‘Star Wars,’ ‘Avatar’ release dates announced in wake of Disney-Fox merger

A scene from James Cameron''s 2009 sci-fi smash "Avatar." Disney will release four sequels to the film beginning in 2021.
(20th Century Fox)

The new post-Fox acquisition Disney landscape began to come into focus on Tuesday as the studio staked out release dates for some of the most important franchises in its now super-sized domain, including “Star Wars” and “Avatar.”

With the current iteration of the Skywalker saga set to come to a conclusion with “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” out Dec. 20, Disney announced that three new, as-yet-untitled “Star Wars” films will be slated for release on the pre-Christmas weekend every other year beginning in 2022. While various “Star Wars” projects are reportedly in the works — including a trilogy being developed by “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson and a separate series from “Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — Disney did not reveal any details about the upcoming projects.

Disney also announced a new release plan for one of the cinematic jewels of its Fox acquisition: director James Cameron’s “Avatar” franchise. Beginning in 2021, four “Avatar” films will be released every other pre-Christmas weekend. This marks the latest in a string of delays for the follow-ups to the 2009 sci-fi blockbuster; Cameron had initially intended to release the first of two planned sequels in 2014 before expanding the plan to encompass four films.

The studio also set a release date for Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” adaptation, which will hit theaters Dec. 18, 2020, to be followed five days later by “Cruella,” a live-action film centered on Cruella de Vil, the villainess of the 1961 animated film “One Hundred and One Dalmatians.”

The studio also shifted several Fox releases previously scheduled for this year — including the Brad Pitt-starring sci-fi film “Ad Astra,” originally set to arrive this month, which now opens Sept. 20; and the horror-inflected X-Men spinoff “New Mutants,” which has been delayed twice and is now set for April 3, 2020.


Disney’s adaptation of the fantasy bestseller “Artemis Fowl,” which was set to open in August, will instead hit theaters May 29, 2020.

The studio has yet to announce which films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will occupy release dates already reserved in 2020 and 2021, though projects in various states of production and development include a “Black Widow” solo film and the sequel “Black Panther 2.”

Notably, other comic book films that had been in the works at Fox before the acquisition, including “Gambit” and “X-Force,” are nowhere to be seen in Disney’s newly announced slate.

The release schedule of Disney and Fox titles through 2021:


“Tolkien” (Fox Searchlight) — May 10

“Aladdin” (Disney) — May 24

“Dark Phoenix” (Fox) — June 7

“Toy Story 4” (Disney) — June 21

“Stuber” (Fox) — July 12

“The Lion King” (Disney) — July 19

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” (Fox) — Aug. 9

“Ready or Not” (Fox Searchlight) — Aug. 23

“Ad Astra” (Fox) — Sept. 20

“The Woman in the Window” (Fox) — Oct. 4

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” (Disney) — Oct. 18

“Ford v. Ferrari” (Fox) — Nov. 15

“Frozen 2” (Disney) — Nov. 22

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (Disney) — Dec. 20

“Spies in Disguise” (Fox) — Dec. 25


“Underwater” (Fox) – Jan. 10

Untitled Kingsman Movie (Fox) – Feb. 14

“Call of the Wild” (Fox) – Feb. 21

“Onward” (Disney) – March 6

“Mulan” (Disney) – March 27

“The New Mutants” (Fox) – April 3

Untitled Marvel (Disney)- May 1

“Artemis Fowl” (Disney) – May 29

Untitled Pixar (Disney) – June 19

“Free Guy” (Fox) – July 3

“Bob’s Burgers” (Fox) – July 17

“Jungle Cruise” (Disney) – July 24

“The One and Only Ivan” (Disney) – Aug. 14

“Death on the Nile” (Fox) – Oct. 9

Untitled Marvel (Disney) – Nov. 6

“Ron’s Gone Wrong” (Disney) – Nov. 6

Untitled Disney Animation – Nov. 25

“West Side Story” (Fox/Amblin) – Dec. 18

“Cruella” (Disney) – Dec. 23


Untitled Disney Marvel – Feb. 12.

“Nimona” (Fox) – March 5

Untitled Disney Live Action – March 12

Untitled Disney Marvel – May 5

Untitled Disney Live Action – May 28

Untitled Pixar – June 18

Untitled Indiana JonesJuly 9

Untitled Disney Live Action – July 30

Untitled Disney Live Action – Oct. 8

Untitled Disney Marvel – Nov. 5

Untitled Disney Animation – Nov. 24

“Avatar 2” (Fox) – Dec. 17

Twitter: @joshrottenberg