Walt Disney Studios has pushed the release of the first of James Cameron’s four Avatar sequels by a year, reports said on Tuesday. Avatar 2 will now be out on December 17, 2021, instead of December 18, 2020. The subsequent titles have similarly been postponed, with the new release dates for Avatar 3, 4 and 5 pegged for 2023, 2025 and 2027.
“The company is changing the debuts of various films it inherited after buying the bulk of 21st Century Fox’s film and television assets in a $71.3 billion mega-merger,” Variety noted. Also in the pipeline are three more Star Wars films, which will follow the December 20 release Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The first of these movies is scheduled for December 16, 2022, while the other two are planned for December 20, 2024, and December 18, 2026.
“We’re excited to put in place a robust and diverse slate that lays the foundation of our long-term strategy, bringing together a breadth of films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox, Fox Searchlight, and Blue Sky Studios to create an extraordinary collection of cinematic experiences for audiences around the world,” Cathleen Taff, the studio’s president of theatrical distribution, was quoted as saying.
Steven Spielberg’s update on West Side Story will be out on December 18, 2020, while the Emma Stone-starrer Cruella will be out on December 23, 2020.
In other changes, The New Mutants, the X-Men movie starring Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams, will be out on April 3, 2020, instead of 2019. Gambit, another Fox spin-off from the X-Men films, has been dropped from the calendar for now.
Ad Astra, starring Brad Pitt as an astronaut, will be released on September 20, 2019. Artemis Fowel, based on the bestselling books, has been pushed by a year to May 29, 2020.
Other releases will be out as scheduled: The Woman in the Window on October 4; Maleficent: Mistress of Evil on October 18 and Frozen 2 on November 22. A new Kingsman movie will be released in 2020, as will be the animated films Onward and Mulan and the new Hercule Poirot mystery Death on the Nile.
The lineup “underscores the sheer theatrical strength of the newly combined studios which currently control over 38% of the 2019 domestic box office with $1.4 billion through May 5, and over $3 billion worldwide”, Deadline noted.