As big as 2022 was at the box office with blockbusters like “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” 2023 should be an even busier year at movie theaters with the film-production industry finally shaking off the remnants of Covid-19, which shuttered new film production for the better part of nine months in 2020.
What film fans have been watching the last two-and-half years are mostly movies that were in motion prior to the pandemic. Since theaters returned to operation in the late fourth quarter of 2020, one new movie opening a week has been common. Some weeks none in our area.
After a slow start in early January, that won’t bet the case. The Hollywood production pipeline is full with most weekends set to see two or three major new films opening each Friday. It’s a pre-pandemic release pace, but the big question is will audiences respond?
In 2022 some big properties did well, while most others crashed and burned. With the window between theatrical release and streaming debuts shrinking, more and more folks opt to wait for a chance to access movies at home rather than head to the theaters.
With such an increase in the production, this stands to be an important year for movie theaters. Can theaters bring their audiences back to pre-pandemic levels or has that boat sailed for good?
As a proponent of in-theater viewing, I hope it’s a banner year for exhibitors because even though ticket and concession prices continue to rise, going to a movie still offers a decent bang for one’s entertainment buck when compared to attending concerts, plays, or ballgames.
With that said, here’s a preview of my 10-most anticipated films opening in theaters and streaming channels from January through April.
The Pale Blue Eye (Jan. 6)
This mystery-thriller stars Christian Bale as Detective Augustus Landor, who is investigating a series of murders at the U.S. Military Academy with the help of a young cadet by the name of Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling). Poe, of course, invented the detective fiction genre. Looks like the perfect flick to watch on a cold January night. It’s on Netflix today.
Knock at the Cabin (Feb. 3)
M. Night Shyamalan is a hit-and-miss director for me, but his hits are strong enough to make me not worry about the misses. This time four strangers accost a family, and force them to make the choice whether to kill one member or allow the Apocalypse to happen.
Your Place or Mine (Feb. 10)
It’s Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher in a romantic comedy where they swap homes and maybe fall in love? Sounds sorta like a remake of “The Holiday?” Most romantic-comedies are lame, but I’m giving this one the benefit of the doubt because of the likability of the stars.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Feb. 17)
Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are back as the titular stars in this film that supposedly sets the stage for much of what happen’s in Marvel’s Phase 5 of storytelling. Jonathan Majors is the villain Kang the Conqueror. Rumors are that the film might introduce the Fantastic Four?
Cocaine Bear (Feb. 24)
This film is based on the story story of a bear that ingested a tremendous amount of cocaine and then ran amok. The trailer probably gives away the best parts of the movie, but it’s sold me on buying a ticket.
Creed III (March 3)
Michael B. Jordan is back as Adonis “Donnie” Creed, but Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky has been written out of the franchise. Jordan stars and directs in a film that pits him against an old sparring buddy Damian “Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors) who is looking to knock his old pal’s block off after a long sentence in the pen. Not sure about this one without Stallone, but I’m a sucker for boxing movies.
Shazam: Fury of the Gods (March 17)
This super-hero flick looks as fun as the original. The Shazam Family battles the Daughters of Atlas with Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler joining the original cast. It’s the first of four DC movies to be released this year before newly appointed studio heads James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy” director) and Peter Safran (producer of “Shazam” and “Aquaman”) begin a reboot of the movie franchise.
John Wick: Chapter 4 (March 24)
Keanu Reeves returns as the legendary hitman, who has a price on his head that is soaring. Chad Stahleski directs what should be the most kinetic action film of the spring if not the year.
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (March 31)
I’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons. None of my friends in junior high were nerdy enough to join me, but I did enjoy the 1980s cartoon. The trailer looks fun. The cast is solid with Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and Hugh Grant. I’ll give this movie a roll.
Renfield (April 14)
This is my most anticipated movie of the first quarter. Nicholas Holt plays the long-suffering familiar of the legendary Prince of Darkness, Dracula (Nicholas Cage) in the horror-action comedy, directed by Chris McKay, who helmed “The Lego Batman Movie.” The idea for the film sprang from the fertile mind of Robert Kirkman, the creator of “The Walking Dead” comic and TV show.