Life during a pandemic can be tough, we all know that, but fortunately for all of us, there are people out there willing to take advantage of it and sell things to us based on our new, horrifying existence. Entertainment has always been at the forefront of cashing in on misery and disaster, whether it’s making a movie about 9/11 just five years later (there are dozens of them now), or profiting off glorifying war for decades while partnering with the defense industry, they find a way.
If you’re bored or trying to figure out the right way to explain our complex, nightmarish reality to your children, then the entertainment industry has you covered. Disney has recently announced a new “Cars” film based on recent events, while several other studios have also leaked projects they have in the pipeline. As an industry insider with my ear to the ground and my finger on the pulse of the community, I’ve got the inside scoop on what’s going down.
And today, I’m going to share it with you…
Cars 4: The Lonesome Highway
The Pitch: Look out Radiator Springs, Lightning McQueen and all his friends are at it again in a high-octane adventure for the entire family. As the Corolla Virus spreads throughout the world, the Piston Cup has been canceled. Now Lightning McQueen, Sally Carrera, Mater, and a few new favorites have to do everything they can to save the world and win the race (that’s been canceled). Coming to theaters Summer 2020 we mean Fall 2020 Sometime in 2021(?)
Insiders at Disney have leaked footage that includes 45 minutes of Lightning McQueen alone in his driveway, scared of the occasional other cars as they drives by. There are said to be long, panning shots of empty highways, making up as much as 57% of the film. A B storyline involves Mater, who doesn’t believe in the Corolla Virus, still doing his job every day until he gets sick, but by then, he’s spread it to the rest of Radiator Springs.
Sesame Street: Funeral for a Friend
The Pitch: A dangerous outbreak has spread throughout the cheery storefronts and alleys of Sesame Street. Though some of the more informed residents took precautions, Oscar the Grouch was not so wise––since he was unable to afford health insurance, he refused to go to the hospital, and his illness ended with tragic results. Now his friends come together to pay tribute and remember a life poorly lived, singing his favorite song one last time, standing far apart from each other.
Early screenings have been well received by adults, though children have reportedly, “cried relentlessly.” One producer has defended the project stating, “We might as well get them ready to say goodbye to grandma and grandpa.” The release is planned as a launch title for the new HBO Max streaming service.
Outbreak 2: Still Breakin’
The Pitch: Colonel Sam Daniels is at it again, with a new team of plucky virus researchers working on a cure for a modern pandemic. This time the monkey didn’t cause it––the monkey is the cure! But don’t worry, there’s still a love interest: gorgeous brain surgeon, Dr. Cindy Leggings, is the only one that can help the monkey find the cure and rekindle her torrid love affair with Colonel Daniels. This outbreak is out-breaking all the rules!
Although Rene Russo was originally in talks to return in the role of Dr. Roberta Keough, studio executives realized she is in her 60s and chose to replace her with a more age-appropriate love interest for Dustin Hoffman. Early word based on a working cut of the film has been excellent, and there’s a lot of buzz for Kristen Stewart’s performance as Dr. Leggings. There’s already talk of a spin-off franchise for her character.
Shark Virus [actual title]
The Pitch: Imagine Jaws meets Outbreak meets Deep Blue Sea meets the top-grossing film of all time! That’s Shark Virus. There’s a new, deadly virus sweeping across the country, caused by sharks, or maybe it causes sharks to attack people on land? The details haven’t been entirely worked out, but principal photography kicked off last week, so we’re sure we’ll figure it out. Either way: sharks + virus = Shark Virus!
Just based on that pitch, the director of this film was able to secure a budget of $300 million from [studio name redacted]. Word is that JJ Abrams and Michael Bay are both on as producers for the film, and while Brad Pitt was in early talks for casting, they’ve gone with a “The Rock-type” and cast an actor named Dwayne Johnson. The sharks are going to be completely CGI, though the giant robots used to fight them in the final act will utilize practical effects.
Kung Fu Panda 4: Panda-emic
The Pitch: When a deadly virus threatens the people of China, Po and the Furious Five kick into action to once again save the day. Fortunately, the virus isn’t as bad as initially suggested, and reports from doctors were wildly overblown; the government actually had everything under control. Thanks to the efforts of the powerful and benevolent Chinese government, only a few lives were lost, and they were mean creatures that were already sick: vicious hyenas that had been protesting and probably caused the virus in the first place!
Early buzz on this film has been very positive. Although Dreamworks Animation is once again working on the film, it has been financed by Tencent and is slated for initial distribution in China this year, with a worldwide release sometime next year.
The Furious Five are to be joined by a new character: a golden pheasant that helps them fight this virus that’s really not that big of a deal. This character was originally going to be voiced by acclaimed actress Fan Bingbing, but after she was abducted for reeducation by the Chinese government, the character was recast and will be voiced by Liu Yifei instead.
Avengers: Infinity Virus
The Pitch: Iron Man, Captain America, and all your other favorites are back! Well, not Iron Man or Captain America, or Vision, or Black Widow, but we still have The Hulk––he’s big, green, and making jokes, just the way you like him. The Hulk is joined by Thor (maybe he’s chubby still, we’re not sure yet, depends on what the focus groups tell us), a Wisecracking Guy, and a Wisecracking Lady, and they’re here to save the day once again!
Although principal photography on this one hasn’t started yet, the buzz on it is huge. Casting is still ongoing, and word is they’re looking for a “strong-female-that-never-makes-mistakes-or-shows-any-weaknesses” type for the Wisecracking Lady character. Though currently planned as a single film, one insider has speculated it could be split into two movies––and at least one executive has suggested “split those into two more movies,” and on, and on, in a recursive cycle of unending cash flow spiraling out into a financial fractal.
These movies and more will be coming soon to a theatre near you and your living room!
Editor’s Note: We have reached out to a number of studios for comment or confirmation on any of these projects, and so far they have failed to get back to us. As of this time, we assume these are all accurate because they simply sound too much like real movies to be anything but true. Several of us have sent headshots to Disney/Marvel in hopes of landing the role of Wisecracking Guy or Lady––when we’re famous; we’ll forget you all! Thank you.