Finally! 6 Original Disney Films Coming To Theaters This Year

It’s time for everyone to put their money where their mouth is. People keep complaining about all the remakes and sequels Disney is doing. They keep saying they want new ideas. Well, here you have it. Disney has six new movies coming out in 2020 that aren’t remakes, sequels, prequels, or reimaginings.

I’ll start you off with some terminology, so we are on the same page.

REMAKE: When a studio decides to remake one of their previously existing works. Like when Disney remade The Lion King (2019) which had the same storyline as The Lion King (1994). Or 101 Dalmatians (1996) was a live-action remake of 101 Dalmatians (1961).


Another good example of a remake would be the Freaky Friday films. The first one came out in 1976 and starred Jodie Foster, the second one came out in 1995 and starred Shelley Long, the third and most popular one came out in 2003 and starred Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis. Most people don’t know about Disney’s fourth iteration of the story in 2018, which turned the film into a musical, based on the Broadway musical of the same name. All the movies had the same premise of the daughter not getting along with their mother and something magical happens causing them to switch places.


Disney’s first remake was The Jungle Book (1994) starring Jason Scott Lee, who would later voice David in Lilo & Stitch (2002). This was actually Jason’s first live-action remake for Disney. His second will be as the villain Bori Khan in the upcoming live-action reimagining (see below) of Mulan (2020).


REBOOT: This is different than a remake. This takes a story that was previously told and tells it a different way, with a different storyline, different characters, etc. This term has to do with a movie that is a part of a series of movies. Sony created a three-part Spider-Man series with Toby Maguire (2002-2007). The main villain was Green Goblin, Doc Ock, and then Venom with Sandman.


They rebooted the series by recasting the main actor, Andrew Garfield, and called the two-movie series The Amazing Spider-Man (2012-2014). The rebooted series had the same origin story but had The Lizard as the main villain and Gwen Stacy as his love interest rather than Mary Jane like it was in the first series. The second one had Electro as the main villain with Green Goblin starting to appear. They also killed off his love interest in this installment, an action they didn’t perform in the first series. The planned third installment never happened. Spider-Man is now on its second reboot in the hands of the MCU with Tom Holland as the web-slinger. So far, he has been in three Avengers films, two stand-alone Spider-Man films, and another stand-alone coming out in 2021.


Another example of a reboot would be the new Haunted Mansion film coming out in the near future, a project that has been in the works for almost 10 years now. It will totally discount the characters and storyline of The Haunted Mansion (2003) with Eddie Murphy.


Remember when Hulk (2003) was a thing? It was going to kickstart sequel films, but Universal didn’t make the sequel fast enough and the rights returned to Marvel. Marvel rebooted the story and made The Incredible Hulk (2008) which ended up being the second film in the MCU.


REIMAGINING: This is when they remake a movie but tell the story differently. Mulan (2020) is a great example of that. It’s the story of Mulan like their animated film from 1998, but there is no Mushu, singing, or Shang. This tells the story, but completely different. The difference between this and a reboot is that this isn’t part of a series. Disney is using the term “reimagining” for its live-action version of The Little Mermaid (2021?). It explains their new direction of changing the race of characters from their already established story from The Little Mermaid (1989). The story could be completely different too, we don’t know yet.


Some of Disney’s extremely popular reimaginings would be the two Maleficent (2015-2019) films which tells the story of Aurora but from Maleficent’s point of view.


Another one would be Pete’s Dragon (2016). A completely different story from Pete’s Dragon (1977) with the only same elements being Elliot the dragon and Pete.


PREQUEL: This would be a movie that has a setting that takes place before the events of another film. The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning (2008) is the third movie in the series but takes place before the events of The Little Mermaid (1989) as we see that Ariel is still a young mermaid in Atlantica.

The upcoming movie Cruella (2021) is said to take place when Cruella and Anita are in school together before the events of her kidnapping all the puppies from Pongo and Perdita.

SEQUEL: This is about a film that takes place in sequence after the previous film. All 23 movies in the MCU are great examples of that. A smaller example would be The Rescuers Down Under (1990) in which the storyline follows the events of The Rescuers (1977). This was actually Disney’s first theatrically released sequel to a previous animated film.


Son of Flubber (1963) is a sequel to The Absent-Minded Professor (1961). Flubber (1997) with Robin Williams is a remake of The Absent-Minded Professor.


Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland (2010) is a sequel to Disney’s animated Alice In Wonderland (1951). The events in the film take place after the events of the animated film.


SPIN-OFF: This movie has to do with characters or elements of a movie and gives them their own movie not a part of the series. A good example of that would be all the Star Wars films but then the stand-alone Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), which does also serve as a prequel for the Han Solo character. A stand-alone is one that can be viewed by itself and doesn’t have to be viewed with the other movies in the series.


Remember the Jim Carrey film Bruce Almighty (2003)? It had a spin-off film following the character of Evan Baxter in Evan Almighty (2007).

With all the remakes and sequels that Disney has been making and announcing, people are tired of it all. They want something new. Did the fans even want a reimagining of Lady and the Tramp (2019)? I didn’t ask for one. Is it a reimagining or a remake? Jock isn’t in it. But Jackie is. There is no beaver to remove Lady’s muzzle, but there is a beaver statue. The Siamese cats are gone, but a non-specific breed is there. The ever so popular We Are Siamese cat song? Gone, and replaced. It’s a reimagining.

Are people looking forward to seeing some live-action dogs running around on screen telling a story based on the short story from the Cosmopolitan magazine in 1945? Sure, they are, but they didn’t ask for it. All the people have wanted was to see new things. In 2020, Disney is giving us just that, new things.


Yes, Mulan is going to be hitting theaters next summer, but that is a reimagining and doesn’t count. What does count are the following six films;

Onward – March 6

This new film from Pixar follows two elf brothers in a present-day setting as they go on a quest to prove that magic still exists. This movie stars Tom Holland (Spider-Man), Chris Pratt (Star-Lord), Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Help), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (A Bug’s Life, Seinfeld), and of course John Ratzenberger.


Artemis Fowl – May 29

This film is based on the first book of the eight-book series written by Eoin Colfer. The books were published between 2001-2012 and also have a graphic novelization. The story is about a 12-year-old rich boy genius who has a huge bodyguard named Butler who is trained in hand to hand combat, firearms, and covert operations. Artemis sets out to capture a real fairy to prove their existence. This film will be kickstarting the careers of Ferdia Shaw (Artemis) and Tamara Smart (Juliet, Butler’s little sister) and have stars like Josh Gad (Frozen, Beauty and the Beast), Judi Dench (Casino Royale, Home on the Range), and Nonso Anozie (Cinderella, Pan, Game of Thrones).


Soul – June 19

This is the second Pixar film to be released in 2020. It is about a musician who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself. (IMDB description) This movie stars Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained, Annie, Ray), Tina Fey (Muppets Most Wanted, Ponyo), and John Ratzenberger again.


Jungle Cruise – July 24

This action film is based on the attraction of the same name in Disneyland. You basically take The Mummy, Indiana Jones, and The African Queen and squish them together to get this movie.  The movie is set during the early 20th century, a riverboat captain named Frank takes a scientist and her brother on a mission into a jungle to find the Tree of Life which is believed to possess healing powers. All the while, the trio must fight against dangerous wild animals and a competing German expedition. (Wikipedia description). The movie stars Dwayne Johnson (The Game Plan, Race To Witch Mountain, Moana), Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns, The Muppets, Gnomeo & Juliet, Into The Woods), and Paul Giamatti (Saving Mr. Banks, San Andreas). This film has been long-awaited. I first mentioned this film in my book’s first edition in 2010 with a 2013 release date. The script has gone through many changes including the removal of Tim Allen and Tom Hanks. I again mentioned it in the publication on my second edition in July 2017. In 2015, it was announced that Disney had cast Dwayne Johnson in the film. It wasn’t until March 2018 that they cast Emily Blunt and then Paul Giamatti in May 2018. They began filming as soon as Paul joined the cast.


The One and Only Ivan – August 14

A gorilla named Ivan lives in a cage at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade with an aging elephant named Stella and a dog named Bob with no recollection of how they got there. They are owned by Mack, the owner of the Big Top Mall. When an abused baby elephant named Ruby shows up and is taken under Stella’s trunk, Ivan starts to care for her as well and along with the janitor’s daughter Julia, they help to turn things around at the mall. (Wikipedia description). This movie is based on the children’s book of the same name that was released in 2012. The film stars Bryan Cranston, Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, and Helen Mirren.


Raya and the Last Dragon – November 24

This is the next animated film from the Walt Disney Animation Studio following Frozen II. It will be the studios 59 cannon film. In a realm known as Lumandra, a re-imagined Earth inhabited by an ancient civilization, a warrior named Raya is determined to find the last dragon. (IMDB description)


This is it, everyone. The new original six films coming out in 2020 from Disney. No remakes, reboots, or reimaginings among them. Show up to the theaters to show your support. I know I am excited to see some new content from the studio and I will be sitting in my theater seat with a tub of popcorn waiting for the films to start. And of course, I will be at the theater to see Mulan too.

If you enjoyed this article, check out my book that has over 3,700 fun facts about Disneyland and Disney Movies in it.

About the Author

Joshua Shaffer
I am a two time published author of Disneyland history and fun fact books. My second edition has over 3,700 fun facts in it about Disneyland and Disney movies. In my spare time, I work on my next book. I also design Disney Fantasy Pins. For a brief time, I was a co-host on the Magic Behind The Ears podcast. I am also the Public Relations Manager for Gina Rock, the longest flying Tinker Bell in Disneyland history. She flew across the skies for the nightly fireworks from 1983-2005. I had a booth at D23 in 2017 where I premiered my books 2nd edition. It was nicknamed "The Disney Bible" because it is 700 pages long. I basically stood from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm every day for 3 days straight just talking about Disney stuff. I love all things Disney. If you have any questions about Disneyland or Disney Movies feel free to contact me and I will try to answer all your questions. If you haven’t already picked up a copy of my book, you need to do so. [email protected]

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