Ultimate Guide to Disney’s Late 2020 Movies
In the first six months of 2020, Disney will release eight titles. During the final half of the year, the studio currently has ten films in the queue.
Now, movie release dates do tend to fluctuate based on unforeseen circumstances and editing issues. Titanic famously got delayed a full year as director James Cameron tinkered with the final cut. So, some of what you read here is final. A couple of times may move around the schedule. As of right now, here are the Disney movies that the studio plans to release from July through December of 2020.
1. Free Guy – July 3rd
As far as ingenious concepts go, Free Guy wins. Ryan Reynolds stars in this action-comedy about a man whose everyday life isn’t what it seems. Reynolds’ character learns that he’s part of an open-world videogame Free City that sounds a lot like Grand Theft Auto.
Guy is a bank teller who never seems to notice the hail of gunfire happening all around him as he travels to and from work. One day, a They Live moment occurs when he puts on a pair of glasses and suddenly recognizes that he lives in a violent videogame.
The cast of Free Guy is quite strong. In addition to Reynolds, Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer and Stranger Things’ Joe Keery play others trapped in the game. Even better, Taika Waititi portrays the villain.
You know him as the director of Thor: Ragnarok, but he’s also an actor. In fact, he and Reynolds worked together on a failed comic book movie, Green Lantern. Free Guy is well-positioned to become Disney’s best live-action comedy of the year.
2. Bob’s Burgers – July 17th
While I love animated comedies like The Simpsons, Futurama, Archer, and American Dad, I never got into Bob’s Burgers. I watched the pilot, wasn’t impressed, and never looked back.
One of my dearest friends swears that it’s the best show on television, which makes him easy to shop for over the holidays. But I know little about the show beyond the basics.
Therefore, I was amused a few days ago when the internet lost its collective mind over incorrect news. People (temporarily) believed that Disney had pulled Fox’s theatrical version of Bob’s Burgers off the schedule. Hilariously, some publicist had just accidentally left it off the list, the same fear I have in writing this list.
Rest assured that Bob’s Burgers will follow the path of The Simpsons by getting a movie release. They’re the only two Fox animated sitcoms ever to get film adaptations. While the box office will be modest, fans of the show are beside themselves with excitement.
3. Jungle Cruise – July 24th
During the development of the famed Disney attraction, Imagineers honed in on The African Queen as the primary inspiration for Jungle Cruise. More than 60 years later, Disney will finally release a movie based on the ride based on the movie. Got all that?
Disney has actually tried to get a Jungle Cruise movie off the ground for 30 years now. The constant delays may have helped the studio, as the current version looks like the best case scenario. It stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt, two of the most famous celebrities on the planet.
The goal here is to leverage the first film into a franchise a la Pirates of the Caribbean. When the trailer first came out, social media was ablaze with hot takes comparing Jungle Cruise to The Mummy.
As a classic movie buff, I notice The African Queen riffs more, but The Mummy has had four films released over the past 20 years. I’m not even counting The Scorpion King in that. But do you know who starred as The Scorpion King? Yup, it was The Rock!
4. The One and Only Ivan – August 14th
In 1962, the world didn’t notice when a gorilla was born in the Congo. While just a baby, this creature named Ivan was kidnapped and transported to America.
Here, he lived with a family in their home until he outgrew the awkward living arrangements. Eventually, others noticed his caged habitat and requested that Ivan be moved to a zoo instead.
In 2012, fifty years later, author K.A. Applegate fictionalized some elements of the story to make it her own. The literary work that she created, The One and Only Ivan, won a prestigious Newberry Medal.
In Applegate’s version, Ivan befriends an elderly elephant who lives with him at a kind of permanent circus. Since elephants have long memories, she remembers a time when she was free to roam. She’s too old and frail to leave now, though.
However, when a baby elephant arrives, the elder asks Ivan the gorilla to promise something. He must protect the baby elephant and find a way to prevent it from living out an unhappy existence at the circus.
The One and Only Ivan nobly agrees and becomes a father figure. Yes, a gorilla parents a baby elephant. I’m not crying. You’re crying!
Friends, Disney’s going to make this movie. You’re going to need a lot of handkerchiefs when you watch it. This one’s the tearjerker on the 2020 schedule. I’m glad that Disney’s doing more films like this one. It’s a story that Walt Disney would have adored.
5. The King’s Man – September 18th
Does that name sound familiar? No, Disney hasn’t shamelessly knocked off a competing studio’s title, Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Instead, the company acquired the intellectual property as part of the license. At the same time, Disney got this prequel, an origin story about the history of the Kingsman organization.
Those of you who have seen either of the first two films must feel confused right now. No, the uber-violent comic book adaptations don’t seem in keeping with the Disney brand. However, these movies cost about $100 million each to produce. The company’s got to recoup that investment somehow.
6. Death on the Nile – October 9th
In 2017, right around the time that Fox film executives learned that they would soon work for Disney, they enjoyed professional success. Murder on the Orient Express, the adaptation of the Agatha Christie novel, shocked many observers by earning $353 million worldwide against a $55 million budget.
People who do things like that tend to get promoted. Alas, many of those execs also had a hand in Dark Phoenix, so they’re fired now.
Before the terminations got handed out, Fox understandably greenlit and hotshot a sequel. It’s out less than three years after the last one, and it’s based on what is arguably Christie’s most famous work, Death on the Nile.
Kenneth Branagh will once again direct the movie and star as legendary sleuth, Hercules Poirot. The rest of the cast is brand new for reasons that make perfect sense if you’ve watched Murder on the Orient Express. Well, Bouc is back, but that’s kind of a Sherlock Holmes/Watson dynamic.
The point is that mysteries with lots of stars in the cast do very well at the box office these days. If you don’t believe me, just check how Knives Out is doing.
7. The Eternals – November 6th
Over the past 11 years, Marvel has meticulously built a cinematic universe full of courageous superheroes. The MCU started with a smart man trying to overcome a broken body.
It’s since added a demigod (Peter Quill), a Norse god (Thor), and whatever Captain Marvel is. To counterbalance the growing power of enemies like Thanos and Ultron, Marvel’s created overpowered heroes to balance the scales.
Next November, Disney will release the most ambitious MCU title to date, The Eternals. It’ll introduce an entirely new race of alien immortals. Actually, it’ll introduce two of them.
The Deviants are a religious group of humanoids who are not easy on the eyes. These ugmos believe that Earth is rightfully theirs and can do with its people as they like.
The Celestials disagree. Millennia ago, these ancient beings determined that Earth was the perfect place to set up shop. These beautiful “people” protect humanity from the Deviants. It’s an eternal struggle and a story so complex that even Neil Gaiman struggled to write the comic.
Here’s the key part that will blow your mind. Thanos is an Eternal! His parents are both Celestials. However, he possesses the Deviant gene, so he’s a bit of both. The belief is that he’ll appear in this film, although his fictional parents aren’t cast in it.
I’m guessing that your eyes have glazed over by now. That underscores the hurdle that Disney must clear here. The story of The Eternals is incredibly cool, but it’s really, really difficult to explain. In 100-150 minutes, Marvel must make a movie that MCU fans find relatable and engaging. It’s a big ask, but if anybody has earned the benefit of the doubt, it’s Marvel, right?
8. Raya and the Last Dragon – November 25th
Do you remember last week when Disney absolutely dominated the Thanksgiving holiday box office? Yeah, that’s by design. After Christmas week, Thanksgiving delivers the most substantial box office totals each year.
Not coincidentally, Disney’s already staked a claim to Thanksgiving 2020. The studio will release Raya and the Last Dragon, formerly known as Dragon Empire. This project became the buzz topic during the 2019 D-23 Expo for the reason that you’d expect.
DISNEY HAS MADE AN ANIMATED MOVIE ABOUT DRAGONS!!!
While I know some of the details and could add a bit about the story, I think I’d rather just leave you with that thought. The same animation house that just created Frozen 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet has switched to the next project, one in a world that has living, breathing dragons.
Adele Lim, the writer of Crazy Rich Asians, has created this story, and that film’s co-star, Awkwafina, provides one of the voices. Between The Eternals and this, November of 2020 will be an absolutely massive month for Walt Disney Pictures.
9. West Side Story – December 18th
Every year, I get asked why studios continue making and remaking famous musicals. The answer is simple. Academy Awards voters love them, and the movies tend to do well at the box office, especially when they open around the Twelve Days of Christmas. That’s the most lucrative time on the box office calendar.
Since Disney hasn’t won an Academy Award for Best Picture since, well, ever, the company will try again with this modern update on the 1961 movie. Ansel Elgort of The Fault in Our Stars will frontline West Side Story.
He will star alongside virtual unknown Rachel Zegler, who was plucked from obscurity to play Maria, besting 30,000 other candidates. Some director named Steven Spielberg helms the project and likes the cut of her jib.
Watch the video above, and you’ll agree that he’s on to something here. It’s the 1:40 mark of the clip that will blow your mind.
10. Cruella – December 23rd
You may think of Emma Stone as that sweet actress from La La Land and Easy A. However, you’ll need to recalibrate with the release of Cruella, an origin story for the villainess from 101 Dalmatians.
This film will reveal the sordid career trajectory that turned a novice fashion designer into a fur coat-clad animal abuser. From the description, Cruella might have a touch of The Devil Wears Prada thrown in for good measure.
Since the two Maleficent movies have earned $1.22 billion in box office, don’t be surprised when other Disney villains receive movie spin-offs.