18 thoughts on the movies coming out in 2018
1. Get ready for superhero oversaturation.
The box office dependability of superhero movies continued in 2017, accounting for seven of the top 15 grossing films of the year. The only superhero movie outside the top 15, Power Rangers, wasn’t connected to an existing franchise (but still clocked in at number 36).
So in 2018, the studios will give us even more of what it seems we want: there will be 10 superhero movies released in 2018. All but two are Marvel flicks: Black Panther (February 16), The New Mutants (April 13), Avengers: Infinity War (May 4), Deadpool 2 (June 1), Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6), Venom (October 5), X-Men: Dark Phoenix (November 2), and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (December 14). The remaining two are the long-awaited Incredibles sequel (June 15) and the lone DC Comics installment, Aquaman (December 21).
2. That being said, there are some movies in that bunch to get excited about.
I don’t really care for Guardians of the Galaxy at all, but I appreciate what it signaled for superhero movies: an aversion to pumping out stale duplications year after year. Since Guardians was created as “the funny one” in the sprawling Marvel universe, studios have done a good job of making sure audiences don’t get worn down by this barrage of superhero movies. The LEGO Batman Movie, Wonder Woman, and Spider-Man: Homecoming all brought fresh, funny stories to the big screen in 2017.
Black Panther may be my most anticipated movie in all of 2018, despite my mixed feelings about most of the Marvel movies. The talent there is undeniable, and I think Black Panther is going to do exceptionally well at the box office. Deadpool was a pleasant surprise a couple of years ago, and the ad campaign for the sequel seems to be capturing the same vulgar, self-aware antics as the original.
Here’s to hoping studios will bring enough variety in these movies to justify expanding the number of releases to the double digits.
3. If the superhero franchises aren’t enough for you, there’s plenty of other ballooning franchise care...
Our first summer installment of the new Star Wars franchise arrives with Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 25). Solo has undergone a directorial change, rumors of problems with lead Alden Ehrenreich, and rumors that the script is killer. So who knows.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22) will give us some more boring dinosaur battles and Chris Pratt vests, I assume. M:I 6 - Mission Impossible hits theaters July 27, with the franchise somehow on an upswing after a strong fifth installment (but why is the title so convoluted?).
In the fall, we’ll also get Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (November 16) and Creed 2 (November 21), returning with the original cast but without original director Ryan Coogler.
4. ...including movies that no one really asked for.
I get that familiar stories do well. But did we really a spinoff Transformers movie (Bumblebee, December 21)? Do we have to be forced to listen to ABBA all summer (Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!, July 20)? And without Guillermo Del Toro, what is Pacific Rim Uprising (March 23)?
There’s a couple completely unwarranted franchise movies that I'm holding a sliver of hope for. The world does not need another Tomb Raider (March 16), but count me in for anything with Alicia Vikander and Walton Goggins. Sicario 2: Soldado (June 29) is a ‘sequel’ to a movie I loved in the sense that they have the same title, but ‘a completely different movie’ in the sense that the director and main character are not returning. But in the trailer Josh Brolin tells Benicio Del Toro that there are ‘no rules this time,’ so that’s enough for me.
5. Speaking of which, what’s with all these old remakes?
First, the most egregious: Scarface is an American classic. It should not be touched. And yet here we are, with a totally unasked-for reboot (August 10). I’m bracing for the inevitable 'gritty reimagining' of The Godfather.
We’ll also get a new Halloween (October 19) and Predator (August 3). No thanks.
A really old remake is also hitting theaters with A Star is Born (May 18), a remake of the 1954 Judy Garland film. Bradley Cooper is directing and starring alongside Lady Gaga. Wait, what?
6. But it will all be worth it for Ocean’s 8.
If you don’t hear from me in the next few months, I’m probably watching this trailer again.
7. There’s also a big wave of childhood stories arriving.
The massive success of Disney’s live-action remakes, capped by the number two box-office hit of 2017, Beauty and the Beast, has proved the value of remaking children's literature. Now, get ready for a flood of them.
In the spring, Disney will continue its live-action series with A Wrinkle in Time (March 9), a hotly anticipated film from director Ava DuVernay (13th, Selma). I’m also not at all ashamed to say I’m mildly excited for Peter Rabbit (February 9). Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne star, with additional voice work by Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, and James Corden (with this and Ocean’s 8, I guess he’s a thing now).
In August, we’ll see two more: Christopher Robin (August 3), starring Ewan McGregor, and a live-action Barbie film starring Anne Hathaway (August 10). And in the fall, we’ll see three more: The Jungle Book (October 19), The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (November 2), and Mary Poppins Returns (December 28). Of these, Mary Poppins is the most promising, with a strong cast: Emily Blunt, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep all star.
8. Wait, didn’t we just see The Jungle Book?
Yes!! And they have the exact same title (the new one comes out October 19). And people really liked the last one! This is silly.
9. Enough with the franchises. Are there any big budget originals that can compete?
Original concept films competing at the box office is doubtful at the very top, but it’s likely that some new material will make its way into the top 25 or so. In 2017, every movie in the top 10 was either a sequel, a reboot, or an addition into an existing franchise. But pretty soon thereafter, there are some originals: Coco at 13, Dunkirk at 14, Get Out at 16, and The Boss Baby at 17. If we look to the top 30, we add Split (22), Wonder (24), Girls Trip (25), Baby Driver (27), and Murder on the Orient Express (30).
The lesson here? At least a few of the top originals will likely be in that batch of children’s movies we looked at earlier (A Wrinkle in Time is the most likely candidate). But it also shows that there can be original hits at the top.
So what will it be in 2018? There’s a few candidates most likely to emerge as breakout hits. Steven Spielberg’s virtual reality action film Ready Player One (March 30) boasts no true A-list names, but has the prestige and buzz to succeed, and it looks pretty decent. Similarly, Mortal Engines (December 14) will likely flourish based on the awesomeness of its concept (based on a novel): a dystopia where cities move around on wheels and try to devour each other.
A pair of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson movies will also almost certainly kill at the box office. The first, Rampage (April 20), is basically just The Rock + giant radioactive CGI animals. The second, Skyscraper (July 13), is, per IMDb, “a hostage-action thriller set in China.” Cool.
The original film I’m most looking forward to, though, is Annihilation (February 23). Written and directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina), the film follows “a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don't apply.” The fandom behind Ex Machina has grown steadily since its release on streaming platforms, and I’m excited to see what Garland has in store. Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tessa Thompson star. (Side note: Tessa Thompson has six movies slated for 2018 on IMDb. This is going to be a great Tessa Thompson year.)
What originals are most likely to fail? I have my eye on Alita: Battle Angel (July 20), a big budget Robert Rodriguez sci-fi flick that looks destined to be this year’s Valerian. Red Sparrow (March 2), a spy movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, also looks like a misfire.
10. The best non-live action movies of the year could be originals, too.
Wes Anderson is back with a stop-motion animated original, Isle of Dogs (March 23), about a boy searching for his dog. Of course, as an Anderson movie, it’s going to be a much quirkier, intricately constructed movie than that description makes it seem. I also think dogs have completely usurped cats as the furry kings of the Internet, and this movie is going to make way more money than people are expecting.
Late in the summer, we’ll also get The Happytime Murders (August 17), a film noir with puppets. Brian Henson (son of Jim Henson) is directing. I’m not sure how this got made, but nonetheless, I can’t wait.
11. There’s some smaller scale originals to look forward to as well.
Foxtrot (March 2), an Israeli drama, is getting major buzz, and the trailer looks absolutely delightful and unique. You Were Never Really Here (April 6), a dark drama starring Joaquin Phoenix tracking down a missing teenage girl, is also getting a lot of early buzz.
Tully (April 20), a new Jason Reitman/Diablo Cody comedy about motherhood, stars Mackenzie Davis, Charlize Theron, and Mark Duplass. And Widows (November 16) marks the return of director Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave).
If I had to pick one I’m most excited for, it would be Where’d You Go, Bernadette (May 11). The film is a new drama from director Richard Linklater (Boyhood), led by Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, and Billy Crudup.
12. It’s very early, but what will be contending for the 2019 Oscars?
It’s way too early to predict the whole field, but I’d be looking out for First Man (October 12). The Neil Armstrong biopic, starring Ryan Gosling and directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land), checks off a lot boxes, and comes from a director who just suffered a crushing defeat at the last Oscars.
13. There aren’t a ton of new comedies to get excited about.
The middle is hollowing out at the movies, with lots of the mid-budget content that use to thrive at the box office migrating to streaming platforms. With the explosion of small-screen comedy, there’s little new comedic content to look forward to at the movies this year.
Game Night (March 2) follows a group of friends’ game night, which eventually blurs the line between a murder mystery game and a real murder mystery. There’s a lot of talent here, but it could pretty easily be a miss. The Spy Who Dumped Me (July 6), a spy comedy starring Kate McKinnon and Mila Kunis, could be decent. Holmes and Watson (November 9), a Sherlock Holmes comedy starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, feels like it’s arriving a decade too late.
The comedy poised to break out is Night School (September 28), about some adults taking night school classes in an attempt to pass the GED. Malcolm D. Lee directed last year’s breakout comedy (Girls Night), and brings back its breakout star (Tiffany Haddish). Kevin Hart also stars.
14. Speaking of comedies, Uncle Drew is a movie that exists.
Uncle Drew is a character played by Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving dresses up as an old man, and then plays pickup basketball, surprising the other players with his skills because he's an old man. It started as an ad campaign conceived by Pepsi. It is now a major motion picture coming out on June 29.
It’s surprising that this found its way to the big screen, but it’s even more surprising that it doesn’t seem like a bad idea. LilRel Howery, truly hilarious in Get Out, is the lead, organizing a road trip to round up Uncle Drew and some other elderly ballers to take on his rival (Nick Kroll). A ton of other basketball stars are in this as well, including Shaquille O’Neal and Lisa Leslie. This may very well be a Pepsi ad, but I’m all in.
15. Shouldn’t some of these comedies be on Netflix at this point?
As much as I’m excited for Uncle Drew, I can’t believe it’s coming out in theaters. Aside from Night School, I don’t see any of these movies doing all that well in the theaters. Seven years ago, Bridesmaids made major waves at the box office; if it was released this year, I'm sure it would be a Netflix original hit. It will be an interesting trend to track this year: if these movies bomb, we might see a complete bottoming out of the mid-budget theatrical release in 2019.
16. Speaking of which: is this the year Netflix takes over?
Netflix made major strides with its original movies in 2017, with titles like Mudbound and Okja earning widespread critical praise. The assortment of releases planned for 2018 though, is far more formidable.
Netflix’s two biggest draws are from powerhouse directors. Martin Scorsese’s Netflix-only mob drama, The Irishman, stars Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci. The streaming service also locked up a Netflix-only Western from the Coen Brothers, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.
The rest of the movies planned for release this year constitute a wide range of style and genre. Mute, a new sci-fi blockbuster from director Duncan Jones (Moon), will follow a mute bartender squaring off against gangsters as he searches for his missing partner. Cargo is a post-apocalyptic drama starring Martin Freeman. Happy Anniversary is a rom-com starring Noël Wells and Ben Schwartz. Eggplant Emoji is a raunchy comedy about a teen who accidentally cuts off his, ahem, eggplant.
This is just a sliver of what’s coming on Netflix, and it all sounds great. Which is the problem. If directors and actors start finding more financial dependability with streaming sites like Netflix, it might further hasten the decline of movie theaters. It's a positive that these movies are getting made, but it's saddening to see less people going out to the movies.
17. That’s not very comforting.
Yeah, I know. But when you start thinking about the death of movie theaters, just stop and think about how Saoirse Ronan has four new movies coming in 2018 (On Chesil Beach, The Seagull, Mary Queen of Scots, and Sweetness in the Belly). Everything will be alright.
18. Some of the best 2018 movies could be movies we’re not even sure will come out in 2018.
Even after all these titles, the most intriguing ones may be films that are tentative 2018 releases. New films from Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), and Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) are all on the way. 2017 breakout star Timothée Chalamet (Lady Bird, Call Me By Your Name) is set to star in the new Woody Allen film A Rainy Day in New York, and Adam McKay (The Big Short) is directing a drama about Dick Cheney (Backseat). Slice, about a werewolf pizza delivery boy starring Chance the Rapper, will (hopefully) hit theaters at some point.
For all the talk of the death of the movie industry, looking at all the releases that don’t even have release dates yet is hopeful to me. There’s lots to look forward to this year. Just like every year.