There’ve been three movies released under the Disney banner these past 3-4 years to gross more than $1 billion at the global box office (excluding Marvel Studios titles and Pixar films); Alice in Wonderland, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Frozen. While the Mouse House is moving full speed ahead with an Alice sequel for 2016, followups to the other aforementioned titles are either slower-moving or non-existent (… at the moment, anyway).
Pirates of the Caribbean 5 – tentatively titled Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – had originally been eyed for a Summer 2015 release, but ended up being delayed for additional development; more recently, the news emerged that the project hasn’t been green-lit yet. Jeff Nathanson (Tower Heist) is still working on the film’s script, though earlier this month producer Jerry Bruckheimer voiced his confidence that the screenplay could be in shooting shape in time for production to start by Fall 2014 (in order to make a Summer 2016 release).
Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn spoke at the Bloomberg Business of Entertainment Breakfast this morning, where he spoke about upcoming projects such as the hotly-anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII. He was asked about Bruckheimer’s claim that Pirates 5 could being filming this fall, to which Horn replied (via THR):
“It’s possible. We haven’t seen a screenplay yet that I’ve been able to sign off on… There’s a lot of variables that effect the final outcome once it leaves the studio lot, so we are very careful.”
Bruckheimer ended his longtime first-look deal with Disney last year, so that may be part of the reason that Pirates 5 is progressing along slower than expected. Not to mention, Pirates franchise lead Johnny Depp’s last Disney genre blockbuster, The Lone Ranger, lost the studio a bundle and his expensive sci-fi thriller Transcendence is currently under-performing at the box office. Combine that with the fourth Pirates installment being the most critically-derided film in the series yet – diminishing the goodwill earned by previous chapters (okay, at least the first movie) – and Disney has all the more reason to be cautious about charging full-steam ahead on this project.
Frozen, on the other hand, is a film that the Mouse House is rapidly developing into a multi-platform franchise – just not one that includes additional movie installments, at this time. Horn, at the Bloomberg event, said that the Disney company is hard at work turning Frozen into a Broadway stage musical – following in the footsteps of previous hit Disney animated musicals like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King – but that a film sequel “hadn’t even been discussed.”
The Oscar-winning Frozen makes sense as the basis for a stage musical; besides featuring a cast that includes major Broadway alum, the film’s narrative has a structure befitting a Broadway show – with its show-stopping tune, “Let It Go”, being very much a descendant of the Broadway school of music. As far as movie sequels go, arguably fellow animated feature Wreck-It Ralph creates a world that is ripe for further exploration – hence we’re happy knowing that Wreck-It Ralph 2 is in the works – far more than Frozen does (which seems perfectly fine as a self-contained story).
That said, Frozen still did earn over $1 billion in theaters around the globe, so it’s doubtful that most anyone will be surprised if a sequel conversation does, in fact, get started sometime down the line…