It’s no secret that the landscape of film and its consumption is changing. Spurred on even more by a global pandemic that forced us to remain home and watch movies we never would have found the time to watch, our viewing habits have evolved. Trips to the theaters are saved for the bigger blockbuster releases rather than the lesser-known indie flicks that are getting sent to streaming services in two weeks anyway.
However, believe or not, prior to 2020, theater ticket sales had been fairly consistent for the previous 30 years. It’s just that consumers had become more selective with what they were paying all that money to go see on a Friday night. In 2023, enthusiasm for cinema is higher than ever, regardless of the format. Last year claims two of the top 12 highest-grossing releases of all time with Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick — the latter of which was totally unexpected. Which movies from this year will surprise us the most, or even become iconic? The only way to find out is to watch them for yourselves. These are the 30 most anticipated movies coming out this year that deserve our attention.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Marvel is slated to have a big year in 2023, and the third Ant-Man outing will put those plans in motion as the first film in the MCU’s Phase Five. Historically the palate-cleanser of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man movies of the past have typically offered relatively low-stakes action-comedy adventures with a touch of quantum physics. Now, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and company embark on their most treacherous journey yet, venturing to the Quantum Realm where they face off against the time-traveling villain, Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), whose alternate-timeline version was first introduced in the Loki TV series.
Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Jonathan Majors, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Kathryn Newton
The Rocky franchise is a beast in its own right. With six original installments already, the boxing series finally got a spin-off film in 2015 about the son of Rocky Balboa’s former rival Apollo Creed. Michael B. Jordan plays Adonis Creed, a young fighter on his own path to glory. In his directorial debut, Jordan helms the third part in the spin-off series, which follows his titular hero as he deals with his burgeoning success, now having to face off against a ghost from his past.
Director: Michael B. Jordan
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors
It’s not uncommon for horror franchises to go for at least six installments, but rarely are each of those installments as good as every entry for the Scream franchise. Created by Kevin Williamson (who still serves as executive producer), 1996’s Scream was a cultural phenomenon and almost instantly shifted the landscape of the floundering horror genre. This newest, sixth installment follows the events of last year’s legacy sequel as the survivors move to New York City only to be terrorized by the Ghostface killer once again.
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Starring: Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, Hayden Panettiere, Courteney Cox
Shazam! Fury of the Gods
2019’s Shazam! was a surprise hit for DC. David F. Sandberg returns to direct the next chapter, which stars Zachary Levi as Billy Batson, a foster kid who transforms into a superhero every time he says “Shazam.” Following the end of the previous film when his foster siblings all acquire super powers as well, the sequel sees them venturing around the world making peace with the gods whose powers Billy took advantage of early on. Henry Gayden, who penned the first film, is joined by Fast & Furious veteran Chris Morgan on the screenplay.
Director: David F. Sandberg
Starring: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Rachel Zegler, Adam Brody, Ross Butler, Meagan Good, Lucy Liu, Djimon Hounsou, Helen Mirren
John Wick: Chapter 4
Few realized that when Derek Kolstad and Chad Stahelski’s John Wick debuted in 2014 that not only would it produce three successful installments but that it would spark an entirely new genre of Oldboy-inspired, hyper-stylized, minimalist neo-noir action thrillers that revolve around aging former assassins venturing back into the bowels of the criminal underworld. Keanu Reeves returns for his fourth outing as John Wick, as does Stahelski in the director’s chair. However, this will be the first without Kolstad behind the scenes.
Director: Chad Stahelski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Donnie Yen
The Super Mario Bros. Movie
It’s been a long time coming since everybody’s favorite plumber had another theatrical outing of his own — 30 years, to be exact. Already shaping up to be a far cry from the divisive 1993 live-action effort, The Super Mario Bros. Movie stars Chris Pratt in the titular role, with Jack Black as the villainous King Koopa, Bowser. Now, Nintendo’s first film, in partnership with Illumination and Universal, brings Mario’s world to life as he and Luigi (Charlie Day) venture through the Mushroom Kingdom with Bowser in tow.
Director: Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic
Starring: Chris Pratt, Charlie Day, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black
Universal’s 1931 Dracula movie starring Bela Lugosi established the iconic caricature of the titular vampire and helped establish horror as an actual genre, launching the studio’s Monster Movies series. Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie, The Tomorrow War) is hoping to further Nicolas Cage’s current hot streak with an outside-the-box idea that reboots Universal’s original film in a modern-day New Orleans with a comedic, yet violent, angle. Cage stars as Count Dracula while Nicholas Hoult plays Renfield, Dracula’s subservient victim-turned-vampire who recently falls in love with a traffic cop (Awkwafina).
Director: Chris McKay
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Nicholas Hoult, Awkwafina
Beau Is Afraid
Filmmaker Ari Aster only has two full-length projects under his belt, but both horror flicks — Hereditary and Midsommar — became culturally ubiquitous in the meantime due to their thought-provoking content and penchant for sticking with you long after the credits roll. His highly-anticipated third outing, Beau Is Afraid, is said to be a “surrealist horror film” set in an alternate present. Joaquin Phoenix is in the title role as Beau, a character with mommy and daddy issues who ventures home after the death of his mother.
Director: Ari Aster
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Simply put, Guardians of the Galaxy threw a wrench in the increasing sameness of superhero movies upon its 2014 release. Since then, James Gunn’s intergalactic rascals have become synonymous with irreverence and twisted humor, and serve as an example of how to disrupt an industry. The third installment sees the band of misfits meet up with two new adversaries, Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) and Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), who were created to destroy them.
Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Will Poulter
Over two decades later, the Fast & Furious franchise hasn’t skipped a beat and even continues to evolve nicely. However, its upcoming tenth release will be the first in a two-part finale for the main series. Following a ninth installment that showed us how fan service should be handled — expanding on lore, balancing its massive cast of characters, and pushing the limits (atmospheric and otherwise) of what automobiles can do on screen — Fast & Furious 10, or Fast X, will feature Dominic Toretto and gang as they face their new challenger. Brie Larson joins the cast as an ally named Tess, while Jason Momoa plays the villain, Dante. Director Louis Leterrier (The Transporter, Now You See Me) replaced Justin Lin (who co-wrote the script) shortly after filming began.
Director: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Momoa, John Cena, Brie Larson, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Charlize Theron
The Little Mermaid
Disney’s upcoming adaptation of its 1989 animated classic is the next in its divisive series of live-action remakes. However, unlike the lackluster execution of some of the others, The Little Mermaid has been in development since 2016 and is directed by someone with plenty of experience with movie musicals. Rob Marshall, who helmed the Best Picture-winning Chicago, as well as Nine and Into the Woods, directs Halle Bailey as Ariel, a mermaid who falls in love with a human. Likewise, the screenwriting team of David Magee and Jane Goldman has the likes of Life of Pi, Finding Neverland, and X-Men: First Class under its belt. We shall see how Ariel’s adventure stacks up against the likes of Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin and Craig Gillespie’s Cruella.
Director: Rob Marshall
Starring: Halle Bailey, Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay, Awkwafina, Jonah Hauer-King, Javier Bardem, Melissa McCarthy
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
As an origins tale for Miles Morales’ Spider-Man, 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse fired on all cylinders, showing new possibilities of the multiverse concept for filmgoers and pleasing audiences with its humor, storytelling, and fresh animation style — which blends modern techniques with old-school comic book aesthetics. Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson, this year’s sequel from Marvel assembles a team of “Spider-People” from across different alternate universes as they try to stop the somewhat obscure supervillain, The Spot, whose body consists of small portals to different dimensions.
Director: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson
Starring: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Jake Johnson, Issa Rae, Daniel Kaluuya, Jason Schwartzman
Following 2021’s The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City is set in 1955 in a desert town that’s hosting an annual scholarly competition. Featuring an ensemble cast of WA regulars such as Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, and Bill Murray, the film also hosts several big-name newcomers like Tom Hanks and Margot Robbie. Not much else is known about the film, but those are the kind of surprises Wes Anderson diehards don’t mind waiting for.
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Rupert Friend
Few movies coming out this year (or in recent years) have been as tumultuous behind the scenes as DC’s The Flash. And if it weren’t for its time-traveling premise, the proven talent behind the camera, and the fact that it’s the first-ever standalone feature for the superhero synonymous with supersonic speed, said tumult would likely make us shrug and walk away — or at least be less excited. In development since the ‘80s, the project didn’t start getting traction until 2014 or so. It stars Ezra Miller as the titular hero, who just figured out how to travel through time during the events of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Now, he uses his new skill to prevent the murder of his mother.
Director: Andy Muschietti
Starring: Ezra Miller, Ron Livingston, Michael Keaton, Kiersey Clemons, Michael Shannon
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Despite your opinions on 2008’s divisive Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it’s hard to deny that seeing Harrison Ford don the hat and whip for a fifth outing wouldn’t be at least a little exciting, if not intriguing. At times bigger than the films themselves, the legacy of Indiana Jones spans over 40 years now and has sparked countless imitations and even a prequel series. Set in 1969 prior to the Moon landing, the latest installment is the first without Steven Spielberg in the director’s chair, but it seems to be in good hands with James Mangold, whose previous two efforts were the acclaimed Ford v Ferrari and Logan. Here, Indy faces off against a former Nazi (Mads Mikkelsen) who now works for NASA with ulterior motives.
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas, John Rhys-Davies
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
It’s difficult to recall another franchise that has gotten consistently better with each new installment like Mission: Impossible has — let alone with six films under its belt. The upcoming seventh, titled Dead Reckoning Part One, is the first in a two-part conclusion to the tale of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), the leader of a team of operatives known as the Impossible Missions Force (IMF), which consists of field agent Benji (Simon Pegg), Ethan’s best friend, the tech-savvy Luther (Ving Rhames), and former MI6 agent Ilsa (Rebecca Ferguson). Much of the plot has been kept under wraps, but we do know Vanessa Kirby returns as the villainous black-market dealer Alanna Mitsopolis, as does Henry Czerny, who reprises his role from the very first film back in 1996. Likewise, Christopher McQuarrie returns to write and direct, which he did on the previous two installments as well.
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Vanessa Kirby
A live-action movie about Barbie shouldn’t pique our interest like Greta Gerwig’s upcoming movie, but the Oscar-nominated writer-director has tapped a cast that includes Margot Robbie in the title role and Ryan Gosling as her beau, Ken. However, names like Will Ferrell, Michael Cera, Issa Rae, Kingsley Ben-Adir, and Kate McKinnon ensure that this seemingly-surreal take on the world’s most famous toy doll is bubbling with bizarre potential.
Director: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling
When Christopher Nolan makes a new movie, you stop and pay attention. Following 2020’s notoriously confusing Tenet, the Master of Entanglement’s latest endeavor, Oppenheimer, is based on a true story about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man responsible for the creation of nuclear weapons. Cillian Murphy plays the titular physicist, while Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Florence Pugh, Benny Safdie, Josh Hartnett, and Kenneth Branagh round out the cast.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Florence Pugh, Benny Safdie, Josh Hartnett, Kenneth Branagh
Nia DaCosta follows her impressive Candyman sequel from 2021 with The Marvels, the sequel to Marvel’s 2019 film Captain Marvel and TV series Ms. Marvel (you read that correctly). It teams up the heroines from those two stories (played by Brie Larson and Iman Vellani, respectively) with Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) from WandaVision as inexplicably begin switching places with one another whenever they use their powers.
Director: Nia DaCosta
Starring: Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, Teyonah Parris, Samuel L. Jackson
Directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium), this feature film based on the long-running video game series stars David Harbour and Orlando Bloom. It follows the true story of Jann Mardenborough, a teenage professional video game player who dreams of becoming a real-life race car driver. Jason Hall (American Sniper) and Zach Baylin (King Richard) wrote the screenplay.
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Starring: David Harbour, Orlando Bloom
If you were disappointed with Disney’s 2003 Haunted Mansion movie starring Eddie Murphy, gear up for a brand-new adaptation of the theme park ride. Director Justin Simien’s latest endeavor looks to up the scares and suppress the wackiness from the original, featuring a star-studded cast that includes Rosario Dawson, LaKeith Stanfield, Jared Leto, Winona Ryder, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Set in New Orleans, Dawson plays a single mom who moves her family into a creepy old house with some secrets.
Director: Justin Simien
Starring: Rosario Dawson, LaKeith Stanfield, Jared Leto, Winona Ryder, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, Jamie Lee Curtis
A Haunting in Venice
With the third entry in his Agatha Christie murder mystery adaptations following Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile, Kenneth Branagh directs A Haunting in Venice where he also stars as detective Hercule Poirot. Based on Christie’s novel Hallowe’en Party, the film follows the detective at a séance where a guest is killed. Written by Michael Green (Blade Runner 2049, Logan), the film looks to take a darker angle than its predecessors. It also stars Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, and Michelle Yeoh.
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Kyle Allen, Camille Cottin, Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey, Jude Hill, Kelly Reilly, Michelle Yeoh
Dune: Part Two
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune adaptation was a tall task, to say the least. Previously thought to be unfilmable, Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel of the same name was adapted once before by David Lynch in 1984. Villeneuve, one of the finest filmmakers of this generation, proved naysayers wrong in 2021 with Part One of his saga, which came out even before Part Two was greenlit and got nominated for Best Picture. The sequel covers the latter half of Herbert’s book and follows Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides following his introduction to and joining of the Fremen tribe.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
When Suzanne Collins came out with a surprise prequel to her Hunger Games book series in 2020, fanatics were instantly clamoring for the inevitable film adaptation. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is set 64 years prior to the original series and follows a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) — the villain from the original — during the 10th Hunger Games event. The rest of the cast includes Rachel Zegler as his love interest, Jason Schwartzman, Viola Davis, and Peter Dinklage.
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Tom Blyth, Rachel Zegler, Jason Schwartzman, Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage
Roald Dahl’s detest of 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is well documented. However, most don’t realize that Dahl is actually credited with writing the screenplay for the movie even though he left the project after creative differences for its deviation from the source material: Dahl’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Paul King (Paddington, Paddington 2) directs and co-writes a prequel to the children’s novel, although it seems the project still honors the spirit of the immensely popular ‘71 movie as well. Timothée Chalamet plays the titular Wonka in his early years before living the dream as the world’s most famous candy maker.
Director: Paul King
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Keegan-Michael Key, Sally Hawkins
Untitled Ghostbusters Afterlife Sequel
Jason Reitman’s 2021 long-awaited and formerly-never-happening Ghostbusters: Afterlife was a surprise hit for both fans and critics alike. Led by a solid cast of Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, McKenna Grace, and Finn Wolfhard, the distant sequel to the ‘80s classics opened up a new tale from the ashes of the original. Following the family of the deceased Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), the film also featured significant cameos from the three surviving legacy characters, played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Ernie Hudson. Not much is known about the upcoming sequel, but the main cast is set to return, along with at least Aykroyd and Hudson, as they leave Oklahoma and head to New York City to save the world from more ghosts.
Director: Gil Kenan
Starring: Mckenna Grace, Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
As the DC universe gets a massive overhaul with James Gunn recently becoming co-chairman and -CEO of DC Studios, Aquaman 2 looks to be the last hurrah for fans of the controversial Zack Snyder Era. A shining light amidst a franchise plagued with comparisons to its rival studio, Marvel, James Wan’s first Aquaman from 2018 was majestic, dark, beautifully-shot, and actually quite fun. Wan stays on board for the sequel and we can only hope the adventure continues once more.
Director: James Wan
Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Kidman
Following the recent trend of contained biopics, Michael Mann’s Ferrari follows Enzo Ferrari, played by Adam Driver, in a single chapter of his life as he readies for the 1957 Mille Miglia. At the same time, he’s dealing with marital issues involving his wife, played by Penélope Cruz, and his mistress, played by Shailene Woodley. This will be the legendary Mann’s first feature since 2015’s Black Hat and the follow-up to his well-received TV series Tokyo Vice, on which he serves as a showrunner.
Director: Michael Mann
Starring: Adam Driver, Penélope Cruz, Shailene Woodley
Not a lot is known about David Fincher’s upcoming neo-noir thriller, The Killer, but his follow-up to the Best Picture nominee Mank should be nothing short of masterful, like always. Penned by his Se7en collaborator Andrew Kevin Walker, the new neo-noir thriller is based on a French graphic novel series by Alexis Nolent about an assassin who begins losing his mind as he awaits his next target. No release date has been set, but the project, which stars Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton, has already wrapped filming.
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Tilda Swinton
Killers of the Flower Moon
His first feature film since 2019’s The Irishman, Martin Scorcese’s latest endeavor, entitled Killers of the Flower Moon, follows Robert de Niro as an Oklahoman rancher who’s planning on killing members of an Osage Native American tribe after discovering oil on their land. Based on David Grann’s 2017 novel, the ‘20s-era Western period piece also features a star-studded cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, Brendan Fraser, and John Lithgow.
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, Brendan Fraser, John Lithgow
The Essential Alfred Hitchcock Movies to Watch
Love film and need help with what to watch next? Dive into the catalog of cinema’s finest with the help of our guide to the most essential Alfred Hitchcock movies ever.