TIME movies

Watch the Trailer for Peter Pan Origin Story Pan With Hugh Jackman and Rooney Mara

“I don’t believe in bedtime stories”

Since Peter Pan first appeared in a 1902 J.M. Barrie novel, there have been three major movies bearing his name: There was a silent film in 1924, the animated Disney version in 1953, and a 2003 remake that received generally favorable reviews. Next summer, the little prince of Neverland will return to the movies once more in Pan, an origin story that serves as a prequel to the tale its predecessors have told.

The story begins with Peter, played by newcomer Levi Miller, getting abducted from his miserable orphanage and whisked away, via flying ship, to Neverland. Ruled by Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman), Neverland introduces Peter to a young James Hook (Garrett Hedlund), who appears more friend than foe, and to Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), who the trailer suggests has been reimagined as fearless warrior more than damsel in distress.

Hollywood seems never to tire of this tale, which will also get a live onstage treatment from NBC on Dec. 4, starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken. It takes some effort to look past the offensive racial slurs and Victorian era gender roles. But hopefully this modern retelling will set the retrograde messages aside and focus on the themes of imagination and adventure that keep viewers coming back.

TIME movies

Ranking: The Disney Renaissance From Worst to Best

Animated mermaids, lion cubs, and a bell ringer with chronic back problems

This post originally appeared on Consequence of Sound.

On November 17, 1989, 25 years ago today, Walt Disney Pictures’ The Little Mermaid premiered in movie theatres across America, swimming into our hearts and kicking off what is now known as the Disney Renaissance.

After the colossal disappointment of the 1985 feature The Black Cauldron and slightly more profitable efforts like 1986’s The Great Mouse Detective and 1988’s Oliver & Company still getting pummeled at the box office by former Disney animator Don Bluth’s An American Tail and The Land Before Time, respectively, the House of Mouse was in dire need of a transformation. Pivoting back to the music-driven, ornately drawn fairy tales of the studio’s heyday, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty, then-CEO Michael Eisner hired lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken, known for working together on the successful Off-Broadway production Little Shop of Horrors, to write the songs for an ambitious new film: an animated adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid.

Thankfully, the result was a critical and commercial success, garnering a higher weekend gross than Bluth’s All Dogs Go to Heaven, which opened the same weekend, and eventually breaking The Land Before Time’s record of highest-grossing animated film. The Little Mermaid also won two Academy Awards, for Best Original Score and for Best Original Song (“Under the Sea”), and breathed new life into what had hitherto been a fading empire. After struggling through a string of commercial flops from the early-’70s to the mid-’80s, the Walt Disney Company was finally back on top, with 1989 marking the dawn of the studio’s new golden era.

Disney would go on to release one animated musical a year for the next decade, resulting in 10 motion pictures that are widely recognized as the Disney Renaissance oeuvre. So, get ready for some prime millennial nostalgia as we rank each of the outings from meh to magnificent, and let us know in the comments section which films you still love, which ones you can’t stand, and which VHS tapes you broke from rewinding and playing over and over.

— Leah Pickett
Film Staff Writer

10. Pocahontas (1995)

If you prefer your history whitewashed, then you probably won’t be too offended by Pocahontas, the weakest and most vapid entry in the Renaissance Ten. As the first animated Disney film to be based on a historical figure, one would expect our main character, even with the rest of her story bastardized and kid-proofed to death with cuddly animal sidekicks (Meeko the Raccoon and Percy the Pug) and a talking willow tree (Linda Hunt), to be at least somewhat interesting. But no, she and her equally boring lover, John Smith, voiced by famed anti-Semite Mel Gibson, are the Barbie and Ken of the New World, with not much to offer besides dramatic poses and platitudes.

Iconic Disney Moment: Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue-corn moon, or asked the grinning bobcat why he grins? Perhaps you should try jumping off a cliff and letting the colors of the wind carry you down; that looks fun.

Leah Pickett

9. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)

Taking a nearly 500-page novel by Victor Hugo and turning it into a 91-minute, animated extravaganza suitable for children is risky, to be sure. But the main problem with Disney’s version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is not in its reach for the dramatic — on the contrary, the grand leaps into gothic spectacle and pathos are the films high points — but in its yielding to the requisite tomfoolery, like the gargoyles dancing and singing (for the kids!), that creates several jarring shifts in tone. Perhaps the studio was reticent to go too dark, considering how The Black Cauldron turned out. But when the villain, Claude Frollo (Tony Jay), is the most electrifying screen presence, and Esmeralda (Demi Moore) and Captain Phoebus (Kevin Kline) barely register, well, that presents quite a conundrum. Perhaps if the sidekicks had been less hackneyed and if Quasimodo had been performed with more gusto (Tom Hulce’s voiceover is adequate, but ultimately forgettable), then Hunchback, which isn’t all that bad in retrospect, might have left a more lasting impression.

Iconic Disney Moment: That’s easy: Frollo singing to the shadow of Esmeralda’s naked, dancing body as it erupts into flames. “Destroy Esmeralda, and let her taste the fires of hell, or else let her be mine and mine alone!” he wails, torn apart by the horror of his forbidden lust. Um, holy shit.

Leah Pickett

8. The Rescuers Down Under (1990)

And so it began. Thirteen years after the release of The Rescuers, Disney dipped its toes into the sequel pool for the first time with The Rescuers Down Under, another of the earliest entries in the Renaissance era. As a film, it’s an exciting enough adventure flick and one which offers Disney’s characteristic sense of genuine danger, even in a film about cute, anthropological animals who govern their own animal rescue squadron (the Rescue Aid Society). Like The Rescuers, which was primarily built around an anonymous plea for help by a kidnapped orphan, Down Under sees Bernard (Bob Newhart) and Miss Bianca (Eva Gabor, in her final film role) attempting to save Cody, a young boy unwittingly captured and very nearly fed to crocodiles by a maniacal big-game hunter in search of a golden eagle. Down Under is far from the most memorable Disney movie, but it’s absolutely noteworthy for one reason: not only was it Disney’s first sequel but also its first foray into the hybridized hand-drawn/computer-generated animation that would characterize the studio’s next and best phase.

Iconic Disney Moment: The point at which Bernard saves Cody from the aforementioned crocodile trap by furiously riding in on a razorback pig he tamed with an animal-whispering technique. It’s quintessential Disney: beautifully animated, exciting, and with just a dash of reckless child endangerment.

Dominick Mayer

7. Tarzan (1999)

For a time, Tarzan was Disney’s most expensive animated production ever. And despite its budget being trumped within a few years by the underrated but still notorious flop Treasure Planet, Tarzan still stands as one of Disney’s most lushly animated, visually memorable films. It’s also a moving one, as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ characters are brought to life in a film that at once pays homage to Burroughs and stages its own powerful arguments about the modern world, about man’s violation of nature and its propensity to act in ways more savage than the animals it forever hopes to tame. It’s the chronicle of Tarzan (Tony Goldwyn), who’s torn between his loyalty to his given family of apes and Jane (Minnie Driver), the gentle scientist who offers Tarzan the opportunity to live among his own kind. While it’s an often simplistic film, and hardly strays from the long-established Tarzan stories of yore, it occasionally offers some surprisingly complex lessons about loyalty and what it is that defines a family, and even briefly returned Phil Collins to top 40 prominence. The renaissance more or less ended here, but it’s an impressive way to go out.

Iconic Disney Moment: Tarzan’s introductory journey, as he pursues game through a thicket of trees by flying effortlessly between them. It’s a truly breathtaking sequence that stands among Disney’s best individual scenes.

Dominick Mayer

6. Hercules (1997)

Greek mythology seems like a perfect springboard for a Disney movie, given the amount of them that trade on the basic iconographies of the mythic. But what’s most pleasantly surprising about Hercules isn’t necessary its retelling of Herc’s trials, an aspect of Greek lore that had been done to death for years before Disney ever took aim at it, or even the music, which doesn’t linger well after viewing in the same way as some of the soundtrack cuts from other films on our list. (Well, the refrain of “Herc-u-les” notwithstanding.) It’s how surprisingly quick and fun the film is. Bolstered by a score of studio-best voice performances, from James Woods’ perfectly jaded and sarcastic Hades to Susan Egan’s seen-it-all Megara, Hercules makes up for whatever it may be lacking in the iconic, universal appeal of Disney’s best films of this period with sheer entertainment value. Whether it’s Danny DeVito cracking wise as Hercules’ trainer Phil or Hades callously informing Hercules of Meg’s mortality with a smirk and a couple one-liners, Hercules is Disney animation at its fleet-footed, oddly comical, darkly tinged best.

Iconic Disney Moment: Hercules conquering the Hydra, only after removing several of its heads and trapping it in a landslide. Woods’ running commentary and DeVito’s screaming panic give the scene a perfectly pitched, off-kilter tone.

Dominick Mayer

5. The Little Mermaid (1989)

If you’re wondering why The Little Mermaid is placed in the middle of our list, and not closer to the top, the truth is that the story doesn’t hold up as well as it should. Sure, the very best elements retain their magic: the striking animation, the infectious songs, the fabulous villain (“And don’t underestimate the importance of body language!”), the memorable side characters, and the tenacious, likable lead still shine. But the whole girl meets boy, girl gives up her voice to be with boy scenario is harder to swallow as an adult than, say, as an impressionable child dreaming of true love’s first kiss. The biggest problem is that, after literally giving up her voice to be with Prince Eric, Ariel doesn’t change. She gets what she wants in the end and all for a guy she’s known for grand total of three days. King Triton is the only character with a real arc, and, to the movie’s credit, he is the most impressive Disney dad. Also, if you reframe The Little Mermaid as being Triton’s story, of how he learns to love his daughter by letting her go, that makes the film even better in hindsight. Granted, that could just be my inner old person talking.

Iconic Disney Moment: “Part of Your World”. If you are a female-identified child of the ‘90s, chances are good that you have belted this song into your hairbrush or showerhead on more than one occasion.

Leah Pickett

4. Aladdin (1992)

As animation goes, you can’t get much more fluid or imaginative, at least within the boundaries of the early ‘90s, than what Aladdin had to offer. John Musker and Ron Clements, who already had The Little Mermaid under their belts and would go on to helm Hercules, Treasure Planet, and The Princess and the Frog as well, made use of Disney’s continually growing interest in the potential of computer animation. But never before (and rarely since) had it been used to such stunning effect. From Aladdin’s initial footrace through the streets of Agrabah to the magic carpet ride to the Genie’s cave and right through Jafar reaching his final form late in the film, Aladdin offers one jaw-dropping step forward for animation as a medium after another. That sense of endeavor into the unknown and unconquered, combined with Alan Menken’s bouncing, infectious music, makes for one of Disney’s most lovable and enduring films.

And while it’s easy to come down on the film with respect to most modern metrics (the racially problematic villainy, Jasmine’s relative ineffectuality when compared to most other Disney princesses), Aladdin is still a visual and aural pleasure of substantial caliber. It’s also among Disney’s warmest films, a tale of love and friendship and how one or both of those things can only be truly achieved when you set selfishness aside and look out for those who’ve been good to you. Given the events of the past few months, viewings will never quite be the same again, but in the Genie, Robin Williams left one of his most indelible and timeless characters, and one of the very best in the Disney canon.

Iconic Disney Moment: That flying carpet ride. The maudlin nature of “A Whole New World” has been parodied to death over the years, but it’s still one of the most unabashedly breathtaking and romantic sequences Disney’s ever put together.

Dominick Mayer

3. Mulan (1998)

Before Disney’s more recent girl-power epics Brave and Frozen came along, there was Mulan, the story of a woman who disguises herself as a man to defeat the Huns (hwah!). Yes, Mulan is a badass, but she also has nobler aims: to protect her family by taking her elderly father’s place on the battlefield and to prove that she has value above and beyond being married off to the highest bidder. And while the movie gets off to a slow start, the training camp montage is a Renaissance high point, with the budding, gender-bending magnetism between Mulan and her commander, Li Shang, providing some compelling sparks alongside her main focus, which is to find the strength within herself to be brave, follow her heart, and save China.

Plus, most of the main characters, with the obvious exception of Eddie Murphy as the dragon Mushu, are voiced by Asian-American actors. Ming Na-Wen is Mulan’s speaking voice, and Lea Salonga is her singing voice; BD Wong voices Li Shang; Pat Morita is the Emperor of China; George Takei cameos as one of Mulan’s ancestors; and Soon Tek-Oh plays Mulan’s father, Fa Zhou. Okay, Harvey Fierstein also pops up as one of the army dunces, but with such an impressive female lead, enticing story, moving message, and in my opinion, the catchiest song in the Renaissance catalog, “Be a Man”, this one bizarre admission is easily forgivable.

Iconic Disney Moment: “Let’s get down to business / to defeat the Huns!” This song is everything.

Leah Pickett

2. The Lion King (1994)

Yeah, it’s basically Hamlet with lions. But let’s move on from the obvious note, because The Lion King is so much more than a kid-friendly (well, friendly-ish) rendition of Shakespeare. While our top film edges it out by just a hair, The Lion King is the sort of generation-defining masterpiece that Disney does with the best when it’s at its best. Particularly for those who grew up during the film’s salad years, this writer included, it’s hard to start talking about The Lion King without highlighting the power of that stampede sequence and Mufasa’s subsequent death. “Get up, Dad” is not only one of Disney’s most instantly recognizable bits of dialogue, but it was also a bold maneuver. Through that impeccably animated moment, Disney taught a generation of kids about death and mortality and the responsibilities that the living have to the dead they once loved. It’s affecting, troubling stuff even by Disney’s standards.

But this, and the surprisingly bracing showdown that eventually transpires between an adult Simba (Matthew Broderick) and his uncle Scar (a deliciously vampy Jeremy Irons), take The Lion King from a story of a young cub coming of age in a starving kingdom to a transcendent piece of filmmaking, one that treats its ostensibly young audience with a respect and esteem that few family-centric filmmakers typically do. It’s a crash course in moral relativism for kids, offering lessons in forgiveness, redemption, the virtues of Hakuna Matata juxtaposed with the importance of being willing to grow up and take responsibility for the people who depend on you when the time comes. And when Simba tugs on his father’s cheek, begging him to get up, it’s not only heartbreaking, but a reminder that those we love will eventually leave us. Where another film might simply let that tragic life lesson sit on its own, The Lion King is about where Simba goes from there, how it shapes the course of the rest of his life, and how there is indeed life after death, even if it’s not the one you plan on.

That’s to say nothing of the soundtrack, which is one of Disney’s most iconic in a walk. Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” is as touching an approximation of a sex scene as Disney’s ever done, via John’s powerful delivery and no shortage of meaningful glances and feline necking. “Hakuna Matata” taught countless kids the value of taking it easy at a time when the world was becoming more worrisome and high-strung than ever before. And then there’s “Circle of Life”, the background to the film’s classic opening shots of the African savannah and an easy way to teach kids (and their parents) that if death is one of the most inevitable and life-changing parts of the human comedy, the coming of a new life into the world is perhaps the one that most powerfully surpasses it.

Iconic Disney Moment: The entire film is like a gauntlet of one after another, really, but it has to be Mufasa’s death. Not since Bambi’s mother was gunned down had a Disney movie so starkly stared mortality in the face.

Dominick Mayer

1. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

It makes sense that the top two films on our list, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, also became the two most successful Broadway musicals from Disney’s wheelhouse. Simply put, they are the best; they have the best stories, the best characters, the best settings, and the best songs. But what gives Beauty and the Beast the edge over The Lion King is its groundbreaking importance. While The Little Mermaid was the turning point for Disney’s resurgence and The Lion King a sturdy mid-Renaissance tent pole, Beauty remains the studio’s crown jewel.

First and foremost, it is a truly great film: enthralling, beautiful, dark, humorous, thought-provoking, suspenseful, complex, and grandiose. Belle is a delightfully nerdy heroine who loves to read and doesn’t care what other people think of her. The Beast is also a well-developed and multi-dimensional character, with more emotional complexity in his fingernail than Prince Eric, Hercules, and John Smith combined. And as for the “Stockholm Syndrome” argument, re-watching the film and looking into the finer points all but disproves it. The Beast is angry, yes, because he has been cursed to live in the body of a hideous animal unworthy of love, or so he believes. Of course, he’s not perfect, but he also is the exact opposite of bland, which is more than can be said of many a cookie-cutter Disney prince. The Beast also grows and changes more than any other character of the Renaissance set, in large part because a strong, intelligent, passionate, and independent woman has inspired him to be better.

In the beginning, the Beast yells at Belle and locks her in the castle after allowing her father to go free, but he never lays a hand on her or Maurice, and his bitterness begins to melt fairly early on, as Belle refuses to put up with him until he starts treating her with some respect. He lets his guard down; they take time to get to know each other; he eventually realizes that he can’t force anyone to love him to save himself, and he lets Belle go, resigning himself to misery so that she might find happiness. And, it is important to note, as soon as he says that she can go, she leaves.

When she does return in the film’s climax, it is because Gaston is marching to the castle to kill the Beast, and she realizes that she does love him for who he really is, and he loves her, and she cannot bear to see him sacrifice himself. Although perhaps a bit too on the nose, Belle’s line, “He’s no monster, Gaston, you are!” sums up the prevailing theme quite nicely. It’s what’s on the inside that counts, and while the Beast is ugly on the outside but actually gentle, kind, and thoughtful underneath, Gaston’s evil seeps grotesquely from the inside out, proving that wolves all too often exist in muscle-man clothing. And in the end, the Beast is the one to do a complete 180, realizing that to love is to be completely unselfish, and that only then can his curse be lifted and his love returned.

As the first animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, and perhaps the most critically lauded animated film of the 20th century, Beauty and the Beast is a stunning achievement. The dialogue is well-written, the scenes are gorgeously rendered, and the songs, especially “Belle” and “Be Our Guest”, are sublime. In sum, Beauty is a love story for the ages, “a tale as old as time,” and the ultimate Disney Renaissance classic.

Iconic Disney Moment: Belle and the Beast waltzing to the titular lullaby. Not only is this the most romantic sequence of any Disney animated film, but also, over two decades later, still one of the most visually dazzling and, of course, iconic.

Leah Pickett

TIME Opinion

The Little Mermaid: Not as Sexist as You Thought It Was

Disney

"Dinglehoppers work, guys."

In celebration of The Little Mermaid‘s 25th anniversary — it was originally released Nov. 17, 1989 — Eliana Dockterman and Laura Stampler rewatched a film they hadn’t seen in about a decade and a half. They were pleasantly surprised.

Eliana Dockterman: So we just watched The Little Mermaid. I expected it to be really sexist because of articles like this and this and this.

Laura Stampler: It wasn’t.

ED: So, yeah, the fact that she can’t talk isn’t great. But it’s Ursula—the villain—who tells Ariel that men don’t value women talking so it won’t matter if Ariel loses her voice.

LS: And yes, it’s also not great that Ariel is willing to give up her voice for the chance to get a man who plays a mean flute — watch the movie again, he plays the flute a lot — but she is a 16-year-old girl. As a former 16-year-old girl, we don’t always make the greatest of choices in times of crushing.

ED: And in fact the reason Eric won’t marry her right off the bat is because he fell in love with her voice, not her looks. That’s good, right?

LS: Furthermore, he flat-out says he believes that Ariel lost her voice as a part of some big event. So when he doesn’t want to immediately lock lips with the feisty mute, it’s because he doesn’t want to take advantage of a recent trauma victim.

ED: Basically you think Eric is the perfect guy.

LS: A prince among Disney princes. He loves his dog, which is a good sign, and he’s into it when she has the carriage jump over that ravine. He likes daring, empowered women. And, to counter stereotypes, he falls in love with his savior. Eric was the damsel in distress and Ariel rescued him from drowning during a storm.

ED: It’s true. This is why The Little Mermaid is (secretly?) feminist. She saved him first in that shipwreck and then again from being zapped by Ursula’s triton at the end. He ultimately kills Ursula, but she wins 2-1 in the savior competition. Now can we talk about the criticism that she’s too sexy?

LS: From some angles, Ariel’s cinched waist and round derriere kind of reminded me of Kim K, which is a little disturbing to see in a mermaid. But most Disney princesses are flawed.

ED: Everyone heralded Frozen as a big feminist moment last year, even though Elsa’s eyes are bigger than her waist. So we haven’t made much progress on realistic body image in cartoons in the last 25 years. It’s obviously a problem, but let’s not single out Ariel just because she has the shell bra and great hair.

LS: The hair truly is fantastic. Dinglehoppers work, guys. Also, props to Disney for going with a redhead, although it would have been nice for Triton’s kingdom to have greater diversity than hair color and fish species…

ED: Yes let’s just say it: “Under the Sea” is kind of a racist song, though Disney has definitely done much, much, much worse. Let’s discuss the end. Specifically Ursula. Is she the best Disney villain ever?

LS: Evil? Yes. Savvy contract negotiator? ABSOLUTELY. To be fair, Ursula gives Ariel a head’s up that there’s a big chance she’s going to end up a sea worm or whatever those terrifying creatures are. And her legalese is so good that even Triton can’t find a loophole. No one is above the law.

ED: Another good life lesson. But yeah, Ursula doesn’t even pretend to be good like Cinderella’s stepmother or Cruella de Vil or Scar. Right off the bat, she owns her evil witchiness, and I love it! Can the next Maleficent be Ursula?

LS: Too bad she ends up harpooned. I mean, good for young love and all, but poor Ursula. Now that we’ve come to the end of the movie, I think we should talk about another big Little Mermaid complaint people have: the fact that she gives up her whole world to live with Prince Eric.

ED: Again, this is a thing that happens in literally every Disney princess film except Frozen—and even there Anna ends up with someone, so it’s baby steps. I don’t know why everyone’s hating on The Little Mermaid.

LS: But really, didn’t Ariel fall in love with the human world before she even knew who Eric was? She has always dreamed of being a “part of your world,” which I’m worried she’ll find disappointing considering my dad definitely still reprimanded me (even though I had legs).

ED: Her father doesn’t understand her, and she wants to explore her own interests. Any teenager can relate to that.

LS: Also, there’s a time when we all must move on from our immediate surroundings. Triton basically lives in her back yard. Most newlyweds would probably find that a little too close for comfort.

ED: And conveniently Eric doesn’t seem to have parents. And who are we to say that if he could turn into a merperson, Eric wouldn’t? Maybe in a more progressive version of the film they have a discussion about who moves where for whose career. But in the version we get, she can turn human. He can’t turn merman. End of conversation.

LS: I smell a sequel…

ED: They made one. I think it was bad.

LS: Shhhh.

TIME movies

Meet the Big Hero 6, Disney’s Newest Team of Superheroes

They're not your average crime fighters

Disney’s newest animated flick Big Her0 6, in theaters Nov. 7, is a re-imagining of a Marvel comic superhero group by the same name. Comprised of four super-smart college students, a comic-book geek and an inflatable robot, the Big Hero 6 are formed to oppose a mysterious masked man who threatens the city of San Fransokyo. Here’s our dossier on the crime-fighting crew.

MONEY Leisure

Why Theaters Desperately Need You to Go to the Movies This Weekend

Anne Hathaway and Wes Bently in INTERSTELLAR, from Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers Pictures, in association with Legendary Pictures.
Movie execs are counting on the space explorers of "Interstellar" to pull box-office receipts out of a black hole. Melinda Sue Gordon—Warner Bros.

A lackluster summer at the box office has been followed by a so-so autumn—putting even more pressure on this weekend's two big movie releases to draw in the ticket-buying masses.

The highest-grossing blockbuster of summer 2014 was “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which by Labor Day weekend had pulled in around $256 million at the box office. Yet as Entertainment Weekly pointed out at the time, that total would have put “Guardians” at only #5 on the summer 2013 list had the film come out that year.

The point is: Summer 2014 was a stinker for the film business. During the crucial period from May 2 to Labor Day, the box office total at movie theaters came to around $4 billion, nearly 15% less than the same period in 2013. September fared much better, with the box office up around 4% compared with last year, but overall the industry remains desperately in need of a big hit—or several.

The movie theater company Cinemark released third-quarter results on Thursday, and for the three-month period ending September 30, revenues were down more than $100 million compared with the previous year ($646.9 million versus $757.6 million), even as the average ticket price rose 3% and concessions per patron increased 6.7%. (FYI, the ticket price average was $6.09 and the average spent on concessions was $3.19.) Cinemark partly blamed the World Cup soccer tournament for the poor turnout. Whatever the reason—including, perhaps, the absence of, you know, good movies worth buying tickets for—attendance plummeted from roughly 81 million during Q3 of 2013 to 66 million this year.

Across the industry, box office sales are down 4% thus far in 2014. Time is running out on the movie business’s prayers that the year as a whole won’t be a disappointment. Which is why industry execs may be hoping a turnaround truly takes hold this weekend, when two potential blockbusters from Disney animation and Dark Knight auteur Christopher Nolan—Big Hero 6 and Interstellar, respectively—are released.

As the Los Angeles Times noted, each big-budget film cost about $165 to make, and each stands a decent chance of pulling in more than $50 million at the box office during its debut weekend. If that happens, it would only be the fourth time in history that two new movies opened with $50+ million weekends. And if that happens, it couldn’t come quickly enough for the struggling film industry.

“In the wake of a summer that ended up down 15%, we needed the post-summer period to perform,” Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with the entertainment business research firm Rentrak, told the Los Angeles Times. “Otherwise we were just going to get this negative momentum situation.”

After this weekend’s releases, it looks like it will largely be up to a slew of sequels opening in November and December—from the “Hunger Games,” “Night at the Museum,” and “Hobbit” series, among others—to put patrons in movie theater seats.

TIME movies

Yes, Toy Story 4 Is Happening

TOY STORY 3
Pixar/Disney

To in-four-nity and beyond!

Correction: Appended, Nov. 7.

A fourth Toy Story movie is coming.

Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang are coming back to the big screen in June 2017 for yet another film in the iconic Disney/Pixar series. John Lasseter—who created Toy Story in 1995—will return for Toy Story 4, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger announced during a quarterly earnings call for investors Thursday afternoon.

“John created Toy Story and directed the first two films, and it’s great to have him back directing one of our most valuable properties,” Iger said Thursday afternoon, according to Entertainment Weekly.

[EW]

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated the year that Toy Story was released. It was 1995.

TIME movies

Court Rules Company Doesn’t Have the Rights to Spider-Man, X-Men

2014 Alamo City Comic Con - Day 1
Comic book writer Stan Lee attends day one of the Alamo City Comic Con at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center on September 26, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. Rick Kern—WireImage

The company's claims to Lee's characters, which include Spider-Man and the X-Men, are "simply implausible"

The company co-founded by but long since unaffiliated with comic book tycoon Stan Lee does not own the rights to his most famous characters, an appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The 9th Circuit ruled that a federal judge in Los Angeles appropriately dismissed the case in 2012, saying that the Colorado-based company Stan Lee Media Inc. never demonstrated that Lee had given it the rights to his characters.

SLMI was founded in 1998 but declared bankruptcy in 2001. Its shareholders are asserting their claim over Lee’s characters.

“Give the significant value of these franchise, SLMI’s failure to publicize, protect, or exploit its right to profit from the characters establishes that these claims are simply implausible,” the court said.

TIME movies

Disney Announces Animated Feature Moana Coming in 2016

From the directors of 'Aladdin' and 'The Little Mermaid'

A new animation feature announced Monday by Walt Disney Animation Studios will tell the tale of a teenage girl navigating a journey through the South Pacific.

The film, set to be directed by Ron Clements and John Musker — who also directed Aladdin and The Little Mermaid will follow Moana, who sets out on an “impossible mission to fulfill her ancestors’ quest,” according to Disney’s blog. She’s apparently very good with boats.

Viewers can expect the feature to hit theaters in late 2016.

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