Sequels are the engine on which Hollywood runs, at least these days. Studios are so thoroughly gun-shy about the prospect of handing nine figures to any unproven property that to get the kind of money that makes money, you have to have been there before. We’ve talked in recent days about some of the reboots that are going to flood the market in 2019, but today (for the final leg of our year-in-preview film week), we’re going to talk about the direct continuations of some of film’s biggest franchises.
This year, we get new entries from the small multicolored brick department, the Keanu Reeves kills strangers department, and a new installment of the biggest non-Marvel franchise going these days, which Disney also owns. You’ve seen a lot of Disney all week through our film previews, and you’ll see a bit more here, but they’re hardly the only big player involved in this year’s crop of soon-to-be megahits. We’ll have more giant monsters, more people in Black, and even the third-generation revival of a renowned everyday hero.
Without further preamble, let’s jump right in. You’re probably excited for most of these movies already, and it’s doubtful that you need us to tell you to be any more excited. But all the same, not all sequels are made equal, and in that spirit, here are our top 10 most anticipated next installments for 2019.
By the way, if you’re looking for that killer clown who’s been stalking those kids up in New England, check out our 10 Most Anticipated Horror Movies of 2019. We’re ready to float, too.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Release: February 8th via Warner Bros.
Why We’re Excited: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller came in and smashed our Lego set of expectations with the 2014 original. What could have been an easy cash grab ended up being a hilarious meta-commentary on imagination and creativity. (Who didn’t gasp a little when Will Ferrell popped up halfway through? Genius.) Sadly, Lord and Miller skipped out on directing the followup, but they did leave behind a script, which gives us plenty of assurance that no stray pieces will be lost. What’s more, heroes Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, and Nick Offerman are all back with a slew of new voices, ranging from Tiffany Haddish to Maya Rudolph. We’re ready to build and believe again. –Michael Roffman
John Wick 3: Parabellum
Release: May 17th via Lionsgate
Why We’re Excited: When last we left our favorite killing machine John Wick, he was deemed “excommunicado” by an international league of assassins, barred from the privileges of the Continental, and sent into the world with only his dog, his wits, and the kind of price on his head that every hired killer in the world now wants for themselves. If the early teaser images are any indication, Wick’s world is about to get a whole lot bigger, and even more dangerous than it already was. But if two John Wick movies have taught us anything, it’s that you never, ever bet against a determined Keanu Reeves. Plus, he killed a guy with a pencil! A fucking pencil! –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Release: May 31st via Warner Bros.
Why We’re Excited: If we had one major takeaway from 2014’s Godzilla, it was probably the last one anybody should come away with from a Godzilla movie: there wasn’t enough Godzilla. For all of the visual flair used to bring the famed Toho monster and protector to life, there was a great deal of humans arguing and not nearly enough in the way of grand-scale battle. The awaited sequel promises to change that, however, with some of Godzilla’s most notorious enemies arriving to decimate cities and engage in massive kaiju battles. If we’re not going to get another Del Toro-helmed Pacific Rim, we need now more than ever for history’s most venerable kaiju franchise to enjoy a true revival. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
Men In Black: International
Release: June 14th via Sony
Why We’re Excited: It’s been over six years since Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones (and Josh Brolin) closed the doors on the Men In Black headquarters. Of course, six years is also more than enough time for Hollywood to say, “Okay, let’s do this again,” which is exactly what they’re doing with the forthcoming spinoff-reboot from director F. Gary Gray. Relocating to the London headquarters, the film follows Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson as Agents H and P, respectively, who are tasked to solve a murder mystery that sends them around the globe. Given that the world has never been weirder, we’re actually okay with this franchise returning for good, and the talent ensures that we won’t need to be neuralized in another six years. –Michael Roffman
Son of Shaft
Release: June 14th via Warner Bros.
Why We’re Excited: More like ecstatic. For years, this writer and longtime fan of the Shaft franchise has been wondering why there wasn’t ever a sequel to John Singleton’s 2000 reboot/sequel. Not only was it a hit, but Samuel L. Jackson has been an unstoppable blockbuster presence ever since, essentially laying the foundation for Marvel’s billion-dollar film franchise. Sadly, it’s taken this long to get a followup, and sadly, we need to have another offspring for the younger audiences with Jessie Usher, who was achingly dull in Independence Day: Resurgence. Still, there’s an intriguing novelty in watching three John Shafts from three separate generations — which means, yes, the OG himself, Richard Roundtree. Let’s just hope director Tim Story finds his old swagger and brings back some of that Barbershop magic. If so, we can dig it. –Michael Roffman
Toy Story 4
Release: June 21st via Pixar
Why We’re Excited: It’s very, very hard to argue that anybody truly needed another Toy Story. That’s not to say that it’s unwanted, or that audiences will be unhappy to hear Tom Hanks and Tim Allen return again as Woody and Buzz. It’s just that Toy Story 3 had about as perfect an ending to a trilogy as any movie trilogy has ever put together, a poignant finale that harkened all the way back to the opening shot of Pixar’s industry-changing 1995 classic. Adults and their children wept together, and we assumed that as went Andy, so went the series. But Pixar has rarely steered its faithful wrong, and it certainly hasn’t yet with the Toy Story movies in particular. As long as the magic remains, so will the love. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
Release: August 2nd via Universal
Why We’re Excited: Whatever Instagram-fueled talk of dissension in the Furious Family ranks there may have been last year, the franchise’s first spin-off is still on the way. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham will reprise their characters from Fast Five and onward, likely leading to some variety of ridiculous large-scale vehicular chaos. It’s a fairly risky move for the franchise, which overexposed itself in the early years before returning strong in the back half. But Johnson’s as guaranteed a global box office draw as you can find these days, Statham has to tend to his other pet franchise until the Megiverse gets truly underway, and even the deeply cumbersome title of this one won’t stop it from being a late-summer smash. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
Release: October 11th
Why We’re Excited: The sleeper comedy/horror hit Zombieland arrived in 2009, at a time when The Walking Dead was still a cultural touchstone and zombie-mania hadn’t yet overwhelmed every corner of American pop culture. A full decade later, we’re curious how well a sequel will still be able to reach audiences. Having said that, director Ruben Fleischer and his key foursome (Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin) have all returned a few hits and Oscars later, a strong first step for any belated sequel hopeful. It’ll just have to get even more creative this time around. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
Release: November 1st via Paramount
Why We’re Excited: At this point, we’re more curious than anything about the forthcoming Terminator sequel. While 2015’s Terminator: Genisys gave audiences an upset stomach with its pretzeled time logic and crude attempts to sell Jai Courtney as a stand-in for Michael Biehn (sh’yeah right), this next entry plans to be the proverbial Judgment Day for any of the sequels following, um, Judgment Day. In other words, it’s a direct sequel to the movie everyone loves most — even if this writer will go to bat for the 1984 original any day (come at me) — and even has direct involvement with the original team. Linda Hamilton returns as Sarah Connor, Arnie‘s back in some capacity, and even James Cameron lent a hand in the story department. The new blood ain’t too bad either with Deadpool director Tim Miller leading Halt and Catch Fire champ Mackenzie Davis. Okay, okay, one more chance, guys. –Michael Roffman
Star Wars: Episode IX
Release: December 20th via Disney/Lucasfilm
Why We’re Excited: Look, we can bicker all we want about how there are too many Star Warses, but we all know our asses are in those seats come Thursday evening. Granted, 2017’s The Last Jedi turned the fanbase into Israel and Palestine, but the Force is strong with this sequel. Director JJ Abrams is coming back to close things out — hopefully with the originality that Rian Johnson mustered up — and all of the principal heroes of yesteryear are gone, leaving the stage for our youngsters, who are pretty rad. Sure, this writer will walk out immediately if there are any echoes of Jabba’s Palace, Ewoks, or speeder bikes, but odds are we’re in for something pretty, pretty special. Disney wants people in those theme parks, and The Mandalorian needs to be a hit, so this film is all sorts of crucial for the Mouse House. May the Force be with you, JJ. –Michael Roffman