Saturday, April 22, 2017

Fox announces massive release slate, including 'Avatar' sequels, 'Deadpool 2,' new films from McQueen, Spielberg, and more

Saturdays are usually pretty quiet for movie news, but today, 20th Century Fox switched it up by announcing an absurd amount of release date changes that will have an impact going all the way up to 2025. Yes, you read that right. At first, news broke that James Cameron's Avatar sequels had finally received release dates, but the adjustment of Fox's slate goes so much further than that. Courtesy of Box Office Mojo, here's a breakdown of all the changes made today by one of Hollywood's biggest studios:


-Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the much-anticipated sequel to the 2015 film, will now hit theaters one week earlier on September 22, 2017. It is set to face off against Tom Cruise's American Made, Warner Bros.' Ninjago, and Lionsgate's Granite Mountain, which is hitting a distribution snag. I'm expecting both the former and latter films to flee to another date.

-Kenneth Branagh's star-packed remake of Murder on the Orient Express has been shifted up a few weeks to November 10, 2017, where it will face off against Daddy's Home 2 and the second weekend of Thor: Ragnarok. The film was originally the only wide release set for the Thanksgiving frame, leaving that weekend wide open for the studios (although Justice League will certainly be a formidable threat).

-Steven Spielberg's Pentagon Papers drama, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, will hit theaters on December 22, 2017. Mojo has it as a limited release alongside Weinstein's The Current War.


-Maze Runner: The Death Cure, the final installment of the popular franchise, has been pushed back a month to February 9, 2018. It will debut on the same weekend as Fifty Shades Freed and Peter Rabbit, although there isn't a whole lot of market overlap between those films.

-Francis Lawrence's Red Sparrow, which stars Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton among others, will now debut on March 2, 2018. Originally set to premiere during the crowded November frame, the Cold War thriller (which was teased at CinemaCon) will now have an entire weekend to itself.

-Josh Boone's New Mutants has been a much-anticipated project for years, and now, the project finally has an April 13, 2018 release date. James McAvoy is rumored to star in the film, but beyond that, nearly nothing is known about the latest X-Men flick. It opens a week after Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle in Time and on the same day as an untitled Universal Monsters project. Expect to hear much more about New Mutants very soon.

-Possibly the biggest announcement beyond Cameron's return to Pandora was the reveal that David Letich's Deadpool 2 will hit theaters on June 1, 2018, putting the Merc with a Mouth in the thick of the summer movie season. That's one weekend after Lucasfilm's untitled Han Solo project and one weekend before the release of Ocean's 8 and Transformers 6 (is this even in production?), so I would expect some major shifts to the 2018 summer calendar in the coming weeks.


-The most disappointing news of the day was the reveal that Shane Black's Predator has been pushed back from its original February 9 release date to August 3, 2018. The film will now hit during an August frame that is surprisingly crowded, with Holmes & Watson, an untitled Disney project, Jason Statham's Meg, and Scarface all set to debut during the month. But for most cinephiles, the new film from the director of The Nice Guys and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang will undoubtedly be the event of late summer 2018.

-I know absolutely nothing about Fox's The Kid Who Would Be King, but it's now set for a September 28, 2018 release. So there's that.

-The next major installment in the X-Men franchise, entitled Dark Phoenix, will hit theaters on November 2, 2018. It'll face off against Disney's live-action remake of Mulan, as well as an untitled Paramount event film. Also set for release in November 2018 are the Fantastic Beasts sequel, Bad Boys For Life, an animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Disney's Gigantic. Dark Phoenix is expected to continue the adventures of the cast of X-Men: Apocalypse, chronicling the saga of Sophie Turner's Jean Grey. Hopefully it's better than that 2016 disaster.

-Steve McQueen hasn't released a film since 2013's Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, but he'll be returning on November 16, 2018 with Widows. The film is the story of a group of widows who pick up the slack for their deceased husbands with a bank robbery. The cast includes Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, Get Out's Daniel Kaluuya, Viola Davis, Robert Duvall, Cynthia Erivo, and Moonlight's Andre Holland. So yeah, I'm pretty excited about this one.


-I knew that a biopic of Queen star Freddie Mercury had been in development for a very long time, but I had no idea that it was this close to hitting the big screen. Bohemian Rhapsody will debut on December 25, 2018 from director Bryan Singer, with Mr. Robot star Rami Malek playing Mercury. It'll face off against Mary Poppins Returns and a new film from Warner Bros.

-And finally, after years of delays and speculation, Fox revealed the release dates for James Cameron's Avatar sequels. They are as follows:

     -Avatar 2- December 18, 2020
     -Avatar 3- December 17, 2021
     -Avatar 4- December 20, 2024
     -Avatar 5- December 19, 2025

It's been a long wait, and at this point, I'm not sure that there's much interest. Disney's Avatar Land will be opening next month will little in the way of fanfare or excitement, and I'm not sure if it'll do much to increase anticipation for the four upcoming sequels. But hey, we can never doubt James Cameron. He's proven everybody wrong time and time again.

That'll do it for today's release date announcements. But there's quite a bit to be excited about from this list of titles. I'm sure we'll be hearing quite a bit more about many of these films in the near future.


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