2016 Disney Preview

Ah, Disney, the ol' king in the castle. They own Marvel and Star Wars and more properties than you can shake a stick at, so it's no surprise that they're still kicking ass all over the box office. 2015 was a massive win for the studio with both STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON leading the charge, as well as standouts INSIDE OUT, CINDERELLA, and ANT-MAN lending a hand. But, it's not all sunshine and rainbows, as pics like TOMORROWLAND and STRANGE MAGIC failed to find an audience. But, those are pretty minimal when looking at the big picture and $2.2 billion in domestic ticket sales. 2016 has more efforts from their primary money machines, including Star Wars, Marvel, and animated features, so we suspect another banner year for the company.

Take a peek at what the House of Mouse has in store for 2016 and let us know what you're looking forward to seeing!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16th)

The first venture in Disney/Lucasfilm's Star Wars anthology series, ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY will take place before the events of A NEW HOPE, bringing in a roster of new characters that serve as the instruments for stealing the plans for the Death Star. Leading the group is Felicity Jones with some great backup that includes Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, and Donnie Yen. Director Gareth Edwards (GODZILLA) is at the helm and has teased a grounded war film-like take on the material. “It is called Star WARS," he said at Star Wars Celebration back in April 2015. It's also been revealed (unofficially) that we'll be seeing the return of Star Wars' greatest villain: Darth Vader. While that hasn't been confirmed (and we've reported it as well) it's all but guaranteed at this point and would be a good "safety" to have in place when it comes to marketing a non-Jedi focused Star Wars film. May as well stack the deck.

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY blasts into theaters on December 16th.

Moana (November 23rd)

MOANA tracks Moana Waialiki (voiced by newcomer Auli'i Cravalho), the only daughter of a chief in a long line of navigators who sets out on a seafaring voyage to discover a fabled island with the help of legendary demi-god Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson). It's a nice change of scenery for the standard Disney kids adventure mold and has the potential to be a fall hit, but we'll wait to judge fully when we see this thing in motion. Still, having The Rock on board already gives it an advantage. 'Cause it's The Rock.

MOANA takes to the high seas on November 23rd.

Doctor Strange (November 4th)

The MCU enters the magic realm finally with the introduction of The Sorcerer Supreme aka DOCTOR STRANGE, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular character, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo, Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, Rachel McAdams, and Mads Mikkelsen. With the list of primary characters starting to dwindle in Marvel's comic-to-film line up it was only a matter of time before Stephen Strange hit the big screen, but we're excited it's finally happening, especially for someone that plays such a prominent role in the comic universe. Cumberbatch is almost too perfect of a choice for the role and the supporting players are all excellent, so we've got high hopes. Director Scott Derrickson (SINISTER) is an inspired choice to bring this to life and it'll be cool to see a new corner of the MCU explored outside of all we've seen so far. Bring it on!

DOCTOR STRANGE apparates into theaters on November 4th.

Pete's Dragon (August 12th)

Well, for fans of the trippy and often disturbing 1977 original PETE'S DRAGON this will likely be a much more refined version, devoid of metaphoric drug use songs. It also boasts an interesting cast, including Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, Robert Redford, and Karl Urban, who will embody the cartoonish characters from the original. For those not in the know, PETE'S DRAGON focuses on an orphan runaway seeking refuge from his abusive adoptive parents with the help of a local couple and a pet dragon. No word on how all of this will be presented (the original film feature the dragon as the only animated character), but there's most definitely some wiggle room for improvement. Here's to hoping for a nice surprise. But, we'll miss the drug songs.

PETE'S DRAGON flies into theaters on August 12th.

The BFG (July 1st)

We haven't had a fun, light Steven Spielberg movie since 2011's THE ADVENTURES OF TIN TIN, but the master director is now taking a break from the heavy stuff to tackle THE BFG. Based on the wildly popular book by classic author Roald Dahl (FANTASTIC MR. FOX, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH) the film follows a lonely outcast giant (Mark Rylance) who befriends a young girl (newcomer Ruby Barnhill) that helps him find a new path in life, while confronting his past. Fans of the book will surely be pleased to have such an esteemed director at the helm of this adaptation and it'll be nice to see him deliver a film that appeals to all audiences again.

THE BFG stomps into theaters on July 1st.

Finding Dory (June 17th)

Pixar is going back to the sequel well for this follow-up to the largely successful FINDING NEMO, which this time focuses on the forgetful tang fish Dory, as voiced by Ellen DeGeneres. Albert Brooks returns as Marlin, with a fine selection of backup, including Idris Elba (is there any animated film he's NOT voicing this year?), Kaitlin Olson, Dominic West, Diane Keaton, Ed O'Neill, Ty Burrell, and Eugune Levy. Also returning is director Andrew Stanton (with Angus MacLane), who hasn't been behind the camera since 2012's flop JOHN CARTER (which I unabashedly love). Perhaps returning to the animated world will suit him better and certainly fans of both Pixar and NEMO will no doubt be enthused for this.

FINDING DORY swims into theaters on June 17th.

Alice Through the Looking Glass (May 27th)

One of the most loathed and most successful films ever made is getting a sequel and if you guessed ALICE IN WONDERLAND then you win the prize. Indeed I've yet to meet a person that loved the film (I actually didn't mind it), but I don't hang out with a lot of adolescent youngsters either, so there's that. Tim Burton may have left the director's chair, but that didn't stop this fairy tale sequel from coming true. Director James Bobin (MUPPETS MOST WANTED) has picked up the reins and returning stars Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter, Mia Wasikowska as Alice, Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen, Anne Hathaway as The White Queen, and the late Alan Rickman as Blue Caterpiller with Sacha Baron Cohen entering the mix as the villain known as Time. If you happened to like the first flick, then this may be for you, but if not...well, you don't even need to say anything. We know.

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS goes down the rabbit hole again on May 27th.

Captain America: Civil War (May 6th)

I don't think we could be more pumped for this one. After the badassery that was CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (the best of all the Marvel films in my opinion), the directing duo of the Russo Bros. more than proved they were up to task in delivering the action, thrills, mythology, and spectacle of the MCU and their return with CIVIL WAR is reason to be excited. Pulling threads from Mark Millar's original CIVIL WAR comic storyline, the film pits Cap (Chris Evans) and his team vs. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and his team in a battle over whether superheroes should be regulated by the government or not. Joining the fray are Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), The Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Vision (Paul Bettany), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp), as well as the return of Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), Crossbones (Frank Grillo), and the introduction of classic villain Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl). Oh, and some Spider guy is showing up, too. Really, who is NOT seeing this movie?

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR charges into theaters on May 6th.

The Jungle Book (April 15th)

Director Jon Favreau tackles the classic tale from Rudyard Kipling, using a blend of CG and live-action that should make for a proper adaptation of both the classic book and the classic Disney animated film. We love Fav's but he can be hit or miss on the big-budget spectacle flicks, but he can knock 'em out of the park with the smaller fare, like last year's CHEF, so we're certainly hoping this is in the "win" column for him. The voice cast is top notch, including Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito, and Ben Kingsley, so that's another thing going for the flick. Some may be concerned about the CG/live-action blend, but to that we point to LIFE OF PI, which pulled that off beautifully.

THE JUNGLE BOOK treks into theaters on April 15th.

Zootopia (March 4th)

Disney once again treads into anthropomorphic territory (the hell you say!) with ZOOTOPIA, a digitally-animated feature that imagines a world of all species living together in a modern world, but not necessarily in harmony. Jason Bateman voices a Fox who teams up with a Bunny, played by Ginnifer Goodwin, to take on some kind of animal conspiracy. Hijinks ensue. You know the drill. The rest of the voice cast is comprised of Idris Elba, Alan Tudyk, J.K. Simmons, Jenny Slate, Bonnie Hunt, Octavia Spencer, Shakira, and Tommy Chong. Overall, it looks like a fun flick with a playful concept, so you could certainly find worse kids movies to invest in.

ZOOTOPIA hops into theaters on March 4th.

The Finest Hours (January 29th)

Based on the true story of a daring 1952 Coast Guard rescue that involved two destroyed oil tankers, THE FINEST HOURS looks to tap into the courage and perseverance of the event with the usual uplifting Disney flair. Starring Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Eric Bana, Holliday Grainger, and Ben Foster, the Craig Gillespie (MILLION DOLLAR ARM, FRIGHT NIGHT) directed film looks like a well-crafted endeavor, but could end up being a tough sell for audiences looking to escape the bad weather rather than be immersed in it. That said, you can check out our review HERE and see if it's worth the voyage.

THE FINEST HOURS sets sail on January 29th.

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