Disney’s upcoming Descendants 4 will explore Wonderland and introduce the daughters of the Queen of Hearts and Cinderella as they travel back in time.
A new installment in Disney’s highly popular Descendants franchise has been officially greenlit. Targeted at Disney’s tween audiences, the first film in the series, Descendants, was released in 2015, followed by two sequels. The film centers around the sons and daughters of classic Disney princesses and villains and features original music and dance numbers. The main story follows Mal, played by Dove Cameron, daughter of Maleficent, as she tries to abandon her mischievous ways to win the heart of the good-natured Prince Ben, played by Mitchell Hope, son of Belle and the Beast. The film franchise has spurred its own universe of sorts with short films, a book series, and animated one-off stories such as last year’s Descendants: The Royal Wedding.
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While the hype for the franchise has been at an all-time high, fans have been calling for a new official film to be added to the canon. The delay was due in large part to the unexpected passing of one of the main cast members, Cameron Boyce, who played Carlos, son of Cruella De Vil, shortly before the release of 2019’s Descendants 3. However, in September of 2021, Disney announced that two brand-new films were in development. Now, Disney has released official plot and character details on one of those upcoming films.
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An official press release from Disney+ reveals the fourth movie will be titled Descendants: The Pocketwatch. The plot will be heavily inspired by Alice in Wonderland, as new characters Red, daughter of the Queen of Hearts, and Chloe, daughter of Cinderella, team up to travel back in time using the White Rabbit’s magic pocketwatch to prevent a catastrophic event from taking place in Wonderland. Franchise director Kenny Ortega (of Hocus Pocus fame) will be replaced by Jennifer Phang (The Flight Attendant, Foundation), who also serves as co-EP. Read a quote from Disney Branded Television President Ayo Davis below:
“With a captivating script and Jennifer Phang’s directorial vision, we’re setting a new high bar of creativity and imagination, with a movie that ups the ante on story, song and dance to entertain young viewers, their families, and the global fan base that grew up with the aspirational story of ‘Descendants’…We join them in anticipation as we prepare to deliver a great new entertainment experience to Disney+.”
Production is expected to begin in the fall, so fans should expect a 2023 release date. No casting details have been released as of yet, but the story is set to expand upon the world and characters that have already been established, so some veteran faces are likely to return. The film will feature seven brand new songs, in addition to several Disney classic songs that fans will recognize.
The franchise’s success is in large part due to the stellar adult cast that joins the young actors. Led by Kristen Chenoweth as Maleficent, the parental cast members also include Kathy Najimy as the Evil Queen and Keegan Connor Tracy as Belle. The intergenerational element of Descendants has helped give the franchise staying power, as these recognizable characters from the Disney classics grant a certain nostalgia for the parents of the target demographic. With the inclusion of classic songs, it will be exciting to see how the creators pay homage to more of Disney’s most iconic characters.
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