5 Disney Movies That Could Be Bigger Than 'Star Wars'

<b class="credit">youtube.com</b>"Descendants" follows the kids of villains Cruella De Vil, Maleficent, The Evil Queen and Jafar.
youtube.com"Descendants" follows the kids of villains Cruella De Vil, Maleficent, The Evil Queen and Jafar.

The Internet gasped in collective glee when the latest "Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens" trailer was released earlier this month. The preview has amassed more than 40 million views on YouTube, and it's a safe bet that a lot more people than that will ultimately see the sci-fi flick when it hits theaters in December.

It's going to be huge, but it's not the only movie that Disney (DIS) is hoping will light up the corner multiplex later this year. Let's take a look at some of the other promising releases that the family entertainment giant will be putting out through 2015.

1. "Avengers: Age of Ultron" -- May 1

One movie that could ultimately challenge "Star Wars VII" for the box office title in 2015 is the highly anticipated "Avengers" sequel that hits theaters in a few days. The original release that united many of Marvel's beloved characters was the highest-grossing movie of 2012, and three years later we have yet to see another film top the $623 million in domestic gross box office receipts collected by the first movie.

That's a lot of dough, and even if we adjust for inflation it's a better tally than the two most recent "Star Wars" releases rang up. Will "Avengers: Age of Ultron" sell more tickets than "Star Wars VII" will later this year? Probably not. However, this should be the movie industry's big early summer release.

2."Tomorrowland" -- May 22

Disney has themed attractions to iconic rides, but now we're seeing a movie named after one of the lands depicted at Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. The live-action movie stars George Clooney as a scientist booted from the futuristic city of Tomorrowland, plotting a return with an inquisitive teen.
It's a zany premise on paper, but with Brad Bird at the helm as director -- the guy behind "Iron Giant" and "The Incredibles" -- it's likely to be an action-packed romp packing heart.

Disney is already actively promoting the movie at its theme parks. It booted Captain EO from its theater in Florida's Epcot to screen extended previews of the movie.

3. "Inside Out" -- June 19

The latest computer-animated Pixar release will dive into the mind of a young girl who moves to San Francisco when her father gets relocated for a new job. The real stars in this family-friendly piece seem to be the emotions.

Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness are the five personified emotions that guide the young girl across the process. The premise may seem like a gamble, but it's hard to bet against Pixar.

4. "Descendants" -- Summer

This is the one movie on the list that won't be showing at a theater near you. It's a Disney Channel original film, but one with an intriguing premise. It's a live-action feature in which the now teenage son of Beast and Belle decides to give the children of classic Disney villains a shot at redemption. The imprisoned offspring of Cruella De Vil, Maleficent, The Evil Queen and Jafar are invited to attend the same prep school where the children of many Disney heroes are being schooled.

Don't underestimate the Disney Channel. It has served as a launching pad for other movie-based franchises including "High School Musical" and "Camp Rock" that have proven magnetic to young, largely female audiences. "Descendants" should have even broader appeal given nostalgic parents and males alike who have seen Disney work similar magic by rebooting classic characters on ABC's "Once Upon a Time."

5. "The Good Dinosaur" -- Nov. 25

Pixar doesn't miss, making "The Good Dinosaur" stand out as the first potential flop out of the computer-animation arm that Disney acquired in 2006. The movie was originally set to hit theaters last summer, but a director change and story changes have bumped the release to the start of this year's holiday season.

These are bad omens that would normally doom most theatrical releases, but this is Pixar. It will make it work. It also only helps that the subject matter is dinosaurs interacting with humans, a niche that should be revitalized when rival Universal puts out "Jurassic World" in June.

"The Good Dinosaur" is an animated tale of Arlo, an apatosaurus that befriends a human boy. Yes, that does mean that the meteor crash that destroyed most life forms including dinosaurs never happened, but we're used to suspending disbelief when Pixar presents us with talking toys and traveling insect circuses.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out The Motley Fool's one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.​​