Compared to 2022’s equivalent, the list of headline-grabbing new movies in 2023 is almost lackuster – but that’s not to say there are no feature-length adventures to get excited about in the coming months.
In truth, the last few years of post-pandemic cinema have been so good that we’re probably in need of a break from the big screen. 2021 got the ball rolling with hysteria-inducing releases like No Time to Die, Dune and Spider-Man: No Way Home, before 2022 brought its own slate of equally noisy hits (which has so far included The Batman, Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion, Nope, Don’t Worry Darling and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever).
Avatar: The Way of Water and Babylon are still to come this year – and we’ve included both movies below as a reminder of their imminent release – but this page is mainly dedicated to the upcoming movies heading to theaters in 2023.
Avatar: The Way of Water
Release date: December 16, 2022
James Cameron is anything but prolific these days – Avatar: The Way of Water (aka Avatar 2) will be only his third movie in 25 years – but when he does step behind the camera, you know you’ll be seeing something groundbreaking. He tends to spend those long gaps between releases waiting for filmmaking technology to catch up with his vision, so his return to the spectacular alien ecosystem of Pandora will feature world-first underwater performance capture sequences.
Kate Winslet (who held her breath for an incredible seven minutes during filming), Jermaine Clement and Cliff Curtis join the cast alongside Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang also return, despite their characters being presumed dead. While this sequel was delayed by a year as part of Disney’s massive pandemic-induced release date shake-up, you won’t have to wait another decade for more Avatar – part 3 is set for December 2024, with a fourth and fifth movie also in the works. Check out our breakdown of Avatar 2’s long-awaited first trailer and also the second Avatar 2 trailer for more info.
Release date: December 25, 2022
Set during the 1920s, in a transitional Hollywood era that saw silent films make way for ‘talkies’, Babylon looks primed to deliver yet more awards for director Damien Chazelle, whose previous credits include the Oscar-winning Whiplash, La La Land and First Man. A tale of “outsized ambition and outrageous excess”, the movie traces the rise and fall of multiple characters during an era of unbridled decadence and depravity, so says studio Paramount.
Babylon – which counts Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Tobey Maguire among its cast – will receive a limited theatrical release on December 25, 2022, before opening in the US on January 6, 2023 and the UK on January 20, 2023. As with other Paramount films, it’s likely to debut on Paramount Plus in the future, too.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Release date: February 17, 2023
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will kick off Marvel’s Phase 5 slate (and, by extension, lengthen the task of watching the Marvel movies in order), and it’ll also represent the first Marvel-based project to arrive in 2023, period.
The movie’s official plot synopsis reads as follows: “Superhero partners Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne return to continue their adventures as Ant-Man and the Wasp. Together, with Hope’s parents Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne, the family finds themselves exploring the Quantum Realm, interacting with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure that will push them beyond the limits of what they thought was possible.”
Admittedly, that’s not much to go on in an official capacity – but Marvel was never going to give too much away, especially as this superhero film is set to properly kick off the studio’s complex Multiverse Saga.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods
Release date: March 17, 2023
Zachary Levi’s superpowered schmuck, Shazam, is forced to return to action in Shazam! Fury of the Gods when villainous sisters Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu) – who also happen to be the daughters of formidable Greek titan Atlas – emerge as threats bearing a potentially world-destroying weapon.
Jack Dylan Grazer, Asher Angel and Grace Caroline Currey all reprise their roles from the first Shazam! movie alongside Levi, while West Side Story breakout Rachel Zegler joins the cast as the third (but altogether less violent) daughter of Atlas, Anthea. To the surprise of many, Shazam! was a critical and commercial hit upon release in 2019, so DC executives will be hoping its sequel can repeat the trick. And if you missed the first one, find out how to watch DC extended universe movies in order before you give it a go.
John Wick: Chapter 4
Release date: March 24, 2023
Everyone’s favorite puppy-loving hitman is back for more gun-toting action in 2023. As per Lionsgate’s official synopsis, John Wick: Chapter 4 will find the titular assassin “taking on his most lethal adversaries yet. With the price on his head ever increasing, Wick takes his fight against the High Table global as he seeks out the most powerful players in the underworld, from New York to Paris to Osaka to Berlin.”
In other words, the Chad Stahelski-directed movie will dance to the same tune as its predecessors – which is by no means a bad thing, in our book. Series mainstays Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne and Lance Reddick will reprise their roles as Winston, The Bowery King and Charon, respectively, while newcomers to John Wick 4 include martial arts legends Donnie Yen (Ip Man) and Hiroyuki Sanada (Mortal Kombat).
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Release date: May 5, 2023
The second Marvel Phase 5 project scheduled for release in 2023 (after Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania) is the third and final instalment in James Gunn’s beloved Guardians of the Galaxy series.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will pick up directly after the events of the titular group’s Holiday Special, which was released on Disney Plus as part of MCU Phase 4 in November 2022, and will see the franchise’s biggest stars – including Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel – returning for what could prove their final outing in the MCU. Gunn is on dual writing and directing duties for the last time as a Marvel employee, too, with the Suicide Squad director having been recently installed as co-head of DC Studios. In other words, prepare for this one to be an emotional roller coaster.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Release date: June 2, 2023
The first instalment in a two-part sequel to 2018’s Into the Spider-Verse, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse will follow Miles and Gwen as they encounter different worlds (and characters) on their travels across the multiverse. The movie’s producers have already revealed that each dimension in the second Miles Morales-led Spidey movie will “have its own art style” and “feel like it was drawn by a different artist’s hand,” so there’s a good chance that this one will look even better than the excellent original. What’s more, the same duo have also revealed that Across the Spider-Verse may be tied to the MCU after all, meaning we could see Tom Holland’s Spidey in animated form for the first time. As with the Aquaman sequel (below), this one was initially slated to release in 2022, but is now scheduled for 2023.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Release date: June 30, 2023
Cue the theme music: Indiana Jones is back. Arriving 12 years after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – which itself was the first Indiana Jones movie for 19 years – the Dial of Destiny will see Harrison Ford return as Hollywood’s most famous adventurer for one last time.
Plot details are thin on the ground for now, but the film’s glorious first trailer did tease the involvement of Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Mads Mikkelsen (Doctor Strange), Antonio Banderas (The Mask of Zorro), Toby Jones (Captain America: The First Avenger) and Boyd Holbrook (The Sandman), as well as a miraculously de-aged Harrison Ford. We can’t wait.
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One
Release date: July 14, 2023
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One (or Mission: Impossible 7, if you’re in a rush) has endured so many scheduling delays that it previously featured on our list of 2022’s biggest upcoming movies, but the film finally looks set to arrive in July of next year.
Top Gun: Maverick hero Tom Cruise will have hit 60 by the time this seventh entry in the iconic franchise hits cinemas, and it’ll also mark the penultimate outing for Ethan Hunt, the actor’s famous action hero. Having delivered the long-running franchise’s best instalments with Rogue Nation and Fallout, Christopher McQuarrie is also back behind the camera for number 7 and its follow-up. Plot details are currently wrapped up tighter than a government vault, though the bombastic first Mission Impossible 7 trailer did give us our first glimpse at Hunt and company’s return to action. To best prepare yourself for the chaos to come, check out our ranking of the Mission: Impossible movies released so far.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
Release date: December 25, 2023
Despite Aquaman 2 having been originally scheduled to hit theaters on December 16, 2022, it’s now due to wash up in December 2023. Going by the less internet-friendly title of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, this superhero sequel will continue the underwater adventures of Jason Momoa’s DC superhero.
This long-awaited sequel reunites the Game of Thrones actor with original co-stars Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman and Patrick Wilson – although Heard’s involvement remains up in the air – and will see the titular character forced to “forge an uneasy alliance with an unlikely ally to protect Atlantis, and the world, from irreversible devastation.” Expect even more comic book carnage, then.