While the most coveted fantasy story of next year will likely be the latest season of Game of Thrones, the big screen is also set to feature its fair share of monstrous beasts, mythical heroes, and winding epics for us to get tangled up in. After a year that gave us Doctor Strange, The Jungle Book. and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, next year is expected to feature just as many fantasy reboots, big-screen adaptations, and live-action re-imaginings, with a couple of original gems thrown in for good measure.
While some of these films are only weeks away from their release, it will be nearly a year before a few of the entries ever hit theaters, but in our opinion it’s never too early to get excited. Since many of the films being made today continue to blend elements of science fiction and fantasy, be sure to check out our list of the most anticipated sci-fi films of 2017 if a movie you’re looking forward to didn’t quite fit the criteria here.
With that being said, here are Our Most Anticipated Fantasy Movies Of 2017!
15. The Mummy – June 9, 2017
If we learned anything from The Mummy trailer, it’s that you should never board an aircraft that’s transporting the mummified remains of an ancient evil princess. However, if you do find yourself aboard that plane, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to be sharing an armrest with action-superstar Tom Cruise.
Despite sharing the same title, The Mummy isn’t a reboot of the 1999 Brendan Fraser vehicle (thank Ra), so you can breath a sweet sigh of relief at that. Instead, it marks the first film in a reboot of the Universal Monster Universe, which finds Cruise paired with Annabelle Wallis, as their characters face off against the reanimated Princess Ahmanet. Russell Crowe is set to star as Dr. Henry Jekyll, the only character in the trailer who seems to have the scoop on the undead princess’s true intention. And if all goes well for The Mummy, we’re prediction that a Jekyll/Hyde movie for Crowe might be lurking somewhere around the corner…
14. Jumanji – December 22, 2017
Instead of being a direct remake, next year’s Jumanji is set to be a re-imagining (and possibly a continuation) of the 1995 film of the same name. The story, which is adapted from the famous children’s story, follows a group of players who must survive the dangers of the jungle after being sucked into the mystical board game.
The cast includes Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, and Nick Jonas (yes, that Nick Jonas). Though not much is known about the story outside of the basic premise, we can bet there will be a fair amount of physical comedy involved considering the casting choices of Hart and Black, not to mention the over-the-top getups their characters are featured in from the on-set photos.
Filming for Jumanji began in September 2016 and the film’s release date has already been pushed back on a number of occasions to December 22nd. Any more delays and we may have to wait all the way until 2018 until this entry hits theaters.
13. The Red Turtle – January 20, 2017
A man trapped on a deserted island sets sail on a bamboo raft only to have a red turtle thwart his escape plans. That turtle eventually transforms into a woman, who forms a relationship with the man and the two form a life together on the island.
This is the premise for The Red Turtle, an 80-minute animated Dutch film that will make its way into American theaters in just a few short weeks. If you’re not big fan of subtitles there’s no need to fear; The Red Turtle manages to tell its story without a shred of dialogue. In fact, the whole story is a stripped down fable, with simply, yet beautiful animation, and a poignant soundtrack that conveys the characters’ emotions without them ever having to articulate themselves. The film has already been met with critical acclaim internationally, which makes The Red Turtle one of those lesser known gems that we can’t wait to experience for ourselves.
12. The Great Wall – February 17, 2017
Set in feudal China, The Great Wall is a historical monster movie that looks light on facts and heavy on fantasy. While we don’t know if the 5,000-mile Chinese landmark was actually built to keep out hoards of hungry monsters, we do know that the film will feature a pony-tailed Matt Damon in one of his more eccentric roles to date. Damon plays William Garin, a foreign warrior who volunteers to protect the Chinese using bow and arrow skills that would put Legolas Greenleaf to shame.
The film was written by six different screenwriters– which is almost never a good sign– but since director Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) is an absolute master of stunning visuals, we’re already expecting the story to take a backseat nap for the majority of this ride anyway. The film was made on a $135 million budget, making it the most expensive Chinese movie ever made! But because the film opens in China a few months prior to its U.S. release, it’s likely that The Great Wall will make most of its money back before we even get a gander at these medieval movie monsters for ourselves.
11. Okja – Date TBA
Three years ago South Korean director Joon-ho Bong made his first English language film with Snowpiercer, an intense, post-apocalyptic story set aboard a train that never stops circling the earth. The film went on to be one of the best reviewed films of 2014. Now Bong will reunite with Tilda Swinton, along with Jake Gyllenhaal, Giancarlo Esposito, and Steven Yuen in Okja, a film about a young girl whose best friend is a massive animal that is being hunted by a multi-national company.
While much of the plot remains unknown at this time, we can assume based on Bong’s previous films, including his earlier monster movie The Host and the lesser known masterpiece Memories of Murder, that Okja will likely be an audacious blend of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and dark comedy. If these characters’ bizarre makeovers are any indication– particularly Gyllenhaal’s, whose character looks like a cross between Ron Burgundy and Ace Ventura– we’re guessing Okja will take audiences on one wild ride.
10. Kong: Skull Island – March 10, 2017
Apparently the makers of Kong: Skull Island didn’t think Peter Jackson’s 2005 retelling of the monster movie classic was quite epic enough. Their answer: An even larger incarnation of the already giant ape. This Kong need not stand atop a skyscraper to fend off flying aircraft. He is a skyscraper. And he can just as easily swat away helicopters by keeping his own two feet planted on the ground, thank you very much. Kong: Skull Island isn’t a retelling of the 1933 classic, or even a continuation of Jackson’s remake. Instead, it’s a reboot of the series set within the same universe as the 2014 Godzilla reboot, which will eventually coalesce in an epic showdown with Godzilla vs. Kong come 2020.
The film features an impressive cast, including Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, and John C. Reilly. The story is set in the 1970s, when a team of explorers venture to the uncharted Skull Island, only to find it overrun by prehistoric monsters, savage tribes, and the ruler of the island himself, King Kong.
9. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – May 26, 2017
Johnny Depp will suit up once again to play our favorite swaggering swashbuckler, Captain Jack Sparrow, for the fifth installment of the massively profitable Pirates series. Following his absence in 2011’s On Stranger Tides, Orlando Bloom will return to play blacksmith-turned-pirate, Will Turner, in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
A teaser trailer for the film was released in October, which introduced audiences to series newcomer Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, Skyfall) as the film’s villain, continuing the actor’s distinct talent for playing slimy and down-right creepy characters. This time Bardem plays Captain Salzar, a ghost pirate who has escaped the Devil’s Triangle to seek revenge on Jack Sparrow. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales promises to be a return to form for the series, and with Depp, Bloom, and Bardem all climbing aboard, it looks like there’s smooth sailing ahead for this ship.
8. The Shape of Water – Date TBA
Whether it be a superhero film like Hellboy, or a sci-fi monster movie like Pacific Rim, director Guillermo del Toro is an absolute master of infusing his work with fantastical imagery. The visual world of a del Toro film is as important as the story, with each feeding off the other, which makes for an exceptionally immersive movie going experience. His producing and directing resume make anything that del Toro puts his hands on something worth checking out, so it’s with bated breath that we wait for del Toro’s 2017 release, The Shape of Water.
The Shape of Water was written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, who penned a few episodes for HBO’s Game of Thrones. The story is described as a fantasy adventure set during the Cold War, which will star Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, Godzilla) and the always intense Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, Nocturnal Animals). Further details for the film have been kept under wraps, but since filming wrapped up last month, we’re hoping for to get our first look at the film within the next few months.
7. Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017
The 17th installment in the MCU, Thor: Ragnarok finds Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston suiting up as our favorite Asgardians once again for Thor’s third standalone endeavor. Mark Ruffalo will reprise his role as Bruce Banner/Hulk for the film, and as Hemsworth has said this chapter finds Thor and Bruce teaming up for a partnership akin to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. While we certainly don’t expect the duo to be robbing trains for a living, the prospect of seeing these characters share more screen time will certainly bring a new dynamic to the Thor films.
Newcomers to the series include Cate Blanchett, who will play Hela, the ruler of Hel and Niflheim, along with Jeff Goldblum, who’s set to play a character known as the Grandmaster. Kiwi director Taika Waititi joined the franchise to direct Thor: Ragnarok, which wrapped filming in Australia on October 28, 2016, nearly a year before its expected release.
6. Bright – Date TBA
After working on Training Day, S.W.A.T., End of Watch, and Street Kings, it’s no secret that writer/director David Ayer has an affinity for cop movies. After directing this year’s Suicide Squad, which was greeted with a resounding sea of “meh” from many critics and fans alike, Ayer will return to the beloved cop genre that made him famous. But this time he’s throwing a little fantasy into the mix.
Max Landis, who wrote the 2012 found footage superhero film Chronicle and this year’s charming BBC America series Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, penned the screenplay for Bright specifically with Ayer in mind to direct. Though much of the plot remains under wraps and we have yet to get our first official look at the film, we know Bright will star Will Smith and Joel Edgerton as two police officers, one a human and the other an orc, who work together to track down an all-powerful wand. Our interest is certainly piqued, and with a $90 million budget, Bright has become Netflix’s most expensive endeavor to date.
5. Coco – November 22, 2017
Much of the plot remains unknown for the 3D computer-animated film Coco, which is set to be released late next year. But considering Pixar’s impeccable track record, we already know that the film will be well worth our time.
Coco is being described as a fantasy adventure based on Mexico’s “Dia de Muertos”, better known in America as the Day of the Dead. The story follows Miguel, a 12-year-old who must unravel a century-old mystery that leads to an unexpected family reunion. Director Lee Unkrich, who’s worked on a number of other Pixar films, including Toy Story 3, developed the story after being inspired by Mexican folk art– particularly the juxtaposition of skeletons set against festive colors. Though the premise was met with some backlash from the Latino community, who feared that the film will profit from trademarking their culture, the Pixar team made several trips to Mexico to refine the story and cast a number of Latino voice actors to portray the film’s characters.
4. Wonder Woman – June 2, 2017
One of the oldest and most iconic female superheroes of all time will finally get a blockbuster film all to herself come this summer. And considering the overly brooding and masculine start to the DCEU, it’s about time the franchise injected some much needed diversity into their films. Patty Jenkins, who directed the unforgettable 2003 film Monster, will throw her hat (or should we say tiara?) into the superhero film ring with next year’s Wonder Woman.
Following her debut in this year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, actress Gal Gadot will reprise her role as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. The story will take us back 100 years to the fantastical island of Themyscira, where the immortal Amazon princess meets American solider Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). The fighter pilot becomes smitten with the princess, and convinces Diana to leave her homeland and join him in fighting during the first World War, which marks the beginning of Diana’s journey toward becoming the ever-iconic Wonder Woman.
3. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – May 22, 2017
With Sherlock Holmes, director Guy Richie took a dated British tale and injected it with a heavy dose of his quippy, flashy style of filmmaking. And it looks like we’re in for a similar treat with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. From the film’s trailer, it looks like Richie will forgo the pomp and circumstance that is synonymous with medieval fantasy epics in exchange for pithy dialogue and gritty action sequences.
The tale of King Arthur has always been laced with fantastical elements, from the ever-powerful Excalibur to the mystical wizard Merlin, but this retelling looks like it will up the ante on the fantasy and featured its fair share of mythical beasts and demonic foes as well. Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim) is set to embrace his British heritage and play the famed monarch who pulls sword from stone in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which hits theaters come March.
2. The Dark Tower – July 28, 2017
Stephen King’s eight book Dark Tower series is finally getting its moment on the big screen next summer. The series, which is a mish-mash of sci-fi, fantasy, and western, will feature Idris Elba in the lead role as desert wanderer Roland Deschain, who is pitted against Matthew McConaughey’s eternally evil Man in Black. The adaptation of King’s magnum opus has been bouncing around Hollywood for nearly a decade, with both J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard attached to the project at times. But it was Danish director Nikolaj Arcel who ultimately took up the task and began filming The Dark Tower in April of this year.
With many of King’s fans ecstatic at the adaptation, others remain cautiously optimistic. Since faithfully adapting a 4,000 page story is an impossible undertaking for a feature film, The Dark Tower is expected to be a quasi-sequel to the series, with a follow-up TV show in the works for 2018.
1. Beauty and the Beast – March 17, 2017
Out of all the Disney classics that are being adapted into live-action features, Beauty and the Beast looks among the most promising. In fact, both the teaser trailer and the first official trailer for the film shattered records for the most views in a 24 hour time period after their releases, beating out Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Fifty Shades Darker. Visually, the film looks like a spot on re-imagining of the 1991 classic, with Emma Watson taking on the role of Belle, and Dan Stevens portraying the Beast.
The traditional French fairy tale about a young women who is held captive in a castle by a monstrous beast is set to be released in 3D and IMAX formats early next year. With all the hype, the film will no doubt have a massive opening weekend, but whether or not it will live up to the acclaim of its predecessor– which became the first animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture of the Year at the Oscars– is unclear.
Which fantasy film are you pumped to see in 2017? Did we forget to list it here? Let us know!