The 12 most anticipated films of 2024: Dune Part Two, Joker sequel, Gladiator 2 and more

Remakes, long-awaited returns and much-hyped spin-offs dominate coming year's release schedule

Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya star in Dune: Part Two, which is expected to be out in February. Photo: Warner Bros Pictures
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After more than a decade of Marvel and DC-filled schedules, 2023 was the year that superhero movies lost their allure for many film-goers, with releases such as The Super Mario Bros Movie and Barbie dominating the global box office.

But just because there will be fewer capes in theatres doesn't mean that there won't be many familiar faces to look forward to in the coming year.

Here's a collection of titles to add to your must-watch list.

The Color Purple (January)

The second adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a black woman living in the American South in the early 1900s, this comes after Steven Spielberg’s 1985 version that starred Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey who, along with Quincy Jones, return to produce this bold new take, a musical from the Ghanaian director Blitz Bazawule. Fronting the impressive cast is actress-singer and American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino, who plays the beleaguered Celie Harris-Johnson. This is already generating awards buzz ahead of the coming season, picking up two Golden Globe nominations for its stellar cast.

Argylle (February)

In a plot that has a whiff of Romancing The Stone about it, Bryce Dallas Howard stars as a spy novel writer who gets sucked into the real world of espionage. Director Matthew Vaughn, who already brought us the James Bond-like Kingsman franchise, says this is his ode to Lethal Weapon, Die Hard and other classic 80s' action movies. The support cast bulges with A-list talent including Henry Cavill, Samuel L Jackson, John Cena and singer Dua Lipa, who is also providing music for the title track and score.

Dune: Part Two (March)

Delayed due to the actors' strike that shook Hollywood, the second part of Denis Villeneuve’s epic take on Frank Herbert’s sci-fi tome is poised to become the first mega-blockbuster of 2024. Dune: Part Two, like its predecessor, was partly filmed in Jordan and Abu Dhabi, further showcasing the region’s spectacular landscapes. With Timothee Chalamet returning as the exiled Duke Paul Atreides, this sequel features cast additions including Christopher Walken, Lea Seydoux and a terrifying (and very bald) looking Austin Butler as Baron Harkonnen’s fearsome nephew.

Back To Black (April)

The tragic story of late singer Amy Winehouse has already been captivatingly put on screen by director Asif Kapadia in his Oscar-winning documentary Amy, though reportedly to the dissatisfaction of Winehouse’s family. Here, the Winehouse estate has fully endorsed this biopic retelling of her rise and fall. Expectations are high, given director Sam Taylor-Johnson and writer Matt Greenhalgh previously collaborated on the well-received John Lennon bio Nowhere Boy. And with the casting of rising star Marisa Abela (Industry), a real lookalike for Winehouse, this could be special.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (May)

George Miller’s 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road was a showstopper, a barnstorming multi-Oscar-winning return to the apocalyptic saga he began in the late 1970s. One of the last film's biggest triumphs was the arrival of Furiosa, the female road warrior – played by Charlize Theron – who was more than a match for Tom Hardy’s Mad Max. This latest instalment tells of Furiosa’s early years, with Anya Taylor-Joy (Last Night In Soho) replacing Theron as the character. Expect more desert-set, motor-fuelled action.

Inside Out 2 (June)

Pixar has endured a rough ride of late, with three of its recent films debuting exclusively on streaming platforms in the US due to the pandemic, and 2021's Lightyear not being released in parts of the Middle East. But Inside Out 2 brings the animation outfit back to one of its recent highs, the 2015 Oscar winner that was primarily set inside the mind of a youngster named Riley, following the anthropomorphised emotions that guide her. The sequel reunites audiences with the lead characters Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust, who must now contend with a new kid on the block as Riley becomes a teenager: Anxiety. With Maya Hawke voicing this emotion, the film comes directed by storyboard artist and screenwriter Kelsey Mann in his feature debut.

Alien: Romulus (August)

The Alien franchise has long been a mess. First the Alien vs Predator spin-offs. Then Ridley Scott’s disappointing prequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. And Neill Blomkamp’s promising-looking effort, set to bring Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley back, was axed. But now there’s hope, with Fede Alvarez (Don’t Breathe) taking the reins with a story set between Scott’s 1979 original Alien and James Cameron’s 1986 follow-up Aliens. Cailee Spaeny, seen recently as Priscilla Presley in Sofia Coppola’s biopic, will come up against the xenomorph.

Beetlejuice 2 (September)

Talk about long-awaited. The follow-up to Tim Burton’s ghoulish 1988 comedy Beetlejuice – the film that turned him into an A-List director – has been in the works for years. So, finally, we have a sequel, with Michael Keaton back as the ghostly Beetlejuice, with Winona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara also reprising their roles from the first film. Joining them will be Jenny Ortega, star of the Burton-produced Netflix series Wednesday, along with Willem Dafoe and Monica Bellucci, with Brad Pitt’s company Plan B producing.

Joker: Folie a Deux (October)

A controversial sensation when it came out, Todd Phillips’ Joker shook up the DC Comics universe with a radical retelling of the story behind Batman’s unhinged nemesis. Its star Joaquin Phoenix won an Oscar for his troubles, but the film was accused of glamourising incel culture. So what does Phillips do? Create a sequel that embraces the musical. The mind boggles. Lady Gaga co-stars as Harley Quinn, the psychiatrist assigned to Phoenix’s former party clown Arthur Fleck, who will surely run wild with him.

Gladiator 2 (November)

Ridley Scott is on a roll after Napoleon, and now the 86-year-old returns to one of his greatest triumphs, the Roman epic Gladiator. Despite filming being interrupted by the actors’ strike, production is now back on track for a late 2024 release. Penned by David Scarpa, who wrote Napoleon and Scott’s Getty bio All The Money In The World, it stars Paul Mescal as Lucius, the son of Lucilla – the beloved of Russell Crowe’s (now dead) warrior Maximus from the 2000 original.

Paddington in Peru (November)

The cuddly talking bear Paddington has long been a British institution, never more so than when he co-starred with Queen Elizabeth II in a short skit to mark her Platinum Jubilee. After two hugely successful feature outings – 2017’s Paddington 2 somehow even eclipsing the majesty of the first film – he returns for a third adventure. As the title suggests, the marmalade sandwich-eating bear (again voiced by Ben Whishaw) will return to Darkest Peru, the land where he grew up. Can magic strike three times?

The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim (December)

The Amazon Lord of the Rings prequel series may have left some critics underwhelmed, but this animated film looks very promising. Directed by Japanese anime king Kenji Kamiyama (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex), this prequel is reportedly set 261 years before events seen in Peter Jackson’s trilogy. Fresh off his mighty turn in Succession, Brian Cox will play Helm Hammerhand, a legendary king of Rohan. And for fans of Jackson’s landmark films, Miranda Otto is back in her role as the noblewoman Eowyn. What a way to see out 2024.

Updated: December 31, 2023, 10:48 AM