The next Disney princess movie is not coming to theaters anytime soon. There was once a time in Walt Disney Studios history when the massive production company churned out princess movies at a rate of almost one a year: the 1980s and ’90s saw the release of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, and Mulan, all of whom are considered official Disney princesses.
A few additions have been made to the Disney princess movie lineup in recent years. The Princess and the Frog revived the genre in 2009 after eleven years since Mulan, the last princess movie, and became notable for featuring the first African-American Disney princess heroine. The Princess and the Frog was quickly followed by four more Disney princess movies: Tangled starring Rapunzel, Brave starring Merida, Frozen starring Elsa and Anna, and Moana starring the title character.
All four recent Disney princess films were box office hits: three out of the four made between $500 and $600 million dollars during their theatrical run, and Frozen became a cultural icon and smashed records by bringing in a box office of over a billion dollars to become the highest-grossing animated release of all time.
With such a resurgence in interest in Disney princess movies, it seems strange that the studio has yet to announce any new princesses. When Disney released its upcoming film release schedule, the only listed princess movie was Frozen 2, which is currently in development and has yet to receive an official release date.
In fact, Disney seems to have pivoted its focus away from animated princess movies and towards live action adaptations of previously released Disney films. In addition to the upcoming Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson as Belle, Deadline reports that Disney has several other live action fairy tale movies lined up for release in 2018-2020.
The first of these live action Disney films will be Mulan, an adaptation of the animated film about a Chinese woman who disguises herself as a man in order to join the army and defend her country. While there were concerns that Disney would white-wash the role, Varietyreported that “a global casting search will soon be underway to find a Chinese actress for the role of Mulan.”
Disney has also looked outside of its traditional princess films to find inspiration for live action adaptations. Cruella, an origin story about 101 Dalmations villain Cruella De Vil, has been announced for a 2018 release and will star Emma Stone. This follows Maleficent, a 2013 live action film that humanized the Sleeping Beauty villain.
While the identity of the next Disney princess is currently unknown, it is possible that she could be the first princess to be a member of the LGBT community. Movie Pilotreported that Moana director Ron Clements stated that “the possibilities are pretty open at this point” for a non-straight Disney princess, and his co-director John Musker agreed.
“It would be driven by a director or a directorial team that really wanted to push that and if [Disney Animation’s Chief Creative Officer] John Lasseter liked the idea, but I would say we haven’t ever really [had] restrictions placed on what we’ve done.”
The next Disney princess movie certainly will have plenty of potential.
The rest of the upcoming Walt Disney Studios movies and their release dates are as follows:
Beauty and the Beast (live action) – March 17, 2017
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales– May 26, 2017
Cars 3 – June 16, 2017
Coco – November 22, 2017
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi – December 15, 2017
Cruella(live action) – TBA 2018
Wreck-It Ralph 2 – March 9, 2018
Han Solo: A Star Wars Story – May 25, 2018
The Incredibles 2– June 15, 2018
Mulan(live action) – November 2, 2018
Gigantic– November 21, 2018
Mary Poppins Returns– December 25, 2018
Toy Story 4– June 21, 2019
Star Wars Episode IX – May 23, 2019
Frozen 2– TBA
Are you excited for the next Disney princess movie?
[Featured Image by Walt Disney Studios]