2020 was terrible for cinemas, for obvious reasons. They were closed for most of the year, and in turn, many of the biggest movies we were looking forward to also got rescheduled. Many of these films found release dates in 2021. In fact, 20 films on the list below were originally slated for 2020. But with vaccines just starting to roll out, the effects of COVID-19 will be felt through 2021 as well. What that means is that release dates aren’t certain anymore, especially for the films that are slated for cinemas in the early months of 2021. And while Hollywood is being optimistic and has slotted movies for the full year, Bollywood’s calendar is all but empty at this point.
2021 has a lot in store for us, if vaccinations go well (fingers crossed). We have a new Matrix, Spider-Man, Mission: Impossible, Fast & Furious, Bond movie, Venom, Minions, Top Gun, and Ghostbusters. In the superhero department, we have four Marvel movies, two Sony Marvel movies, and one DC movie. New franchises (Dune, Uncharted, and Chaos Walking) will start in 2020 and others will be rebooted (Resident Evil) or resurrected (G.I. Joe). And there are some interesting movies involving the likes of Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and LeBron James (he acts now?).
All release dates below are for theatres and the US, unless specifically stated otherwise. HBO Max releases will only be available in cinemas in India.
The White Tiger
Release date: January 22, 2021 (Netflix)
Priyanka Chopra and Rajkummar Rao have supporting roles in Ramin Bahrani’s adaptation of the 2008 Booker Prize-winning Aravind Adiga novel, which follows a village boy (debutant Adarsh Gourav) who works as a chauffeur to a rich landlord (Rao). This is the second Adiga adaptation on Netflix after Selection Day.
Release date: February 5, 2021
“Señorita” singer Camila Cabello lends her voice and acting talents to Sony Pictures’ take on the classic, with a story from James Corden and Kay Cannon (Girlboss) as director. Idina Menzel, Billy Porter, John Mulaney, Romesh Ranganathan, and Pierce Brosnan also star.
Release date: February 26, 2021 (Apple TV+)
The first movie from Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo since Endgame, Cherry stars Marvel actor Tom Holland as an army medic suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who starts robbing banks to buy the opioids he’s addicted to. Based on Nico Walker’s semi-autobiographical book of the same name.
Tom & Jerry
Release date: February 26, 2021 (HBO Max)
A hybrid live-action/ animated adventure in New York set against the backdrop of an Indian wedding, it follows an event planner (Chloë Grace Moretz) who teams up with the titular cat to stop the titular mouse, unaware of the history between the two.
Release date: March 5, 2021
Doug Liman’s new sci-fi franchise-hopeful stars Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, and takes place in a world without any women and where men’s thoughts are vocalised for all to hear. After a woman (Ridley) crashes onto the planet, a boy (Holland) must help protect her and figure out what happened in the past.
Raya and the Last Dragon
Release date: March 5, 2021 (Disney+)
Disney Animation Studios’ first original film in five years — since Moana — follows the titular warrior princess (Kelly Marie Tran) who sets out to search for the last dragon to help save humanity. Raya encounters Sisu (Awkwafina) on her journey, who is unknowingly a water dragon and can transform into a human.
The King’s Man
Release date: March 12, 2021
Frequently delayed, Matthew Vaugh’s period prequel to his Kingsman series follows Ralph Fiennes as Duke of Oxford and his protégé as they try to stop World War I. Gemma Arterton, Matthew Goode, Daniel Brühl, Djimon Hounsou, and Charles Dance are part of the cast.
Release date: March 19, 2021
Jared Leto plays a scientist suffering from a rare blood disease who attempts to cure himself and instead becomes afflicted with a form of vampirism, gaining superhuman abilities in the process. Part of Sony’s own Marvel universe, which includes Venom. Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, and Tyrese Gibson are part of the cast.
Release date: April 2, 2021
Akshay Kumar is allegedly playing a spy in this ‘80 based-on-true-events tale alongside Vaani Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, and Lara Dutta. Bell Bottom became one of the first Bollywood movies to resume production during the pandemic, though it actually filmed in the UK entirely.
No Time to Die
Release date: April 2, 2021
Daniel Craig returns as James Bond for the fifth and final time in what is supposedly the most expensive Bond movie of all time, with an estimated $250-million budget. Set five years after Spectre, a semi-retired Bond must find a missing scientist with the new villain Safin (Rami Malek) vowing revenge and putting the lives of millions at risk.
A Quiet Place Part II
Release date: April 23, 2021
John Krasinski returns as director (and stars in flashbacks) on this sequel to the 2018 hit, which forces the family — Emily Blunt and her two on-screen kids — to venture out into the world, where the creatures that hunt by sound aren’t the only threats. A spin-off from Jeff Nichols is in the works as of November.
Last Night in Soho
Release date: April 23, 2021
Edgar Wright’s next film is set in ‘60s London and follows a modern-day fashion design enthusiast who encounters her singer idol in the past. Yes, it involves time travel. Thomasin McKenzie (Leave No Trace), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Diana Rigg (Game of Thrones), and Terence Stamp star.
Release date: May 7, 2021
Thanks to COVID-19, Black Widow won’t be Marvel’s first Phase Four entry — WandaVision (in January) and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (in March) come before on Disney+ — but it’s still the first film for what that’s worth. Set shortly after Captain America: Civil War, it follows Scarlett Johansson’s titular character as she is forced to confront her past. Florence Pugh, David Harbour, and Rachel Weisz also star.
Godzilla vs. Kong
Release date: May 21, 2021 (HBO Max)
This is what Hollywood has been building to since that 2014 Godzilla reboot from Gareth Edwards and the 2017 King Kong reboot from Jordan Vogt-Roberts. Almost everything you need to know about the film is in the title. Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Jessica Henwick, Julian Dennison, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichirm, and Zhang Ziyi will play the humans.
Release date: May 21, 2021
Ryan Reynolds plays a video game non-player character who becomes aware that he’s in a video game and then tries to become the hero and save the game. Wait, isn’t this the plot of Wreck-It Ralph? Anyhoo, Jodie Comer (Killing Eve), Joe Keery (Stranger Things), and Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi star alongside.
Release date: May 28, 2021
This crazy over-the-top franchise continues to roll with Fast Five director Justin Lin returning at the helm, which will (hopefully) reinvigorate it after the debacle of The Fate of The Furious. Lin is bringing back most of the old gang too — Jordana Brewster, Charlize Theron, and even Sung Kang (somehow) — to stop Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) younger brother, Jakob (John Cena) who’s allied with previous villain Cipher (Theron). Oh my god, how is it always about family?
Release date: May 28, 2021
Emma Stone turns into the titular fur-loving villain in Disney’s (yet another) live-action reimagining of an animated original — Cruella was part of One Hundred and One Dalmatians — which seemingly offers an origin story take on the character. Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, and Mark Strong co-star.
Release date: June 11, 2021
With the female-led reboot failing to impress critics and audiences, Sony Pictures goes back to the drawing board and returns with a direct sequel set 30 years after Ghostbusters II. It follows two children (Mckenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard) and their mother (Carrie Coon) who discover their link to the original gang. Most of them are returning, including Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver. Paul Rudd is new to the cast.
Release date: June 18, 2021
Following Soul, Pixar’s next movie is this coming-of-age story set in a seaside town on the Italian Riviera, about a young boy who enjoys an unforgettable summer with his newfound best friend as they share gelato, pasta, and scooter rides. But a secret threatens to spoil the fun: he is a sea monster from another world just below the water’s surface.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Release date: June 25, 2021
Tom Hardy’s titular anti-hero Venom goes up against psychotic serial killer (Woody Harrelson) and his own alien symbiote Carnage in this sequel to the 2018 disaster that nonetheless racked up over $850 million worldwide at the box office. Michelle Williams and Reid Scott return, and Naomie Harris joins as Carnage’s love interest Shriek. Andy Serkis directs.
Top Gun: Maverick
Release date: July 2, 2021
For more than thirty years — as much time since the first film — Tom Cruise’s Navy aviator has avoided promotion to remain in the air as a test pilot. The man with no future is forced to reckon with the ghosts of his past after he encounters his late best friend’s son (Miles Teller) in training for a special mission.
Minions: The Rise of Gru
Release date: July 2, 2021
Having grossed a billion dollars, it was obvious that the 2015 Despicable Me spin-off Minions would get a sequel of its own. It picks up where the original left off, as the yellow creatures help a young Gru — their eventual leader — steal from a supervillain group and then protect him from the fallout.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Release date: July 9, 2021
The MCU’s first Asian superhero in the lead (Simu Liu) is forced to confront the titular terrorist organisation that was introduced all the way back in 2008’s Iron Man. The real Mandarin (Tony Leung) is their leader, and Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu) is among the villains too. Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Ronny Chieng, and Fala Chen also have roles.
Release date: July 16, 2021
Thirteen years after it entered development, the adaptation of Naughty Dog’s action-adventure video game finally arrives. Tom Holland is in the lead as the fortune hunter, with Mark Wahlberg playing his mentor and father figure. Antonio Banderas, Sophia Taylor Ali, and Tati Gabrielle are also in the cast.
Space Jam: A New Legacy
Release date: July 16, 2021 (HBO Max)
LeBron James takes over from Michael Jordan in the sequel to the 1996 animated comedy original, which finds him helping the Looney Tunes gang — that’s Bugs Bunny, Lola Bunny, Daffy Duck, Marvin the Martian, Tweety, Pepé Le Pew, and Porky Pig among others — win a basketball game against some AI-led competition manufactured by an algorithm (Don Cheadle). Ryan Coogler (Black Panther) is a writer and producer.
The Tomorrow War
Release date: July 23, 2021
In the near future, humans figure out how to draft soldiers from the past — Chris Pratt among them — to fight a losing war against alien forces. Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, and Betty Gilpin also star. The Lego Batman Movie director Chris McKay is at the helm.
Release date: July 30, 2021
Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt lead this adaptation of a Disney theme park attraction — not the first time, hello Pirates of the Caribbean — that follows a riverboat captain (Johnson) who helps protect a scientist (Blunt) looking for the magical Tree of Life from wild animals and Nazis.
The Suicide Squad
Release date: August 6, 2021 (HBO Max)
Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn is hitting the soft reboot button on DC’s Suicide Squad with a ‘70s-inspired war film that sends Task Force X — Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Bloodsport (Idris Elba), and Peacemaker (John Cena) are among nearly 20 members — to destroy a Nazi-era prison on a South American island. Most of them will likely die in the process, Gunn has revealed.
Release date: September 9, 2021
Five years is all it took for a reboot of the Resident Evil film series. It will be an origin story set towards the end of the 20th century in Raccoon City. Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) is directing. Kaya Scodelario (Maze Runner), Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and the Wasp), Robbie Amell (Upload), Tom Hopper (The Umbrella Academy), Avan Jogia (Zombieland: Double Tap), and Neal McDonough (Yellowstone) are part of the cast.
Death on the Nile
Release date: September 17, 2021
The story of Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) continues on holiday in Egypt, where a love triangle spills into murder. Gal Gadot, Letitia Wright, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening, Rose Leslie, Tom Bateman, Russell Brand, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, and Ali Fazal also star.
Release date: October 1, 2021 (HBO Max)
Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem lead the star-studded cast of Denis Villeneuve’s ambitious two-part adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi classic, often termed unfilmable.
The Last Duel
Release date: October 15, 2021
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck co-wrote this adaptation of Eric Jager’s 2004 book of the same name, which tells the true story of two 14th-century French best friends (played here by Americans, Adam Driver and Damon) who fought to the death as part of a trial by combat, after one of them accused the other of raping his wife (Jodie Comer). Affleck plays King Charles VI. Ridley Scott directs.
Release date: October 15, 2021
Ajay Devgn plays coach Syed Abdul Rahim in this sports biopic, who is considered the architect of modern Indian football and sparked the national team’s golden era between 1952–1962. Badhaai Ho director Amit Sharma is behind the camera.
Release date: October 22, 2021
Hasbro and Paramount Pictures resurrect the dead G.I. Joe film series — they want it to cross over with Transformers franchise — for this spin-off led by Crazy Rich Asians star Henry Golding as the titular hooded black-clad superhero. Also starring are Andrew Koji as nemesis Storm Shadow, Iko Uwais as the teacher Hard Master, Peter Mensah as Blind Master, Úrsula Corberó as Cobra villainess Baroness, and Samara Weaving as G.I. Joe member Scarlett.
Release date: November 5, 2021
For over seven thousand years, the titular immortal aliens secretly lived on Earth, disguised as normal humans. Well, everyone except Kumail Nanjiani, whose character has become the biggest Bollywood star. But following a tragedy after Avengers: Endgame, they must come out of hiding and reunite to protect mankind from their evil counterparts, the Deviants.
Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek, Don Lee, Kit Harington, and Barry Keoghan also star. Ridloff and Henry play the MCU’s first deaf and gay superheroes, respectively.
Mission: Impossible 7
Release date: November 19, 2021
Tom Cruise and writer-director Christopher McQuarrie are dealing with high expectations here thanks to their work on Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter), Pom Klementieff (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire), and Esai Morales (Titans) are joining the action, alongside returning stars Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, and Vanessa Kirby.
Release date: November 24, 2021
Disney Animation’s first film about Latinos involves Lin-Manuel Miranda as songwriter, and Zootopia co-directors Byron Howard and Jared Bush. It follows a Colombian girl who’s the only non-magical member in her family.
West Side Story
Release date: December 10, 2021
Steven Spielberg is behind this remake of the multi-Oscar-winning 1961 film adaptation, though it’s said to stick more to the original Broadway musical script. It’s about two young adults (Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler), associated with rival street gangs, falling for each other in 1950s New York. Rita Moreno returns from the original in a supporting capacity.
Release date: December 17, 2021
The fourth and final MCU movie in 2021 is going to be completely bonkers, it seems. The sequel to Spider-Man: Far From Home will reportedly involve all three eras of Spider-Man (that’s Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland) alongside their love interests and villains (including Kirsten Dunst, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, and Alfred Molina) and MCU connections (Benedict Cumberbatch).
What is this, a live-action version of the Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse?
The Matrix 4
Release date: December 22, 2021 (HBO Max)
Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss lead the way in this as-yet untitled fourth entry of the seminal sci-fi franchise, which has one half of the Wachowskis (Lana) at the helm. We don’t know anything about the plot, but we do know that it’ll involve Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jada Pinkett Smith, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, and Priyanka Chopra among others.
Laal Singh Chaddha
Release date: December 24, 2021
Aamir Khan stars in Tom Hanks’ role in this remake of Forrest Gump transported to Bollywood, which will inevitably — and cheerfully — run through the events of India’s history. Kareena Kapoor plays the love interest, played by Robin Wright in the original.
Release date: December 25, 2021
La La Land and First Man writer-director Damien Chazelle’s next film is set in late 1920s Hollywood as the industry transitions from silent films to “talkies”, as they were then called. Brad Pitt plays a fading star based on John Gilbert, and Margot Robbie is sex symbol and “It” girl Clara Bow. It’s expected to be Chazelle’s most expensive movie to date with a $80–100 million estimated budget.