21 Jump Street, well into the movie shoot. Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard stepped in to replace them. Despite his presence, the buzz on this one isn’t great. Still, it’s a Han Solo movie, which means we’re all going to go see it.
Incredibles 2 (June 15)
In 2004, my favorite Pixar movie of all-time ended with a faux cliffhanger. Presumably a silly throwaway gag, a villain named The Underminer rose from beneath the surface to attack The Incredibles. After 14 years, these characters finally return in an unexpected way. The sequel will start the moment that the first film ended!
Disney’s gone all-in on The Incredibles in 2018. They shut down California Screamin’ in order to introduce the IncrediCoaster, an integral part of the new Pixar Pier. They’re banking on the greatness of Incredibles 2. Since Brad Bird is helming the sequel, there’s every reason to believe that it will be like Finding Dory: a wonderful sequel to a superlative first film.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6)
Yes, by the halfway point of the year, Disney will have released three different Marvel movies! The one conclusion we can draw from this film is that Ant-Man survives the Infinity War. Otherwise, it’s a playful romantic sequel to the silly but fun first film, Ant-Man. Basically everyone on the planet loves Paul Rudd, and he’s not just the face of the film. He was also in more than 80% of the scenes in the original. Now, he gets a girlfriend! The Wasp is actually a founding member of The Avengers, which means that her presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is long overdue. The only question here is whether everyone is already Marvel-ed out by the time this one comes out. It’s three MCU films in less than five months.
Christopher Robin (August 3)
Not to be confused with the similarly titled 2017 release, Goodbye Christopher Robin, this movie is animated. Last year’s movie was a true-to-life exploration of the life of author A.A. Milne, the man who invented Winnie the Pooh. Disney’s 2018 title is a new take on the basic story of Winnie the Pooh. The idea this time is that Christopher Robin is all grown and no longer interested in his friends at Pooh Corner. Pooh has to assemble the team and put together a plan to remind their human of the importance of imagination.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (November 2)
Disney’s second major fantasy movie of the year doesn’t star Oprah. It does, however, feature an impressive cast including Dame Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and Keira Knightley. The actual star of the film is a teenaged actress named Mackenzie Foy, who is probably best known as the stubborn, brilliant daughter in Interstellar. If you’re wondering, the story is based on The Nutcracker, the most famous of all ballets, but it’s an extremely loose interpretation. It’s also the most mysterious of Disney’s projects this year. They’ve largely kept the story under wraps, but it will presumably follow the fairy tale to at least some degree. Also, Knightley portrays the Sugar Plum Fairy, which is pretty brilliant casting.
Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (November 21)
The second major animated sequel of the year hits theaters just in time for Thanksgiving. That’s been Disney’s m.o. in recent years, as the studio has absolutely dominated the holiday box office, starting with Frozen in 2013. It’s not really a new practice, though. Toy Story 2 shattered the Thanksgiving box office record all the way back in 1999.
Unlike The Incredibles sequel, this one has a time lapse. It starts six years after the original. Presumably, Vanellope von Schweetz is still Queen of the Arcade rather than derisively known as The Glitch. For his part, Ralph’s got router problems, a problem we can all relate to. In his search for a working part, he accidentally stumbles across the internet. Given the title, things don’t go well. But I will give you one piece of information that will make you want to see this film. During his (literal) internet search, Ralph encounters ALL DISNEY PRINCESSES!!! Stating the obvious, this film’s going to be huge.
Mary Poppins Returns (December 25)
In 2012, Disney finished an impossible casting search. The company found an actor to portray the man whose name is still everywhere from parks to movies to television programs. Tom Hanks did an admirable job as Walt Disney in 2013’s Saving Mr. Banks, although Emma Thompson garnered most of the critical acclaim. Her role was Pamela Travers, the author of…Mary Poppins.
I mention all of this simply to point out that making impossible acting decisions is par for the course at Disney. The latest example is Mary Poppins Returns, which takes place 25 years after the events of the first film. The original Mary Poppins is one of the seminal family films of all-time, and casting a new actress to play the title role was an exhaustive process. In the end, Disney seems like they got it right by hiring Golden Globe-winning actress Emily Blunt. She has big shoes (and an umbrella) to fill, though.
Julie Andrews actually started her movie career with Mary Poppins, and it’s impossible for anyone to do better. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress and crafted an unforgettable character still indelibly integrated into the pop culture zeitgeist more than half a century later. Shockingly, the current word is that the very-much-alive actress will not appear in the sequel, although Dick Van Dyke is confirmed to make a cameo. Whether he’s playing Bert is currently unknown. Hopefully, Andrews is in it as well, with Disney choosing to keep that happy bit of news a secret. If not, many, many people will be heartbroken.
Out of all the films on the 2018 release schedule, Mary Poppins Returns isn’t the biggest box office contender or heavily hyped sequel. It is, however, THE most Disney of all the titles. I’m confident that most of you reading this will spend part of your late December holiday break watching Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins.
Which of these ten films is your most anticipated title? For me, it’s The Incredibles 2, but I’ve been on the Brad Bird bandwagon since The Iron Giant. I’m also pretty jazzed about A Wrinkle in Time and Mary Poppins Returns, but my second most anticipated film is Infinity War. Who am I kidding, though? I’ll see just about all of these movies on opening night. Won’t you?
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