It’s been another tough year for cinemas, though at least exhibitors can expect to see some improvement on 2020’s dismal results, after pandemic-driven closures and restrictions led to an 80 per cent year-on-year drop in revenues at the US box office, and similarly depressing figures all around the world.
With new variants a constant threat, we still don’t know what 2022 might bring, but the signs are at least promising that we may see something resembling a return to normality within the film industry.
All through 2021, online movie treasure trove IMDb kept tabs on what movies its millions of film-loving users are most excited about for 2022, and as New Year approaches, it has announced the results.
Cineastes may be a little disturbed by the sheer volume of sequels and franchise movies in this year’s run down, while fans of James Cameron may be surprised by the absence of Avatar 2 from the year-end list (perhaps after more than a decade waiting fans simply don’t care anymore?).
Here are the 10 films for 2022 that have people most excited as we head into the new year.
Note: release information is correct at the time of writing, but, as always, subject to change, so check local listings for details.
1. 'The Batman' (March 2022)
Matt Reeves took over writing and directing duties on this reboot from Ben Affleck when the star stepped down in 2017, bringing Robert Pattinson on board to play the lead role when Affleck vacated that spot in 2019.
The Cloverfield director promises a slightly different take on the familiar Batman story. His claimed film noir approach picks up in the early years of Batman’s crime-fighting career, rather than yet another origins story (so we may finally get a new Batman without that pearls-in-the alley scene). Reeves has also revealed that his Bruce Wayne was inspired by Nirvana legend Kurt Cobain.
Warner Brothers appear to have faith – they’ve already approved two sequels and two spin-off TV series on HBO.
2. 'Scream' (January 2022)
A quarter-century after Ghostface originally stalked the residents of sleepy Woodsboro, a new killer has pulled on the distinctive mask and targeted a fresh group of teenagers for his unwelcome attention.
Original cast members Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Neve Campbell return in this sequel to 2011’s Scream IV, alongside newcomers Melissa Barrera, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega and Jack Quaid.
The film is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, making it the first in the franchise not to be directed by horror legend Wes Craven, who died following a brain tumour in 2015.
3. 'Thor: Love and Thunder' (July 2022)
Taika Waititi returns to the Thor franchise he revitalised with 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, as does Chris Hemsworth as Thor, heading up an all-star cast that also features Natalie Portman, Christian Bale and Vin Diesel.
The film is set to incorporate elements of the storyline of the Mighty Thor comic books, including, Waititi has confirmed, Portman’s character Jane Foster taking on the mantle of Mighty Thor.
The director has also worked closely with Guardians of the Galaxy helmsman James Gunn to incorporate the Guardians into the film, which has fans understandably excited.
4. 'Top Gun: Maverick' (May 2022)
The long-awaited, and oft-postponed, sequel to 1986’s Top Gun should finally make it onto our screens in May. The film, directed by Joseph Kosinski, finds Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell still working as one of the US navy’s top pilots, despite his advancing years, and desperately fighting the promotion that would ground him, and which his superiors are equally desperate to bestow upon him.
When young pilot Lt Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), son of Maverick’s former wingman Nick “Goose” Bradshaw comes on the scene, Maverick is forced to face the ghosts of his past.
5. 'Killers of the Flower Moon' (TBC)
The first non-franchise/sequel in this year’s rundown, Killers of the Flower Moon has Oscars contender written all over it. It is directed by Hollywood royalty Martin Scorsese and adapted by Oscar-winning Forrest Gump writer Eric Roth from David Grann’s critically adored investigation of the oil-related mass murder of at least 20 native Americans in 1920s Oklahama, which in part led to the creation of the FBI.
The cast is headlined by Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, but the film is yet to receive a confirmed release date beyond “2022". It definitely looks like one to keep an eye on.
6. 'Jurassic World: Dominion' (June 2022)
Colin Trevorrow returns to the Jurassic Park franchise alongside stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum, for another helping of dinosaur resurrection madness.
The film is the sixth in the series, and the third in the Jurassic World trilogy. Dominion picks up the story four years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, in which genetically engineered dinosaurs were auctioned to companies around the world while others were released on the US mainland.
It should probably come as a surprise to no one that this course of action hasn’t proven to be entirely without flaw, and our heroes are left cleaning up the mess.
7. 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' (May 2022)
The second Doctor Strange film, and 28th Marvel Cinematic Universe offering, brings Evil Dead helmer Sam Raimi to the director’s chair, and features returning stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Benedict Wong and Amy McAdams, plus a key role for Marvel favourite Scarlet Witch, reprised by Elizabeth Olsen.
In typical Marvel fashion, script details are thin on the ground, but Doctor Strange has always been one of Marvel’s more out-there characters, so with multiverses, the insane genius of Raimi running the show and “madness” even referenced in the title, we can probably expect something we didn’t expect.
8. 'Mission: Impossible 7' (September 2022)
In the seventh film in the Mission Impossible franchise, directed by Christopher McQuarrie, Tom Cruise and co are battling not only the world’s evil doers, but also the Covid pandemic, as evidenced by much-publicised “bubble” villages allowing production to continue in Abu Dhabi and the UK.
Shot under a blanket of secrecy under the codename Libra, we don’t know too much about the plot. That's hardly the key draw of the MI films, however, and we can expect to find Cruise performing more of his own outrageous stunts in a variety of exotic locations as he puts the world’s ills to rights.
9. 'Uncharted' (February 2022)
Audiences haven’t traditionally been too well-served by video game adaptations, but that hasn’t stopped IMDb’s users propelling Uncharted into ninth spot among 2022’s most anticipated films.
Star Tom Holland can currently do no wrong it seems, while co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Antonio Banderas can usually be relied upon to carry an entertaining yarn, too.
Perhaps with Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer at the helm, this reworking of the treasure-hunting Playstation favourite can finally deliver that most elusive of cinematic treasures: a videogame adaptation that’s actually worth watching.
10. 'The Flash' (November 2022)
It seems hard to believe that we haven’t actually already seen The Flash. The film has been in development since 2004, and Ezra Miller’s version of Barry Adams/The Flash has appeared so frequently on both the big screen and TV that it certainly feels like it.
We haven’t though, and with It director Andres Muschietti in charge, there’s plenty to get excited about. The film is set to introduce the multiverse concept to the DC movie world, and both Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck are set to reprise their roles as Batman from their respective universes, while Michael Shannon will be returning as Man of Steel’s General Zod.
This information alone is frankly enough to mark the film out as a must-see, even though DC are keeping plot specifics under typically heavy wraps.