With the US summer box office in a virtual free fall, 2017’s strong autumnal roster of movie releases will be a sight for sore eyes – both for audiences and Hollywood studios. From September through to December, we’ve put together a list of the best blockbusters, horror, sci-fi, and fantasy movies hitting theaters in Fall 2017.
Release Date: September 8th
Director: Andrés Muschietti
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard
For an author who has provided cinema with such a deep reservoir of source material, it seems bizarre that we’ve had to wait over 30 years for a proper big screen adaptation of one of his most famous works: It. Coulrophobia sufferers aside, this could well be cinema audiences most anticipated film this year with the first official trailer for the movie gaining the most views for a movie promo of 2017 on YouTube – at least until a certain Star Wars trailer dropped.
Telling the first half of Stephen King’s tale of the young Losers Club going up against an infanticidal entity – who takes the shape of Pennywise the clown – in their home town, this 2017 adaptation will have to shine very brightly to step out of the shadow of the beloved TV mini-series. The biggest challenge there will fall to Bill Skarsgard coming somewhere close to Tim Curry’s immortal performance as Pennywise, but early glimpses of the Scandinavian actor in the role suggests that won’t be a problem.
Director Andres Muschetti has stuck with the book’s time period, which could prove to be a smart decision given Netflix’s Stranger Things success with all things 80’s last year, and Stephen King himself has given the film a sincere seal of approval by claiming even he was surprised by how much Muschietti’s take on his story scared him. Of course, King adaptations are a mercurial process which has produced some of the best and worst examples of cinema ever but, hopefully, It will be closer to the former than the latter.
Anticipation Level: 9/10
Kingsmen: The Golden Circle
Release Date: September 22nd
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Taron Egerton, Channing Tatum, Colin Firth, Halle Berry, Sophie Cookson
This sequel to 2014’s Kingsmen: The Secret Service, will be looking re-capture the irreverent Bond-esque magic that made its predecessor such a welcome sleeper hit. Taron Egerton returns as the cocky Cockney superspy, Eggsy, who must save the world once again after the Kingsmen headquarters is destroyed, forcing the underground British spy ring to work with their American counterparts.
Given the premise, we can probably expect plenty of “two nations divided by one language” jokes, which will undoubtedly be enlivened by a star-studded cast. So long as the action remains as sharp as the writing in the first movie, then Kingsmen: The Golden Circle will likely reap the rewards of the appeal of its predecessor that has grown exponentially since its release three years ago.
Anticipation Level: 8/10
Blade Runner 2049
Release Date: October 6th
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Jared Leto, Robin Wright, Dave Bautista
It’s quite difficult to gauge the excitement level for this long-gestating sequel to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic. On the one hand, director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins have absolutely nailed the look of the original, and many would say that’s most of the battle won for a follow-up to a film that’s main influence was its prophetic production design. On the other, we have a sequel that many never wanted in the first place and feel that any attempt to even equal such a seminal piece of work is an exercise in futility.
Whichever point of view you hold and however the final film turns out, there will undoubtedly be a curiosity surrounding Blade Runner 2049 that will be difficult to resist. Ryan Gosling will be the Blade Runner this time around in a world that seems to have become more tolerant of replicants since the first film. All the trailers so far have hinted heavily a war brewing between man and machine, with Jared Leto’s Niander Wallace trying to bolster the forces of the latter.
Harrison Ford’s return as Deckard could be taken as a good omen that the project is on the right course, but then he was famously not a fan of the original. However, the presence of Villeneuve at the helm can only be seen a positive with the Canadian director having a near faultless CV to date who knocked it out of the park when he came the sci-fi genre with Arrival last year. Fingers crossed that his guidance has resulted in a sequel that’s worthiness of its predecessor is more than just skin-deep.
Anticipation Level: 7/10
Release Date: October 27th
Director: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Starring: Tobin Bell, Laura Vandervort, Callum Keith Rennie, Brittany Allen, Matt Passmore
It has been 8 years since the last Saw movie “graced” the big screen and probably far longer since most people gave a damn about the fatigued franchise, but hopefully, a long rest has done it the world of good. While it’s the height of credulity to be taken in by a slick trailer, there’s definitely something to the Jigsaw promo that suggests the once massively profitable horror series has been re-invigorated.
The most significant takeaway from what we’ve seen so far is that this seventh entry into the franchise has gone back to basics with a plethora of devious traps and, implausibly, the return of Tobin Bell as John Kramer, AKA Jigsaw. While you shouldn’t bet the farm on this resurrection of arguably the only credible example of the 2000’s torture porn obsession being worthwhile, it might be worth the price of a theater ticket to find out. Let’s hope Jigsaw wants to play a game again for the joy of it rather than the cash.
Anticipation Level: 6/10
Release Date: November 3rd
Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum, Jaimie Alexander
Perhaps it was appropriate that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 shared a similar aesthetic with Hello Games’ expansive No Man’s Sky since the Marvel Cinematic Universe has certainly had the feel of being procedurally generated of late. Thor’s third solo movie may be about to offer something a little more bespoke, however.
The jovial tone struck by all of Ragnarok‘s trailers is demonstrating the level of self-deprecation that Thor has been so sorely lacking in his solo efforts, despite that quality always making his character so much more engaging when on Avengers duty. The presence of Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) behind the lens virtually guarantees there will be laughs throughout and the Kiwi director has coated the film in a gloriously garish early 80’s sheen that suits the perpetually preposterous Nordic god to a tee.
But the most welcome sight so far has been Cate Blanchett’s Hela finally bringing a big bad worth reckoning with to the MCU (though we’re not entirely convinced by her accent yet) and let’s not forget the Hulk getting some valuable screen time outside of an Avenger’s title. All in all, the smart money is on this being the best and most distinct Marvel outing since 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
Anticipation Level: 9/10
Release Date: November 17th
Director: Zack Snyder/Josh Whedon
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Henry Cavill
This latest entry into the DCEU is probably the most difficult title to predict on this list. While this year’s Wonder Woman was an undeniable triumph for the studio, the stench of the steady stream of raw sewage from their previous output still lingers. That has been little other than news of further discontent coming out of Warner Bros. regarding this mostly maligned cinematic universe since WW and a tragically enforced change of director for this crucial team-up movie isn’t exactly encouraging either.
Still, the return of Gal Gadot’s Diana will, of course, be very welcome as will Ben Affleck donning Batman’s cowl once again (though perhaps he could lay off the wanton death and destruction this time). And if Justice League can retain the narrative focus of Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman then there could be few reasons why JL can’t carry on the fine work of that film. However, the team-up movie is the superhero genre’s big league and let’s just say the DCEU’s last effort to join it, Suicide Squad, was found wanting in the extreme.
Likewise, that very little ground work has been done on a significant portion of the character roster (The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg) means it’s hard to see the League’s formation as being little more than a meet & greet before they take on Steppenwolf. Marvel’s Avengers hit the ground running when it arrived in 2012 on the back of solid preparation and it would be nearly impossible to argue that Justice League is starting from the same position. So, the odds are definitely stacked against Justice League managing to equal Marvel’s flagship, but that would make such an achievement even more astonishing and satisfying if it manages to.
Anticipation Level: 5/10
The Shape of Water
Release Date: December 8th
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Richard Spencer
The latest offering from the world’s most prominent horror-fantasy auteur, Guillermo del Toro, came as something of a surprise when the trailer dropped at Comic Con this year. The Shape of Water is another dark fairy tale from the Pan’s Labyrinth director set in 1962 during the Cold War. Doug Jones – a del Toro regular – will be front and center for once as “The Asset”, a water-bound creature with more than a passing similarity to Abe Sapien from Hellboy (who was also played by Jones), who develops an apparently romantic relationship with mute lab worker Elisa (played by British actress Sally Hawkins).
Michael Shannon is on villain duty as the man who wishes for The Asset to be dissected for research purposes and the heavy weight cast is also bolstered by the likes of Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins. The main draw, however, will be del Toro’s gorgeous and striking visuals in his pet project, which he presumably pitched as Amelie meets The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Early word is scant on the picture, but don’t be surprised to see The Shape of Water reaching the top positions on many FOTY lists come the end of 2017.
Anticipation Level: 8/10
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Release Date: December 15th
Director: Rian Johnston
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Laura Dern
This one needs no introduction with the middle chapter of the new Star Wars trilogy being one of the most anticipated films of all time, not just of 2017. A darker tone from The Force Awakens is guaranteed going off the excellent first trailer, which heavily suggests that Luke has been dabbling with the dark side in his years of isolation and could be asking Daisy Ridley’s Rey to do the same as the veteran Jedi demands they bring an end to their kind.
With Episode VII being so reliant on A New Hope‘s template, it’s not unreasonable to presume The Last Jedi will do likewise with its successor, The Empire Strikes Back, though a little more independence would be welcome this time around. The Last Jedi also offers the best avenue for the expansion of Star Wars lore on the big screen with the spin off Star Wars Stories announced so far honing so close to the original trilogy.
While it’s doubtful Episode VIII can topple its predecessor as the third most successful film of all time, there’s certainly room for improvement in the storytelling department but hopes spring eternal it preserves the infectious personality and reverence of Episode VII. But, most of all, let’s hope Carrie Fisher’s final screen appearance is a fitting send off for the late, great star.
Anticipation Level: 10/10