Going into last month, it wasn't difficult to guess that films like John Wick: Chapter 2 and The LEGO Batman Movie would build upon the successes of their predecessors. In fact, the latter is currently the year's highest-grossing domestic release. However, that likely won't be the case for long, considering the heavy hitters coming to a theater near you in March.
With each passing year, the concept of a "summer movie season" is becoming more and more outdated, with studios putting out anticipated franchise installments and big-budget fare all year round. March perhaps heralds the beginning of the parade of blockbuster hopefuls that might have once been reserved for the summer months. With any luck, the films themselves will be the worth the hype, and the month may bring a welcome surprise smash like Jordan Peele's highly acclaimed horror film Get Out.
Here are 10 films to check out in March 2017:
Before I Fall (Release Date: March 3)
Films in which a protagonist relives the same events over and over again have been done countless times over the years in such films as Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow and Source Code. Yet, director Ry Russo-Young's new thriller Before I Fall looks like it too may have found a way to breathe new life into a concept that audiences think they may have seen before.
Based on the 2010 novel about a teen reliving the last day of her life, Before I Fall -- which stars Zoey Deutch, Erica Tremblay and Halston Sage -- aims to integrate the suspense of retracing one's steps to the coming-of-age themes that permeate high school-set teen dramas. Whether the film manages to successfully do so, it could prove to be sharp counter-programming to the big studio film with which it shares its opening weekend.
Check out the latest trailer for Before I Fall.
Logan (Release Date: March 3)
After the disappointment of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, fans were cautiously optimistic that director James Mangold (Walk the Line) might provide a much-needed boost to the character's solo franchise with 2013 release The Wolverine. Despite a muddled third act, that faith was pretty well-placed, and once it became clear that Mangold would return to helm star Hugh Jackman's final turn as the iconic superhero, fans began to hope that this third solo Wolverine film would prove to be the character's definitive big-screen appearance.
Early word on Logan seems to indicate that it very much is what fans have hoped for. Loosely based on the Old Man Logan comic book title, the film sees an aging Wolverine -- joined by Patrick Stewart's ailing Professor X -- come across a mysterious young girl (Dafne Keen) with powers much like his own. It's violent, it's brooding, and if the rave reviews are any indication, it could prove to be The Dark Knight of the X-Men franchise.
Check out the latest trailer for Logan.
Kong: Skull Island (Release Date: March 10)
We all should have seen this coming. After Godzilla returned to Hollywood in 2014, it didn't take long for fans to wonder if the king of the apes might be following his reptilian counterpart back to theaters. So Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures launched Kong: Skull Island -- the second entry in the so-called "MonsterVerse" -- to set the stage for the inevitable Godzilla vs. Kong, hitting theaters in 2020.
Unlike most previous versions of Kong onscreen, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts' (The Kings of Summer) film isn't following the typical narrative laid out by the 1933 classic King Kong. Rather, it takes a broader approach to the mythology surrounding Kong and his titular home. With an ensemble cast that includes Oscar winner Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman and John C. Reilly, Kong: Skull Island hopes to win audiences over with high-spirited adventure and dazzling visual effects.
Check out the latest trailer for Kong: Skull Island.
Beauty and the Beast (Release Date: March 17)
Despite the fact that Disney seems intent on bringing many of its animated classics into live action, films like 2015 release Cinderella and last year's The Jungle Book have managed to update these unforgettable stories using the latest technology and through the perspective of modern times. However, Beauty and the Beast seems in some ways to be the most ambitious attempt at accomplishing this feat to date.
We certainly don't expect director Bill Condon's film to feature the same level of Oscar-winning visual effects as The Jungle Book, but whereas some other Disney animated films appear dated and could use a fresh take, Beauty and the Beast still holds up as a timeless, near-perfect part of the studio's canon, begging the question of how this new version hopes to rise to the challenge. The pitch-perfect casting of Emma Watson as Belle is certainly a great start.
Check out the latest trailer for Beauty and the Beast.
The Belko Experiment (Release Date: March 17)
Guardians of the Galaxy aside, much of James Gunn's film work as a writer and/or director has fallen firmly within the realm of horror. With The Belko Experiment, Gunn -- who wrote and co-produced the film -- returns to the genre to tell the story of a group of Americans trapped in a Colombian high rise and forced to participate in a deadly game.
After its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, The Belko Experiment has continued to gain momentum, developing a heavy buzz going into its theatrical release. Director Greg McLean (The Darkness, Wolf Creek) is bringing one of the only new horror films to theaters this month. So moviegoers looking for a scare in March may opt to check the film out for themselves.
Check out the latest trailer for The Belko Experiment.
T2: Trainspotting (Release Date: March 17)
More than 20 years have passed since Danny Boyle's Trainspotting put both the director and star Ewan McGregor on the map. Yet, that drama/black comedy -- an adaptation of Irvine Welsh's titular novel about a group of drug addicts in Scotland -- has remained a classic in its own right for its distinctive tone, best-selling soundtrack and standout performances.
Now Boyle and the first film's cast return for T2: Trainspotting, which has been steadily expanding its theatrical release since arriving in the United Kingdom back in January. By all accounts, the film appears to be a worthy follow-up to its predecessor, successfully hewing back to the style that first made it a landmark of independent cinema two decades ago.
Check out the latest trailer for T2: Trainspotting.
Life (Release Date: March 24)
Next year, Ryan Reynolds and screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick will reunite for the much-anticipated sequel to Deadpool. Yet, before they do, Reynolds stars in this sci-fi/horror film scripted by Reese and Wernick themselves and helmed by director Daniel Espinosa, with whom Reynolds worked on 2012 action thriller Safe House.
In Life, Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation) star as astronauts on a retrieval mission for what may be the first proof of alien life. Of course, that mission goes horribly awry, with an extra-terrestrial creature on board their ship that could threaten the human race itself. There's a very Alien vibe at play with this release, but hopefully, the film has more to offer than a simple retread.
Check out the latest trailer for Life.
Power Rangers (Release Date: March 24)
With superhero films and nostalgia culture all the rage, it was only a matter of time before Zordon's "teenagers with attitude" reclaimed their Power Coins and took to the big screen once more. In truth, Power Rangers may see its roots in the early 1990s -- when the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series debuted -- but the franchise has remained active ever since, with Power Rangers: Dino Super Charge having wrapped up its run in December and a new version on the way this year.
Rather than continue in this canon, however, the new film -- directed by Dean Israelite (Project Almanac) -- will start from scratch. Centering on the original TV characters, the reboot will see Bryan Cranston step into the role of Zordon, the rangers' mentor, and Elizabeth Banks as the nefarious Rita Repulsa. Fueled by fond memories of the original show, Power Rangers will likely attract longtime fans as well as those currently watching its more modern incarnations, but the question remains if it will satisfy both audiences.
Check out the latest trailer for Power Rangers.
Ghost in the Shell (Release Date: March 31)
As soon as Scarlett Johansson was announced in the lead role, much of the talk surrounding Ghost in the Shell has centered on accusations of whitewashing the Japanese source material for the live-action film adaptation. That aside, development of a new big-screen treatment has been in the works for nearly a decade, and longtime fans of the manga and the franchise it has inspired should be interested to see the final product.
Moreover, Johansson has more than proven herself a capable action star, with films like Lucy and her many appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe behind her. So it falls to director Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) and his team to translate the manga into a satisfying Hollywood blockbuster that retains the spirit of the original.
Check out the latest trailer for Ghost in the Shell.
The Zookeeper's Wife (Release Date: March 31)
Filmmaker Niki Caro has made headlines recently for landing the gig of directing Disney's upcoming live-action Mulan, but before she gets down to business with that adaptation, Caro -- best known for her work on films like Whale Rider and North Country -- will adapt Diane Ackerman's non-fiction book The Zookeeper's Wife to the screen.
The period drama center on Antonina and Jan Zabinski (Jessica Chastain and Johan Heldenbergh), who work as keepers of the Warsaw Zoo and used their animal cages to save many animal and human lives during World War II. With such weighty subject matter, the task to keep the tale engaging and uplifting falls to Caro, and given her track record, we're optimistic that the film -- which co-stars Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War) -- will weave a compelling tale without feeling overwrought.
Check out the latest trailer for The Zookeeper's Wife.
With so many options hitting theaters in the weeks ahead, it does seem like March has something for every taste, from moody R-rated action (Logan) to family-friendly musicals (Beauty and the Beast) and everything in between. It's pretty clear which of this month's films are destined for impressive box office hauls, but what remains to be seen is which ones we'll still be talking about the rest of the year. Let us know in the comments section below which films you're most excited to see this month.
Once again, here are the 10 films to check out in March:
March 3: Before I Fall, Logan
March 10: Kong: Skull Island
March 17: Beauty and the Beast, The Belko Experiment, T2: Trainspotting
March 24: Life, Power Rangers
March 31: Ghost in the Shell, The Zookeeper's Wife