By. Tony Rizzo
HOLLYWOOD — Disney, long the undisputed leader in creating animated films such as “Cinderella,” “Frozen” and “Peter Pan,” and turning them into franchises (Tinker Bell has had six movies without Peter Pan), now is cornering the super-hero and “Star Wars” market. Last year, “Guardians of the Galaxy” grossed $772 million, “Cap- tain America: Winter Soldier” grossed $714 million and “Maleficent” (spun off of “Snow White”) grossed $758 million at the box office alone.
Disney is headed for more of the same in 2015. On Jan. 23, it will release the animated “Strange Magic” from George Lucas. In March, “Cinderella,” directed by Kenneth Branagh, will get the live-action treatment starring Lily James of “Downton Abbey.” On May 1, we’ll get the latest installment of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” followed by “Tomorrowland” starring George Clooney. In June, the animated “Inside Out” comes from Pixar, with the voices of Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLaughlan and “Cheers” vet John Ratzenberger. Come July, watch out for “Ant-Man” starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Pena and Michael Douglas.
On Oct. 9, Jon Favreau unveils the live-action “Jungle Book” with Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idis Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o, Christopher Walken and 10-year-old Neel Sethi as Mowgli. A week later, Steven Spielberg’s cold war spy thriller “St. James Place” debuts with Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan, Mark Rylance and Alan Alda. Come Nov. 25 we’ll see Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur,” and Dec. 18 our best Christmas gift will be “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Maybe it’s time we buy Disney stock!
“Into the Woods,” the Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical brought to the screen by “Chicago” director Rob Marshall, stars Meryl Streep as a bad witch. Ladies in the theater were gaga over Chris Pine as Cinderella’s prince, but most of them wanted to know who Rapunzel’s prince was. He is Billy Magnussen, Tony-nominated for his Broadway turn in “Vanya and Sonia and Marcia and Spike.” He’ll soon turn up in the action/crime drama “Revenge of the Green Dragons” (which screened at the Toronto Film Festival and stars Ray Liotta), followed by the aforementioned Spielberg spy/thriller, “St. James Place.”
And speaking of Chris Pine, who received good reviews for “Horrible Bosses 2” (which grossed $93 million), he has the sci-fi “Z for Zachariah,” with Margot Robbie and Chiwetel Ejiofor, due out early this year, and the disaster drama “The Finest Hour,” with Eric Bana, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster, out April 15. Not to worry, ladies, you won’t have to pine for Chris in 2016; he’ll be back in a blaze of glory as Capt. James T. Kirk in “Star Trek 3.”