Disney has unveiled a series of release date changes, with the biggest news being that all upcoming Star Wars and Avatar movies have been pushed back by a year. Instead of releasing seven of them alternately between 2021 and 2027, they will now come out between 2022 and 2028. Three Star Wars films — the first reportedly Taika Waititi’s — are set for December 22, 2023, December 19, 2025, and December 17, 2027. Avatar takes up the other four slots, with Avatar 2 on December 16, 2022, Avatar 3 on December 20, 2024, Avatar 4 on December 18, 2026, and Avatar 5 on December 22, 2028.
The delay on Avatar 2 has been necessitated by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, producer and director James Cameron said in a letter posted on Avatar’s social media feeds: “Due to COVID-19, we were forced into an unexpected lengthy delay in starting the live action filming we are currently doing in New Zealand. What most of you likely do not know is that the pandemic is still preventing us from being allowed to recommence most of our virtual production work on stages in Los Angeles. Prior to COVID-19, everything was on track to bring you the first sequel in December of 2021. Unfortunately, due to the impact that the pandemic has had on our schedule, it is no longer possible for us to make that date.”
Avatar 2 isn’t the only Disney film that’s been affected by the pandemic. The live-action reimagining of Mulan — which had been repeatedly delayed and was slated for August 21 — has now been taken off the release calendar entirely, days after Warner Bros. did the same for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (previously set for August 12). Weirdly though, Disney hasn’t moved the X-Men horror spin-off The New Mutants from August 28, which is also the new release date for the Dev Patel-led The Personal History of David Copperfield from Disney-owned Searchlight Pictures. It’s unclear if those films are targeting a limited release in countries where theatres are open, or if they will be delayed again.
Beyond that, in 2020, we have Matthew Vaughn’s World War I spy prequel The King’s Man on September 18, Kenneth Branagh’s murder mystery Death on the Nile pushed back two weeks to October 23, the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 opener Black Widow on November 6, the Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas-starrer erotic thriller Deep Water on November 13, Pixar’s next movie Soul on November 20, the supernatural horror film The Empty Man delayed four months to December 4, Ryan Reynold’s action adventure Free Guy for December 11, and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake on December 18. Given the situation though, expect these films to be moved around.
And lastly, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch — set for October 16 — doesn’t have a release date anymore, as with Mulan.