2020 fall movie preview: 25 movies coming soon to theaters or streaming platforms

Theaters are starting to reopen, and delayed blockbusters and Oscar hopefuls are coming soon.

Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas in "No Time to Die." Nicola Dove/MGM

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Movie theaters in Massachusetts have only recently begun to reopen in earnest, albeit at significantly reduced capacity. Labor Day weekend, which usually marks the time when studios pivot away from mega-budgeted blockbusters and head toward prestige films intended to court awards voters, will instead feature “Tenet,” the first summer blockbuster of the season. It will also feature “Mulan,” which should have been a major spring theatrical release for Disney, but will now be available only to Disney+ subscribers for $30.

Paying more to see a movie at home than you would in the theater? That’s the topsy-turvy reality created by COVID-19.


Later this month, the Toronto International Film Festival will continue its tradition of screening a fair share of awards contenders before they reach general audiences. But some titles without planned release dates — like the Mark Wahlberg drama “Good Joe Bell” or the Massachusetts-filmed “I Care A Lot” — may sit on the shelf as studios wait until theaters are back in full swing before committing to a marketing push.

In spite of it all, the fall movie season looks like it will be an exciting one, filled with delayed blockbusters, Oscar hopefuls, and a number of movies filmed here in the Bay State. Here are 25 movies that are supposed to come out in the remaining months of 2020. Just don’t hold it against us if studios decide to delay a few of these titles (again).

“Tenet” (Sept. 4 in theaters)

Christopher Nolan is known for producing imaginative blockbusters that are best experienced on the big screen, including “Inception,” “Dunkirk,” and “Interstellar.” With a budget of $200 million, “Tenet,” which is in theaters now, could be Nolan’s biggest project yet. An ambitious sci-fi spy thriller, “Tenet” stars John David Washington (“BlacKkKlansman”) and Robert Pattinson (“Twilight”) as intelligence agents attempting to stop the destruction of the planet by a villainous billionaire (Kenneth Branagh, “Dunkirk”) who has learned how to “invert” time.

“Mulan” (Sept. 4 on Disney+)


Taking the opposite strategy of “Tenet,” Disney decided to take its live-action remake of 1998’s “Mulan,” delayed multiple times from its original spring release date, and release it directly onto its Disney + streaming service. Subscribers may grumble about the $30 “Premier Access” cost, but if you can wait three months, “Mulan” will be available for all Disney+ subscribers with no additional cost on Dec. 4.

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (Sept. 4 on Netflix)

Charlie Kaufman is best known for writing postmodern, meta films like “Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation,” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” His newest, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” is a genre-defying film in which a woman (Jessie Buckley, “Judy”) who is considering breaking up with her boyfriend (Jesse Plemons, “Fargo”) as they go to visit his parents, played by Toni Collette (“Hereditary”) and David Thewlis (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”). What follows is a deeply morose consideration of the self-helped along with heavy doses of magical realism and time-hopping.

“Antebellum” (Sept. 18 on demand)

Much about the plot of “Antebellum” has been kept under wraps, leading to an air of mystery around the Sept. 17 horror/thriller release from the producers of “Get Out.” Actress/musician Janelle Monáe (“Hidden Figures”) plays a successful author who is stuck in a “horrifying reality” that appears to bounce her between present-day and Civil War-era times, based on the trailer. Based on the pedigree of the production team alone, “Antebellum” will probably be worth checking out when it hits Premium Video On Demand (PVOD) Sept. 18.

“Ava” (Sept. 24 in theaters)


If you want to watch an Oscar-nominated star kick ass on the streets of Boston, you’ll have two choices this fall. The first is “Ava,” starring Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”) as a deadly globe-trotting assassin who must fight for her survival when a job goes wrong. Also featuring John Malkovich (“RED”), Common (“Wanted”), and Wareham native Geena Davis (“A League Of Their Own,”) “Ava” was filmed in Boston, Chelsea, Gloucester, Lincoln, Marblehead, Methuen, Spencer, Wayland, and Worcester.

“Hubie Halloween” (Oct. 7, Netflix)

Adam Sandler in “Hubie Halloween.”

Adam Sandler turned heads across the North Shore last fall when he brought Halloween to Massachusetts early with production of “Hubie Halloween” for Netflix. In the film, Sandler plays Hubie Dubois, a good-natured but odd Salem resident who is widely mocked for his obsessive devotion to the town’s annual Halloween parade. But when a real murder case disrupts the city’s celebration, it’s up to Hubie to crack the case. Along with Salem, “Hubie Halloween” was filmed in Beverly, Canton, Chelsea, Danvers, Gloucester, Ipswich, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Mendon, Milton, and Tewksbury. The film’s large supporting cast includes Kevin James (“Paul Blart: Mall Cop”), Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”), Ray Liotta (“Goodfellas”), Steve Buscemi (“Fargo”), Lowell native Michael Chiklis (“The Shield”), Shaquille O’Neal (“Grown Ups 2”), Rob Schneider (“The Hot Chick”), Maya Rudolph (“Bridesmaids”), Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”), and Noah Schnapp (“Stranger Things”).

“Honest Thief” (Oct. 9 in theaters)

The second Oscar-nominated star trading fisticuffs in the streets of Boston is Liam Neeson in “Honest Thief.” Neeson plays Tom Carter, a meticulous thief known as the “In and Out Bandit” who decided to come clean about his criminal past after he falls in love with Annie (Kate Walsh, “Grey’s Anatomy”). When he is double-crossed by a pair of FBI agents,  Tom must take drastic measures to make things right. Also featuring Amesbury native Jeffrey Donovan (“Burn Notice”), Jai Courtney (“Suicide Squad”), Anthony Ramos (“Hamilton”), Robert Patrick (“Terminator 2: Judgment Day”), and Jasmine Cephas Jones (“Blindspotting”), “Honest Thief” was filmed in Fitchburg, Leicester, Oxford, and Worcester.

“The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Oct. 16, Netflix)


The first of Netflix’s Oscar hopefuls is this legal drama based on a true story written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing”). The film feels timely, centering around a protest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention that turns violent and puts a group of activists on trial. Featuring a deep ensemble cast including Sacha Baron Cohen (“Borat”), Eddie Redmayne (“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”), Boston native Jeremy Strong (“Succession”), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Inception”), Michael Keaton (“Batman”), and Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”), “Chicago 7” will hit Netflix on Oct. 16.

“Candyman” (Oct. 16 in theaters)

Following the success of “Get Out” and “Us,” Jordan Peele has passed the director’s chair to Nia DaCosta (“Little Woods”) for “Candyman,” a “spiritual sequel” to the 1992 horror film co-written by the “Key & Peele” co-creator. The film returns to the same Chicago neighborhood where the first film took place, and while the streets have gentrified, the horror will be unleashed all the same.

“Death on the Nile” (Oct. 23 in theaters)

Following the success of 2017’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” Agatha Christie’s beloved detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh, “Hamlet”) is back to solve another mystery, this time investigating the murder of a young heiress while on vacation in Africa. Joining the whodunnit this time are Armie Hammer (“The Social Network”), Russell Brand (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), Gal Gadot (“Wonder Woman”), and Annette Bening (“American Beauty”).

“Black Widow” (Nov. 6 in theaters)

Marvel may have wrapped up Phase One of its cinematic universe last year with the conclusion of “Infinity War,” but there’s still at least one more film tied to that timeline coming soon. “Black Widow,” the first standalone title for Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, takes place after the events of 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.” On the run, Black Widow must confront her past as a spy and reconcile with former Russian allies played by Florence Pugh (“Little Women”) and David Harbour (“Stranger Things”).

“Ammonite” (Nov. 13)


Two actresses whose careers drew Oscar nominations almost from the start join forces in this romance from Francis Lee (“God’s Own Country”). Kate Winslet (“Titanic”) plays a 19th century scientist who, shunned by the male-dominated paleontology field, spends her days collecting fossils of extinct ammonites. When one scientist shows up to take credit for her work and leaves his grieving wife Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”) on the English coast, an unexpected romance blossoms. “Ammonite” will make its debut at TIFF later this month, before opening widely in November.

“Deep Water” (Nov. 13)

See the movie that launched a thousand paparazzi photos of Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas with “Deep Water,” an erotic thriller from Adrian Lyne (“Fatal Attraction”) adapted from the novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith ( “The Talented Mr. Ripley”). Affleck and de Armas (“Knives Out”) play Vic and Melinda Van Allen, a couple stuck in a loveless marriage whose extramarital dalliances and sadistic mind games lead to dead bodies. Hopefully the couple’s real-life romance won’t bear any resemblance to the on-screen one.

“No Time To Die” (Nov. 20)

Speaking of de Armas, the actress teams up with her “Knives Out” co-star Daniel Craig in “No Time To Die,” the final appearance for Craig as James Bond. In the film, Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica, but he’s quickly recruited to rescue a kidnapped scientist. The mission proves more complicated than expected as Bond finds himself tracking a mysterious villain (Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”) armed with a dangerous new weapon.

“Soul” (Nov. 20)


The newest Pixar film is always a must-see, and that looks to be the case again with “Soul,” which features one of the animation studio’s trademark high-concept premises. A musician named Joe (Jamie Foxx, “Ray”) who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body to the land of  The Before, where souls live before they enter bodies on Earth. Joe must find his way back to his body with the help of an infant soul learning about herself (Tina Fey, “30 Rock”).

“Sound of Metal” (Nov. 20 in select theaters, Dec. 4 on Amazon Prime Video)

We’ve been waiting on “Sound of Metal” for a little while now, but fortunately won’t have to wait too much longer. After being positively reviewed at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, this drama about a metal drummer (Riz Ahmed, “Venom”) whose world begins to unravel when he slowly starts to lose his hearing, sat on the shelf for a little while at Amazon thanks in part to the pandemic. As part of International Deaf Awareness Month, Amazon announced on Sept. 9 that the movie would arrive in select cinemas on Nov. 20 for a limited theatrical run before moving to Prime Video on Dec. 4. The movie was filmed in the area in 2018, with production taking place in Boston, Cambridge, Danvers, Framingham, Ipswich, Lawrence, Malden, Rowley, and Topsfield.

“Nomadland” (Dec. 4)

Though it flew under the radar, Chloé Zhao directed one of the best films of 2018 with her contemporary western film, “The Rider.” Now, Zhao is back for “Nomadland,” which follows Fern (Frances McDormand, “Fargo”), a woman in her 60s who resorts to a nomadic life living in a van after losing everything in the Great Recession. Based on the nonfiction book by Jessica Bruder, “Nomadland” rolls into theaters Dec. 4.

“Free Guy” (Dec. 11)


Boston was transformed into one giant video game for almost three months last year during the filming of “Free Guy,” an upcoming blockbuster action-comedy from Disney starring Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool”). Reynolds plays a bank teller named Guy who discovers he’s a background character in an open world video game called “Free City.” Between daily car chases and bank robberies, Guy meets Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve”), an expert player who causes Guy to reconsider his life and step out of the background. Also featuring Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out”), Taika Waititi (“Avengers: Endgame”), Newburyport native Joe Keery (“Stranger Things”), and Utkarsh Ambudkar (“Mulan”), “Free Guy” was also filmed in Framingham, Lynn, Randolph, Revere, Weymouth, and Worcester.

“The Father” (Dec. 18)

Another awards contender coming later this year is “The Father,” which pairs two former Oscar winners in Anthony Hopkins (“The Silence of the Lambs”) and Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”). Based on the 2012 play “La Pere,” the film follows the relationship of father Anthony (Hopkins) and daughter Joy (Colman), and the struggles they both face as Anthony battles aging after moving in with Joy. A hit with critics when it debuted at Sundance in January, “The Father” will drum up more buzz when it screens at TIFF later this month before hitting theaters nationwide Dec. 18.

“Coming 2 America” (Dec. 18)

More than 30 years after “Coming to America,” Eddie Murphy is back as Prince Akeem in “Coming 2 America.” In the sequel, Akeem must return to the United States once more after finding out that he has a long-lost son (Jermaine Fowler, “Sorry to Bother You”) who is the unwitting heir to the Zamunda throne. Along with actors from the original like Arsenio Hall and James Earl Jones, “Coming 2 America” also features Leslie Jones (“Saturday Night Live”), Tracy Morgan (“30 Rock”), and KiKi Layne (“If Beale Street Could Talk”). “Coming 2 America” hits theaters Dec. 18.

“Dune” (Dec. 18)


Following his “Blade Runner” sequel, “Blade Runner 2049,” Denis Villeneuve will tackle another sci-fi classic with his adaption of Frank Herbert’s landmark novel “Dune.” In the distant future, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), along with his wife (Rebecca Ferguson, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”) and son Paul (Timothée Chalamet, “Little Women”) take stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis, the galaxy’s sole producer of the addictive all-powerful substance known as “spice.” Following a carefully planned betrayal, Paul must adapt to the harsh desert climate as the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance. While “Dune” is still slated to arrive in theaters Dec. 18, it will almost certainly be delayed until 2021 now that Warner Bros. has moved “Wonder Woman 1984” to Dec. 25.

“West Side Story” (Dec. 18)

If you were looking for a dream team to adapt the classic 1957 musical “West Side Story” for the screen again, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better pair than Steven Spielberg and playwright Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”), who also collaborated with the “Jaws” director on “Munich” and “Lincoln.” The “Romeo & Juliet” riff about forbidden love between members of rival street gangs the Sharks and the Jets. Starring Ansel Elgort (“Baby Driver”) and YouTuber Rachel Zegler as Tony and Maria, “West Side Story” dances into theaters Dec. 18.

“Wonder Woman 1984” (Dec. 25 in theaters)

Following the phenomenally successful “Wonder Woman,” Gal Godot is back as the shield-bearing superhero. This time, she’ll face two new foes in the 1980s: Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal, “Game of Thrones”) and the Cheetah (Kristen Wiig, “Bridesmaids”), a villainess whose speedy name belies her superhuman agility and strength. Originally moved to Oct. 2, Warner Bros. announced on Sept. 11 that “Wonder Woman 1984” was on the move again, landing in theaters on Dec. 25, 2020.

“News of the World” (Dec. 25)

Tom Hanks heads to the Wild West in “News of the World,” a period drama from “Bourne Supremacy” director Paul Greengrass. Hanks plays Jefferson Kyle Kid, a Texan who makes a living traveling from town to town reading the news of the world to townsfolk. He is then drafted to help rescue a young girl who has been held captive by natives for four years and bring her back to civilization.

“Mank” (TBA, Netflix)

Gary Oldman and Stanley Tucci in “Mank.”


Over the last decade, Having David Fincher direct your movie is one of the best bets at landing an Oscar nomination, as he’s proven with the likes of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Social Network,” and “Gone Girl.” That’s what Netflix is gunning for with “Mank,” which stars Gary Oldman (“Batman Begins”) as “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he struggles with Orson Welles to create what’s generally regarded as the greatest American film of all time. “Mank” is not an average biopic, with screenwriter Eric Roth saying the black-and-white film feels straight out of the 1930s. While Netflix hasn’t announced a release date, people involved in the film have previously pegged it for an October release date.

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