A new “Batman.” The return of James Cameron. And finally — we hope — the “Top Gun” sequel we’ve been waiting for.
There are plenty of big movies on deck for 2022, even as a new COVID variant runs rampant and leaves large swaths of the entertainment industry in a state of unease. The pandemic wreaked havoc on Hollywood, and caused mass upheaval in 2021 as studios scrambled to release movies in theaters, on home viewing platforms and in many cases, both at the same time.
The result: superhero movies continued to surge at the box office, with “Spider-Man: No Way Home” proving it’s still possible to pack theaters in record numbers. But serious movies aimed at adult viewers — from “Respect” to “The Last Duel,” from “King Richard” to “West Side Story” — fell and fell hard, leaving many to question whether the future of movies will simply be a playground for blockbusters or if there’s any room left for films about people that don’t wear capes.
Time will tell, but for now, here’s a look at what will be rolling out in theaters over the next 12 months, a year that will see no shortage of familiar faces and characters gracing screens.
And as the previous two years have taught us all too well, dates are always, always subject to change.
A Double Shot of Tom Cruise: Tom Cruise has sat out the pandemic, and hasn’t been seen on screen since 2018’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” He was due to return in 2020 with his “Top Gun” sequel and in 2021 with his latest “Mission: Impossible” adventure, but both were pushed back due to the uncertainty of theatergoing (Cruise is an ardent believer in the big screen movie theater experience). Both are now on deck for 2022, with “Top Gun: Maverick” set for May 27 and “Mission: Impossible 7” due out Sept. 30. And that’s not all: perhaps the biggest day on Cruise’s calendar comes in July, when the box office superstar turns 60. note: Gucci: Murder of the Giants Movie
A new Dark Knight: Exit Ben Affleck, enter Robert Pattinson. The “Twilight” star becomes Bruce Wayne as a new chapter of the Dark Knight saga begins with “The Batman” on March 4. Director Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield,” “War of the Planet of the Apes”) takes the reins on the franchise and pits Batman against the Riddler, played this time around by Paul Dano, in a turn that’s sure to be darker than Jim Carrey’s take on the joking madman back in the hypercolor world of 1995’s “Batman Forever.” One wish: can we skip the origin story of young Bruce Wayne’s parents getting killed in an alley? We get it already. note: I Don’t Want To Be Alone Movie
Superhero Field Day: Superhero movies made up four of the top five box office hits of 2021 — all five if you count Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto as a superhero — so yeah, there are plenty more in the pipeline. The list includes the “Black Panther” sequel “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (Nov. 11), a new animated “Spider-Man” adventure with “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (Oct. 7) and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s introduction as “Black Adam” (July 29). And more: “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (May 6), “Thor: Love and Thunder” (July 8), “The Flash” (Nov. 4) and the “Spider-Man”-connected “Morbius” (Jan. 28).
Return of the King: It’s been so long since “Avatar” hit screens that it sometimes feels like it never did. The box office behemoth became the biggest grosser of all-time — it has since been topped by “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” and “Avengers: Endgame” — but outside of a 2017 “SNL” sketch, it didn’t leave much of a lasting cultural footprint. James Cameron originally intended for the film’s follow-up to hit theaters in 2014, but the release date and number of sequels (there’s an “Avatar 5”?!?) has shifted so many times it’s difficult to keep up with it all. With “Avatar 2” finally due out Dec. 16, we’re ready to be wowed.
Big name biopics: Jennifer Hudson’s starring turn as Aretha Franklin in “Respect” didn’t hit box office gold but biopics remain an important part of the Hollywood machine. In 2022 we will get the Whitney Houston story with “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” (Dec. 23), Ana de Armas (“No Time to Die”) will play Marilyn Monroe in “Blonde” (date TBA), and “Moulin Rouge” director Baz Luhrmann takes on Elvis Presley in his still-Untitled Elvis Presley Project (June 24), with Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, Presley’s manager.
Friendly neighborhood slashers: No matter how many times you kill them, horror movie villains keep coming back, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. This year we’ll finally say goodbye to Michael Myers (yeah right) in “Halloween Ends” (Oct. 14), the final chapter in David Gordon Green’s “Halloween” trilogy, and we’ll say hello again to Ghostface in the rebooted “Scream” (Jan. 14), the meta-horror series’ fifth installment. And what would a year be without Leatherface? He’ll be back for a ninth time in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (Feb. 18). Happy hunting!
Peele back: What do we know about the latest movie from Jordan Peele? Not a whole heck of a lot. But the “Get Out” director, who stumbled a bit with his follow-up film “Us,” is back with “Nope” (July 22), which reteams him with “Get Out” star (and Oscar-winner) Daniel Kaluuya, along with Keke Palmer and Troy-raised Oscar nominee Steven Yeun. And that’s about all we know, folks. We’ll find out the rest when everybody else does.
Sequels, threequels and more: A reimagined “Cinderella” for the (latest) Air Jordan generation, “Sneakerella” hits screens Feb. 18. “Disenchanted” (TBA) is a follow-up to 2007’s “Enchanted.” “Lightyear” (June 17) tells the origin story of “Toy Story” good guy Buzz Lightyear. And “Death on the Nile” continues the tale of 2017’s “Murder on the Orient Express.” With the rest of these, the titles pretty much say it all: “Downton Abbey 2” (March 18), “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” (April 8), “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” (April 15), “Legally Blonde 3” (May 20), “Jurassic World: Dominion” (June 10), “Minions: The Rise of Gru” (July 1), “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” (Dec. 16), “Knives Out 2” (TBA), “Hocus Pocus 2” (TBA).