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A collection of images from titles previewed in this story, collected in a grid format Graphic: Pete Volk/Polygon | Source images: Various

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The 50 most anticipated new movies of 2024

Buckle in for a big year at the movies

Followers of the movie release calendar just can’t get a moment’s peace: As soon as COVID-19-era disruptions were smoothed out and production pipelines mostly restored in 2023, a lengthy two-guild strike threw everything out of whack again. Delays, shifts, and cancellations galore added to the usual mix of theatrical releases and (fewer, but still notable) direct-to-streaming productions.

Then again, it wouldn’t be a look at the movie year that lies ahead without a bunch of unpredictable shifts, no matter the cause. Even if the first quarter of 2024 looks more barren than usual and a few superheroes may have flown straight out of the summer skies, the year still has plenty of titles worth anticipating — as this list of 50 particularly exciting-sounding movies proves. This year has ghosts, apes, pandas, sentient emotions, killer ballerinas, gladiators, vampires, sandworms, bioexorcists, and no fewer than three Spider-Man movies that do not feature Spider-Man. As always, these dates are subject to change, but here’s how 2024 is shaping up right now.


The Book of Clarence

Release date: In theaters Jan. 12
Director: Jeymes Samuel
Cast: LaKeith Stanfield, Omar Sy, Teyana Taylor

Jeymes Samuel, who previously directed Netflix’s visually arresting all-star Western The Harder They Fall, turns his sights on a Biblical adventure with a comic twist. There’s definitely something rather Life of Brian about the idea of Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield), the twin brother of the apostle Thomas, positioning himself as a new messiah to better his station in life.

Mean Girls

Bebe Wood plays Gretchen, Renee Rapp plays Regina and Avantika plays Karen in Mean Girls.  Gretchen sits tall on her knees, Gretchen slumps back in a leather top, and Karen sits straight upright. Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount PIctures

Release date: In theaters Jan. 12
Directors: Samantha Jayne, Arturo Perez Jr.
Cast: Angourie Rice, Reneé Rapp, Tina Fey

The unusual movie-to-stage-musical-to-movie-musical pipeline has one all-time-great success (Little Shop of Horrors) and a bunch more failed curiosities, like the 2005 version of The Producers. What Mean Girls has going for it is the constant presence of screenwriter/co-star Tina Fey, who wrote both movies as well as the Broadway musical that bridges them. There’s something appealing about the idea of a comedy writer allowed to revise and update such trendy-yet-timeless material over the course of 20 years.

Role Play

David Oyelowo looks at Kaley Cuoco with concern in his eyes while they sit together on a bed in Role Play Photo: Reiner Bajo/Prime Video

Release date: On Prime Video Jan. 12
Director: Thomas Vincent
Cast: Kaley Cuoco, David Oyelowo, Bill Nighy

Emma (Kaley Cuoco) is a normal New Jersey suburbanite, married to the mild-mannered Dave (David Oyelowo), who has no idea that she’s also a contract killer. After learning the truth, he winds up on a wild, violent adventure with his ass-kicking spouse. In other words, they’re going to tell each other some True Lies?

Argylle

A Scottish Fold in an argyle printed backpack. Image: Universal Pictures

Release date: In theaters Feb. 2
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Henry Cavill

Matthew Vaughn has directed movies for 20 years now, and Argylle is actually the first one since his debut that doesn’t have some kind of connection to the world of comics and graphic novels. That said, it sure looks closer to Kingsman than Layer Cake, with a shy author (Bryce Dallas Howard) of outlandish espionage novels teaming up with an actual spy (Sam Rockwell) when her books start hewing eerily close to reality — or so some shadowy figures claim. The exact plot line remains a mystery, but the stacked ensemble is clear as day, conspicuously CG cat and all.

Lisa Frankenstein

Kathryn Newton, with big hair, sitting at a school desk in Lisa Frankenstein Photo: Michele K. Short/Focus Features

Release date: In theaters Feb. 9
Director: Zelda Williams
Cast: Kathryn Newton, Cole Sprouse, Carla Gugino

What a difference 15 years makes; back in 2009, Jennifer’s Body was a notorious flop for screenwriter Diablo Cody, not long after winning an Oscar for Juno. Now, it’s her reclaimed feminist-horror comedy that gets namechecked in the trailer for her latest project, the 1989-set Lisa Frankenstein. Yes, it does involve reanimation: Lisa (Kathryn Newton) brings a handsome Victorian corpse back to life, and murderous gothic romance appears to ensue, under the direction of Zelda Williams (daughter of Robin). If this is Cody’s Frankenstein and Jennifer’s Body is her de facto Dracula, maybe she can work her way through all of the classic Universal Monsters.

Madame Web

Cassandra Webb’s mom taking a picture of a spider in a still from Madame Web Image: Sony Pictures

Release date: In theaters Feb. 14
Director: S.J. Clarkson
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Adam Scott

Undeterred by the relatively unsuccessful Morbius, the delay of Kraven the Hunter to 2024 (more on that soon), and widespread internet derision for any of these movies that aren’t a Venom sequel, Sony continues their SSWSFNU (Sony Spider-Man Without Spider-Man For Now Universe) series with Madame Web. The best chance these movies have is to go nuttier than the MCU will allow, and that certainly seems to be the case here, as Dakota Johnson gains the short-term prediction superpowers of Nicolas Cage in Next and Sydney Sweeney becomes Spider-Woman at some point.

Drive-Away Dolls

Geraldine Viswanathan, Margaret Qualley, and Beanie Feldstein stand outside of what looks like a bar in Drive-Away Dolls Photo: Wilson Webb/Focus Features

Release date: In theaters Feb. 23
Director: Ethan Coen
Cast: Margaret Qualley, Geraldine Viswanathan, Beanie Feldstein

Left to his own devices apart from his brother, Joel Coen made an expressive black-and-white version of Macbeth. Ethan, meanwhile, opted to team up with his wife Tricia Cooke for a raucous-looking crime comedy. Margaret Qualley and Geraldine Viswanathan play a pair of young lesbians whose road trip to Florida is scrambled by a group of criminals.

Dune: Part Two

Three massive sand worms advance on fleeing people in Dune 2 Image: Warner Bros.

Release date: In theaters March 1
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Florence Pugh

Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi adaptation looked like an expensive risk back in 2021, when it premiered simultaneously on theaters and HBO Max — and then it made a bunch of money and garnered a ton of Oscar nominations. Don’t necessarily expect awards bait from the second half of the story; per Villeneuve himself, it’s less reflective and more action-packed than its predecessor. Chalamet returns as the exiled Paul Atreides, who teams up with revolutionaries (including Zendaya’s Chani, only glimpsed in the first film) to prevent catastrophe from befalling the spice-rich planet of Arrakis.

Kung Fu Panda 4

Release date: In theaters March 8
Directors: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger
Cast: Jack Black, Awkwafina, Viola Davis

It’s a good thing DreamWorks doesn’t demand exclusivity deals from its voiceover talent: Kung Fu Panda 4 teams Jack Black, returning to DreamWorks after jumping over to Illumination to sing “Peaches” as Bowser in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, with Awkwafina, a Bad Guys alum who has also done voices for Illumination and Disney. Here, Awkwafina voices Zhen, a fox who helps Po (Black) fend off a new, shapeshifting foe called The Chameleon (Viola Davis).

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

The firehouse freezes over in New York City in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Image: Sony Pictures

Release date: In theaters March 29
Director: Gil Kenan
Cast: Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Paul Rudd

Sony finally got its Ghostbusters franchise with the slavishly reverent (and not especially funny!) Ghostbusters: Afterlife. This follow-up moves characters from that film to New York City, presumably for opportunities to interact with surviving cast members from the 1984 original; Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson all appear in the trailer, where some kind of fear-based supernatural entity freezes the city in the middle of summer.

Mickey 17

Robert Pattison lies on his back, shirtless, in a glowing blue MRI-type machine, staring directly into the camera, in an early teaser trailer for Bong Joon-ho’s Mickey 17 Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: In theaters March 29
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Mark Ruffalo, Toni Collette

Following his multiple Oscar wins for Parasite, filmmaker Bong Joon-ho took one of the longest breaks of his career; now he’s back with a primarily English-language sci-fi picture (his first since Snowpiercer), another spring release without any footage release so far. It’s about an “expendable,” but not the kind who used to star in 1980s action movies; this one is a lowly employee named Mickey Barnes (Robert Pattinson) who has the ability to regenerate after death.

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

Godzilla roars toward the sky with a pink spine in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire Image: Legendary

Release date: In theaters April 12
Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: Dan Stevens, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry

Godzilla is so hot right now! He’s been on the big screen in the critically acclaimed hit Godzilla Minus One, made some rare TV appearances via Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, and appears to venture into the Hollow Earth for this sequel to 2021’s zestily goofy Godzilla vs. Kong. No longer instinctive enemies but gigantic frenemies, Kong and Godzilla face a new foe in the form of a newly discovered Titan — seemingly another huge ape who’s coming for Kong’s crown.

Rebel Moon - Part Two: The Scargiver

Sofia Boutella fires a gun at a room of soldiers in Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver Image: Netflix

Release date: On Netflix April 19
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Sofia Boutella, Charlie Hunnam, Ed Skrein

Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon may not be the most blatantly split-in-half two-part movie ever made, but the first part wasn’t exactly a complete and satisfying story, either. Then again, what’s most fun about the movie is its frequent and weird bursts of visual imagination, which suggests that The Scargiver doesn’t even necessarily need to stick the landing to provide plenty of ridiculous fun in the vein of Jupiter Ascending or The Chronicles of Riddick.

Challengers

Zendaya sits on a bed in between Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist in Challengers Image: MGM

Release date: In theaters April 26
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Zendaya, Mike Faist, Josh O’Connor

The sex-scene discourse will get another workout with Challengers, an athletic spin on the love triangle starring Zendaya, Mike Faist (West Side Story), and Josh O’Connor as tennis pros facing off in the bedroom and on the court. The presence of earthy, sometimes button-pushing director Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) virtually guarantees that this won’t be just a Netflix-ready rom-com.

The Fall Guy

Ryan Gosling smirks in The Fall Guy Image: Universal

Release date: In theaters May 3
Director: David Leitch
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emily Blunt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

For the first time since 2006, the May-through-August summer movie season kicks off with a non-Marvel character. (The MCU in particular has kept a stranglehold on this date since 2015.) What’s more, The Fall Guy isn’t even a superhero story — it’s that very ‘90s form of event movie, the big-budget, big-star adaptation of an old TV show. In for Lee Majors is Ryan Gosling, playing a stuntman turned amateur detective trying to locate the star of his latest project — which happens to be directed by his ex (Emily Blunt). Gosling looks like he’s back in The Nice Guys mode, and if the trailer’s quips aren’t all up to Shane Black’s level, it’s awfully nice to think of a (relatively) old-fashioned star vehicle at the head of the big summer-kickoff hype train for a change.

If

Release date: In theaters May 17
Director: John Krasinski
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Cailey Fleming, Steve Carell

John Krasinski’s directorial follow-up to his A Quiet Place movies approaches a kid in a fantastical situation from a slightly less terrifying angle: In If, a young girl (Cailey Fleming, who played a young Rey in The Force Awakens) discovers she can see the discarded imaginary friends of other children. Ryan Reynolds plays some kind of imaginary-friend emissary — though the film’s Paramount release precludes a Bing Bong cameo.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

A group of bikers, including Chris Hemsworth, advance in the desert in Furiosa Image: Warner Bros.

Release date: In theaters May 24
Director: George Miller
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth, Nathan Jones

George Miller took 30 years to bring back post-apocalyptic road warrior Mad Max via 2015’s Fury Road. The spinoff Furiosa, by contrast, arrives just eight years after that Oscar-winning blockbuster, though it takes more than a few pages from the Fury Road playbook. Most noticeably, it recasts its central character, with Anya Taylor-Joy playing a younger version of Charlize Theron’s one-armed commander/driver/warrior from the earlier film. It also revives fearsome creep Immortan Joe and the super-saturated desert landscapes that became so instantly iconic in the earlier film. The approach may spur some unfair comparisons between Furiosa and its predecessor, but given Miller’s age, we should really just be grateful that he’s started making movies at such a clip (check out Three Thousand Years of Longing!), and that some of them feature Anya Taylor-Joy kicking ass across the post-apocalyptic desert.

The Garfield Movie

An animated Garfield, wearing a bib and holding a fork and knife, is ready to absolutely chow down on some lasagna in The Garfield Movie. Image: Project G Productions

Release date: In theaters May 24
Director: Mark Dindal
Cast: Chris Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult

While the latest Garfield big-screen adventure isn’t adapting the internet phenomenon Garfield Minus Garfield, it steps in its direction by asking the question: What is Garfield without a low, sleepy deadpan delivery? Previous Garfield voices Lorenzo Music and Bill Murray have such a similar delivery that Music played Murray’s part on the Ghostbusters cartoon. Chris Pratt, on the other hand, has a whole different vibe — but at least Garfield is back into fully-animated territory after those off-putting hybrid productions from the 2000s. Plus, maybe the film’s obligatory retelling of Garfield’s origin will clarify why an unemployed cat possesses a cubicle drone’s hatred of Mondays.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

An ape holding a falcon in Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Image: 20th Century Pictures

Release date: In theaters May 24
Director: Wes Ball
Cast: Freya Allen, Owen Teague, Kevin Durand

After an acclaimed trilogy and a six-year break, the apes are back in town with the fourth installment of the rebooted series. Yes, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes appears to be in-continuity with the Rise/Dawn/War trilogy, but set many decades further out. Noa (Owen Teague), a chimp, teams up with Mae (Freya Allen), a feral human, to change the course of history, both ape and human. New director Wes Ball, of Fox’s Maze Runner trilogy and the future Legend of Zelda movie, has experience following young people on a dystopian mission.

Ballerina

Release date: In theaters June 7
Director: Len Wiseman
Cast: Ana de Armas, Keanu Reeves, Lance Reddick

Produced in anticipation of severe Wickdrawal hitting a nation following the peaks of John Wick: Chapter 4, Ballerina is a midquel-slash-spinoff set in between the third and fourth films, exploring the deadly ballet school run by Anjelica Huston. Huston appears here, as does Reeves in a supporting role, owing to the movie’s timeline tricks, and the late, great Lance Reddick in his final big-screen appearance! But the main attraction will be Ana de Armas as a vengeful ballerina-assassin, hopefully expanding on the charm and action chops she displayed in the Cuba sequence of No Time to Die. Director Len Wiseman may not be an action legend, but he has experience with women stylishly shooting up the place, having directed the first two Underworld movies.

Inside Out 2

Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear look uncomfortably at a new emotion Image: Pixar

Release date: In theaters June 14
Director: Kelsey Mann
Cast: Amy Poehler, Tony Hale, Maya Hawke

Pixar has weaned itself off the sequel addiction it nursed for much of the 2010s, but no $300 million grosser would be allowed to go unsequelized. So welcome back Riley, the girl from Inside Out, who has moved into full-on adolescence and generated some brand-new emotions, led by Anxiety (Maya Hawke), a teengaer’s constant companion. Pixar and Disney have to know that revisiting Riley’s brain is a fairly irresistible proposition, given that they already covered this delightfully awkward territory with Turning Red, one of their best movies in years.

A Quiet Place: Day One

Release date: In theaters June 28
Director: Michael Sarnoski
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Djimon Hounsou, Alex Wolff

Is Lupita Nyong’o our classiest scream queen? She gave an award-worthy dual performance in Jordan Peele’s creepily beguiling Us, and now joins the Quiet Place franchise for another look at the day the super-hearing aliens arrived on Earth – last seen during an extended sequence in Part 2. Day One also marks the big-budget debut of Michael Sarnoski, who made Pig, one of Nicolas Cage’s best films of the 21st century.

Despicable Me 4

Release date: In theaters July 3
Directors: Chris Renaud, Patrick Delage
Cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove

OK, maybe it feels a little silly to wring hands over the appropriateness of Pixar deciding to do Inside Out 2 when compared to Illumination’s willingness to crank out Despicable Me movies into infinity and beyond. This proper fourth film follows on the heels of a second Minions spinoff (which was also essentially a Despicable Me prequel), and details are scarce. The film’s rumored to involve reformed supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) making gestures toward villainous deeds only to ultimately wind up on the nebulously defined side of good with his wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and his three adorable daughters, with occasional interruptions from Minions saying “banana!”

Twisters

Release date: In theaters July 19
Director: Lee Isaac Chung
Cast: Daisy-Edgar Jones, Glen Powell, David Corenswet

In a triumphant return to the Aliens rule of sequel-naming, Twister becomes Twisters for this blockbuster revival — although another titling scheme comes to mind, given that this follow-up is arriving 28 years later. Normal People’s Daisy Edgar-Jones and Top Gun: Maverick’s Glen Powell lead the cast, with an unusually pedigreed director in the form of Minari’s Lee Isaac Chung. No word on whether Chung wrote a dollar-sign after Twister on the whiteboard.

Untitled Deadpool Movie

Deadpool and Wolverine on the set of Deadpool 3 Image: Marvel Studios

Release date: In theaters July 26
Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Garner

Thanks mostly to strike delays but probably also to the shakiness of their 2023, the Marvel Cinematic Universe currently has just one theatrical release on the calendar for 2024: a third movie in the Deadpool series that originated within Fox’s old X-Men movies before the studio was bought by Disney. You know who might point out the unexpected incongruity of this event? Why, Deadpool himself! Provided he can tear himself away from making jokes at the expense of other Ryan Reynolds movies. Rumor has it that the long-delayed third installment will fold its Fox X-Men roots into the MCU’s multiverse; at the very least, Hugh Jackman is back in action as Wolverine, presumably for a bit of dessert after the more dramatic farewell of Logan.

Trap

Release date: In theaters Aug. 2
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Hayley Mills, Saleka Shyamalan

M. Night Shyamalan has been working non-stop for the past quarter-century, but there’s something especially succinct and expedient about his run of modestly budgeted one-word titles: Split, Glass, Old, and now Trap (righting the ship after the more complicated, if conceptually streamlined, Knock at the Cabin). Little is known about Shyamalan’s latest, beyond that it may be set at a concert.

Borderlands

The main cast of the Borderlands movie in silhouette Photo: Katalin Vermes/Lionsgate

Release date: In theaters Aug. 9
Director: Eli Roth
Cast: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Kevin Hart

Eli Roth had a bit of a comeback recently with the success of his long-promised Thanksgiving, and it turns out that the movie he was coming back from hadn’t even been released yet, because Roth shot this adaptation of the sci-fi video game back in 2021. Since then the project has undergone reshoots (from Deadpool’s Tim Miller rather than Roth) and shuffling credits (with a screenwriter and composer both swapped out). Whatever’s going on with this one, it has to be something worth watching, given the eclecticism of a cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Jamie Lee Curtis, Haley Bennett, Édgar Ramírez, and Gina Gershon, and Roth’s continued enthusiasm for the project.

Untitled Alien Movie

Release date: In theaters Aug. 16
Director: Fede Álvarez
Cast: Cailee Spaeny, Isabela Merced, David Jonsson

To be honest, Fede Álvarez (Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe) feels like more of a Predator director than an Alien director. (This is not an insult, because all Predator movies are good.) It’s exciting, though, that Álvarez has been selected to follow in the footsteps of Ridley Scott, James Cameron, David Fincher, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet to become the first new director to take on a proper solo-Alien movie in almost 30 years. He’s supposedly making a stand-alone feature, rather than a prospective trilogy or franchise-starter, set sometime between Alien and Aliens. Priscilla’s Cailee Spaeny stars, and the release date is hilariously close to the 20th anniversary of Alien vs. Predator.

Kraven the Hunter

A close up of Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Kraven in the film Kraven the Hunter Image: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Release date: In theaters Aug. 30
Director: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Russell Crowe, Ariana DeBose

The second SSWSFNU movie of 2024 has Aaron Taylor-Johnson as a presumably more sympathetic version of the Spider-Man nemesis Kraven and Ariana DeBose as his love interest, Calypso (another Spider-Man villain). Will director J.C. Chandor bring some of his Most Violent Year and Triple Frontier grit to this shambolic universe, or will he be forced to focus his energy on engineering incoherent mid-credits teasers?

Beetlejuice 2

Release date: In theaters Sept. 7
Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Jenna Ortega, Catherine O’Hara, Michael Keaton

On one hand, it’s a little disheartening to see Tim Burton turning his eye for adaptation onto one of the few fully original screenplays he’s ever directed by making a legacy sequel to the horror comedy Beetlejuice. On the other hand, the one other sequel Burton has ever directed is Batman Returnsone of the best follow-ups of all time — and his supposed emphasis on a back-to-basics approach rife with puppetry and in-camera effects does sound promising. The presence of scream queen Jenna Ortega, playing the daughter of Winona Ryder’s Lydia Deetz, is almost as reassuring as the participation of Michael Keaton, reviving his vulgar bio-exorcist.

Transformers One

Release date: In theaters Sept. 13
Director: Josh Cooley
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jon Hamm

In the wake of beloved Spider-Man and Ninja Turtles movies that cost a relative pittance compared to their live-action counterparts, the hottest new franchise accessory is an animated spinoff that experiments stylistically while winking at Saturday morning cartoon nostalgia. What better candidate than the Transformers franchise? The producer calls the story “biblical.”

Saw XI

Release date: In theaters Sept. 27
Director: TBD
Cast: TBD

In 2023, Jigsaw returned, and horror fans responded by making 2023’s Saw X the highest-grossing installment since Saw V; it helped that it was the flat-out best one since at least Saw VI (you know, if you keep track of that sort of thing), notching a series-high score on Jigsaw’s old nemesis, the Tomatometer. No filmmakers or cast for part eleven have been announced, but they’re gonna have to find some more room in the timeline, given how much Tobin Bell’s John Kramer (technically dead since Saw III) brings to the series.

Joker: Folie à Deux

Lady Gaga, as Harley Quinn, looks into Joaquin Phoenix’s Jokers eyes as they hold each other in Joker: Folie à Deux Image: Warner Bros.

Release date: In theaters Oct. 4
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Lady Gaga, Zazie Beetz

Finally, gender parity in rehashing superhero characters! Harley Quinn joins the Joker and the Batman in the annals of “wait, they’re giving this to yet another actor?!” as Lady Gaga reinterprets the beloved character just a few years after Margot Robbie brought her to life in a series of live-action movies. Of course, Joker: Folie à Deux takes place in a different universe from Birds of Prey, and if the first Elseworlds-style Joker snagged an Oscar by blatantly knocking off King of Comedy and Taxi Driver, we can only hope that director Todd Phillips and returning Mistah J actor Joaquin Phoenix have their sights set on New York, New York for this allegedly musical follow-up.

Smile 2

Release date: In theaters Oct. 18
Director: Parker Finn
Cast: Naomi Scott

Smile came from seemingly nowhere in 2022 to parlay some killer imagery and suddenly-ubiquitous trailers into one of the year’s most profitable box office runs, all from a movie once earmarked for streaming. Director Parker Finn returns for the obligatory fast-turnaround follow-up, and Naomi Scott (Jasmine in the Aladdin remake) takes over the leading role, presumably playing a character hoping to stop the demon causing a chain of suicides that can only be broken through murder. Cheerful stuff!

Untitled Venom Sequel

Release date: In theaters Nov. 8
Director: Kelly Marcel
Cast: Tom Hardy, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Juno Temple

The final installment of 2024’s SSWSFNU trilogy brings back the reason it all exists in the first place: Venom, that giant-tongued ’90s throwback played with raffish charm and an unplaceable accent by the great Tom Hardy. Little is known about the latest Eddie Brock/Venom buddy picture, beyond that Juno Temple and Chiwetel Ejiofor will both appear, and that Kelly Marcel, who worked on the scripts for the first two movies, is making her directorial debut. Could Venom find himself on a wacky date with Madame Web, perhaps?!

Gladiator 2

Release date: In theaters Nov. 22
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Paul Mescal, Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal

No, this isn’t a direct-to-DVD obscurity from 2003 somehow finding its way to movie screens; Ridley Scott actually went and made a sequel to his Oscar-winning 2000 period action picture, not paying much mind to the on-screen death of Russell Crowe’s Maximus. It follows a now-grown Lucius (Paul Mescal), the nephew of Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) who Maximus saved in the first film, and an even heavier hittier steps into Crowe’s movie-star sandals: None other than Denzel Washington will play a slave-turned arms-dealer. It should be fascinating to see how Scott revisits this world following the less conventional historical dramas of The Last Duel and Napoleon.

Wicked

Release date: In theaters Nov. 27
Director: Jon M. Chu
Cast: Cynthia Erivo, Ariana Grande, Michelle Yeoh

Have you ever seen a stage musical where the house lights went up for intermission and you thought, “I wish I could wait a year before watching the rest”? If so, Universal Pictures has the movie for you: the long-gestating film version of Wicked has been split into two movies. It’s only natural; after all, the Broadway version runs a full 150 minutes, which, as we all know, is an unheard-of runtime for a feature film. Anyway, Jon M. Chu has been making musicals for years, whether officially (In the Heights), dance-centrically (Step Up 2 the Streets), or in the middle of an action movie (that part on the cliffs in G.I. Joe: Retaliation), so he seems like a good choice to bring this Maleficent-style POV-shifted Wizard of Oz riff to movies. Cynthia Erivo is set to bring the house down as the future Wicked Witch of the West, while Ariana Grande will play a young Glinda.

Untitled Karate Kid Movie

Release date: In theaters Dec. 13
Director: Jonathan Entwistle
Cast: Jackie Chan, Ralph Macchio

With all of the hoopla over the Karate Kid sequel series Cobra Kai, it felt a little odd that hardly anyone seemed to mention how a 2010 Karate Kid remake starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan was a huge hit. Someone at Sony must have remembered, and maybe it was the Spider-Man: No Way Home multi-iteration all-stars that jogged their memories, because the next Karate Kid movie unites Ralph Macchio, star of the originals, with Jackie Chan, the Mr. Miyagi figure from the remake. Now do the right thing, Sony, and call The Next Karate Kid’s Hilary Swank!

The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim

Release date: In theaters Dec. 13
Director: Kenji Kamiyama
Cast: Miranda Otto, Brian Cox, Shaun Dooley

Given the resurgence of Lord of the Rings as a mega-budgeted Amazon TV series, it might be expected that the franchise’s first animated movie since its Ralph Bakshi days would be somehow related to that show, or be set in its own continuity, Spider-Verse style. But The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim actually ties into the Peter Jackson movies from the early 2000s, with Miranda Otto’s Éowyn serving as narrator (though Jackson himself is not involved). Set hundreds of years earlier, the film offers an origin of sorts for the Battle of Helm’s Deep — or its name, anyway, with king Helm Hammerhand (Brian Cox) proving his mettle against invading forces.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3

Release date: In theaters Dec. 20
Director: Jeff Fowler
Cast: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Idris Elba

A clapboard for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 next to the Shadow’s foot Image: Paramount Pictures

When the first two Sonic movies came out to the delight of under-12s everywhere (and, somewhat stranger, plenty of under-40s, too), they were the only game in town, so to speak – at least in terms of kid-friendly video game characters with a quarter-century’s worth of nostalgia behind them. Now Sonic 3 must contend with a post-Super Mario world, possibly without marquee human star Jim Carrey. Still, the Sonic brand carries a lot of weight with those kids-slash-adults, more than willing to cut a cute movie some slack for not being outright horrible. And the more Sonic characters the movies add, the closer they get to an all-out cartoon velocity worthy of the character’s abilities.

Mufasa: The Lion King

Release date: In theaters Dec. 20
Director: Barry Jenkins
Cast: Aaron Pierre, Seth Rogen, John Kani

A prequel to a quasi-live-action-but-actually-animated remake of The Lion King may seem like a creative dead end to a filmmaker as talented as Barry Jenkins, but at least this project has no source material to quote word-for-word or shot-for-shot when expanding upon the backstory of young Mufasa and his scheming brother Scar. As much as some Jenkins fans may be filled with dread, it will be undoubtedly interesting to see how (which is to say, if) the sensibility that produced the aching sensitivity and vivid lighting of Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk can shine through the Disney Remake machine.

Nosferatu

Release date: In theaters Dec. 25
Director: Robert Eggers
Cast: Bill Skarsgård, Nicholas Hoult, Lily-Rose Depp

The original Nosferatu was really an unauthorized Dracula adaptation, so it’s intriguing to consider what made Robert Eggers (The Witch; The Lighthouse; The Northman) want to re-adapt this specific take on the vampire, last taken on by Werner Herzog in 1979. Maybe the rarified company of Herzog and F.W. Murnau was motivation enough, or maybe he’s found a point of intersection between his own rigorous aesthetics and the German Expressionism of the original. Bill Skarsgård stars as the ghoulish Count Orlok, joined by The Idol’s Lily-Rose Depp and a couple of the vampire’s previous familiars: Nicholas Hoult (who just played a zany version of Renfield) and Willem Dafoe (who played Max Schreck, star of Nosferatu, in Shadow of the Vampire).

Untitled Jordan Peele Movie

Release date: In theaters Dec. 25
Director: Jordan Peele
Cast: TBD

What about 2024 made Universal decide that Christmas would be an extension of spooky season? The studio’s smaller-scale arm Focus is putting out Nosferatu on Christmas Day, while the big-studio label has an appropriately bigger movie in store: Jordan Peele’s latest. It doesn’t have a title, a premise, any stars, or even, really, a designated genre, so maybe Christmas won’t be Halloween Plus after all. But it’s hard to imagine Peele abandoning his genre trappings after the stunning triple play of Get Out, Us, and Nope.

Havoc

Release date: TBD, on Netflix
Director: Gareth Evans
Cast: Tom Hardy, Timothy Olyphant, Forest Whitaker

Isn’t it about time that we got to see Tom Hardy wreak Havoc? This action movie from director Gareth Evans (of the Raid movies) has been kicking around the Netflix slate for what seems like years. Filming finished up over two years ago, and while the long delay may spell trouble, it’s hard to imagine that Evans/Hardy combo not yielding something entertaining.

Hit Man

Adria Arjona stands behind Glen Powell, who is likely aiming a gun off screen in Hit Man Image: Netflix

Release date: TBD, on Netflix
Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Glen Powell, Adria Arjona, Retta

Glen Powell supposedly delivered star-making turns in Set It Up and Top Gun: Maverick, but there are times in those movies where he feels a little, well, blandly buttoned up — neither innately sweet enough to play the steadfast hero nor quite electric enough to play the alluring cad. Richard Linklater’s comic thriller rom-com Hit Man weaponizes that blandness in more ways than one, with Powell playing a slightly dorky, buttoned-up college professor whose moonlighting gig with local law enforcement has him impersonate a hit man on the fly. He proves unexpectedly good at it, which is how he meets Maddy (Adria Arjona) and becomes entangled in a wild double life, fueling one of Linklater’s most purely entertaining movies in years.

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F

Release date: Summer 2024, on Netflix
Director: Mark Molloy
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, Kevin Bacon

Axel Foley gets the Maverick treatment in this legacy sequel, with Eddie Murphy assuming his signature role after more than three decades away (although Maverick was gone for longer, without a pair of sub-par sequels dragging him down). Expect plenty of cameos and callbacks in a movie we can only hope is a funnier revival than the wan Coming 2 America. (One wonders if The Nutty Professor: Sherman Klump will be hitting Paramount Plus in 2025...)

The Old Guard 2

Release date: TBD, on Netflix
Director: Victoria Mahoney
Cast: Charlize Theron, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Uma Thurman

The Old Guard was something of a pandemic-era Netflix phenomenon, a superhero-like action movie about a team of immortal do-gooders made available at home when multiplexes were closed. Four years later, the sequel will test whether the audience has stuck around now that big-screen experiences are more available (and superhero stories may be on the wane). The movie won’t lack for star power: Charlize Theron and Chiwetel Ejiofor are joined by Uma Thurman and Henry Golding. Victoria Mahoney, who has directed episodes of Lovecraft Country and The Morning Show, among many others, takes over from Gina Prince-Bythewood.

Ultraman: Rising

Release date: TBD, on Netflix
Directors: Shannon Tindle, John Aoshima
Cast: Tamlyn Tomita, Gedde Watanabe, Keone Young

Like many other franchises on the calendar for 2024, the latest installment of the long-running Ultraman series pivots to animation. In the latest iteration of the Japanese superhero, Ken Sato (Christopher Sean in the American dub; Yuki Yamada on the Japanese track), alter ego of Ultraman, winds up caring for a baby kaiju after defeating its mother in battle.

MaXXXine

Release date: TBD
Director: Ti West
Cast: Mia Goth, Michelle Monaghan, Elizabeth Debicki

In one of the swiftest and most suddenly anticipated trilogy-cappers in recent memory, writer-director Ti West finishes out the makeshift saga that began with his terrific 2022 retro-slasher X and continued with the surprise prequel Pearl, shot concurrently with its immediate predecessor. MaXXXine jumps forward from 1979 Texas to 1980s Los Angeles, as Maxine (Mia Goth), the final girl from X, pursues her dream of stardom. Something tells us bodies may continue to pile up long after her escape from the elderly couple who slaughtered her filmmaking buddies.