Disney 2020 Investor Day sees big streaming announcements including updates on Marvel, Pixar and the next Star Wars film
Disney’s annual Investor Day took place last night, offering some insight into content being planned for their streaming services Disney Plus, Hulu and the soon to be launched Star, along updates about new Pixar, MCU and Star Wars features.
As of December 2 it was revealed a massive 86.8 million people had signed up to the service, and the call laid out plans to boost their library to continue that steep trajectory. While the call is primarily targeted towards analysts and investment bankers, it had a more commercial feel this year with more eyes than ever on the announcements due to COVID.
The biggest news came with the announcement that Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins would be in the director’s chair for Rogue Squadron, the next Star Wars film. According to Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy, the story will be set in a “future era of the galaxy” and is set for release in Christmas 2023.
Jenkins posted a video on Twitter and said she wanted to make “the greatest fighter pilot movie of all time,” and that Rogue Squadron was the perfect fit. There is also a Taika Waititi-directed Star Wars film in the works but no real details have been announced, aside from the fact Waititi will also pen the script.
In other Star Wars related news it was also announced that Hayden Christensen, who played Anakin Skywalker in the prequel trilogy, would return as Darth Vader in the Ewan McGregor-led Obi-Wan Kenobi series. Although it’s still unclear when the show will actually arrive on Disney+.
News about the MCU was held until the very last, with Marvel President Kevin Feige announcing that the Fantastic Four would be joining the MCU. Spider-Man director Jon Watts will be helping the upcoming feature. Ryan Coogler is working on Black Panther II but they will not be recasting Chadwick Boseman’s role.
Nia DaCosta, who is set to helm the delayed remake of the 80s horror classic Candyman, was announced as director of Captain Marvel 2. Both Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) will also be joining Brie Larson in the cast. The film is scheduled for release on November 11, 2022.
No MCU film will move over to Disney Plus, with Black Widow aiming for a theatrical release on May 7, 2021. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set for July 9, 2021, Eternals November 5, 2021, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness March 25, 2022. Production on Thor: Love and Thunder is due to commence in the coming months, with Christian Bale starring as the villain, along the next Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man and the Wasp features. News was also announced about planned shows for Loki, Hawkeye, She-Hulk, Moon Knight, Ironheart, Secret Ivasion (with Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn), Armor Wars (Don Cheadle), Ms. Marvel and the animated What If...?
In the summer of 2022 a Buzz Lightyear standalone, simply called Lightyear, is set to arrive, with Chris Evans, rather than Tim Allen, set to the voice the all-action sci-fi toy figure. It will focus on the ‘real life’ test pilot and inspiration for the toy. Finding Dory co-director Angus MacLane will direct and it launches on June 17, 2022. Doug Days, a spin-off of Pixar’s Up featuring Bob Peterson, will be coming in 2021, and a spin-off series to Cars is also in the works.
Live action remakes of Peter Pan and Pinocchio are still going ahead, although these will go direct to Disney+ rather than theatres, following in the footsteps of Lady and the Tramp. The Peter Pan film will be called Peter Pan and Wendy, while Robert Zemeckis will direct Pinocchio with Tom Hanks starring as Geppetto.
Pixar’s 24th feature, Luca, directed by Enrico Casarosa, has been given a release date of June 18, 2021. Walt Disney animation Encanto, which is set in Colombia, features songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda and will be directed by Zootopia’s Byron Howard and Jared Bush. This will followed a year later by Turning Red, a first feature from Pixar short Bao director Domee Shi, which has a date fixed for March 11, 2022.
In terms of other film news, the Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina animation, Raya and the Last Dragon, will move to day-and-date release on March 12, 2021 available on Hulu for a premium price and in cinemas. It was also announced that 20th Century Studios and Searchlight will produce original films solely for Hulu. How this will affect their theatrical content remains to be seen.
Elsewhere, Kareem Daniel, distribution chairman for Disney, revealed that over the next few years the Plus channel would see a total of 10 new Marvel shows, 10 Star Wars series, 10 Disney live-action, animation and Pixar features and 10 Disney live-action, animation and Pixar series.
Lando, a standalone TV show focussing on Lando Calrissian is the works as part of those 10 series, although release dates and casting details are not yet available. Also coming under the Star Wars banner will be a series following Jedi Ahsoka Tano and Rangers of the New Republic, a new series from Jon Favreau set during the timeline of The Mandalorian. There will be a Rogue One prequel series called Andor which will arrive in 2022, starring Diego Luna, reprising his role as Cassian Andor.
Disney also unveiled Star, their new international streaming app which will be available in place of Hulu overseas. The free app will be available within Disney Plus, and will start to roll out in some European countries, New Zealand and Canada on February 23.
An addendum to all this news must also be that despite the success of Disney during this period and the star-studded plans they have lined up, tens of thousands of their employees have been laid off during the pandemic, affecting many lives. Millions will enjoy the entertainment being offered but the reality of what is going on in the real world should also not be forgotten.