Disney postpones James Cameron's Avatar sequels, announces dates for new Star Wars films
Disney revealed that three untitled Star Wars films will arrive in theaters in 2022, 2024 and 2026.
Now armed with the upcoming releases of 20th Century Fox, the Walt Disney Co. on Tuesday (7 May) set forth a shock-and-awe release schedule spanning the next eight years, including the yet-again-postponed Avatar sequels, a new batch of Star Wars releases and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story adaptation.
Since Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox was completed in March, the studio hadn’t budged on the listed release dates of a number of Fox releases, even as it was increasingly apparent to the industry that high-profile upcoming films were sure to be delayed under the Disney shake-up.
But the most notable delay announced Tuesday was a familiar one: The long wait for more Avatar films will go on a little longer.
James Cameron’s long-delayed Avatar 2 will now open in theaters on 17 December, 2021, instead of its most recent date of 18 December, 2020 — which itself followed numerous already scrapped release dates. The subsequent Avatar sequels have moved to 2023, 2025 and 2027, respectively.
Cameron’s original Avatar came out in 2009. Disney’s Avengers: Endgame is currently approaching the film’s $2.8 billion box-office record with $2.2 billion in worldwide ticket sales after less than two weeks of release. Disney previously dated eight Marvel movies over the next three and a half years, though it’s yet to map out its post-Endgame cinematic universe.
Disney also dated three untitled Star Wars films to arrive in theaters in 2022, 2024 and 2026. The company hasn’t revealed details of those projects. Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson is developing a new trilogy for the space saga.
That means that Disney, which this December will release Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, is set to rule the next nine Christmas box office seasons with either an Avatar or a Star Wars movie, except for one. For the lone exception, December 2020, the company has dated Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (18 December) and Cruella (23 December), a Cruella De Vil origin story starring Emma Stone.
As expected, a number of upcoming Fox films were delayed. James Grey’s science-fiction tale Ad Astra, with Brad Pitt, has been pushed from 24 May to 20 September. The New Mutants, an X-Men movie, was pushed from this Summer to April next year. The X-Men spinoff Gambit has been removed entirely. The YA adaptation Artemis Fowl moved from this August to next May.
“With a strong summer already in place, we are eager to carry that momentum forward over the coming years thanks to a creative wellspring of bold and imaginative stories coming from our world-class studios,” Cathleen Taff, head of distribution for Disney, said in a statement.
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