Disney's Maleficent 2 is finally moving forward after several years in development, with Angelina Jolie returning as the main character, and now we know when production will begin. While this has yet to be confirmed by the studios, a new report reveals that director Joachim Ronning (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) has started the pre-production process, with principal photography slated to begin April 16 in London, which will run until August. Angelina Jolie was said to be deciding between this project and the Universal monster movie Bride of Frankenstein as her next movie, and it seems that Maleficent 2 has come out on top.
This new report also claims that Patrick Tatopoulous has been enlisted as the film's production designer, following his most recent work on Justice League, Batman v Superman and 300: Rise of an Empire. The sequel finally started moving forward in August, when Disney hired Spectre writer Jez Butterworth to write the Maleficent 2 script, after the project had been languishing in development hell for several years. Just a few months later, Joachim Ronning signed on to direct, marking his first solo directorial outing, after making his directorial breakthrough Kon-Tiki, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and directing two episodes of Marco Polo with his longtime directing partner, Espen Sandberg.
Back in April 2016, Disney set release dates for five movies, two of which were confirmed to be Maleficent 2 and Jungle Book 2, although their exact dates weren't given yet. The dates in question are July 28, 2017, April 6, 2018, August 3, 2018, December 25, 2018 and December 20, 2019. Given that filming won't start until mid-April, the first four dates are all but out of the question, especially given the amount of special effects that will likely be needed for this sequel, and the December 20, 2019 date isn't an option either, since the studio moved Star Wars 9 to that date. Disney doesn't have any movie set for April 6, but their Christopher Robin movie starring Ewan McGregor and Hayley Atwell is set for August 3, and the studio also has Mary Poppins Returns slated for Christmas Day.
2014's Maleficent was a huge hit for the studio, opening with the top spot with $69.4 million, en route to $241.4 million domestic, $517.1 million international and $758.5 million worldwide, from a $180 million budget. There had been talk of a Maleficent sequel shortly after the movie hit theaters, but the development was slow going. Angelina Jolie hinted at returning as the title character just a month after the movie hit theaters in the summer of 2014, but now it seems that Disney is finally ready to make the sequel happen. No story details have been given at this time, and with pre-production currently under way, it's possible that we could start getting the first wave of casting reports coming in soon.
The success of Maleficent in 2014, and following the success of Alice in Wonderland in 2010, ushered in a new era of live-action adaptations based on classic Disney stories. Recent movies such as Cinderella, The Jungle Book and last year's Beauty and the Beast have been huge hits for the studio, with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (November 21) and Mary Poppins Returns (December 25) hitting theaters this year, with Dumbo (March 29, 2019) coming next year and several others in development such as Tinker Bell, Aladdin, Mulan, The Lion King and much more. Today's report comes from Omega Underground, but it has yet to be confirmed by the studio yet.