"The Muppets 2" will open in theaters March of 2014, "Maleficent," a reimagined "Sleeping Beauty" tale starring Angelina Jolie moves to July of the same year and Brad Bird's "1952" will open before Christmas of 2014, Disney announced on Monday.
The news was part of an omnibus announcement, as Disney also announced "Pirates of the Caribbean 5" will open July 10, 2015. The next "Pirates" will star Johnny Depp with a script by Jeff Nathanson, but no director has been attached.
Disney's planned 3D re-release of "Little Mermaid," set for September 13, has been called off. The studio has already found success re-releasing "The Liong King," but more recent reissues such "Finding Nemo" and "Monster Inc." showed diminishing returns.
Speaking of 3D, the studio revaled that Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" will now be released in 3D, though both release dates remain unchanged -- August 1 and April 4 of 2014, respectively.
As for the new release dates, Disney has planted a flag in March, July and Christmas season of 2014.
In debuting March 21, "The Muppets" will open the same weekend as "Divergent," Summit's adaptation of the young adult novel starring Shailene Woodley. Summit is hoping that movie will be the first in a trilogy (as the books are), another young adult franchise to add to "Twilight" and parent company Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games."
The 2011 "Muppets" reboot earned a sequel after grossing $158 million at the worldwide box office, giving producers Todd Liberman and David Hoberman a second crack at the iconic characters. James Bobin, who directed that movie, is directing the sequel from a script he wrote with Nick Stoller. Stoller wrote the first film with Jason Segel, who will not reprise his role in this film.
The human cast currently includes Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell, with reports that Tina Fey may also join.
"Maleficent" had been scheduled to open March 14, the week before "Muppets" and "Divergent," so to prevent its own movies from cannibalizing one another Disney moved "Maleficent" to July 2. The film retells the "Sleeping Beauty" story, told from the perspective of the eponymous villain.
Jolie stars as the "Mistress of All Evil," part of a cast that also includes Juno Temple and Elle Fanning. So far only two other movies have been scheduled for July of that year -- the final installment of Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" and Bryan Singer's next "X-Men" film, both opening July 19.
It does open a week after "Transformers 4," a more typical July 4 weekend film.
As for "1952," the plot of the movie remains under wraps though Bird will direct from a script by "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof. The movie is Bird's first as a director since "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocal." It will open Dec. 19, 2014 in 3D.