Who's ready to return to the movies when they reopen on 17 May? Nearly everyone it seems.
A new study, commissioned by the cross-industry body Cinema First, confirms that 38 per cent of audiences plan to return within the first month of sites reopening, and another 34 per cent within the first few months of reopening. And we've got great news for them.
Because the line-up of cinematic treats for the rest of the year is lip-smacking. Super heroes, big biopics, long awaited sequels and prequels, musicals, horror and a certain secret agent... It all adds up to an amazing year bursting with films that we’ve been waiting to see for so long.
Read more: Movie biopic quiz
And, because the list is so long, release dates won’t just be on the traditional Friday.
Sound of Metal - 17 May
This Riz Ahmed-starring drama made waves this past awards season, with its tale of a drummer with progressive hearing loss learning to be a part of the Deaf community. That story is realised with astonishing and deeply attentive sound design that begs to be heard in cinemas.
Also in UK cinemas on 17 May: Mortal Kombat, Peter Rabbit 2, Nomadland, Spiral: From The Book of Saw, Maya The Bee 3: The Golden Orb, Those Who Wish Me Dead
Demon Slayer: Mugen Train - 26 May
This sequel film to the ever-popular anime series broke box office records in Japan and the United States alike, and it’s easy to see why. Emotive and action-packed, Demon Slayer: Mugen Train almost seamlessly brings the show’s inventive visual prowess to the big screen.
Cruella - 28 May
Disney is releasing Cruella simultaneously in cinemas and on Disney+ with Premier Access, giving 101 Dalmatians a multitude of options to choose from for where to watch this supervillain origin story. Emma Stone leads the cast of this 1970s-set punk era adventure.
First Cow - 28 May
Indie director Kelly Reichardt is well-versed in stories about intimate male friendships, and the history of American rural working classes. First Cow explores the intersection of these two recurring themes, with its heartbreaking and precisely told story of two friends who try to make a living by baking sweets with stolen milk in 19th century Oregon.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It - 28 May
Ghost-busting couple The Warrens return to do battle with another supernatural entity in this third entry into the main Conjuring series. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return, but director James Wan has stepped back, with The Curse of La Llorona director Michael Chaves handed the reins for the spooktastic threequel.
Also in cinemas on 28 May: Surge, Earwig and the Itch, Alex Ferguson: Never Give In, Vanquish
A Quiet Place Part II - 3 June
John Krasinski’s follow-up to his surprise horror success story will further explore the apocalyptic scenario of its predecessor. Emily Blunt’s Evelyn is now solely responsible for the safety of her children, as sound-sensitive alien beasties circle with murderous intent. When she discovers another group of survivors, she must decide whether they are more likely to be friends or foes.
Mandabi - 11 June
Believed to be the first feature length film from West Africa, master director Ousmane Sembéne’s beautiful and humanist exploration of corruption and colonialism has been beautifully restored and rereleased for the big screen.
The Father - 11 June
This award-winning drama saw Anthony Hopkins pick up a second Oscar for his performance as a man suffering from dementia. It’s a more disorientating and horrifying film than its glossy, awards campaign-ready posters would let on, heartbreaking and painfully believable in its depiction of ageing.
Violet Evergarden: The Movie - 17 June
A feature-length conclusion to Kyoto Animation’s gorgeous anime drama series, Violet Evergarden: The Movie is as heartbreaking as it is ravishingly well-animated, director Taishi Ishidate bringing even more intimate focus to every minute detail.
Monster Hunter - 18 June
A lean and mean showcase of Milla Jovovich’s considerable action heroine prowess, Monster Hunter is full of the kind of kinetic energy and smart visual language and completely goofy mayhem that has made Paul WS Anderson a beloved cult director.
In The Earth - 18 June
Ben Wheatley’s horror story of a virus ravaging the Earth might hit a little too close to home right now, but In The Earth is impressive in how it (very appropriately) builds elemental, psychological horror out of a return to the outdoors.
In The Heights - 18 June
The creator of Hamilton — Lin-Manuel Miranda — and the director of Crazy Rich Asians — John M Chu —invite you to a cinematic event, where the streets are made of music and little dreams become big. Magnetic bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), who saves every penny from his daily grind as he hopes, imagines and sings about a better life.
The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard - 21 June
Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson, and Salma Hayek return for the sequel to the 2017 action comedy. Reynolds' Michael Bryce is on a company mandated sabbatical, when he gets drawn back into another ludicrous jape by Darius and Sonia Kincaid.
Freaky - 25 June
Starring Vince Vaughan and Kathryn Newton, Freaky is a slasher comedy with a twisted take on the body-swap movie. Slated for release for Halloween 2020, the film is now getting a counter-programming release at the height of summer.
Supernova - 25 June
Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci star as a couple facing the imminent spectre of death in this heartfelt romantic drama. It won plaudits on the festival circuit and could be another awards contender.
Another Round - 2 July
The charm and talent of Mads Mikkelsen is in full display in Thomas Vinterberg’s Best Foreign Language Oscar-winner Another Round, which deftly balances its riotous partying with a reckoning with the creeping devastation of alcoholism.
Fast & Furious 9 - 8 July
Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) famously claims he lives his life a quarter mile at a time, but the Fast and Furious movies have often embodied that - each new chapter more wild than the last, boldly moving forward without fear of jumping the shark. This latest one has a rocket car, cars swinging across canyons, long lost friends and brothers appearing as though back from the dead, and all the makings of a great time at the movies.
Black Widow - 9 July
Scarlett Johansson's solo superhero film finally arrives in cinemas after many delays, making it the first big screen MCU movie since 2019's Spider-Man: Far From Home. Set before the events of Avengers: Endgame, Johansson is joined by Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour, O-T Fagbenle, and Ray Winstone, who will all help to fill the blanks of Natasha Romanoff's back story.
The Sparks Brothers - 30 July
Edgar Wright directs this documentary detailing the legacy of the cult art pop duo Sparks, a passionate odyssey celebrating your favourite band’s favourite band.
Old - 6 August
M Night Shyamalan returns to the horror genre once again with a concept that appears as simple as it is existentially spooky - of a beach where everyone suddenly begins rapidly aging. The filmmaker has been maligned in the past but got his groove back in recent years, so expect some fun twists and turns with this one.
The Green Knight - 6 August
Acclaimed director David Lowery (A Ghost Story, Pete’s Dragon) takes on Arthurian Legend with Dev Patel as Sir Gawainn, who enters a deadly game with the eponymous knight. A surprisingly grand-looking adventure, with delectable visuals and exciting new spins on old tales.
Free Guy - 13 August
Directed by Night At The Museum’s Shawn Levy, the films sees the Deadpool star as a computer game character who doesn’t realise he’s part of a virtual world, while Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer is one of the game’s many real world players. Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi also stars as one of the game’s designers. It’s The Truman Show meets Tron with Reynold’s trademark brand of wry humour poured liberally over the top.Snake Eyes - 20 August
The Beatles: Get Back - 27 August
Peter Jackson documentary about the Fab Four was pieced together from 56 hours of footage captured in 1969 during the recording of the band’s penultimate album Let It Be. It was due for release in 2020 but was delayed to 2021 by the coronavirus pandemic.
Candyman - 27 August
Nia DeCosta’s update (and soft reboot?) of the classic 90s horror sees the son of one of the first film’s Anne-Marie return to Cabrini Green, now gentrified. Like the first, expect gruesome kills amongst some pointed and compelling socio-political commentary.
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings – 3 September
The debut of Marvel’s kung fu master and first Asian super hero protagonist, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), sees the fourth phase of the MCU arrive with a bang, and that recent trailer gave a glimpse of what he’s likely to bring. With Destin Daniel Cretton in the director’s chair and a cast that includes Akwafina, Tony Leung and Michelle Yeo, it promises explosive action harking back to the 70s kung fu craze. And, if it delivers, fans will go wild for it.
Respect - 10 September
The late Aretha Franklin said she wanted Jennifer Hudson to play her on screen and, indeed, it’s Hudson who portrays the woman behind one of the legendary voices of the 20th century. Forest Whitaker, Audra McDonald, Marlon Wayans and Marc Maron all play key roles in charting her turbulent personal life and rise to become the Queen Of Soul.
Infinite - 10 September
Mark Wahlberg re-unites with director Antoine Fuqua who moves away from actioners for this sci-fi/supernatural tale of a schizophrenic man who joins an organisation for people who can recall events from their past lives. Chiwetel Ejiofor is the force for evil and Dylan O’Brien is also among the cast for a film that could mark a distinct change in direction for Fuqua.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage - 15 September
Tom Hardy is back as reporter Eddie Brock and his toothy, gravelly voiced alter-ego and, if the trailer is anything to go by, this instalment has acquired a sense of very dark humour. Andy Serkis, who “had a ball” at the helm, might be the reason. For this sequel to be more fun than the original wouldn’t be hard. We’re living in hope.
Dune - 17 September
Number two on the “most anticipated” list for this half of the year – after No Time To Die(see below). We’ve seen the trailers, we know who’s in the cast and Villeneuve is behind the camera, so sensational visuals are a given. All we need to know now are those screening times ……
No Time To Die - 30 September
Cue that collective sigh of relief: Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007 makes its long-awaited arrival. All the elements are there – a top drawer cast, a song from Billie Eilish and the promise of a thrilling ride courtesy of director Cary Joji Fukunaga. What more could we wish for? In keeping with tradition, we get our answers a week before American audiences.
The Addams Family 2 - 8 October
Back on the big scream – sorry, screen – the animated incarnation of everybody’s favourite scary but loveable family returns, with its voice cast of Chloe Grace Moretz, Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron all intact, and Bill Hader joining in as new character, Cyrus. They’re in for more whacky adventures, but we don’t know much more - except that “they’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky”, of course.
Halloween Kills - 15 October
The twelfth – yes, twelfth – instalment in the franchise is helmed again by David Gordon Green, who is already confirmed as the director for the next one, ominously called Halloween Ends. For now, though, Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode, John Carpenter still has a hand in proceedings as executive producer and he’s been quoted as calling this episode “the ultimate slasher.” It’s all we need to know ….
The Last Duel - 15 October
The first of a Ridley Scott double whammy (Gucciis in November) is a 14th century epic with two friends, Matt Damon and Adam Driver, forced to fight to the death after one of them is accused of raping the other’s wife. Penned by the formidable trio of Damon, Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener, the cast also includes Affleck, with Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer as the wife. The signs point to some bloody good fun.
The Many Saints Of Newark - 22 October
Expectations are sky high for this cinematic prequel to The Sopranos, especially with Michael Gandolfini playing the young Tony (his father, the late James Gandolfini, created the role on television). He falls into a life of crime with the help of Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola) and the supporting line-up includes Leslie Odom Jnr, Corey Stoll, Vera Farmiga and Ray Liotta. Bring your own turkey sandwiches.
The Boss Baby: Family Business - 22 October
Baby Theodore (voiced by Alec Baldwin) from the first feature is all grown up, so is brother Tim, but now they have another boss baby to contend with. One with a whole new way of doing things – and it’s no spoiler to say that she’s a girl. Tim’s daughter. She’s voiced by Amy Sedaris, so buckle yourself into that booster seat.
Last Night In Soho - 29 October
Edgar Wright’s legions of fans have barely managed to contain their excitement over this one, a horror about a fashion designer travelling back in time to the Soho of the Swinging Sixties. Shot on location in London’s most famous quarter – and well documented on Twitter – it’s packed with British A-listers, including Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith, alongside sixties favourites Diana Rigg (in her final on-screen performance), Terence Stamp and Rita Tushingham.
Eternals - 5 November
Chloe Zhao returns after her Nomadland triumph with her first MCU film, set after the events of Avengers: Endgame(2019). The Eternals – ancient aliens living secretly on Earth for thousands of years – are forced into the world and use their unique powers to defeat mankind’s deadly enemies, the Deviants. Headed by Angelina Jolie, the cast includes Gemma Chan, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, the super-buff Kumail Nanjiani and Brian Tyree Henry. No sign of another Eternal called Thanos, though.
Belfast - 12 November
While we wait for Kenneth Branagh’s Death On The Nile, he goes back to the 60s for Belfast, which he’s both written and directed. This story of a boy’s childhood, set against the music and social tumult of the decade, is based on his own early years in the city. He’s described it as his most personal film to date.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife - 12 November
Watch out for those mini Stay-Pufts! They’re not as cute as they look and could also turn out to be the stars of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the follow-up to the classic 1980s Ghostbusters double bill. Jason Reitman takes over directing duties from Dad Ivan and brings back original cast members Murray, Aykroyd and Weaver, as well as adding the Finn Wolfhard and Mckenna Grace duo for a Stranger Things vibe.
King Richard - 19 November
The power behind tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams steps into the limelight for what promises to be the most fascinating sports biopic of recent years. Richard is their father, who single-handedly coached them to become sporting icons and his larger than life character is brought to the screen by Will Smith who, after something of a lean spell, seems to be on the comeback trail. Will he ace it?
Top Gun Maverick - 19 November
Our need for speed has been on hold for so long, and we still don’t know anything about the plot for this Maverick/Iceman reunion. There’s still question marks over the cast as well, but Miles Teller as Goose’s son, Ed Harris as Maverick’s boss, Jennifer Connelly and Jon Hamm are all definites. Expectations are soaring. “No points for second place.”
House of Gucci - 26 November
Ridley Scott’s other film promises wall to wall glamour, with the story of Patrizia Reggiani who was tried and found guilty of planning the assassination of Maurizio Gucci, her ex-husband and one-time head of the Gucci fashion house. With the much-photographed Adam Driver and Lady Gaga in the two leads, plus Al Pacino and Jared Leto in supporting roles, it’s laden with star power and already tipped as an awards contender for next year. Awards chatter never stops, after all.
Encanto - 26 November
Full of South American rhythms and vibrant colour, Disney Animations’ 60th film is about a young Colombian girl, Mirabel Madrigal, who is the only member of her family without magical powers – and who might just turn out to be their best hope when the source of their gifts is in danger. The man behind the songs for this musical fantasy is none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda. We rest our case.
Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City - 3 December
Based on the classic Resident Evil game series, this origins story reboot, set in the city of the title in 1998 game, comes from self-confessed fan Johannes Roberts, who’s aiming to re-create the scares he felt when he first played the game. Brace yourselves now.
West Side Story - 10 December
How do you re-make a ten-time Oscar winner which is widely seen as one of the best movie musicals ever made? You get Steven Spielberg to direct, bring in Tony Kushner to write the screenplay and, to keep the purists happy, add Rita Moreno, an Oscar winner from the 1961 classic, to the cast. This re-imagining of the Manhattan-set Romeo And Juliet riff could give us all the energy, colour and spectacle we need this Christmas.
Spider-Man: No Way Home - 17 December
We don’t know if we’ll be seeing Tobey Maguire’s and Andrew Garfield’s takes on the webslinger, nor are Kirsten Dunst and Emma Stone confirmed as returning. But we do know Spidey’s latest adventure isn’t a sequel to his previous two outings: it’s a prequel to Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, and Benedict Cumberbatch will be making an appearance. Jamie Foxx’s Electro (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock (Spider-Man 2) are both back for sure. As for the plot …. we’ll just have to wait.
The King’s Man - 22 December
An all-action crowd pleaser and another prequel, with Matthew Vaughn bringing together an all-new cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans and Djimon Hounsou. Fiennes plays the Duke Of Oxford, the rich toff who created the Kingsman organisation, while Arterton and Hounsou are a pair of agents. Ifans is the bad guy, Russian mystic Rasputin. Just hold that thought.
Downton Abbey 2 - 22 December
We're thrilled to announce that Julian Fellowes and the entire Downton cast are back for #DowntonAbbey2, with Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye and Dominic West joining!
See the film in theaters this Christmas. pic.twitter.com/OHopFgzqiM
— Downton Abbey (@DowntonAbbey) April 19, 2021
The Crawleys are in residence, Carson is serving tea, Julian Fellowes has written the script and all’s right with the world. Production only started last month and it seems the regulars are back, plus a clutch of new faces – Hugh Dancy, Dominic West, Laura Haddock and Nathalie Baye - but their roles haven’t been revealed. Nor has the plot, which is shrouded in mystery, but this could be the Christmas treat we’ve been waiting for. Watch this space ….