The Pocketwatch: What We Know About Disney+'s Descendants Spinoff Movie

Dove Cameron in Descendants
(Image credit: Disney)

The Descendants movie gave Disney fans a new perspective on iconic Disney villains. Yes, they remained rotten to the core, but we also got to see them as parents and experience the human side of these supposed monsters. The films also introduced the next generation from famous Disney families, such as the Beast family. It was a fun movie trilogy that reminded us that the best Disney Channel Original movies are still really fun with plenty of heart. The world is going to be expanded with the Descendants spinoff film, The Pocketwatch. 

Though it exists within the Descendants' world, it follows some new characters. Let’s see what we know about it so far.  

What Is The Pocketwatch Release Date?

Mitchell Hope, Sofia Carson, Booboo Stewart, and Cameron Boyce in Descendants 2

(Image credit: Disney)

Disney has yet to announce The Pocketwatch release date. The first two Descendants movies premiered in July 2015 and 2017, and Descendants 3 premiered in August 2019. Therefore, Disney may continue the tradition and have plans to release the spinoff in the summer of 2023 or 2024. Make sure to monitor the upcoming Disney movies schedule and the 2023 new movie releases for updates.  

The Pocketwatch Involves Time Travel

China Anne McClain and Dove Cameron in Descendants 3

(Image credit: Disney)

Like the previous films, this one takes place in Auradon and Isle of the Lost. However, it ventures a bit further into Wonderland, meaning the world of Alice in Wonderland gets introduced to the Descendants' lore in this film. According to Deadline, opposites must team up to prevent a coup. The Mad Hatter’s son’s pocketwatch allows them to time travel to save Auradon and change things before it’s too late. 

This plot sounds very different from the previous Descendants movies, but it seems to have one of the films’ core themes: learning to work together and work through prejudices. Because the film focuses on two lead female characters, the plot seems most similar to D3, because Mal (Dove Cameron) and Uma (China Anne McClain) have to learn to work together and become allies. 

The New Cast Members Include Teen Versions Of Infamous Disney Villains

Kristin Chenoweth in Descendants

(Image credit: Disney)

This movie has quite a lot of new characters, including teen versions of your favorite villains and Disney heroes. The main new cast members are Kylie Cantrall and Malia Baker, who play the lead characters, Red and Chloe.

Red (Cantrall) is the daughter of the Queen of Hearts. She doesn’t have a great relationship with her mother, so aims to cause trouble. Chloe (Baker) is the daughter of Cinderella and Prince Charming. She’s smart and athletic but a little naive about the world because of her privileged upbringing.

Cantrall has appeared in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Doogie Kamealoha, M.D., and Raven’s Home. Baker is best known for her role as Mary Anne-Spier in Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club. She has also appeared in Caught in His Web, Are You Afraid of the Dark, and The Flash.

Rita Ora and Dara Reneé are also main additions to the cast. Reneé plays Uma’s younger sister Ulyana, who is described as a “mean girl,” while Ora plays Red’s mother, the Queen of Hearts. Ora is a singer and songwriter whose biggest hits include “How We Do (Party)” and “R.I.P.” She has also appeared in the films SouthPaw,  the Fifty Shades of Grey movies, and Pokemon: Detective Pikachu. Dara Reneé has appeared in the 2018 Freaky Friday, black-ish, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, and Grey’s Anatomy.

 The other Pocketwatch cast members include:  

  • Ruby Rose Turner as the Young Queen of Hearts/Bridget
  • Morgan Dudley as the Young Cinderella/Ella
  • Joshua Colley as Hook
  • Peder Lindell as Morgie
  • Sam Morelos as Zelle
  • Jeremy Swift as Principal Merlin, the principal of Merlin Academy.
  • Leonardo Nam as Maddox, the son of the Mad Hatter.

Because The Pocketwatch involves time travel, Chloe and Red will encounter teen versions of characters we met in the Descendants trilogy and some new versions of popular Disney characters. 

The teen versions are: 

  • Tristan Padil as Teen Prince Charming
  • Aiza Azaar as Teen Jasmine
  • Kabir Bery as Teen Aladdin
  • Anthony Pyatt as Teen Hades
  • Mars as Teen Maleficent
  • Grace Narducci as Teen Fay/Fairy Godmother 

The teen versions may create as much chaos as their future selves.  

Some Familiar Descendants Characters Appear In The Pocketwatch

China Anne McClain in Descendants 2

(Image credit: Disney)

Though The Pocketwatch focuses on an entirely new cast and characters, some familiar faces from the Descendants films make an appearance in this movie. China Anne McClain reprises her role as Uma, and she was introduced in D2 as Ursula’s daughter. She played a major role in the second and third movies. 

McClain has appeared in the Grown Ups, Hubie Halloween, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, How to Build a Boy, and Black Lightning.

Melanie Paxson reprises her role as Fairy Godmother, the headmistress of Auradon Prep. She appeared in all three Descendants films. She has appeared in the movies Saving Mr. Banks and The Outfield, and has also had roles in the TV shows Truth Be Told, True Jackson, VP, and Cougar Town

There may be cameos and appearances by other franchise actors and characters, but no other ones have been announced as of February 2023.

Brandy Reprises Her Role As Cinderella

Brandy in Cinderella

(Image credit: Walt Disney Television)

In 1997, Brandy starred alongside Whitney Houston, Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg, Bernadette Peters, Victor Garber, and Paolo Montalbán in the internet's favorite Cinderella movie —  which we believe still holds up today and is one of the best Cinderella movies. In November 2022, Disney announced that she would reprise her famous role for The Pocketwatch.

As of February 2023, no other cast members of the 1997 film have been announced to return. Brandy is a singer and actress whose biggest hits include “Have You Ever?” “The Boy Is Mine,” “I Wanna Be Down,” and “Almost Doesn’t Count.” She played Moesha Mitchell for six seasons on Moesha, and also appeared in the films I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and The Perfect Match.

Brandy also appeared in the TV shows Drop Dead Diva, The Game, and Star., and led the ABC series, Queens.

Disney Announced The Start Of Production In January 2023

Mitchell Hope, Sofia Carson, Booboo Stewart, and Cameron Boyce in Descendants 2

(Image credit: Disney)

The official Disney Channel Twitter released a short clip of The Pocketwatch cast in the studio recording music for the upcoming film on January 31, 2023. The clip also announced that production began "today," though we don't know if that's the same day the clip was released or earlier. According to the Descendants' official Instagram account, production on D3 began in May 2018 and concluded in July 2018. Therefore, it only took a few months to film and enter the post-production stage. However, it didn’t premiere until over a year later.

If the spinoff follows this pattern, then filming could conclude in March or April 2023 and may premiere in the summer of 2024.

The Behind The Scenes Team Includes Veterans Of The Descendant Franchise And Newbies

Sofia Carson in Descendants 3

(Image credit: Disney)

Jennifer Phang directs The Pocketwatch and is a co-executive producer. She directed episodes of Stargirl, The Flight Attendant, Resident Alien, The Boys, Cloak & Dagger, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Suzanne Todd and Gary Marsh are also executive producers. 

Production designer Mark Hofeling returns to the franchise for the same gig here, while Alexis Frank Koczara and Christine Smith Shevchenko are the casting directors. Dan Frey and Russell Sommer wrote The Pocketwatch script. 

The Film Features Seven New Songs And Spins On Disney Classics

Mitchell Hope in Descendants

(Image credit: Disney)

Like with the previous films, this spinoff features a lot of singing and dancing. In fact, Deadline reports that there will be seven new songs in The Pocketwatch. There will also be some classic Disney songs making their way into this movie. The other films also had some classic Disney tune featured, including "Be Our Guest," “Kiss the Girl,” and “Poor Unfortunate Soul.”

The Pocketwatch could be a great addition to the franchise. It could be the start of a new trilogy or open the door for more spinoff films. 

Stream Descendants on Disney+.

Jerrica Tisdale
Freelance Writer

Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.