Walt Disney is getting ready to roll out eight new films in 2013, and you might be surprised at the offerings. In addition to some original animated and kid-friendly options, the studio is also working with partner Marvel to bring you two new installments in the ‘Avengers’ saga. Read on for all the details!
Oz The Great and Powerful (March 8)
Depart from the tame visions you have of the classic ‘Oz’ and take off on an original adventure from director Sam Raimi. In this imagining of the origins of the powerful wizard, a small-time magic man (James Franco) is hurled into Oz and thinks he has finally stumbled upon a chance to become a ‘somebody’—until he learns that a host of epic problems are threatening his new homeland, and he may or may not be the only man to solve them. Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams co-star as the three sister witches (yes, three!) whom the wizard encounters when he arrives in Oz.
With plenty of special-effects wizardry (pun intended) and a colorful 3D landscape, this film has the sort of attention-grabbing visuals that make audiences curious months in advance of release. It looks like the script and direction should be fairly strong as well, meaning this film has the potential to give Disney a very strong start to the year.
Iron Man 3 (May 3)
Who hasn’t been eagerly waiting for the next installment in what is arguably the most popular and successful branch of the ‘Avengers’ franchise? (Put your hands down, killjoys!) Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) faces one of his most powerful foes yet, Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) and faces the destruction of everything and everyone he holds close. It will be interesting to see how the direction of the franchise changes as Jon Favreau leaves the director’s chair to Shane Black, whose previous directing credit was ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’. One thing is for certain: this film will make a killing at the box office, and is probably Disney’s strongest chance for the year to make it into the black and stay there.
Monsters University (June 21)
Disney just released a 3D version of ‘Monsters Inc’ to less than stellar audience reception, so they have to be hoping they do a little better with another original animated tale (in the obligatory 3D) featuring the beloved characters and voice talent, including Billy Crystal and John Goodman. Tykes should be happy with the film, and it’s important to remember that the original remains one of Disney’s most popular films, which bodes well for the sequel. The only hard sell: a ten-plus year gap between the installments.
The Lone Ranger (July 3)
It’s possible that this will be Disney’s hardest sell of the year: with a massive budget ($250 million and counting at last estimate) and early reviews predicting a flop, the company will need to pull out all the stops to fill theatre seats. Perhaps that explains the inclusion of the giant train wreck in the trailer, to try and show theatre-goers where all that cash went (special effects) and the worthwhile outcome? Armie Hammer will get his chance to show his leading man potential as the masked vigilante while Johnny Depp will play the spirit warrior Tonto. One of Depp’s favorite collaborators, Gore Verbinski, will direct.
Delivery Man (October 4)
Director Ken Scott updates his French Canadian hit ‘Starbuck’ for an American audience with familiar faces Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders filling the leads. The basic plot involved a former sperm donor learning he’s fathered hundreds of children throughout the years and that many of them now want to meet him. It seems a bit eyebrow-raising to see that this film is being released through family-friendly Disney, since the original was rated R due to the subject matter. But since no rating, trailers, or other promotional material is yet available, for now we will have to just wait for more information to determine just how Disney (and Scott) will package the movie.
Thor: The Dark World (November 8)
Wisely distancing itself from competition with fellow Marvel fellow Iron Man, this sequel marks yet another eyebrow-raising directorial shakeup, with Sir Kenneth Branagh leaving and Alan Taylor entering. Taylor is known for his work on HBO series like ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’, so how he will handle a superhero film with such mythological connections is uncertain. No budget has been revealed yet, but since the original netted $500 million worldwide ($181 million domestically) Disney will likely bump up the budget to roll out even more otherworldly effects.
Frozen (November 27)
Capitalizing on the Thanksgiving holiday, this family-friendly animated comedy continues on the recent trend of pitting female leads against mythical elements, moving them out of the proverbial high tower and onto the field of battle. It seems to be a winning strategy, and while we haven’t seen any teaser trailers yet, the released concept art is truly impressive. The film is an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale ‘The Snow Queen’.
Saving Mr. Banks (December 20)
Finally, just in time for the Christmas holiday, this film relates the untold story of how Walt Disney himself struggled to bring the children’s’ book ‘Mary Poppins’ to the big screen. Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson fill the lead roles as Disney and the book’s author, P.L. Travers, who initially refuses to allow the adaptation of her book. Disney in turn pulls out all the stops in order to change her mind and fulfill his promise to his daughters to turn their favorite book into a movie. With the casting, subject matter, and release date, this film should do well for Disney at the box office and wrap up the year on a high note.