Disney Sets Dates For Movies Through 2024, Doubles Down On Theatrical

Today, Disney announced a torrent of updated release date information about several of the studio's biggest upcoming films. Let's take a look at these new dates, and then break down which ones will only be available to see in theaters.

Disney Release Date Announcements

OK, take a deep breath and let's go through these one by one.

Disney has moved "Nightmare Alley," Guillermo del Toro's remake of a 1940s Tyrone Power drama, from a limited December 3, 2021 release to a wide release just a few days later, on December 17, 2021.

20th Century Studios evidently had a movie in the works that was slated for January 7, 2022, but – and I really hate to break this news to you, because I know you were all desperately looking forward to "Untitled 20th Century" – that film has been removed from the schedule. I'm gutted.

A project previously known as "Untitled Disney Live Action," which was dated for April 8, 2022, is now known as "Untitled Searchlight." Thrilling stuff.

Hey, here's a real thing! The "Bob's Burgers" animated movie is coming out on May 27, 2022.

Ah yes, back to nonsense again: "Untitled Searchlight" is the updated title of "Untitled 20th Century," which will come out on June 10, 2022. The hype train is pulling out of the station, so hop on board!

Another "Untitled Searchlight" is replacing "Untitled Disney Live Action," which will arrive on August 12, 2022. In searching for a silver lining in all of these empty corporate speak and flag-planting, the good news is that it looks like Searchlight is still a viable part of The Walt Disney Company's business model – so much so that they're releasing three Searchlight films in the next year.

"Untitled 20th Century," which was previously set for September 16, 2022, is now coming out a few days later on September 23, 2022.

Yet another "Untitled 20th Century," this one previously slated for October 21, 2022, has been wiped off the calendar altogether. Rest in peace, you faceless movie. We barely knew ye.

"Untitled David O. Russell" has replaced "Untitled Disney Live Action," and will arrive on November 4, 2022. While official details are still scarce, the cast for this film is wild: Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Michael Shannon, Chris Rock, Timothy Olyphant, and many, many more are signed on.

Three more "Untitled 20th Century" films have been removed from the schedule, previously set for January 13, 2023; March 24, 2023; and June 9, 2023. An "Untitled Disney Live Action" project that was supposed to arrive on December 15, 2023, has also been scrapped. Our sincerest condolences to fans of the "Untitled" franchise.

The live-action remake of "The Little Mermaid" has laid fins on prime real estate two summers from now, staking out May 26, 2023. Meanwhile, Disney snagged a bunch of release dates for mystery projects, including Marvel movies, Pixar films, Disney live-action films, and 20th Century Studios releases:

  • "Untitled Marvel" will open on February 16, 2024.
  • "Untitled Pixar Animation" will open on March 1, 2024.
  • "Untitled Disney Live Action" will open on March 22, 2024.
  • "Untitled Marvel" will open on May 3, 2024.
  • "Untitled 20th Century" will open May 24, 2024.
  • "Untitled Pixar Animation" will open June 14, 2024.
  • "Untitled Disney Live Action" will open on July 5, 2024.
  • "Untitled Marvel" will open on July 26, 2024.
  • "Untitled Marvel" will open on November 8, 2024.

My takeaways from this are threefold. First, I'm glad to see Searchlight stuff continuing to populate the calendar, because that's a key distributor for a handful of big-ish movies made for adults that come out every year. Second, the fact that so many movies were simply removed from the calendar is evidence that the studio is scaling back on its overall production, likely due to COVID. And third, I know Disney has announced release dates for the "Avatar" movies before, but could any of these delays or removals be "Avatar" movies? Would the company try to obscure that fact to avoid yet another round of coverage joking about how the films are never going to come out, or do they not care about that and those films are safe and sound where they are? Total speculation on my part, but maybe something to consider.

Exclusive Theatrical Releases

Even though the country is still reeling from the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19, Disney has decided to make several of these movies available exclusively in theaters before they make the jump to digital platforms. According to Variety, Marvel Studios' millennia-spanning superhero film "Eternals," Ridley Scott's period drama "The Last Duel," Steven Spielberg's remake of the classic musical "West Side Story," an animated family film called "Ron's Gone Wrong," and Matthew Vaughn's "Kingsman" prequel "The King's Man" will all be released in theaters and will play there for 45 days before becoming accessible at home. And "Encanto," the newest film from Pixar, will play in theaters for 30 days after its November 24 release before making its way to Disney+.

That's all fine and dandy for people who are in areas of the country where COVID cases aren't at dangerously high levels, but for people like me in Florida, this basically guarantees that I won't be seeing many of those films until sometime in 2022. That's a bummer, but it's also somewhat expected: the pandemic has caused so many disruptions in our lives over the past 18 months, and I suspect there will plenty more where that came from. Stay safe out there, folks.