It’s been a strange year, to say the least, for the domestic box office, which has had to contend with everything from two protracted Hollywood strikes to Marvel and Disney movies running out of steam — while cinemas also got a shot in the arm from things like the Barbenheimer phenomenon as well as such one-off hits as Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour concert movie.
As we get closer to the end of the year, there’s still a slew of major movies set to hit the big screen (as well as smartphone screens), many of which have already delighted critics and festivalgoers. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the most-anticipated movie releases coming over the next few weeks based on Rotten Tomatoes data, including star-studded new dramas as well as quirky and more offbeat titles that you don’t want to miss.
December’s most-anticipated movies
December is definitely shaping up to be quite a busy month when it comes to both strong new TV shows as well as great movies, which include the feature films you’ll find listed below. They run the gamut from superhero adventure to the final film from Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, and you’ll find story summaries as well as the release dates included with each title’s listing below.
Godzilla Minus One (in theaters now)
From director Takashi Yamazaki and produced by Toho Studios and Robot Communications, this is the 37th film in the iconic Godzilla franchise and finds postwar Japan dealing with the emergence of the creature. The movie is more or less a remake of 1954’s Godzilla, while also improving upon it — with some incredibly drawn characters, a touching romance, and hyper-realistic effects sequences that will blow you away.
The Boy and the Heron (Dec. 8)
Next on our list of December’s most anticipated movies is the latest from Hayao Miyazaki, which he’s said will be his last. The Boy and the Heron is his first movie since The Wind Rises from 2013, and it’s inspired by a Japanese novel from the 1930s that tells the story of a young boy mourning the loss of his mother. This one also probably has a Best Animated Oscar next year with its name on it.
Wonka (Dec. 15)
Combining nostalgia, childhood wonder, and a scampy Timothee Chalamet as the proprietor of a chocolate factory, Wonka promises all the delight and sweetness of a vast tub of Everlasting Gobstoppers.
From director Paul King, and based on the beloved character from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wonka is the story of how one inventor, chocolate-maker, and magician of sorts became the Willy Wonka that everyone knows today.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (Dec. 22)
The DC Extended Universe as we know it is coming to an end with this month’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which picks up years after the events of the first movie. As far as the story goes, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman teams up with his half-brother Orm to save Atlantis after Black Manta unleashes an ancient power with the Black Trident.
Momoa, by the way, is expected to return as a new character in the DCU, but this will likely be his last appearance as Arthur Curry / Aquaman.
Poor Things (Dec. 22)
Definitely the most controversial of December’s upcoming movies, Poor Things from director Yorgos Lanthimos is a reimagining of the story of Frankenstein — one that’s focused on a young woman, played by Emma Stone, who’s been brought back from the dead. That was essentially done by implanting the brain of a newborn baby into her adult body, which makes the sex that Stone’s character subsequently engages in feel pretty creepy. Not that it bothered anyone earlier this fall at the Venice Film Festival, where the movie got an eight-minute standing ovation.
Rebel Moon (Dec. 22)
Finally, this new space opera from director Zack Snyder is a Netflix release that I’ve been looking forward to streaming for months now. “When a peaceful settlement on a moon in the furthest reaches of the universe finds itself threatened by the armies of the tyrannical Regent Balisarius,” the official Netflix summary for Rebel Moon explains, “Kora (Sofia Boutella), a mysterious stranger living among the villagers, becomes their best hope for survival.
“Tasked with finding trained fighters who will unite with her in making an impossible stand against the Motherworld, Kora assembles a small band of warriors — outsiders, insurgents, peasants, and orphans of war from different worlds who share a common need for redemption and revenge.”
This is such a big release for Netflix, by the way, that the streamer is giving Rebel Moon a one-week run in select theaters starting Dec. 15, ahead of its Dec. 22 streaming debut. Snyder’s script for the project was also so long that it required splitting Rebel Moon into two parts, with the second (Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver) coming in April 2024. And as if that wasn’t enough, both parts of the movie will also come with longer director’s cuts.