Looking forward to upcoming movies is one of the most exciting things for film fans. We’re talking about films that are in development here. That means they’ve been green lit but they haven’t yet released a trailer that either gives everything away or severely disappoints you. Many of the films on this list have casts and directors attached to them by this point. In several of the cases, it’s actually the cast and/or directors that makes the film highly anticipated.
You’ll also find that almost of all the films on this list are adaptations or sequels of some sort. Now before you start looking at everyone else to see if they’re groaning so you know if you should groan as well, hear us out. How the hell are we supposed to get excited about an original film that we know nothing about? We need something to go off of, so we’re going to base our excited anticipation on the source material. This is a practice we like to call, “having something to base our excited anticipation on.”
Now that we’ve got that off our chest, we need to deal with the “if done right” portion of the title. All the films in the pipeline for the next few years look excellent on paper. They wouldn’t be green lit if they weren’t. Therefore, what we’ve done to narrow down the list, is choose the films that have the strongest teams connected to them. You might think that the Academy and all the awards shows are one giant circular jerkular, but whether you admit it or not, great films, like final poker tables, include many of the same people not by coincidence. So, let’s get it started. Here are 15 films in development that will blow minds… if done right.
15. Star Wars: Han Solo
You take directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, gents who understand comedy-action and have done it will both critical and commercial success (The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street) and add in an excellent cast, Ahlden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke and Woody Harrelson, and you’ve got guaranteed success, right? We wish. That’s not always how it works, but we want it to be the case here. The hype train for Donald Glover is already at warp speed, people everywhere excited about his Lando Calrissian, but there’s some doubt about the film as a whole. Prequels and origin stories play a dangerous game. They threaten the very character fabric of the original films. In A New Hope, Han Solo is a slimeball who grows into a loveable character. If you humanize him in Han Solo film, you weaken the growth he has in ANH. What’s the solution then? Well, essential character growth in a film can work many ways. We know that Solo is a good guy deep down, but Han Solo might do well to show his devolution into a slimeball. Success will be judged if Solo ends off the same way he begins in ANH. Everything else is secondary. We won’t know the outcome until 2018.
14. The Alchemist
It’s one of the most translated and globally recognized books in the world, which has become a graphic novel, and now it’s going to be a movie. Well, really the idea of turning The Alchemist into a film has been around for a while. This time, however, it seems to be really happening. Like all adaptations, there’s a risk in trying to make the film into something the source material is not. The book is beautifully simple and beautiful because it’s simple. It’s a coming of age story meant for the coming of age. If they target that younger audience, it can be extremely powerful. Whoever helms this adaptation really doesn’t have to look any further than Ang Lee‘s Life of Pi for inspiration.
Set to be directed by Steve McQueen, his first film since winning the Academy Award for Best Picture with 12 Years a Slave and starring Viola Davis, almost certainly fresh off of winning her first Academy Award, Widows sounds fantastic. The film is about a group of robbers who are killed in action, leaving the job up to their widows. Basically, it’s a female heist/gangster movie. Now before you start thinking about Set It Off or Mad Money (or any other heist movie with Queen Latifah), this one has a solid director and lead actress at the top of their games. Expect good things.
12. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
This list could have been written 20 years ago and this film would have been on it. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has been in development hell since the late 90s. Even still this poor film is delayed. Yet here we are. We’re talking about it because it has to be awesome. Assuming it goes forward as it is planned today, it will star Monty Python alum, Michael Palin, Adam Driver and Olga Krylenko. Essentially, it’s a modern retelling of the classic Don Quixote story. The best part about retelling this particular story is that a) it’s a classic which means it’s a great story, b) the majority of people have no idea what the story is even about, so it’s not like it has massive expectations to live up to. His recent failures aside, Gilliam does have a great knack for comedy and surrealism, both elements that will play into this film. Let’s just pray together that it eventually gets made.
11. I Think We’re Alone Now
I think we’re alone now. There doesn’t seem to be anyone around. And now that you have that song stuck in your head, let’s talk about the movie I Think We’re Alone Now. This is a post-apocalyptic film about a guy (Peter Dinklage) who wants to be the last man in the world and is loving it when that comes true, at least, before he finds out that he’s not alone and meets a girl (Elle Fanning). Directed by relative newcomer Reed Morano, we expect this film to change the rules about post-apocalyptic films and focus on some of the darker character traits that it would draw out, something Morano seemed interested in her first feature Meadowland. More than anything, the two leads are absolute powerhouses who can drive a film all on their own; together, we expect magic.
Yep, we’re excited for this. If you watch Central Intelligence, you know that Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson have undeniable chemistry. Then sprinkle in Jack Black and the incredibly sexy Amy Pond, er, Karen Gillan, and you have yourself a real winner. But we have to ask the question. It’s been more than 20 years since Jumanji came out. Do people still care? It doesn’t matter. This film, set for release in December 2017, sounds like it’s meant to stand on its own. It’s a cool concept too. Instead of living the game in the real world, the players are sucked into the game and forced to play as walking, talking avatars (Johnson, Hart, Black and Gillan). We also know the film will be funny with the cast it has and directed by the guy who did Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
9. The Dark Tower
There’s been a large collection of Stephen King fans who have been waiting for the day that The Dark Tower film adaptation finally comes. There’s also a large amount who have feared that day as well. Well, as you probably already know, it’s upon us. In the summer of 2017, it’ll be right in front of us. Will it work? Your guess is as good as ours. But the team behind the film have played it safe. Making a one-off film or even a trilogy of The Dark Tower series would be folly. The book series consists of eight books, among other canon. Imagine Harry Potter in a trilogy. What the film team has done to get around this and their minuscule budget is turn the film to a sequel, a new story that King helped pen. It might seem like a copout, but, if done right, it could incorporate many of the tales, mythologies and themes from the books without sacrificing the original stories.
8. Deadpool 2
Well, Deadpool 2 cannot possibly cause any more excitement from fanboys than the original did. If you saw the first one in theaters, you probably heard an endless chorus of excited Beavis and Butthead-type giggles from the seats around you. Even still, peeps are crushing hard on Deadpool and the sequel is causing a lot of heartbeats to race. Deadpool checked a lot of the fanboy boxes. He broke the fourth wall. It was rated R. It was so meta. What is the sequel, set for release in 2018, going to do different? It can’t just retread that same path. Can it? Well, we don’t know. We do know that they’re claiming to keep it simple, which is a really good thing. Too complicated and it gets weighed down. Too cumbersome and it gets off track. When the director from the first film, Tim Miller, jumped ship, people held their breath. Since then, David Leitch, director of the much-loved John Wick, was brought on. That makes us happy. For now.
Since his performance in John Wick, many film fans have jumped on the Keanu Reeves bandwagon and get excited with each new role that he’s been connected to. The excitement for him to be cast as the main star in the upcoming 2017 film, Replicas, has almost nothing to do with that. For those who know Reeves’ tragic story, they see a close similarity between his life and the main character in this film. Replicas features a scientist who loses his family in a car accident and works, at all costs, to bring them back to life. Reeves lost his ex-girlfriend and close friend, Jennifer Syme, in a car accident not long after they lost their child at birth. Reeves has spoken at length about his own personal grief and this seems like a solid film to showcase his talents for the dramatic.
6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Now, what kind of people would be if we didn’t include one of the most highly anticipated films in history? Say what you will about the originality of The Force Awakens, but there was reason behind their choices. Ask yourself. Why would the team behind The Force Awakens establish the exact same themes and structure as the original trilogy? By doing so, they established a certain set of expectations in the audience. We know what happened before, so now, we expect things to progress similarly throughout the next two films. Wrong. This now allows the Star Wars team to change their course and surprise us. What should we expect from Star Wars: The Last Jedi in December, 2017? Who can say for sure? But the light side and the dark side of the force have been working their way together for a long time. Was Anakin truly dark? Was Luke truly light? Look at Kylo Ren, is this evil? (And no, that’s not a cigarette, it’s the letter I.) Will Rey continue to be a shining example of good? We live in a world where good and evil aren’t as cut and dry as they used to be. Look to see something showing this change in the Star Wars universe.
5. Alita: Battle Angel
Set to be directed by Robert Rodriguez, Alita: Battle Angel is a film that’s been talked about for a while. James Cameron has had this movie under his control and now it seems it’s finally getting made, aiming for release in July, 2018. The cast, as it stands now, is stellar, starring Rosa Salazar, Ed Skrein, Mahershala Ali, Christoph Waltz, Jackie Earle Haley and more. Alita: Battle Angel is based on the manga, Battle Angel Alita, which is about a cyborg who is found in the garbage with no memories except that she kicks butt. From there, she basically turns into a bounty hunter and a Motorball player. Over time, she begins to piece her former life together. Think female Jason Bourne in the future and in space. Rock and roll.
4. The Glass Castle
Just give Brie Larson, Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson any old script and we bet they make it into a great film. Give them a book that spent 5 years on the New York Times Bestseller List and they’re going to make a brilliant film. That’s what’s happened with The Glass Castle, set for release in mid to late 2017. The book’s contents are deep and disturbing and they will linger for longer than you ever want them to. If the script can pull out only half of the power of Jeanette Walls’ words and memories, this film will be a masterpiece. It’s the right kind of vehicle for all three of the main stars and, if done right, we’re expecting award discussion to take place around all of them.
3. Isle of Dogs
Wes Anderson doesn’t miss very often. In fact, as a director, Anderson has never missed, unless you’re one of those freaks who doesn’t like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. For that reason alone, Isle of Dogs, Anderson’s upcoming 2018 animated film makes this list. We don’t care what it’s about because, like all Anderson movies, it will be amazing and will be led by a cast that makes you shake your head in disbelief. You can begin shaking your head now: Scarlett Johansson, Greta Gerwig, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Bryan Cranston, Akira Ito, Yoko Ono, Bob Balaban, F. Murray Abraham, Akira Takayama, Courtney Vance and Koyu Rankin.
In a story about a woman travelling into an environmental disaster zone after her husband disappears, Annihilation is one movie that sounds as awesome as it’s almost surely going to be. Starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson and Oscar Isaac, this 2017 film is not short on star power either. The concept does bring back some memories of Gareth Edwards’ film Monsters, but that movie was so great that we’re not even mad if they riff on it. Alex Garland is set to write and direct the film, which also bodes well for Annihilation. Garland recently did Ex Machina and wrote the scripts for Dredd, Never Let Me Go and 28 Days Later, so it should be in very capable hands.
1. Ready Player One
Set for release in 2018, Ready Player One is a book with an excellent concept, but since it was written for young adults, it missed a lot of literary recognition in the adult circles. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Ready Player One takes plays in a world where a virtual reality game offers the people an escape from their dystopic reality. The game, OASIS, is both a fantasy world and an MMORPG and its in-game currency has become the world’s most stable currency. The creator of OASIS has died and left his fortune and complete control of the game to whoever finds an Easter egg that he’s hidden. To find it, one needs to be well-versed in 80s pop culture. Strange right? Well, who better to direct this strange 80’s-laden film than the master of the 80s himself, Steven Spielberg? Well, with a strong cast and a really interesting concept, this film looks primed and ready to make a lasting impression on the film industry in 2018.