'Star Wars,' 'Avatar' Sequels Face-Off Cancelled, As Disney Announces Release Dates Through 2027

The Walt Disney Company has reconciled its movie release date calendar with the slate at recent acquisition 21st Century Fox, revealing alternating Avatar and Star Wars releases in Decembers through 2027. The new release date announcements double as confirmation of three upcoming, currently untitled, Star Wars movies, officially moving the series beyond the Sequel Trilogy ending with Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker—out in theaters December 20.

But while the release date shuffle is good news for Star Wars, it represents yet another delay for James Cameron's long-gestating sequels to 2009's Avatar, for now the biggest worldwide box-office hit, with Avengers: Endgame nipping at its heels. While Avatar 2 was originally scheduled for a December 18, 2020 premiere, Disney has pushed back the sequel nearly a full year, to December 17, 2021. The Star Wars and Avatar franchises will anchor subsequent holiday release slots in an alternating pattern: Star Wars in 2022, Avatar 3 in 2023, Star Wars in 2024, Avatar 4 in 2025, Star Wars in 2026 and Avatar 5 in 2027.

Cameron responded to the new Avatar 2 release date on Twitter, ending with "Sivako," a Pandoran exhortation meaning "rise to the challenge."

The new release calendar solidifies a planned Star Wars hiatus announced by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. "We're taking the time to really look at where this going from the standpoint of a saga," Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly in April.

The announcement of three new Star Wars movies did not include any additional details, and Disney is currently developing two different Star Wars trilogies, one written by The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and the other created by Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

With no major sci-fi release planned for December 2020, the holiday slot will instead be occupied by Steven Spielberg's West Side Story, out on December 18.

Here's the full list of changes, relayed by The Hollywood Reporter:

  • The Art of Racing in the Rain (Fox) previously dated on 9/27/19 moves to 8/9/19
  • Ready or Not (Fox Searchlight) is now dated on 8/23/19
  • Ad Astra (Fox) previously dated on 5/24/19 moves to 9/20/19
  • Ford v. Ferrari (Fox) is the updated title of previous untitled James Mangold project dated on 11/15/19
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney) is the updated title of previous Star Wars: Episode IX dated on 12/20/19
  • Spies in Disguise (Fox) previously dated on 9/13/19 moves to 12/25/19
  • Underwater (Fox) is now dated on 1/10/20
  • Call of the Wild (Fox) previously dated on 12/25/19 moves to 2/21/20
  • The New Mutants (Fox) previously dated on 8/2/19 moves to 4/3/20
  • Artemis Fowl (Disney) previously dated on 8/9/19 moves to 5/29/20
  • The One and Only Ivan (Disney) is the updated title of previous untitled Disney live-action dated on 2/14/20 and moves to 8/14/20
  • Death on the Nile (Fox) previously dated on 10/2/20 moves to 10/9/20
  • West Side Story (Fox) is now dated on 12/18/20
  • Cruella (Disney) is the updated title of previous untitled Disney live-action dated on 12/23/20
  • Nimona (Fox) previously dated on 2/14/20 moves to 3/5/21
  • Avatar 2 (Fox) previously dated on 12/18/20 moves to 12/17/21
  • Untitled Star Wars (Disney) is the updated title of previous untitled Disney live-action dated on 12/16/22
  • Avatar 3 (Fox) previously dated on 12/17/21 moves to 12/22/23
  • Untitled Star Wars (Disney) is now dated on 12/20/24
  • Avatar 4 (Fox) previously dated on 12/20/24 is now dated on 12/19/25
  • Untitled Star Wars (Disney) is now dated on 12/18/26
  • Avatar 5 (Fox) previously dated on 12/19/25 moves to 12/17/27
  • Gambit (Fox) previously dated on 3/13/20 is removed from schedule
  • Untitled Fox Marvel (Fox) previously dated on 6/26/20 is removed from schedule
  • Untitled Fox Marvel (Fox) previously dated on 10/2/20 is removed from schedule
  • Untitled Disney live-action (Disney) previously dated on 10/9/20 is removed from schedule
  • Untitled Fox Marvel (Fox) previously dated on 3/5/21 is removed from schedule
  • Foster (Fox) previously dated on 3/5/21 is removed from schedule