Disney’s Upcoming Movie Schedule is Packed with Marvel, Star Wars, and Avatar

There are eight as-yet-untitled Marvel movies planned for the next three years. Yay?
Walt Disney Studios

When the current year begins winding down, I like to spend some time looking at the upcoming movie release calendar to compile a list of movies that I hope to see in the coming year (here’s my list for 2019). Disney has now made that particular task a little easier by announcing their release schedule up through 2027. (Yes, you read that right: 2027.)

Those worried about the Marvel Cinematic Universe following Avengers: Endgame need not fear: Two (currently unnamed) Marvel movies are planned for 2020, as is the long-delayed New Mutants movie, and three more movies are planned for both 2021 and 2022. Those eight movies will likely be some combination of requisite sequels (e.g., Black Panther 2, Doctor Strange 2, Guardians of the Galaxy 2) and new titles like Black Widow and The Eternals.

Disney will also start alternating between sequels to James Cameron’s Avatar and new Star Wars movies, starting in 2021:

  • 12/17/2021 — Avatar 2
  • 12/16/2022 — Untitled Star Wars
  • 12/22/2023 — Avatar 3
  • 12/20/2024 — Untitled Star Wars
  • 12/19/2025 — Avatar 4
  • 12/18/2026 — Untitled Star Wars
  • 12/17/2027 — Avatar 5

It’s still unknown whether the those three Star Wars movies will be Rian Johnson’s trilogy, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss’ series, or some combination thereof.

And finally, we’re guaranteed at least one new Pixar movie a year until 2022, beginning with Onward — a “suburban fantasy” featuring the voices of Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Octavia Spencer — which arrives in theaters on March 6, 2020.

It’s a pretty staggering list of movies, to be sure. And given that the schedule as it currently stands thins out quite a bit around 2023, it’s safe to say there’s even more stuff in the works that Disney didn’t quite feel comfortable announcing just yet. (And none of this takes into account the stuff that’ll be arriving on Disney Plus this November.)

Some are no doubt geeking out over this news and indulging in all sorts of nerdy conjecture while others see Disney’s announcement as just more evidence that crass commercialism has defeated everything else, including truly original movies. (For more on this, read Matt Zoller Seitz’s excellent article about “the decisive defeat of cinema’ by content.‘”) Indeed, one wonders how long Disney can continue milking franchises like Star Wars and the MCU, though you certainly can’t blame them for doing so.

As of right now, Avenger: Endgame has earned $2.23 billion and it seems pretty obvious that it’ll easily pass Avatar as the most profitable movie of all time. That’s proof positive that Disney and Marvel have turned superhero filmmaking into a well-oiled money-making machine that, miracle of miracles, has released consistently entertaining films for over a decade now. But will it still be entertaining by the time 2021 or 2022 rolls around? Or have we experienced an apotheosis of sorts with Avengers: Endgame? To be honest, I want both to be the case.

But maybe that’s just because I want to have my cake and eat it, too. I want more superhero movies that take chances (like Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Thor: Ragnarok). But I also want fewer sequels and franchise movies (even from beloved franchises) and more original titles. Is that too much to ask?

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