MOVIES

Disney Might Have Canceled All of These Announced Films

Summary

  • Disney’s box office dominance after numerous acquisitions faltered post-pandemic, leading to project cancelations.
  • Strategic shifts in film development based on audience trends influenced the fate of various Disney projects.
  • High-profile projects like
    Armor Wars
    ,
    Bambi
    , and
    Captain Marvel 3
    faced potential cancelation due to changing priorities.



Disney is one of the largest companies in the world, and following acquisitions like Star Wars, Pixar, and Marvel, it seemed like a studio that could not lose. From 2015 to 2019, they seemed to dominate the box office. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has struggled to regain its box-office domination. CEO Bob Iger’s recent comment about quietly canceling movies has certainly raised some eyebrows. Unlike Warner Bros., which seems to make big splashy announcements about completed films they have canceled, Disney has just not moved forward on projects that were in development, but the camera never likely rolled on them. This is certainly nothing new, as many films stay stuck and remain in development hell.


It is interesting, though, in how the industry has shifted. Many of these projects were announced when Disney was going all in on streaming, particularly Disney+ and Hulu Originals. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, theaters were shut down, and streaming was the only option for viewing movies. With audience attendance still low well into 2021, that seemed like the right call. Yet films like Spider-Man: No Way Home, Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Barbie, and Oppenheimer showed that audiences were willing to go out to the movies. 2023 was a rough year for Disney as the strategy of big IP films backfired on them, and movies like Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Haunted Mansion, and The Marvels bombed.


For comparison, in 2019, seven of the ten highest-grossing movies worldwide were Disney (eight if you count Spider-Man: Far From Home as a co-production). Yet in 2023, only three of their films were in the top ten, with the highest being Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 at number 4 and The Little Mermaid considered a disappointment, with Elemental seen as a sleeper hit. With the change in audience taste and streaming no longer being seen as a financially suitable long-term business model, it makes sense that some projects would be canceled.

Disney owns many brands and divisions from Lucasfilm, Marvel Studios, 20th Century Pictures, Searchlight Pictures, Hulu, ESPN, and more, so some lesser-known projects could have been cut. It is always possible there were films in the works that Disney never announced to the press that could have been in development for years, but that just got canceled, and people will not know about them for years. Here are some of the most high-profile movies that were likely canceled in alphabetical order, which had been announced previously.


Armor Wars

Armor Wars
Marvel Studios


Bob Iger has said that he does not feel there is superhero fatigue, but that doesn’t mean he might not want to remove a few films from the increasing slate of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Certainly, projects like Blade and Avengers 5 have had their troubles, but Armor Wars might be on the chopping block. Originally announced as a Disney+ series, it was then upgraded to a feature film and would focus on James “Rhodey” Rhodes, aka War Machine (Don Cheadle), trying to stop the now-deceased Tony Stark’s weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

Why It Might Be Canceled

Marvel Studios has certainly laid the groundwork for Armor Wars in MCU entries like Spider-Man: Far From Home, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Secret Invasion, but it just seems like, of the MCU movies, this is the one that the studio might cut. Plot elements from it or intended for the movie could be switched over to Thunderbolts or even Captain America: Brave New World, which is undergoing reshoots. While this might be the only MCU movie that could be canceled, we could also see them cutting series like Vision Quest, which was announced and has not moved forward.


Related: Prediction: Why Avengers 5 Will Be Changed to Avengers vs. X-Men

Bambi

Bambi Bambi bonds with Thumper in the woods
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Bambi is one of Disney’s most iconic films, and following the groundbreaking VFX in both The Jungle Book and The Lion King, the idea of doing a photorealistic CGI Bambi seemed obvious. The film generated a lot of momentum in 2023 when Sarah Polley (Women Talking) signed on as the director, and it was announced that Kasey Musgrave would play the music for the film. However, the news that Sarah Polley departed the project just one day after Bob Iger’s comments does not paint a good picture for Bambi.


Why It Might Be Canceled

It was never clear if Bambi was intended for theaters or Disney+, but given how Disney released Lady & The Tramp and Peter Pan & Wendy, two remakes of Disney animated classics from before the Disney Renaissance to Disney+, it seemed like Bambi might have been destined for that fate as well. There is no doubt that a photorealistic Bambi could look beautiful, but given that audience sentiments towards the remake trend have been dying down, as well as concerns that Bambi might not be as commercially viable to modern audiences, Bambi may not ultimately become a big screen theatrical film.

Big Thunder Mountain

Big Thunder Mountain
Disney Parks

Ever since Disney released Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl and launched that successful franchise, they have tried many times to turn their popular theme park rides into movies (two more will appear on this list), yet none have had the same success. After two failed Haunted Mansion attempts, Tomorrowland being a flop, and also the mixed reaction to The Jungle Cruise, there is a chance that the previously announced Big Thunder Mountain movie will also be canceled. In 2022, it was announced that Bert and Bertie, who previously directed three episodes of Hawkeye, were signed on to helm the film.


Why It Might Be Canceled

Big Thunder Mountain falls in the middle of two failing box office trends: Westerns and theme park ride movies. Now, that also happened with Pirates of the Caribbean as pirate films were seen as box office poison, and that became a massive hit. It is worth noting that The Country Bears opened in theaters one year before Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl and performed so horribly that Disney almost canceled Pirates of the Caribbean. It was only when Michael Eisner saw the concept art that he allowed the project to move forward, but there was a real chance Pirates of the Caribbean would have been canceled. That same thing might have happened to Big Thunder Mountain, and the odds are stacked against it as, unlike Pirates of the Caribbean,Big Thunder Mountain likely wasn’t even close to shooting and is still in development.

Captain Marvel 3

The Marvels
Marvel Studios


Captain Marvel made $1 billion at the worldwide box office, so it came as a shock to everyone when its sequel, The Marvels, became the MCU’s first box office bomb. Given that other than The Incredible Hulk, every MCU hero seems to be positioned to lead a trilogy, it was assumed Captain Marvel 3 was going to happen at some point. Now, that seems unclear as a recent report suggests Captain Marvel 3, which was never officially announced, could be scrapped.

Why It Might Be Canceled

There is no denying that the poor box office reaction of The Marvels has hurt the brand. It has slightly rebounded due to it being a hit on Disney+, but Disney has never been one to make a sequel to a flop, at least not without waiting over a decade between projects (see their many attempts to launch Tron). Captain Marvel herself could appear in other films as Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers seemed to be positioned to be one of the big new faces of the franchise moving forward. The question is, does she even want to do it anymore? A string of hateful, sexist comments and online trolls reviewing the bombing might have impacted the public perception of the film and even Larson’s view on the franchise. Why would she want to stick to a franchise where she is constantly mocked and harassed?


Cruella 2

Emma Stone begins the transformation into Cruella de Vil in Cruella.
Walt Disney Studios

Cruella had an interesting release. It was a reimagining of one of their classic villains, like Maleficent, with an Academy Award-winning actress. It was intended to be released exclusively in theaters, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was delayed, and when it finally opened, it was released in theaters and on Disney+ for additional cost day and date. It was released on Memorial Day weekend, which, alongside A Quiet Place Part II, was a kick-off to the summer movie season of 2021 when theaters were beginning to open up and audiences were slowly coming back out to the movies. For its release, Cruella did well, grossing $86.1 million domestically and $233 million worldwide. Disney announced Cruella 2 in June 2021, but it has been quiet on that front ever since.


Why It Might Be Canceled

While Cruella did well for a pandemic release, the film’s budget was reportedly between $100 to 200 million, so there is a wide margin for how well it might have done. Even if it did well on streaming, there is no guarantee that a sequel would similarly perform well. While Dune: Part Two has had a nice growth from the release of its pandemic predecessor, that movie also came out much quicker than Cruella 2 would and was more positively reviewed. Following the disappointment of Alice Through the Looking Glass in 2016, a long-awaited sequel to a Disney hit that flopped, the studio might be cautious about a sequel. There is one big asterisk that might save Cruella 2 and could have held off the film being canceled, and that is Emma Stone in Poor Things. Disney could have been waiting until after the Oscars to make a further decision on Cruella 2, and now, following her surprise Best Actress Oscar win for Poor Things, Disney might be more willing to bet on Cruella 2.


Eternals 2

Cast of Eternals 2021
Disney

Eternals was a big swing for both the MCU and Disney. The movie looked to build off director Chloé Zhao’s Academy Award for Nomadland and wanted to position the movie as a potential Oscar player. Eternals ended up becoming the first MCU movie to get a rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet the idea that the movie did not do well is a bit of a false perception, since it did gross $402.1 million worldwide and in the early stages of theaters opening back up during the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea of the movie being a failure stems more from critical reaction than box office returns. Nonetheless, it was enough to make Marvel possibly lose faith in their ambitious plans, and Eternals 2, which was never formally announced, likely won’t happen.


Why It Might Be Canceled

A recent rumor has suggested that Marvel Studios is not moving forward with Eternals 2, despite the company president, Kevin Feige, wanting to make a sequel. Eternals left many dangling plot threads that fans were hoping to see resolved in a sequel. Many of the plot elements introduced in Eternals and even the characters themselves could show up in other films. Eternals 2 was never confirmed, but it is likely that Marvel Studios had a bit of development going on behind the scenes that now might not move forward, which is certainly disappointing.

Flight of the Navigator

Flight of the Navigator
Disney


The original Flight of the Navigator was a moderate hit for Disney when it was released in 1986, but it gained a passionate cult following among young kids who saw it. It is seen as one of the most underrated kids’ films of the 1980s. Disney has been trying to get a remake off the ground as far back as 2009. The most recent bit of news to come out of the film was that in 2021, the remake would be released on Disney+ and would be directed by Bryce Dallas Howard.

Why It Might Be Canceled

While Disney did invest heavily in Disney+ films originally, they have slowed down on that front in recent years. Particularly films with big budgets, which is something that Flight of the Navigator would certainly need. The chance for a remake to be viable for Disney might have been in that short window of time when they were going heavily into streaming. Since production has not moved forward, it could be unless they see there is a passionate fanbase, or they think it can capture a new generation of fans on the big screen, Flight of the Navigator might not see the light of day. However, depending on how well Tron: Ares does, that might give Disney the faith to revive this beloved 80s gem.


Sean Connery as Allan Quatermain and a pair of superheroes standing beside a car in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
20th Century Fox

Two movies opened in theaters the weekend of July 11, 2003. One was Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, which became one of the biggest hits of that year. The other was 20th Century Fox’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which was a box office flop and a critical dud. Following Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, they also seemed to have gained film rights to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The original comic by Alan Moore was envisioned as The Avengers but for classic literature characters, so it certainly made sense why Disney would want to re-invest in the property, seeing as how anything that is pitched as “Avengers plus X” seems like a winning box office formula.


Why It Might Be Canceled

The reboot was originally planned in 2015 under 20th Century Fox, but when Disney purchased Fox, they moved The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, along with other 20th Century Fox properties they acquired at the time, to Hulu. The project was confirmed in May 2022, but since then, no word has been made on the movie since then. Following Prey, Disney has now bumped The Predator franchise back up to theatrical releases for both Prey II and Badlands, but League of Extraordinary Gentlemen might be a trickier sell. The title certainly has a bad association with the audience due to the original movie, and a project of its size might not be financially feasible for a Hulu Original film.

Jungle Cruise 2

Emily Blunt and Captain The Rock in Jungle Cruise
Walt Disney Studios

 


Like Cruella, Jungle Cruise was another Disney movie heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was originally set for a summer 2020 release date before being delayed for a whole year to July 2021, when it looked to become Disney’s next Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, with everyone expecting Jungle Cruise 2 to be a surefire thing. With stars like Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, it certainly seemed like it could be a big hit. It was released in theaters and on Disney+ for an additional cost on July 30, 2021, and was a moderate hit, grossing $116 million domestically and $220 million worldwide. The problem, though, was with an estimated combined production and promotional cost of $362 million, the film needed to gross $500 million to be considered a hit.

Why It Might Be Canceled

A sequel was announced shortly after Jungle Cruise opened, but Disney has since been rather silent on that part. The last bit of news that emerged on the film was in October 2022, when it was said Blunt and Johnson still wanted to make the movie, and the writers were working on the script. Johnson is now working with Disney on both Moana 2 and a live-action remake of Moana, so while he is still clearly in good graces with the House of Mouse, Disney might have axed Jungle Cruise 2 in favor of safer box office projects. That means Jungle Cruise could be another in a long line of failed attempts to launch a franchise based on a Disney theme park ride.


Related: Why Disney Canceled The Lizzie McGuire Reboot

Kingsman 3

Eggsy and Harry Hart stand in front of the Kingsman logo.
20th Century Fox

Kingsman: The Secret Service and Kingsman: The Golden Circle were released by 20th Century Fox. When Disney bought the studio in 2019, they also gained The Kings Men, a prequel film that had been in development. That film was delayed multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and finally released in December 2021, when it was a box office flop. Franchise director Matthew Vaughn has said that both Kingsman 3 and a sequel to The Kings Men are in development, but they might no longer be at Disney.


Why It Might Be Canceled

During the press tour for Argylle, Matthew Vaughn revealed that his production company, Marv Films, owns the rights to Kingsman, meaning 20th Century Pictures (and therefore Disney) only owns the distribution rights. This means that Disney might not have wanted to invest the money in another Kingsman movie, and Vaughn could have taken it to another studio. While Kingsman is a popular brand, it might not be a high priority for Disney, and following the disappointment of The Kings Men, they are likely willing to let it go.

National Treasure 3

Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Franklin in National Treasure
Disney

The first two National Treasures were big hits for Disney, so it has always perplexed fans why a third movie was never made. In 2010, the team behind National Treasure — comprised of Nicolas Cage, director Jon Ton Terteltaub, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer — instead decided to make The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. That film’s poor box office and critical reaction, combined with Disney’s heavy investment in the MCU and purchase of Lucasfilm, made National Treasure less of a priority for the studio. Rumors have circulated about a third movie for years, but they have never materialized. Disney tried to revive the property with a Disney+ series in 2022 titled National Treasure: Edge of History, which was canceled after one season.


Why It Might Be Canceled

Nicolas Cage confirmed that National Treasure 3 is not happening at Disney. Given how long the studio had been developing a third film, as far back as 2016, the fact that the third movie is not happening certainly is disappointing to fans. Many were hoping that Cage’s recent comeback in films like The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Pig, and Renfield would make the movie, particularly with how well legacy sequels do. Yet it appears that Disney does not think the material is viable in today’s marketplace, and is so far removed from the release of the second film.

Prince Anders

Prince Anders Aladdin
Disney


Despite a lot of negative buzz around the first trailers for the live-action Aladdin remake, the movie proved to be a major box office hit, grossing $1 billion worldwide. Instead of greenlighting Aladdin 2 as they did with other Disney live-action remakes, they instead announced a spin-off film, Prince Anders, focused on Billy Magnussen’s minor character. The movie was announced in December 2019, with the intention of releasing on Disney+.

Why It Might Be Canceled

Moving forward on a spin-off based on a minor character was an odd one, even for one that was a Disney+ exclusive. The optics, though, of prioritizing this film over a sequel to Aladdin and giving the spotlight to a white character as opposed to the characters of color in the original film, is an even worse look for Disney. Prince Anders was a movie that was greenlit at a specific time when Disney was looking to invest more in Disney+, but now it seems unlikely to fit their new vision. As for Aladdin 2? Star Mena Massoud didn’t seem confident that Aladdin 2 would happen.

Return of the Rocketeer

The Rocketeer
Disney


Disney spent a good part of the 1990s trying to cash in on the successes Warner Bros. had with Batman and New Line had with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by making adaptations they thought could be their summer blockbuster franchise. 1990’s Dick Tracy, 1993’s The Super Mario Bros. (through their subsidiary Hollywood Pictures), and 1999’s Inspector Gadget are all notable examples. 1991’s The Rocketeer is likely the most fondly remembered and, despite being a box office flop, has gained a cult following. The film is based on a pulp comic hero published in the 1980s, but set in the Golden Age of Hollywood. It is about a man who discovers a jetpack and becomes a costumed superhero. Attempts to reboot the franchise have been at Disney for a while, and progress seemed to have been made in 2020 when J.D. Dillard signed on. The film would be titled Return of the Rocketeer and focus on Tuskgee Airmen.


Why It Might Be Canceled

With Selma star David Oyelowo signing on as the producer and potential star, it seemed like jetpack-wielding hero would return. The project had already hit some major speed bumps though. In October 2022, Dillard confirmed he was no longer working on Return of the Rocketeer. On top of that, he confirmed that a Star Wars film he was developing had been canceled. No word on the project has been made since, and while Disney certainly could always revive the project, it might not be a high priority for them. When it comes to superheroes, they have the entire MCU to work on, and are not in the need for a new Rocketeer movie.

Rogue Squadron

Rogue Squadron
LucasArts


Rogue Squadron was one of the big splashy titles Disney announced at their Disney Investor Day in 2020. Set to be directed by Patty Jenkins, the movie was going to be the next theatrically released Star Wars movie, and they even filmed a special video announcing the project. The movie was originally set for release on December 22, 2023, but on November 8, 2021, the project was put on hold due to Jenkins’ busy schedule, and despite holding the release date for a long time, on September 15, 2022, they officially removed it from their slate. Jenkins reportedly was working on the film following Wonder Woman 3‘s cancelation in December 2022, but in April 2023, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy seemed to indicate that the film could still happen but also could be reworked as a television show.

Why It Might Be Canceled

When Disney first announced Patty Jenkins for Rogue Squadron, it was riding high off the buzz for Wonder Woman 1984, which was set to be released later that Christmas. Following the superhero sequels critical disappointment, it is likely Lucasfilm got cold feet as they have shown a history of hiring a trendy director, but when, after a film of their disappointments, they dropped them. This was the case following Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four, losing him Boba Fett, as well as Colin Trevorrow’s The Book of Henry, leading to Lucasfilm losing faith in him in Star Wars Episode IX. Lucasfilm has announced many other Star Wars projects that they have made a priority, and given that they did not mention Rogue Squadron in 2023 during their Star Wars film slate. It is reported that Patty Jenkins is working on another draft of the script for Lucasfilm, so this film might be saved or just pushed to a later date. With Wonder Woman 3 no longer happening at Warner Bros., Jenkins’s schedule is more free.


The Sword in the Stone

Rickie Sorensen as Arthur in The Sword in the Stone
Walt Disney Productions

Disney first announced it was doing a live-action remake of The Sword in the Stone back in 2015, right after the live-action remake of Cinderella opened. The movie finally gained a director in 2018 when Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) signed on, and it was confirmed that the movie would be released on Disney+. Very recently, director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo revealed that the project might be canceled at Disney. He said:

“That was a project that I was attached to years ago, but it was put on hold. From this day, to be honest with you, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I think it’s a great project and a great story that needs to be told, but I don’t know what is gonna happen. Let’s see; fingers crossed.”


Why It Might Be Canceled

When The Sword and the Stone was first announced, Disney live-action remakes were a new phenomenon that generated big box office numbers. Yet now, in 2024, the trend has become mocked by critics, and even general audiences seem to be tuning out after the critically disappointing Pinocchio remake for Disney+ and The Little Mermaid underperformed at the box office in 2023. Combined with King Arthur films just having a difficult time at the box office, The Sword in the Stone is a less popular Disney film, and even if the director is saying it might not happen, it is not a good sign.

Disney might have axed the traditional remake in favor of a new twist on the material, as in 2021, they announced they were adapting T. A. Barron’s The Merlin Saga with Michael Matthews (Love and Monsters) set to direct. Disney might be looking to adapt The Merlin Saga and put their Disney version of the character (similar to how they adapted the novel On Stranger Tides for the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film and put Jack Sparrow into it) and from there use it as a building block to remake The Sword in the Stone.


Related: Is 2024 About to be a Rough Year for Disney?

Taika Waititi’s Star Wars

Grogu from The Mandaloria, Taika Waiti wearing sunglasses, and Ahsoka wielding a lightsaber
Disney Platform Distribution

Star Wars films are no strangers to cancelation; there are plenty of articles dedicated to how many they have canceled. One that seems like a safe bet is Taika Waititi’s Star Wars film. The film was officially announced on May 4 (Star Wars Day), 2020, and has since been in development. While everyone figured it would have to wait after Thor: Love and Thunder, the film still has not made any progress, and Waititi instead directed Next Goal Wins. When the film was not mentioned alongside the three Star Wars films at the Star Wars Celebration in 2023, it seemed like this might be another canceled Star Wars film.


Why It Might Be Canceled

Following the mixed critical reaction to Thor: Love and Thunder, as well as comments Waititi has made since about working in the MCU, there is a good chance the director is not interested in working in another big franchise, particularly one as hands-on as Star Wars. If Waititi backed out, there would be no need for Disney to make it. This was one sold on a director’s specific vision, and without him, there is no point moving forward. They certainly have plenty of other Star Wars projects in the works now.

Tink

A downtrodden Tinker Bell and two of her pixie friends
Walt Disney Pictures

Disney announced it was making a live-action Tinkerbell film titled Tink in 2015. This was both after Cinderella and the release of Maleficent, which inspired Disney to take different spins on classic characters who were not the leads in Disney animated films but had a popular fanbase. Originally, Reese Witherspoon was set to play Tinkerbell, but the project remained in development hell for so long that, in 2021, she moved over to a producer role. No word has been made on Tink since 2021 as part of former President and Chief Creative Officer for Disney Branded Television Gary Marsh’s overall deal with Disney.


Why It Might Be Canceled

Tink has been in development for almost a decade at Disney. The company is in a much different place than when it was first announced, and despite having a lot of freedom in terms of what they could do with the property and the name recognition of Tinkerbell, there does not seem to be any drive at Disney to make this one happen. The movie also might have taken a backseat to Peter Pan & Wendy, an underrated Disney live-action movie that aired on Disney+ in April 2023 and featured a new take on Tinkerbell, played by Yara Shahidi.

Tower of Terror

Scarlett Johansson Tower of Terror
Disney


Another Disney ride they want to turn into a movie. In fact, The Tower of Terror was the first Disney ride to get a film, as it was a 1997 made-for-television film for The Wonderful World of Disney that starred Kirsten Dunst. In June 2021, Scarlett Johansson was set to star in a new Tower of Terror film, which she would also produce through her production company, These Pictures. The development of the film was shortly canceled due to Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney, which followed the company releasing the MCU film Black Widow on the streaming service Disney+. While development resumed following the lawsuit settlement, the disappointment of Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion might have killed the momentum.

Why It Might Be Canceled

As mentioned before when discussing Big Thunder Mountain and Jungle Cruise 2, Disney might be more hesitant to adapt their theme park attractions into movies. Instead, they might shift their focus to making more IP-related projects that can be turned into theme park attractions. In November 2023, Johannson did say they were working on Tower of Terror once again following the WGA and SAG-AFTRA Strike, but a lot has changed in the past few months. While Bob Iger certainly wanted to mend the relationship with Scarlett Johansson following how Bob Chapek might have hurt it with the Black Widow lawsuit, there is also a chance that Disney might offer her another project and scrap Tower of Terror.


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