With a busy cinema schedule ahead, Aidan O’Sullivan overviews some of the films coming to the big screen this year.
It’s a New Year with a new slate of films set for this upcoming calendar. Over the next few months, whether it be a low-budget indie piece, a major blockbuster, or a franchise revival, 2024 will prove to be just as exciting as 2023 for cinema.
The Major Releases
Many of the major releases coming in 2024 are continuations of previous box-office hits and significant franchises and, therefore, hold the burden of maintaining the success of their earlier iterations. In a world where superhero franchises have begun to lose their hold over the box office, these movies are the most likely to satiate the appetite of those desperate for cinematic spectacle.
Dune: Part Two (March 1st) is Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to his adaptation of the epic sci-fi novel starring Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson and will include numerous more prominent additions to the cast including Florence Pugh, Christopher Walken, and Austin Butler. The film will look to continue Paul Atreides's story as he seeks revenge for his family.
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (May 24th) is a spin-off of the Mad Max franchise that will focus on the character of Imperator Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road. The film will cover the character’s early years - thus before Charlize Theron’s portrayal in the 2015 film - as she begins her search for her home, ‘The Green Place.’ The film will once again be directed by George Miller, with Anya Taylor-Joy starring as the lead alongside co-stars including Chris Hemsworth. Expect fuel, flame, and road rage to the extreme.
Joker: a Folie a deux (October 4th), on the other hand, will see Joaquin Phoenix reprising his role as the Joker now in Arkham Asylum and his fateful encounter with the one and only Harleen Quinzel, as portrayed by none other than Lady Gaga. A somewhat controversial hit at the time, but for those still interested in dark comic book-inspired tales, this may just scratch that itch.
Gladiator 2 (November 22nd) will look to repeat the success of Russel Crowe’s Gladiator (2000) more than 20 years after the original’s release. The film will take place more than 15 years after the first movie and stars the now ubiquitous Paul Mescal as Lucien, the grown-up nephew of Emperor Commodus as the protagonist of the film.
All of these films, whilst directed by singular directors, take place in well-established cinematic universes funded by major production and distribution companies, including Warner Bros. and Paramount. Hollywood likes a sure thing, but the likelihood of these films matching the Barbenheimer mania of 2023 remains to be seen.
All of these films, whilst directed by singular directors, take place in well-established cinematic universes funded by major production and distribution companies, including Warner Bros. and Paramount.
The Indie Productions
Not every film to look out for in 2024 is a big-budget production, with many smaller-scale releases looking to fill in the original narrative gap left by the bigger titles.
Handling the Undead (January 26th) is a Swedish language film adapted from a horror novel of the same name covering themes of grief and loss as thousands of the recently deceased are reanimated around Stockholm. The film is less of a Zombie thrill and far more of a self-contained reflection on how people process anguish and mortality and will be one to watch for those looking for something a bit more unusual.
The Iron Claw (UK & ROI February 9th) tells the tale of the Von Ehrich wrestling family set in 1980s Texas as their family struggles with both success and tragedy. A true story with leading roles performed by Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White, the film is a sports drama that tackles complicated themes concerning family and masculinity.
Love Lies Bleeding (March 8th): A romantic thriller featuring gym owner Lou (Kristen Stewart) and female bodybuilder Jackie (Katy M. O’Brien) and the tumultuous events surrounding their relationship as they get pulled into the criminal world of Lou’s father, played by Ed Harris.
Kung Fu Panda 4 (March 29th). It has Kung Fu. It has a Panda. There will probably be jokes about noodles. Is there really anything more to say?
Paddington in Peru (November 8th) will follow Paddington and the Browns to Peru in search of Aunt Lucy. As charming as they are funny, another Paddington film should be a welcome addition to any filmgoer's schedule for 2024.
Several events in the past few years, notably the COVID-19 pandemic and the more recent SAG-AFTRA strike over streaming and AI technology, have tested the industry considerably, but the machine that is the film industry continues to spin, producing another round of releases aimed at enticing viewers out of their homes and into the cinema chairs.