Happy holidays!

It’s that time of year again, time to take a look forward at what movies should be on your radar for 2021!  But wait!  Next year’s list sure looks a lot like the the films we previewed last December.  The covid pandemic has delayed hundreds of film projects, but some made it through.  When you walk back through last year’s list and compare it to movies released after theater lockdowns, you get some insight into how Hollywood thinks.  Big movies and movies predicted to be successes were universally held back, while less popular films were released to low box office returns from theaters that remained open, and yet other films went directly to home streaming or related media platforms.

Last year we pulled 85 of the hundreds of films then slated for the 2020 movie calendar.  The first two dozen made it to theaters (films like Underwater, Dolittle, and Birds of Prey) before the national shift began on March 11 with news of the NBA reacting to the pandemic by suspending pro basketball–the first national awareness of the scope of the problem.  Suddenly we saw Vudu and other home platforms coming to the rescue for our entertainment fix, adding a new Theater at Home option, which captured movies like Anya Taylor-Joy’s Emma, Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot, and the animated Scoob!  Disney began an interesting tiered release of Mulan, which for half the year showed a studio doing its best to maximize returns on what would have been a key release in any other year.  After another delay The New Mutants made it briefly to theaters followed by home release after three years of getting kicked aside as the last vestiges of the Disney-Fox merger were shaken out.  Other films, like Vast of Night, Extraction, The Old Guard, Rebecca, Radioactive, and Fantasy Island safely premiered on Netflix and Amazon Prime, with Chris Hemsworth’s Extraction standing out as the clear popular winner–the entire world needed some new entertainment and after what would only be the first of several months of shelter-at-home, it tentatively filled the void.

So our predictions for the year’s big genre films were flat wrong, every single one except Mulan was delayed to 2021, including Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Black Widow, No Time to Die, a new Fast & Furious, Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, and superhero flicks Venom 2, Eternals, and MorbiusWonder Woman 1984 is expected to have a theatrical release by year end.  Altogether 35 of last year’s 85 movies previewed on our annual list are back again below, plus we found more than 35 new genre films we think will appeal to borg readers.

So what’s left and what’s new?

Grab your calendar and start making your plans–here are the movies you’ll want to see in 2021.  Then compare the below list to our 2020 list, and look back to the 2019 list, 2018 list, 2017 list, 2016 list, 2015 list, or 2014 list.  Last year we noticed studios moving genre content from the big screen to the small screen via streaming services, and the pandemic only stepped up that migration.  Note:  Warner Bros. has reported it will issue its 2021 releases simultaneously on HBO Max.  Netflix has mostly dramas slated for 2021, but a few genre films are in pre-production, so expect a few surprises throughout the year.  Amazon Studios has fewer, most partnerships with Blumhouse Productions.

As we learned well this year, many of these films will have revised release dates, and even get pushed to 2022.

January

Mortal Kombat Based on the video game.  New!  Tentative release date: January 15, 2021.  HBO Max.

Wrath of Man Next Jason Statham action flick.  New!  Tentative release date: January 15, 2021.

The French Dispatch.  Wes Anderson and his familiar actors in new quirky film about journalists.  New!  January 28, 2021.

The DigA film about a woman finding archaeological treasures on her land, starring Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, and Carey Mulligan.  January 29, 2021.  Netflix.

February

The King’s Man – Action, third film in the Kingsman series is a prequel, starring Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Djimon Hounsou, Charles Dance, Daniel Bruhl, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Original date: September 18.  New date: February 12, 2021.

The Mauritanian.  Courtroom drama starring Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch from the director of The Last King of Scotland and State of Play, Kevin Macdonald.  New!  Tentative date: February 19, 2021.

Antlers The next Guillermo del Toro horror.  New!  Tentative date: February 19, 2021.

March

Tom & Jerry Animated movie based on the classic characters.  With voice of Chloe Moretz.  New!  March 5, 2021.  HBO Max.

Coming 2 America – Comedy, sequel to the 1980s movie, stars Eddie Murphy and James Earl Jones, John Amos, Arsenio Hall, Tracy Morgan, Wesley Snipes, and Louie Anderson – Original date: December 18, 2020.  New date: March 5, 2021.  Amazon Prime.

The Many Saints of Newark – TV sequel, El Camino-esque film, Michael Gandolfini plays father’s role in prequel story of Tony Soprano from The Sopranos, with Ray Liotta, Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga – Original date: September 25, 2020.  New date: March 12, 2021.  HBO Max.

Raya and the Last Dragon – Animated, starring voices of Cassie Steele and Awkwafina – Original date: November 25, 2020.  New date: March 12, 2021.

Morbius – Action/horror, biochemist tries to cure himself, and instead becomes a vampire, starring Matt Smith, J.K. Simmons, Jared Harris, Adria Arjona, and Jared Leto – Original date: June 31, 2020.  New date: March 19, 2021.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent You won’t believe this:  A cash-strapped Nicolas Cage agrees to make an appearance at a billionaire fan’s birthday party, but Cage is really an informant for the CIA since the billionaire fan is a drug kingpin,  And Cage or the fan gets cast in a Tarantino movie.  Huh?  Sounds a lot like Jean-Claude Van Johnson.  Starring… Nicolas Cage.  New!  Tentative date: March 19, 2021.

April

No Time to Die – Action, Bond is back!  Daniel Craig returns with the key cast, plus Ana de Armas and Jeffrey Wright – Original date: April 10, 2020.  New date: April 2, 2021.

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway.  Animated sequel.  New!  Tentative date: April 2, 2021.

Bob’s Burgers: The Movie – Animated, the favorite series gets a movie!  Starring voices of Jon Benjamin, Kristen Schaal, John Roberts, Dann Mintz, Eugene Merman, and Larry Murphy – Original date: June 7, 2020.  New date: April 9, 2021.

BIOS – Sci-fi, stars Tom Hanks and Skeet Ulrich, on a post-apocalyptic earth, a robot built to protect the life of his dying creator’s dog, learns what it means to be human – Original date: October 2, 2020.  New date: April 16, 2021.

A Quiet Place, Part II – Horror, John Krasinski returns to direct wife Emily Blunt in sequel, with Cillian Murphy – Original date: March 20, 2020.  New date: April 23, 2021.

Last Night in Soho – Horror/thriller, Edgar Wright directs Anya Taylor-Joy, with Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, and Terence Stamp, about a woman interested in fashion design who can step back into the 1960s for help – Original date: September 25, 2020.  New date: April 23, 2021.

The Asset Martin Campbell directs action heist.  Starring Maggie Q, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton.  New!  April 23, 2021.

Summer Season Begins

May

Black Widow – Superhero, at last the eagerly awaited spy film arrives, starring Scarlett Johannson, Rachel Weisz, Florence Pugh, David Harbour, and William Hurt – Original date: May 1, 2020.  New date: May 7, 2021.

Rumble Monster wrestling animated movie.  New!  Tentative date: May 14, 2021.

Godzilla vs. Kong – Action/sci-fi, the two franchises merge, starring Ziyi Zhang, Millie Bobby Brown, Danai Gurira, Eiza Gonzalez, Brian Tyree Henry, and Kyle Chandler – Original date: November 20, 2020.  New date: May 21, 2021.  HBO Max.

Fast & Furious 9 aka F9 – Action, sequel has the return of Vine Diesel and Charlize Theron, with Helen Mirren, Michael Rooker, and past cast members – Original date: May 22, 2020.  New date: May 28, 2021.

Infinite – Sci-fi, stellar director Antoine Fuqua returns with story about a man whose hallucinations end up being visions of past lives, stars Mark Wahlberg – Original date: August 7, 2020.  New date: May 28, 2021.

Cruella Remake/reboot.  Stars Emma Stone as the Disney villain.  New!  Tentative release date: May 28, 2021.

June

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It – Horror, third film in the larger franchise sees return of stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson – Original date: September 11, 2020.  New date: June 4, 2021.  HBO Max.

Samaritan.  Sylvester Stallone plays a has-been superhero discovered after losing a battle years ago.  New!  June 4, 2021.

Spirit Untamed DreamWorks animated film about a girl and a wild mustang with script by John Fusco.  New!  June 4, 2021.

Vivo Sony Pictures Animation musical, with songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda.  New!  June 4, 2021.

Blazing Samurai Animated movie about a samurai cat.  New!  June 10, 2021.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife – Action/comedy, at last they’re getting the band back together! Starring newcomers McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, and Paul Rudd, plus Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Sigourney Weaver – Original date: June 10, 2020.  New date: June 11, 2021.

Luca Pixar’s 12th film, about a friendship with a sea monster in Italy.  New!  June 18, 2021.

Venom: There Will Be Carnage – Superhero, Tom Hardy returns with Michelle Williams as the Marvel anti-hero, with Woody Harrelson – Original date: October 2, 2020.  New date: June 25, 2021.

July

Minions: The Rise of Gru – Animated, series sequel, with voice of Steve Carell – Original date: July 3, 2020.  New date: July 2, 2021.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Superhero, based on the Marvel comics, starring Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina.  New!  Tentative date: July 9, 2021.

Uncharted – Action, prequel to the game stars Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg – Original date: December 18, 2020.  New date: July 16, 2021.

Space Jam: A New Legacy. Animated, stars voice of Sonequa Martin-Green in animated film with Warner Bros. characters.  New!  Tentative date: July 9, 2021.  HBO Max.

Top Gun: Maverick – Action, Tom Cruise returns as the ace pilot, with Jennifer Connelly – Original date: June 26, 2020.  New date: July 21, 2021.

Old M. Night Shyamalan’s latest.  Stars Rufus Sewell.  New!  July 23, 2021.

The Tomorrow War – Sci-fi, stars Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, and J.K. Simmons – Original date: December 25.  New date: July 23, 2021.

Jungle Cruise – Adventure, Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt star in action fun based on the Disney park ride – Original date: July 24, 2020.  New date: July 30, 2021.

August

The Suicide Squad.  James Gunn directs.  Starring Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, Nathan Fillion, Alice Braga, Michael Rooker.  New!  Tentative date: August 6, 2021.  HBO Max.

Deep Water – Drama, stars Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas in Gone Girl-esque thriller – Original date: November 13, 2020.  New date: August 13, 2021.

Respect Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson.  New!  Tentative date: August 13, 2021.

PAW Patrol: The Movie Animated movie based on the TV series.  New!  Tentative date: August 20, 2021.

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard Sequel starring Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, and Ryan Reynolds.  New!  August 20, 2021.

September

none scheduled yet

October

Dune – Sci-fi, Denis Villeneuve directs remake starring Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin, Rebecca Ferguson, Timothée Chalamet, and Oscar Isaac – Original date: December 18, 2020.  New date: October 1, 2021.  HBO Max.

The Addams Family 2 Sequel to the animated movie based on the original artist’s work.  New!  October 8, 2021.

Halloween Kills – Horror, Jamie Lee Curtis is back after Michael Myers again as Laurie Strode, with Judy Greer, Anthony Michael Hall, and Kyle Richards, who played the little girl in John Carpenter’s original film and sequels – Original date: October 16, 2020.  New date: October 15, 2021.

The Last Duel Historical, Matt Damon and Adam Driver star in King Charles VI story.  New!  October 15, 2021.

G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes – Action, the G.I. Joe franchise continues, with Henry Golding as Snake Eyes, Andrew Koji as Storm Shadow, Samara Weaving as Scarlett, Úrsula Corberó as Baroness, and international martial arts champ and star of Wu Assassins, Iko Uwais – Original date: October 16, 2020.  New date: October 22, 2021.

November

Eternals – Superhero, Marvel/Disney explores new territory in the Marvel Comics universe, starring Gemma Chan, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, and Brian Tyree Henry – Original date: November 6, 2020.  New date: November 5, 2021.

Clifford the Big Red Dog – Animated, from the classic books, starring voices of Kenan Thompson, John Cleese, Darby Camp, and Horatio Sanz – Original date: November 13, 2020.  New date: November 5, 2021.

Holiday season releases begin

King Richard – Drama, not Shakespeare–a look at the father of the two tennis greats Serena and Venus Williams, starring Will Smith – Original date: November 25, 2020.  New date: November 19, 2021.  HBO Max.

Mission: Impossible 7 Action, Tom Cruise returns with Vanessa Kirby.  New! Tentative release: November 19, 2021.

December

West Side Story Steven Spielberg directs new adaptation of Arthur Laurents novel.  New!  Tentative date: December 10, 2021.

Spider-Man sequel.  Superhero, Tom Holland and Zendaya return.  New! Tentative release: December 17, 2021.

Sherlock Holmes 3 Mystery, Robert Downey, Jr. returns as the Victorian detective.  Tentative release: December 22, 2021.

The Matrix 4 Sci-fi, Lana Wachowski directs.  Starring Keanu Reeves, Jessica Harwick, Neil Patrick Harris.  New! Tentative release: December 22, 2021.

Sing 2 Sequel to animated talking animals comedy.  New!  Tentatively scheduled for December 22, 2021.

The Nightingale Drama based on Kristin Hannah’s WWII novel, starring sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning.  New!  Tentatively scheduled for December 22, 2021.

Films We Know About in 2020 with No Announced Release Date

Death on the Nile – Mystery, stars director Kenneth Branagh back as Hercule Poirot, with new cast of suspects played by Annette Bening, Dawn French, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, Russell Brand, Armie Hammer, Gal Gadot, Ali Fazal, Rose Leslie, Letitia Wright, Tom Bateman, and Emma Mackey – Original date: October 9, 2020.  No new release date yet.

Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse – Action/thriller, Michael B. Jordan is John Clark in the sixth film in the series, the sequel to The Sum of All Fears – Original date: September 18, 2020.  No new release date yet.  Amazon Prime.

Free Guy – Action/comedy, starring Ryan Reynolds and Stranger Things’ Joe Keery – Original date: July 3.  No new date yet.

Black Adam Superheor, Dwayne Johnson stars as the DC Comics character.  New!  No date yet.

Wish Dragon Sony Pictures Animation movie from China.  New!  No date yet.

Army of the Dead.  Dave Bautista and Theo Rossi star in Zack Snyder horror heist.  New!  No date yet.  Netflix.

Louis. Biopic of the 19th century artist starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, and Andrea Riseborough (Amazon Studios).  No release date yet.  Amazon Prime.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run – Animated, stars voices of Clancy Brown, Awkwafina, and Keanu Reeves – Original date: May 22, 2020.  No new date yet.

And that’s it–come back next year for previews and reviews of some of the most eagerly awaited movies.

C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg