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Thursday, January 05 2017 22:37

2017 Movie Preview: Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm...

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Looking ahead at the calendar for the next 12 months, it's clear that 2017 is going to be a big year at the movies. At the head of the pack, The Walt Disney Studios have announced their formal slate for the next year, including titles from Disney, Disney•Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm. Let's take a look at what's in store...

Beauty and the BeastBeauty and the Beast - March 17, 2017

The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” a stunning, cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart of the true Prince within. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s father; Josh Gad as LeFou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the candelabra; Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe, the wardrobe; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; Hattie Morahan as the enchantress; and Nathan Mack as Chip, the teacup; with Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.

Directed by Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film, “Beauty and the Beast,” the screenplay is written by Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos and produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman, p.g.a. and Todd Lieberman, p.g.a. with Jeffrey Silver, Thomas Schumacher and Don Hahn serving as executive producers. Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the animated film, provides the score, which includes new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as three new songs written by Menken and Tim Rice

Born In ChinaDisneyNature Born in China - April 21, 2017

Narrated by John Krasinski (“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” NBC’s “The Office,” “Amazon’s “Jack Ryan”), Disneynature's new True Life Adventure film “Born In China” takes an epic journey into the wilds of China where few people have ever ventured. Following the stories of three animal families, the film transports audiences to some of the most extreme environments on Earth to witness some of the most intimate moments ever captured in a nature film. A doting panda bear mother guides her growing baby as she begins to explore and seek independence. A two-year-old golden monkey who feels displaced by his new baby sister joins up with a group of free-spirited outcasts. And a mother snow leopard—an elusive animal rarely caught on camera—faces the very real drama of raising her two cubs in one of the harshest and most unforgiving environments on the planet. Featuring stunning, never-before-seen imagery, the film navigates China’s vast terrain—from the frigid mountains to the heart of the bamboo forest—on the wings of red-crowned cranes, seamlessly tying the extraordinary tales together. Opening in U.S. theaters on Earth Day 2017, “Born in China” is directed by accomplished Chinese filmmaker Lu Chuan, and produced by Disney’s Roy Conli and renowned nature filmmakers Brian Leith and Phil Chapman.  

Guardians of the GalaxyMarvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - May 5, 2017

Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.

Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock and Kurt Russell. Kevin Feige is producing, and Louis D’Esposito, Jonathan Schwartz, Victoria Alonso, Nik Korda and Stan Lee are the executive producers. The screenplay is by James Gunn. 

Pirates of the CaribbeanPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales - May 26, 2017

Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” The rip-roaring adventure finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil's Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack. Jack's only hope of survival lies in the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it he must forge an uneasy alliance with Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a brilliant and beautiful astronomer, and Henry (Brenton Thwaites), a headstrong young sailor in the Royal Navy. At the helm of the Dying Gull, his pitifully small and shabby ship, Captain Jack seeks not only to reverse his recent spate of ill fortune, but to save his very life from the most formidable and malicious foe he has ever faced. 

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” also stars Kevin R. McNally as Joshamee Gibbs,  Golshifteh Farahani as the sea-witch Shansa, David Wenham as Scarfield, Stephen Graham as Scrum, and Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa.

Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg are directing “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” with Jerry Bruckheimer producing. The executive producers are Mike Stenson, Chad Oman, Joe Caracciolo, Jr., Terry Rossio and Brigham Taylor. Jeff Nathanson wrote the screenplay.

Cars 3Disney•Pixar Cars 3 - June 16, 2017

Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!

Directed by Brian Fee (storyboard artist “Cars,” “Cars 2“) and produced by Kevin Reher (“A Bug’s Life,” “La Luna” short).

Thor Ragnarok

Marvel Studios' Thor: Ragnarok - November 3, 2017

In Marvel Studios’ “Thor: Ragnarok,” Thor is imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his mighty hammer and finds himself in a race against time to get back to Asgard to stop Ragnarok—the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization—at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela. But first he must survive a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk!

“Thor: Ragnarok” is directed by Taika Waititi and returns Chris Hemsworth starring as Thor and Tom Hiddleston reprising his role as Loki. They are joined by Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson and Karl Urban, with Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins.

Kevin Feige is producing with Louis D’Esposito, Brad Winderbaum, Victoria Alonso, Thomas M. Hammel and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. The story is by Craig Kyle & Christopher Yost and Stephany Folsom, and the screenplay is by Eric Pearson. 

CocoDisney•Pixar Coco - November 22, 2017

Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history. Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”).

2017 episode8

Star Wars: Episode VIII - December 15, 2017

Directed by Rian Johnson, the second chapter of the new Star Wars Trilogy bring audiences back into the story of Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Luke Skywalker and more. A title and synopsis are expected to be released soon.

James Zahn

About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters (Released in 2009 and 2012) - James Zahn is THE ROCK FATHER™. 

Bringing over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry into the family realm, Zahn is an Illinois-based Entertainment Writer, Media Personality, Commentator, Adventurer and Raconteur. 

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, a writer for the Netflix #StreamTeam, and serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers.

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for Napalm Records' PRODUCT OF HATE.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360, has been quoted in BusinessWire, CNN and Babble, in addition to making appearances on ABC News, WGN and more. In the past he served as a writer for  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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