Beauty and the Beast
Disney's first step out of the gate in 2017 was a very high profile picture. Beauty and the Beast is quite possibly Disney's most beloved animated feature. As such, hopes -- and fears -- were running high with the live action version. It was the first live-action adaptation from Disney to be a full musical and while many loved hearing those songs again, for many the remake only reminded people how great the original was.
Release Date: March 17, 2017
Born in China
While Disney built their reputation on animation, the studio has been making nature documentaries for almost as long. The latest of these, under the current Disneynature brand, was called Born in China. John Krasinski narrated this story of three animal families within the titular nation: giant pandas, golden monkeys, and snow leopards. While this film certainly didn't set the box office on fire, it was still as magical as anything Disney did in 2017.
Release Date: April 21, 2017
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The Guardians of the Galaxy movie became one of Marvel's biggest hits. The less-than-serious tone appealed to fans, and had them laughing as much as cheering. While the team was largely an unknown quantity the first time around, they had a lot to live up to with the sequel. For the most part, they succeeded. The film was a box office hit with a surprisingly poignant and emotional story.
Release Date: May 5, 2017
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
The Pirates of the Caribbean movies started out great, and have been on a steady decline ever since. The newest entry, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was a clear attempt to go back to the basics that made the first film work. With a new villain in Javier Bardem and the return of some classic characters, the film tried to recapture the magic. While the movie was a critical and box office flop, internationally the action adventure film still made hundreds of millions of dollars, which means the potential for more in this series is still out there.
Release Date: May 26, 2017
Who'd have ever guessed that one of the most interesting films on the way from Pixar would be the third entry in the Cars franchise? A teaser trailer that promised the movie would open with a near-death experience from main character Lightning McQueen is the last thing we expected to see. Pixar promised a more grounded and emotional story than we saw in Cars 2. While we certainly got that, the third entry in the franchise didn't really do enough to wow critics or audiences.
Release Date: June 16, 2017
Spider-Man joined Marvel's cinematic universe in Captain America: Civil War. Now that he's back in the fold, Marvel is wasted no time in putting their new wall-crawler front and center - and fans embraced him with open arms. Technically Spider-Man: Homecoming was both marketed and distributed by Sony Pictures (part of the deal made a few years ago), but because of the Disney-owned Marvel Studios' involvement on the creative side, we're counting it here.
Release Date: July 7, 2017
Thor has never been the brightest star in the MCU. Having said that, there were a lot of eyes on Thor: Ragnarok. The addition of director Taika Waititi promised a significantly different tone than the previous films. We certainly got that. Ragnarok was a much funnier and more thrilling version of the Asgardian than we had seen before. The film outdid all of Thor's previous outings at the box office and set him up nicely for the coming Infinity War.
Release Date: November 3, 2017
Coco is Pixar's lone original story on its current slate, surrounded on all sides by sequels. The story followed a young boy named Miguel with a passion for music. That music opened a door to the land of the dead, and sent Miguel on a journey that reunited him with lost family members. Coco was everything that we expect from Pixar, a studio who knows how to make their stories resonate with audiences. It's too early to tell if this is one of Pixar's all-time great films, but it certainly made the argument.
Release Date: November 22, 2017
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Disney's 2017 ended in the same place that the previous couple years wrapped up, Star Wars. The middle episode of the current trilogy was helmed by Looper's Rian Johnson and while opinions on the film, on the whole, have been mixed, you can't argue that Johnson didn't get people talking. Some called The Last Jedi the best Star Wars movie ever, while others called it the worst. However you feel, it's clear that the franchise will never be the same again.
Release Date: December 15, 2017