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Upcoming 2019 Flicks With Licensing Potential Dominated by Comics & Sequels

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

Of the upcoming films that TLL has identified as having licensing potential, 27% are based on comics while 28% are original works. And 56% are sequels or reboots. See the full list of 189 films being released through 2025.

Just over one-third of films on the list will be released in 2019; another one-third that TLL has identified are currently in production and do not have scheduled release dates.

Note that while studios reguarly slot dates in advance, they don’t necessarily assign titles to those dates until a year or so in advance. While most of the titles whose theatrical release dates that are still to be determined will probably get one, all information in the list is subject to change.

The most unstable category of films? Those based on games. Just 4 titles whose source material is a game have a confirmed release date, and 81% of those types of films in development have no date. The same trend holds true for those films based on comics (just 26 films, or 51% have a release date) and books (22 films at 59%).

By sheer number, comics are the most popular source material for films with licensing potential over the next 6 years (27% of titles), and next year specifically (24%). Such projects run the gamut from female-driven flicks like James Cameron’s Alita: Battle Angel from 20th Century Fox (based on a Japanese manga series) to Captain Marvel from Disney (Marvel’s first female superhero gets a story set outside the MCU), to more traditional brawlfests like Shazam! from Warner Bros. (seventh entry in DCEU) or Liongate’s Hellboy (an R-rated reboot).

Purely original projects that are not also classified as sequels or reboots make up just 13% of the films being released in 2019 and 9% of all films on the list. Including these categories, however, the share of films based on original source material rises to 28% for the whole list and 35% of films being released in 2019. Examples include M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass from Universal (a superhero thriller), Wonder Park from Paramount/Nickelodeon (one of the few purely original, first of its kind projects), and Toy Story 4 from Disney.

The next-most popular source material is books, which have sourced 20% of all films on the list and 17% of those seeing a 2019 release. Examples include adaptations of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary from Paramount, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl from Disney, and Steven King’s (again) It: Chapter Two from Warner Bros. The classics are getting play as well, with the end of 2019 welcoming Jack London’s Call of the Wild (20th Century Fox) and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (Columbia Pictures) and their all-star casts.

Games (11% of all titles), TV series (10%), and toys (9%) round up the list. In 2019, there are only 3 game-based titles (5% of releases)—Detective Pikachu (Universal), The Angry Birds Movie 2 (Columbia Pictures), and Sonic the Hedgehog (untitled; Sony Pictures).

Toys are a little better represented at 11% of all 2019 titles, and include such titles as The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (Warner Bros.) and UglyDolls (STX Entertainment). TV series also make up 11% of the 2019 list, and include Dora (Paramount/Nickelodeon) as well as Charlie’s Angels (Sony Pictures).

Live action films make up 76% of all titles and animated films 21%, with 4% unknown and 41% include some kind of CGI mix (numbers exceed 100%).

Comic-based films lead in diversity, with 31% of titles boasting a female lead and 27% an otherwise ethnically or culturally diverse leading role. Roughly 5% of titles on the list qualify as boasting both. Funnily enough, Dwayne Johnson has single-handedly raised the quotient of diversity by at least 1% across the board. As an actor, he is also one of the most prolific names on this list of films with licensing potential, despite relatively lower rates of licensing himself—at least, not to the scale that other actors on the list like Gal Gadot, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Harrison Ford enjoy.

Share of Films With Licensing Potential With Diverse Leads, 2019–2025
Category Book Game Toy Comic TV Original
Female Lead 27% 0% 10% 31% 10% 27%
Diverse Lead 13% 0% 3% 27% 7% 53%


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