It’s been a tumultuous year for Hollywood – from the highs of Barbenheimer to the lows of the strikes.
The double-whammy of industrial action waged by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA shuttered production for months.
Although it’s back to business, it’s far from back to normal.
The stoppage has already led to delays in the release calendar, which could be exacerbated further if there’s a logjam of reshoots and other production work to slog through.
Studios will be tightening their belts as they face invigorated union members looking to enforce their new contracts.
However, the simultaneous theatrical release of Barbie and Oppenheimer – two movies collectively known as Barbenheimer – showed that post-pandemic audiences will return box office bonanzas if they believe in the film.
So as we head into 2024, here are some of the movies that are set to entertain audiences.
Wicked: Part One
We’re off to see the wizard…
The much-loved Broadway and West End musical is now being given the silver screen treatment.
The story – based on Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel – features the characters from L Frank Baum’s 1900 book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its 1939 film adaptation starring Judy Garland.
Wicked takes place in the Land of Oz in the years surrounding Dorothy’s arrival and tells the tale of how Elphaba Thropp, a young woman born with green skin, later becomes the Wicked Witch of the West.
The two-part film adaptation will star Cynthia Erivo (Elphaba Thropp) and Ariana Grande (Galinda Upland) and features a supporting cast including Jonathan Bailey (Fiyero Tigelaar), Jeff Goldblum (the Wonderful Wizard of Oz) and Michelle Yeoh (Madame Morrible).
Directed by Jon M Chu (Step Up 3D/In The Heights), expect colourful and big dance numbers as the cast belt out the stage show’s smash hits that include Popular, Defying Gravity and For Good.
Wicked: Part One is scheduled for release in November 2024. The second film is expected to drop a year later.
Dune: Part Two
Denis Villeneuve’s epic science fiction sequel will continue the journey of Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) as he teams up with Chani (Zendaya) and the Fremen to seek revenge against all those who destroyed his family and prevent a terrible future that only he can predict.
The film – which already boasted a stacked cast including Rebecca Ferguson (Lady Jessica), Josh Brolin (Gurney Halleck), Javier Bardem (Stilgar) and Stellan Skarsgard (Vladimir Harkonnen) – has added Austin Butler (Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen), Florence Pugh (Princess Irulan) and Lea Seydoux (Lady Margot) to the bill.
Dune: Part Two was due to be released in 2023 but was delayed due to the Hollywood strikes. It is now set for release in March 2024.
Madame Web is part of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe.
Dakota Johnson takes on the titular role as Cassandra ‘Cassie’ Webb/Madame Web, a Manhattan paramedic and clairvoyant whose new psychic abilities apparently allow her to see into the future.
Following an incident, Cassie is forced to confront her past while trying to protect three young women from a killer Spider-Man.
Johnson is joined by Euphoria star Sydney Sweeney, who’s playing Julia Carpenter. Sweeney’s character later takes on the mantle of Spider-Woman in the comics.
While there’s been plenty of movies revolving around male Marvel Comics characters – the Iron Man, Captain America and Thor films to name but a few – there have only been a few commissioned with female leads, such as Black Widow, Captain Marvel and The Marvels.
It’s encouraging to see a studio green-light a female-led superhero film and many will be hoping for large box office returns so we get some more.
After the trailer was released, Johnson’s delivery of the line “he was in the Amazon with my mom when she was researching spiders right before she died” was given the meme treatment.
So, only time will tell if the film becomes a cult hit or is mocked online like Morbius.
Madame Web will be swinging into cinemas in February.
Joker: Folie à Deux
Joker was intended to be a standalone film but then it became one of the highest-grossing movies of 2019 and the first R-rated production to gross over $1bn.
Todd Phillips’ neo-noir psychological thriller – which saw Joaquin Phoenix pick up his first Academy Award for Best Actor – gave us fresh insight into DC Comics’ most colourful villain and Batman’s nemesis.
The Dark Knight failed to make an appearance in this Gotham City, although we did see a young Bruce Wayne. But audiences were kept entertained by Joker/Arthur Fleck’s descent into darkness.
The sequel is set to be a musical thriller, with Lady Gaga joining the cast as partner-in-crime Dr Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn.
Joker: Folie à Deux is set to be released in October 2024.
Other blockbusters to watch out for:
Audiences should prepare for a wild ride given George Miller’s previous Mad Max films.
The movie – a prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road – will see Anya Taylor-Joy take over from Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa.
The post-apocalyptic action-adventure will also star Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, playing Dementus.
The much-loved 2004 comedy – starring Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams – was turned into a Broadway show, which has now been transformed into a new musical film.
Tina Fey is back in the writer’s chair and returns as Ms Norbury.
American singer and actress Renee Rapp (The Sex Lives of College Girls) will be reprising her Broadway role of mean girl Regina George.
Zendaya’s spicy romcom was one of the casualties of the Hollywood strikes and was delayed from its initial release date of September 2023 to April 2024.
The Emmy and Golden Globe winner stars as a former tennis player turned coach who has transformed her husband (Mike Faist) into a Grand Slam champ.
Tensions soon run high during a challenger event that brings ex-love Patrick (The Durrells’ Josh O’Connor) back into their lives.
The epic 1996 disaster film Twister, starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton, is getting a reboot. This “new chapter” will star Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People) and Glen Powell (Top Gun: Maverick).
Gearbox Software/2K’s popular looter shooter video game series is heading for the big screen with an ensemble cast that includes Cate Blanchett (Lilith), Kevin Hart (Roland), Jack Black (Claptrap) and Jamie Lee Curtis (Dr Patricia Tannis).
Director Eli Roth (Hostel/The Green Inferno) is behind the camera and co-wrote the script.
Nosferatu is a gothic tale of obsession between a haunted young woman and the terrifying vampire infatuated with her.
Following Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), it is the second remake of the 1922 German expressionist film of the same name written by Henrik Galeen – which in turn is an unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula.
Fresh from the hot mess of TV show The Idol, Lily-Rose Depp (Ellen Hutter) will be joined by Bill Skarsgard (Count Orlok) and Nicholas Hoult (Thomas Hutter) in the highly anticipated horror.
The film marks Focus Features’ ongoing collaboration with writer and director Robert Eggers (The Northman) and is set to be released in December 2024.
At the time of writing, MaXXXine is yet to be given a release date. The final instalment of Ti West’s X trilogy will most likely appear at some point in 2024.
The movie will follow Maxine (Mia Goth) – the sole survivor of the first film – as she sets out for fame and success in 1980s Los Angeles.
Fans of the slasher franchise are in for a treat with a cast that includes Elizabeth Debicki (The Crown), Michelle Monaghan (Mission: Impossible III), Bobby Cannavale (The Watcher), Lily Collins (Emily in Paris), singer-songwriter Halsey, Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad) and the legendary Kevin Bacon.
The Strangers: Chapter 1
The Strangers: Chapter 1 is not a reboot of the slasher franchise but is instead the first instalment of a new trilogy of standalone sequel films.
Riverdale alum Madelaine Petsch and Cruel Summer’s Froy Gutierrez will find themselves facing off against thee murderous masked strangers after their car breaks down during a road trip.
The trilogy will explore what happens to the victims and will detail who the killer psychopaths are and where they came from. Chapter 1 is due to be released in May, with the following two films expected throughout 2024.
More than three decades on, we’re finally getting a sequel to the family horror comedy.
Tim Burton is back behind the camera with Michael Keaton (Betelgeuse), Winona Ryder (Lydia Deetz) and Catherine O’Hara (Delia Deetz) reprising their roles from the 1988 original. Jenna Ortega, fresh from working with Burton on Netflix series Wednesday, will be playing Ryder’s daughter.
The film is due to be released in September 2024 but is said to be at risk of delay due to the Hollywood strikes.
Ridley Scott is back in the director’s chair for this sequel to his Oscar-winning film.
Previous leading man Russell Crowe (Maximus Decimus Meridius) has duly been replaced by Paul Mescal (Normal People), who takes over from Spencer Treat Clark as Lucius Verus.
The historical drama – set years after the events of the 2000 film – will centre on Lucius, who is now a grown man.
Connie Nielsen (Lucilla), Derek Jacobi (Senator Gracchus) and Djimon Hounsou (Juba) are returning to reprise their roles from the original, while Denzel Washington and Pedro Pascal have been added to the bill.
This time he will be joined by good friend Hugh Jackman (James ‘Logan’ Howlett/Wolverine) and Jennifer Garner, who’s reprising her role of assassin Elektra Natchios following her turn in Daredevil and Elektra.
Emma Corrin – who played Diana, Princess of Wales in The Crown – has been cast in a lead villain role.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3
The much-loved Sega video game character will rock and roll in another action adventure.
Tom Hardy is set to return for a third outing as Eddie Brock/Venom in the untitled Let There Be Carnage sequel.
Kraven the Hunter
Alongside Venom 3 and Madame Web, Kraven the Hunter is part of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe.
Kick-Ass and Bullet Train star Aaron Taylor-Johnson takes on the titular role as we learn how the iconic villain came to be.
Taylor-Johnson is no stranger to Marvel Comics characters, having previously played Pietro Maximoff (Quicksilver) in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The film is due to be released in August 2024 after being delayed due to the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Bad Boys 4
Detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) will reunite once more for the fourth film in the buddy cop franchise.
Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire
This sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the fifth film in the supernatural comedy’s franchise and will see the Spengler family leave Oklahoma for New York City.
The movie will bring together Ghostbusters old and new as they team up to take on a mysterious and evil force known as the “death chill”.
Gosling plays Colt Seavers, a seasoned but aging stuntman who’s tasked to track down a missing film star to save his ex-girlfriend’s movie.
Lee Majors, who starred in the classic TV series as the stuntman/bounty hunter, is set to appear in the film.
Mufasa: The Lion King
The Lion King prequel is expected to hit the big screen just in time for Christmas 2024.