In the midst of all this Coronavirus and release date chaos, it's good to have something to look forward to. That's where we've stepped in, with our guide to 2021's blockbuster movie releases. If the immediate future is somewhat gloomy, take stock in these epic movies currently scheduled to hit screens next year. (Please note: dates are subject to change)
1. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (February)
Short Term 12's Destin Daniel Cretton helms this pivotal entry in Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It's the first MCU movie to be centrally focused on an Asian character, with Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu taking on the role of the titular martial artist. One should also prepare for the return of The Mandarin, a classic Marvel villain whose treatment in 2013's Iron Man 3, as played by Ben Kingsley, caused controversy. This time, he's portrayed by pre-eminent Hong Kong actor Tony Leung. Fingers crossed the current global developments don't derail the movie, which has recently started principal photography.
2. Fast & Furious 9 (April)
Delayed from April 2020, the ninth Fast & Furious blockbuster is scheduled to race onto screens next year. As those who've seen the trailers will know, Vin Diesel returns as ace carjacker Dominic Toretto, and this time he confronts his long-lost brother (played by Bumblebee's John Cena). The 'family' are back, including the likes of Michelle Rodriguez and Ludacris, and the set-pieces look like they've once again escalated in insanity. Surely it's only a matter of time before Dom's crew head to space?
3. Cruella (May)
La La Land Oscar-winner Emma Stone transforms into iconic Disney villain Cruella De Vil in this live-action remake. Animated classic, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, originally released in 1961, now gets an origin story, as the wicked (and wickedly stylish) fashion designer Cruella rises to power in 1970s London. I, Tonya's Craig Gillespie directs, and the supporting cast includes Emma Thompson, Mark Strong and Paul Walter Hauser.
4. The Matrix 4 (May)
Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are back as Neo and Trinity in the fourth installment of the Matrix saga. Given that 2003's The Matrix Revolutions ended with the death of both characters, we're keen to see how they're back and ready to contort the parameters of reality once again. Lana Wachowski goes solo as writer-director, and it's been suggested that we might meet a younger Morpheus. Laurence Fishburne isn't currently credited in the cast, but Watchmen's Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (star of the upcoming Candyman reboot) is. Can we take this as a sign that the Matrix story is about to go back in time?
Evil Dead and Spider-Man director Sam Raimi is in talks to take over from Scott Derrickson for the Doctor Strange sequel. Benedict Cumberbatch returns as the Sorcerer Supreme in what's being billed as the MCU's first-ever horror movie. Given Raimi's background (he also directed 2009's ghoulishly entertaining Drag Me To Hell), we have high hopes for this one.
6. The Batman (June)
Robert Pattinson takes over as the Dark Knight in director Matt Reeves' eagerly anticipated comic book origin story. The plot is currently under wraps, but rumour has it the narrative focuses on Bruce Wayne's detective skills in the run-up to becoming Batman. Location filming has taken place in Glasgow, and the supporting cast is fabulous. Zoe Kravitz is Catwoman, Paul Dano is The Riddler, Colin Farrell is The Penguin, Jeffrey Wright is Jim Gordon and Andy Serkis is Alfred. Will this reinvent Batman in the manner of Christopher Nolan's celebrated trilogy?
7. Jurassic World: Dominion (June)
After sitting out 2018's Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Colin Trevorrow is back in the director's chair for third (and presumably final) helping of dinosaur chaos. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard return as heroes Owen and Claire, with the title 'Dominion' presumably referring to the aftermath of the previous movie. If you'll remember, Fallen Kingdom resulted in a host of dinos running amok in America, leading to Ian Malcolm's (Jeff Goldblum) sage prediction that we're in a brand new age of human-dino conflict. Goldblum is back, alongside fellow Jurassic Park veterans Sam Neill and Laura Dern.
8. Spider-Man 3 (July)
Tom Holland is set to resolve his Spider-Man tenure with his third and final trilogy movie. (The character will, however, also appear in a "future Marvel Studios movie".) The actor's infectious and wide-eyed reinvention of the classic superhero guided previous films Homecoming and Far From Home to enormous success and expectations are high for the third movie. (Far From Home is, in fact, Sony's most successful movie release of all time, with $1.2 billion in the bank.) It's expected that Zendaya will return as love interest M.J., but we're more interested in how this resolves the cliffhanger ending of Far From Home. How will Spidey cope now that the whole world knows his identity?
9. Mission: Impossible 7 (July)
Tom Cruise is back as super-spy Ethan Hunt, and this time, he's taken on the not-so-impossible task of filming the next two Mission movies back-to-back. Cruise is once again working with writer-director Christopher McQuarrie whose astonishing command of stunts and practical effects in 2018's Mission: Impossible - Fallout knocked us back in our seats. Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson and Vanessa Kirby all return, as does the very first movie's Henry Czerny as former IMF director Kittridge. Mission: Impossible 8 is due to hit us in August 2022.
10. Indiana Jones 5 (July)
Harrison Ford is not-so-sprightly at the age of 77, but that hasn't stopped him committing to a fifth Indiana Jones movie. The most recent film, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, was a box office hit, but widely disparaged. Now, for the first time in the history of the series, director Steven Spielberg is giving way, replaced by Logan and Le Mans '66 filmmaker James Mangold.
11. The Suicide Squad (August)
When writer-director James Gunn was fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, he was then given an opportunity to direct the Suicide Squad reboot for Warner Bros. (He's since been reinstated as the Guardians helmer, and that will presumably reach us in 2022.) Released in 2016, the original Suicide Squad movie was criticised for its murky storytelling and visuals, so fingers crossed that Gunn can bring some pizazz to the property. Margot Robbie is back as the anarchic Harley Quinn, and Idris Elba also features, although the character is yet to be confirmed.
12. Elvis (October)
Tom Hanks was in the middle of filming this Elvis Presley biopic in Australia when he and his wife Rita Wilson were diagnosed with Covid-19. All eyes are on their recovery, and the resuming of production on director Baz Luhrman's film. The Moulin Rouge! and Australia filmmaker presents us with the early years of the music icon's life, and the great man is played by Austin Butler (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Hanks, meanwhile, is portraying Presley's highly controversial and controlling manager Colonel Tom Parker.
13. Halloween Ends (October)
Jamie Lee Curtis resolves her arc as slasher movie survivor Laurie Strode in Halloween Ends, which is preceded by Halloween Kills in October 2021. Back in 2018, director David Gordon Green's sequel/reboot of Halloween was hailed as a terrific continuation of the horror franchise, eliminating decades of unnecessary sequels, and picking up directly after the events of John Carpenter's 1978 masterpiece. We can't wait to see where the story goes from here.
14. Fantastic Beasts 3 (November)
J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts storyline reaches its third stage, with two more movies yet to go. Details are thin on the ground at the moment, although, given the events of 2018's The Crimes of Grindelwald, we can expect magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to step up the fight against evil. Production under director David Yates and producer David Heyman has been temporarily suspended owing to the global situation; we'll bring you more info as and when we get it.
15. Thor: Love and Thunder (November)
One movie that does appear to be on course is director Taika Waititi's second Thor movie. Back in 2017, Waititi reinvented the somewhat stodgy Thor series with a knowing blend of surreal humour and psychedelic visuals, and he's now set to do it all over again. Natalie Portman's scientist character Jane Foster is back in the fold, ready to wield hammer Mjolnir as the female Thor alongside Tessa Thompson's new Asgardian ruler Valkyrie. But where does this leave Chris Hemsworth's brawny superhero? Where will the Guardians of the Galaxy fit into the plot? And which classic Marvel villain is co-star Christian Bale playing?
16. Avatar 2 (December)
Aliens and Titanic director James Cameron famously doesn't do things by halves. His 2009 epic Avatar deployed cutting-edge developments in motion-capture technology and 3D to become the most financially successful movie of all time (at least, until Avengers: Endgame beat it in 2019). Cameron has now shot all four Avatar sequels back to back, with each movie promising to explore the different environments of the distant planet Pandora. Avatar 2 will reunite Titanic collaborators Cameron and Kate Winslet, with Sigourney Weaver also returning (somehow) as Grace Augustine. The remainder of the Avatar films will be released between 2022 and 2025.
17. Black Adam (December)
Dwayne Johnson makes his comic book movie debut in DC's Black Adam. In the comics, the title character is the feared nemesis of Shazam!, who was treated to his own big-screen origin story in 2019. (Shazam! 2 is currently in the planning stage.) The prospect of Jumanji star Johnson playing a super-powered DC villain is very exciting indeed, and the movie will reunite him with Jungle Cruise director Jaume-Collett Serra. (That film is scheduled to be released in July 2020.)
Which of these movies are you most excited about seeing? Let us know @Cineworld.