Tomorrow's Theater Today

Greg Dean Schmitz

Now that you've picked this week's league, check out these upcoming movies related to this week's "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" and "Zombieland: Double Tap."

Midway (11/8/2019)
Superhero movies get the most attention as a dominant trend in big budget movies, but sequels and remakes definitely outnumber them. Woody Harrelson's current career is a combination of all of those. He had a cameo appearance in last year's "Venom" (superhero), teasing his role as Carnage in next year's "Venom 2" (10/2/2020) (superhero and sequel). This week, Woody Harrelson appeared in a sequel ("Zombieland: Double Tap"), and next month, he'll costar in what is essentially a remake of the 1976 World War II epic, "Midway." Woody Harrelson's role in "Midway" is Admiral Chester Nimitz, which is the same role played by Henry Fonda in the 1976 version. Harrelson's costars will include Aaron Eckhart, Luke Evans, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, and Nick Jonas (who's probably most prominently featured in the trailer, go figure).

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (11/22/2019)
This week's roster of trailers is obviously dominated by Walt Disney Pictures, partially because they've lately been releasing more trailers earlier than other studios, stretching all the way into late next summer ("Jungle Cruise"). Actor-turned-screenwriter Noah Harpster, who cowrote this week's "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," actually made his mark as screenwriter with the Fred "Mister" Rogers movie, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood," which a few years ago was one of the top entries in the "Black List of Unproduced Screenplays." Well, the movie finally did get made, and it got there with Tom Hanks playing Mister Rogers to boot, as one of this year's potential awards contenders. It's worth noting, however, that this is not really a "Mister Rogers biopic," especially since Rogers isn't the main character.

Frozen II (11/22/2019)
"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" wasn't Disney's only ambitious female-led sequel this year, as the main course is definitely going to be "Frozen II." The original 2013 movie was something of a breakout phenomenon hit, as it helped solidify Disney's in-house computer animation unit as being just as viable as Disney's other studio, Pixar. The success of "Frozen" led to "Big Hero 6," "Zootopia," and "Moana" (last year's "Ralph Breaks the Internet" was sort of like a step backwards). The intriguing new factor in "Frozen II" is that the seasonal theme is stepping back one away from winter to being more autumnal, which also changes up the color scheme from cool blues and whites to warmer golds and oranges. This sequel also introduces new voice cast members in Alfred Molina, Jason Ritter, and Evan Rachel Wood.

Onward (3/6/2020)
After giving us a sequel this year with "Toy Story 4," Pixar is coming back in 2020 with two new original stories. The second will be the afterlife fantasy, "Soul," featuring the voices of Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey in June, but first, in March, Pixar will be moving "Onward." This one's also a fantasy, but more traditionally, because it literally features creatures like elves, trolls, unicorns, mermaids, and centaurs. Marvel Cinematic Universe stars Tom Holland (Spider-Man) and Chris Pratt (Star-Lord) star as two elf brothers who go on an epic quest to reunite with their long-lost father. The latest trailer shows us a little bit of how that goes for them (at first, no doubt).

Mulan (3/27/2020)
The live action Disney remake that has been making the most news this year has been "The Little Mermaid," which hasn't been dated yet, but is most likely going to be released sometime in 2021. The movie that has meanwhile been relatively quietly produced and filmed over the last two years is Disney's revisit to the epic legend of Hua Mulan, as Disney animated in the 1998 film. One of the most discussed aspects of next year's "Mulan" is that it won't include the talking dragon Mushu voiced in the first movie by Eddie Murphy. Instead, the emphasis is going to be more on "Mulan" as a sweeping war epic with an emphasis on female empowerment and the human story involving her family. Following a massive casting call, the title role went to Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei, who is also a pop singer star in China.

Artemis Fowl (5/29/2020)
Right now, we're in a period when a lot of Hollywood's longest-in-development movies are finally getting made and released. The most obvious recent example of this was last week's "Gemini Man," which dated back to the 1990s. Another movie like that is "Artemis Fowl," which started development at Miramax in 2001 as a reaction to the success of the "Harry Potter" movies. Based on a then-recent children's book, "Artemis Fowl" blends aspects of the heist movie genre with elements of magic and fantasy. "Artemis Fowl" was originally supposed to come out this past August 9th, but Disney eventually pushed it back nearly a year to next May, reportedly to allow for a bigger release push that will include screenings in 3D, IMAX, and possibly also 4DX.

Jungle Cruise (7/24/2020)
Speaking of movies that have been in development for a long, long time, let's end this week's trailer review with Disney's adaptation of a popular theme park attraction that they've been trying to get made since "Pirates of the Caribbean" first took off in 2003. We're talking of course about "Jungle Cruise," which is finally getting to theaters with both Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson starring. Emily Blunt came to "Jungle Cruise" by way of last year's "Mary Poppins Returns," which can sort of be seen as Disney wanting to keep working with the star of one of their potential new franchises (we haven't heard about a "Mary Poppins 3" yet, but it's only a matter of time, to be sure). Dwayne Johnson stars in "Jungle Cruise" as the skipper of the title boat, and it was probably always inevitable Johnson would end up in this movie. "The Rock" loves movies set in jungles, as he previously starred in the two most recent "Jumanji" movies, "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," and one of his very first movies was 2003's "The Rundown."