Though 2016 has been an epic year for movies, it almost feels like a warm-up when you look at the long list of blockbuster films already on the release calendar for 2017. Even though next year still feels far away, it’s never too early to get excited about taking a trip to the theater, so we’ve lined up the biggest upcoming releases—and whether you’re into action, comedy, horror, or drama, there’s something here for everyone…
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter – January 27
Five years after Resident Evil: Retribution, Milla Jovovich returns to close out the sci-fi horror franchise she’s led for more than a decade—and nearly $1 billion in worldwide grosses. Despite the long lapse between sequels, this sixth installment will reportedly pick up right where Retribution left off while following director Paul W.S. Anderson’s mandate to come full circle with the saga of a dystopian future in which a corporate-created virus has unleashed a zombie plague. In other words, if you haven’t been watching so far, this isn’t the best place to come in—but if the Umbrella Corporation, Raccoon City, and “t-virus” are meaningful phrases for you, then you may want to mark your calendar.
John Wick: Chapter 2 – February 10
After everything he went through in the first movie, what could possibly convince John Wick to come out of retirement? Dog lovers will be relieved to hear it isn’t the death of another pooch that gets his guns blazing in John Wick: Chapter 2—this time, one of John’s old buddies is in the middle of a scheme to topple an assassin’s guild and he needs backup. The circumstances are different, but the end results look pretty much the same: tons of stylish violence with Keanu Reeves in the middle of it all, back in the role he might have been born to play.
The Lego Batman Movie – February 10
Not long ago, the idea of a movie “based on” Legos seemed too silly for words, but then The Lego Movie racked up nearly $470 million while making us all root for plastic bricks (and play “Everything Is Awesome” on endless repeat). Taking the hint, Warner Bros. is diving right in with a universe of Lego-derived films, starting with this spin-off, which brings back Will Arnett as Gotham’s Caped Crusader. He’s joined by an intriguing cast that includes his Arrested Development castmate Michael Cera as Robin, Zach Galifianakis as the Joker, and Mariah Carey as the mayor—and with Lego Movie animation co-director Chris McKay on board to helm the film from a script by Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter director Seth Grahame-Smith, we’re sure plenty of inspired silliness awaits.
The Great Wall – February 17
Zhang Yimou’s sprawling historical fantasy epic The Great Wall has been hit with early backlash over its casting of Matt Damon as the star of what’s otherwise an eastern narrative. But the film has an intriguing (albeit a little ridiculous) idea: The Great Wall of China was built to keep out more than just unwanted human neighbors.
The story was created in part by World War Z novelist Max Brooks, whose book segments about China’s part in the zombie apocalypse were criminally underserved in the cinematic “adaptation” of his story, so this could be a point of serious creative redemption. Plus, the promotional materials have shown some ambitious special effects and stunts, and Bourne hero Damon’s had some strong action successes in the past. From everything we’ve seen so far, The Great Wall will at least be a spectacular showcase of effects-heavy cinematography.
Logan – March 3
Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine for so long that it’s nearly impossible to imagine anyone else in the role of the adamantium-clawed X-Men mutant. Soon, Fox will need to figure out who’ll be the next actor to play the part, but first, Jackman’s getting his swan song with a third standalone Wolverine feature. The film’s plot draws from Marvel’s Old Man Logan comic, about an alternate-future version of the (nearly) ageless hero. The film will also feature the return of Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, adding yet another layer of closure for longtime fans of the franchise.
Kong: Skull Island – March 10
None of the many attempts to expand or remake the story of King Kong have managed to come anywhere near the classic original. But where there’s franchise potential, there’s a would-be blockbuster waiting to happen—so on March 10, 2017, the big guy returns with Kong: Skull Island. Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts (The Kings of Summer) and starring Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, and Samuel L. Jackson, this ’70s-set trip into the Kong mythos gives viewers the biggest version of the character they’ve ever seen—which is a good thing for Kong, because after Skull Island finishes its theatrical run, Legendary is planning to pit him against Godzilla in a monster mashup for the ages.
Beauty and the Beast – March 17
Disney’s campaign to turn each of their animated classics into live-action blockbusters continues with Beauty and the Beast, which offers a new perspective on their 1991 hit. Like Disney’s earlier Beauty, this version draws inspiration from the classic fairy tale about a prince (played here by Dan Stevens) who’s cursed with a grotesque appearance, yet finds love with a pure-hearted maiden (Emma Watson) imprisoned in his castle after her father (Kevin Kline) offers her up in a deal to spare his own life. Like a lot of stories from the era, it’s rather dark, but Disney’s animated adaptation put a family-friendly spin on it with music and humor, and we can expect the same here—plus a cast that includes Ewan McGregor and Sir Ian McKellen.
Power Rangers – March 24
Go Go Power Rangers! Whether or not you’ve ever had a preference for the red, yellow, pink, blue, black, or even the occasionally-seen green or white rangers, those ninja steel-wielding high schoolers were loads of fun to watch (and dress up as) back in the day. The forthcoming Power Rangers isn’t the first movie to capitalize on the mighty morphin ’90s craze, of course. During the original family television series’ popular run, the show’s cast members teamed up for a big-screen adventure in the somewhat successful 1995 film Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, which was quickly followed up by 1997’s Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie and several spinoff series.
However, Director Dean Israelite’s take on the story offers a much more serious and emotionally charged account of how these misfit teens managed to become a band of unlikely world saviors, battling back the forces of evil—namely, Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks)—with the help of their sage mentor Zordon (Bryan Cranston). The film features young actors Dacre Montgomery, R.J. Cyler, Naomi Scott, Becky G., Zack Taylor, and Billy Cranston as the superhero squad, and if the film does manage to renew even a smidgen of the Power Rangers frenzy that the series enjoyed in the ’90s, it’s going to be massive.
Ghost in the Shell – March 31
Rupert Sanders’ adaptation of the popular Masamune Shirow manga series of the same name has been riddled with controversy over its “whitewashed” casting of Scarlett Johansson as the main heroine, the Mayor. But Johansson’s box office track record is still nothing to discount, and Sanders and Johansson also received the in-person blessings of Mamoru Oshii, Kenji Jamiyama, and Kenji Kawaii, who were each responsible for the original animated versions of the story.
Assuming audiences can look past the controversy surrounding the racial inconsistencies from page to screen, Ghost in the Shell is expected to be a visual spectacular that chronicles an epic chase between a cyborg policewoman and a dangerous hacker with the same kind of gnarly effects and existential futurism that captivated audiences in films like The Matrix, Johansson’s own turn in Lucy, and The Fifth Element.
The Fate of the Furious – April 14
The fate of the Furious franchise seemed a bit uncertain in the wake of star Paul Walker’s sudden passing in 2013, which complicated production of 2015’s Furious 7 and put the burden of additional expectations on his longtime co-star and friend, Vin Diesel. But with nearly $4 billion in worldwide grosses, Universal wasn’t about to garage its gearhead soap opera, so like clockwork, the gang will return for an eighth installment—and one that’s already being set up as a callback to previous chapters as well as a springboard into a new trilogy that will reportedly see stories pivot away from the heist capers of recent sequels and into a spy saga spearheaded by Kurt Russell’s Frank Petty character.
According to the official synopsis, the new sequel—titled The Fate of the Furious—finds Dom (Vin Diesel) lured back “into the world of crime he can’t seem to escape and a betrayal of those closest to him” by a “mysterious woman” (Charlize Theron), setting up another worldwide adventure that sends our crew “from the shores of Cuba and the streets of New York City to the icy plains off the arctic Barents Sea.” Listen carefully and under the roar of the motors, you can already hear the box office cash registers ringing.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5
Initially, it seemed like a hilariously dumb idea for Marvel to turn a relatively obscure comic about a ragtag team of intergalactic do-gooders—whose ranks include a raccoon-like creature and an alien resembling a sentient tree—into a $200 million movie. Nearly $775 million in box office receipts later, Guardians of the Galaxy could be the start of an Avengers-style franchise for the studio, and Chris Pratt, whose biggest credit prior to taking on the role of Peter “Star-Lord” Quill came as doughy doofus Andy Dwyer in NBC’s Parks & Recreation, is a full-on action hero. The gang’s all back for Vol. 2, along with writer-director James Gunn, and while we don’t have many details regarding what they’ll be up to this time around, we’re confident it’ll be tons of fun.
Alien: Covenant – May 19
With 2012’s Prometheus, Ridley Scott made his eagerly awaited return to the Alien franchise by way of a prequel that hinted at the long-ago beginnings of his blockbuster saga’s story. Under the weight of decades’ worth of sequels, spinoffs, and expectations, the end result couldn’t help but disappoint some viewers, and in spite of a $400 million gross and largely positive reviews, there’s a sense of unfinished business hanging over the sequel. Fans who feel Prometheus didn’t tie into the Alien films strongly enough might be better served by Alien: Covenant, which brings back Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace to show what happens after they hijack an ancient spacecraft in order to venture to the homeworld of the mysterious Engineers and halt their plans for humanity.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – May 26
Pre-production on this fifth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean saga started back when the previous sequel, 2011’s On Stranger Tides, was on its way to theaters, and its path through development has been strewn with script difficulties and budget-induced delays. Still, any new chapter in a franchise that’s grossed nearly $4 billion counts as a promising development for the studio, and Disney has stood by while producer Jerry Bruckheimer steered Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales to its destination. Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki), this adventure sees Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow face off against an old nemesis played by Javier Bardem—and sees the return of Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner in his new guise as Davy Jones.
Wonder Woman – June 2
After being introduced to audiences in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman will get her own standalone feature, which is rumored to be the first installment in a period-piece trilogy that will take audiences from the 1920s to the present day. Monster director Patty Jenkins is at the helm, with a screenplay from Pan writer Jason Fuchs. Meanwhile, Gadot will be surrounded by a supporting cast that includes Chris Pine, Robin Wright, and Danny Huston. Whatever actually happens in the movie, it’s a long-overdue victory for comics fans who’ve waited years for the Amazonian warrior to get a shot at her own big-screen franchise—and it may help Warner Bros. gain a demographic edge on Marvel in the superhero blockbuster arms race.
World War Z 2 – June 9
For a movie that tried to spin an action-thriller yarn out of a bestseller that used the oral history format to tell the story of a worldwide zombie outbreak—and had an infamously troubled production in the bargain—World War Z turned out to be a surprisingly entertaining (not to mention extremely commercially successful) film. Which brings us to the inevitable sequel, World War Z 2, in which Brad Pitt returns to battle the zombie plague. We don’t know much about the plot at this point, but director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible) will be working from a screenplay by Steven Knight, whose varied list of credits includes the chess drama Pawn Sacrifice and Bradley Cooper’s Burnt.
Cars 3 – June 16
ev up your engines, kids, because Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is back in high-speed action in Disney-Pixar’s Cars 3. The 3D animated adventure, which follows the events of 2006’s Cars and 2011’s Cars 2, will follow the famous red race car on his journey to catch up with a new generation of speedsters and feature the return of some fan favorites like Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), Sally Carrera (Bonnie Hunt), and Ramone (Cheech Marin) while adding fresh fuel to the cinematic tank by way of yellow car and race technician Cruz Ramirez and the rookie racer McQueen longs to defeat, Jackson Storm. Considering how well the first two films (and spinoffs Planes and Planes: Fire & Rescue) have done at the box office, this one’s sure to be a hit with the summertime family crowd.
Transformers: The Last Knight – June 23
Every time Michael Bay thinks he’s out of the Transformers franchise, they pull him back in with a fresh boatload of cash. Bay’s been making noises about being done with Optimus Prime and his buddies for years, and was initially only on board to produce this installment in the series. But the executives at Paramount must have been pretty persuasive, because he’s still in the director’s seat for what he insists will be his final Transformers film. Aside from Mark Wahlberg being back as the saga’s current human star, The Last Knight looks like it’ll plunge viewers into a time-traveling plot that includes King Arthur and an alternate history in which Nazis won World War II—plus plenty of action and lots of lead-ins to the assortment of spinoff films the studio’s planning.
Despicable Me 3 – June 30
From its humble beginnings as a cartoon about a funny-looking supervillain who sets out to steal the moon and ends up adopting three adorable munchkins, Despicable Me has grown into an impressively adaptable franchise for Universal. In addition to 2013’s Despicable Me 2, it’s also spun off a prequel (2015’s Minions), six short films, three video games, and a theme park attraction—and as we can see from the 2017 release schedule, it isn’t done yet. Details are still very sketchy regarding this third installment, but we can safely assume Steve Carell will be back as the nefarious (but kinda cuddly) Gru—and we know he’ll be working from a script written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, who collaborated on the first two films.
Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7
Sony’s hopes for a Spider-Man film universe were dealt an embarrassing setback after director Marc Webb’s reboots underperformed. But even if we aren’t getting a Sinister Six or Venom movie anytime soon, the core franchise remains a top priority at the studio—as evidenced by this new reboot, which will find Tom Holland starring as the web-slinger in a standalone film while doing double duty as a supporting player in a number of Marvel movies (starting with Captain America: Civil War). Jon Watts, who helmed the creepy low-budget Kevin Bacon thriller Cop Car, is on board as director for a storyline that features Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark playing mentor to young Spidey in his battle against the Vulture (Michael Keaton).
War for the Planet of the Apes – July 14
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves returns for this follow-up, which picks up from Dawn’s final scene—a grim foreshadowing of the major conflict brewing between genetically enhanced primates and a human population decimated by a virus dubbed the Simian Flu. Andy Serkis is back as the apes’ leader, Caesar, whose journey from young chimp to noble warrior has formed the backbone for the franchise’s overall arc. He’s joined by Steve Zahn (as a new ape) and Woody Harrelson (as a character known as the Colonel, reportedly the film’s chief antagonist). Reeves, who co-wrote the script, is keeping storyline details under wraps, but says the events depicted in War for the Planet of the Apes see Caesar achieving “mythic” status.
Dunkirk – July 21
After a decade spent in the sci-fi/fantasy realm, writer-director Christopher Nolan has put his considerable talents to work on a historical drama about a World War II battle. Dunkirk reunites Nolan with a pair of his Dark Knight and Inception alums, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, and early footage hearkens back to the heart-pounding beachfront battle imagery in the legendary opening scene from Saving Private Ryan.
Nolan’s attention to historical detail on the partial IMAX production—including shooting on the site of the real-life events that inspired it—will no doubt serve his tale of heroism and survival well. And considering his box office track record, Dunkirk is sure to be a summer blockbuster that’s much more engrossing than the usual generic popcorn fare.
The Dark Tower – July 28
Of all the adaptations Stephen King’s written works have produced, Nikolaj Arcel’s The Dark Tower has to be the most anticipated. The sci-fi western horror film will follow the events of King’s prolific Dark Tower book series—reportedly picking up some time after the ending of The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, with elements from the first book, The Gunslinger.
The story will present the apocalyptic adventure of an 11-year-old boy named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) as he accidentally uncovers the Mid-World dimension and joins up with Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) to find the Dark Tower before the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) can stop him from saving his dimension from certain destruction. Like King’s book series, the film will juxtapose Wild West-style revolver action with supernatural elements and fantastic locales that constitute their own, radical plane of reality. The King faithful are sure to turn up for this long-overdue Hollywood treatment of the beloved series, especially with Elba and McConaughey’s star power driving the narrative.
IT – September 8
The 1991 TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s IT amassed a cult following but, unfortunately, the four-hour feature’s laughable special effects and disorienting cutaway-style editing haven’t aged well. Tim Curry’s original performance as the town-terrorizing clown Pennywise still set a high bar for anyone to follow in the role, though—his signature cackle remains a chilling childhood memory for many—so when director Andrés Muschietti revealed his new version of the character (now played by Bill Skarsgård) in a costume that could’ve easily been borrowed from a schoolgirl’s dress-up chest, it’s only natural that he faced a little blowback.
There’s still reason to believe this thing will be a hit with the King faithful, though. There’s a bevy of talent on board, including Skarsgård and Finn Wolfhard (of the breakthrough young cast from Stranger Things), and there were plenty of scenes from the book that were glossed over in the first adaptation. IT is just one of two chapters in the story of an ageless monster who picks the wrong group of kids to mess with; part two is expected to pick up their story as adults, when they reunite to grapple with it again.
Blade Runner 2049 – October 6
What kind of chutzpah does a person need to have in order to try and follow up a towering sci-fi classic like Blade Runner? It’s a daunting task to say the least, but Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve has a few big things going for him—most importantly, the presence of original Blade Runner director Ridley Scott, who’s producing, and star Harrison Ford, reprising his role as Rick Deckard. Ford’s joined by an ensemble rounded out by Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, and Jared Leto (not to mention Dave “Drax” Bautista), all working from a script co-written by Blade Runner writer Hampton Fancher with Michael Green (Logan, Alien: Covenant). Storyline details are under wraps and whether the end result can stand up alongside the original obviously remains to be seen, but all the ingredients are here for a helluva movie.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle – October 6
The creative team behind 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service reunites for this sequel, with director Matthew Vaughn continuing to work with characters created by comics legends Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. The plot details are still a little loose—rumor has it that the Kingsman British spy team will team up with their American equivalents after their headquarters are destroyed by a lethal foe—but who needs a synopsis when you’ve got a cast this intriguingly weird? Returning stars Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, and Sophie Cookson are joined by an eclectic ensemble that includes Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, and Elton John. Also reportedly in the mix? Kingsman star Colin Firth, who—if you’ve seen the original—is kind of a surprising addition. Whatever happens in The Golden Circle, we’re betting it won’t be dull.
Friday the 13th Reboot – October 13
ity today’s young film fans, for they’ve never experienced the cheesy joy that was being treated to regular installments of Friday the 13th throughout the ’80s. Between 1980 and 1989, the hockey-masked slasher Jason Voorhees hacked his way through scores of screaming nubile victims in eight films—although by the end of the decade, the franchise had started to teeter between stale and ridiculous, and subsequent attempts to extend or reboot the character’s mythology have failed to draw much of a following. This latest overhaul arrives nearly a decade after the last reboot, which grossed nearly $100 million. Although little is known about the plot, we’re pretty sure it has to do with a guy in a hockey mask chopping sexed-up teens to bits.
Saw: Legacy – October 27
Lionsgate was definitely playing a game by presenting 2010’s Saw 3D: The Final Chapter as the very last round of Jigsaw’s punishing plans. While details are scant on what the newest round of trap-filled thrills will bring, composer Charlie Clouser told The Hollywood Reporter that the eighth installment of the franchise will be a “reinvention” of the series and that co-directors Michael and Peter Spierig offer “a fresh take on the material that will establish a new storyline and new characters that can carry the saga into the future.”
Some speculate that the new flick will pick up material left on the screenwriting table by Saw 3D, as that film was originally supposed to be split in two. As screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan revealed to Bloody-Digusting.com, the return of Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) to the final installment was supposed to be a little more eventful than it already was. “The big reveal of Dr. Gordon was a bit underserved as a result [of not being split into two], perhaps creating more questions than answers. There were several ideas we never quite figured out, but I don’t want to say what they were because you never know what might happen in the future.”
Thor: Ragnarok – November 3
In Norse mythology, Ragnarök is an apocalyptic series of events that results in the world being plunged into water after the deaths of several gods—including Odin, Thor, and Loki—and culminates in a planetary rebirth. Needless to say, it’s obvious from the title that Thor: Ragnarok won’t be a jolly good time for our hammer-wielding hero (Chris Hemsworth), although we can guess from his imminent participation in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War movies that he’ll emerge relatively unscathed after the final act. Whatever happens here, he’ll be joined by Mark Ruffalo, reprising his Marvel Universe role as Bruce Banner/the Hulk, and working under the direction of New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi, who earned raves for his 2014 vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows.
Justice League – November 17
Marvel has done a brilliant job of laying out the template for a successful shared universe, and now Warner Bros. is following in its rival’s footsteps with its DC Comics properties, which are due to get their first moments in the all-star superhero team spotlight with Justice League. Director Zack Snyder has already agreed to helm, and confirmed members of the cast include stars from the studio’s pre-existing franchises, including Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, and Ben Affleck, as Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, respectively. While we don’t yet have any idea what danger our team will face, we do know it’ll be serious enough to attract the attention of Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). And with a sequel already scheduled for 2019, you can bet the battle won’t end here.
Star Wars: Episode VIII – December 15
This is Star Wars we’re talking about, so the list of things we truly know about Episode VIII is awfully short. But we do know a couple of important facts: one, Rian Johnson (Looper) will be in the director’s chair; and two, most of Episode VII’s cast will be back, including Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver, along with OG franchise stars Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. Beyond that, pretty much all we can tell you is that this installment follows the events of Episode VII, and advances the new trilogy pitting the Resistance against the First Order led by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his apprentice Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Oh, and another thing: it’ll sell tons of tickets.