New Disney Plus movies: April 19, 2023 update
Tom Power, entertainment reporter
With no new Disney Plus movies arriving until Peter Pan & Wendy debuts in late April, the latest update to this guide is one born out of a bit of spring cleaning. Hopefully it won’t be long before some other films arrive on the platform!
Searching for all of the new Disney Plus movies that are worth streaming? You’re in the right place.
In this guide, you’ll find every new film that’s joined Disney Plus’ ever-expanding suite of content since December 2022 (that’s 14, plus one forthcoming flick, if anyone’s counting). As the article title suggests, that means you won’t find movies here that debuted on one of the world’s best streaming services before the end of last year. If you want a more exhaustive list of the greatest films on Disney’s primary streamer, our best Disney Plus movies guide is the one for you.
It’s worth noting that some inclusions on this list, such as Boston Strangler and The Banshees of Inisherin aren’t available on Disney Plus in the US (they’re streamable via Disney Plus Star in the UK and other territories, though). For this duo and other movies like them, we’ll explain where you can stream them in the US in their specific entry on this list.
New Disney Plus movies: April 2023
Peter Pan and Wendy
Release date: Available to stream from April 28
Disney is off to Never Never Land (again) in a new live-action adaptation of JM Barrie’s immortal tale about the boy who never grew up.
Anyone who’s read the book, or seen the numerous previous film versions, will have a rough idea of the plot. As the trailer shows, the pre-requisite pirates, fairies, and flying kids are all present and correct, meaning all eyes are on its cast.
Jude Law follows in the footsteps of Jason Isaacs and Dustin Hoffman as the villainous Captain Hook, while newcomer Alexander Molony bags the lead role as Peter. He’ll be joined by Ever Anderson (last seen as the young Natasha Romanoff in Black Widow) as Wendy and Black-ish’s Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell. The Green Knight’s David Lowery directs.
New Disney Plus movies: March 2023 and earlier
Release date: March 17 (Available on Hulu in the US)
This is far from the first movie to tackle the mystery surrounding the real-life serial killer dubbed the Boston Strangler – Tony Curtis played the eponymous killer on screen as far back as 1968 – but this new film attempts to put a new spin on the manhunt. Keira Knightley and Carrie Coon play Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole, two journalists on the trail of the eponymous killer in the early ’60s, whose tenacious reporting forced previously complacent authorities to take notice.
Alongside the usual crime thriller elements, the film ponders whether the Strangler might actually have been multiple murderers, and how bringing a female perspective on the case was crucial to making Boston aware of the danger at hand. Worth a watch for true crime aficionados and a deserving of a place on our new Disney Plus movies list.
Chang Can Dunk
Release date: March 10
This Disney Plus Original movie (co-produced by Master of None’s Lena Waithe) has echoes of past Disney high school/sports movies like The Mighty Ducks.
The titular Xiao Ming ‘Bernard’ Chang (Bloom Li) is a sophomore student who loves basketball, but lacks the height or skills to complete a successful slam dunk. After falling into a swimming pool makes him the reluctant subject of a viral video, he ends up making a bet with one of the most popular kids in school – that he’ll complete a dunk by homecoming. If he fails, he’ll have to pay up to the tune of a valuable first edition Pokémon card. Expect plenty of valuable life lessons to be learned as Chang gets expert tips from basketball YouTuber Deandre Cooke (Dexter Darden).
Empire of Light
Release date: March 1 (Available on HBO Max in the US)
With Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, and this offering from Skyfall and 1917 director Sam Mendes, love letters to cinema have been all the rage in recent months. In Empire of Light, Mendes assembles an all-star cast featuring Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Colin Firth, and Toby Jones to tell the 1980s-set story of a group of people brought together by a theater in a British coastal town.
While the romance between Colman’s theater manager Hilary and co-worker Stephen (Ward) is the movie’s beating heart, Empire of Light explores broader issues like racism and mental illness. It’s also a celebration of the magic of the movies, so it’s appropriate that legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins (Skyfall, Blade Runner 2049) is on hand to make everything look beautiful. One that’ll stick around on our new Disney Plus movies guide for a while.
J-hope in the Box
Release date: February 17
If you’re a BTS fan, there’s a good chance you’ve already seen this on numerous occasions.
For the benefit of everyone else, this documentary follows BTS band member J-hope as he makes and releases his first solo record, aka ‘Jack in the Box’. Along the way, the rapper (the first member of BTS to release his own material) talks about the creative decisions that went into making the album, as well as preparing for a ground-breaking performance at the Lollapalooza festival.
Expect plenty of insight into what makes one of the most popular recording artists on the planet tick. Also, with BTS taking an extended hiatus to pursue various solo projects and complete the military service that’s mandatory in South Korea, J-Hope in the Box is the ideal way to fill the void. A largely worthy inclusion in our new Disney Plus movies guide.
42 to 1
Release date: February 10
In 1990, Mike Tyson was the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Then he came up against Buster Douglas, who defied 42-1 odds to leave his previously undefeated opponent on the canvas.
This ESPN documentary tells the story of one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, predominantly from the point of view of the victor. Alongside interviews with the underdog champ, there’s plenty of archive footage that’ll enthrall and engage you in equal measure. Just don’t expect any new contributions from Tyson.
Release date: February 3
A reminder of a time when teen rom-coms made it into theaters rather than going direct to streaming, this 2006 movie is effectively a high-school version of Splash.
During their last summer together, a pair of best friends find a mermaid who’s run (okay, swum) away from home. Cue plenty of (literal) fish out of water comedy as the girls try to keep the eponymous Aquamarine’s watery origins a secret – as with Madison in Splash, she grows legs when she’s on dry land – and chat about boys. Elements of the film have undoubtedly dated, but pre-teen viewers should find plenty to enjoy.
Water & Power: A California Heist
Release date: February 3
The title may suggest this is some kind of film noir, but this is actually a National Geographic documentary – albeit one with sinister echoes of Jack Nicholson-starring crime classic Chinatown – about water barons profiting from California’s natural resources at the expense of its residents.
Directed by Marina Zenovich (who won an Emmy for Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired) and produced by Alex Gibney (an Oscar-winner for Taxi to the Dark Side), Water & Power tells a story of exploitation in a state whose issues with water supply are well documented. A powerful docufilm that needs to be seen to be believed.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Release date: February 1
Arguably the biggest release to hit Disney Plus this year, the sequel to Black Panther is, in our view, a monumental triumph. Picking up a year after the first film ended, the Marvel Phase 4 film handles the unexpected loss of Chadwick Boseman by playing out the death of King T’Challa – resulting in a beautifully touching funeral scene.
In the wake of T’Challa’s death, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Letitia Wright), M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje (Martin Freeman) must step up to protect themselves from intervening world powers, pressuring Wakanda to share its vibranium. After a chaotic period, a new Black Panther is created and battle ensues, leading Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to be one of the better Phase 4 film offerings.
This much-anticipated Marvel sequel strikes all the right notes, a tricky task when it had such big shoes to fill. Find out where one of the more recent new Disney Plus movies placed on our best Marvel movies list.
Release date: December 23
Strange World may not have set the box office alight and hit Disney Plus a lot sooner than anticipated, but it’s a visual delight and has enough adventure to entertain the whole family.
Centered on a family of adventurers on a mission to save the planet from a mysterious ecological crisis, Strange World is co-helmed by Raya and the Last Dragon directors Don Hall and Qui Nguyen, and features some beautiful animation and glowing colour palettes. Full of action and fantastical creatures, there’s a lot to like about Strange World, which features famous voices like Jake Gyllenhaal and Lucy Liu. It has a great script, but was just a little too formulaic for some tastes.
The Banshees of Inisherin
Release date: December 21 (Available on HBO Max in the US)
On a remote island off the coast of Ireland, two men have a monumental falling out. That’s all you need to know about the plot of In Bruges/Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri writer/director Martin McDonagh’s award-friendly drama.
But there’s also a lot more to it than that. When Brendan Gleeson’s Colm tells Colin Farrell’s Pádraic he doesn’t want to be friends any more, it sets him on a spiral of self-destruction that gradually engulfs both men – and a “wee donkey”. While the subject matter is occasionally bleak, McDonagh finds plenty of room for humour, and constructs a stunning examination of male friendship along the way. Memorable support comes from the Bafta-winning Kerry Condon and Barry Keoghan in this top-tier entry in our new Disney Plus movies article.
If These Walls Could Sing
Release date: December 16
A documentary film directed by Mary McCartney (Paul’s daughter), If These Walls Could Sing delves into the history of Abbey Road Studios and the iconic musicians who have recorded there. With extensive interviews and footage from the likes of Paul McCartney, Elton John, Ringo Starr, Noel and Liam Gallagher, Cliff Richard, and Roger Waters, we find out just how special Abbey Road is, and the important place it played in the British music scene.
Critics enjoyed the romp through British music, though one called it “charming but not revealing”. Another wondered what a more accomplished documentarian would have drawn out with this much access to this many legends. Still, it’s an entertaining watch, especially for music buffs.
Release date: December 9
Disney has been focusing on its National Geographic releases a lot more recently, and this is one of the best. Ocean’s Breath explores the past, present, and future of coral reefs – the ‘lung’ of the ocean, at a time when many reefs are facing mass extinction.
But who is killing the coral? In this film, three scientists try to find out what is going wrong using the latest technology (like 3D scanning drones). It isn’t as bleak as it sounds, because there is a way to save the coral reefs – buried in the vastness of the Dolomites.
Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again
Release date: December 9
The fourth instalment of the hit Night at the Museum franchise – but the first to be animated – sees Nick Daley, son of Larry Daley (played by Ben Stiller in the movies), takes over as the night guardian at the museum. At first, everything seems to be going well. But the villain from the first movie, Kahmunrah, returns – and things quickly take a turn for the worse.
The response to this one was wildly inconsistent, with some declaring the magic has been brought back to the series with the fast-paced animation and character humor. Others, though, weren’t so convinced, criticising the nonsensical plot and stiff dialogue. Luckily, the runtime is only one hour and 17 minutes so it won’t take too much time out of your day to give it a go.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
Release date: December 2
Though this Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie is adapted from the second book of the series, it is actually the sixth film in the franchise (and the second to be made in CGI). Disaster-prone Greg is back, and this time the focus is on his relationship with his older brother, Rodrick. A lazy rock musician (he’s in a high school band), Rodrick loves to torment his younger brother – but will they ever bond?
With a straight-down-the-middle score of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, is it worth your time? Well, yes, but only if the kids want to watch it. The plot is a bit all over the place and it certainly doesn’t live up to Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules. But it is remarkably short, which is something.
Not up for a movie? Try our pick of the best Disney Plus shows or find out if there’s a free Disney Plus trial available.