From ‘Aladdin’ to ‘Toy Story 4′ to ‘The Lion King’: Disney aims for box-office heights in 2019

‘Dumbo’ hits cinemas March 29. (AFP pic)

At 95 years young, the Walt Disney Company is in rude health. Faced with the proliferation of new streaming platforms, Disney has had no choice but to reinvent itself to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Indeed, 2019 looks like a pivotal year for the firm, which, with a host of projects in the pipeline, appears to have all the right ingredients to outstrip its competitors once again.

Comeback classics

Disney will kick off 2019 a little early, from December 19, with the return of the legendary nanny, Mary Poppins, this time played by Emily Blunt. And “Mary Poppins Returns” is just the first movie in a long list of present-day reinterpretations of the studio’s classics.

After “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Jungle Book” and “Alice in Wonderland,” 2019 will bring updated versions of “Dumbo” (March 29), directed by Tim Burton, “Aladdin” (May 24), starring Will Smith as the Genie and directed by Guy Ritchie, and “The Lion King” (July 19), directed by Jon Favreau and featuring the voices of Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Girl power

Superheroes — the studio’s current bread-and-butter characters — will also be back in 2019, starting with the “Avengers,” who cleaned up in 2018, grossing more than $2 billion at the box-office. The fourth “Avengers” movie, “Engame,” again helmed by the Russo brothers, is out April 26.

Before that, moviegoers and Marvel fans will be introduced to a new female superhero called “Captain Marvel” (March 8), played by the Oscar-winning Brie Larson. Jude Law and Samuel L. Jackson also star in this new adventure, which could be Disney’s answer to Warner’s “Wonder Woman.”

Another movie-world heavyweight will return December 20 with a ninth, as-yet-untitled episode of “Star Wars.” After the immense success of “The Force Awakens” ($2 billion at the box-office), J.J. Abrams is back in the director’s chair for the follow-up to episode VIII, “The Last Jedi,” which proved less successful than its predecessor, grossing $1.3 billion worldwide.

Frozen part two

For younger viewers — or the young at heart — June 21 sees Woody and Buzz Lightyear return for an eagerly awaited fourth “Toy Story” adventure. But moviegoers will have to wait until November 22 to catch “Frozen 2,” the sequel to the highest-grossing animated film of all time ($1.2 billion, 2013).

In the meantime, “Artemis Fowl” lands August 9, based on the books of the Irish writer Eoin Colfer, and directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Disney is also due to launch its Disney+ streaming platform in 2019, seemingly landing towards the end of the year.