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24 films to look out for in 2024, from Joker 2 to Paddington in Peru

Mark in your diaries: ‘Challengers’, Paddington, ‘Lisa Frankenstein’, the sequel to Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, ‘Dune: Part Two’ and ‘Poor Things’ head up our 2024 movie preview (iStock/Warner Bros/Focus Features/Searchlight)
Mark in your diaries: ‘Challengers’, Paddington, ‘Lisa Frankenstein’, the sequel to Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, ‘Dune: Part Two’ and ‘Poor Things’ head up our 2024 movie preview (iStock/Warner Bros/Focus Features/Searchlight)

The superhero isn’t dead, but their cape has at least been sucked into a jet engine and left them temporarily dazzled. If there’s one thing to notice about cinema in 2024, it’s the relative absence of CGI portals to the sky and masked people shooting lasers out of their hands.

Apart from Deadpool 3, which is – sight unseen – already the most annoying film of the year, DC and Marvel have gone on hiatus, felled by the shocking news that few of us wanted to watch, um, Blue Beetle or Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

So where does that leave us? Next year does, admittedly, have its fair share of reboots and sequels – but they at least sound fun this time around. Dune: Part Two will finally be released. Ti West and Mia Goth are following up their sexy, strange double bill of X and Pearl with the porn industry slasher MaXXXine. It’s Daisy Edgar-Jones versus a massive tornado in the belated Twister sequel… Twisters! It’s Paul Mescal versus a massive tiger again – presumably – in the belated Gladiator sequel… Gladiator 2!

And then there are the auteurs making their eagerly anticipated comebacks, from Bong Joon-ho and Marielle Heller, to George Miller (with Fury Road prequel Furiosa) and Barry Jenkins. The latter may be the sequel to the CGI Lion King that absolutely no one asked for, but it’s Barry Jenkins – how bad can it really be?

To whet your appetites for next year, we’ve curated 24 of the most exciting films scheduled for UK release in 2024.

Poor Things

Emma Stone embarks on a sexual and spiritual odyssey in this hyper-surreal adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s eccentric bestseller. She plays a young woman brought back to life by a Frankenstein-like scientist, only with the brain of her unborn baby implanted in her head. Stone’s performance here is agile, flamboyant and almost outrageously ballsy, and it’s a testament to her creative chemistry with director Yorgos Lanthimos (of The Favourite and The Lobster) that Poor Things ultimately becomes as sweet and tender as it is strange. (12 January)

The Book of Clarence

There are shades of The Life of Brian to this biblical comedy, which revolves around a downtrodden man (Lakeith Stanfield) who attempts to mount his own religion in 29 AD Jerusalem. This is also director Jeymes Samuel’s follow-up to his wildly free-wheeling western The Harder They Fall from 2021, and has attracted an equally star-studded cast: James McAvoy, Omar Sy, David Oyelowo, Benedict Cumberbatch and Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin are all on the call sheet. (19 January)

The Zone of Interest

Jonathan Glazer arguably has the most enviable career in filmmaking: absolutely vanish for years at a time, then pop up with a five-star masterpiece. The Zone of Interest is only his fourth film, following the black comedy Sexy Beast (2000), the Nicole Kidman mystery Birth (2004) and his haunting Scarlett Johansson alien movie Under the Skin (2013). It is arguably his most ambitious yet. It’s set in a family home presided over by a Nazi commandant and situated right next to Auschwitz, with domestic rituals and marital squabbles quite literally soundtracked by the gunfire and petrified screams emanating from over the fence. Understandably, this is a horrifying, queasy but must-see piece of work – deep evil depicted at its most blithe and everyday. (2 February)

The Iron Claw

While the story of the Von Erich family, titans in the world of wrestling, may be an intriguing prospect, it’s the stars of The Iron Claw that are heightening anticipation. The drama brings together three leading men from disparate Hollywood arenas – Zac Efron, rising British star Harris Dickinson and Jeremy Allen White, who is currently impressing viewers as Chef Carmy in US series The Bear. (9 February)

American muscle: Harris Dickinson, Zac Efron, Stanley Simons and Jeremy Allen White in ‘The Iron Claw’ (Eric Chakeen)
American muscle: Harris Dickinson, Zac Efron, Stanley Simons and Jeremy Allen White in ‘The Iron Claw’ (Eric Chakeen)

Evil Does Not Exist

Another festival award winner set to be released in 2024 is Evil Does Not Exist, the latest film from Japanese director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi. Fresh off his Oscar-winning success with Drive My Car, which was Best Picture-nominated in 2022, Hamaguchi’s new film follows villagers of an idyllic town whose peace is threatened by the arrival of a construction company hoping to turn it into a glamping site. The film beat out Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon and Poor Things, to win Best Film at the BFI London Film Festival. (1 March)

Dune: Part Two

Next year will, obviously, bring a deluge of sequels. But sitting at the top of the heap is Dune: Part Two, which is arriving later than planned: its release was originally set for November 2023, but the duelling writers’ and actors’ strikes saw Warner Bros push it back by four months. Denis Villeneuve’s follow-up will see Florence Pugh and Elvis’s Austin Butler join returning star Timothée Chalamet. And this time around, Zendaya will actually have something to do! (9 March)

Monster

Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda is one of the world’s most prolific directors, having directed eight (very good) films in the last 10 years. Just one year after the release of Broker – not to mention his criminally little-seen Netflix series The Makanai – Kore-eda has struck gold again with Monster. The film, which features the final score by late composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, follows a mother (Sakura Andō) who confronts a teacher after noticing disturbing changes in her son’s behaviour. It won Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival. (15 March)

Drive-Away Dolls

The Ethan half of the Coen Brothers has directed and co-written a lesbian caper movie in which Margaret Qualley and Blockers star Geraldine Viswanathan get their hands on a mysterious briefcase and tangle with crooks and criminals played by the likes of Pedro Pascal, Matt Damon and Colman Domingo. Honestly, some movies just sell themselves. (15 March)

Lisa Frankenstein

Anyone remotely cool will recognise the genius of Diablo Cody’s Jennifer’s Body, with Megan Fox as a possessed cheerleader who eats teenage boys. Lisa Frankenstein, Cody’s new film – and directed by Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda – seems very much in that wheelhouse. Kathryn Newton stars as a goth teenager in 1989 – so very Lydia Deetz – who resurrects a Victorian-era teenager from the local graveyard, and embarks on a murderous rampage with him. (22 March)

Mickey 17

Space off: Robert Pattinson in Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Mickey 17’ (Warner Bros)
Space off: Robert Pattinson in Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Mickey 17’ (Warner Bros)

Bong Joon-ho has a big act to follow with his next film. In 2020, the Korean filmmaker won universal acclaim for Parasite, which became the first film not in the English language to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Mickey 17 is a sci-fi thriller, based on Edward Ashton’s 2022 novel Mickey7. Robert Pattinson leads the film as a space-travelling clone, with his impressive array of support including Steven Yeun, Naomi Ackie, Toni Collette, Mark Ruffalo and, yes, Thomas Turgoose. (29 March)

Challengers

I will always support workers’ unions. But did I briefly turn into Margaret Thatcher when the actors’ strike pushed this bisexual threesome romcom out of its September 2023 release and into April? Unfortunately, yes. Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and West Side Story’s Mike Faist play the three corners of a tennis-playing love triangle who spend a night together. Years later, they’re reunited for a Grand Slam championship match. Luca Guadagnino, the randy Italian responsible for Call Me by Your Name and Bones and All, is behind the camera. Could this be the sexiest movie of 2023 2024? (26 April)

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

It’s been seven years since the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise appeared to draw to a close with 2017’s stellar War for the Planet of the Apes, but the powerful primates are back. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, directed by Maze Runner filmmaker Wes Ball, is set several generations after the previous film’s events, with the apes – led by Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand) – leading a coastal clan of apes in search of human technology. (24 May)

Twisters

Next year will see the release of Twisters, which could be the most unexpected sequel in a long while. In case you need us to spell it out, the film is a follow-up to the 1996 disaster film Twister, which starred Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and its director is even more surprising: Lee Isaac Chung, who is graduating from independent films Munyurangabo (2007) and Minari (2020) to a $200m-budgeted epic. Joining him for the wind-swept ride is Daisy Edgar-Jones, Glen Powell and Into the Heights star Anthony Ramos. (19 July)

Trap

I’ll wager that at least a few dozen people left screenings of Oppenheimer last summer with one thought in their minds: “Wasn’t Josh Hartnett great in that?!” Now no longer serenaded by screaming teenage girls eager to get their Pearl Harbor posters signed, Hartnett is in full movie-star mode again, headlining this top-secret thriller from M Night Shyamalan. Described as a psychological horror set at a concert, Trap sees Hartnett star as a doting dad who crosses paths with a young rock performer, played by Shyamalan’s daughter Saleka. Shyamalan has current form with movies that go all-in with derangement (Ron Weasley terrorising gay dads! Beaches that make people turn old!), so this will inevitably be a treat. (2 August)

Beetlejuice 2

After what feels like decades of development, a sequel to Tim Burton’s best film Beetlejuice will arrive in 2024, reuniting fans with Michael Keaton’s unruly bio-exorcist 36 years later. Original stars who’ll return include Winona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara, as Lydia and Deelia Deetz, with Wednesday breakout Jenna Ortega set to play Lydia’s daughter. This time around, Beetlejuice will also have a wife – played by Monica Bellucci. (6 September)

Joker: Folie à Deux

There’s a lot of hype surrounding Joker: Folie à Deux, what with Todd Phillips’s Joker ending up one of the biggest films of 2019. Making things more interesting this time around is the fact that the sequel will be a musical co-starring Lady Gaga. The singer, whose film credits include A Star is Born and House of Gucci, will play the Harley Quinn to Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker. Whether the film can recapture the stratospheric success of the first remains to be seen (it grossed more than $1bn at the global box office), but Warner Bros undoubtedly has high hopes. (4 October)

Paddington in Peru

The world is in need of a new Paddington film and fortunately, in 2024, that is exactly what we’ll get. Ben Whishaw is returning to voice the bear whose Peruvian roots will be explored in the sure-to-be heartwarming sequel, with Hugh Bonneville, Julie Walters, Olivia Colman and Antonio Banderas showing up in live-action roles. Things will go clumsily awry (this is Paddington, after all) with the bear and his adopted family’s trip to Peru taking a chaotic turn in the Amazon rainforest. (8 November)

Alto Knights

A gangster drama starring Robert De Niro in a dual role as two competing Italian-American mob bosses, from the writer of Goodfellas? Sure – why not! Titled Alto Knights, the film, from Rain Man and Sleepers director Barry Levinson, follows the rivalry between mobsters Vito Genovese and Frank Costello, with De Niro, now 80, playing both. Debra Messing, Cosmo Jarvis and Euphoria actor Kathrine Narducci will also appear. (15 November)

Nosferatu

Robert Eggers has fast become a director to watch following his staggering debut The Witch and equally as impressive follow-ups The Lighthouse and The Northman. He’s tackling a passion project for his fourth film, a second remake of the 1922 German Expressionism film Nosferatu following Werner Herzog’s effort in 1979. For this film, he’s cast The Idol’s Lily-Rose Depp, as well as Bill Skarsgård in the role of the vampiric lead character. (25 December)

Bite me: Lily-Rose Depp gets the heebee-jeebies in Robert Eggers’ ‘Nosferatu’ (Focus Features)
Bite me: Lily-Rose Depp gets the heebee-jeebies in Robert Eggers’ ‘Nosferatu’ (Focus Features)

Coyote vs. Acme

Absolutely no one had this live-action/animation hybrid on their radar until Warner Bros attempted to pull a Batgirl again and eternally lock this in a vault in exchange for a hefty tax break. But the near-destruction of Coyote vs. Acme sparked such industry uproar that it’s instead being auctioned off to other studios. It’s currently unclear if any will bite, but it has enough sudden name recognition to make it at least partly desirable. Also, get a load of this plot: Will Forte plays a lawyer hired by Wile E Coyote to sue the Acme Corporation (of Looney Tunes fame) for damages, as all of Acme’s numerous weapons have yet to actually exterminate the Road Runner. Can you imagine not getting to see this?! (TBC)

I Saw the TV Glow

I Saw the TV Glow does, admittedly, read a bit like the product of a Film Twitter automatic word generator: an A24-backed, Emma Stone-produced mystery film about teenagers who experience the breakdown of reality after their favourite TV show is cancelled. Oh, and Phoebe Bridgers and Fred Durst are in it. The film also serves as director Jane Schoenbrun’s follow-up to their cult 2021 breakout movie We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, suggesting this will be a similarly mind-bending thriller speaking the language of the internet. Luddites might be smart to steer clear. (TBC)

Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine in ‘I Saw the TV Glow’ (A24)
Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine in ‘I Saw the TV Glow’ (A24)

Megalopolis

Francis Ford Coppola hasn’t directed a movie since 2011’s little-seen Twixt, so Megalopolis is a very, very big deal. Plus he spent $120m of his own money to get it made, using funds from his wine empire, so he could probably do with us buying a ticket. This sci-fi drama has been a long-time passion project for him, with “Megalopolis” a word on his lips since at least 1982. Leonardo DiCaprio, Paul Newman, Robert De Niro and James Gandolfini are among the names to have been attached to it over the years, and while the actual cast (Adam Driver, Aubrey Plaza, Forest Whitaker, Nathalie Emmanuel and, er, Shia LaBeouf) aren’t quite as high-wattage, this is undeniably one of the most intriguing films of next year. It reportedly revolves around a young woman in a futuristic New York, who is caught between the opposing visions of her lover and her father. (TBC)

Nightbitch

Between Hillbilly Elegy, Dear Evan Hansen, The Woman in the Window and the dismal, rapidly forgotten sequel to Enchanted, Amy Adams hasn’t caught much of a break in the last few years. Could it all be turned around by Nightbitch? It’s a good sign that this adaptation of the Rachel Yoder bestseller stems from Marielle Heller, who has been three-for-three between Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me? and A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. It’s also a positive sign that it has such a juicy premise: Adams plays a stay-at-home mother who finds herself turning into a dog. Think canine teeth, a tail, a taste for raw meat. Believed to be debuting some time next year on Hulu in the US and Disney+ in the UK, this could be a magical realist treat. Or, you know, more proof that someone put a hex on Adams sometime after Sharp Objects. Time will tell. (TBC)

Unfrosted: The Pop-Tart Story

Jerry Seinfeld holds such a mythical status in American comedy that it’s not necessarily a good sign that so many incredibly famous people agreed to star in his Netflix Pop-Tart movie. Who wouldn’t want to drop into his world for a bit? That said, this origin-of-the-all-American-breakfast-snack tale has arguably the wildest cast of 2024: Hugh Grant, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Hamm, Peter Dinklage and Christian Slater are all on board. Think an Air that’s bad for your teeth. (TBC)