Screenshot: Dune/YouTubeYour excitement for blockbuster flicks may have vanished after coronavirus closed theaters and murder hornets came on the scene, but most of the movies we forgot about are on their way back in 2021. After long postponements—several, in many cases—these 20 movies have new premiere dates that should get you excited to get your vaccinated butt back into a theater seat.
Some films continue to push their dates—Marvel’s Black Widow is now set to arrive in theaters in July, more than a year after its original release date and a month later than was planned earlier this year—while others have announced direct-to-streaming streaming releases in addition to their theatrical premieres. If all the changes have made it hard to keep track of when your most-anticipated release is actually coming out, we’re here to help. Here are the movies you may have forgotten were coming, along with their latest release dates, to make us feel giddy about new movies again.
Aisha is a writer who’s passionate about comedy, nerdom, and giving reliable advice. She loves to produce and act, creating web series #HashtagTheShow and podcast 2Nerds and an Actor.
Godzilla vs. Kong
Original release date: Nov. 20, 2020
Current release date: March 31, 2021The match-up of Godzilla and King Kong has been dreamed of by monster movie fans since the early 1960s. Luckily, there will always be room for more remakes, and the bigger the monster the better, which means it’s finally happening, if a little later than originally planned.
Godzilla vs. Kong is the fourth installment in a series of films beginning with 2015’s Godzilla reboot. The film will bring the giant lizard together with the Kong from 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, along with many of the giant beasts that appeared in 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, setting the stage for a colossal battle of lighting and brute strength. The big screen will only enhance the power of these monsters and the magnitude of the massive fight, but if you haven’t been fully vaccinated or aren’t ready to brave the theaters, it will drop simultaneously on HBO Max on March 31. (The film was previously set to release on March 26th so you have five more days to get hype.)
Original release date: January 15, 2021
Current release date: April 16The release of the rebooted Mortal Kombat film wasn’t derailed too much by the pandemic; it was originally slated for January but is still on track to arrive in theaters next month.
The popular video game got its first full-length film adaptation in 1995, a film that was well-received well by fans but is not necessarily a great movie, and the sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, is much worse. But there’s still hope for the new one, if only based on the trailer. (When I saw Sub-Zero cut his opponent, freeze his blood, then stab him with the blood icicle, my mind was blown.) Watch Mortal Kombat in theaters on April 16, the same day it drops on HBO Max.
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Spiral: From the Book of SawSpiral: From the Book of Saw
Previous release date: May 15, 2020
Current release date: May 21, 2021Do you even remember this film? You’d think a crime thriller/mystery starring Chris Rock and Samuel Jackson would be hard to forget, but Spiral slipped my mind amid the real horrors of the past year. The almost biblical subtitle—“From the Book of Saw”—should give you an idea of what you’re in for: there will be gore, kidnapping, and exhibitionist serial killers galore. It’s strange to be excited about a limb-cutting horror, but here we are. Spiral is coming to theaters May 21.
Current release date: May 28, 2021The newest live action Disney film brings the puppy hunting villain Cruella de Vil to life. Emma Stone takes on the devilish persona in this self titled film, Cruella. The trailer shows us a young Cruella just beginning to build her villainous career—a determined woman with a twinge of madness, hell bent on getting noticed. When the trailer dropped in February the movie had a theatrical release slated for May 28, 2021. Just this week Disney announced Cruella will be added to its list films that will also stream simultaneously on Disney+, provided you spend $30 for Premiere Access.
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The Conjuring: The Conjuring The Devil Made Me Do It The Conjuring: The Conjuring The Devil Made Me Do It
Previous release date: Sept 11, 2020
Current release date: June 4, 2021The third installment of the Conjuring series takes us on yet another ride with famous paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. When a murderer in a small town claims demonic possession, the Warrens rush to the case. This follows the true story of the first murder case to plead demonic possession as their defense. Nothing can stop the Conjuring trilogy from providing us with bone chilling horror. The film was originally scheduled to premiere on Sept. 11, 2020, but the pandemic has pushed the release date to June 4 of this year. It’s been a while since we’ve had a good horror movie, and I, for one, am excited for Halloween in June.
In the Heights
Previous release date: June 26, 2020
Current release date: June 18, 2021In the Heights was one of the most anticipated films of 2020, and is just as anticipated in 2021. Lin Manuel Miranda has a way of capturing the hearts of the masses with his genre-blending style, and in this pre-Hamilton show, he brings hip-hop rhythm and rhyme to a classic musical.
In the Heights tells the story of three days in the lives of the residents of Washington Heights in New York City, a predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhood. The story began as a Tony-winning Broadway play and was adapted for the screen by Crazy Rich Asians director John M. Chu.
Musicals are not my favorite (perhaps an unpopular opinion these days, especially when it comes to the work of Lin Manuel Miranda), but it’s a historic moment to see such a culturally celebratory production in theaters. And the latest release date change is a good one: In the Heights has been moved up from June 18 to June 11. Watch it in theaters or from home on HBO Max a whole week earlier.
Previous release date: May 22, 2020
Current release date: June 25, 2021The Fast and Furious saga continues to push the envelope with impossible car stunts and maneuvers. In F9, we’ll see cars jumping cliff sides without a bridge, only to be snatched out of the air by a military grade jet flown by Charlize Theron? My heart is racing and my eyes are dilated. The franchise has perfected the formula of high concept stunts, thrilling action-adventure, and character drama. this time around, it really is a family affair: John Cena joins the cast as Dom’s (Vin Diesel) brother, Jakob Toretto, who has been training his whole life to beat Dom (at what? Unclear). The two brothers will have a face-off of epic proportions. F9 moved from its original date of May 22, 2020, to May 28, 2021 but was delayed again recently, finally landing on June 25, 2021—just in time to be this year’s first summer blockbuster.
Top Gun: Maverick
Previous release date: June 24, 2020
Current release date: July 2, 2021A sequel decades in the making, the followup to 1986’s Top Gun will debut in 2021. (Will the age of sequels and remakes ever end?). Tom Cruise returns as renegade fighter pilot Maverick, now a flight instructor mentoring the hot-headed son (Miles Teller) of his old friend Goose. Like the original, the remake places an emphasis on real stunts, which should make for an exhilarating ride whether you see it in theaters on July 2 or watch it at home—though there’s no word yet on a streaming release date.
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Peter Rabbit 2: The RunawayPeter Rabbit 2: The Runaway
Previous release date: August, 2020
Current release date: July 2, 2021Peter Rabbit’s chosen family continues to grow, but he can’t kick his habit of getting into mischief. When Peter Rabbit gets into serious trouble his family must come bail him out. He realizes he has much more to think about now than himself and needs to make a real change in his life for the betterment of everyone. Peter Rabbit is returning to the big screen after a series of theatrical delays. Originally set to release in February of 2020, the film was pushed to August 2020, then January 2021. After three more date changes, the final release date is July 2, 2021.
Previous release date: May 1, 2020
Current release date: July 9, 2021It turns out the Russian Avenger’s solo film was subject to yet another delayed released, this time getting a theatrical and streaming release. Originally slated to premiere in theaters on May 1, 2020, Marvel Studios moved the release to May 7, 2021. After Warner Bros. announced many of their films will be available for streaming the same day of their theatrical release, Disney began toiling with the idea for their next big release. It was announced this week that Black Widow will premiere in theaters and on Disney+ with premier access on July 9. You can now decide if you want to reenter the theater this summer or stick it out at home.
Space Jam: A New Legacy
Screenshot: IMDBStraight to HBO Max on July 16, 2021Space Jam is a national treasure—the story of the best player in the NBA teaming up with Bugs Bunny to save the world via an intergalactic game of basketball. I am not mad at the sequel as Space Jam: A New Legacy recruits LeBron James to the Space Jam team. Originally slated for theaters, this one is actually going straight to HBO Max, but I couldn’t resist including it here, especially given the involvement of Ryan Coogler (Black Panther) as a producer. Watch it at home with the rest of the world on July 16.
This slide was updated at 10:34 pm on Jan. 26 to correct an error; Ryan Coogler is a producer of Space Jam 2, not the director.
Previous release date: July 24, 2020
Current release date: July 30, 2021Disney knows how to capitalize on all of its assets, turning animated fairy tales into live-action hits and theme park rides into blockbuster franchises. Jungle Cruise is a water-based ride at Disney World theme park that traverses down a dangerous jungle river and through some egregious racism. Somehow, it has now become a feature-length film starring A-list celebrities Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt.
But if it worked for Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s bound to work for Jungle Cruise. The trailer is promising: Dwayne Johnson’s hokey ploys to excite his cruise riders contrast nicely with Emily Blunt’s genuine archeological ambitions. I was legitimately looking forward to this one, and to my delight, it is still going to entertain us this summer. It arrives in theaters on July 30, with the Disney+ premiere still TBA.
The Green Knight
Previous release date: May 2020
Current release date: July 30, 2021Dev Patel plays Sir Gawain, the ambitious nephew to King Arthur, who takes on the challenge of the Green Knight, who invites any challenger to oppose him in a fight. The trailer offers stark imagery of fiery omens, wooded creatures, and mesmerizing feats of magic. The supernatural suspense thriller from indie director David Lowery, was originally set to premiere at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival in May of 2020. Once the pandemic cancelled the international festival, it was postponed until further notice, but you can finally mark your calendars for July 30 this year, when you can catch The Green Knight in theaters. (The streaming release is still TBA.)
The Suicide Squad
Current release date: August 6, 2021The Suicide Squad is a ban of convicted supervillain felons assembled by freelance agent Amanda Waller, who has tasked them with carrying out missions superheroes are too noble to take on. In short, they’d dispose of a bad guy for good, without hesitation. The second time’s a charm for this 2021 sequel/reboot of the 2016 David Ayer original. James Gunn took on the challenge of writing and directing the 2021 remake, hoping to do for this band of weirdos what he did for the Guardians of the Galaxy. Fans will be able to judge the new iteration of this DC film in theaters on Aug. 6—but if you are still skeptical and don’t wanna spend the cash you can also stream it on HBO Max same day.
Previous release date: July 3, 2020
Current release date: August 13, 2021Couldn’t forget about this one—Free Guy brings Grand Theft Auto energy to real life as Ryan Reynolds plays a random NPC (Non-Playable Character) who discovers he’s living in a video game and decides to start breaking the rules. His sidekick, Milly, played by Jodie Comer (Killing Eve), gives you more reason to get excited. The movie was delayed from July 3, 2020 to May 21, 2021. Reynolds took to Twitter to announce the final release date with a hilarious video promo. Hopefully this date sticks.
Previous release date: June 12, 2020
Current release date: August 27, 2021Candyman was supposed to be the summer blockbuster horror film last year, and we’ll finally get it late this summer. Remaking the ‘90s supernatural slasher film Candyman, director Nia DaCosta and writer Jordan Peele set out to add their own flair.
Peele has a knack for bringing the horrors of racism to a supernatural setting, and Candyman was always based in race and inequality, so the two make a natural fit. The trailer, told in the form of shadow puppets, connects the film to the real-life murders of young Black men we’ve witnessed in the news over the past decade. The mind-altering imagery is reason enough to see it in theaters on August 27.
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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Image: Logo/Marvel StudiosPrevious release date: July 9, 2021
Current release date: Sept. 3, 2021Shang-Chi, a master of wushu-style martial arts is forced to face his past demons when he encounters the terrorist group The Ten Rings. The same terrorist organization kidnapped and forcedTony Stark to build weapons for them in the first Iron Man film. This film is partly exciting for its mystery. The particulars of the story have not been released and the anticipation has only been heightened by the many release date delays. Originally slated to premiere in February of this year, it was bumped to May, then July, and now will be released in theaters in September (no word yet on a simultaneous Disney+ premiere).
A Quiet Place Part II
Previous release date: March 20, 2020
Current release date: September 17, 2021A Quiet Place (2018) introduced a family trying to survive an alien invasion with creatures who only react to sound. Emily Blunt starred beside husband John Krasinki, whom I was pleasantly surprised to learn directed the film as well. The suspense was palpable in the theater when I first saw it, as everyone around held their breath as characters moved in silence. I can’t wait to feel that tension again with A Quiet Place Part II. If the suspense is killing you, good news: A Quiet Place Part II has been moved up from the fall to May 28.
Previous release date: December 18, 2020
Current release date: October 1, 2021One of the most talked-about upcoming films, Dune will premiere only in theaters this fall, even after Warner Bros. promised to release their 2021 films in theaters and streaming at the same time. (Director Denis Villeneuve vehemently opposed the release strategy.) As The Wrap put it, “ ‘Dune’ Director Denis Villeneuve Says HBO Max Deal Shows Warner Bros Has ‘No Love for Cinema.’ ”
After battling with Warner Brothers, Villeneuve got his way and Dune will be viewed only as he originally intended—in theaters. Based on the novel of the same name, Dune promises the kind of stunning visuals that might deserve a big screen premiere. Whether it’s safe or not, well, we hope you make the best choice.
This post was updated at 8:42 pm on Jan. 26 to correct an error; Denis Villeneuve is the director of Dune, not Christopher Nolan.
No Time to Die
Previous release date: April 10, 2020
Current release date: October 8, 2021This is Daniel Craig’s last film as James Bond, and if that’s not enough to get you interested in No Time to Die, maybe the new addition to the Bond family will. After all the rumors about Idris Alba potentially playing the suave spy, the franchise is introducing a new 007 agent played by Lashana Lynch, who will be the first Black woman to hold the 007 title. Lynch will star beside Craig in the upcoming film and take on the torch moving forward.
Previous release date: July 10, 2020
Current release date: November 11, 2021Another Ghostbusters reboot wasn’t high on my wish list, so I wasn’t holding my breath this past year for someone to take yet another stab at reimagining the beloved classic. This Ghostbusters: Afterlife appears to be a wholly different take on the original, though, focusing on the offspring of the original Ghostbusters. If it does well, sequels are sure to follow. So will a dramatic reimagining of a comedic staple work? We’ll find out on November 11.
The King’s Man
Previous release date: May 2020
Current release date: Dec. 22, 2021In this prequel to the Kingsman films, Ralph Fiennes plays the Duke of Oxford, one of the founding members of the private secret intelligence agency “The King’s Man.” After the second installment of the Kingsman trilogy aired to not so great reviews, having another film didn’t seem in the cards. But the film’s trailer shows an action packed beginning to the British agency as the new agents take on a whole criminal syndicate as their first mission. While you may be excited to see The King’s Man in theaters this spring, but sadly, it has been pushed to winter.
The Matrix 4
Screenshot: IMDBOriginal release date: May 2020
Current release date: Dec. 22, 2021We thought The Matrix was a trilogy, but here comes number four. Keanu Reeves returns to the franchise with Carrie-Anne Moss and Jada Pinkett Smith, joined by a band of new characters played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Priyanka Chopra, and Jessica Henwick. And… that’s about all we know. What will it be about? When will it be about? There is so much to be explored here. The Matrix 4 will be streaming and in theaters on December 22. And who knows: Maybe by then we’ll be back to something resembling normal.
Death on the Nile
Previous release date: September 17, 2021
Current release date: February 11, 2022On a luxury cruise along the Nile, a young heiress is mysteriously murdered. Conveniently, famous investigator Hercule Poirot is on the boat and ready to take on the case. The star-studded cast features Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening, Letitia Wright and Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot. The trailer’s dramatic tone shows just the right amount of melodrama, with running mascara and guns drawn in elegant 1930s gowns and suits. The suspense is enticing for this thrilling murder mystery. Death on the Nile was originally scheduled to premiere in 2019 but was pushed to October 2020 before the pandemic forced the film into a holding pattern. After being first moved to September 2021, it’s final release date is Feb. 11, 2022.
This post was originally published in January 2021 and updated March 26, 2021 with updated info and additional movies.