This will be a year of epics. Some of our most ambitious movie-makers are serving up stories of Biblical apocalypses, space voyages and the rise of artificial intelligences. Godzilla and the Planet of the Apes are both back. And the superhero genre gets pushed to its absolute limits. Here are 65 movies that could rock your universe this year.
Note: We're trying not to include as many "edge case" movies that don't fit into science fiction, fantasy, horror or comics adaptations this year. Also, if it doesn't have a release date, we haven't included it. See the comments for our partial list of movies with no release date.
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (Jan. 3)
The insanely long-running "found footage" horror series gets a spinoff featuring Latino characters in Oxnard, who struggle to figure out why one of their friends suddenly has superpowers.
Outlook: It's way better than Paranormal Activity 4, and gives a much-needed new lease on life to the series.
The Legend of Hercules (Jan. 10)
Kellan Lutz (Twilight) stars in this origin story of the legendary demigod, in which he's sold into slavery and has to become a gladiator and stuff.
Outlook:It's hard to see how this is even a movie about Hercules — it looks more like a Spartacus knock-off. Watch four clips here.
The Adventurer: Curse of the Midas Box (Jan. 10)
Based on the novel Mariah Mundi by G.P. Taylor, this low-budget fantasy is the story of a boy who has to team up with the mysterious Charly (Michael Sheen) to prevent Otto (Sam Neill) from getting his hands on the Midas Box, which turns anything to gold. It's already available on iTunes.
Outlook: Besides Sheen and Neill, the cast also includes Lena Headey and Ioan Gruffudd, and it looks like it could be ridiculous fun.
Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo (Jan. 10)
The third film (of four) in the big-screen adaptation of the classic anime series. Shinji reawakens 14 years after he nearly destroyed the world in the Third Impact, to find that everybody (somewhat understandably) thinks he's a harbinger of destruction. See here for a list of theaters.
Outlook: We really liked the first two films. So high hopes for this one!
The Banshee Chapter (Jan. 10)
The H.P. Lovecraft mad-science story "From Beyond" gets adapted into a low-budget horror movie. It turns out the CIA's famous MK Ultra experiments with psychedelic drugs led to contact with... something from beyond. And only a Hunter S. Thompson pastiche can help uncover the truth. This film, produced by Zachary Quinto, is already available on VOD.
Outlook: The combination of 21st century American paranoia and Lovecraftian insanity feels like a natural — but a lot depends on your tolerance for low-budget, high-concept weirdness.
Devil's Due (Jan. 17)
In this Rosemary's Baby-esque horror movie, a young newlywed couple can't remember what happened one night during their honeymoon... and then the wife turns out to be pregnant with something fiendish.
Outlook: It got an early rave from Eli Roth. The directors cut their teeth on the horror anthology V/H/S.
The Knights of Badassdom (January 21)
Yep, at long last this movie about LARPers fighting unholy evil — starring Peter Dinklage, Danny Pudi, Summer Glau and everyone else you love — is hitting select theaters. Click here to get it in your town.
Outlook: It's not the director's cut, but the much shorter producer's cut. Still, the trailer looked like so damn much fun.
I, Frankenstein (January 24)
The famous Frankenstein monster (Aaron Eckhart) is still kicking ass 200 years later, and he gets drawn into a war between gargoyles and demons, in an ancient city. Featuring Yvonne Strahovski as a sexy badass.
Outlook: This looks like this year's Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, which is the highest praise we can bestow.
The LEGO Movie (February 7)
We have to wait a while to see Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman together in live action... but here they are in LEGO, fighting to save the world from Lord Business. An ordinary LEGO minifigure is mistaken for the Master Builder, destined to save everybody.
Outlook: Could it be that the year's most fun movie is coming out in February? Might well be. From directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump St.)
RoboCop (February 12)
One of the greatest action-movie series of the 1980s gets rebooted, in a version that's less about corporate power and more about our fear of drone strikes.
Outlook: We're worried by the way RoboCop's helmet seems to "whoosh" on and off, instead of staying in place until the third act. But the supporting cast, including Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton, looks just perfect.
Winter's Tale (February 14)
Based on the novel by Mark Helprin, this is a fantasy tale set in an alternate New York, about a burglar who falls in love with a young girl who has a strange gift. This is a passion project for director Akiva Goldsman, who recruited Colin Farrell, Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe and Will Smith to appear in it.
Outlook: This movie's budget was reportedly slashed right before filming. Goldsman has a mixed track record. But he made this film right after working a lot on Fringe, so let's hope some of the Fringe magic is clinging to this.
Vampire Academy (February 14)
Two teenage girls, Rose and Lissa, go to a special school for blood-suckers, and have to contend with the horrible popular girls, as well as an ancient evil that wants to destroy everything.
Outlook: We've been saying for years that these intense, unique books by Richelle Mead deserve to be a movie series. And judging from the trailer, the director of Mean Girls and the writer of Heathers have created something really unique.
Welcome to Yesterday
(February 28)In this found-footage movie, group of teenagers find the plans to a time machine — so they build it, and of course everything goes wrong.
Outlook: Not sure why this has to be found footage, exactly. But the trailer looks ridiculously fun, and we love the notion of teenagers screwing with time.
300: Rise of an Empire (March 7)
A prequel to Zack Snyder's famous Spartans-vs-Persians historical epic — and judging from the footage we've seen, this is way more supernatural, showing how Xerxes becomes a god by undergoing a strange transformation.
Outlook: If it focuses on Eva Green vs. Lena Headey, we're totally in. But it looks like a lot of the film is drowned in greenscreen cheese, with over the top performances that still get lost in the clutter.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman (March 7)
The beloved cartoon about a time-traveling dog and his boy sidekick gets a fancy cartoon, in which Child Protective Services wants to take the boy away.
Outlook: We watched the first half of the movie and totally fell in love. All of the time-traveling hijinks are there, but so are some heavy themes, handled well.
Journey to the West (March 7)
Co-directed by Stephen Chow (God of Cookery), this is a very loose adaptation of the famous Chinese novel about a monk bringing the Buddhist sutras to China, with the help of the Monkey King, Piggsy and Sha Wujing. It's a prequel, showing how the iconic foursome came together.
Outlook: Chow's track record speaks for itself. And the trailers for this movie look completely, madly wonderful.
Jodorowsky's Dune (March 7)
This documentary is the closest you'll ever come to seeing one of the most famous science fiction movies that never got made: Alejandro Jodorowsky's adaptation of Frank Herbert's Dune. Including concept art and tons of interviews.
Outlook: Early buzz suggests it's fascinating, not just for film buffs but for anybody who's fascinated by this off-balance spin on the Dune mythos.
Divergent (March 21)
The dystopian young-adult novel by Veronica Roth, in which teens have to choose which virtue to embody, gets a lavish big-screen adaptation. One girl, Tris, doesn't fit into any faction and has to pretend to be a member of the Dauntless faction... or else.
Outlook: We visited this movie's set and were impressed by the attention to detail. It really depends on your appetite for more dystopian teen angst.
Muppets Most Wanted (March 21)
The 2011 Muppet movie metafictionally commented on the fact that nobody remembers the Muppets any more. Now everybody does, so the new movie is all about how Kermit is mistaken for an international criminal frog.
Outlook: Co-starring Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey, who seem like they'll be able to keep the energy levels high. Also with a guest spot from Tom Hiddleston. Let's hope it matches the fun quotient of the last movie.
Noah (March 28)
Instead of directing The Wolverine, Darren Aronofsky went off to do this Biblical epic about Noah and the global flood. Aronofsky has, shall we say, done his own thing with this material, adding six-armed angels and mythical beasts in a post-apocalyptic Mad Max-ish landscape.
Outlook: Test screenings reportedly led to outcries from religious groups that didn't like all the liberties Aronofsky is taking with the story, including a different ending than what happens in the Bible. This led to an editing-suite war. It's still not clear if we'll be seeing Aronofsky's cut, or the studio's cut, of this film.
A Haunted House 2 (March 28)
Surprise! Did you know that Marlon Wayans was making a sequel to this movie that you didn't see last year? Us neither. This time around, Wayans is moving on with a new lady after his possessed girlfriend died in a car crash... but then his ex comes back from the dead.
Outlook: Even if we were excited about the first one, it's kind of amazing they cranked out another one so fast.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4)
The sequel to two of Marvel's strongest movies: Captain America, and The Avengers. Captain America has been living in the 21st century for a couple years, and he's just now learning that his primary colors don't mesh with the numerous gray areas of postmodern America. Oh, and the mysterious "Winter Soldier" is someone from Cap's past.
Outlook: The "1970s thriller" motif looks great, and it looks as though Robert Redford's corrupt SHIELD honcho is going to make this into a story with weight as well as a fun romp.
Under the Skin (April 4)
The long-awaited "Scarlett Johansson is a beautiful alien who preys on men" movie finally has a release date. Based on Michael Faber's darkly satirical novel, this movie has a lot more to it than just ScarJo being sexy and preying on hapless men.
Outlook: Screenings at festivals led to almost unanimously positive reviews, and we can't wait.
Only Lovers Left Alive (April 11)
Another indie film we've been waiting a long time for, this is Jim Jarmusch's vampire movie, starring Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton and Mia Wasikowska. Hiddleston is a vampire rock star who can't adjust to 21st century technologies, and Swinton is his ex who tries to cheer him up.
Outlook: There's nothing about "Jim Jarmusch directs a movie about Tom Hiddleston as a vampire rock star" that doesn't make us pee our pants.
Heaven is For Real (April 16)
Religious audiences who protest Aronofsky's Noah might be happier with this film, based on the bestselling book about a child who dies and comes back claiming he's been to Heaven — and he knows stuff he couldn't possibly know, including the existence of a stillborn sister.
Outlook: Unlike some other films aimed purely at religious audiences, this one has an experienced director, Randall Wallace (Man in the Iron Mask, Secretariat) and a strong cast, including Greg Kinnear and Thomas Haden Church.
Transcendence (April 18)
Christopher Nolan's longtime cinematographer, Wally Pfister, makes his directorial debut with this story featuring Johnny Depp as a terminally ill scientist who downloads his brain into a computer.
Outlook: Hard to tell from the trailer. Could be cheesetastic in the vein of Lawnmower Man, or could be totally awesome.
Oculus (April 18)
Ten years after her brother was convicted of murdering his parents, a woman tries to exonerate him by proving that it was actually a haunted mirror, as he claimed all along. Starring Doctor Who's Karen Gillan, and featuring Katee Sackhoff as her mom who gets murdered.
Outlook: Director Mike Flanagan (Absentia) won raves for the 30-minute version of Oculus in 2006, and the full-length movie version has also gotten unanimous raves. Here's Variety's breathlessly enthusiastic write-up.
Earth to Echo (April 25)
Kids start getting weird messages on their cell phones and discover a being from another world that needs their help, in this found-footage movie with a heavy Spielberg influence.
Outlook: The first trailer looked lovely. Here's hoping.
The Quiet Ones (April 25)
A professor (Jared Harris) leads a team of students trying to use electricity to create a poltergeist, in a new film from the recently revived Hammer Films.
Outlook: It's kind of appropriate for a Hammer horror film to be set in the 1970s, and it looks like this movie has nailed the classic Hammer look. Plus we're suckers for scientists meddling with forces that they should have left alone.
Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2)
The sequel to the rebooted Spidey from a couple years ago —and this time, he's facing Green Goblin, the Rhino and Electro. Plus there are hints that Gwen Stacy could have kind of a rough ride this time out.
Outlook: The first real trailer has lots of fun action. It's an open question as to whether this film can juggle three villains, plus hints of others, as it tries to set up a Sinister Six movie. But it looks fun, sure enough.
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return (May 9)
Another long-delayed film — this is the CG-animated Wizard of Oz sequel starring Lea Michele as Dorothy, with narration from Patrick Stewart.
Outlook: We saw a trailer back in 2012 that looked like a kids' video game from 1995. Maybe they've had time to make it look better since then.
Godzilla (May 16)
The most famous kaiju of them all is back in a new movie that preserves the atomic-bomb imagery and pits Godzilla against lots of other monsters, from director Gareth Edwards (Monsters).
Outlook: The first trailer looks fantastic. We saw a bunch of footage at Comic-Con that made this look like an earth-shattering rampage, with plenty of Bryan Cranston freaking out.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23)
Wolverine travels in time mentally, and thus unites the young X-Men from First Class with the older versions from the original trilogy — to prevent a dystopian future from happening. And it leads into another movie, called Apocalypse.
Outlook: Bryan Singer has had a rough ride since his last X-Men movie 10 years ago. But we're hopeful reuniting with these mutants will help him get his moves back.
Maleficent (May 30)
A movie about the Evil Queen, played by Angelina Jolie. That's really all you need to know, right?
Outlook: The first teaser trailer looked neat. This film is co-written by Paul Dini. First-time director Robert Stromberg is a visual effects genius. (We interviewed him about his work on Avatar.)
Edge of Tomorrow (June 6)
The Japanese novel All You Need is Kill gets a movie adaptation in which Tom Cruise is a soldier who repeats the same day endlessly, Groundhog Day-style, as he gets massacred by aliens again and again.
Outlook: We're in it just to see Emily Blunt as the tough drill instructor who whips Cruise into shape by taking advantage of his endless reboots.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June 13)
The first Train Your Dragon was one of the sweetest surprises in ages, and now the crew is older and dealing with new challenges. Having Vikings riding dragons raises the stakes, as you might expect.
Outlook: The first trailer looks just magnificent — but be warned: it contains a major spoiler that Dreamworks wanted to keep under wraps.
The Purge 2 (June 20)
The hit movie about a dystopian future America where crime is legal for 12 hours gets a sequel, with a whole new cast.
Outlook: They were only just announcing castmembers for this the other day, and it's out in June. Let's hope the racial allegory is less ham-fisted this time around — the concept is neat enough to stand on its own if the film doesn't feel the need to lecture us.
Transformers: Age of Extinction (June 27)
Michael Bay returns for a fourth Transformers movie, with a whole new cast anchored by Mark Wahlberg. This one features a lot of action set in China, where the fastest-growing movie audience is.
Outlook: Well, supposedly it features Dinobots. That's got to be worth something. And maybe a new cast will give this series a new paint job and a tune-up under the hood, and insert any other car-related metaphors that strike your fancy.
Deliver Us from Evil (July 2)
Eric Bana and Community's Joel McHale are cops dealing with a case that a priest insists is demonic in nature — but can the long arm of the law cope with the supernatural?
Outlook: We liked director Scott Derrickson's Sinister a lot, and we're kind of stoked to see Jeff Winger as a tough cop who's seen it all.
Atlas Shrugged Part III (July 4)
Forget Hunger Games, this is the most important future dystopia, since it's the one that's shaped so many of our policy-makers today. This time around, the geniuses of the world hide from a world overrun by a welfare state gone mad and an economic collapse. And John Galt gives a very long speech.
Outlook: The second movie was better than the first, so maybe the trend will continue? There were early rumors that this third movie will be a musical, and we desperately hope that is true.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11)
The prequel saga that began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes continues, and this time the human race is on the ropes while the ape civilization is in full upswing.
Outlook: Rise was a really amazing surprise, and this outing is directed by Matt Reeves, who did the underrated Let Me In. So hopes are high for this one.
Jupiter Ascending (July 18)
The Wachowskis are back with a futuristic space opera in which Mila Kunis is a house-cleaner who's identical to the ruler of the universe, and Channing Tatum is the beast-man hybrid who protects her at all costs.
Outlook: Honestly, it looks kind of goofy, but also potentially amazing. Could this be the next Fifth Element?
Hercules (July 25)
The other big Hercules movie this year, this one stars Dwayne Johnson and is based on the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars. Unlike this Friday's film, it contains actual mythology.
Outlook: Hard to get that excited about a new Brett Ratner film, but the early images look neat and The Rock is usually fun to watch.
Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1)
On the heels of its recent winning streak, Marvel rolls the dice again with a space opera about a group of misfits that include a raccoon with attitude and a tree named Groot that only says "I am Groot!".
Outlook: Director James Gunn did one of our favorite superhero movies with Super, and he's assembled a terrific cast here. We saw a ton of footage at Comic-Con that blew our heads off.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (August 8)
Another 1980s classic gets a brand new spin, from producer Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles).
Outlook: The main reason for optimism about this one seems to be the prominent role for Will Arnett as one of the humans who tags along with the turtles. A lot depends on how neat the mo-cap turtles actually look.
Lucy (August 8)
Speaking of Fifth Element... Luc Besson directs his first science fiction film in ages, starring Scarlett Johansson as a drug mule who accidentally ingests a drug that gives her superhuman powers.
Outlook: Even in a year full of weird superhero projects, this still has what it takes to get us over-the-top excited.
The Giver (August 15)
Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep star in the adaptation of Lois Lowry's classic novel about a false utopia where everybody is the same and emotional depth is banned. One boy is chosen to be the new Receiver of Memory, storing the memories of the time before Sameness.
Outlook: Leaving aside that this is one of the most important books for teens and the cast is fantastic, it's directed by Philip Noyce (Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Quiet American.) So it ought to be just stunning.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (August 22)
A decade later, here's the sequel to the adaptation of Frank Miller's noir comic book, this time focusing on the titular "Dame," played by Eva Green.
Outlook: This time, Miller is co-directing with Robert Rodriguez, which brings up unfortunate memories of The Spirit. But at the very least, this should be a guilty pleasure.
Jessabelle (August 29)
Another low-budget horror movie. Jessie is paralyzed in a car accident that kills her boyfriend, then returnshome to find a ghost named Jessabelle trying to kill her.
Outlook: The notion of recovering from trauma in a haunted house has a certain appeal. We'll see.
The Maze Runner (September 19)
James Dashner's popular YA novel about boys who can't remember anything but their first names, trapped in a maze with a single mysterious girl, gets its big-screen adaptation.
Outlook: Dashner told us the early footage he saw looked amazing. A lot depends on whether you're maxed out for dystopian teen adventures.
The Boxtrolls (September 26)
Laika, the stop-motion animation studio behind Coraline and Paranorman, returns with a story of a young boy who befriends monsters, based on a novel by Alan Snow.
Outlook: The first trailer looks absolutely gorgeous, and this studio's track record is pretty stellar.
Poltergeist (October TBA)
Did you know they were remaking this film? They are. A noisy, disruptive ghost makes a family's life hell.
Outlook: It's written by playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, and stars Sam Rockwell. So even though we've seen a lot of haunted house movies lately, this could be worth a look.
The Book of Life (October 17)
An animated Romeo and Juliet riff, featuring the voices of Channing Tatum and Zoe Saldana. During the Day of the Dead celebration, a boy chooses between obeying his family's expectations and following his heart, while visiting three fantastical worlds.
Outlook: Produced by Guillermo del Toro, who has a pretty decent track record as producer. Writer-director Jorge R. Gutierrez is actually Mexican, which seems like a good thing for a movie about Mexican culture.
Dracula Untold (October 17)
Previously known as Dracula: Year Zero, this is an origin story of the most famous vampire. So this takes place before Dracula invents wireless electricity and discovers lesbian mud-wrestling, just FYI.
Outlook: It's a low-budget supernatural romp. Probably not as much fun as I, Frankenstein, but you never know.
Paranormal Activity 5 (October 24)
Yes, we get two Paranormal Activity movies in the same year, after a year without. Presumably this returns to the core storyline about that suburban family with the terrible luck.
Outlook: They probably haven't even started filming it yet, so hard to say. PA4 was agonizingly dreadful, so we're not jazzed for a direct continuation.
Big Hero Six (November 7)
An obscure Marvel comics team of quasi-Japanese heroes saves the city of Sanfransokyo in this Disney animated film.
Outlook: The visuals look pretty neat, but the story sounds possibly too goofy to work — and changing the setting from actual Japan to Sanfransokyo means this can't be the regular Marvel Universe. This film just got a co-director, who helmed Bolt.
Interstellar (November 7)
After a successful Batman trilogy, Christopher Nolan returns to riskier fare, with this story of an ecologically devastated future Earth, and the wormhole project that seeks to find new resources.
Outlook: Nolan's brother Jonathan originally wrote it for Steven Spielberg to direct, based on the work of CalTech physicist Kip Thorne. So expect lots of wonder and hard science, alongside Chris Nolan's usual thrills.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (November 21)
The Hunger Games juggernaut continues, with the first half of the final book, in which Katniss becomes a revolutionary leader and pays a heavy price.
Outlook: We were surprised by how great the second movie was, and the only question mark here is whether they can churn out the movies at such a fast rate and keep the quality up.
Home (November 26)
Until recently, this animated movie was called Happy Smekday!, to reflect the fact that it's based on the book The True Meaning of Smekday. It's the story of aliens who invade and try to relocate the human race, and the one girl who escapes their clutches.
Outlook: The book is delightful, and this movie version has Steve Martin as the head alien. Let's just hope the move to a more bland title doesn't reflect a general commitment to blandness.
Ridley Scott's Exodus (December 12)
If Darren Aronofsky didn't scratch your Old Testament itch, the director of Blade Runner has you covered, with a story of Moses (Christian Bale) versus the Pharoah (Joel Edgerton). Also starring Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley and Jon Turturro.
Outlook: It honestly sounds like such a guilty pleasure that you'll wish it was Yom Kippur so you can atone for watching it. But you never know, the desert visuals will probably be lovely.
Paddington (December 12)
Yes it's that talking bear from Peru who's found at a train station that bears (so to speak) his name.
Outlook: Paddington is played by Colin Firth, and it's directed by The Mighty Boosh's Paul King.
The Hobbit: There and Back Again (December 17)
The third and final Hobbit movie, in which the Battle of the Five Armies takes place.
Outlook: At this point, probably depends on how you felt about the first two movies. If you were down with the massive epic scale of a trilogy based on a relatively slender book, then you'll love this.
Night at the Museum 3 (December 25)
Ben Stiller returns for a third movie about the magical museum where all the exhibits come to life at night.
Outlook: At this point, we may be down to exploring the gift shop or digging through the recycling bins at the museum café. But there might be life in this series yet.
Into the Woods (December 25)
Last but definitely not least, here's a film based on the Sondheim musical about a couple who try to break a curse placed on them by an evil witch, causing them to journey through magical realms out of Grimm's fairy tales.
Outlook: The cast includes Meryl Streep as the wicked witch, Johnny Depp as the Big Bad Wolf, plus Emily Blunt, James Corden and Tracy Ullman. Directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago). So yeah, excited.
Sources: Studio releases, plus Box Office Mojo, Film Releases, Movie Insider.