By JAMES RAINEY
Disney scooped up giant hunks of the world’s movie audience in 2015, concluding the year with the record-busting Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Disney’s complete movie calendar for 2016, released with synopses and artwork, is highlighted by Star Wars spinoff Rogue One, along with potential powerhouses from its Pixar and Marvel subsidiaries.
The 13-film Disney list includes blockbusters-in-waiting like Rogue One and Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, but also lesser known offerings, such as The Finest Hours.
There is also the remake of a much-loved piece from the studio’s library in Jungle Book, the Jon Favreau retelling of the Rudyard Kipling story, employing an amalgamation of live action with animated elements.
Little is left to chance for most of the 2016 followups in the Mouse House, with the majority of its films spun off from previous films or classic stories that will be released on the following US release dates:
Jan 29: The Finest Hours – Chris Pine stars in the story of a daring Coast Guard rescue mission.
April 15: Jungle Book – Centered on man-cub Mowgli, Jungle Book returns to the screen April 15, with newcomer Neel Sethi in the title role and an array of name actors as the animated jungle characters, including the panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), the free-spirited Bear Baloo (Bill Murray) and the mother wolf Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o.)
May 16: Captain America: Civil War – Chris Evans’ Captain America squares off against Robert Downey Jr’s Ironman in the May 16 Marvel release, dividing the rest of the hero universe into warring camps.
May 27: Alice Through the Looking Glass – This movie has Alice back in Underland on a mission to save the Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp.
Director James Bobin will imagine a new take on Lewis Carroll’s story, as Tim Burton did with 2010’s Alice In Wonderland.
June 17: Finding Dory – This is a sequel to 2003’s Finding Nemo, which won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. The blue tang Dory goes looking for answers about her past, with an assist from Nemo and others.
July 1: The BFG – Director Steven Spielberg reinvent the classic Roald Dahl story of a little girl who befriends a Big Friendly Giant and others in Giant Country. It’s the final DreamWorks film released by Disney before Spielberg’s Amblin Partners enters a new distribution deal with Universal.
Aug 12: Pete’s Dragon – This film re-imagines an earlier Disney family film of the same name, about a boy named Pete and his best friend, a dragon named Elliott. Among the stars are Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley and Wes Bentley.
Nov 4: Doctor Strange – Featuring Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, as a doctor who discovers magic and alternative realities after suffering a terrible accident. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams also star in the second film of the year from the world of Marvel.
Nov 23: Moana – This animation represents Pixar’s second release of 2016, an adventure story about a girl who sets out on a mission to prove herself, with the aide of a demi-god, Maui. The title role goes to newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, who emerged from a casting call that spanned the Pacific and involved hundreds of young women. Dwayne Johnson voices Maui.
Dec 16: Star Wars: Rogue One – Director Gareth Edwards leads a cast that includes Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn and Forest Whitaker.
Fall: Queen Of Katwe marks an exception to the Disney formula: It’s an original story. Starring Lupita Nyong’o, the film tells the story of a girl whose world expands from the streets of Uganda to a larger world when she becomes a chess whiz. Along with her voice work in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Jungle Book and her live action turn here, Nyong’o is fast becoming a Disney mainstay.
Unknown: The Light Between Oceans – From DreamWorks Pictures, this movie has been looking for a release window for some time. It still doesn’t have one for the film, starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander that the studio says is about “fate, love, moral dilemmas and the lengths to which one couple will go to see their dreams realised.” – Reuters