With so many massive ongoing franchises, there are always plenty of big blockbusters to look forward to regardless of the year. However, 2021 is shaping up to be something a little bit different — big time.
Since studios typically map out their tentpole releases a few years in advance anyway (it takes a bit of time to write, produce, shoot, edit, and promote a movie), there was already a slate of blockbusters on the books for 2021. But then the COVID-19 pandemic ground pretty much everything to a halt for 2020, meaning most of the would-be blockbusters supposed to open the past year were delayed or punted down the calendar. This means, essentially, most of 2020’s big movies are now splitting time on the calendar with a lot of the planned 2021 releases.
Put simply: We’re slated to get about two years' worth of blockbusters crammed into a 12-month calendar.
For fans of genre, it boils down to an absolutely slammed 2021 schedule, loaded with everything from delayed Marvel tentpoles, mid-tier horror flicks, and (of course) the next phase of big movies that were already on the docket for 2021 before all this craziness. Of course, all of this remains subject to change as the pandemic surges on and theaters remain closed in many markets. Though thanks to advances in vaccine development, it really does sound like the theater business (and hopefully the rest of the world!) could get back to some safe semblance of “normal” at some point in 2021 — though as this past year taught us, nothing is set in stone.
Regardless, a good chunk of these movies should come out in 2021 (especially with studios like Warner Bros. locking in hybrid streaming and theatrical release plans to shore up distribution), though the dates could continue to shuffle a bit as we’ve seen the past year; or some could jump to a VOD release if it takes longer than expected for theaters to safely get back up and running across the country.
So, maybe use a pencil to mark these down for the time being — no permanent ink just yet.
Chaos Walking (2021 Movie) Official Trailer – Daisy Ridley, Tom Holland, Nick Jonas
Chaos Walking (March 5, 2021)
This one is finally set to drop more than two years after its initial release date, though that's not all due to the pandemic. The studio bumped this sci-fi flick, starring A-listers Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, to allow additional time for reshoots and rewrites due to concerns over the film's quality. Directed by Doug Liman, Chaos Walking is set on a planet where all men have their thoughts displayed above them (a phenomenon called "the noise"), and women have largely vanished. Yeah, it's a big swing, but we're curious to see if they have finally figured it out.
TOM & JERRY - Official Trailer
Tom and Jerry (March 5, 2021)
This live action/animated CGI hybrid is a big swing for Warner Bros., and will be among the first 2021 releases to enjoy a simultaneous HBO Max and theatrical rollout. This adaptation stars (on the human side) genre favorites like Chloë Grace Moretz, Michael Peña, Colin Jost, Rob Delaney, and Ken Jeong. It promises lots of slapstick physical comedy for the cat and mouse duo and could be one of the first major family-friendly releases for the year.
The King's Man | Official Trailer 2 [HD] | 20th Century FOX
The King’s Man (March 12, 2021)
Matthew Vaughn is back with a period-set prequel to the Kingsman series, set in the founding era of the legendary spy agency. The flick stars Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, and Matthew Goode. This was scheduled to be one of the big, crazy action flicks of 2020 — but was pushed off the release calendar due to the pandemic. Now, it’s finally slated to blow up a whole bunch of stuff and keep the Kingsman franchise rolling in 2021.
Raya and the Last Dragon | Official Teaser Trailer
Raya and the Last Dragon (March 12, 2021)
A gorgeous, sweeping animated fantasy from Disney, this project looks to be one of the Mouse House’s first major projects of 2021. The adventure follows a young woman who sets off on a quest to find a missing dragon, with plenty of magic and thrills along the way. The cast includes Star Wars fan favorite Kelly Marie Tran, along with Awkwafina. It’s the studio’s first original, non-sequel animated film since Moana, so there’s certainly some anticipation for this one to be a bona fide hit, too. The film will also receive a simultaneous premium release on Disney+, where fans can access the film for an additional cost (much like Mulan).
Morbius - Official Teaser Trailer First Look (2020) Jared Leto, Matt Smith
Morbius (March 19, 2021)
Another big genre film that was supposed to drop in 2020, this Sony flick will now lead a crush of movies based on Marvel properties into 2021. The film stars Jared Leto as the namesake Michael Morbius, a Spider-Man side-character (sometimes villain, sometimes anti-hero) who turns himself into a vampire due to some rogue experimentation. They’ve kept a lot of the story under wraps, but the film is expected to somehow tie into the modern Spider-Man film canon, with Micheal Keaton reportedly reprising his Spider-Man: Homecoming role as Vulture.
NO TIME TO DIE | Trailer 2
No Time To Die (April 2, 2021)
Yep, you guessed it — another 2020 blockbuster that’s been pushed down the calendar into 2021. The latest Bond film features Daniel Craig in his final turn as 007, from a story directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. The film looks to blend in several aspects of the modern Bond canon, bringing back characters and elements for one last hurrah for Craig’s version of the character. No Time To Die will also introduce Rami Malek’s new villain Safin, who promises to be one of the most challenging rogues in Bond’s very long history.
Mortal Kombat (April 16, 2021)
James Wan is jumping in to produce this reboot of the hit video game fighting franchise, though little is actually known about what spin its putting on the supernatural tournament concept. The film is expected to feature many of the popular characters from the games, including Liu King, Sub-Zero, Raiden, Sonya, Jax, and Kano. The cast includes Ludi Lin, Joe Taslim, Jessica McNamee, and Mechad Brooks. Here’s hoping it doesn’t, ahem, pull any punches (sorry).
A Quiet Place Part II (2020) - Fight - Paramount Pictures
A Quiet Place Part II (April, 23, 2021)
Fans have been waiting a long time to return to the world of A Quiet Place, as the sequel to the breakout horror hit was delayed just as the pandemic ramped up in 2020. Now it’s back on the calendar, with John Krasinski back behind the camera and Emily Blunt back in front of it. The story looks to pick up in the wake of the first film’s fight for survival, as Blunt’s Evelyn Abbott and her family crosses paths with a new group of survivors, played by Cillian Murphy and Djimon Hounsou.
Marvel Studios' Black Widow | Final Trailer
Black Widow (May 7, 2021)
This was poised to be Marvel Studios’ big blockbuster for 2020, and fans are still waiting to get a look at Scarlett Johansson’s solo turn as Black Widow. Though Disney shifted some releases to Disney+ during the pandemic, the studio never wavered when it came to MCU properties. So Black Widow has been sitting on the shelf for a year now, just waiting to kick butt and take names. In 2021, she’ll finally get her chance. The film is a prequel to the events of Avengers: Endgame, and looks to introduce several new players to the MCU, including Florence Pugh as a new Black Widow and David Harbour as Red Guardian.
Free Guy | Official Trailer | 20th Century Studios
Free Guy (May 21, 2021)
This one has been bounced around the calendar for a while now, originally scheduled for release in early 2020. The film stars Ryan Reynolds as a video game character who becomes self-aware, and breaks out of his role to become the surprise hero of a Grand Theft Auto-esque video game world. It looks fun, meta, funny and loaded with action. Here’s hoping we all finally get a chance to see it.
Godzilla vs. Kong (May 21, 2021)
This one was supposed to wrap up 2020 as a big ol’ monster-mashing blockbuster, but now its poised to ring in the summer movie season with a battle for the ages. The film mashes together the recent takes on the Godzilla and King Kong franchises, and stars Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Jessica Henwick, and Kyle Chandler. Legendary has been building up to this one for years now, and this aims to be the flagship monster film of the franchise. It’ll also be rolled out with a simultaneous streaming and theatrical release as part of the HBO Max deal from Warner Bros.
Spiral (2020 Movie) Teaser Trailer – Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson
Spiral (May 21, 2021)
Originally scheduled for 2020, this horror flick aims to revive the Saw franchise with a fresh spin — led by new additions Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson. The story finds a new detective team taking on a case that should be familiar to fans of the Saw story. Rock’s detective gets sucked into the deadly game, and yeah we’d guess there will be plenty of grisly imagery to go around.
Infinite (May 28, 2021)
This high-concept sci-fi flick, based on D. Eric Maikranz's 2009 novel The Reincarnationist Papers, is about a man who realizes his hallucinations are visions from past lives. It was supposed to open in the summer of 2020, but was delayed due to the pandemic. The film stars Mark Wahlberg and Dylan O’Brien.
Fast & Furious 9 – Official Trailer (Universal Pictures) HD
F9 (May 28, 2021)
Another casualty of 2020, the latest high-flying sequel in the Fast and Furious franchise is now poised to be a full-on summer 2021 blockbuster. Directed by franchise favorite Justin Lin, the latest sequel looks to be an all-star affair, featuring stars Vin Diesel, John Cena, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Helen Mirren. The story finds the team taking on Dom’s younger brother, and will almost certainly feature some wild stunts and crazy action.
Cruella (May 28, 2021)
The latest in Disney’s live-action adaptations of animated originals, this one puts a fresh spin on the 101 Dalmatians tale, featuring Emma Stone as a live-action Cruella de Vil, who is extremely committed to acquiring a whole lot of spotted puppies. Disney has moved some of its family productions over to Disney+ in the midst of the pandemic, it’ll be interesting to see if this one stays the course for a theatrical release or possibly makes the jump to streaming — especially considering how crowded the schedule is this year.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (June, 4, 2021)
The schedule might be stacked with blockbusters, but don’t worry, there’s still plenty of horror flicks to fill in the margins. The hit Conjuring franchise returns with a new sequel, bringing back stars Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren. The case, inspired by a real-life case the Warren’s investigated, is based on the 1981 murder trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (June 11, 2021)
The long-awaited return to the Ghostbusters franchise was supposed to hit in 2020, but like pretty much everything else, was delayed. It’ll finally arrive with the summer, picking up a ghostly story decades later as a new group of heroes stumbles upon the legacy of the original ‘Busters. The film stars Finn Wolfhard, Paul Rudd, and McKenna Grace — and is expected to feature plenty of cameo roles for OG stars like Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver.
Venom (2018) | Extended Post-Credit Scene: Eddie Brock Meets Carnage
Venom: Let There Be Carnage (June 25, 2021)
The first Venom was one of the biggest surprise hits of 2018, and Sony’s first big swing with a Spider-Man-verse spinoff. It starred Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, a man who connects with an alien symbiote and gains a wide range of superpowers. The film was a weird, wild mess of a ride — and it blew up the box office and fans loved it. Part 2 looks to go all-in on the world-building, introducing Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady, aka Carnage.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (July 9, 2021)
Marvel’s next phase of the MCU is built around tie-ins to Disney+ projects and a bevy of new heroes and franchises — and this is one of the biggest new launches of the era, and it's coming to the big screen. Shang-Chi finds Simu Liu stepping into the title role as the MCU’s first flagship film with an Asian lead. Production stalled due to the pandemic, but shooting has since wrapped. So, assuming Marvel is ready to release the film in 2021, it stands to reason it should be ready to roll.
The Forever Purge (July 9, 2021)
Presumably the final installment in the Purge franchise, this sequel picks up the story of the 12-hour period where all crime is legal. Little is known about the story for this new sequel, though considering recent sequels have delved into the politics of the Purge itself — it stands to reason a “Forever Purge” could be a final push for lawlessness, or a final push to stop The Purge once and for all. Whatever direction it tales, expect plenty of unsettling masks to tie it all together.
Space Jam: A New Legacy (July 16, 2021)
LeBron James steps into the shorts and jersey this time around, taking over the superstar role from Micheal Jordan for this long-gestating animated-live action hybrid sequel. The story finds LeBron joining up with Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes for a basketball game with some major stakes and plenty of wacky hijinks. Considering the cultural place the original has garnered in the years since its release, it’ll be interesting to see just how big of a slam dunk (sorry) this one turns out to be. Also of note, the film is part of Warner Bros. slate that will open simultaneously on HBO Max and theatrically, so you’ll have plenty of ways to see it.
Uncharted (July 16, 2021)
Considering that an Uncharted movie has been in the works for more than a decade, off and on, it’s only fitting that it actually gets finished during a pandemic that delayed and disrupted most everything else. But, it did get finished — and there is a real-life Uncharted movie in the can and on the calendar. The film stars Tom Holland as a young Nathan Drake, alongside Mark Wahlberg as a young “Sully,” as the duo get into a fresh adventure involving an architectural find and plenty of intrigue. The video game franchise is basically Indiana Jones meets Tomb Raider, and that’s a recipe that should be ripe for a film adaptation.
The Tomorrow War (July 23, 2021)
This big-budget, sci-fi action flick stars Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck), follows Earth’s last stand against an invading alien force. Their last ditch effort? Grab soldiers from the past, and pull them to the future to help shore up the human army to stave off extinction. The film was supposed to release around Christmas 2020, but was delayed due to the pandemic. Now they’re shooting for a big ol’ summer blockbuster.
Disney's Jungle Cruise | Official Trailer
Jungle Cruise (July 30, 2021)
Disney is back on its ride-to-movie kick, and this time it’s the Jungle Cruise headed down the river. The film stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt, and is a period action tale about a small riverboat crew on a wild mission to find the Tree of Life. But they’ll have to fend off the wilds of the jungle, and another expedition, if they hope to succeed. Vibe-wise, we’d expect this one to be like a PG-rated Anaconda via Pirates of the Caribbean. Which… actually sounds pretty cool?
THE SUICIDE SQUAD – DC FanDome Exclusive Sneak peek
The Suicide Squad (August 6, 2021)
James Gunn’s eagerly anticipated dip into the DC Comics canon looks to be one of the wildest superhero flicks of the year. The story finds the team of D-listers headed off on a daring mission, loaded with Gunn’s trademark wit and a bevy of practical stunt and effects work. The cast is also loaded, including Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Peter Capaldi, Sylvester Stallone, and a whole lot more. This one falls under the HBO Max deal, so it’s set for a simultaneous streaming and theatrical release.
Don’t Breathe 2 (August 13, 2021)
The first Don’t Breathe was a tense, terrifying, claustrophobic and darn scary horror flick. Now, Stephen Lang is back to take out some kidnappers this time around. The sequel finds The Blind Man (Lang) living the quiet life in a cabin, but when a young girl he’s taken in is kidnapped, he’s on the hunt once again. It’ll be interesting to see if the gimmick can work for Round 2, but if this film is half as good as the first, it’ll still be a thrill ride.
Candyman - In Theaters September (A Story Like That) (HD)
Candyman (August 27, 2021)
The classic slasher franchise is finally back, after the horror revival was delayed through 2020. The new film is a fresh tale of terror about the supernatural, hook-handed killer who caused so much trouble in the original film. This revival stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Parris; while original star Tony Todd reportedly returns as well. As if the classic horror pedigree wasn’t enough to get you interested, Jordan Peele also produced this revival, so you know it should hopefully be worth the wait.
Dune Official Trailer
Dune (October 1, 2021)
Another sci-fi epic that falls under the HBO Max/Warner Bros. deal, expect this one to roll out on both theaters and streaming simultaneously. The film, the first in a planned two-parter (although the second movie hasn't been officially confirmed yet), adapts Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel about a feud for the infinitely valuable “spice” of an alien world. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, this adaptation is loaded with A-listers, including Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, and Javier Bardem.
Halloween Kills - Teaser (In Theaters October 2021)
Halloween Kills (October 15, 2021)
It seems the only thing that can slow down Micheal Myers is, apparently, a pandemic. The sequel to the Halloween revival was pushed a year due to lockdown delays, though producers say nothing will stop it from hitting the new 2021 date. The film brings back Jamie Lee Curtis’ Lorie Strode, Judy Greer as her adult daughter, and Andi Matichak as Lorie’s granddaughter. This film apparently picks up pretty closely after the events of 2018’s Halloween, with the Strode family still trying to stop Myers.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (October 22, 2021)
The G.I. Joe franchise returns to the big screen, though this time they’re seeing if a spinoff might have a bit more success than the full-on team movies we’ve gotten up to this point. The story is pitched as an origin for the namesake soldier Snake Eyes, starring Henry Golding under the mask. Snake Eyes has always been one of the most popular members of the toy/animated series team, it’ll be interesting to see if a solo film is the right approach to finally turn this franchise into a bona fide hit.
ETERNALS #1 Final Trailer | Marvel Comics
Eternals (November 5, 2021)
This promises to be one of Marvel’s biggest, weirdest and most ambitious projects to date. Marvel has struck gold every time its taken lesser-known properties to the big screen — and with a cast featuring folks like Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kit Harington, Kumail Nanjiani, and Salma Hayek — the studio is betting big on this one. The story follows a race of mysterious, immortal aliens who step in to try and protect humanity from a newly resurfaced threat.
Fantastic Beasts In 2 Minutes | SYFY WIRE
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3 (November 12, 2021)
The third film in the Harry Potter prequel franchise, this one reportedly picks up a few years after the last film and chronicles the era leading up to World War II and the role magic may have played. The cast includes returning stars like Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, and Jude Law; plus new additions such as Mads Mikkelsen, who replaces Johnny Depp. The project is being directed by David Yates, who directed the first two Fantastic Beasts films (as well as the final four Harry Potter films).
How Those Mission Impossible: Fallout Stunts Happen | SYFY WIRE
Mission: Impossible 7 (November 19, 2021)
Another casualty of the pandemic, the next sequel in the Mission: Impossible franchise had its filming delayed due to COVID-19 precautions — though filming finally did resume and the sequel is now on track for late 2021. The film brings back franchise stalwarts Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, and Simon Pegg — while Agent Carter standout Hayley Atwell also joins the ensemble for the latest adventure. No word on the plot, but whatever it is, expect plenty of wild stunts.
Untitled Sony/Marvel Spider-Man 3 (December 17, 2021)
The next film in the Tom Holland-led Spider-Man film series looks to be a wild one, as the sequel is set to bring back former stars from the previous Spider-Man film franchises — i.e. players from the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield era. We know Jamie Foxx’s Electro and Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus will be there. There are also rumors Maguire and Garfield themselves will also show up for a triple dose of Spider-Man multiverse action. But all that is still rumor at this point. However it shakes out, this looks to be one of the biggest and most ambitious Spidey movies ever made.
The Matrix 4 (December 22, 2021)
It’s been a long time since we visited the world of The Matrix, but OG stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss return, and original co-director Lana Wachowski is back behind the camera. Little is known about the plot, but there’s no doubt this will be one of the most anticipated sci-fi flicks of the year. It also falls under the HBO Max deal with Warner Bros., so it’ll be streaming and theatrical just in time for Christmas.
The Batman - DC FanDome Teaser
There are also some movies that definitely could open in 2021, we just don’t know when because they’ve been bumped or moved off the calendar. Those include films like Malignant, Black Adam (though that’s likely to miss the 2021 window), and a bunch more. Then there are films like The Batman, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Tomb Raider 2, and Jurassic World: Dominion, which have pushed off to 2022.