With coronavirus vaccinations rolling out fast, shuttered theaters are reopening their doors, letting film lovers view previously delayed releases and new films. The year will also see the debuts of long-awaited sequels, such as the horror film “A Quiet Place Part II” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy” starring NBA superstar LeBron James.
On March 23, Disney announced an overhaul of its remaining slate of 2021 films. Despite some delays in expected release dates, “Black Widow” will still hit screens come summer. The latest Marvel entry, along with the live-action “Cruella,” will simultaneously release in theaters and on Disney Plus with Premier Access, which costs a $30 rental fee. For Broadway fans, June will bring Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical “In the Heights,” featuring a predominantly Latinx cast.
Read on to see all the highly anticipated films of 2021.
Raya and the Last Dragon
Featuring the voices of Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina, Walt Disney Animation’s upcoming animated feature is its first to center on a Southeast Asian heroine and will premiere both on Disney Plus and in theaters. It will follow the journey of Raya, a passionate warrior on a quest to find the last dragon to restore peace in a mythical world.
Coming 2 America
Eddie Murphy is back as Prince Akeem in this long-awaited sequel to the 1988 film. Directed by Craig Brewer from a screenplay written by Kenya Barris, Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield, Prince Akeem is set to become King of Zamuda when he discovers he has a son in America (Jermaine Fowler). Of course, hilarious antics ensue.
Godzilla vs. Kong
Set to debut on both HBO Max and in theaters, the crossover sequel to “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and “Kong: Skull Island” will see the iconic monsters square off in an epic battle for the ages, while humanity hopes to wipe out both of them in order to take back the planet.
Set against the punk and fashion scenes of 1970s London, Disney’s live-action feature will introduce Emma Stone as a younger Cruella de Vil, the iconic villain from 1961’s “101 Dalmatians.” It will also star Emma Thompson, Joel Fry Paul, Walter Hauser and Mark Strong.
A Quiet Place Part II
“A Quiet Place Part II” will again see the family members played by Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe stay silent and evade deadly monsters in a dystopian world. Despite his character’s demise in the first movie, John Krasinski returned to direct the sequel. Watch a trailer here.
The French Dispatch
Wes Anderson’s latest film boasts a cast of Timothée Chalamet, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Elisabeth Moss, Willem Dafoe, Christoph Waltz and many more. Set at the office of an American magazine in a fictional French city, the movie is described as a “love letter to journalists” and follows three different storylines. Watch the trailer here.
The upcoming installment of the iconic franchise picks up 30 years after 1989’s “Ghostbusters II” and follows a family that moves to a small town to discover their connection to the ghost-catching business. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts reprise their roles from the original movie, and they’re joined by Finn Wolfhard, McKenna Grace, Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon.
In the Heights
Debuting both on HBO Max and in theaters, the musical drama — directed by “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. Chu and produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda — explores three days in New York City’s Dominican American neighborhood of Washington Heights. Based on Miranda’s musical of the same name, the adaptation stars Stephanie Beatriz, Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera and more. Watch the trailer here.
Fast & Furious 9
This ninth installment of the beloved action franchise again follows Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel, whose crew and family members join forces to battle one of the world’s most talented assassins and high-performance drivers — his estranged brother, Jakob, played by John Cena. The new movie also sees the return of Han Lue, a fan-favorite character thought to be long-dead. Watch the trailer here.
Top Gun: Maverick
After completing years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) returns 35 years after the original blockbuster to confront his past while training a new squad of graduates for a life-threatening mission. The Joseph Kosinksi-directed action flick co-stars Jennifer Connelly, Jean Louisa Kelly, Val Kilmer and Miles Teller. Watch the trailer here.
Space Jam: A New Legacy
NBA superstar LeBron James teams up with Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes crew for this long-awaited sequel to the 1996 classic, which debuts on HBO Max and in theaters. The family comedy, directed by Malcolm D. Lee, includes Sonequa Martin-Green, Don Cheadle and NBA players like Klay Thompson, Chris Paul and more.
Scarlett Johansson is finally getting a standalone Black Widow movie. The long-awaited Marvel film, also starring David Harbour, Florence Pugh and O-T Fagbenle, is set after 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.” It will see Natasha Romanoff on the run and forced to confront her past as a spy, long before she became an Avenger. Watch a special clip here.
Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson star in the adventure fantasy film based on Disneyland’s park ride where a small riverboat transports a group of travelers down the Amazon through a supernatural jungle. Watch the trailer here.
The Suicide Squad
Directed by James Gunn and premiering on both HBO Max and in theaters, the “Suicide Squad” standalone sequel follows the comic book roots of Harley Quinn and her gang of supervillains, rather than continuing the narrative of the 2016 film. The star-studded cast features Viola Davis, Margot Robbie, Taika Waititi, Sylvester Stallone, Idris Elba, Jai Courtney and Pete Davidson.
Audiences were deeply excited to see Nia DaCosta’s take on the “Candyman” last October, but like many films on this list, it was pushed. We’ve only seen glimpses of the director’s vision including a couple trailers and this haunting shadow which she released with these thoughts via her twitter account: “CANDYMAN, at the intersection of white violence and black pain, is about unwilling martyrs. The people they were, the symbols we turn them into, the monsters we are told they must have been.”
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who recently won an Emmy for his work on “Watchmen,” stars as the film’s lead and Oscar-winning director Jordan Peele co-wrote the script along with DaCosta and Win Rosenfeld. If you’re looking for something to tide you over until August, we strongly recommend watching DaCosta’s 2018 feature “Little Woods” (written by DaCosta as well) and getting familiar with her work – you’re going to be hearing a lot from her, as she’s already slated to direct the sequel to “Captain Marvel.”
Written and directed by George Miller, the upcoming film will star Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton. Not much has been shared about the film, but it’s been described as a two-handed “epic love story” that is “the opposite of ‘Fury Road'” about a woman who travels to Istanbul and encounters a genie.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Another installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Just Mercy” director Destin Daniel Cretton introduces Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), a master martial artist. Co-starring Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Florian Munteanu and more, this will be the first MCU film with a mostly Asian and Asian American cast.
Paul Thomas Anderson's Soggy Bottom
Not much has been shared about Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1970s-set film — which has the working title “Soggy Bottom” — other than that it’s a coming-of-age tale set in California’s San Fernando Valley. Bradley Cooper co-stars with Joseph Cross and Benny Safdie.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Tom Hardy is back as the classic Spider-Man villain, this time ready to take on the superpowered serial killer Carnage, played by Woody Harrelson. Andy Serkis directs the sequel, which fans speculate could be building up to more Marvel crossovers down the road.
The prequel to HBO’s wildly successful series “The Sopranos,” “The Many Saints of Newark” depicts the 1967 riots in Newark, N.J. and the tension between the town’s Italian and Black communities. Directed by Alan Taylor, who also helmed several episodes of “The Sopranos,” the film stars Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Michael Gandolfini, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro, Michela De Rossi, Ray Liotta and Vera Farmiga. “The Sopranos” creator David Chase is also on board as a producer and writer, as is Lawrence Konner.
Premiering on both HBO Max and in theaters, the long-awaited Denis Villeneuve remake of the sci-fi epic stars Timothée Chalamet as a young duke named Paul Atreides leading a battle to control the desert planet Arrakis. Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Dave Bautista, Jason Momoa and Javier Bardem round out the star-studded cast.
No Time to Die
The 25th movie in the James Bond franchise, starring Daniel Craig in what is likely his last tour as the iconic spy, sees Bond’s retirement in Jamaica cut short when an old friend, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), comes seeking help. 007’s mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist puts him on a collision course with Safin (Rami Malek), a mysterious masked villain armed with dangerous technology.
The Last Duel
Based on Eric Jager’s book “The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France,” Ridley Scott’s historical drama tells the story of two 14th-century men ordered to engage in a fight to the death. It stars Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Jodie Comer.
Mission: Impossible 7
Tom Cruise is back again to save the world as Ethan Hunt in the latest “Mission: Impossible” action film. Details have not been shared for his upcoming adventure, but Cruise’s fierce adherence to COVID-19 safety guidelines has already made headlines and drawn plenty of buzz for the action flick.
Based on the novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham, “Nightmare Alley” is a psychological thriller directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro. Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett are attached to star as a manipulative carny and a psychiatrist with dangerous tendencies, respectively. Willem Dafoe, Toni Collette and Rooney Mara are just a few more names in the all-star cast.
West Side Story
Directed by Steven Spielberg, this long-awaited adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical stars Ansel Elgort and newcomer Rachel Zegler as star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria. In comparison to the 1961 film adaptation, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner’s script is expected to closely mirror that of the original theater production. Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 film, will also appear in a supporting role.
Spider-Man: No Way Home
The third “Spider-Man” film led by Tom Holland is already making fans excited at the seemingly endless rumors about returning villains from past movies. Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus from “Spider-Man 2” starring Tobey Maguire and Jamie Foxx’s Electro from Andrew Garfield’s “Amazing Spider-Man 2” will reprise their roles, in what is sure to be an ambitious, universe-crossing superhero film.
The Matrix 4
Get ready to re-enter the Matrix. Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lambert Wilson and Daniel Bernhardt will reprise their roles for the fourth film in the beloved sci-fi franchise, directed by Lana Wachowski.
The Tragedy of Macbeth
Based on the Shakespeare play, the currently undated film will feature Oscar winner Denzel Washington in the title role and Joel Coen in the director’s chair – a rare case where he isn’t directing with his brother, Ethan. Frances McDormand will play Lady Macbeth, with Brendan Gleeson as King Duncan and Corey Hawkins as Macduff.
French director Leos Carax is set to make his English-language debut with “Annette,” a musical film starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. Written by sibling duo Ron and Russell Mael — also known as the band Sparks — “Annette” tells the story of a stand-up comedian and his world-famous soprano wife. But, their lives take an unexpected turn when their daughter, Annette, is born.
Article by: Natalie Oganesyan, Ellise Shafer, Haley Bosselman for Variety