Film

From poltergeists to Paddington: Here's all the films to look forward to in 2024

The return of a certain Peruvian bear is just one of the cinema highlights lined up for the coming year

Chris Hemsworth in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Chris Hemsworth in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga. Image: © Warner Bros.

If 2023 was the year of #Barbenheimer then what might happen for film in 2024? Will there be anything that could possibly create another culture-dominating conversation where surging ticket sales are matched by prestigious awards buzz? At first glance: no.  

Partly that’s because 2024 has forcibly become a transitional, rather hotch-potch year. Many major US studios pushed their big releases back while they were prolonging the (now resolved) writing and acting strikes. It has also, unexpectedly, become Kryptonite for superhero movies, as the once unassailable Marvel Studios and their main rival Warner Bros (custodians of Superman and Batman) both take some time out to regroup in the face of relative box office indifference to all things lycra-clad. But perhaps a non-typical, mutated movie year could be a good thing? Let’s gaze into the Hollywood crystal ball to break it down. 

A big year for ghosts 

Nothing can match the tingly sensation of being scared out of your wits in a dark room. That’s why horror remains such a resilient movie genre. But 2024 also features a cluster of films that involve communing with spirits in relatively non-terrifying ways. In the heartbreaking, already award-winning All of Us Strangers (out 26 January), lonely writer Andrew Scott discovers that he can interact with – and belatedly come out to – his long-dead parents. Hoping to evoke a less fraught feeling of nostalgia will be Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (29 March), which brings the now multi-generational crew of wraith rovers back to their New York firehouse. Similarly, most of the original gang – including Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder and director Tim Burton – are back for a belated second round of bawdy supernatural hijinks in Beetlejuice 2 (6 September). It will surely be more fun than Keaton’s clunky Batman cameo in The Flash

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Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman in Deadpool 3.
Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman in Deadpool 3. Image: FlixPix / Alamy Stock Photo

A wobbly year for superheroes 

Poised to capitalise on 2024’s comicbook movie drought is Sony, who own the rights to various characters related to Spider-Man. First up in the studio’s triple-pronged 2024 slate is Dakota Johnson as Madame Web (16 February), a paramedic turned clairvoyant trying to nobble a hero-hunting killer. Then Aaron Taylor-Johnson will don the furry waistcoat of Kraven the Hunter (30 August), a long-standing Spidey villain reimagined as an extremely militant animal rights activist. And Tom Hardy returns for Venom 3 (8 November), the silly but enjoyable saga of a mumbling journalist conjoined with a goopy, petulant alien. But none of these tangential efforts are likely to be as successful as sweary sequel Deadpool 3 (26 July), which finds narky anti-hero Ryan Reynolds celebrating joining the official Marvel family by persuading Hugh Jackman to grow out his sideburns again as Wolverine.  

Some sequels that might actually be good

Hollywood still loves sequels – there are apparently over 130 currently in active development – but some look more promising than others. Potential standouts for 2024 include the delayed Dune: Part Two (1 March) which sees the gloomily grand sci-fi epic get a belated injection of fun in the form of Florence Pugh as a galactic princess. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (24 May) jumps decades ahead of the recent trilogy but will need to go hard to escape the shadow of absent motion-capture master Andy Serkis. Joker: Folie à Deux (4 October) has Lady Gaga joining Joaquin Phoenix’s sweaty clown for a musical sequel that is sure to be more transgressive than toe-tapping. More heartwarming will watching everyone’s favourite accident-prone bear head home for Paddington in Peru (8 November). Another cuddly national treasure – the indefatigable Ridley Scott – will be hoping to strike Oscar gold again with Gladiator 2 (22 November), which will feature in-demand Irish dreamboat Paul Mescal fighting a pack of baboons. Nobody tell Kraven the Hunter. 

Some prequels that might actually be great

After the thrilling junkyard chaos of Mad Max: Fury Road, you wouldn’t bet against director George Miller pulling it off again with Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (24 May), starring Anya Taylor-Joy as the the younger incarnation of Charlize Theron’s anguished, one-armed imperator. Even the most casual Tolkien fans know that Helm’s Deep is a significant location in the fantasy saga’s sprawling mythos. The new animated prequel The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim (13 December) rewinds back centuries to explore the reign of Helm Hammerhand (voiced by Brian Cox), the Rohan leader for which the fortress was named. If Disney’s recent production line of live-action remakes has had a sporadic success rate, Mufasa: The Lion King (20 December) – exploring the childhood of Simba’s dad – comes with a fine pedigree. It has been overseen by Oscar-winning Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, a film-maker who knows a thing or two about pride. 

At least a handful of original ideas

When one of Universal’s biggest releases of 2024 is an adaptation of a cheesy 1980s TV show – The Fall Guy (3 May) stars Ryan Gosling as a haphazard stuntman – it might feel like fresh thinking is thin on the ground. But there are at least a couple of upcoming films not based on existing movies, TV shows or toy lines. The cryptic Argylle (2 February) looks like a surreal spin on Bond, with Henry Cavill as a dapper metafictional secret agent with a high barnet. Drive-Away Dolls (15 March) is Ethan Coen’s first film without his brother Joel, a cross-country lesbian crime caper starring Margaret Qualley. The hands-on involvement of John Krasinski and Ryan Reynolds probably helped IF (24 May) get the green light: it’s a fantasy comedy about abandoned imaginary friends. And the resurgent M Night Shyamalan is also back with Trap (2 August), a presumably twist-filled thriller starring Josh Hartnett and set entirely at a gig. So 2024 will feature some things old, some things new, something with Hartnett queuing for the loo… perhaps we can survive without quite so many superheroes after all. 

Graeme Virtue is a film and TV critic.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy!

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