Not too long ago, 2020 was shaping up to be a big year for movies. A lot can change in a few months, though.
After shutting their doors for several months due to the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic, theaters are expected to begin gradually reopening in the weeks to come, with industry-leading chain AMC Theatres planning to have all its locations back in business at some point in July. Although questions remain about how safely this can be done, there’s also plenty of uncertainty about what will be on theaters’ screens if and when this happens.
Many of the movies we previously highlighted as the most-anticipated films of 2020 have been delayed until 2021, but some still remain on this year’s release calendar. If you’re considering whether a trip to the movie theater is in your future, we’ve put together a list of the films still expected to premiere in 2020 that we’re most excited about, listed in order of their current release dates.
Any time Christopher Nolan has a new movie hitting theaters, it’s big news — but Tenet is important for more than just what happens on the screen. Nolan and studio Warner Bros. Pictures are betting big on the film to prove this year isn’t a lost cause for Hollywood, and the film’s massive,$205 million production budget means it will have to do big business to make that a winning gamble. The film casts BlacKkKlansman star John David Washington as a secret agent tasked with stopping World War III, and the trailers suggest it will feature the blend of visual spectacle and complex storytelling that has made Nolan one of the industry’s most celebrated filmmakers.
Release date: August 12
The follow-up to Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey arrives just shy of three decades after Bill S. Preston and Ted “Theodore” Logan last saved the universe through the power of rock ‘n’ roll, but the reunion of stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter has been years in the making. Bill & Ted Face the Music explores what happens when the two guys who were destined to change the universe become adults — and yes, parents — without ever getting around to doing that universe-saving thing they were supposed to do. Will the Wyld Stallyns finally get their encore? We’ll know in August.
Release date: August 21
Given how many times this troubled film has been reshot, delayed, and otherwise surrounded by problems — including its confusing status after studio 20th Century Fox was acquired by Disney — there’s no certainty that the film will actually arrive in theaters as planned. If it does, however, it should offer an interesting spin on the X-Men universe with its horror-fueled tale of five young mutants with powerful abilities who are being held in a mysterious facility and must first save each other if they have any hope of saving themselves. The Fault in our Stars filmmaker Josh Boone directs an impressive young cast that includes Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, and Alice Braga.
Release date: August 28
One of the best films of 2018, A Quiet Place ratcheted up tension to terrifying levels with its tale of a family trying to survive in a postapocalyptic world filled with creatures that kill anything they can hear and the slightest sound can be deadly. John Krasinski returns as writer and director of the sequel, with Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe reprising their on-camera roles from the first film. While there are plenty of mysteries left to explore in the sequel — how many other survivors are still out there, for example, and how the family will use their newly acquired knowledge regarding the creatures’ weakness — the biggest question is whether the sequel can replicate the success of the first film’s unique premise and creative use of sound (or lack thereof).
Release date: September 4
The sequel to one of the most critically and commercially successful films in WB’s DC Extended Universe so far, Wonder Woman 1984 brings back director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot for a film set nearly 70 years after the events of Wonder Woman. It also introduces several new characters to the DCEU and brings back a few familiar ones. The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal plays media tycoon Maxwell Lord in the film, while Kristen Wiig plays Barbara Minerva, the DC Comics character who eventually becomes one of Wonder Woman’s greatest foes, The Cheetah. Gadot’s Wonder Woman has become the crown jewel of the DCEU at this point, so if the sequel can measure up to the first film, audiences are in for a treat.
Release date: October 2
Scarlett Johansson returns as Marvel Studios’ superspy in this prequel film set before the events of Avengers: Infinity War and just after the events of Captain America: Civil War. The film finds Natasha Romanoff confronting a threat from her past that forces her to return to Russia and reunite with several former associates. The list includes Yelena Bolova (Florence Pugh), a fellow graduate of the Red Room, the secret school for spies and assassins that trained her. Black Widow also introduces Stranger Things actor David Harbour as Alexei Shostakov, aka the Red Guardian; Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff, aka the Iron Maiden; and a new Marvel Cinematic Universe villain named Taskmaster. This will also be the first MCU movie to hit theaters since Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home brought Phase 3 to an end, so … no pressure.
Release date: November 6
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective) and featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond (for the fifth and likely final time), No Time To Die introduces a new character who takes over the “007” designation. The announcement of a new 007 — the title is assigned to the MI6 organization’s top agent — was met with the expected amount of controversy, but as the No Time To Die trailer makes perfectly clear, James Bond is still the star of the story. The film finds Bond enjoying retirement until a friend pulls him back into action to help find a missing scientist. Along the way, he gets tangled up with the usual collection of former lovers, colleagues, and enemies, as well as an entirely new threat to the world played by Academy Award winner Rami Malek.
Release date: November 20
Director Denis Villeneuve, who only makes great films (at least, according to our “Best Movies of the Year” lists), turns his attention to one of the greatest science fiction sagas of all time with this adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel. The story follows a noble-blooded family on a far-off desert planet who must fend off threats from both rival families and within the planet itself, only to find itself forced to come to terms with the true origins of the planet’s most valuable resource: The drug known as spice. Boasting one of the most impressive casts of any 2020 film so far, Dune brings together Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem for its epic adventure on a planet where giant worms tunnel beneath your feet and whoever controls the spice controls the universe.
Release date: December 18
It’s been more than 30 years since audiences felt the need for speed with Tom Cruise as ace fighter pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, and now he — and a few other familiar faces — are returning for a direct sequel to the 1986 film that has Maverick dealing with the U.S. military’s growing use of unmanned battle drones and dwindling need for human fighter pilots. Original Top Gun actor Val Kilmer is also expected to return for Top Gun: Maverick, and the film will introduce some new legacy characters, including Miles Teller as Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw, the son of Maverick’s friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw. Joseph Kosinski directs the film, which — much like its predecessor — is already earning praise for its breathtaking flight sequences.
Release date: December 23
The following films were previously included on our list of the most-anticipated movies of 2020, but had their release dates pushed to 2021: The Eternals (February 12, 2021), Ghostbusters: Afterlife (March 5, 2021), Morbius (March 19, 2021), and Godzilla vs. Kong (May 21, 2021).
Updated on June 29, 2020: The release dates for Tenet and Bill & Ted: Face the Music were updated.