Upcoming Movies to Watch in 2023

The 2023 movie release schedule is packed with must-see events and hidden surprises!

The Biggest upcoming movies of 2023 including Indiana Jones and Guardians Galaxy
Photo: Artwork by Lucy Quintanilla

Happy New Year! That’s certainly what the movie industry is hoping for after what was a tumultuous 2022 (although not without its lucrative silver linings). The movie industry remains in a state of flux, however it’s not all doom and gloom for cinema. In fact, 2023 is shaping up to be a big year for studios relying on franchises and tentpoles (just scroll down for further evidence of that!), as well as a year that will bring us new auteur pieces from the likes of Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Taika Waititi, and Greta Gerwig (with nothing less than a Barbie movie!). Exciting times, indeed.

Here is a list of just a handful of the movies to look forward to over the next 12 months.

M3GAN doll in movie

M3GAN

January 6

If you think January is going to be a complete wasteland at the multiplex then you obviously don’t know about M3GAN yet. Defying traditional expectations for the month being the studios’ dumping grounds, Universal Pictures and producers Jason Blum and James Wan are beginning 2023 right with this wickedly campy horror movie.

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Where Chucky of Child’s Play fame walked, M3GAN will run, skip, and dance as a technological doll of the future designed for children who want a toy as intuitive as Alexa (and for parents who just don’t want to do any real parenting). That’s at least the sales pitch of Gemma (Alison Williams), a high-end toymaker who designed M3GAN and then uses her recently orphaned niece as a guinea pig to beta-test the doll. Alas… the technological marvel may prove to be a little too adept at anticipating the niece’s needs, including when that may no longer include Aunt Gemma herself!

Christian Bale and Edgar Allan Poe in The Pale Blue Eye

The Pale Blue Eye

January 6

While this is technically a 2022 movie because it played on a handful of movie house screens over Christmas, The Pale Blue Eye will find its true audience this week when it premieres on Netflix. A curious hybrid of horror, detective fiction, and historical fantasy (all genres that author Edgar Allan Poe helped cultivate or pioneer), The Pale Blue Eye is set in 1829 during Poe’s brief and failed stint as a West Point cadet. During those tumultuous days, according to the new movie, Poe also became enmeshed in a real-life murder investigation.

The film is a passion project for writer-director Scott Cooper (Hostiles, Antlers) who works from Louis Bayard’s novel. It also reunites him with frequent collaborator Christian Bale, who plays a typical Poe-ian detective that comes to upstate New York to investigate homicide and finds himself crossing horns with a melancholic Southern officer named Edgar (The Queen’s Gambit’s Harry Melling).

Dave Bautista in Knock at the Cabin

Knock at the Cabin

February 3

Writer-director and twist supremo, M. Night Shyamalan, returns with this psychological horror, adapted from Paul Tremblay’s celebrated 2018 novel, The Cabin at the End of the World. Pennyworth’s Ben Aldridge and Mindhunter’s Jonathan Groff star as a couple on a vacation in the woods with their adopted daughter, visited by a mysterious quartet of strangers warning of an oncoming apocalypse. Previous Shyamalan collaborators Nikki Amuka-Bird (Old) and Rupert Grint (Servant) round out the cast, alongside Dave Bautista, whom Shyamalan cast after being impressed with his “powerful [and] still” performance in Blade Runner 2049.

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Magic Mike’s Last Dance

February 10

In what could amount to finishing the most unlikely of mythic trilogies, Channing Tatum returns to the strip club for… One. Last. Dance.

You know you’re intrigued, especially since the third and final Magic Mike flick also sees Steven Soderbergh slip back into the director’s chair after only executive producing Magic Mike XXL. And in the threequel, like his real-life alter-ego, Mike has a shot at actual international fame and stardom when he becomes the muse for a pop star of a certain age (Salma Hayek) who’s angling for a comeback. Grab the popcorn.

Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

February 17

Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicks off with the third outing for Marvel’s teeniest superhero duo. Last seen as part of the epic ensemble that took on Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly return as size-shifters Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne in a new adventure that will raise the curtain on the MCU’s next big bad: the fearsome Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors). 

Quantumania sees Scott and Hope joined by Scott’s now-teenage daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton), and original Ant-Man and the Wasp, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), as they inadvertently venture deeper than ever into the Quantum Realm—the strange subatomic universe briefly explored in the first two movies. There, they meet Kang, who offers to help the heroes escape the minuscule world to “give them more time”—presumably to prepare for his inevitable invasion of Earth (MCU overlord Kevin Feige has said that this film will plot a “direct line” towards Phase Six’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty).

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One of the main criticisms leveled at Marvel’s Phase Four was that it all felt a bit aimless, introducing a raft of new characters without offering much in the way of a coherent larger arc. With the post-Endgame groundwork laid though, Quantumania looks set to change that, mainly thanks to Majors’ multiversal menace—a variant of Loki’s He Who Remains. Eagle-eyed fans have already pointed out that Kang’s tech, glimpsed in the first trailer, bears more than a passing resemblance to Shang-Chi’s ten rings and Ms. Marvel’s mysterious bracelet.

Cocaine Bear

February 24

Who says cinema is dead? Not Elizabeth Banks! The Hunger Games star and frequent director slips back into the helmer’s chair for this ingenious camp-horror high-concept. Based loosely on a true story, Cocaine Bear asks what happens when a black bear in the backwoods of Georgia ingests an entire bag of cocaine?

Magic. Magic is what happens. Will the potentially one-joke premise about a cocaine-raddled black bear going on a rampage sustain a feature-length movie? Who knows, but we’re rooting for it since the trailer is the right kind of chaos. Plus, Cocaine Bear features the final performance of Goodfellas star Ray Liotta. That feels right.

Michael B Jordan and Jonathan Majors in Creed III

Creed III

March 3

Michael B. Jordan steps back into the ring (and, for the first time, into the director’s chair) for this third chapter in the Rocky spin-off franchise, in which his boxing champ Adonis Creed faces off against troubled childhood pal Damian (played by an insanely ripped Jonathan Majors). 

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The movie is an interesting test for Jordan and the Adonis character. That is partially due to the fact that like Sylvester Stallone before him, Jordan is now taking over the directorial reins of his boxing franchise. Additionally, however, it is the first Creed movie without Stallone’s affable bruiser, Rocky Balboa, still around to mentor the younger Creed. Adonis is standing on his own, albeit thankfully with Tessa Thompson’s Bianca still at his side.

Jenna Ortega in Scream 6

Scream 6

March 10

After the success of last year’s Scream, a surprisingly sharp reboot from the creative team known as Radio Silence, this sixth installment of the postmodern slasher franchise follows the survivors of the previous bloodbath as they attempt to start a new life in New York City. The first teaser trailer already had good fun with the idea, using the tagline: “In a city of millions no one hears you scream.” And for anyone who’s spent a Halloween night on NYC’s L train (or really a late night on any of the MTA’s subway routes), that is a chilling prospect.

Indeed, Scream 6 will feature at least one major set piece on an All Hallow’s Eve subway platform, but what will likely excite fans is the return of the 2022 film’s surviving characters, including Jenna Ortega as Tara Carpenter after she had a breakout year in horror, including in X and as the titular character on Netflix’s Wednesday. Alas, the new movie will not see Scream’s original scream queen, Neve Campbell, reprise her role as Sidney Prescott. Luckily for longtime fans of the franchise, Courteney Cox is returning as Gale Weathers… as is Scream 4 MVP Hayden Panettiere as Kirby Reed.

65

March 17

In what sounds like a setup of an old Twilight Zone episode, Adam Driver plays space explorer Mills, a hotshot pilot who discovers that his ship somehow was hit by an asteroid and sent 65 million years into the past… and during the time when dinosaurs ruled the earth!

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Now Driver and a little girl (Ariana Greenblatt) must circumvent man-eating carnivores and find a way off this rock and back to the future. It’s wild, pure B-movie nonsense that somehow got a studio budget—perhaps because it is being written and directed by A Quiet Place scribes Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. It might not be the type of high art we usually associate with Driver, but hopefully it’s a hell of a lot of fun. It already sounds better than The Rise of Skywalker!

Cast of Shazam 2

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

March 17

Shazam! Fury of the Gods—a sequel to 2019’s coming-of-age action comedy that saw troubled teen Billy Batson (Asher Angel) gaining mystical powers and turning into his superheroic grown-up alter-ego, Shazam (Zachary Levi)—is arriving at a tricky, pivotal moment for the DCEU. New DC Studios heads James Gunn and Peter Safran are seemingly looking to move on from the existing DC franchises with an eye on a fresh start, especially after all of the chaos that surrounded Black Adam. But the first Shazam! film was such a delight that hopefully a win with this sequel will keep this corner of the DCEU going.

In this second outing from returning director David F. Sandberg, Billy and the rest of the Shazam family are pitted against Helen Mirren’s Hespera and Lucy Liu’s Kalypso—who plan to unleash a devastating weapon upon the world. Cue wisecracks aplenty, city-leveling smackdowns, fire-breathing dragons, and more.

Keanu Reeves in John Wick Chapter 4

John Wick: Chapter 4

March 24 

Keanu Reeves is back as the eponymous man in black for this fourth chapter in perhaps the unlikeliest franchise of recent times. Who would have thought when the modestly budgeted John Wick was released in 2014, that a story of a one-man army brutally avenging the death of his dog would cut through into the pop-culture consciousness, kickstarting both the ‘Keanuaissance’ and a much-loved action series that has so far raked in well over half a billion dollars at the box office? 

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The success of the John Wick franchise is, in part, down to its committed, charismatic leading man and the slick direction of stuntman-turned-helmer Chad Stahelski, both of whom are returning for this new installment. It’s also down to the absolutely wild set pieces, jaw-dropping fight choreography, and high-profile guest stars, and the ante seems to have been upped on all fronts: from the samurai sword-fu witnessed in the trailer to the series debut of Hong Kong action legend Donnie Yen (Hero, Ip Man, Rogue One) and Japanese A-lister Hiroyuki Sanada (most recently seen in Bullet Train).

John Wick: Chapter 4 looks set to continue the same formula that has made the series such a success, offering more exhilarating action while fleshing out the mythology of the assassin underworld. And the filmmakers must be confident about Chapter 4’s chances—word is that Chapter 5 is already in the works. But just how much juice does John Wick have left in the tank? Reeves says he’ll go “as far as my legs can take me, [and] as far as the audience wants to go.”

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves Cast

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

March 31 

It’s fair to say that Dungeons & Dragons, the grandfather of modern role-playing games, has stood the test of time. In fact, the beloved tabletop franchise still leads the field as it approaches its 50th anniversary in 2024. What better time, then, to launch another big-screen adaptation? After all, the roundly panned first attempt, 2000’s Dungeons & Dragons, hardly did the game justice.

Adapting something as precious to fans as D&D carries with it a huge amount of pressure, but luckily for the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, the cinematic bar has been set very low. Filmmaking duo Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (helmers of 2010s comedy gem Game Night) seem to be trying a completely different tack here, eschewing the earnest fantasy approach for something altogether more humorous and, dare we say, marvel-ous.

They’re also still showing the source material the respect it deserves with a suitably A-list cast, including Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and Hugh Grant, and vastly more accomplished visual effects. And while the story is new, Goldstein and Daley picked the brains of D&D publishers Wizards of the Coast to ensure that they weren’t straying too far from what made the game great. Hence why the film’s first trailer, which debuted to cautious optimism at 2022’s San Diego Comic-Con, is stuffed with various beasties and locations that fans will know and love, from the fearsome Mimics, Owlbears, and Gelatinous Cubes, to the Underdark realm and the walled city of Neverwinter. Not to mention, of course, plenty of dragons. 

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Chris Pratt in The Super Mario Bros Movie

The Super Mario Bros. Movie

April 7 

If 1993’s Super Mario Bros. proved anything, it was that a live-action adaptation of the much-loved video game franchise probably wasn’t a good idea. In fact, the original movie was such an epic flop that Nintendo was reluctant to license its dungaree-wearing hero—the star of the biggest-selling video game series of all time—for another film adaptation. Step forward Illumination, the studio behind the Despicable Me, Minions, and Sing movies, who managed to persuade Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto that they were the team to right the mistakes of the past. Now 30 years later, Mario’s second big screen outing is a colorful, computer-animated extravaganza. 

As with any high-profile animation worth its salt these days, The Super Mario Bros. Movie comes with a suitably A-list voice cast. Chris Pratt lends his tones to Mario, the pint-sized plumber who finds himself transported to the Mushroom Kingdom where he winds up helping Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) in her fight against the invading King of the Koopas, Bowser (Jack Black). Horrible Bosses’ Charlie Day co-stars as Mario’s loyal brother Luigi while Keegan-Michael Key and Seth Rogen offer vocal support as Toad and Donkey Kong, respectively. Here’s hoping they can all help give Mario and company a cinematic power-up.

Renfield

April 14 

A modern-day take on the “Dracula myth” (which feels like a buzzword variation on “an exceedingly loose adaptation of the 1897 Bram Stoker novel”), Renfield tells the story of, erm, Renfield (Nicholas Hoult), infamous henchman to the vampiric Count D (Nicolas Cage). Despite being a fly eating servant of a vampire, old Renny decides to quit his job when he falls in love with a New Orleans traffic cop (Awkwafina). The Lego Batman Movie’s Chris McKay directs this bonkers-sounding horror-comedy.

With that being said, the fact that it’s January and we still don’t have a trailer for the horror-comedy mashup leads us to suspect this movie might be moving off its current release date.

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Deadite in Evil Dead Rise

Evil Dead Rise

April 21

Remaking a horror classic is always a creatively dubious proposition—even if it makes commercial sense. With that said, Fede Alvarez’s 2013 reimagining of Sam Raimi’s first classic, Evil Dead, was pretty solid sleaze with a studio budget. So we’re at least open to the prospect of Evil Dead Rise, an all-new adventure with Deadites from writer-director Lee Cronin (A24’s The Hole in the Ground).

The new iteration gets away from the cabin in the woods setup, instead following two sisters who’ve become estranged from each other over the passing years. What is meant to be a significant moment of reconciliation gets interrupted though when someone has the bright idea to read from a book. That’s bound in a strange leather. And written in a weird crimson ink. Uh-oh.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

May 5

This final chapter of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy catches up with Marvel’s ragtag space crew in a post-Thanos universe. Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) is now riding with the Ravagers while the Guardians, led by a heartbroken Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), must take on a new threat in the form of powerful cosmic being Adam Warlock (Will Poulter).

But more than plot mechanics, this one looks like it’s about finality and facing the mistakes of your past. This partially means we are expected to get an in-depth look at the origins of Bradley Cooper’s beloved Rocket Raccoon character, but it also suggests that for Gunn’s last Guardians movie, some characters are not going to be walking away, and we already have ideas about who isn’t coming back for Phase Six…

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Vin Diesel and cast of F9 ending

Fast X

May 19

A blockbuster that’s gotten more attention for its behind-the-scenes family drama to date than any marketing material—with Dwayne Johnson rebuffing Vin Diesel’s public plea for “Hobbs” to come back to the cookout table, and longtime franchise director Justin Lin quitting the production mid-shoot—we wouldn’t be surprised if Fast X gets moved off this date. Indeed, it’s more than a bit odd that there has yet to be a single teaser for what ostensibly should be Universal’s biggest tentpole of the summer.

Be that as it may, the film is coming with Diesel back in the sleeveless shirts as Dominic Toretto, and he’s once again joined by Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, and Nathalie Emmanuel. Also while Johnson refused his invitation, superhero actors Jason Momoa, Brie Larson, and Daniela Melchior all checked “Yes,” joining the cast.

What’s the movie about? We haven’t the faintest idea beyond, presumably, some fast cars and FAMILY. But the pic is rumored to be the beginning of the end, with this acting as prelude to an eleventh Fast and Furious movie due out in 2024, although there’s been no confirmation of production beginning on that one. In the meantime, director Louis Leterrier (The Transporter, The Incredible Hulk) will be trying to bring Fast X in for a safe landing.

Halle Bailey in The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

May 26

Continuing in the recent tradition of live-action remakes of its animated classics, Disney is hoping that this new version of the 1989 Oscar-winning musical will repeat the billion-dollar box office success of The Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast—and seriously, if one movie could do it, this is it. The original The Little Mermaid is considered, along with those three aforementioned properties, to be among the crown jewels of the Disney Renaissance in the late ‘80s and 1990s. Indeed, a case could be made that The Little Mermaid saved Disney as we know it. So this movie will be handled with great care—particularly if the studio wants to generate another $1 billion off millennials’ nostalgia.

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Rob Marshall (Chicago, Mary Poppins Returns) directs this reimagining, with Grammy-nominated singer Halle Bailey starring as Ariel, the mermaid princess who’s fascinated by life above the surface and who falls in love with a human, Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King). The film’s young rising stars are backed by A-list support, including Melissa McCarthy (as the villainous sea witch, Ursula), Javier Bardem, and Awkwafina.

SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse

June 2

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) returns to navigate the psychedelic wonders of the multiverse in this animated sequel. Series overseers Phil Lord and Chris Miller have promised an ambitious follow-up, with new Spider-people, including Oscar Isaac’s Spider-Man 2099, Daniel Kaluuya’s Spider-Punk, and Issa Rae’s Spider-Woman, and villains including the Spot and the Vulture.

And honestly, Miles and friends were doing the whole “multiverse” shtick before it was cool (and led the live-action Spidey movies to cash in on nostalgia). In fact, there are those of us who still argue the best Spider-Man movie is 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. So discovering what nonsense shenanigans Miles and Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) get up to in the sequel is an absolute must-see.

Beast Wars in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

June 9

It’s hard to believe that the nostalgia bug which makes folks romanticize childhood favorites of questionable quality will ever work on the Transformers movies. While those 2000s and 2010s efforts from Michael Bay all made globs of money in their heyday, they’re pretty roundly panned, even by fans of the toys and animated series.

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Nonetheless, Paramount carries on with the series, and now in a film that looks like a quasi-remake of the 2007 original in which an “everyman” (In the Heights and Hamilton’s magnetic Anthony Ramos) is hijacked by talking cars into a war for the fate of the world. But this time there are Beasts from the beloved animated iteration, Beast Wars. The pic is directed by Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II).

Ezra Miller as The Flash
Image: Warner Bros.

The Flash

June 16

Perhaps the most oft-delayed superhero movie of our time is finally arriving on June 16. Allegedly. Andy Muschietti (Warner Bros. terrific IT films) directs a film that seems to loosely be based on the Flashpoint saga from DC Comics, in which Barry Allen’s attempt to change history catapults him into unfamiliar corners of the multiverse. Here, Flash (Ezra Miller) will encounter Supergirl (Sasha Calle), an older Batman (played by none other than Michael Keaton), and apparently a host of other unexpected cameos from DC heroes and villains.

Early buzz on this one is strong, and there are reports the first trailer will hit at the Super Bowl. But will that buzz be enough to drown out the troubling allegations and erratic behavior of its star? And will Barry’s reality-altering adventure pave the way for the next evolution of DC Studios? Stay tuned…

Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones 5 De-Aged

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

June 30

Fifteen years after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull nuked the fridge, Harrison Ford’s iconic archaeologist returns for another crack of the whip. There is obviously a lot of trepidation over this prospect given the reputation of the franchise’s fourth film, as well as the fact that Harrison Ford was 80 when they shot Dial of Destiny. Additionally, this is the first Indy adventure not helmed by Steven Spielberg, with the legendary director opting to pass the baton to James Mangold.

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Luckily, Mangold has some experience with delivering powerful swan songs to iconic characters and performances, as seen in 2017’s Logan. He also is on something of a roll following that movie as well as 2019’s high-octane Ford v Ferrari. With any luck, he can deliver a similarly satisfying sendoff to Ford’s Indy, and at least judging by the first teaser trailer, he remembers the best Indy stunts are done in live-action and in-camera. He also has cast a major talent as Indy’s new sidekick, with Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge entering the tale as Indy’s mysterious goddaughter who takes the old man out on one last adventure in 1969 (and by way of some 1940s flashbacks to World War II that’ll allow Ford to utilize Disney’s fancy pants de-aging technology). Mads Mikkelsen and Indy stalwart John Rhys-Davies also join Ford’s grizzled hero onscreen for the final adventure.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Part One

July 14

In the first summer after Tom Cruise appeared to save cinema via Top Gun: Maverick, the actor returns with his other signature blockbuster franchise, Mission: Impossible. We have a hunch the success of Maverick will raise the profile and anticipation for this one, but to longtime fans of the series, expectations are already sky high for the seventh film. After all, writer-director Christopher McQuarrie is back after helming the two best M:I films to date, 2015’s Rogue Nation and 2018’s jaw-dropping Fallout.

Additionally, Cruise and McQuarrie have announced Dead Reckoning – Part One and its immediate sequel, due out in 2024, will be the final M:I films to star Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. So the heat is on, and the first teaser for M:I7 suggests the filmmakers are ready to deliver the goods, which includes a 60-year-old Cruise driving a motorcycle off a cliff in Norway for real.

The movie also features all the old favorites—Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust, Simon Pegg’s Benji, and Ving Rhames’ Luther–plus franchise newcomers Hayley Atwell and Pom Klementieff. Hell, even Henry Czerny’s Kittridge is returning to the saga for the first time since the 1996 original!

Barbie

July 21

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This may be the first live-action outing for the famous Mattel fashion doll line, but if you have an idea about what a Barbie film might entail, it might be time to think again. For a start, it’s directed by Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird, Little Women) and written by her partner and frequent collaborator, Mumblecore maestro Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha, Marriage Story). In terms of expectations, then, all bets are off—although it’s safe to say we’re in for a more subversive take on the pop culture legend.

The film’s cast offers another inkling that everything might not be as it seems in this particular Barbie world. Oscar-nominated A-listers Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling head up the ensemble as Barbie and Ken while the likes of Shang-Chi’s Simu Liu, Insecure’s Issa Rae, Assassination Nation’s Hari Nef, and new Doctor Who star Ncuti Gatwa reportedly playing variants of the two iconic characters. Will Ferrell, meanwhile, has been cast in a not-yet-officially disclosed role that is rumored to be the CEO of a Mattel-like toy company. Our guess? Much like the Ferrell-starring The Lego Movie, we could be in for a hilariously and unexpectedly meta adaptation. The first trailer has certainly gone for it, right down to its wholly unexpected homage to Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer

July 21

As one of the last auteurs able to get original ideas greenlit with nine-figure budgets, Christopher Nolan returns to World War II after he educated millions of Americans about the Dunkirk evacuation in 2017. Cillian Murphy plays the eponymous physicist in this ambitious biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father” of the atomic bomb. He’s backed by a typically starry, Nolan-esque ensemble including Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, and Gary Oldman.

To be sure, Oppenheimer is one of the most fascinating figures of the 20th century, the man who the U.S. government turned to, to realize the creation of the first atomic bombs, which went on to win World War II but at a devastating cost on civilian lives in Japan. Oppenheimer is also famously the man who quoted Hindu scripture by uttering, “I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds” when seeing the destruction his weapon wrought. Later, he became the target of a government smear campaign that discredited him as a Communist sympathizer because he was a vocal critic of developing the hydrogen bomb.

In other words, there is a lot to mine from his life for an original movie. Although if we’re being honest, it remains an open question whether a thought-provoking character study can still be a blockbuster for adults in a post-pandemic landscape… especially when it opens the same weekend as Barbie.

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel in Ms Marvel

The Marvels

July 28

Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers gets a team of her own in this cosmic sequel, which sees the mega-powerful Avenger joined by a grown-up Monica Rambeau (WandaVision’s Teyonah Parris) and teenage mutant and Captain Marvel stan, Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel’s Iman Vellani).

Admittedly, the first Captain Marvel movie wasn’t one of the strongest entries from Phase Three. Even so, Larson’s Danvers remains one of the coolest and instantly most iconic additions to the MCU canon in recent years. She deserves a movie worthy of that iconography, and the fact that this installment is directed by Nia DaCosta, who helmed 2021’s delightfully gruesome Candyman remake and the underrated indie Little Woods, fills us with hope that this one will deliver. And hey, Samuel L. Jackson returns as Nick Fury too!

The Meg 2: The Trench

August 4

Was the first Meg a good movie? Absolutely not. Will the sequel be better? Well… it is curiously directed by Ben Wheatley (A Field in England, Free Fire) so stranger things have happened? It also still stars Jason Statham and a big shark, so fingers crossed this one won’t be a snoozefest.

Blue Beetle Movie Concept Art

Blue Beetle

August 18

The only DC movie out this year that isn’t a sequel to one of the films that began with the ill-fated “Snyderverse,” Blue Beetle is the story of Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña), a teenager who finds himself in the possession of a powerful scarab that outfits him in a suit of cool, toku-esque armor and grants him fabulous powers. The concept art and set photos look cool, but this is one of those DC projects that we don’t really know what to expect from. Angel Manuel Soto (Charm City Kings) directs. George Lopez, Harvey Guillén, and Susan Sarandon also star.

Michael Fassbender in Taika Waititi's Next Goal Wins

Next Goal Wins

September 22

Director Taika Waititi’s first original film since the Oscar-winning Jojo Rabbit, Next Goal Wins continues the director’s love for underdogs by following one of the most infamous soccer teams in in FIFA history, the 2001 American Samoa team that had a notoriously brutal season where they struggled to win a single game. Yet there is more to this film than laughs, we suspect, with Next Goal Wins starring Michael Fassbender and Elisabeth Moss, as well as Waititi mainstay, Rhys Darby.

Kraven the Hunter

Kraven the Hunter

October 6

Sony Pictures continues their baffling attempts at turning Spider-Man villains into superheroes who never fight Spider-Man. In October, it’s Kraven the Hunter’s turn. If you don’t know who that is, he’s a character who in the comics is descended from Russian Tsars and fancies himself as the last Great White Hunter in the 19th century tradition. Onscreen, he’s played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass, Nocturnal Animals) as a reportedly animal rights activist who fights against poaching.

There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical even before remembering the quality of Morbius and Venom movies, but to give Kraven the benefit of the doubt, we’ll point out it’s directed by J.C. Chandor who helmed some of the most underrated gems of the 2010s in A Most Violent Year (2014) and All Is Lost (2013). Maybe he can find an unlikely diamond in Sony’s rough.

The Exorcist Regan and Pazuzu

The Exorcist Sequel

October 13

Director David Gordon Green and producer Jason Blum try their luck again at making legacy sequels to 1970s horror classics with their untitled continuation of The Exorcist franchise in 2023. And to Green and Blum’s credit, their Halloween reboot in 2018 was a very satisfying slasher that gave Jamie Lee Curtis a worthy swan song to her time as Laurie Strode… before making two more sequels that kind of ruined that.

This will give many pause about them playing around with an even more esteemed classic with this follow-up to William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973), the highest grossing horror movie of all time when adjusted for inflation and one of the few to be nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at the Oscars. And to be honest, there hasn’t been an exorcism movie to date that’s lived up to Friedkin and author William Peter Blatty’s vision (Blatty won an Oscar for adapting his own novel in the ‘70s). Still, we’ll keep an open mind considering the follow-up convinced Ellen Burstyn to reprise her own Oscar-nominated role as Chris MacNeil. The film also stars Leslie Odom Jr.

Cast of Denis Villeneuve's Dune

Dune: Part Two

November 3

Director Denis Villeneuve finishes his epic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal work of science fiction, Dune. Telling a story across two films when the second has yet to be greenlit is always risky, but 2021’s Dune was a cinematic wonder in IMAX during its release and won audiences over by merging the weird, trippier aspects of Herbert’s novel with popular A-list talent like Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, and Zendaya (who despite appearing heavily in the marketing appeared in little better than a cameo onscreen).

Zendaya will get her chance to shine in Part Two, as will Chalamet’s Paul Atreides as he and his mother, the Lady Jessica (Ferguson), are welcomed into the Fremen culture of the desert and plot their revenge against the Harkonnens after that dynastic house slaughtered Paul’s father and most of his men. The second film should get into the real psychedelic properties of the spice melange, and also entice viewers with more popular young talent like Florence Pugh as the Princess Irulan, daughter of Emperor Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken), as well as Elvis sensation Austin Butler as Feyd-Rautha, Paul’s callow doppelganger among the Harkonnens.

Dune remains one of the best sci-fi films of this century. Expectations are sky high for Villenueve to stick the landing here.

Rachel Zegler in Hunger Games Prequel Songbirds and Snakes

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

November 17

Based on Suzanne Collins’ recent prequel novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes us back 64 years to tell the origin story of the future President of Panem, Coriolanus Snow (played by Donald Sutherland in the previous Hunger Games movies). Set before Snow’s descent to the dark side, this dystopian YA adventure finds a young Coryo (rising star Tom Blyth) trying to make a name for himself in the Capitol via his first encounter with the titular “games.” West Side Story breakout Rachel Zegler co-stars as the tribute who’s mentored by Coryo while the likes of Viola Davis, Jason Schwartzman, and Peter Dinklage lend solid support. Will the odds be ever in the prequel’s favor?

Timothee Chalamet in Wonka

Wonka

December 15

Timothée Chalamet takes over from Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp as eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka in this prequel to Roald Dahl’s classic children’s tale, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Following Wonka’s pre-factory adventures, the film is directed by Paddington’s Paul King and co-stars Keegan-Michael Key, Rowan Atkinson, Sally Hawkins, and Olivia Colman.

Look, an origin story prequel to a beloved children’s book? We admit it, we’re skeptical. But hey, who would have thought Emma Stone’s Cruella would be so delightful? Hopefully, this lands closer to that than the leaden Maleficent movies.

Jason Momoa as Aquaman in The Lost Kingdom

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

December 25

The film that very well could mark the end of the DCEU as we know it, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom still has a lot going for it. For one thing, its predecessor pulled in a billion dollars at the box office. For another, it’s got stars like Jason Momoa and destined-to-be-even-bigger Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in it. But most of all, it’s got James Wan in the director’s chair. Wan went all in on the worldbuilding and visuals of the first film, clearly relishing in every bonkers detail he could bring to DC’s big screen Atlantis, making that film a lush, colorful, often bizarre experience. The director has cited Mario Bava’s sci-fi horror Planet of the Vampires as an inspiration for this one, so we’re here for whatever weirdness that brings.

Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon

TBA

Martin Scorsese’s first film since 2019’s The Irishman comes with a lot of expectation, especially since this will mark the first time his two favorite leading men, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, co-star in a Scorsese movie. Yet for those who are familiar with David Grann’s award-winning nonfiction book, Killers of the Flower Moon, there is more than just star power to be excited about in this Apple TV+ release.

Based on the shocking true crime events surrounding Osage County in the early 1920s, Killers of the Flower Moon recounts the sinister plot that led to the serial murders of dozens of Osage Native Americans, and the American legacy such evil has wrought. The film stars De Niro and DiCaprio, yes, but also Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart, the Osage woman who insisted on getting the feds involved as a growing number of her family were discovered slaughtered, as well as Jesse Plemons, Tantoo Cardinal, Cara Jade Myers, John Lithgow, and Brendan Fraser. Scorsese co-wrote the screenplay with Eric Roth (Dune, Munich, A Star Is Born).

The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan

TBA

There have been many, many movies based on The Three Musketeers. And all the ones produced by Hollywood have been rotten—save for whatever U.S. money went into Richard Lester’s two-part British adaptation from the early ‘70s, which also remains the most faithful rendering of author Alexandre Dumas’ text. Until now.

While Lester’s starry English cast was very faithful to the plot of Dumas’ rollicking novel, the ‘70s films also had their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks, almost mocking the characters’ patriotic love of king and country. But director Martin Bourboulon (Eiffel) is taking a deeply serious tack in his French adaptation of a native classic. Like the Lester films, Bourboulon has split the book in two, dividing them as The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan and The Three Musketeers: Milady, but both look as serious as a duel to the death—and they have the cast to prove it, including Vincent Cassel as Athos and Eva Green as Milady.

Unfortunately, the movies currently only have release dates in France, with part one debuting in April and part two arriving in December. With any luck English-speaking audiences won’t have to wait too long for what is, judging by the trailer, exhilarating good fun.

Asteroid City

TBA

Described as Wes Anderson’s largest ensemble film to date, Asteroid City promises to be a convergence of numerous interests for the filmmaker: youthful exuberance, middle-aged disappointments, and mid-20th century nostalgia. Set in a desert town during a fictional Junior Stargazer convention in 1955, Asteroid City follows parents and children alike as they embark on a weekend filled with love, discovery, and heartbreak.

Also in keeping with Anderson’s last few live-action movies, the cast is sprawling, including (deep breath) Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Margot Robbie, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tony Revelori, Jeff Goldblum, Jeffrey Wright, Adrien Brody, Maya Hawke, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Steve Carell, Hong Chau, Sophia Lillis, Matt Dillon, Rita Wilson, and Willem Dafoe.

Napoleon

TBA

Whether you saw it or not, The Last Duel was one of the best movies of 2021 and a return to form for director Ridley Scott, who never seems to tire of drawing on history for inspiration while building cinematic worlds. Given the box office performance of that movie, it’s perhaps for the best that his next picture is being produced by Apple TV+ though. Even so, it sounds nothing short of epic with no less at stake than a film about Napoleon Bonaparte.

Reuniting Scott with his Gladiator star Joaquin Phoenix to play Bonaparte, what makes this interpretation of Napoleon unique is the general’s rise to emperor will be told not necessarily through battles but from the vantage of his relationship with his wife Joséphine, future Empress of France. Played by Vanessa Kirby (The Crown, Mission: Impossible – Fallout), Joséphine was a tempestuous equal to her husband and may provide a lens into the biography that bested even Kubrick.

Maestro

TBA

Bradley Cooper’s sophomore effort as director after winning hearts and minds alongside Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born (2018), there’s plenty of curiosity around Maestro, not least of which because the director/actor cast himself as Lenoard Bernstein—one of the greatest musical composers of the 20th century. Often remembered for his snowy haired appearance and love for numerous genres and styles of music, including his own migrations from writing symphonies and conducting the New York Philharmonic to writing operas, chamber music, and even Broadway musicals, including the masterful West Side Story, Bernstein doesn’t naturally lend himself to comparisons to the usually smoldering Cooper. So we’ll see. 

The film also stars Carey Mulligan as Felicia Montealegre, the love of Bernstein’s life, Maya Hawke, and Sara Silverman.

Poor Things

TBA

After partnering on what some of us consider to be the funniest movie of 2018, the bleakly dark The Favourite, director Yorgos Lanthimos and screenwriter Tony McNamara are reteaming for Poor Things, an adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s novel of the same name. That book centers around a pregnant woman who drowns while trying to escape her abusive husband. Afterward, the monster has the bright idea to resurrect her from the dead… but with the brain of his unborn baby rendering her a helpless infant.

So yeah, a pretty grim riff on Frankenstein with nightmarish implications. In other words, a perfect breeding ground for a Lanthimos movie. The film also reunites the filmmaker with Emma Stone, who plays the reanimated woman, and Willem Dafoe as the mad scientist….