The most exciting upcoming movies of 2019 and 2020

(Image credit: Disney)

We’re already halfway through 2019 and the movie gods have been kind to us, with brilliant movies like Us, Shazam!, Toy Story 4 and, of course, Avengers: Endgame giving us plenty of good reasons to spend our cash on a cinema ticket. 

And that’s not about to change because there’s plenty of exciting upcoming movies heading our way in the second half of the year, including a Martin Scorsese-style Joker movie, Brad Pitt in smart sci-fi Ad Astra, the eagerly anticipated killer clown sequel It: Chapter 2, and a Terminator sequel that looks like it might actually be worth watching – at last, we'll be able to forget about Terminator: Genisys! Then there's the small matter of the final movie of Star Wars’ nine-part Star Wars saga, The Rise of Skywalker. Sign us up now!

This is also a good time to start looking ahead to 2020, which will be upon us before you know it. It'll be the first year since 2014 not to boast a new Star Wars movie as that galaxy far, far away takes a three-year break, but we think we'll just about manage because the roster of upcoming movies in 2020 includes: the 25th movie outing for a certain James Bond, two new movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, two original Pixar films, a mysterious new film from Christopher Nolan, Wonder Woman 1984, and the return of Wyld Stallyns in Bill & Ted Face the Music. Excellent!

Put simply, when it comes to upcoming movies, the next 18 months are going to be epic. So read through this list of the most exciting films heading your way and start planning your cinema trips now!

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The Lion King

An image from upcoming movie The Lion King

Release date: July 19, 2019

After the success of his live-action remake of The Jungle Book back in 2016, Jon Favreau is back to give another animal Disney classic a reimagining and it's a biggie. The Lion King is widely regarded as one of the best Disney movie ever made and the original animated version from 1994 still holds up so well today you'd be forgiven for wondering why we need a remake at all. But with a stellar cast behind him, Favreau is out to prove he's got something new to say about the circle of life. 

Donald Glover is playing Simba himself, while ‘voice of Darth Vader’ James Earl Jones and Alfre Woodard will voice his parents, Mufasa and Sarabi – Jones actually voiced Mufasa in the original film too. Singing superstar Beyonce Knowles is on-board to voice Nala, while Chiwetel Ejiofor plays chief baddie Scar, and Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner show up as Pumbaa and Timon. TV comedian John Oliver voices Mufasa's feathered advisor Zazu, John Kani is the holy mandrill baboon Rafiki, and Eric Andre, Keegan-Michael Key, and Florence Kasumba round out the cast as the menacing hyenas Azizi, Kamari, Shenzi. That enough star power for you? No? Then feast your eyes on the latest trailer

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Release date: July 26, 2019 (US)/August 14, 2019 (UK)

Quentin Tarantino is back this year with a different type of Western, which goes back to the ’60s and the final years of Hollywood's dying golden age. As usual, the director has acquired an impressive cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, and the story will focus on fading Western TV star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt), trying to survive in a changing Hollywood against the backdrop of the Manson murders. 

The first trailer for the upcoming movie shows off the landscape and vibe of '60s Los Angeles, while the upcoming movie was one of the hottest offerings at the recent Cannes Film Festival – check out our sister magazine Total Film's verdict

Tarantino's films are always worth talking about, whether they're visiting the violent crime worlds of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, the war-torn Europe of Inglourious Basterds, or the old West of The Hateful Eight and Django Unchained. And for a self-confessed movie nerd like Tarantino, it's hard to think of a more perfect setting than 1960s Hollywood – undoubtedly one of the hottest upcoming movies of the year.

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw

An image from upcoming movie Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Release date: August 2, 2019

The Fast and Furious franchise is still going strong, with the ninth instalment in the series due in 2020, but in the meantime we get Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham's characters headlining their own movie without bringing Vin Diesel and co along for the ride. 

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw is the official title of the spin-off, and even though Deadpool 2 director David Leitch’s film is saddled with a name that sounds like it could belong to a law firm, we're still extremely hyped for this upcoming movie. 

The latest trailer has the same ridiculous-in-the-best-way vibe as the rest of the Fast and Furious movies, with everything you could possibly want from an over-the-top actioner – this is the sort of film popcorn was made for. Expect Idris Elba playing a super-powered Terminator-style villain, unbelievable one-liners, city-destroying fights and, of course, more car chases than you can shake a stick at – in other words, it's one of the most exciting upcoming movies of the year.

Read more: Has Fast and Furious gone full sci-fi? The Hobbs and Shaw writer answers our questions about THAT trailer

It: Chapter 2

The grown-up Losers Club in It: Chapter 2

Release date: September 6, 2019

The It movie was one of the best movies of 2017, but before we’d even had a chance to be terrified by the creepy clown horror film, there was talk of a sequel. Thankfully, the film was a great success, which kicked It: Chapter 2 into high-gear with a 2019 release date. Fans of the Stephen King book will know that the novel really features two stories – one about the ‘Losers’ Club’ coming up against the shape-shifting nasty as children, and another about them returning as adults to face down the same horror 27 years later. 

While the first film told the kids’ story, the sequel will tell the adults’ tale, with the It 2 cast featuring big names including James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader. Returning director Andy Muschietti clearly knows what he’s doing when it comes to creating terrifying tales, and the first trailer is suitably creepy. Looks like we'll all be floating too come September.

Read more: 6 questions the It movie Chapter 2 has to answer

Ad Astra

Brad Pitt in upcoming movie Ad Astra

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Release date:September 18, 2019 (UK)/September 20, 2019 (US)

While Star Wars: Episode 9 will be precision engineered to deliver all the space-faring thrills you could ever want, Ad Astra seems to come from the morecerebral end of the sci-fi spectrum.

Brad Pitt makes his first trip into orbit as Roy McBride, an astronaut sent to the outer reaches of the Solar System to track down his dad (played by Tommy Lee Jones). It turns out McBride Sr left Earth on a classified mission years earlier, and that the top secret material he was experimenting on is now threatening life as we know it. 

The trailer looks fantastic, with a genuinely intriguing set-up, and some stunning visuals – a battle on lunar rovers? Sign us up now. You also get the sense Ad Astra will be as much about its characters as its sci-fi premise, so don’t be surprised if it turns out to be this year’s Interstellar or Arrival.

Joker

An image from the upcoming Joker movie

Release date: October 4, 2019

Of the two Joker spin-off movies we know are in development, this origin tale is the only one with a confirmed 2019 release date and – to avoid any confusion – it's definitely not part of DC’’s Extended Universe. Joker is directed by The Hangover’s Todd Phillips and stars Joaquin Phoenix in the title role. It initially had mixed reactions from Bat-fans thanks to the fact that it's given the infamous Bat-villain a name in Arthur Fleck, but the first trailer has us properly intrigued – imagine Martin Scorsese swapping his usual New York beat for Gotham City and you wouldn't be far off.

After Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger's scene-stealing turns in the role (not to mention Jared Leto’s OTT performance in Suicide Squad), delivering a new take on the Clown Prince of Crime will be a tricky thing to pull off. But Phoenix's Joker is unlike anything we've seen before, a more grounded portrayal that suggests that It: Chapter 2 won't be the only scary clown movie of 2019. The rest of the cast will include Deadpool 2 star Zazie Beetz, who is reportedly playing a single mother and the Joker's love interest; Brett Cullen as Batman’s dad Thomas Wayne; and Robert De Niro as a talk-show host who apparently pushes Fleck into madness. There's even a cameo from a young Bruce Wayne...

Zombieland: Double Tap

An image from Zombieland

Release date: October 11, 2019

It's official! We're getting a Zombieland sequel this year. Almost exactly a decade after the first film proved to be a zombie comedy like no other, original director Ruben Fleischer (Venom), original writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Deadpool), and original cast members Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin are all back for a second outing. The sequel also welcomes new cast members Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, Thomas Middleditch, and Luke Wilson.

We don't know much about the plot at the moment – or why it's subtitled Double Tap – but we have seen the following synopsis: "Through comic mayhem that stretches from the White House and through the heartland, the Zombie slayers must face off against many new kinds of zombies that have evolved since the first movie, as well as some new human survivors. But most of all, they have to face the growing pains of their own snarky, makeshift family.” 

Harrelson had this to say to Entertainment Weekly during filming: “What we’ve shot so far, I’m really impressed with. Getting to hang out with these guys – Emma, and Abbie, and Jesse, and Ruben – I feel so lucky, really, really lucky. You know, it’s literally laughing all day long, and that’s your job. Like, my job is, I laugh all day long? It seems unbelievable. So, I feel really lucky right now.”

Read more: The 25 best zombie movies that will turn you veggie

Gemini Man

Will Smiths in upcoming movie Gemini Man

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Release date: October 11, 2019

We’ve already had a lot of Will Smith this year thanks to his turn as the Genie in Disney’s live-action Aladdin reboot, but for Big Willie uber-fans there really is only one upcoming movie to look out for in 2019 – Gemini Man features two of him.

Directed by awards darling Ang Lee on one of his occasional forays into blockbuster filmmaking (his last was the original Hulk back in 2003), Gemini Man sees Will Smith’s elite assassin being hunted by a younger hitman clone who looks and sounds a lot like Smith did in the Fresh Prince era...

As the trailer shows, it’s another impressive run-out for the de-ageing technology that made Samuel L Jackson young in Captain Marvel, so there’s no question this will hit the mark when it comes to delivering spectacle. We’re more concerned about whether Gemini Man can find a story to match the sci-fi high concept – if they can, hopes are high this could be another Looper.

(And in case you’re wondering, no, this upcoming movie has nothing to do with the short-lived 1970s US TV series of the same name.)

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