The arrival of the new year signals a fresh batch of movies, and it’s not hard to spot the ones people are talking about. From big-budget franchises to the latest from noted directors, the new year is already crammed full of interesting projects. Sequels and franchise entries dominate, and most of them have earned the lion’s share of early buzz. But a few original projects have made waves as well. As always, the results — creatively and financially — won’t be apparent until after it’s all said and done. But for now, here’s a sample of some of the most anticipated movies for 2023, arranged chronologically by release date.
M3GAN Promises a Horrifying Update of Steven Spielberg’s AI (January 6)
January is traditionally a quiet month, but the horror maestros at Blumhouse have prepped a notable effort right out of the gate. M3GAN takes the notion of frightening dolls and connects it to the central concept of Steven Spielberg’s AI: Artificial Intelligence. The titular android is designed to be a protector and friend to the child to whom it has bonded, and naturally, things go horrifyingly wrong.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Kicks Off the MCU’s Phase 5 (February 17)
2023 promises to be a huge year in superhero movies, starting with one of the biggest. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania officially starts Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sending Scott Lang and his friends into the Quantum Realm, where they confront the saga’s newest Big Bad: Kang the Conqueror. Expect the ramifications to be felt throughout the MCU for years to come.
Cocaine Bear Features the Most Original Concept in a Long Time (February 24)
With sequels and franchises the order of the day, any original movie that generates significant buzz becomes noteworthy in and of itself. Cocaine Bear‘s concept and trailer — a horror-comedy based on a true story about a forest ursine who goes on a rampage after ingesting a brick of illicit drugs — is enough to justify a viewing on its own. And in the subversive hands of director Elizabeth Banks, it might just be the year’s cult classic in the making.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods Brings Back a DC Favorite (March 17)
Amid the Sturm und Drang at DC, Zachary Levi’s charming Shazam is a breath of fresh air. The sequel promises to start the DC Extended Universe’s presumably final year on the right note, as he and his super-powered family take on a pair of new villains played by Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren. Considering the state of the franchise, Fury of the Gods may be the best way for DC to start the year.
John Wick: Chapter 4 Gives Keanu Reeves a Fresh Round of Action (March 24)
The John Wick films have become star Keanu Reeves’ bread and butter, and with the formula well-established, fans are anticipating another round of his seemingly unstoppable assassin facing off against a new army of foes. With Bill Skarsgård starring as his new nemesis and Donnie Yen as a redoubtable ally, John Wick: Chapter 4 entry looks to maintain the bone-crunching fun that made the first three films such hits.
The Super Mario Bros. Movie Comes With a Surprising Controversy (April 7)
Nintendo’s de facto mascot — and the game that made him a superstar — have no shortage of fans. But while the new animated feature looks to erase painful memories of the terrible live-action Super Mario Bros. film from the ’90s, it’s drawn surprising criticism for casting Chris Pratt as the voice of Mario. What that bodes for the movie itself has yet to be seen, but it should be enough to earn the attention of even non-Mario fans interested in seeing what the fuss is about.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Concludes the Popular MCU Heroes’ Story (May 5)
Pratt’s Super Mario problems assuredly do not extend to the Guardians of the Galaxy series, with the third and final entry standing as the potential high point of the MCU’s 2023. The new film apparently focuses on Rocket and his origins with The High Evolutionary. But the real draw is director James Gunn, who stands as the new creative guru of the DC Universe after bringing this one to theaters.
Fast X Is All About Family (May 19)
The Fast and the Furious movies have bloomed into one of the biggest franchises in Hollywood, and while the plots themselves are often ludicrous, they’ve never skimped on popcorn fun. The specifics of Fast X are a closely guarded secret, but that’s almost beside the point. Gorgeous vehicles, outlandish action, and Vin Diesel saying “family” a lot are all expected to be on tap.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Continues Miles Morales’ Journey (June 2)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse became an instant classic when it touched down in 2019, winning that year’s Oscar for Best Animated Feature and changing everyone’s concepts about what a superhero film should be. The sequel doesn’t look to slow down, as Miles Morales finds himself battling an army of Spider-people from different realities. With the live-action Spider-Man movies basically in limbo, Across the Spider-Verse is more than capable of carrying the load.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny May Be His Last Hurrah (June 30)
After Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull failed to capture fans’ imagination, Indy star Harrison Ford is eager to close out his favorite character in style. And with James Mangold taking over directing duties from Steven Spielberg, audiences are expecting a farewell to the beloved archeologist on par with 2017’s Logan. Time will tell, but with Ford entering his eighth decade, it’s safe to assume that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny will be his last.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One Continues the Franchise (July 14)
The Mission: Impossible series has proven as durable as The Fast and The Furious, thanks to the combination of a strong cast and some truly wild real-life stunts in an era where CGI dominates. Tom Cruise is set to return as superspy Ethan Hunt, and while the plot — like Fast X‘s — is being kept under wraps, the franchise’s overall high quality speaks to one of the signature events of the summer.
Barbie’s Subversive Teaser Promises Big Things (July 21)
With star Margot Robbie and director Greta Gerwig, the big-screen adaptation of the evergreen Mattel doll looks to be anything but run-of-the-mill. Barbie‘s first teaser got fans’ attention with its spot-on parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey. With the right combination of nostalgic affection and patriarchy-busting subversion, this ode to a toy line may turn into one of the most talked-about movies of the year.
Blue Beetle Survived the DC Bloodbath (August 18)
Things have been better at DC, to say the least, and as the new team tries to right the ship, the creative bloodletting has been considerable. It’s telling, then, that Blue Beetle will be seeing a theatrical release. Originally slated for HBO Max, the adventures of Jaime Reyes have been deemed strong enough for an upgrade, and with The Flash still entangled by the troubling issues of star Ezra Miller, this late-inning entry may be enough to save the troubled franchise’s summer.
The Exorcist Remakes the Horror Classic (October 13)
David Gordon Green hit both peaks and valleys in his three-movie update/sequel of the vaunted Halloween franchise. He returns in October with the same intent for William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. Ellen Burstyn is set to reprise her role from the classic original movie, with this new entry looking to erase the flawed-to-terrible sequels that arose in the interim.
Dune: Part Two Concludes Denis Villeneuve’s Epic Adaption (November 3)
Denis Villeneuve’s Dune was a real gamble: filmed with no promise of a follow-up and presenting only the first half of Frank Herbert’s notoriously difficult-to-adapt science fiction classic. The results were a smash hit — delivering the story of Paul Atreides and the planet of Arrakis in an exciting yet respectful way — and Dune: Part Two is due to arrive at the end of the year. Expect more of the same brilliance as the original.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Covers the Rise of a Villain (November 17)
With Katniss Everdeen’s story told in the original Hunger Games cycle, author Suzanne Collins looked to a different character for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Francis Lawrence returns to direct the movie adaptation — having helmed the previous Hunger Games adaptations — with a look at the early years of the franchise’s signature villain, Coriolanus Snow, and an earlier era in Panem’s history.
Wonka Presents a Musical Version of the Candymaker’s Origins (December 15)
Tim Burton struggled with his version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: focusing too much on Willy Wonka rather than the story itself. Wonka takes a more assured approach to the concept: eschewing a formal adaptation in favor of a more original story of the titular candymaker’s beginnings. With director Paul King’s Paddington movies among the most beloved of recent years, and star Timothée Chalamet already earning praise in the title role, it looks to bring something new to the classic children’s story.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom Brings Back Jason Momoa (December 20)
Whatever the DCEU’s problems, Jason Momoa isn’t among them. And while the original Aquaman didn’t exactly change the game, it provided plenty of sharp action and gorgeous eye candy for fans to enjoy. The sequel looks to lean heavily on the same formula, with Momoa’s prince of the sea facing off against old adversaries. It also looks to bring the curtain down on the DCEU as the franchise plans a hard reboot.