Hot off the blockbuster success of The Jungle Book, Disney has been staking out several years' worth of live action fairy tales.
In grabbing the release dates, Disney gave a peak at its development pipeline. The studio confirmed that it is planning to make Cruella, an 101 Dalmatians spin-off with Emma Stone, as well as sequels to Jungle Book and Maleficent. Angelina Jolie is set to return for Maleficent with Linda Woolverton, the screenwriter on the first film, handling script duties. Jungle Book director Jon Favreau and writer Justin Marks are returning for another trip into the wild.
The company also confirmed that it is moving forward with Ava DuVernay's adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms with director Lasse Hallstrom (My Life as a Dog) and writer Ashleigh Powell attached; a Tinker Bell project with Reese Witherspoon set to star and Victoria Strouse (Finding Dory) writing; Jungle Cruise with Dwayne Johnson set to star and John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (Focus) writing; and Dumbo with director Tim Burton and writer Ehren Kruger ("Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen") overseeing the elephant tale.
In addition, Disney said it is planning a sequel to Mary Poppins with Emily Blunt and Hamilton creator Lin Manuel-Miranda starring and Rob Marshall (Chicago) directing. Given that these films are still in various stages of planning, it is possible that certain projects could fall out. It shows, however, the enormous confidence Disney has in its ability to make live action fantasies. Not only has The Jungle Book been a critical and commercial success, but the studio has also reaped big profits with Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Maleficent.
The studio has staked out release dates, but did not say which product would be reserved for which slot. It plans to release an untitled Disney live action fairy tale in July 2017 (as opposed to on previously scheduled Dec. 2017), in April 2018, and in Dec. 2019. The company will also release live action movies in Aug. 2018 and in Dec. 2018. That puts their releases in competition with several major films, among them Jumanji, Sony's animated Spider-Man film, and an untitled animated film from ParaNorman creators Laika.
The Jungle Book and Mary Poppins sequels are farther along in their development process and will likely be among the films snagging those dates. This kind of flag planting is becoming increasingly common place. As studios plunge deeper into the tentpole business, they want to establish themselves in prime release dates years in advance.