What's hitting the big screen this year? Basically, everything. Luke Skywalker, James Bond, the Terminator, Velociraptors, all the superheroes. But there are also some great surprises, like a movie based on a beloved Nebula-winning novel. Here are the 67 science fiction and fantasy movies you need to know this year.
Top image: Mad Max: Fury Road, via Reddit
Note: The figure of 67 movies doesn't include a handful of edge cases, which are marked below with a *. We included these movies because they seem like they have a lot of science fiction or fantasy stuff going on in them.
Oh, and there are some movies that have no release date yet, like Absolutely Anything. You won't find them below.
[REC] 4: Apocalypse (Jan. 2)
This beloved Spanish zombie series has apparently rediscovered its chops with this fourth installment, according to the mostly upbeat reviews. After the detour into horror-comedy of the third movie, we're back to the main storyline, and once again we're in a tight confined space full of zombies — this time, a ship that's also a mysterious government research facility.
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death (Jan. 2)
The other horror sequel that came out stateside last weekend wasn't quite as thrilling — we found the World War II-set continuation of this series about a bloodthirsty female ghost to be sadly lifeless.
Predestination (Jan. 9)
Ethan Hawke reunites with the Spierig Brothers (who directed him in Daybreakers) for this thriller based closely on Robert A. Heinlein's story "All You Zombies." Heinlein created the archetypal closed-loop time travel mindfuck, and this movie works hard to do his story justice, with a haunting performance by Sarah Snook as the Unmarried Mother. You can watch some clips here.
* Blackhat (Jan. 16)
This hacking movie is the first of the films we're including just because we suspect it'll veer into pretty science-fictional territory, given that hackers seem to have magical powers, judging from the trailer.
Paddington (Jan. 16)
The beloved British children's book (and cartoon) series gets a live-action movie, directed by Paul King (The Mighty Boosh). Can a bear with a suitcase and a love of marmalade sandwiches still find a family to look after him in this cold and cynical age? It's gotten near-unanimous raves in the U.K.
Strange Magic (Jan. 23)
Remember George Lucas? He's still around, and he came up with the story of this animated fantasy movie about goblins and elves, based loosely on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Even though this project is a holdover from the days before Disney bought Lucasfilm, it's still getting a theatrical release — and director Gary Rydstrom compares it to Labyrinth, which Lucas also produced back in the day. But the first trailer didn't blow us away.
Project Almanac (Jan. 30)
Here's the second time-travel movie coming out this month — it's a found-footage tale, in which a group of young people discover the plans to a time machine, and inevitably build it. They soon find that they can change the past... but should they? (Spoiler alert: No.) The trailer gave us a Chronicle vibe.
Alien Outpost (Jan 30)
This indie movie will be in a handful of theaters, plus VOD, at the end of the month — and it looks pretty fun. Basically, documentary film-makers follow a platoon of human soldiers mopping up after a failed alien invasion, and then it turns out that the aliens are about to mount their second assault. Formerly called Outpost 37, this movie stars Adrian Paul (Highlander: The Series).
Jupiter Ascending (Feb. 6)
After the super-ambitious Cloud Atlas, the Wachowskis seem to be aiming for "fun action-adventure fare" with this story of an ordinary woman (Mila Kunis) who turns out to be the heir to an alien throne. And unless she can claim her inheritance, the aliens who seeded Earth with life will "harvest" the planet. If this movie can deliver on the lizard-aliens-and-space-battles craziness of the trailer, it should be a blast.
Seventh Son (Feb. 6)
Jeff Bridges is a witch-hunter, who's training his replacement. But meanwhile, his old nemesis Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) is planning a comeback and wants to take over the world. It was originally going to be released back in 2013, but has gotten delayed a few times. Early reviews have not been kind. But you can watch a trailer for yourself.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water (Feb. 6)
In this sequel to 2004's SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, a pirate named BurgerBeard is looking for a magical book that makes any plan you write in it come true. To stop this fiend, SpongeBob and his friends have to visit the surface world... and turn themselves into superheroes.
Kingsmen: The Secret Service (Feb. 13)
Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, X-Men First Class) directs another comic-book movie — this time, about a superspy organization that recruits a rough street kid into its training program, just as a new threat emerges that could affect the whole world. We've already seen this movie, and it fully lives up to the Kick Ass legacy. See the trailer for yourself.
What We Do In The Shadows (Feb. 13)
This horror mockumentary follows three vampires... and the monstrous creature that lives in their basement. Written and directed by Flight of the Conchords' Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, who also star, this movie already came out in New Zealand to pretty unanimous acclaim. Here's the trailer.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (Feb. 20)
This time around, the gang (minus John Cusack, darn it) is going to the future, instead of the past. So basically, this is the Back to the Future 2 of hot tub time travel movies. Lou (Rob Corddry) gets shot, so his friends try to use their watery time machine to save him — but end up stranded 10 years in the future, instead of the past. Watch the trailer!
The Lazarus Effect (Feb. 27)
This movie basically sounds like Flatliners, only more bonkers. Medical students have figured out how to bring dead people back to life — starting with a dead student named Zoe (Olivia Wilde). But is that really Zoe, or have they actually brought back something... evil?
Chappie (March 6)
Neill Blomkamp is getting a bit more satirical after the pious Elysium, and the result looks nuts. Chappie is a former military robot (played by Sharlto Copley) who gets freed from his former restrictions by an idealistic scientist (Dev Patel) — but then he's kidnapped by two gangsters (played by rap-rave group Die Antwoord) and taught to be a gangster robot. And Hugh Jackman is a robot-hating extremist who wants to destroy him. Watch a trailer!
Cinderella (March 13)
It's just what sounds like — a live-action Cinderella, with Cate Blanchett as the Wicked Stepmother and Game of Thrones' Richard Madden as Prince Charming. And Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother. Directed by Kenneth Branagh. We're not sure our brains are built to handle this. Check out a trailer here.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (March 13)
After an oddly satisfying detour with The Marked Ones, this is the official Paranormal Activity 5. What is there left to reveal about this monstrous apparition? The producers promise this one will move the mythology forward and won't feel like quite as much of a time-waster as PA4.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent (March 20)
This dystopian series, in which aptitude testing goes horribly wrong, gets a continuation in which Tris and Four are on the run from Kate Winslet's evil mastermind. And they have to find out the secret at the heart of this terrible world, before it's too late. The first movie was pleasingly violent, and fast-paced enough to make us overlook the total lack of logic. Fingers crossed for this one.
Spring (March 20)
A horror romance directed by Ridley Scott's former interns, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, this movie is winning early buzz for defying genre classification. All we know is, it's about a man who falls in love with a woman who has a dark supernatural secret.
Home (March 27)
Here's the animated adaptation of the beloved kids' book The True Meaning of Smekday. Which is a billion times more memorable a title than "Home." A young girl named Tip befriends an alien named Oh... but he's not the only one of his kind coming to Earth. The first trailer looked pretty adorable.
It Follows (March 27)
Almost left this one out... this horror movie about a woman who has a strange sexual encounter and then finds herself having weird visions and being stalked by something supernatural has insane buzz.
* White God (March 27)
Mentioning this Hungarian movie because it sounds completely insane. A young girl is separated from her dog, who searches the city for his lost owner — but when that fails, the dog leads an army of other abandoned dogs, in a canine uprising to kill all the humans.
Ex Machina (April 10)
This movie looks like another "A.I. that happens to look like a beautiful woman" film, along the lines of The Machine. But it's the directorial debut of Alex Garland, who wrote 28 Days Later and Dredd, and the result looks stylish and sophisticated. In Ex Machina, a programmer (Domnhall Gleeson) gets invited to visit the head of the world's leading search engine company, but is surprised to be asked to evaluate a new artificial intelligence, played by Alicia Vikander.
The Moon and the Sun (April 10)
Vonda McIntyre won the Nebula Award for best science fiction novel for her book that combines historical romance with first-contact SF. And now it's become a movie, starring Pierce Brosnan and William Hurt. Can they possibly do justice to this beguiling novel? We'll find out soon enough.
Unfriended (April 17)
The "found footage" horror subgenre gets taken to the next level — this movie is told entirely through webcam footage on a computer desktop. A year after a bullied girl killed herself, she starts Skyping her friends from beyond the grave, and revealing their darkest secrets. This movie originally had the much funnier title Cybernatural.
* The Water Diviner (April 24)
Russell Crowe's directorial debut is a strange movie about a man who has an uncanny ability to sense the location of water deep underground. And after all his sons die in World War I, he goes looking for closure. Other magical-realist touches include a woman who can tell the future in coffee grounds — and she's never wrong. By most accounts, this is a pretty powerful film.
The Age of Adaline (April 24)
Speaking of magical realism... in this film, Blake Lively plays a woman who stopped aging when she turned 29, and now it's 80 years later. She's kept herself hidden away, afraid to get close to people who will age and die, and also protecting her secret — until she falls for a man and takes a fateful decision.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1)
The Avengers wasn't just one of the most successful movies ever made — it was also pure happiness for fans of superhero comics. The main questionmark hanging over this sequel is whether Joss Whedon can do it again, while introducing not only Ultron but also Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and the Vision. And presumably laying the groundwork for Civil War and a host of other upcoming Marvel films. It's a lot of water for one film to carry. But the trailers looked fantastic, and we have faith.
Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15)
George Miller returns to his most famous series (sorry, Babe) with this frankly insane looking action epic. This time, Tom Hardy is Max, and he's teaming up with Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to fight a warlord named Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Miller basically used incredibly detailed storyboards instead of a script for this film, resulting in what looks like a uniquely crazy ride. See a trailer!
Tomorrowland (May 22)
Brad Bird's second live-action film (after Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) remains pretty mysterious, even after the first teaser trailer. Tomorrowland is a magical place that you can visit by touching a special pin — and George Clooney has been evicted from there or something. And there's a futuristic city and a cool jetpack guy. Plus lots of mysteries, which isn't that surprising, given that the script was co-written by Lost's Damon Lindelof.
* Spy (May 22)
We're including this spy comedy, the latest team-up of director Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy, because the synopsis mentions that McCarthy's CIA analyst has to go into the field and stop a global disaster. So there's at least a reasonable likelihood of wacky spy-fi action.
* San Andreas (May 29)
Only mentioning this because it's a disaster movie, set in the near future. Basically, a devastating earthquake trashes all of California, and Dwayne Johnson has to travel to San Francisco to save his daughter. But the destruction may just be getting started.
Insidious: Chapter 3 (June 5)
We really loved Insidious, the movie about a boy who's astral-projecting in his sleep into a nightmare realm. We really did not love the sequel, which made no sense and wasn't scary. This third movie, directed by the writer of the first two, is a prequel, which explains all the stuff that the first two movies already over-explained. The trailer is full of jump scares.
Jurassic World (June 12)
The fourth Jurassic movie is directed by Colin Trevorrow, who wowed us with the indie time-travel movie Safety Not Guaranteed. There's a brand new theme park on Isla Nubar, and everything is chill — until scientists go creating a hybrid super-dinosaur, which runs rampant.
Inside Out (June 19)
Pixar's return to the spotlight begins with this tale of a girl, whose emotions are represented by Amy Poehler, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling and Bill Hader. So it's sort of a fantasy about what it would be like if your emotions had their own separate consciousness. Or, basically, a film version of Herman's Head.
Ted 2 (June 26)
The sequel to the mega-successful movie about a guy (Mark Wahlberg) and his living teddy bear (voiced by director Seth MacFarlane). This time, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried join the cast, and there's more Flash Gordon insanity.
Terminator: Genisys (July 1)
Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to his most successful series, playing an aging version of the killing machine from the future — thanks to James Cameron's explanation that the human flesh covering the endoskeleton can grow old just like regular human flesh. The non-stop time-travel shenanigans have resulted in a timeline where Sarah Connor basically calls the T-800 "Dad." It's directed by Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones, Thor: The Dark World) and the first trailer looked surprisingly fun.
Minions (July 10)
It's a spinoff to the ridiculously successful Despicable Me films, focusing on the twinkie-like creatures who work for Gru. As the first trailer shows, this movie follows three minions named Stuart, Kevin and Bob, who get recruited to work for a supervillain named Scarlet Overkill and her husband Herb.
The Gallows (July 10)
This is a low-budget supernatural horror movie from a couple of filmmakers who posted test footage from it on Youtube and won the attention of producers, including microbudget horror czar Jason Blum. All we know is, it's set in high school and involves students trying to restage a play that caused a tragic death 20 years earlier.
Ant-Man (July 17)
Marvel brings another one of its lesser-known heroes to the big screen, with the tale of a guy who can shrink and communicate with ants. This film is frequently described as a heist movie, in which a criminal named Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has to use his skills to help inventor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to save the day. Fingers crossed that director Peyton Reed can fill the huge shoes of Edgar Wright, who left the project.
Pan (July 24)
This is another bizarre reimagining of a fantasy classic — in this version of Peter Pan, Pan and Captain Hook are friends, and they're teaming up to fight Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman.) It sounds like a terrible idea, and the first trailer was honestly bizarre — but it's directed by Joe Wright (Hanna, Pride and Prejudice) who has never steered us wrong.
Pixels (July 24)
Speaking of bizarre... this movie, adapted from an online short film, is about aliens who think our human video games are a declaration of war. So they attack the Earth, using classic video games as their weapons. So only a couple of former video game champions from the 80s (Adam Sandler and Peter Dinklage) can save the Earth. Kevin James plays the President of the United States, who happens to be Sandler's childhood friend.
Poltergeist (July 24)
Yep, they're rebooting Poltergeist. Sam Raimi is producing, and even more encouragingly Sam Rockwell stars.
Selfless (July 31)
Ben Kingsley plays a rich guy who's dying of cancer — so he transplants his consciousness into a healthy young body (Ryan Reynolds). So far, so good. But it turns out that his new body has a dark past, and there's also more to the organization that made this procedure possible than he realized at first.
Fantastic Four (Aug. 7)
It's kind of amazing that Rocket Raccoon was fully realized on the big screen, and we still haven't had a decent movie starring the Fantastic Four. To remedy this oversight, Fox recruited Josh Trank, who created a thrilling superpowered action movie with Chronicle. How can Trank mesh the gritty realism of Chronicle with the bright, shiny fantasy of the FF? We'll find out ridiculously soon.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Aug. 14)
If you can't wait until the fall for your next dose of James Bond, here's some methadone. Ian Fleming helped to create the original concepts of this classic 1960s spy-fi show, in which mad scientists and crazy gadgets turn up in every other episode. Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) must team up with Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to track down a missing scientist, or the world could be doomed. And it's directed by Guy Ritchie!
Criminal (Aug. 21)
And here's another movie about body-jumping — a CIA operative is killed before he can stop a plot that could threaten the whole world. So they transplant the dead agent's memories and skills into the body of a death-row inmate, so the psycho killer can complete the agent's mission. What could possibly go wrong?
Sinister 2 (Aug. 21)
Another low-budget horror movie gets a sequel in which a new cast of characters gets introduced. This time around, a mom moves into a house in the middle of nowhere, only to find herself and her twin sons are marked for death.
Hitman: Agent 47 (Aug. 28)
In this adaptation of the hit video game, Agent 47 was genetically engineered to be the perfect killing machine — and his only name is the last two digits of the barcode that's tattooed on the back of his neck. Unfortunately, an evil corporation wants to use the cloning process to create a whole army of super-killers. Apparently this is a reboot and not a continuation of the disastrous 2007 Hitman movie.
Regression (Aug. 28)
Oscar-winning director Alejandro Amenabar first made his mark with the ghost movie The Others, and this movie is being billed as his return to dark genre material. The plot remains a bit of a mystery, but it involves a detective (Ethan Hawke) who investigates a father (David Dencik) who has no memory of molesting his daughter (Emma Watson) — until regression therapy uncovers what seems to be a "nationwide conspiracy." So there's some kind of crazy memory-erasure or mind-control going on, by the sound of it.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: The Green Legend (Aug. 28)
Directed by Yuen Wo-Ping, this movie is causing a lot of controversy because of its simultaneous release in IMAX theaters and on Netflix. Four heroes go on a quest to keep the legendary sword Green Destiny from falling into the hands of the evil Hades Dai, in a world full of sorcerers, poets and "Shaolin renegades."
Kitchen Sink (Sept. 4)
Vanessa Hudgens and Bob Odenkirk star in this comedy, set in a town where vampires, zombies and humans have always lived in peace... until now. Can a group of teenagers stop a war between humans and the undead? The supporting cast includes Joan Cusack, Patton Oswalt and Keegan-Michael Key, so fingers crossed.
The Visit (Sept. 11)
M. Night Shyamalan is back! He wrote and directed this low-budget thriller about a brother and sister who are sent to stay with their grandparents for a week — only to find out the grandparents are up to something scary. And probably supernatural, although nobody knows exactly what yet. This is supposed to be Shyamalan's bid to return to the feel of his early films, before he became a big studio director.
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (Sept. 18)
Just like with Divergent, Twilight and Hunger Games, they're trying to make the Maze Runner films an annual event. Thomas and his friends have gotten out of the Maze, but they're still running around, looking for answers. They've teamed up with some resistance fighters to stop the evil organization WCKD — but they may not be as free as they thought.
Hotel Transylvania 2 (Sept. 25)
The first Hotel Transylvania was surprisingly fun, with its tale of Dracula's daughter falling for a regular human backpacker. This time around, Mel Brooks plays Dracula's father, Vlad. The good news is, original director Genndy Tartakovsky is back once again.
The Disappointments Room (Sept. 25)
Directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), this is being billed as a Shining-esque supernatural thriller. A woman (Kate Beckinsale) moves into a house, where there's a mysterious locked room in the attic — and it contains unimaginable horrors. And somehow, that secret room is connected to a long-dead girl. It's co-written by Prison Break's Wentworth Miller, who also wrote Stoker.
Victor Frankenstein (Oct. 2)
And here's another off-the-wall reimagining of a classic story — this time, it's the Frankenstein story, told from the point of view of Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) instead of Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy). And it's sort of an origin story, showing how the idealistic young medical student turned into the unscrupulous experimenter we know and love.
* Olympus Has Fallen 2 (Oct. 2)
We didn't cover the first Olympus Has Fallen on io9, because it wasn't really science fiction despite its off-the-wall "White House invasion" storyline. But holy crap, this sequel sounds completely bonkers. The British Prime Minister dies under mysterious circumstances, and when all the world leaders come to his funeral, there turns out to be a conspiracy to destroy every single monument in London and "unleash a terrifying vision of the future." We are SO in.
The Jungle Book (Oct. 9)
There were two dueling movies based on Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book: a mocap-heavy one directed by Andy Serkis, and this one, directed by Iron Man's Jon Favreau. (The Serkis film has been delayed.) This one is live-action, and features the voices of Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken and other great actors as the animals.
Crimson Peak (Oct. 16)
Guillermo del Toro returns to spooky horror in between Pacific Rim movies, and this looks like a wonderful passion project. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain, this looks like full-on gothic insanity — the long teaser we watched at Comic-Con was utterly gorgeous.
Jem and the Holograms (Oct. 23)
This toy line and cartoon is the latest 80s classic to get a live-action adaptation on the big screen. We're a little worried, because creator Christy Marx wasn't consulted, the whole thing felt rushed into production, and the early images look like a Disney original movie. But director Jon M. Chu worked wonders with the second G.I. Joe movie, so fingers crossed.
The Last Witch Hunter (Oct. 23)
Did Jeff Bridges' Seventh Son not satisfy your witch-hunter jones? Then there's this movie, in which Vin Diesel is an immortal witch-killer, who is still fighting them in present-day New York — and he has to stop the Witch Queen from taking over the world. This is directed by Breck Eisner, whose Crazies remake rocked.
Scouts Vs. Zombies (Oct. 30)
No word on when we're getting a release for Cooties, the horror-comedy where teachers are forced to kill their zombie kids. But meanwhile, there's this film, in which three Boy Scouts go camping together one last time, at the end of their Scout-hood, and then have to save their town from a zombie outbreak.
Spectre (Nov. 6)
Daniel Craig's quasi-reboot of the James Bond series has gone a few movies without leaning too heavily on the classic Bond mainstays — but now it's time to go nuts. This movie features the classic spy organization SPECTRE, and features Christoph Waltz, who's probably the perfect Bond villain. (Assuming he's playing a villain.)
Friday the 13th (Nov. 13)
Yes, this is the 13th Friday the 13th movie. Spooky. This time around, we're going back to the 1980s, and rumor has it that Jason Voorhees' mother has a big role this time around. So we can get lots of sick, psychosexual mommy-son stuff. Oh, and this one is rated R, which is probably for the best.
Image: New York Daily News
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (Nov. 20)
At last, the ending of the Hunger Games saga — and we're dying to see how the power struggle between Julianne Moore and Donald Sutherland plays out on screen. Mockingjay Part 1 ended just as we were hitting the darkest material from Suzanne Collins' book, and Jennifer Lawrence will have some really thorny stuff to deal with in this one. Basically, let's hope the movies continue their track record of mostly improving on the books.
The Martian (Nov. 25)
Andy Weir's blockbuster novel about a man stranded on Mars, who survives by his wits, gets a movie from Ridley Scott, starring Matt Damon and an all-star cast in general. Scott is at his best lately when he has strong source material to draw on, and this could be this year's Gravity.
The Good Dinosaur (Nov. 25)
And here's part two of Pixar's return to everyone's radar screens. This movie takes place in an alternate world where the dinosaurs were never wiped out. An Apatosaurus named Arlo has to go on a big journey, teaming up with a human boy named Spot.
Midnight Special (Nov. 25)
Jeff Nichols has won raves for his indie films Mud, Take Shelter and Shotgun Stories — now he's creating a science fiction chase movie that he says is inspired by John Carpenter's classic films. Michael Shannon plays a father who goes on the run because his son has special powers.
Krampus (Dec. 4)
Why has it taken this long to get a big movie about the Christmas Devil? No clue, but this Christmas will be rocked by the Teutonic legend of a monster that punishes naughty children. Writer/director Michael Dougherty said, "Christmas has been invading Halloween for far too long. It's time to return the favor."
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Dec. 18)
At long last, the Star Wars saga gets an official continuation, showing what happened after Return of the Jedi. All the original trilogy stars are back, plus there's a "next generation" of characters played by Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Domnhall Gleeson and others. Director J.J. Abrams is relying pretty heavily on practical effects rather than CG, which seems like a positive sign. It looks beautiful so far.
Mission Impossible 5 (Dec. 25)
This series got a huge shot in the arm from Ghost Protocol, and now let's hope it can maintain that momentum. This time around, it's directed by Chris McQuarrie, who wrote The Usual Suspects, with a script by Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3). The good thing is, the series has been getting more ensemble-oriented, so Jeremy Renner and Simon Pegg can carry more of the weight.
Sources: Studio press releases, Box Office Mojo, Movie Insider, First Showing.