Milla Jovovich and Tony Jaa star in Screen Gems and Constantin Films “Monster Hunter.”

Let’s talk about the top stories in Hollywood this week!

Disney’s Investor Day was full of movie news that kept the industry buzzing last week! There were a ton of major movie announcements that we’ll get to in a minute, but perhaps the best news for movie fans is that Disney is sticking with theatrical releases for its biggest tentpole films. The studio’s theatrical slate remains robust, including upcoming properties from the Marvel, Star WarsAvatar, Pixar, and Indiana Jones brands. Here’s a list of the Disney movies hitting theaters in 2021 and beyond. (ING, Deadline, Box Office)

After launching the Wonder Woman franchise, Patty Jenkins is ready to go to a galaxy far, far, away. She has been tapped to direct the new Star Wars movie Rogue Squadron for Disney and Lucasfilm! The next Star Wars film to be released will focus on the fighter pilots made famous in the Star Wars films, and it will mark the first feature film in the franchise to be directed by a woman. (Deadline)

A Fantastic Four movie is officially in development at Marvel Studios, with Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s Jon Watts attached to direct. There’s virtually no information on the project outside of Watts’ name and a teaser logo, but the news is exciting, given the Fantastic Four’s history with the Marvel franchise. Known as “Marvel’s First Family,” the Fantastic Four have received several film adaptations in the past from 20th Century Fox. Phase 4 of the MCU kicks off with Marvel Studios’ WandaVision, premiering on Disney+ on January 15, and continues throughout 2021 with new films including Marvel Studios’ Black Widow and Eternals. (The Verge)

Marvel won’t be recasting the T’Challa role in Black Panther 2 out of respect to the late Chadwick Boseman. Instead, the Black Panther series will expand to spotlight other characters, using the branding “World of Wakanda.” The sequel is being written and directed by Ryan Coogler and is slated to be released on July 8, 2022. (Deadline)

Indiana Jones 5 is in preproduction and will be the final film to feature star Harrison Ford as the iconic adventurer. Not only that, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that this will be the final installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, period. James Mangold is set to direct Dr. Jones’ fifth adventure, which is expected to hit theaters in July 2022. Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will produce the final film, while Steven Spielberg will executive produce after directing the first four films in the franchise. (Collider)

Pixar announced a new animated film called Lightyear, described as an origin story for Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear, charting his rise from test pilot to Space Ranger. Directed by Finding Dory co-director Angus MacLane, Lightyear will star Chris Evans as the voice of Buzz and is scheduled to hit cinemas in summer 2022.  Not a lot of plot details were revealed, save for one crucial piece of information: Chris Evans’ iteration of Buzz Lightyear is going to not only exist in the reality that Buzz once imagined for himself, we’re going to see his pre-Star Command days in action. Merely a test pilot at this point, his maverick ways will help him become the hero we know and love. (CinemaBlend)

Free Guy with Ryan Reynolds and Death on the Nile with Kenneth Branagh are both back on the theatrical release slate after Disney previously pulled both 20th Century Studios titles from their release dates in December. Free Guy will now open May 21, 2021 and Death on the Nile will open September 17, 2021. Other 20th Century titles and Searchlight titles have also shifted, including The King’s Man moving back a month to March 12, 2021. (The Wrap)

For the first time since Thanksgiving, a major Hollywood studio is braving the pandemic waters in support of cinemas willing and able to keep their doors open. Sony is unleashing Monster Hunter this weekend, one week before Christmas, in a play to attract fans of the video game franchise. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and starring his partner Milla Jovovich, the creative pairing sparked genre success in the past with the Resident Evil franchise. Monster Hunter opens on Thursday night as it rolls into 1,736 locations this weekend, including 159 IMAX venues and 383 premium large format screens. (Box Office)

Tom Cruise is the action hero the movie industry needs right now – on film and in real life. Cruise was caught in an audiotape unloading on the crew of the London set of Mission: Impossible 7 after he noticed lapses in social distancing protocols that were put in place to make one of the first blockbusters to resume production during the pandemic. Cruise can be heard saying: “We are the gold standard. They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us. Because they believe in us and what we’re doing. I’m on the phone with every f—ing studio at night, insurance companies, producers and they’re looking at us and using us to make their movies. We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherf—ers. I don’t ever want to see it again. Ever!” Cruise, also the film’s producer, helped developed the protocols meant to get the film through production that spanned from Italy to Norway and London. He is very emotional in delivering the message, telling the crew that the industry is hurting, and most of the industry shut down, and that people are losing their homes as a result. Seeing through this movie to completion has been something of a mission for Cruise, who pushed to get back into production and who, behind the scenes, has used his time to advise other productions and studios on how they might also navigate in perilous times during the pandemic. (Variety, The Sun, Deadline)

BAFTA winner and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker actress Naomi Ackie has landed the role of Whitney Houston in Sony/TriStar’s biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody, which will be directed by Stella Meghie. The film, which is being made with the blessing of the Houston estate, is being written by Oscar nominee Anthony McCarten and follows the life and times of Houston, the iconic artist behind timeless hits like I Will Always Love You and How Will I Know. Houston, who died in 2012, made her acting debut in the 1992 romantic thriller The Bodyguard.  I Wanna Dance With Somebody is slated to release at Thanksgiving of 2022. (Deadline)

As always, stay tuned to our friends at Noovie for all the latest film release updates in real time!

For a full schedule of all upcoming movies, check out Box Office Mojo’s Domestic Release Calendar.

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