Upcoming Disney movies: 8 releases you need to know about

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Here’s something to cheer you up in these gloomy times: not one, not two, but eight Disney movies are headed our way in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future.

They range from Disney princess epics to superhero action movies and a whole lot more. And we’ve rounded them all up in our handy, need-to-read list.

Scroll down to find out what’s coming, and don’t forget to tweet us with your most anticipated release.

1. Mulan

Whale Rider filmmaker Niki Caro helms this big-budget (upwards of $200 million) live-action remake of the 1998 Disney classic. Coming hot on the heels of the reboots of Aladdin and The Lion King, Mulan sweeps us into mystical China, as the title character disguises herself as a male warrior to help fight a deadly enemy.

The movie mixes elaborate martial arts with fantasy, and the cast reads like a who's who of Asian cinema legends. Joining Yifei Lei as Mulan herself are Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, Tzi Ma and Gong Li.

2. Black Widow

Kicking off Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Black Widow takes us back in the series’ timeline, occupying the gap between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War.

There, we’ll join Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) for her long-awaited solo outing, something fans have been anticipating for several years, particularly when the likes of Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) have already got to topline their own films.

Directed by multi-award-winning Australian filmmaker Cate Shortland (Lore; Berlin Syndrome) and featuring a starry ensemble cast of David Harbour (Stranger Things), Florence Pugh (Little Women) and Rachel Weisz (The Favourite), this latest entry in the blockbuster franchise is set to delve into Romanoff’s past as she reunites with her ‘family’ of fellow Black Widow operatives in Russia.

The threat comes from mysterious villain Taskmaster, who can absorb the abilities of those around him, and who appears to be using the mysterious ‘Red Room’ (glimpsed in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron) to command a squadron of brainwashed Russian agents.

3. Artemis Fowl

This family adventure is adapted from the first in a series of critically acclaimed novels by author Eoin Colfer. Artemis Fowl is brought to us by the five-time Oscar-nominated actor, writer and director Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express) and features a noteworthy cast of Colin Farrell, Judi Dench and Josh Gad. In the title role, we get to meet newcomer Ferdia Shaw in his cinematic debut.

With Colfer describing his book series as “Die Hard with fairies”, the film follows 12-year-old criminal mastermind Artemis who, along with his gang of accomplices, looks to track down a secret society of fairies to rescue his father (Farrell).

4. Soul

With Disney-Pixar’s Onward still fresh in our minds, we’re already looking forward to the studio’s next outing: Soul.

Not only is it co-written and co-directed by two-time Oscar-winning studio veteran Pete Docter (Inside Out; Up), it features the talents of the Oscar-winning Jamie Foxx as a disenfranchised musician who must find his way back home after his soul gets separated from his body.

On his journey, he’ll also help another soul (Tina Fey) find herself. It sounds like an intriguing spiritual successor to the aforementioned Inside Out, which, under Docter’s direction, expertly embodied our emotions and played on them at the same time. In other words, we can surely expect that usual touch of Disney-Pixar magic from Soul. What’s not to love?

5. Jungle Cruise

Following his stint in the perilous jungles of Jumanji, Dwayne Johnson is back for another, even more dangerous expedition in Jungle Cruise. This time, however, he’ll be joined by A Quiet Place’s Emily Blunt and comedian Jack Whitehall as scientist/explorer Lily Houghton and her brother McGregor.

Like The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean before it, Jungle Cruise takes its inspiration from an attraction at Disneyland. From the look of the teaser trailer, we can expect a lot of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft-inspired action as the trio embark on an expedition up the Amazon in search of the Tree of Life.

It’s from Non-Stop director Jaume Collet-Serra, who clearly enjoyed working with Johnson so much, he’s now collaborating with the big man on DC’s Black Adam movie, due for release in 2021.

6. The One and Only Ivan

This upcoming Disney animation is based on the book of the same name by Katherine Applegate. The story itself was inspired by the real-life tale of a gorilla who spent 27 years in captivity at a Washington shopping centre – and given how much that wrenches the heart, we can only imagine the potential impact of the movie itself.

It’s set in a mall where the titular Ivan (voiced by Jojo Rabbit’s Sam Rockwell) lives alongside ageing elephant Stella (Maleficent’s Angelina Jolie) and stray dog Bob (Dumbo’s Danny DeVito). When a baby elephant named Ruby (The Florida Project’s Brooklyn Prince) joins the group, however, Ivan starts to remember his life before captivity.

Directed by Me Before You’s Thea Sharrock, the film also features Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston and Fast & Furious’ Helen Mirren. That’s one heck of a cast in a Disney movie that sounds like it’ll pack an emotional punch.

7. Eternals

The second instalment of Phase Four of the MCU, Eternals will introduce a whole new group of heroes into the already expansive roster of characters.

Created by god-like beings known as Celestials – a race we met in the form of Guardian of the Galaxy Vol 2’s Ego (Kurt Russell) – the Eternals are essentially a group of immortal super-beings, who’ve lived on Earth for millions of years.

Specifics about the film are (unsurprisingly) being kept secret, but we do know that the team will be portrayed by Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Richard Madden, a very buff Kumail Nanjiani and Brian Tyree Henry. It’s directed by Chloe Zhao, who makes the leap from acclaimed indie drama The Rider to grandiose superhero origin story, and we can’t wait to see the end result.

8. Raya and the Last Dragon

Announced at Disney’s D23 Expo back in August, Raya and the Last Dragon is not a sequel or reboot but a completely original property. Set in the fictional realm of Kumandra, the film follows titular warrior Raya (Cassie Steele) in search of – you guessed it – the last dragon, who’ll be voiced by the wonderful Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians; The Farewell).

The feature debut of storyboard artists Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins, and penned by Crazy Rich Asians screenwriter Adele Lim, we can’t wait to see the first trailer for this fantastical-sounding adventure.

Which of these Disney movies are you most excited about? Let us know @Cineworld.

Andy Murray is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team. Follow him on Twitter.