We’ve said it a number of times before, but it’s good to be a sci-fi fan right now. There are tons of fantastic speculative fiction books popping up every day, the current golden age of television definitely encompasses the genre, and there’s an avalanche of sci-fi movies to look forward to.
That list of sci-fi movies include massive studio tentpoles, stand-alone adventures, new additions to fan-favorite franchises, and esoteric indies that rely more on ideas and storytelling than resources. We have quite a bit to look forward to.
With that in mind, we’ve assembled a list of the most anticipated sci-fi movies coming our way. For the most part, we don’t include superhero movies, unless they’re explicitly hard sci-fi. (Look, we’re as jazzed for Thor: Love and Thunder as anyone, but that will get plenty of play elsewhere.) We also keep it pretty strictly sci-fi rather than fantasy—think robots and spaceships rather than orcs and elves. Otherwise, this gets unwieldy in short order.
These are the biggest, boldest, most interesting sci-fi movies headed your way.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker—December 20, 2019
Love or hate the direction of the new Star Wars trilogy—and there are plenty of voices on both sides—The Rise of Skywalker is certainly an event you don’t want to miss. Not only does the J.J. Abrams-directed sci-fi movie promise plenty of light saber wielding, starship battles, and space opera drama, but it wraps up the saga of the Skywalker clan once and for all. It’s going to be an extra gut-punch seeing Carrie Fisher’s Leia one last time on screen. Is it dusty in here or is it just us?
Underwater—January 10, 2020
Nowhere is as remote and isolated as space, but deep, deep beneath the ocean surface is as close as we get here on Earth. After an earthquake, the crew of a deep-sea drilling rig struggles to survive against the elements as well as something sinister that may have been unleashed. Starring Kristen Stewart and Vincent Cassel, and directed by William Eubank (The Signal), there’s a definite throwback, Deep Star Six or Leviathan vibe to Underwater that makes Underwater look like a total blast.
The Invisible Man—February 28, 2020
Produced by Blumhouse and reworking of one of Universal’s classics monsters, most people probably think of The Invisible Man as a horror movie and not a sci-fi movie. Which, admittedly, it is. But this version revolves around a brilliant scientist (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, The Haunting of Hill House) who fakes his own suicide and turns himself invisible in order to torment and gaslight his girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale). That definitely crosses into science fiction territory from where we stand. And it looks absolutely terrifying to boot.
No Time To Die—April 8, 2020
James Bond’s world of fantastic gadgets and submarine cars has always been as much science fiction as it is a grounded spy-thriller, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. 007 will return in 2020 to deliver more high-tech thrills in what may be Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond in No Time To Die.
In No Time To Die our hero Bond has retired from active service and is enjoying the good life. Predictably that does not last. An old friend shows up asking for help and soon Bond ends up on the trail of a kidnapped scientist facing off against a mystery villain in possession of a dangerous new technology.
The Purge 5—July 10, 2020
Four sci-fi movies and a series deep, the Purge franchise is still going strong. 2018’s The First Purge—actually the fourth film—became the highest-grossing entry in the series. The low-budget, socially-minded horror films imagines a world where all crime is legal for one night, and in 2020, we will Purge again. There’s not usually a ton of crossover from one film to the next—the exception being from Anarchy to Election Year—so despite a lack of solid plot details, expect this film to look at new characters and offer a different perspective from previous chapters.
Franchise creator James DeMonaco handles the script, while Everardo Gout (Luke Cage, TNT’s Snowpiercer) takes over the directing duties. The only actors currently attached are Tenoch Huerta and Ana de la Reguera, both veterans of Narcos. Though still in pre-production, July might seem an ambitious release date, but they tend to crank these out pretty quick.
Ghostbusters Afterlife—July 10, 2020
Looks like Dan Aykroyd will finally get his wish for a third Ghostbusters movie with the original cast. He’s been talking about it forever, but it never really gained any traction—Bill Murray was reportedly a vocal hold-out, and after the death of Harold Ramis, the idea felt doomed. Not so, apparently.
Under the eye of director Jason Reitman (Juno), Ghostbusters Afterlife wrapped production in October 2019. The film sees Murray, Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts reprise their roles.
The plot of Ghostbusters Afterlife will revolve around a family moving into a recently inherited Oklahoma farmhouse. The house was formerly the home of absentee father of the family’s mother Callie (played by Carrie Coon from The Leftovers). Rumor has it that the absentee father may actually be one of the original Ghostbusters and if so then the family’s kids Trevor and Pheobe will end up getting a lesson in Ghostbusting from grandpa. The kids are played by Finn Wolfhard from Stranger Things and McKenna Grace fromThe Haunting of Hill House.
The house they move into is full of strange ghostbusting gear, and they even find good old Ecto-1 hidden in the barn. At some point Paul Rudd shows up playing Mr. Grooberson, a summer school teacher with fond memories of the Ghostbusters antics in the 80s (Now referred to as the Manhattan Crossrip of 1984). Imagine Rudd as a sort of Ghostbusters fan boy, and you’re probably on track.
No definitive word yet on whether Slimer will be back.
Infinite—August 7, 2020
Based on the book The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz—a tome written as if it was a lost text recently unearthed—Infinite follows a secret society of people with perfect recall of their past lives. In Antoine Fuqua’s adaptation, Mark Wahlberg (who replaced Chris Evans) plays a presumed-schizophrenic man who discovers what he believed to be hallucinations are actually memories from earlier lives, a fact he must to use to defeat a great evil.
In Fuqua’s hands, you can bet this will be an action-heavy sci-fi movie romp. Joining Wahlberg on his quest is a cast that includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rupert Friend, Dylan O’Brien, Sophie Cookson, and Jason Mantzoukas.
Bill & Ted Face the Music—August 21, 2020
Long-gestating sequels have a spotty track record, but when it comes to the further adventures of Ted “Theodore” Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esq., count us in. Bogus Journey took Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter to hell in 1991, and though there have been cartoons, comics, and a few other adventures, Face the Music marks the first big-screen jaunt since.
This Bill & Ted installment finds the members of Wyld Stallyns toiling away in middle-aged mediocrity, yet to live up to their savior-of-the-future status, trying not to screw up their kids too bad. When a visitor gives them a dire warning, they embark on yet another quest with history hanging in the balance. We’ll see some familiar faces, like William Sadler’s Death, as well as newcomers, like Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine as the daughters of San Dimas’ favorite sons.
BIOS—October 2, 2020
Throw a dog into just about anything and we’re in. Even better if there’s a robot. Case in point, Bios. The story revolves around a post-apocalyptic world where a dying inventor, played by Tom Hanks, makes a robot, played by Caleb Landry Jones, to protect him and his dog as they head out on a journey. Sounds like a little bit like a mashup of A Boy and His Dog, Homeward Bound, and Sea of Rust. Written by Craig Luck and Ivor Powell, Miguel Sapochnik (Game of Thrones) handles the director’s job. If nothing else, it will be fun to see Hanks co-star with a dog for the first time since Turner and Hooch.
Eternals—November 6, 2020
Okay, we said we’re not going to include superhero movies on this list, but that doesn’t preclude all Marvel movies. As the comic book juggernaut pushes farther and farther into space, we get sci-fi movies like Eternals. The story spans thousands of years, encompasses many remote worlds, and tracks the extended conflict between an alien race known as Celestials and their enemies, the Deviants.
Directed by Chloe Zhao (The Rider), Marvel put together an insane cast that features Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Don Lee, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Gemma Chan, Barry Keoghan, and not one, but two of the Stark boys from Game of Thrones, Richard Madden and Kit Harrington. If Marvel wants to keep exploring the depths of our universe, we’re all for it.
Godzilla Vs. Kong—November 20, 2020
Finally, we’re going to get an answer to that age-old question: which iconic movie monster would win in a fight, Godzilla or King Kong? And You’re Next director Adam Wingard has promised we’ll get a definitive answer, unlike 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla, which ended with some ambiguity. The sci-fi movie action picks up in the wake of Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, so it’s probably safe to assume there will be some fun creature on creature violence along with a collection of flat, bland human characters we don’t really care about. But come on, a giant great ape punching a skyscraper-tall lizard that breathes fire? What’s not to get excited about?
Dune—December 18, 2020
Though David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic 1965 novel has a cult following, many have long considered Dune unfilmable. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s psychedelic attempt fizzled, and the 2000 miniseries…leaves much to be desired. But that’s not going to stop Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) from trying to bring the epic saga of Paul Atreides and the Spice trade of Arrakis to the big screen.
The production split the mammoth book into two sci-fi movies—probably a good idea—and the Blade Runner 2049 director enlisted an absolutely stacked cast. The credits include Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Dave Bautista, Oscar Isaac, Javier Bardem, Zendaya, Charlotte Rampling, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, and probably you at some point.
The Tomorrow War—December 25, 2020
Dealing with lingering past traumas is the worst, especially when there’s an alien invasion to contend with in the here and now. Which is just what the protagonist of The Tomorrow War has to deal with, both literally and figuratively in this case. With humanity losing a futuristic war against an extraterrestrial aggressor, scientists find a way to draft soldiers from the past into their current conflict.
Directed by Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie) this sci-fi movie stars Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, and J.K. Simmons. We’ll see if it makes its scheduled Christmas 2020 release date, as filming just began in September 2019 and this feels like a movie that requires a lot of time in post-production.
After their mind-bending, indie sci-fi movie, The Endless, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead returned with Syncrhonic. Another hit on the festival circuit, this film finds the writer/director duo with more resources to play with, most notably a bigger budget and stars like Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan. The plot also seems suitably weird for Benson and Moorhead to tackle. We follow two New Orleans paramedics—Mackie and Dornan—as they come face to face with a new designer drug that has strange and horrific effects on its users, like time travel. Innovative and off-kilter, this sounds like another bizarro genre joint that takes on big ideas with creativity and style.
Jiu Jitsu—TBA 2020
Nicolas Cage’s late-stage career is…let’s call it a mixed bag. For every high point like Mandy, there are five forgettable paycheck movies we stumble across on Netflix and had no idea existed. But when he peaks, there’s a sheer mania to his movies, and this one sounds like a doozy.
The basic premise is an ancient order of Jiu Jitsu fighters regularly battle to protect the Earth from alien invaders. In addition to Cage, the cast includes a who’s who of current cinematic badasses, like Tony Jaa, Frank Grillo, Rick Yune, and JuJu Chan. So, in addition to being absolutely bananas, the action should be nothing short of stellar. Can’t wait to witness this craziness and see Nic Cage use martial arts to save the world.
Chaos Walking—TBA 2020
We’re not quite in the midst of a deluge of YA sci-fi movies like a few years ago, where every other release was an adaptation of a series of dystopian books for young readers. It hasn’t disappeared entirely, but it’s not as ubiquitous. But based on Patrick Ness’s novel, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Chaos Walking hopes to recapture some of the subgenre’s glory days.
Directed by Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow), the action explores a world where a pathogen supposedly killed all women and where all living creatures can hear each other’s thoughts. This project has been in the works for a long time and faced delays and reshoots—it finished principal photography in November 2017—but with a script by Charlie Kaufman (and five other credited writers) and a cast featuring Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Mads Mikkelsen, David Oyelowo, Cynthia Erivo, and Nick Jonas, it’s hard not to be intrigued by the possibilities.
After Yang—TBA 2020
Set in a world where you can buy robot children, a father and daughter struggle to save the life of their android family member, Yang. Directed by filmmaker and video essayist, Kogonada (Columbus), and produced by A24, this adaptation of Alexander Weinstein’s short story, “Goodbye to Yang,” is sure to be an introspective, meditative take on science fiction. And with a cast anchored by Colin Farrell, Haley Lu Richardson, and Golshifteh Farahani, this could wind up being something very unique and special.
Video game movies are a dicey proposition, but if we’re going to get hyped about any of them, The Division has a metric ton of potential. Fronted by Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal, this adaptation of the Tom Clancy-created shooter has John Wick and Atomic Blonde director David Leitch at the helm, so you know the action will be top-tier.
The plot follows a bio-terrorist attack on Black Friday in New York City and the elite force deployed to restore order as society collapses. This has been in development since 2016, and thus far has only moved forward in fits and stops. We’ll have to wait to see if it ever actually materializes, but The Division does appear to at least be inching ahead. If and when this sci-fi movie drops, you can even watch it from the comfort of your couch, since it’s a Netflix project.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3—TBA
The road to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has been a bumpy one thus far. Marvel fired James Gunn, who co-wrote and directed the first two Guardians films, which caused a revolt among fans and cast members. Eventually they re-hired him, and things have moved steadily forward, though we’re still in the early goings.
Right now, we don’t know much about the story, but in the wake of Avengers: Endgame, the fate of Gamora, and the events of upcoming MCU movies, the team has plenty to contend with—though Adam Warlock reportedly plays a part in the saga. The core cast—Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper—will reportedly reprise their roles, but other details are sparse. As far as a release date, Marvel has a number of slots open in 2022 and 2023, and production is slated to kick off in 2020, though Gunn has to direct the Suicide Squad sequel first.
Sci-fi movies are full of stowaways, but what if that stowaway snuck onto a ship bound for Mars and the crew didn’t discover them until it was too late to turn back? In Stowaway, this person presents the crew with a moral dilemma of how to handle the situation as they hurtle through space with rapidly dwindling resources. Starring Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette, and Daniel Dae Kim, Arctic director Joe Penna’s film looks to have lots of high-stakes drama, fraught tension, and conflict, all in a contained, compressed space the characters can’t escape. Sounds like a winning recipe.
Described as Lord of the Flies in space, director Neil Burger returns to the sci-fi movie genre with Voyagers, set to set sail in 2020. Probably. Principal photography kicked off in June of 2019, so who’s to say. Set in a not-so-distant future, the story follows 30 young men and women blasted into space on a multi-generational mission. Their goal is to establish a colony on a newly discovered planet, but things don’t go as planned, and the crew devolves into feral madness. As they deal with external threats, the real danger may be inside all along. It’s an intriguing premise, and one with a cast including Colin Farrell, Lily-Rose Depp, and Tye Sheridan to back it up.
Star Trek 4—TBA
After Star Trek Beyond, the rebooted Trek franchise seemed dead in the water. Sure, the TV side of things keeps chugging away, but as far as movies go, we were limited to the will he/won’t he dialogue surrounding a potential Quentin Tarantino take on Star Trek. Until very recently, that is.
Paramount recently announced that Noah Hawley, the driving force behind FX’s Fargo and Legion, will write and direct Star Trek 4, and that stars like Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, and Zachary Quinto are ready to board the Enterprise once again. The original idea was for Pine’s James T. Kirk to reunite with his father from J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot, played by Chris Hemsworth, via time travel, though it seems like that plot has been scrapped.
Riddick 4: Furya—TBA
Star Vin Diesel has long talked about making a fourth entry in the Riddick franchise. The last movie was released in 2013 and while it didn’t exactly burn up the box office, it was moderately cheap to make and so wasn’t a disaster. Apparently a script for the fourth movie exists and Vin has it in his possession.
On November 30th Vin posted this update in which he listed Riddick 4 as one of his next projects.
So presumably Riddick 4 has now moved beyond a maybe with a script, to a script with a production schedule. More as it develops.
Planet Of The Apes—TBA
Disney acquired Fox, the studio that owns the Planet of the Apes franchise, in 2019. In the wake of that acquisition they’ve announced a new Planet of the Apes, one that won’t involve the creative team behind the most recent string of Planet of the Apes sequels.
Instead, Maze Runner director Wes Ball has been hired to helm the new Planet of the Apes. Given the change in both ownership for the franchise and the creatives behind it, speculation is that this may be a total Planet of the Apes reboot rather than a sequel to 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes.
Honey I Shrunk The Kids 4—TBA
Honey I Shrunk the kids is coming back and it’s not a reboot of the original Honey I Shrunk the Kid series, but a sequel. The voice of Frozen’s Olaf, Josh Gad, will star as an adult Nick Szalinski as he follows in his father’s footsteps to develop new shrinking technology, of the type that caused him so much trouble as a child. Robert Oliveri played Nick in the first two Honey movies and in between them starred in Edward Scissorhands. However he hasn’t worked as an actor since 1994, which makes replacing him with Josh Gad entirely logical.
The movie is expected to fit into the existing Honey I Shrunk the Kids canon. Disney has previously released three movies in the series: Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Honey I Blew Up the Kid, and Honey We Shrunk Ourselves. The director of the original Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Joe Johnston, is now attached to helm this new film.
When it was released in 1989 the original Honey I Shrunk the Kids was a huge hit for Disney. It even earned an attraction at the Disney theme parks. It also skyrocketed the career of director Joe Johnston who avoided involvement in the less successful sequels. Johnston went on to direct such classics as The Rocketeer, Jumanji, and October Sky. More recently he directed Captain America: The First Avenger.
Sci-Fi Movies On The Distant Horizon
There are, of course, tons more science fiction movies on the way. There are biggies, like The Matrix 4 and Avatars 2 through 5, as well as smaller indie offerings and those we haven’t even heard a whisper of yet. Basically, there’s a ton to be thankful for if you’re a sci-fi fan. We’ve got some watching to do.