Movies are back! Granted they never really left either, with Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, and others keeping us satiated with content these past five months. Still, the streamers are about to be reinforced for those willing to return to movie theaters: Major Hollywood blockbuster releases are coming, and limited rollouts are slowly making their way back into cinemas around the world.
For that reason, we’ve assembled a list of potential moviegoing experiences in September, whether on the big screen (please consider the risks of attending a theatrical screening) or at home via video on demand. It’s time for the popcorn to get popping.
Bill & Ted Face the Music
Now playing in theaters and VOD in the US (September 23 in the UK)
One of the biggest movies yet to eschew its intended theatrical window for a premium video on demand (PVOD) release is this most excellent adventure. It’s been 29 years since we last saw Alex Winter’s far out Ted or Keanu Reeves’ perpetually astonished Bill, yet it’s good to have both back in their legendary stoner roles.
The fact they’re middle-aged and still having adventures through time and space, and against the visage of Death—he’s still cheating!—is pretty sweet. As is Keanu coming back to this role one Speed, three Matrixes, and nearly five John Wick chapters later. But this time they’ve got daughters (played by Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine)… but rest assured, the children are as amused as their dads.
Now playing in the UK (September 3 in the US)
Already playing in the UK, Tenet will be making its much vaunted North American debut in “select U.S. cities” in September. We’re still not entirely clear what that will look like, but hopefully it will be worth it for this mysterious and visually dazzling Christopher Nolan epic.
Early reviews are in, and the majority promise Nolan’s most exciting use of IMAX spectacle to date, though even without spoilers, this one might be too big for its own good. Our own Rosie Fletcher describes it as Nolan’s long-whispered about James Bond movie meets Doctor Who…
The New Mutants
Now playing in the U.S. (September 4 UK)
Josh Boone’s journey into the X-Men universe has been pushed back so many times it almost feels like a mythical lost movie. So when it finally arrives in UK cinemas on Sept. 4 (it landed in the U.S. at the end of August) it might feel like a bizarre flashback to another era – namely that of 2017 when the main shoot took place.
Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Blu Hunt, and Henry Zaga star as five young mutants held in a sinister facility against their will. It’s been positioned as an action horror which in theory sounds pretty cool, though what the final cut will look like is anyone’s guess.
September 4 (Disney+ with premium)
One day after Tenet makes its U.S. debut, Disney, and more specifically Disney+, offers a starkly different vision for the future of cinema with Mulan. Whereas Tenet will attempt to jumpstart moviegoing, Disney has pushed one of their biggest 2020 blockbusters exclusively to streaming in all markets featuring Disney+, including the U.S. and UK. That means if you want to see Niki Caro’s anticipated reimagining of the 1998 animated Disney movie, you are going to have to pay $30 on top of your Disney+ subscription to get a load of this bad boy on a new PVOD model.
Even so, the film’s need to step away from the 1998 version’s iconography—Chinese moviegoers generally dislike musicals—appears to offer an opportunity to make a modern 2020 epic that can stand on its own two feet.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
September 4 (Netflix)
Charlie Kaufman does horror? Well, uh, maybe?! For his first Netflix original production, the idiosyncratic writer-director behind Synecdoche, New York, and the Being John Malkovich screenplay is adapting Iain Reid’s thriller novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things. But Kaufman is expected to come at it from his singularly off-center perspective.
With a somber setup about a young woman (played by Wild Rose’s talented Jessie Buckley) going to meet the parents of her boyfriend (Jesse Plemons), the movie is actually about an unhappy lover planning to terminate her relationship. Yet when she meets Mom and Dad (Toni Collette and David Thewlis), things are going to get weirder, if not necessarily better for the relationship…
The Roads Not Taken
September 11 (UK)
Sally Potter’s wistful drama was nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival earlier in the year before the world went into lockdown. It follows Leo (Javier Bardem), a man with dementia, as he imagines different paths in life he might have taken, while his daughter Mollie tries to help him keep various appointments and struggles with decisions about her own future. A very personal study of mental illness, grief, and regret.
The Devil All the Time
September 16 (Netflix)
Southern fried noir might be the creepiest noir. With its rural and sunny backdrops, and a smiling Christian face, its pleasantries belie an evil heart. And Tom Holland of all people will be driving right to the dark center of it in The Devil All the Time, a new thriller by writer-director Antonio Campos.
Ready to bow on Netflix this month, the all-star cast, which also includes Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Sebastian Stan, and Robert Pattinson, as a fire and brimstone preacher no less, The Devil All the Time reimagines post-WWII Tennessee backwoods as a hotbed of corruption, hypocrisy, and murder. Sounds about right.
September 18 (U.S. Only)
Co-writers and directors Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz appear to have cracked the code in making one of fiction’s favorite fantasies terrifying. You know the type: From Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court to Midnight in Paris, some congenial fellow travels back to a point in history he loves and has an all-around splendid time. Now imagine that same scenario except the protagonist is a Black woman. And she’s sent to the Antebellum South on the eve of the Civil War. Scared yet?
It’s a disturbing premise that aims to put Antebellum in the same wheelhouse as recent horror movies that have tackled American racism head on, including Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us. The movie stars the ever compelling Janelle Monáe as a 21st century author trapped inside a 19th century nightmare, and it’s one of the most intriguing setups of the year. It also will be available on VOD and in select theaters.
September 18 (October 9 in the UK)
One of the happy discoveries out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Focus Features’ Kajillionaire is a movie we’ve had our eye on for a while. The picture is writer-director Miranda July’s pleasant vision of criminality and heists being the stuff of family team-building. Take Evan Rachel Wood as Old Dolio. She’s an adult daughter whose depression has forced her to live at home with her small time crook parents. But Mom and Pop (Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins) have a plan; they’ll incorporate their daughter in the next heist and bring her out of her funk. It’s a charming premise that won over almost every critic who saw it back in January.
September 18 (U.S. Only)
Another apparent highlight out of Sundance this year, Sean Durkin’s The Nest presents itself as a foreboding drama. As the follow-up feature from the director of Martha Marcy May Marlene, the film intends to be an unsettling account of a wealthy marriage descending into Gaslight levels of manipulation. With Jude Law as the rich patriarch and Carrie Coon as his quietly suffering wife, a sudden move to the country reveals dark dimensions to their relationship and the brittleness of domesticity. If the buzz is to be believed, the wound up WASPy tension in this could strangle an elephant.
September 23 (Netflix)
Did you know Sherlock Holmes had a little sister? You’re about to thanks to some strong synergetic mojo going on at Netflix with Enola Holmes, a new mystery/adventure that stars The Witcher’s Henry Cavill as Sherlock, The Crown’s Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Holmes, and Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown as the eponymous Enola. That’s right, Eleven’s going to use her own English accent and play Sherlock’s kid sister.
Often kept in her famous brother’s shadow, it is up to Enola to do him one better when she sets off to find their mysteriously vanished mother. In the process, she proves she’s a super-sleuth in her own right and brings to light a deadly conspiracy. The game’s afoot!
September 25 (Open in the UK)
A crowd-pleaser that debuted earlier in the year in the UK, Misbehaviour has all the markers of a charming dramedy with real world ramifications. In fact, it’s set during the events of the Miss World competition in 1970, a televised beauty pageant in London that was then the most-watched event on the planet. In this context, the Women’s Liberation Movement reached international acclaim by disrupting the proceedings, and a Woman of Color from Grenada became a contender for the Miss World title.
Director Philippa Lowthorpe (The Crown) reportedly explores these events to winning results with an ensemble of players that Keira Knightley and Jessie Buckley as lead activists, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Jennifer Hosten (aka Miss Grenada), and Greg Kinnear at his greasiest as an aging Bob Hope.
September 25 (U.S. Only)
Imagine this: A comet that is supposed to gently pass Earth by was misjudged by the science community, and instead a cataclysmic extinction level event occurs with comet fragments destroying parts of the world one action scene at a time! Yeah, in 2020 that sounds about right. It’s also the plot of Greenland, a new high-concept survivalist action movie starring Gerard Butler as a family man who, realizing Florida is gone and his home state is next, tries to save his wife (Morena Baccarin) and child by getting his family to the last place that may be spared: military bunkers in Greenland!
And you thought U.S. leadership was being ridiculous when it tried to buy the country a few years ago…