Mark your calendars and prepare for Annihilation.
The new movie from writer/director Alex Garland has finally been given a release date of February 23, 2018. Based on the novel Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, Garland's follow-up to his acclaimed 2015 film Ex Machina will arrive early next year from Paramount Pictures.
There was talk about the movie getting a late 2017 push to possibly qualify for some awards, but hopefully the new date gives the studio time to properly promote the film the way it did for last year's sci-fi masterpiece Arrival (which it did release for awards season).
Annihilation is based on the first book in VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy and follows a team of scientists -- all women -- who venture into a mysterious zone known as "Area X" that seems to have been infested and mutated by some kind of malevolent intelligence. Eleven previous expeditions into the region have come back dead, damaged, or not at all.
The film stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, and Oscar Isaac, the latter of whom worked with Garland on Ex Machina.
So why are we calling it next year's "most eagerly awaited" genre offering? First of all, the book was superb, a really eerie, gripping read, and Garland did a smashing job as a first-time director on Ex Machina, delivering an instant sci-fi classic. He's also written literate screenplays for movies like Dredd, Never Let Me Go, and Sunshine, so anything he tackles is instantly on our radar.
Meanwhile, VanderMeer himself has seen a cut of the movie and called it "mind-blowing" and "extremely horrific," while we've heard around Hollywood -- admittedly second- or third-hand -- that the few other people who have watched it have had the same reaction.
So now you know why we can't wait for this to come out. February 23 is just a little over six months away.