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The LEGO Batman Movie (Feb. 10)
Brick or not, every Batman movie has three things: bats, brooding, and lavish balls where, as in the scene here, Bruce Wayne makes an entrance. "He'd much rather be doing Batmanny things," says director Chris McKay (Robot Chicken) of this moodier Caped Crusader (Will Arnett), who faces an identity crisis in this spin-off of The LEGO Movie. "He thinks Bruce Wayne is a bummer, but fortunately Alfred always entices Batman to go to a gala by permitting him to have a tuxedo dress-up party like Sex and the City." Well, sex and Gotham City. —Marc Snetiker
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John Wick: Chapter 2 (Feb. 10)
This follow-up to the hyperviolent hitman thriller starring Keanu Reeves boasts a Matrix reunion between the One and Morpheus — Laurence Fishburne — who joins the cast as a character known only as "the Bowery King." "Laurence was saying he was a fan of the first film and was there anything in the second," explains Reeves. "I said, 'Actually, there is!' The Bowery King is a leader of this underworld in New York City, and he helps John in his mission." We suspect it has a high body count. —Clark Collis
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CHiPs, March 24
As tempting as it may have been to poke fun at the '70s series about a pair of California highway patrolmen (Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox), writer-director-actor Dax Shepard (Parenthood) wanted to create a film update that drew inspiration from the Bad Boys and Lethal Weapon franchises. "It's definitely a comedy, but the stakes are very real," says Shepard, who stars as officer Jon Baker opposite Michael Peña's Frank "Ponch" Poncherello. "It's not happening in a satirical or heightened world." —Lynette Rice
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The Lost City of Z (April 14)
When Charlie Hunnam agreed to play 19th-century explorer Percy Fawcett — opposite Robert Pattinson as fellow traveler Henry Costin — he knew it wouldn't be easy. The five-month shoot took him from his longtime girlfriend with few means of contact. But the separation helped Hunnam understand Fawcett's obsession. "I also had the benefit of shooting in Colombia, where there are somewhat cheap emeralds," Hunnam says. "So I was able to come back with a gift." Smart man. —Kevin P. Sullivan
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Alien: Covenant (May 19)
Ridley Scott has learned the following from five decades of directing: "It's hard to scare people," he says. "It's a lot easier to make people laugh. But to really scare the s--- out of somebody? That's difficult." Scott has been doing exactly that ever since we saw a monster burst out of a man's chest in 1979's Alien. That cover-your-eyes kind of fear looks to continue with Alien: Covenant, about the crew of a colony ship who think they've found a great new planet when — surprise! — it turns out to be a terrifying one they need to escape. If 2012's kinda-sorta Alien prequel, Prometheus, was confusing, Scott says this film will provide some answers. "Covenant is really going to show you who did it and why." Michael Fassbender returns as David alongside Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Demián Bichir, Jussie Smollett, and—looking an awful lot like a certain heroine of old—Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them). The actress was wowed by her director. "He's a master! He's got the energy of ten 25-year-olds," she says. Plus, "he's sadistic. He loves the thought of making people scream in a cinema." —Sara Vilkomerson
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Baywatch (May 26)
It's no secret that Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron are playing lifeguards in this update of the '80s series that starred David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson (both of whom will have cameos in the film): Paparazzi appeared almost daily on the movie's Florida set to grab beefcake shots of the cast that includes Alexandra Daddario (San Andreas) as Efron's love interest and Priyanka Chopra (Quantico) as antagonist Victoria Leeds.
"When you're out on beach and open water, there's nothing you can do to get out of the line of sight [of paparazzi], so we just kind of embraced it," says director Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses), who made doubly sure the flick included lots of winks to the series' signature cheesecake moments. "The history of the show is to showcase beauty," Gordon says. "There's a beat where one of the characters sees someone running and asks, 'Is she running in slo-mo? And why is she wet but not that wet?' Stuff like that shows that we are in on the joke."
But there's more to the movie than Efron's ridiculously hard abs, he insists. "Story was a priority for me," says Gordon, who cast the High School Musical star as an ex-Olympian hired to generate good PR for Johnson's cash-strapped lifeguard unit. "I wanted the action to be especially good. Fortunately, everyone was on board for that." On board and hot, of course. —Lynette Rice
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Wonder Woman (June 2)
There is a point in any good origin story where the hero has to decide whether to step out on her own, forge her own path, and fight for what's right. For Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), her moment comes when she disobeys her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen); breaks into the heavily guarded armory on her idyllic all-female island of Themyscira; and steals the Amazon's mythical sword, the "god killer," before heading to Europe to help rescue humanity. "This is her moment," says director Patty Jenkins (Monster). "She's heard all the terrible things about man's land. But she's also heard that mankind is in need and under duress. This is her great moment to make the decision to be the one to try and save them." —Nicole Sperling
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Captain Underpants (June 2)
Tra-la-la! This year may see the return of Wonder Woman and Spider-Man, but it will also introduce a new superhero in a cape (and little else). Based on Dav Pilkey's long-running and frequently banned kids' books, the animated Captain Underpants follows George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch), two fourth graders who hypnotize their tyrannical principal (Ed Helms) into stripping down, tying a curtain around his neck, and declaring himself Earth's newest defender. "[Helms] has managed to tap into the sheer stupidity of Captain Underpants," director David Soren (Turbo) says, laughing. "He's a delusional superhero who thinks he's got all kinds of powers and has literally zero ability beyond just that of a middle-aged man." Call him the clueless champion in cotton. —Devan Coogan
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The Mummy (June 9)
In director Alex Kurtzman's shuffling-dead reboot, Tom Cruise is Nick Morton, an amoral tough guy who runs afoul of a resurrected ancient Egyptian. Russell Crowe is Dr. Henry Jekyll, and you wouldn't like him when he's angry. The film could also resurrect Universal's movie monsters — arguably the original cinematic universe. "It's our ability to sympathize with [these] monsters that has made them endure," says Kurtzman. —Darren Franich
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War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14)
A girl stands facing a gorilla as the massive creature reaches out to her. In the real world, the scene is ripe for the evening news. In War for the Planet of the Apes, it's a rare moment of serenity.
The third film of the reboot series picks up two years after the conclusion of 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Caesar (Andy Serkis) is now a changed ape, battle-hardened and at risk of losing all sympathy for mankind. In a last-ditch effort to save his simian tribe, Caesar undertakes a desperate mission to find and kill the leader of the human forces, the fearsome Colonel (Woody Harrelson).
It's during this journey that Caesar and his companions happen upon a young mute girl named Nova (Amiah Miller), a character who appeared as an adult (Linda Harrison) in 1968's Planet of the Apes and its first sequel. "The battle is not just between the humans and the apes, but in Caesar's soul," says returning director Matt Reeves. "The girl is his pull-back to his empathy and — for lack of a better word — his human side." —Kevin P. Sullivan
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Dunkirk (July 21)
In May 1940, the allies faced a dire scenario. The only escape from Hitler's blitzkrieg for the nearly 400,000 soldiers stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk, France, was across the English Channel. Over the course of eight days, the vast majority of troops were rescued. In the U.K., the evacuation of Dunkirk is considered a pivotal historical moment, yet most Americans don't know about it. That's about to change.
For Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan enlisted Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy, and even One Direction's Harry Styles in his cast, but the star is 19-year-old Fionn Whitehead, a London native making his film debut. "One of the key things you came across reading firsthand accounts of Dunkirk was how young and inexperienced these soldiers were," Nolan says. "It felt very important to me, especially for Fionn's part, to find somebody very new." Whitehead, who plays a British private named Tommy, arrived in Dunkirk weeks before filming to prepare physically for the demands of the role, wading into the frigid water as practice. "I did a lot of swimming in a water-sodden wool uniform, hobnail boots, and with guns," Whitehead says. "It was hard work, but I really enjoyed it. What's life without a bit of a challenge?" —Kevin P. Sullivan
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Okja (Summer 2017)
Don't call Bong Joon-ho's next film a monster movie. Yes, the Snowpiercer filmmaker rose to international prominence with 2007's creature feature The Host. And sure, Okja is named for another mysterious creature, but Joon-ho says, "It's a very shy and introverted animal. It's a unique animal that we've not seen before." The story follows Okja and Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun), a young South Korean girl, and their adventure leads to New York City. In one climactic sequence storyboarded here, Lily Collins' Red races onto the streets of Manhattan. "Red is part of a group of animal rights activists that figure into the story," teases Joon-ho, who filmed in the Financial District. "On Wall Street, it's the heart of capitalism," the director notes. "On the surface is a story about an animal, but it's essentially a story about capitalism." Nothing monstrous about that! —Darren Franich
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IT (Sept. 8)
Hey, kids. Want to play peekaboo? Here we see Pennywise the dancing clown in his unnatural habitat: the labyrinth of the sewer system beneath the town of Derry, Maine. In the new adaptation of Stephen King's IT, Bill Skarsgård (Allegiant) dons the frilly suit and white face paint of this bloodthirsty jokester — just one incarnation of a shape-shifting evil that feeds on fear, misery, and the occasional child.
Director Andrés Muschietti (Mama) says this monster unsettles precisely because he doesn't lurk in the shadows. "Pennywise shows up, he's front and center, and he does his show. He has an act," Muschietti says. "So it's weird all the time, and every little thing implies a further threat." Watch out for his punchlines. They'll knock you dead. —Anthony Breznican
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Blade Runner 2049 (Oct. 6)
Earlier this year, director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) went out to dinner in Budapest with Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford and found himself with a ringside seat at a fight they've been waging for 34 years. It was midproduction on Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Scott's sci-fi classic, and Scott, who's executive-producing the new movie, had come for a visit. Over the meal, though, the friendly chitchat between Scott and Ford soon devolved into a not-quite-as-friendly squabble about the soul of Ford's character, Rick Deckard.
The original Blade Runner, set in a dystopian 2019 Los Angeles, centered around Deckard, a "blade runner" tasked with hunting and "retiring" (i.e., killing) four rogue "replicants" (human-seeming androids). In the years after Scott's neon-rimmed noir was released in 1982, hardcore fans have debated the seemingly unanswerable question of whether Deckard himself is a replicant — one who just doesn't realize it. Turns out Scott and Ford have been fighting about it all this time too. "It was very funny, I must say, to find myself in the literal crossfire of Harrison and Ridley, arguing as to why [Deckard] should be a replicant and why he should be human," Villeneuve says. Scott has insisted Deckard is a replicant. Ford and Blade Runner coscreenwriter Hampton Fancher have just as firmly been in the "no" camp. "As a fan, that's a dinner I will remember for all of my life." Villeneuve's fellow fans have been waiting most of their lives for this sequel, and on Oct. 6, 2017, the wait will be over. —Sara Vilkomerson
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Justice League (Nov. 17)
We've seen Batman battle Superman. We watched Deadshot form an unlikely alliance with Harley Quinn. But the team-up that DC Comics fans are really waiting for is when the entire Justice League come together to save the world.
"I'm super happy with the chemistry of my league of justice doers," says director Zack Snyder (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), who's in the middle of editing the November release, which will delve into the details of how these individual heroes readjust their egos to fight as a collective. Turns out aligning these disparate—and outsize—personalities can be as difficult as fighting bad guys.
Take Ezra Miller's version of the Flash, the League's overly excitable kid brother who uses humor to mask his pain. "Flash is Ringo Starr," says Miller, pictured here alongside allies Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). "He annoys everybody, but he doesn't have any specific beef with anyone." Miller also offers up Flash's blunt assessment of his fellow Leaguers. "Uncle Fish Curry [Aquaman] is very grumpy. Dad [Batman] gets grumpy too. (He's had a long life of fighting crime.) Wonder Woman is very considerate, so even though she's annoyed with the Flash, she's still very compassionate." Yeesh. Don't get him started on Superman. —Nicole Sperling
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Coco (Nov. 22)
Between next summer's sequel Cars 3 and 2018's Incredibles 2, there's still a plum Pixar original on the studio's slate. Coco, directed by Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3), plunges into the rich cultural depths of the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) through the story of Miguel (newcomer Anthony Gonzalez), a 12-year-old amateur guitarist whose family has banned music, believing it to have cursed their clan. When he discovers a link between himself and his dead musical idol (Benjamin Bratt), Miguel, in the scene shown here, sneaks into the singer's tomb and commits a (literally) grave act of guitar theft that inadvertently sends him to the Land of the Dead — and face-to-face with the very distressed souls of his great-great-grandparents. "We had this enormous responsibility to do right by this culture and not lapse into stereotype or cliché," says Unkrich, who secured an all-Latino voice cast (including Mozart in the Jungle's Gael García Bernal) and sought Mexican authenticity through story consultants and songwriters. Yes, Coco is packed with music, but Unkrich stresses, "It's not a break-out-into-song musical." Half of Coco's characters are skeletons, after all: "Breaking" things is a touchy subject. —Marc Snetiker
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Our Souls at Night (Winter 2017)
Fifty years after they played gorgeously blond newlyweds in Barefoot in the Park, Jane Fonda and Robert Redford are reuniting for this drama based on the final novel by Colorado writer Kent Haruf. The American icons, who also toplined 1979's The Electric Horseman, star as widowed neighbors who begin sleeping together — as in, getting some shut-eye in the same bed. Though nonsexual, the relationship becomes the talk of their small town. In one scene, the characters check into a Denver hotel. "I nudged [Redford] with my elbow," Fonda says, "and I said, 'Duh, Barefoot in the Park, Bob!' I felt so girlish, and I realized I was nudging him to be less serious, just like I do in that film. And just like I do with him in real life." —Joe McGovern
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