Disney's four features Disney's four features

Yesterday, The Walt Disney Company published its revamped release schedule through the end of 2021. Understandably, attention has focused on the delays of tentpole features like Marvel’s Black Widow and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story.

But the latest round of coronavirus reshuffling has resulted in a unique situation for animation lovers. For the first time in its history, Disney is planning to release four animated features in the space of three months. As things stand, Raya and the Last Dragon is due out on March 12, the Bob’s Burgers feature on April 9, Ron’s Gone Wrong on April 23, and Luca on June 18 (all 2021).

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that those dates may not stick. Yet the fact that Disney has settled on this schedule feels like a tacit acknowledgment that animated features can complement each other by targeting different groups — in other words, that they aren’t all for families.

Sure enough, the four films are differentiated in some important ways. They’re all made by different studios: Walt Disney Animation Studios, 20th Television, Locksmith Animation, and Pixar respectively.

The Bob’s Burgers feature, the only one of the four based on an existing franchise, will appeal to the series’ fanbase, which skews older than family. Ron’s Gone Wrong — which Disney inherited, like Bob’s Burgers, through its acquisition of 21st Century Fox — is the debut feature from young British studio Locksmith; it tells the story of an 11-year-old boy’s relationship with his robot friend.

Luca, directed by longtime Pixar story artist Enrico Casarosa, is a coming-of-age story that takes place in Italy. Raya and the Last Dragon is a fantasy epic set in the magical realm of Lumandra, which draws on the mythology of Southeast Asia. It should be noted that all the films bar Luca were initially slated to come out this year.

Meanwhile, Disney surprised some by opting to keep Soul in place for a theatrical release on November 20, 2020. It had been rumored that Pixar’s next release might be shifted to Disney+, as the Mulan remake was — and many industry observers still believe that such a move is still on the table.

Here’s Disney’s upcoming slate through 2021:

2020

  • The Empty Man — Oct 23
  • Soul — Nov 20
  • Free Guy — Dec 11
  • Death on the Nile — Dec 18

2021

  • Everybody’s Talking About Jamie — Jan 22
  • The King’s Man — Feb 12
  • Raya and the Last Dragon — Mar 12
  • Bob’s Burgers — Apr 9
  • Ron’s Gone Wrong — Apr 23
  • Black Widow — May 7
  • Cruella — May 28
  • Luca — Jun 18
  • Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — Jul 9
  • Jungle Cruise — Jul 30
  • Deep Water — Aug 13
  • Beatles Get Back — Aug 27
  • The Last Duel — Oct 15
  • Eternals — Nov 5
  • West Side Story — Dec 10

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