Predicting the best films and TV of 2024

What will flop and what will be box-office gold?

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Callum Turner and Austin Butler in Masters of the Air (Apple TV+)
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With strikes over, the streaming model still wobbling and Barbiemania in the rear-view, 2024 looks sety to be an interesting year for film and TV.

To start, two superhero movies. Last year saw superheroes die at the box-office — apart from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, every superhero film bombed, with Blue Beetle, Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom, The Flash and The Marvels losing tens to hundreds of millions. Because of this, there are far fewer superhero films releasing in 2024.

But two of the most anticipated and interesting films to come happen to be of that…

With strikes over, the streaming model still wobbling and Barbiemania in the rear-view, 2024 looks sety to be an interesting year for film and TV.

To start, two superhero movies. Last year saw superheroes die at the box-office — apart from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, every superhero film bombed, with Blue Beetle, Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom, The Flash and The Marvels losing tens to hundreds of millions. Because of this, there are far fewer superhero films releasing in 2024.

But two of the most anticipated and interesting films to come happen to be of that genre. They’re both sequels, R-rated, somewhat odd and are going to be hits, as were the films they follow; but otherwise, they couldn’t be more different. I’m speaking of Deadpool 3 and Joker: Folie à Deux.

My only concern about Deadpool 3 is whether its humor will prove tired on a third outing — particularly as Ryan Reynolds has since built his public image around that humor — I have some mild concern that Disney will have toned down the sex and violence, now that they own the property; but it would be mad if they did so. Along with having the highest budget of the Deadpool movies, it will be the first to also feature Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, returning to the role he retired from in 2017, with James Mangold’s incredible Logan. Though I doubt it will top $1 billion at the box office, it could get close.

I have far fewer concerns about Folie à Deux’s quality, which follows on from 2019’s Joker, but with twice the budget and the addition of Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn. I doubt it will repeat the first film’s box-office success or cultural dominance, but then again, Gaga pulls in a lot of women and there’s an election coming, so maybe I’m wrong about that.

Speaking of sequels; I expect Dune: Part Two to be a triumph — and this isn’t just wishful thinking. Wonka sealed Timothée Chalamet’s ability to make a hit, and the first film was a surprising success, despite releasing during Covid and having a same-day streaming release on HBO Max. Expect a sold-out IMAX run when Dune: Part Two arrives in March, which I will help facilitate. I just hope it makes enough overall that director Denis Villeneuve can make more of these films and we get an adaptation of God Emperor of Dune, the best of the Dune series.

On the flip-side, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga will probably bomb. At a $230 million production budget, it’s a lot more expensive than Mad Max: Fury Road — which was excellent but still lost money — yet Furiosa doesn’t look as good. Next month’s Madame Web is even more certain to flop: a strange female-led, Spider-Man spin-off thriller/horror thing, which has a budget of more than $80 million but looks like a bad student film. Sony has a track record for terrible superhero films — remember Morbius? — and the trailer had such a bad reception that the film’s star, Dakota Johnson, fired her agents after it came out and went to CAA.

The biggest flop, however, will almost certainly be Horizon: An American Saga, Kevin Costner’s epic, two-part Western vanity project, which he left Yellowstone over. Westerns don’t do well in theaters, and films with a short two-part release strategy do even worse, so it’s a very tough sell. More broadly, there’s also a new Bad Boys movie, which I don’t expect to earn back its budget, and even Glen Powell’s charm likely won’t be enough to make the Twisters remake a hit. Or good.

In more sequels: Beetlejuice 2 is coming out, as is the eighth Transformers movie (confusingly titled Transformers One), and another, invariably bad modern Ghostbusters film, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. Eli Roth’s much-delayed adaptation of the Borderlands games is also coming out this year, and I don’t know who is excited to see Kraven: The Hunter or Venom 3, but it’s not me. There’s also a second Godzilla x Kong movie coming out, for anyone who saw Godzilla Minus One and thought, “This is fine but it’s way too smart, interesting and artistic.” In other ape-related movies, 2024 will bring us the final Planet of the Apes film, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. The series that has left little impression on me, but they’re always box-office successes. Perhaps most notably, 2024 is the year we finally get to see Gladiator 2, and I have no idea what to make of it. Ridley Scott’s recent record has been spotty to say the least — The Last Duel is a masterpiece, but House of Gucci and Napoleon were mediocre — so fingers crossed.

I also don’t know what to think about Alien: Romulus. It’s directed by Fede Alvarez, who made the terminally underrated 2016 horror film Don’t Breathe, and (thankfully) has nothing to do with the weird Prometheus sequel arc, and instead is set between Alien and Aliens. I’m rooting for Alvarez, but every Aliens film has got worse since Aliens, so he has a streak to break. In horror films, expect Sydney Sweeney’s Immaculate to make a good return; but not as much as Smile 2, the sequel to last year’s most profitable film, earning over $200 million on a $17 million budget.

Glen Powell who starred with Sweeney in the word-of-mouth hit rom-com, Anyone But You — has another rom-com coming this year in The Hit Man, which he co-wrote with director Richard Linklater. It’s getting rave review and would have a good theater run were it not for Netflix owning it. Sharing its “unlikely romantic-comedy” lane will be The Fall Guy, starring Ryan Gosling and directed by David Leitch — of John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Hobbs & Shaw and the fantastic Bullet Train. On the first trailer, it looks fabulous, is guaranteed to have great action, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see it beat box office expectations, even at a $125 million budget. Zac Efron will also be returning to bro-comedies this year in Ricky Stanicky, co-starring John Cena, whose comedic talent is still deeply underappreciated. If you haven’t seen Blockers, I strongly recommend it.

In action films, I have two to highlight: the John Wick spin-off, Ballerina, starring the utterly charming Ana de Armas, and Dev Patel’s awesome-looking indie-alternative, Monkey Man. Patel’s film was originally going to get dumped onto Netflix — who have been sitting on it for three years now — but Jordan Peele saw the film, loved it and took it with him to Universal, so we’ll be able to see it in April.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Doug Liman’s Road House remake, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and also Conor McGregor, making his acting debut. Road House was supposed to hit the big screen, but Amazon backed out of this, much to Liman’s frustration, so it’ll probably get lost among the streaming slosh. It looks fun though. In another disappointment, Zoe Kravitz’s directorial debut would have won my “best title of the year,” but has been renamed from Pussy Island to the generic Blink Twice. Tragic.

My biggest question mark for the year ahead is Wicked, the film adaptation of the hit Wizard of Oz-adjacent musical, starring Ariana Grande. By most conventional Hollywood wisdom, this is a guaranteed hit. It’s an adaptation of a hit property, features a mega-star and has the rare formula that made Barbie such a hit: a women-first audience that can appeal to all ages, from children to adults alike. However, I’m not so sure. For one, it’s releasing in two parts at a total budget of $350 million; there isn’t much buzz at the moment, and Grande isn’t the beloved celebrity she was a few years ago.

The most guaranteed hits are family films, and 2024 has a lot of these. Despicable Me 4 is guaranteed to break a billion at the box office, and other box-office certainties are Inside Out 2, Kung Fu Panda 4, IF (Imaginary Friends), Sonic The Hedgehog 3, Garfield and Paddington in Peru. Pixar has stumbled with their recent releases, but Inside Out is one of their most esteemed properties; Kung Fu Panda 4, IF (“Imaginary Friends”) and Garfield have established stars; and though Paddington is an unassuming teddy, he’s a box office giant. On a $40 million production budget (and modest marketing), Paddington 2 grossed $228 million worldwide. I’ll also throw in Mufasa: The Lion King, a prequel to Jon Favreau’s mediocre live-action Lion King. I wouldn’t have given this much heed had it not been for Mathew Belloni who pointed out that Favreau’s film earned $1.6 billion at the box office.

The one children’s animated film that I doubt will be a success is the LEGO Pharrell biopic, which is — for some unfathomable reason — getting a theatrical run in October. Yes, that is a biopic of the famous rapper, producer and fashion designer (albeit, in my opinion, a so-far disappointing fashion designer) told through animated LEGO characters. There’s also an animated Lord of the Rings movie coming, The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim.

My top five anticipated films for the year? At fifth, it’s Spaceman, starring Adam Sandler, Paul Dano and Carey, an adaptation of Jarolsav Kalfar’s incredible 2018 novel, Spaceman of Bohemia, directed by Johan Renck of Chernobyl. Though Sandler made his millions in comedy, it’s drama where he truly shines, so it’s great to see him flexing those muscles again. If you haven’t seen Uncut Gems, you’re missing one of the greatest films and performances of the past twenty years. I just wish Spaceman was getting a cinematic release; but as it stands, it will drop on Netflix on March 1.

At fourth is Robert Eggers’s long-anticipated Nosferatu. The horror auteur behind The VVitch, The Lighthouse and The Northman has dropped the “the” and entered gothic horror, bringing Bill Skarsgård, Lily-Rose Depp, Nicholas Hoult, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Emma Corrin and Willem Dafoe with him. Details are scant but with that premise, that case, and Eggers at the helm, it’s almost guaranteed to be a masterpiece.

At third, presuming it comes out, is Megalopolis, the long-awaited epic from Francis Ford Coppola. It’s expensive, has a great cast, is largely self-funded and likely the most technically ambitious film released in years. Will it be a financial success? Probably not. Will it be good? Probably so. Will it be interesting? Unquestionably.

Second place is the tennis romantic drama from Luca Guadagnino, Challengers. Originally intended to release last year, but bumped due to strikes, it looks intense, sexy and beautifully shot, starring the always-fantastic Zendaya.

It would be my most anticipated film of the year, if it were not for one other: MaXXXine. When Ti West was making his 2022 retro-slasher masterpiece, X, it was just supposed to be a one-off film; but as they were making it, he realized he had the time and money to make its prequel simultaneously, Pearl. MaXXXine is the sequel that was never intended to happen, with scream-queen Mia Goth returning in the title role as she tries to become a Hollywood star. It’ll be stylish, bloody and great fun; I cannot wait.  

Television is harder to predict and commentate on than film, because there are no numbers and data, and streaming is a terrible business that makes little sense; but we must trundle on. And, for what it’s worth, it looks like a stellar year for TV.  In great returning shows, we have second seasons of Severance, Shrinking, Silo, The Last of Us, Rings of Power and House of the Dragon; there’s also a third season of The Bear, Reacher and Bridgerton, though probably not Euphoria. The fourth season of Slow Horses and the final season of Curb Your Enthusiasm are also coming up.

The new season of True Detective, Night Country has started streaming, and though it has lost opinionated showrunner Nic Pizzolatto, the reviews have been good, as have been those for Masters of the Air, the new $300 million Apple TV+ Band of Brothers follow-up. And for big-budget shows that have been in the oven for years, we’re finally getting to see Shōgun, 3 Body Problem and Fallout. In new shows that have my attention, there is Mr. & Ms. Smith, The Regime, Expats and the new season of Feud, by Ryan Murphy and Gus van Sant, on Truman Capote and his “swans.” Tom Hollander looks incredible as the legendary writer, he’s joined by an all-star cast of actresses as the Swans and it’s based on excellent source material, Lawrence Leamer’s book Capote’s Women, which has a proud place on my bookshelf.

But the show I’m most looking forward to is The Sympathizer, adapted from Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. It’s a black comedic spy drama set during the Vietnam War, features Robert Downey Jr., is an HBO show made by A24 and the whole miniseries is directed by one of the greatest directors alive, Park Chan-wook of Oldboy fame.