Tomorrow's Theater ... Today

Greg Dean Schmitz

Looking ahead to future releases with ties to this week's "Anna," "Child's Play," and "Toy Story 4."

The Lion King (7/19/2019)
The comedy team Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele reunited to voice the carnival stuffed animals Ducky and Bunny in "Toy Story 4," but more and more these days, Key and Peele are off doing their own things. Jordan Peele obviously has his new career as a director ("Get Out," "Us"), and also as the producer and narrator of CBS' revival of "The Twilight Zone." Keegan-Michael Key, meanwhile, is becoming a high-demand voice actor of flavor in recent animated movies like "The Angry Birds Movie, "Storks, "The Star," and "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation." The next time we'll hear Key's voice will be in Disney's CGI remake of "The Lion King," as one of the hyenas.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (8/2/2019)
Dame Helen Mirren is obviously best known for her dignified roles in British films and other dramas, but she's also sprinkled her filmography with a surprising number of action films. She's doing it ever since the early 1980s with "Excalibur," but more recently, Helen Mirren starred in the two "RED" movies, as well as "The Fate of the Furious" and this week's "Anna." She's also going to reprising her role as Jason Statham's character's mother when he and Dwayne Johnson get their "Fast & Furious" spinoff in August.

Playmobil: The Movie (8/30/2019)
The "star" of the "Child's Play" reboot is obviously Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill), but dramatically, the focus is really on the young boy who gets the possessed Buddi doll in the first place. That role is played by 14-year-old Gabriel Bateman, who is definitely not yet a household name, but he certainly could be someday. Bateman's first breakout roles were in the horror films "Annabelle" and "Lights Out," but he'll next be heard (but not seen) in the animated toy adaptation, "Playmobil: The Movie." It appears that the whole reason this movie was ever developed was because of the $469 million box office for "The LEGO Movie," but Labor Day weekend historically is one of the year's weakest times to release a movie.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (12/20/2019)
We're going to just presume that by now, most movie fans (who care) have seen "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" (since it came out about a year and a half ago). So, much like trying to figure out how "Spider-Man: Far from Home" was going to exist (before we saw "Avengers: Endgame"), people would be justified in questioning how Mark Hamill is going to return for "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." That would be a bigger question, though, if the "Star Wars" franchise didn't already have a long-established way for deceased Jedi Knights to come back in later films. We're guessing that Mark Hamill, the voice of Chucky in this week's "Child's Play" is going to be to Daisy Ridley's Rey what Obi-Wan Kenobi used to be for Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy. "Use the force, Rey."

Onward (3/6/2020)
Since 2015, Pixar has really been leaning into sequels, with "Coco" being the only original story among their last five films, with the other four all being sequels ("Finding Dory," "Cars 3," "Incredibles 3," and this week's "Toy Story 4"). Moving forward, Pixar appears to be focusing again on new stories, with both of their films for next year being non-sequels: "Onward" (3/6/2020) and "Soul" (6/19/2020). We don't have a trailer for "Soul" yet, but Pixar did reveal this week that it will address "what makes you you." As you can see in the first teaser trailer, "Onward" will be set in a fantasy world (with apparently no humans) in modern times, featuring a cast made up of all sorts of different mythological creatures (elves, ogres, mermaids, unicorns, etc.).

Ghostbusters 3 (7/10/2020)
Annie Potts is returning in "Toy Story 4" as the voice of Bo Beep, but long before the first "Toy Story," Potts had another popular franchise. This week, Annie Potts was quoted as inferring that she's going to be returning in next year's "Ghostbusters 3" in her role as their receptionist Janine Melnitz. This news came a week after Sigourney Weaver likewise seemed to confirm that she's returning as well, and so are the three remaining "Ghostbusters": Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Bill Murray (Harold Ramis died in 2014). It's not yet known how significant the returning cast members will be, as the new "Ghostbusters" stars have previously been described as the new family played by Carrie Coon, Mckenna Grace, and "Stranger Things" star Finn Wolfhard.

Bill & Ted Face the Music (8/21/2020)
In addition to Key & Peele and "Veep" star Tony Hale as "Forky," one of the biggest new voice stars in "Toy Story 4" is Keanu Reeves, who plays an Evel Knievel-style daredevil toy named Duke Caboom. "Toy Story 4" looks like it's going to be the latest in a streak of box office hits for Keanu Reeves, but next year, Reeves is betting big on a sequel which seems like a much riskier project. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are reuniting for "Bill & Ted Face the Music" which promises to show us what their lives are like some thirty years later, potentially after it seems like the prophecies about the success of their band Wyld Stallyns haven't come true as expected.