Entertainment & Arts

Disney confirms lots more Star Wars, Marvel and Avatar films are coming

Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (left) and Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in Avatar Image copyright Disney/Kobal/Shutterstock
Image caption Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (left) and Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in Avatar

Four Star Wars films, eight Marvel instalments, four Avatar sequels and a new Indiana Jones will be coming to cinemas over the coming years.

Those movies and more have been set out in Disney's latest release schedule.

We already knew Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is coming out this Christmas, but there will then be a three-year gap before the start of the next trilogy, which will follow between 2022-26.

And the long-awaited Avatar sequel has been pushed back again to 2021.

It had originally been slated for 2014, but was delayed to 2017, then 2020. It will be followed by three more sequels.

The releases of the four Avatar and three Star Wars films will alternate, with one released every Christmas between 2021 and 2027.

Star Wars release dates

  • 20 December 2019 - The Rise of Skywalker
  • 16 December 2022 - Untitled
  • 20 December 2024 - Untitled
  • 18 December 2026 - Untitled

Avatar release dates

  • 17 December 2021 - Avatar 2
  • 22 December 2023 - Avatar 3
  • 19 December 2025 - Avatar 4
  • 17 December 2027 - Avatar 5

The original Avatar became the highest-grossing film ever when it was released in 2009, earning $2.8bn (£2.1bn). However, Avengers: Endgame is fast catching it up, on $2.24bn (£1.7bn) and counting.

The Disney schedule also includes eight unnamed Marvel films, which will reach cinemas between 2020-22.

And an untitled Indiana Jones sequel will be released in September 2021, by which time Harrison Ford will be 79.

Juggling blockbusters

Analysis by BBC entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Harrison Ford last played Indiana Jones in 2008

One consequence of 20th Century Fox being bought by Disney (already Hollywood's most successful studio) is that the new "superstudio" now has a huge number of forthcoming films on its roster.

And it needs to plan its release schedule even more carefully to avoid its movies competing with themselves at the box office.

However, some questions remain.

The first Avatar sequel is set for release in 2021, 12 years after the original. Will there still be an audience for the franchise so long after the first movie? Especially as Avatar probably doesn't have the same nostalgia factor that's contributed to Star Wars' longevity.

That said, while the Avatar films and their virtually-created worlds are pretty expensive to make, it's likely that the first two sequels were already for the most part paid for by Fox before the Disney deal happened. So the financial risk for Disney is contained, should they not perform as hoped for at the box office.

As for Star Wars, Rian Johnson, who directed the Episode VIII The Last Jedi, has been developing a new trilogy, as have Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss. It's not yet clear who the newly announced trilogy will be authored by.

And after the relatively lacklustre performance of Solo: A Star Wars story amid suggestions of Star Wars oversaturation, Lucasfilm - which makes the series - had already indicated that it was looking again at its original plan of releasing a Star Wars film every year.

Last November BBC News revealed four titles that were being considered for the Avatar sequels - The Way of Water, The Seed Bearer, The Tulkun Rider and The Quest for Eywa.

Earlier this year the films' director James Cameron publicly confirmed to Entertainment Tonight: "Those titles are among titles that are in consideration." But, he added, no final decisions have been made yet.

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