As Netflix locks horns with Steven Spielberg, a proxy for the traditional movie studio paradigm, over the streaming service’s complete disruption of the moviegoing landscape, Walt Disney Studios is quietly preparing for one of the biggest box-office years in Hollywood history.
Kicking off with the release of Captain Marvel, Disney will premiere the live-action remake of Dumbo, Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin, Toy Story 4, The Lion King, Artemis Fowl, and Frozen 2, then round out the year with Star Wars: Episode IX. In 2018, Disney movies grossed over $7.3 billion (with Warner Bros. and Universal trailing behind with $5.5 billion and $4.9 billion, respectively). 2019 will be even bigger.
And now Disney’s bolstering the aggressive play for attention with one more blockbuster: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, which finds Angelina Jolie resuming her role from the 2014 live-action Sleeping Beauty riff. The first Maleficent movie, which co-starred Elle Fanning as Aurora and Sharlto Copley as the greedy king Stefan, grossed over $758 million worldwide. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil will arrive to theaters on Oct. 18, 2019.
The move is a bit of a surprise: After a will she/won’t she over Jolie’s interest and schedule allowing for a sequel, Disney finally moved forward with production on the sequel in May 2018, with Joachim Rønning (Kon-Tiki, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) at the helm. Without a new Marvel or Star Wars film on the horizon, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil was considered one of Disney’s safe, gigantic plays for 2020. The 2019 release date makes it the studio’s fourth animated adaptation of the year, and fifth sequel.
Here’s how Disney described the film when production began last May:
A fantasy adventure that picks up several years after Maleficent, in which audiences learned of the events that hardened the heart of Disney’s most notorious villain and drove her to curse a baby Princess Aurora, Maleficent II continues to explore the complex relationship between the horned fairy and the soon to be Queen, as they form new alliances and face new adversaries in their struggle to protect the moors and the magical creatures that reside within.
Joining Jolie and Fanning in the film are Michelle Pfeiffer as Queen Ingrith, Harris Dickinson as Prince Phillip, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, Ed Skrein, and Robert Lindsay in undisclosed roles.
Along with the Disney Plus streaming service — the greatest threat to Netflix since Hulu, which also happens to be owned by Disney — and the acquisition of Fox, 2019 will be an unprecedented and bombastic year for the monolithic media company, which the company hopes is enough lift butts off the couch and away from Netflix. To assuage any feelings of overload, Disney released the following poster for Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, which finds Jolie bringing evil gothic queen realness.