Inevitably, it happens. You hear about an amazing new film project that has just signed on one of your favorite directors. Rumors are swirling about who could be cast in the lead roles. Locations are being scouted. Writers turn in draft after draft. Concept artwork starts to circulate. And then, the whole thing goes nowhere. The director drops out over creative differences. The rumored stars sign on for something else. The production is shelved, and the people who were working on it move on to something else. Eventually you stop looking for updates, but the disappointment never really goes away.
So, keep in mind that anticipation can be a tricky thing where movies are concerned. My personal tactic is to keep tabs on various productions after they're announced, but I don't let myself get too invested until a movie has moved into active production and starts filming. At that point there's so much money involved that something has to go really wrong for a movie to fail to make it to audiences in one form or another. You might be wondering why I'm writing about 2017's films now. Well, it's because this is roughly the point where you can make pretty good assumptions about which projects are actually going to become next year's films, even if many of them don't have release dates. If a movie hasn't started filming by now, it's not very likely that it's going to be ready for audiences by next December.
So what's on the slate for next year that I'm excited about?
Movies that already have distribution and release dates set, arrange by currently anticipated date of release:
- "The Dark Tower" - dir. Nikolaj Arcel - Adaptation of the Stephen King fantasy novel. Stars Idris Elba as Roland the Gunslinger.
- "God Particle" - dir. Julius Onah - JJ Abrams is producing this science-fiction thriller starring David Oyelowo and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
- "Baby Driver" - dir. Edgar Wright - Stars Ansel Elgort as a getaway driver. Jon Hamm plays the villain.
- "Beauty and the Beast" - dir. Bill Condon - Latest live-action Disney fairy adaptation, with Emma Watson as Belle.
- "A Cure For Wellness" - dir. Gore Verbinski - Supernatural horror film starring Dane DeHaan.
- "Ghost in the Shell" - dir. Rupert Sanders - Science-fiction action film based off the Masamune Shirow manga, with Scarlett Johansson.
- "War for the Planet of the Apes" - dir. Matt Reeves - Third in the series, with Woody Harrelson and Gabriel Cavarria playing new human characters.
- "Dunkirk" - dir. Christopher Nolan - WWII drama with Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and Kenneth Branagh.
- "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" - dir. Luc Besson - Sci-fi adventure film starring Dane DeHaan.
- "Blade Runner 2" - dir. Dennis Villeneuve - Ryan Gosling stars, and Harrison Ford will appear.
- "The Snowman" - dir. Tomas Alfredson - Crime drama starring Michael Fassbender.
- "Live By Night" - dir. Ben Affleck - Crime drama based on the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane.
- "Coco" - dir. Lee Unkrich - PIXAR original, the only one until at least 2020. Cast not yet announced.
- "Murder on the Orient Express" - dir. Kenneth Branagh - Branagh is expected to star as Detective Hercule Poirot
- "Star Wars Episode VIII" - dir. Rian Johnson
Now, here's the fun stuff, the films that we know are coming pretty soon, but not exactly when or how. I expect some of these will spill over into 2018:
- "Annihilation" - dir. Alex Garland - Science fiction thriller starring Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac.
- "Battle of the Sexes" - dir. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris - Emma Stone will play Billie Jean King opposite Steve Carrell's Bobby Riggs.
- "Dark River" - dir. Clio Barnard - Thriller starring Ruth Wilson and Sean Bean.
"Downsizing" - dir. Alexander Payne - A social satire where Matt Damon's protagonist decides to improve his life by shrinking himself.
- "Okja" - dir. Bong Joon ho - Fantasy film with multinational cast.
- "Stronger" - dir. David Gordon Green - Stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing.
- "The Breadwinner" - dir. Nora Twomey - Animated film from Cartoon Saloon, based on the book by Deborah Ellis.
- "The Thousand Miles" - dir. Sylvain Chomet - Animated film, based on the writings of Federico Fellini.
- "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" - dir. Martin McDonagh - Stars Frances McDormand as a woman who goes to war against the local police.
- "T2: Trainspotting 2" - dir. Danny Boyle - All the leads from the first film, including Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller will return.
- "Untitled" - dir. Darren Aronofsky - Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence star in a film about "uninvited dinner guests."
- "Wonderstruck" - dir. Todd Haynes - Period children's film starring Julianne Moore, based on the book by Brian Selznick.
I'll update on these films and others in my 2017 Top Ten Anticipated Films posts next year, once we know more.