There are a lot of big movies coming to a multiplex near you next year, and that's a good thing given the weak box-office results that theaters have experienced this year. Outside of the better-than-expected showing of last month's It, folks just aren't heading out for a night at the movies the way that they used to.
A promising slate of potential blockbusters for 2018 can change that. There are a lot of big flicks on the way next year. Let's go over a few of the titles worth watching -- in more ways than one.
Annihilation -- Feb. 23
The most anticipated movie of 2018, based on IMDb popularity, isn't one of the many superhero or thriller sequels that will be hopefully filling up film houses next year. Annihilation is the latest project by Ex Machina writer and director Alex Garland.
The film stars Natalie Portman as a biologist and Jennifer Jason Leigh as a psychologist thrust into an expedition into a world where the rules of nature don't necessarily apply.
Tomb Raider -- March 16
Hit movies often inspire video games, and every once in awhile, you see hit video games that inspire big movies. Video games aren't often blockbusters when blown out on the silver screen with full-featured storylines. Warcraft, Silent Hill, and Wing Commander are some of the properties that have failed to resonate with movie audiences after winning over diehard gamers.
However, sometimes you have video games, including Resident Evil and Tomb Raider, that just click. Angelina Jolie gave fearless adventurer Lara Croft a shot in 2001, and 17 years later, we're seeing a reboot of the franchise.
Ready Player One -- March 30
Gamers were quick to gobble up Ernest Cline's Ready Player One as a book, detailing the story of an eccentric video game designer who dies and leaves his fortune to the lucky player who finds an Easter egg in his virtual realm. The futuristic thriller was likely to be a hit in its big-screen adaptation, but then Steven Spielberg signed on as director.
Spielberg's presence will broaden the film's appeal beyond the audience that has devoured Cline's book. Time Warner (TWX) is the studio betting big that the real winner here will be audiences, theater owners, and its own Warner Bros. subsidiary.
Avengers: Infinity War -- May 4
Disney (DIS 1.84%) has been milking Marvel's classic franchise since The Avengers was the top draw at the multiplex in 2012. Disney spent $4.2 billion on Marvel in 2009, a sum that seemed huge at the time. Disney's success at breathing new life into the loaded superhero catalog has been impressive.
A year doesn't seem to go by without either an Avengers installment or a stand-alone film featuring one of the comic-book franchise's characters. Until they start falling short at the box office, it's a fair bet that Disney will keep cranking them out.
Han Solo: A Star Wars Story -- May 25
Disney is also hoping to squeeze as much as it can out of the Star Wars franchise to justify the $4 billion it shelled out for Lucasfilm. The eighth and ninth installments of the nine-film series will bookend 2018, with release dates of 2017 and 2019, respectively, but fans of the sci-fi juggernaut will get a Han Solo origin story during next year's Memorial Day weekend.
There's a lot riding on the as-yet-unnamed Solo project. Disney is hoping that some of these spinoffs will be big enough to spawn their own lucrative sequels, and the wisecracking smuggler is one of the franchise's most beloved stars. Disney wants to make sure that it "shoots first" here.
Deadpool 2 -- June 1
The first Deadpool was a surprise hit, grossing $363 million in ticket sales domestically. The obscure Marvel character had become a cult favorite through comic books and video games, but the sassy-mouthed superhero and the film's R rating -- rare for mainstream comic-book movies -- appealed to a surprisingly broad moviegoing audience.
Disney owns Marvel, but Deadpool -- like Spider-Man and X-Men films -- is tied to movie deals inked with rival studios before Disney acquired Marvel.
The Incredibles 2 -- June 15
Pixar sequels have broken the mold when it comes to the old adage that animated follow-ups are rarely as good as the original. Toy Story sequels have fared better than the original, and now we'll see if Disney's computer-animation specialists can top the success of The Incredibles.
Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible, and their three superhero kids are still battling baddies. Brad Bird, who wrote and directed the original, is back. The film is a fave among many Pixar fans, and it's Disney's big bet on the animated front for the seasonally potent summer season.
Jurassic World: Lost Kingdom -- June 22
Comcast's (CMCSA 2.68%) Universal was able to breathe new life into the Jurassic Park franchise two years ago when Jurassic World was the top draw during the summer of 2015. Jurassic World was the year's highest-grossing film until Star Wars: The Force Awakens wrestled the crown away in December.
Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are back for the next installment of dinosaurs run amok. Comcast has a lot riding on the revival, as its Universal Studios theme parks have Jurassic Park attractions.
Mary Poppins Returns -- Dec. 25
Disney's classic Mary Poppins is getting a reboot in time for next year's holiday season with Emily Blunt reprising the role of the whimsical nanny with a dash of magic. It's not a remake. Poppins returns to visit the original film's children characters, now fully grown, with their own rambunctious kids.
Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda joins Colin Firth and Meryl Streep in an all-star cast that even features a role for Dick Van Dyke, who starred in the original.
Bohemian Rhapsody -- Dec. 25
A biopic on an iconic rock band may not seem like scintillating fare, but we're talking about Queen here. The movie details the legendary rock quartet's rise to fame, leading up to its celebrated Live Aid comeback performance in 1985. Bryan Singer of X-Men fame will be directing.
Sacha Baron Cohen was originally tapped to play Queen frontman Freddy Mercury until creative differences boiled over. Mr. Robot star Rami Malek is now singing lead. The film is being released over the holidays, and multiplex operators hope to be singing "We Are the Champions" next year.