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Comic-based, Original Films Lead Films With Licensing Potential

By: Karina Masolova, with additional research by Susan Adams and Michelle Odinyayeva. Contact the Editor at

TLL identified 213 upcoming films through 2025 as potential source material for licensed consumer products. Comic book-based properties lead the count, with 39% of films on the list, followed closely by original works (37%). Rounding off the list are movies originally sourced from books (23%), games (16%), TV (12%), and toys (10%; categories may overlap or be unknown).

Click here to view the full list of upcoming films with licensing potential.

Considering only the films with confirmed dates (or 68% of titles on the list), original films lead at 30%. They are followed by comic books (22%), books (15%), toys (5%), TV (6%), and games (5%; categories may overlap or be unknown).

Over 90% of dated films have a release date within the next three years; just 9% of films with a scheduled release are slated for 2022 or later. Given the nebulous nature of the list, 35% of films on the list are untitled. Thirty-two percent have a release date yet to be determined. And as always, release dates for every film on the list are subject to change.

Note that we have refined our categorization process so that each titled film is identified as being sourced from a book, game (traditional or video), toy, comic, TV series, or as an original creation. There are 195 films on the list for which there is sufficient information to identify a source. If you’re comparing these breakdowns to a previous edition of the list, the uptick in the amount of original movies is largely fueled by sequels and reboots.

Live action films make up the bulk of films on the list at 77% of releases and of those, 66% have CGI elements. Most of these films have one or more characters rendered in CGI, such as Disney’s Christopher Robin and Universal’s Detective Pikachu, or altered by it, such as Fox’s Alita: Battle Angel or Warner’s Aquaman. We also included films that heavily rely on CGI such as Paramount’s Bumblebee, but not those that might use it occassionally, such as Sony’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web.

Disney, Warner & Sony Top Studio Count

Disney is producing the largest share of films on the list at 29% share, followed by Warner Bros. (22%) and Sony (13%), largely thanks to its Pixar and Marvel studio releases.

Not counting the 34 Disney film entries on the list that are untitled (but scheduled), Disney’s share falls behind that of Warner Bros. (recalculated at 15% and 22%, respectively).

Just under 10%, or 16 films, on the list are “self-produced” by non-traditional prodcos like new units under Hasbro, Ubisoft, and Activision Blizzard.

Studio Share of Upcoming Films With Licensing Potential,
Titled vs. Untitled Releases, 2018–2025
Titled Releases OnlyIncluding Untitled Releases

Comic-based Films Lead in Diversity

For the first time, TLL crunched the list to see how well-represented women and minorities, including people of color, were represented. Because many films on the list have not announced their cast yet, or major plot details, TLL primarily considered the lead character(s) based on the source material. Films starring non-humans, like Universal’s Sing 2, were considered based in part on announced voice actor casting.

Overall, 25% of films on the list have a female lead and 14% have some kind of minority representation. No film on the list has LGBT representation, but this may be a byproduct of TLL’s selection process and lack of information. Along animated versus live action lines, the share was pretty even at 18% of titles with a female lead each, as well as 10% and 11% minority representation, respectively.

A quarter (25%) of all comic book-based films feature female characters as the lead, thanks to representation in flicks like Fox’s Alita: Battle Angel, Disney’s Captain Marvel, and Warner’s Wonder Woman 1984. As the list of films might suggest, most are superheroes. Approximately 15% are diverse, including Warner’s Shazam!.

For films based on TV series, 24% feature a female lead. Examples include Disney’s Kim Possible and Paramount’s Dora. Because there are so few TV-based films however, at 10% share of the total, they make up only 8% of all films with female leads. Dora is also one of three films with a minority lead.

Original films actually lead in equitable representation overall, with 22% of films boasting a female lead and 27% a diverse lead. Surprisingly, there is no little overlap between these two categories—but films like Sony’s Slender Man and Disney’s The Lion King make a good attempt in that department (they were on the line).

Book-based titles were the most skewed in this measure, with 21% of films boasting female leads and 6% diverse leads (Disney’s Mulan and Aladdin). Female leads are represented in Sony’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Universal’s Wicked, and Disney’s Maleficent 2.

For toy-based films, the most diverse are those sourced from girl-oriented dolls, rather than boy- or unisex-geared action figures and construction sets. Universal’s Monster High, STX’s UglyDolls, and Sony’s Barbie are three examples, and there are two Lego-based films we are keeping our eyes on for which details are not currently available. Most toy-based films (85%) are animated/live action with heavy CGI elements.

With only 8 confirmed titles (and 4 of them animated), game-based films had, surprisingly enough, no confirmed female or diverse leads. Examples include Universal’s Detective Pikachu, Warner’s Minecraft: The Movie, and Columbia’s The Angry Birds Movie 2.

Share of Films With Licensing Potential With Diverse Leads, 2018–2025
Female Lead19%0%8%39%11%22%
Diverse Lead9%0%14%36%14%27%

Click here to view the full list of upcoming films with licensing potential.


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