by Tim Gordon
Last year’s trash promises to be this year’s treasure as film audiences will see plenty of ‘equals – sequels, prequels, and threequels courtesy of 2023 strikes and labor unrest.
The dual strikes pushed many films back that were slated for release into an already busy release slate making 2024 a year that Hollywood hasn’t experienced in a while. This year’s schedule includes something for fans of every genre, some of which lean heavily on nostalgia to lure fans back to theaters. For starters, both Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, and Eddie Murphy will star in the fourth installments, as Bad Boys 4 and Beverly Hills Cop 4 both return.
Music is also on the menu as celebrated singers Bob Marley, Luther Vandross, and Amy Winehouse all have stories coming to the big screen in the form of a couple of long-awaited biopics: Back to Black about Amy Winehouse and One Love: The Bob Marley Story. The Jamie Foxx-produced documentary, Luther: Never Too Much will debut at Sundance.
For those experiencing superhero fatigue, get ready for more comic films from Deadpool 3, Madame Web, Kraven the Hunter, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and Joker: Folie a Deux. If you want to follow stories that you’re familiar with, you can choose from Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, Kung Fu Panda 4, Inside Out 2, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, Karate Kid 2, and Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.
Notable filmmakers in the mix include Francis Ford Coppola with Megalopolis, Yorgos Lanthimos with Kinds of Kindness, Jeymes Samuels with The Book of Clarence, George Miller with Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, Luca Guadagnino with Challengers, and Bong Joon-Ho with Mickey 17.
If you like action, there is the second part of Zack Snyder’s epic space opera, Rebel Moon: Part Two – The Scargiver, the John Wick spinoff, Ballerina, and the action-comedy, Argylle,
So, before you make plans on what you can look forward to this year, check out some of the year’s most anticipated films, below:
The Book of Clarence (January 12)
Following up the rousing success of his Western, The Harder They Fall, director Jeymes Samuels returns with his passion project, which focuses on a down-on-his-luck man who struggles to find a better life for his family while fighting to free himself of debt. He is captivated by the power and glory of the rising Messiah and risks everything to carve his path to divine life, ultimately discovering that the redemptive power of belief may be his only way out.
Lift (January 12)
Kevin Hart stars as a master thief, is wooed by his ex-girlfriend, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who leads his crew in concert with the FBI to pull off an impossible heist with his international crew on a 777-passenger flight from London to Zurich in director F. Gary Gray’s action-comedy. Gray has plenty of experience in past projects including The Italian Job, The Fate of the Furious, and A Man Apart. Hart continues to spread his wings, with another entertaining effort.
The Underdoggs (January 26)
The D-O-Double G, Snoop Dogg, takes inspiration from his personal life in this entertaining comedy where he portrays a former NFL superstar who agrees to coach a youth football team to avoid serving time in prison. Based on his experience coaching a little league team in Long Beach, Snoop teamed with director Charles Stone (Drumline & Paid in Full) and producer Kenya Barris (Black AF & You People) on this film that promises to be full of laughs and lessons.
Argylle (February 2)
Celebrated director Matthew Vaughn (The King’s Men & Kick-Ass) brings his action sensibilities to the action-comedy, Argylle. Featuring a star-studded cast, including Dua Lipa, Henry Cavill, John Cena, Samuel L. Jackson, and Ariana Debose, the film is headlined by Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Ellie Conway, a spy novelist who discovers that the events of her novels are coming to life — and now the spies she thought were fictional are after her.
Lisa Frankenstein (February 9)
A misunderstood teenager and a reanimated corpse embark on a murderous journey to find love, happiness, and a few missing body parts in this enticing horror/comedy. Based on a script from Oscar-winning screenwriter, Diablo Cody (Juno) and making her directorial debut, Zelda Williams (daughter of Robin Williams) or Kathryn Newton in the title role. Either way, we’re looking forward to what magic Cody can bring to this familiar story, while simultaneously updating for a new generation.
Madame Web (February 14)
Dakota Johnson steps into the title role in the Marvel film, Madame Web as the title character, Cassandra Webb a New York City paramedic who starts to show signs of clairvoyance. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she must protect three young women — played by Sydney Sweeney, Celeste O’Connor, and Isabela Merced – from a mysterious adversary who wants them dead.
Bob Marley: One Love (February 14)
Forty years after his untimely demise, the story of the iconic reggae ambassador, Bob Marley finally comes to the big screen in this tender biopic. Produced in cooperation with the singer’s family, Kingsley Ben-Adir steps into the role of Marley. Lashana Lynch will play his wife and fellow artist, Rita Marley. The film covers his life and music, from the beginning of his career to a 1976 shooting at his home and his death in 1981 at just 36 years old.
Dune: Part Two (March 1)
The saga continues as Denis Villeneuve’s sequel of the journey of Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) as he embarks on a warpath of revenge against those who destroyed his family, while also attempting to prevent a terrible future. Limited in Part 1, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Charlotte Rampling, and Stephen McKinley Henderson will join Chalamet. Coming along for the ride in this film will be Austin Butler, Christopher Walken, Florence Pugh, Léa Seydoux, and Souheila Yacoub.
Kung Fu Panda 4 (March 4)
Jack Black and crew are back for the fourth installment of the DreamWorks franchise, Kung Fu Panda 4. In the latest installment, Po (Black) is told by Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) that he will no longer be the Dragon Warrior, but is elevated to Spiritual Leader of the Valley of Peace. Just after he is out, Po is pulled back in when a new antagonist, The Chameleon (Viola Davis), a shape-shifting sorceress, who absorbs the kung fu of every villain and who seeks to destroy our hero.
Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (March 29)
The Spengler family returns in the sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. The story follows the family leaving Oklahoma and going to the original New York fire station of the original 1984 Ghostbusters film. Of course, while there, they connect with the original Ghostbusters and they combine to take down a villainous force aptly named the Death Chill. Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, and Ernie Hudson co-star.
Mickey 17 (March 29)
Robert Pattinson continues his post-Twilight evolution starring as space traveler Mickey 17 in Bong Joon-ho’s sci-fi thriller. Mickey. Pattison plays a “disposable” employee, who is sent on a deadly mission to colonize the ice world Niflheim. After an employee dies, he is cloned with the memories of the traveler who comes before him. Mark Ruffalo and Toni Collette co-star.
Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire (April 12)
The year begins with an epic surpise – Godzilla and King Kong are squashing their longstanding beef. The legendary opponents are now allies in Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, the sequel to 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong” and follows the two iconic characters In the film, Godzilla and Kong who work together against an undiscovered threat that threatens the Hollow Earth and the surface. Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Dan Stevens co-star.
Rebel Moon: Part Two – The Scargiver (April 19)
Part one of Zack Snyder’s big-budget epic sci-fi opera Rebel Moon channeled The Seven Samurai but left audiences primed for more. The second installment, sans set-up, should have more fireworks and delve deeper into Snyder’s vision for this universe. In this film, Kora (Sofia Boutella) and her band of warriors defend her sleepy backwater planet against the evil Mother World. The big question is will the journey continue AFTER this film.
Challengers (April 26)
Rising superstar Zendaya channels her adult sexy side in this steamy romantic comedy sports story, Challengers. Directed by Luca Guadignino, Zendaya plays Tashi, a tennis coach who has trained her husband, Art Donaldson (Mike Faist), to tennis stardom. After a string of losses for Art, she signs him up for a challengers event against none other than Tashi’s ex-boyfriend — and Art’s former best friend — Patrick (Josh O’Connor). Soon, it becomes apparent that tensions in the court stem from tensions off of it.
The Fall Guy (May 3)
One of the industry’s most versatile actors, Ryan Gosling steps into another interesting character, this time in the action film adaptation of the 1980s series, The Fall Guy. The story centers on stuntman Colt Seavers (Gosling) as he works on a film directed by his ex-girlfriend, Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt). You can guess that there is more than meets the eye between these two as things get hairy once he becomes the main focus once the star of the film goes missing.
Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F (TBD)
Forty years after launching this franchise to global superstardom, Eddie Murphy dusts off his Detroit Lions letterman jacket once again in this gritty action comedy, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F. This time around, Foley (Murphy) comes back West once again after his daughter’s life is threatened teaming up with a new partner and some old pals to turn up the heat on a conspiracy. The last time Murphy revisited one of his comedy classic, the results were lackluster in Coming 2 America.
IF (May 17)
What if your imaginary friends, weren’t imaginary? Writer and director John Krasinski explores this question and the ramifications in the Harvey-esque comedy, IF. A young girl named Bea gains the ability to see people’s imaginary friends, referred to as “IFs” for short, who have been abandoned by the kids they helped. Bea then discovers that her neighbor, The Man Upstairs (Ryan Reynolds), has the same ability. The film stars Reynolds and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (May 24)
The fifth film in George Miller’s Mad Max franchise this time is a prequel, spotlighting the origin story of the story’s heroine, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. In this post-apocalyptic action adventure, Anya Taylor-Joy stars as young Imperator Furiosa (the younger version of Charlize Theron’s character), who is thrown into a Biker Horde led by Warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth) and must find her way back home.
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (May 24)
The tenth film in the Planet of the Apes franchise, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, picks up after the death of Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes. Set nearly 300 years later, the apes are now the dominant species. As a new tyrannical ape starts building an empire, a young ape is forced to grapple with decisions that will define the future for both apes and humans.
Ballerina (June 7)
Taking place between the events of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and Chapter 4, ballerina-assassin Rooney hunts the murderers of her family. In this John Wick spinoff, Ana de Armas is an assassin trained in the traditions of the Ruska Roma. The fifth film in the John Wick franchise, Keanu Reeves will return as “Baba Yaga,” John Wick, joined by Anjelica Huston, Gabriel Byrne, the late Lance Reddick, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Norman Reedus, and Ian McShane.
Bad Boys 4 (June 14)
The fourth installment in the Bad Boys franchise brings Will Smith and Martin Lawrence back in Bad Boys 4. Not many details are known about this story but what we know is Mike Lowery and Marcus Burnett will face danger, have inner tension, and produce plenty of laughs as Miami’s Finest for Life returns. “Bad Boys, Bad Boys whatcha gonna do?”
Inside Out 2 (June 14)
The animated emotions return in this anticipated sequel, Inside Out. Maya Hawke’s Anxiety joins Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust, as a now-teenage Riley grapples with new, complex feelings. Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, and Lewis Black will reprise their roles of Joy, Sadness, and Anger, respectively, while Tony Hale and Liza Lapira will take over the roles of Fear and Disgust for Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling. The film has already made history as Disney’s biggest animated trailer launch.
The Bikeriders (June 21)
Director Jeff Nichols’ (Take Shelter, Mud, Midnight Special, and Loving)latest film, The Bikeriders is set in the 1960s and follows the rise of a fictional Chicago motorcycle club. Seen through the lives of its members, the club evolves over a decade from a gathering place for local outsiders into a more sinister gang, threatening the original group’s unique way of life. Based on Danny Lyon’s book of photography, Austin Butler and Jodie Comer play a married couple involved in the club, with Tom Hardy portraying the biker gang’s hot-blooded leader.
A Quiet Place: Day One (June 28)
Emily Blunt and her husband John Krasinski both have two films this summer and this one is the prequel to the surprise hit post-apocalyptic thriller which will depict the origins of the world where we meet the Abbott family. In case you’ve forgotten, silence is golden in this world where people must stay silent to hide from creatures who hunt for prey using sound. Lupita Nyong’o joins Blunt and Krasinski, in navigating the initial moments of the alien invasion in New York City.
Deadpool 3 (July 26)
One of the most anticipated films of the year is this long-awaited reunion and debut into the Marvel Cinematic Universe for both Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool and Hugh Jackman’s X-Men character Wolverine, in Deadpool 3. In their debut, Wolverine joins the “merc with a mouth” in the third installment of the Deadpool film franchise. The film marks the first “Deadpool” project to be produced by Walt Disney Studios after it acquired 20th Century Fox in 2019.
Flint Strong (August 9)
Longtime collaborator and Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rachel Morrison (Black Panther, Fruitvale Station) makes her directorial feature debut with the inspirational boxing story, Flint Strong. Written by Oscar winner, Barry Jenkins, the film dramatizes the story of Claressa “T-Rex” Shields, a boxer from Flint, Mich., who trained to become the first woman in her country’s history to win an Olympic gold medal in the sport. Ryan Destiny (Oracle) stars in the title role and also features performances from Judy Greer and Brian Tyree Henry.
Kraven the Hunter (Aug. 30)
J.C. Chandor directs Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Russian immigrant Sergei Kravinoff, who seeks to demonstrate that he is the best hunter in the world, in the superhero film, Kraven the Hunter. Based on the Marvel comic character of the same name. The fifth film in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (SSU), the film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the title role alongside Ariana DeBose, Russell Crowe, Fred Hechinger, Christopher Abbott, and Alessandro Nivola.
Beetlejuice 2 (Sept. 6)
Thirty-seven years after cult classic, Beetlejuice was released in theaters, the long-awaited sequel FINALLY will return. Both director Tim Burton and Michael Keaton are back with Keaton reprising his role as the eccentric ghost, who’s recruited to help haunt a house. The film stars Keaton, as well as returning co-stars Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara; Jenna Ortega, Monica Bellucci, and Willem Dafoe join in on the fun.
Joker: Folie a Deux (Oct. 4)
Back in 2008, director Christopher Nolan created a seminal Batman story with the classic, The Dark Knight. This fall, director Todd Phillips has an amazing opportunity to further the chaos in Gotham with his sequel, Joker: Folie à Deux. The musical thriller will feature Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn, with Phoenix reprising his title role as failed comedian-turned-criminal Arthur Fleck. If this film follows the tone of the original, it provides the darkness that gives rise to Batman, the symbol of hope for Gotham. Zazie Beetz also reprises her role from the first film.
Gladiator 2 (Nov. 22)
Another long-awaited sequel brings Ridley Scott back to direct the follow-up to his 2000 Best Picture winner Gladiator. After being saved by Maximus in the first film, Lucius (Paul Mescal), the nephew of Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), is now a grown man. The rest of the cast includes two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Connie Nielsen, Derek Jacobi, and Joseph Quinn.
Karate Kid 2 (Dec. 13)
The two worlds of The Karate Kid franchise will collide as the stars of separate films in the universe, Jackie Chan and Ralph Macchio will come together for the franchise’s latest installment, Karate Kid 2. Macchio returns as Daniel LaRusso, the star of the original trilogy beginning in 1984, while Chan will reprise his role as Mr. Han, the kung fu master inspired by Mr. Miyagi from the Jaden Smith-led 2010 remake. Plot details remain unknown. The big question is will there be a further connection with the Netflix series, Cobra Kai? Inquiring minds . . .
Mufasa: The Lion King (Dec. 20)
Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins takes the helm of the prequel of the 2019 photorealistic remake, Mufasa: The Lion King. The film will explore the title lion’s origin story, centering on his relationship with his brother Scar, who becomes the main villain in The Lion King. Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, and John Kani reprise their character roles from the remake and are joined by Aaron Pierre and Kelvin Harrison Jr., who voice their young versions of Mufasa and Scar, respectively.
Kinds of Kindness (TBD)
Riding high with Poor Things, director Yorgos Lanthimos third feature with Emma Stone, Kind of Kindness will look to extend their impressive run. Originally titled, AND, Lanthimos has described the film as “a contemporary film, set in the US – three different stories, with four or five actors who play one part in each story, so they all play three different parts.” Lanthimos directs from a script he co-wrote with Efthimis Filippou. The film’s cast features Margaret Qualley and Willem Dafoe, plus Joe Alwyn, Jesse Plemons, Hong Chau, and Hunter Schafer.
One of the biggest stories of 2024 is the return of one of the greatest filmmakers in Hollywood history, Francis Ford Coppola. The five-time Oscar-winner’s utopian epic, Megalopolis centers on a New York woman, whose loyalties are divided between her father, who has a classical view of society, and her architect lover, who is more progressive and ready for the future, who wants to rebuild New York City as a utopia following a devastating disaster. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Aubrey Plaza, Shia LaBeouf, Dustin Hoffman, and Jason Schwartzman.
Mother’s Instinct (TBD)
Two Best Actress Oscar winners Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman electrified the screen in May December. This time around its fellow Oscar winners Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain in Mother’s Instinct, which showcases the friendship of two 1960s housewives whose relationship rapidly deteriorates after a tragedy. Olivier Masset-Depasse directs the domestic drama based on the novel “Derrière la Haine” by Barbara Abel in a What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?-esque story.
The Perfumed Hill (TBD)
Mauritanian-born Malian auteur Abderrahmane Sissako (Timbuktu) returns with a sweeping romantic drama that spans from the Ivory Coast to the tea fields of Guangzhou in The Perfumed Hill. Nina Melo (Girlhood) stars as a woman who ditches her husband-to-be at the altar and flees east from West Africa, eventually meeting — and falling for — a Chinese man (Han Chang) who initiates her in the ancient art of Chinese tea ceremonies.
Pussy Island (TBD)
Zoe Kravitz makes her directorial debut with the post-#MeToo story, Pussy Island. The film centers on a young Los Angeles waitress, Frida (Kravitz) is who has her eye on tech entrepreneur Slater King (Channing Tatum). When she gets to go to an intimate meeting on his private island, she senses there’s more to it than meets the eye. From a screenplay by E.T. Feigenbaum (High Fidelity), Kravitz has only teased the film as a confrontation of modern sexual politics that she began creating in 2017 after her own experiences with men in Hollywood.
Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse (TBD)
When we last left Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), life was crazy in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. The saga continues and will conclude in Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, which will put an exclamation point on the successful series that began with Into the Spider-Verse. The Academy Award-winning debut beat Marvel Studios and DC Studios to the punch with a gripping multiverse-based plot, setting the stage for a triumphant finale. Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Issac, and all of their amazing Spider-friends return for what could be their last adventure.
Luther: Never Too Much (TBD)
Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival is the feature-length documentary on the legendary pop balladeer Luther: Never Too Much. Directed by Emmy Award nominee, Dawn Porter and produced by Oscar winner, Jamie Foxx, and Colin Firth, the story will center on Vandross’ distinguished career, which featured over 40 million records sold, 33 Grammy® nominations (including eight wins), and 11 consecutive Platinum albums, 13 platinum overall – Vandross was a force in the industry and set musical standards for a generation.
Director John Ridley’s biopic of trailblazing political icon, Shirley Chisolm is set to debut this year. Starring Oscar winner Regina King in the title role, Shirley follows the dynamic presidential campaign launched in 1972 by Chisholm. The first Black Congresswoman and the first Black woman to run for President of the U.S., through an exclusive agreement with the Chisolm Estate, the movie will provide an intimate, behind-the-scenes portrait of the Chisolm during a seminal period in modern American history.