From 'Avatar' to 'Wakanda': The 25 movies we're most excited to see this fall

Everett Collection/Netflix/Universal Pictures
Black Adam, Avatar: The Way of the Water, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Blonde and Bros. (Photo: Everett Collection/Netflix/Universal Pictures)
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A movie theater business that has struggled through two-plus years of pandemic got a nice boon this summer with tentpole hits like Top Gun: Maverick ($692 million), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($411 million) and Jurassic World: Dominion ($374 million).

Can Hollywood maintain that momentum as the leaves start to fall? There are certainly some promising comers, including long-awaited Black Panther and Avatar sequels and the arrival of Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam.

There is plenty on tap to hit the streamers, too (Glass Onion: Knives Out, Blonde). And of course, there is the requisite crop of Oscar contenders, with prestige films from Steven Spielberg, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Damien Chazelle, Sam Mendes, David O. Russell, Olivia Wilde and more in the pipeline.

Here are our 25 most highly anticipated fall releases.

25. Halloween Ends

Release date: Oct. 14 in theaters and on Peacock
This is how Halloween ends… not with a whimper, but a sure-to-be epic showdown between ex-babysitter Laurie Strode and the boogeyman who has plagued her since 1978. Picking up four years after Michael Myers’s Halloween Kills killing spree, David Gordon Green’s trilogy-capper should close this chapter of John Carpenter’s immortal horror movie franchise in appropriately bloody fashion. We can’t wait for Jamie Lee Curtis to slay the scary movie competition this October.

24. Ticket to Paradise

Release date: Oct. 21 in theaters
Ready to party like it’s 1999? George Clooney and Julia Roberts reunite for a good old-fashioned rom-com, one that feels right out of the ’90s if the pair weren’t playing divorced parents who begrudgingly bury the hatchet to break up the ill-advised Bali wedding of their twentysomething daughter (Kaitlyn Dever). It’s the longtime friends’ first movie together since the 2016 thriller Money Monster.

23. The Menu

Release date: Nov. 18 in theaters
Wealthy young couple Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) get way more than they bargained for when they travel to a remote island to eat at an ultra-exclusive restaurant run by Ralph Fiennes’s enigmatic celebrity chef in Mark Mylod’s darkly comedic thriller. But between the Sundance breakout Fresh and November’s Bones and All (see below), we really hope what’s on the secret menu is not people.

22. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Release date: Dec. 21 in theaters and on Peacock
The SCU (Shrek Cinematic Universe) lives on. Twelve years after his standalone spinoff Puss in Boots (2011) and 15 years after his debut in Shrek the Third (2007), everyone’s favorite dough-eyed feline swordfighter finally gets a theatrical sequel (the Netflix series The Adventures of Puss in Boots did run for six seasons on Netflix from 2015-18, but it did not feature the voice of Antonio Banderas, so was it really canon?). Joining Banderas in animated action this time out: Salma Hayek, Olivia Colman, John Mulaney and Florence Pugh.

21. White Noise 

Release date: Nov. 25 in select theaters; Dec. 30 on Netflix
Don DeLillo’s 1985 bestseller is brought to life by writer-director Noah Baumbach, with all the book’s curiosities and eccentricities likely intact. Baumbach’s regular collaborators Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig play a married couple whose comfortable life is upended by a train accident that unleashes toxic chemicals above the skies of their hometown. Don Cheadle, Jodie-Turner Smith and Outkast legend Andre Benjamin (aka Andre 3000) round out the A-list ensemble cast.

20. The Banshees of Inisherin 

Release date: Oct. 21 in theaters
Martin McDonagh’s follow-up to 2017’s acclaimed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a homecoming for the British-Irish playwright and filmmaker, reuniting him with the stars of his first feature, In Bruges: Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. This time around, the dynamic duo play good pals who suddenly sever ties, setting off a chain of darkly comic events that engulf their costal Irish community. Look for McDonagh to add another Best Original Screenplay nomination to his already-crowded awards shelf.

19. Pinocchio (times two)

Release date: Robert Zemeckis’s Pinocchio premieres Sept. 8 on Disney+ and Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio premieres Dec. 9 on Netflix
Get a double dose of Pinocchio courtesy of these two wildly different takes on Carlo Collodi’s 19th century parable. Re-teaming with his Cast Away muse Tom Hanks, director Robert Zemeckis crafts a faithful adaptation of Walt Disney’s 1940 animated favorite, with rising star Benjamin Evan Ainsworth (The Haunting of Bly Manor) voicing the titular wooden puppet — brought to life through the modern magic of CGI. Meanwhile, Guillermo del Toro takes the story in a darker direction with his Netflix-backed stop-motion animated film, which transports Pinocchio (voiced by Gregory Mann) to a fascistic Italy circa the 1930s.

18. I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Release date: Dec. 21 in theaters
Yes, there already was a made-for-TV Whitney Houston biopic, Lifetime’s 2015 drama Whitney. But the pedigree is certainly being upgraded with this big-screen take on the late R&B legend’s life, with four-time Oscar nominee Anthony McCarten (Bohemian Rhapsody) writing, Harriet director Kasi Lemmons helming, and Star Wars breakout Naomi Ackie playing Houston. Clarke Peters, Stanley Tucci and Ashton Sanders costar.

17. Bones and All 

Release date: Nov. 23 in theaters
It’s a big year for cannibal romance. Eight months after Sebastian Stan cooked up some stomach-turning delicacies in Fresh, Luca Guadagnino reunites with his Call Me By Your Name breakout Timothée Chalamet for this love story about two flesh-eating twentysomethings road-tripping across 1980s America. Taylor Russell (Waves) costars. (Not costarring: Chalamet’s disgraced Call Me cohort Armie Hammer, who, in a weird stroke of synchronicity, has been recently canceled over sexual abuse allegations that involved cannibalistic fetishes.)

16. Till

Release date: Oct. 14
It’s a good bet we already know what the hardest-to-watch film of fall will be. Chinonye Chukwu’s historical drama depicts the story of Mamie Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler), who tirelessly fights for justice after the 1955 lynching of her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till (Jaylyn Hall), accused of whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. Frankie Faison, Haley Bennett and Whoopi Goldberg costar.

15. The Son 

Release date: Nov. 11
It’s all a bit confusing, but to be clear, The Son is not a direct sequel or prequel to The Father, Florian Zeller’s disorienting 2020 drama that won leading man Anthony Hopkins an Oscar over the presumed favorite, late actor Chadwick Boseman. Hopkins does again costar in Zeller’s film, and again plays a character named Anthony. But this time the story centers around a New York father (Hugh Jackman) trying to reconnect with his 17-year-old son (Zen McGrath).

14. Bros

Release date: Sept. 30 in theaters
Leave it to Billy Eichner to spark a comedy revival at the multiplex. The Billy on the Street mastermind teams up with proven hitmaker Nicholas Stoller — whose credits include Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Neighbors — for an up-to-the-minute romantic comedy about a love-’em-and-leave-’em podcaster (Eichner) and the boy next door (Luke Macfarlane) he falls head over heels for. Not for nothing, but Bros comes with Judd Apatow’s seal of approval… and that guy knows a thing or two about making audiences laugh.

13. The Woman King

Release date: Sept. 16 in theaters
Just the thought of Viola Davis leading an all-female army to battle as they protect their 19th century African kingdom is enough to put us in line to see Gina Prince-Blythewood’s The Woman King. The fact that Agojie, the army Davis leads, was the real-life inspiration for Black Panther’s Dora Milaje warriors, only adds to the intrigue. Same for an exciting supporting ensemble that includes Thuso Mbedo (The Underground Railroad), Lashana Lynch (No Time to Die) and John Boyega (Star Wars).

12. Bardo

Release date: Nov. 4 in select theaters and Dec. 16 on Netflix
Perhaps Alejandro González Iñárritu took note from the success his friend Alfonso Cuarón had with Roma. The Birdman and Revenant director filmed south of the border for his first entirely Mexican-set film since his 2000 breakout Amores Perros. Bardo is a comedic drama about a renowned journalist and documentarian (Daniel Giménez Cacho) enduring an existential crisis after returning to his homeland.

11. Don’t Worry Darling

Release date: Sept. 23 in theaters
Now that all of the behind-the-scenes drama is (hopefully) played out, let us remind you that this is Olivia Wilde’s highly anticipated follow-up to her wickedly entertaining 2019 directorial debut, Booksmart. Florence Pugh stars as a 1950s housewife who begins to suspect something sinister afoot involving her husband (Harry Styles) and the idyllic town they reside in. Expect Wilde to draw comparisons to Jordan Peele for a subversive thriller that takes on the patriarchy in a similar fashion to Get Out’s commentary on white supremacy.

10. Blonde

Release date: Sept. 16 in select theaters; Sept. 28 on Netflix
Andrew Dominik’s NC-17 rated account of Marilyn Monroe’s life and times seems guaranteed to make audiences hot and bothered. Ana de Armas plays the Hollywood screen legend and her off-camera persona, Norma Jeane Mortensen, who was consumed by the travails experienced by her bombshell alter ego. In interviews, Dominik has warned that Blonde is out to slaughter some of the “sacred cows” that have largely escaped blame for Monroe’s fall, so don’t be surprised if the film becomes a thinkpiece-generating machine throughout awards season.

9. She Said 

Release date: Nov. 18
It was only a matter of time before Hollywood gave us the definitive #TimesUp movie. Carrie Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, the New York Times journalists whose bombshell report on the multiple allegations of sexual assault against Harvey Weinstein sunk the now-disgraced and imprisoned movie mogul and changed the face of the industry, if not the entire world. Maria Schrader directs while Patricia Clarkson, Andre Braugher and Samantha Morton costar.

8. Amsterdam

Release date: Oct. 7 in theaters
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but David O. Russell (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook) has assembled an all-star cast for his first feature since 2015’s Joy. Shockingly, no Jennifer Lawrence this time, but Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldaña, Robert De Niro, Taylor Swift and more star in this comedic thriller about three friends who become murder suspects in the 1930s.

7. Empire of Light

Release date: Dec. 9 in theaters
Skyfall director Sam Mendes turns the clock back to '80s-era England for his personal ode to movie magic. Oscar-winning favorite Olivia Colman plays a low-level employee at the titular movie palace, which is caught in the grip of the social turmoil felt across the nation during the Thatcher years. Forging a bond with the Empire’s newest employee — and fellow outsider (played by Michael Ward) — she finds a temporary respite from the real world, but it’s only a matter of time before the credits roll on those illusions.

6. Black Adam

Release date: Oct. 21 in theaters
With Batgirl on the shelf and Aquaman 2 delayed until next December, the DC Extended Universe desperately needs another hero… and Dwayne Johnson is ready to answer the call. After over a decade in development, Black Adam soars onto the big screen at last, and establishes the super-strong title character as the new heavyweight champion of the DCEU. A centuries-old predecessor — and occasional nemesis — of Zachary Levi’s Shazam, Black Adam awakes in the present day and has to decide whether he’s out for justice… or out for himself.

5. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Release date: Dec. 23 on Netflix (and in select theaters TBA)
Who needs Star Wars anyway? Rian Johnson launched his own dang franchise with the 2019 blockbuster Knives Out and returns to the scene of the crime with the second installment in a planned trilogy of Agatha Christie-inspired whodunits. This time around, the writer-director’s gumshoe hero, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), is kicking back on a picturesque Greek island when he becomes enmeshed in an all-new mystery involving a party of famous faces, including Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista and Janelle Monae. The game, as they say, is afoot.

4. Babylon

Release date: Dec. 25 in theaters
Is Margot Robbie the hardest working actor in Hollywood? Before her highly publicized shoot as the title character in Barbie, Robbie wrapped this likely Oscar contender from La La Land and First Man writer-director Damien Chazelle. The period piece pairs Robbie with Brad Pitt in a showbiz drama set around Hollywood’s 1920s transition from silent films to “talkies.” Diego Calva, Samara Weaving, Tobey Maguire and Olivia Wilde also star.

3. Avatar: The Way of Water

Release date: Dec. 16 in theaters
Time to book that spaceflight back to Pandora. Box-office king James Cameron spins another sci-fi yarn set on the distant planet he created for his global 2009 blockbuster, and brings original stars Zoe Saldaña, Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver along for the ride. And since this year marks the 25th anniversary of Titanic, it’s only appropriate that The Way of Water takes place above and below Pandora’s oceans, giving Cameron a new aquatic frontier to explore.

2. The Fablemans

Release date: Nov. 11 in theaters
The lore around Steven Spielberg’s childhood — how he began directing home movies in his backyard as a pre-teen — has become so legendary, it’s no wonder the famed director is now directing his own biopic. Or at least a film based on his own childhood. With Michelle Williams as mom, Paul Dano as dad and Seth Rogen as his favorite uncle, Benny, expect this to be Spielberg’s most personal movie yet — and a major awards player.

1. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Release date: Nov. 11 in theaters
If the first trailer for Wakanda Forever — which has racked up 37 million views on YouTube after premiering at San Diego Comic-Con — is any indication, prepare for a deeply emotional tribute to the franchise’s fallen star, Chadwick Boseman. We might also need to mentally prepare for the very distinct possibility of another Wakandan taking over the Black Panther mantle, as teased in the trailer’s buzzy final shot.


Also Opening:

Spider-Man: No Way Home  The More Fun Stuff Version (Sept. 2) is self-explanatory; a monkey aids a quadriplegic in Gigi & Nate (Sept. 2); Sterling K. Brown and Regina Hall want you to Honk for Jesus: Save Your Soul (Sept. 2); you’re not gonna believe what’s in the Airbnb’s basement in Barbarian (Sept. 9); House of Darkness (Sept. 9) is Justin Long’s other thriller opening the same day; Queen Latifah and Ludacris’s End of the Road (Sept. 9) is an action thriller, not a Boyz II Men biopic; Ben Foster’s about to get Medieval (Sept. 9) on that…; Kevin Smith reopens the Quick Stop — and revisits his heart attack in the threequel Clerks III (Sept. 13); Sam Rockwell and Saoirse Ronan get their Agatha Christie on in See How They Run (Sept. 16); Tyler Perry gets serious in A Jazzman’s Blues (Sept. 16); Moonage Daydream (Sept. 16) takes a deep look at David Bowie; Maya Hawke and Camila Mendes headline a hip young cast in Do Revenge (Sept. 16); Thandiwe Newton gives one of the best performances of her career in God’s Country (Sept. 16); Naomi Watts remakes the 2014 Austrian thriller Goodnight Mommy (Sept. 16); Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance are The Silent Twins (Sept. 16); Ti West prequels X with Mia Goth in Pearl (Sept. 16); the '80s are so back in Heathers: The Musical (Sept. 16); Allison Janney and Jurnee Smolllet pursue a kidnapper in Lou (Sept. 23); Abigail Disney looks at The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales (Sept. 23); Lena Dunham directs her second movie of 2022, the period drama Catherine Call Birdy (Sept. 23); Thomas Jane and Emile Hirsch team for Dig (Sept. 23); it actually happened — the witches are back for Hocus Pocus 2 (Sept. 30); expect to be supremely creeped out by smiles in Paramount’s horror movie Smile (Sept. 30); you’ll never tire of exorcism movies, says My Best Friend’s Exorcism (Sept. 30); Emily Watson is a torn mother in a fishing village in God’s Creatures (Sept. 30).

Jaeden Martell is getting texts from the grave in the Stephen King spooker Mr. Harrigan’s Phone (Oct. 5); the kids book favorite Lyle, Lyle Crocodile (Oct. 7) gets a movie version; Cate Blanchett shoots for Oscar No. 3 in TÁR (Oct. 7), Todd Field’s first film in 16 years; Ruben Ostlund's Triangle of Sadness (Oct. 7) is already being called this year’s Parasite; trust us when we say the title for Mila Kunis-starrer Luckiest Girl Alive (Oct. 7) is very misleading; Frank Grillo heads up Operation Seawolf (Oct. 7); Spirit Halloween The Movie (Oct. 11), enough said; Wonder’s prequel, White Bird: A Wonder Story (Oct. 14), is set in… Nazi-occupied France?; an overweight teen goes full Carrie in Piggy (Oct. 14); Sarah Jones looks at sex work in Sell/Buy/Date (Oct. 14); trust us when we say the title for Jessica Chastain-starrer The Good Nurse (Oct. 19) is very misleading; Charlize Theron and Kerry Washington headline Paul Feig’s fantastical The School for Good and Evil (Oct. 21); Key and Peele reunite as voices for Henry Selick’s stop-motion animated Wendell & Wild (Oct. 21); Harry Styles’s Hollywood takeover continues with My Policeman (Oct. 21); expect Descendant (Oct. 21), which examines the discovery of the slave ship Clotilda, to be in the conversation for a Best Documentary Oscar; it’s influencers vs. a vampire in Slayers (Oct. 21); like Spielberg, James Gray also revisits his childhood (here in 1980s Queens) in Armageddon Time (Oct. 28); Elizabeth Banks’s abortion drama Call Jane (Oct. 28) couldn’t be timelier; there’s another exorcism brewing in Prey for the Devil (Oct. 28); the Daniel Radcliffe-starring Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (Nov. 4) already looks like the best music biopic parody since Walk Hard; Millie Bobby Brown is investigating more strange things (wait…) in Enola Holmes 2 (Nov. 4); Toni Collette and Anna Faris want to be their rich aunt Kathleen Turner’s beneficiaries in The Estate (Nov. 4); meet the real-life WALL-E in the doc Good Night Oppy (Nov. 4); Luca Guadagnino also made a documentary this year, Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams (Nov. 4); Jillian Bell and Natalie Morales team for I’m Totally Fine (Nov. 4); Lindsay Lohan is back, and she’s Falling for Christmas (Nov. 10); the Kristen Bell comedy The People We Hate at the Wedding (Nov. 18) has the best title of fall; Jason Momoa hopes to kick-start a dreamy new Netflix franchise with Slumberland (Nov. 18); Jake Gyllenhaal makes his second animated movie in as many years, Strange World (Nov. 23); Jonathan Majors and Glenn Powell team for Devotion (Nov. 23); Nikyatu Jusu’s Nanny (Nov. 23) could be an arthouse horror breakout.

Sarah Polley directs Women Talking (Dec. 2), her first feature film since 2011’s Take This Waltz; Jim Parsons and Sally Field team for the weeper, Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies (Dec. 2); David Harbour’s Santa must save Christmas in the R-rated Violent Night (Dec. 2); Vince Vaughn co-wrote Christmas With the Campbells (Dec. 2); Zoey Deutch delivers another promising rom-com with Something From Tiffany’s (Dec. 9); Tom Hanks is A Man Called Otto (Dec. 14), a remake of the 2015 Swedish film A Man Called Ove; Christian Bale teams with Edgar Allan Poe (as played by Harry Melling) in The Pale Blue Eye (Dec. 23); Bill Nighy drew raves at Sundance for the Akira Kurosawa-inspired Living (Dec. 23); Jamie Foxx, John Boyega and Teyonah Parris team for They Cloned Tyrone (Fall TBD); a young Black gay man joins the Marines in Elegance Bratton’s The Inspection (Fall TBD).