Movies

Fall movie preview: 22 films coming to theaters and streaming platforms in 2022

Highlights include a Whitney Houston biopic filmed in Boston, sequels to "Knives Out" and "Avatar," and more.

Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in "Spirited." Apple TV+

After two years of chaos, the movie industry appears to be moving in the right direction. Reliable blockbusters like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Jurassic World: Dominion” have pushed the 2022 domestic box office to a total of $5.2 billion so far, easily surpassing the yearlong totals of 2021 ($4.5 billion) and 2020 ($2 billion). 

That said, the 2022 total will likely fall short of 2019’s domestic box office ($11.2 billion), and it’s unclear when — or even if — Hollywood will see those numbers return. Thanks to studios engaging in a streaming arms race, consumers have come to expect major releases from Disney, Universal, Warner Bros., and Paramount to show up on Disney+, Hulu, Peacock, HBO Max, and Paramount+ in a matter of weeks, if not days, after their theatrical release.

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As a result, the Boston.com 2022 fall movie preview is filled with streaming-only releases, movies that will debut simultaneously in theaters and on demand, and a handful of awards contenders from top-tier directors that will stubbornly stick to a traditional theatrical release window, hoping to draw curious viewers in the final months of 2022.

Regardless of studios’ chosen distribution method, the 2022 fall movie season looks to be an exciting one, filled with long-awaited sequels, Oscar hopefuls, and a number of movies filmed in Massachusetts or starring Bay State natives.

Here are 22 movies to look forward to in the remaining months of 2022.

September

“Pinocchio” (Streaming on Disney+ Sept. 8)

As part of Disney Plus Day, the studio is releasing director Robert Zemeckis’ (“Back to the Future”) live-action take on the classic fairy tale. Among the assembled talent is Tom Hanks as Geppetto and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Inception”) as Jiminy Cricket. Like many recent Disney releases, “Pinocchio” will bypass theaters and debut on Disney Plus September 8.

“About Fate” (In theaters and on demand Sept. 9)

This rom-com starring Emma Roberts (“American Horror Story”) and Thomas Mann (“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”) is set in Massachusetts and was filmed here in 2021, with scenes shot in Braintree, Brockton, Canton, Chelsea, Medford, Norwood, Quincy, Randolph, Taunton, Waltham, and Watertown. The pair are hopeless romantics about to be married to the wrong people, before a happenstance meeting changes everything. “About Fate” will debut in a limited number of theaters and on-demand rental platforms Sept. 9.

“Confess, Fletch” (In theaters and on demand Sept. 16)

Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) steps into the various disguises as Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher in this comedy/mystery, a reboot of the 1980s Chevy Chase movie series that filmed in Boston, Cohasset, Gloucester, Ipswich, and Worcester in 2021. In this edition, Fletch is on the hunt for a stolen art collection, only to become the prime suspect in a murder. The only way to stay out of custody is to solve the mystery himself, which, in typical “Fletch” fashion, involves a lot of double-talk and disguises. Also featuring Boston native John Slattery (“Mad Men”) and Lexington native Eugene Mirman (“Bob’s Burgers”), “Confess, Fletch” will be released both in theaters and as a premium on-demand purchase Sept. 16, before moving to Showtime on Oct. 28.

“Blonde” (In theaters Sept. 16, streaming on Netflix Sept. 28)

This adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ 2000 novel stars Ana de Armas (“Knives Out”) as Marilyn Monroe, exploring the blurred lines between Monroe’s larger-than-life public persona and her private existence as Norma Jeane Mortenson. Also featuring Adrien Brody (“The Pianist”), Bobby Cannavale (“Vinyl”), and Julianne Nicholson (“Mare of Easttown”), “Blonde” will open in select theaters before streaming on Netflix on Sept. 28.

“Don’t Worry Darling” (In theaters Sept. 23)

Phillips Academy grad Olivia Wilde (“House”) directs and co-stars in this retro psychological thriller in which an idyllic 1950s couple portrayed by Florence Pugh (“Little Women”) and Harry Styles (“Dunkirk”) move to Victory, Calif., an experimental community with mysterious underpinnings. The film debuted at the Venice Film Festival on Sept. 5 before hitting theaters nationwide Sept. 23.

“Hocus Pocus 2” (Streaming on Disney+ Sept. 30)

Almost 30 years after the 1994 original hit theaters and increased nationwide interest in Salem, Mass., “Hocus Pocus 2” flies onto Disney Plus to kick off spooky season. The film is once again set in Salem (though it was filmed in Rhode Island this time), where the Sanderson sisters — Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker — have once again risen from the dead to wreak havoc on a group of North Shore children. “Hocus Pocus 2” files onto Disney Plus on Sept. 30.

October

“Amsterdam” (In theaters Oct. 7)

Director David O. Russell has assembled a staggering group of talent for his latest movie, his first since 2015’s Boston-filmed “Joy”. The 1930s murder-mystery (with a hint of comedy) centers around three friends: a doctor (Christian Bale, “The Dark Knight”), a nurse (Margot Robie, “I, Tonya”, and an attorney (John David Washington, “Tenet”) who are prime suspects in a murder. To prove their innocence, the trio must solve the case themselves. Also featuring  Chris Rock (“Grown Ups”), Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”), Zoe Saldaña (“Avatar”), Mike Myers (“Wayne’s World”), Michael Shannon (“Knives Out”), Timothy Olyphant (“Justified”), Taylor Swift (“Cats”), Boston native Alessandro Nivola (“The Many Saints of Newark”), Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”), and Robert De Niro (“Raging Bull”), “Amsterdam” hits theaters Oct. 7.

“The School for Good and Evil” (Streaming on Netflix Oct. 19)

Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”) directs this family-friendly fantasy based on Soman Chainani’s 2013 novel. Best friends Sophie and Agatha are sent to a magical school, where the pupils are trained to become either fairy-tale heroes and villains. When Sophie and Agatha are sent on different tracks, their friendship is tested. With a cast that includes Laurence Fishburne (“The Matrix”), Michelle Yeoh (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”), Kerry Washington (“Scandal”), Charlize Theron (“Mad Max: Fury Road”), and Marblehead native Rob Delaney (“Deadpool”), the film begins streaming on Netflix on Oct. 19.

“Black Adam” (In theaters Oct. 21)

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson officially has his own superhero movie, playing Black Adam, an antihero from the city of Kahndaq who is unleashed on the world after 5,000 years of imprisonment. To stop him, the Justice Society of America must convince Adam to overcome his villainous ways and team up with them to face a more powerful foe. After numerous pandemic delays, “Black Adam” is finally due in theaters October 21.

“Ticket to Paradise” (In theaters Oct. 21) 

In the 1990s, a romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney would have been one of the biggest movies of the year. Now, the pair are Hollywood veterans, playing two divorced parents who travel to Bali for their daughter’s wedding. While they can’t stand each other, they hate their daughter’s fiancé even more, and soon begin to bond as they attempt to sabotage the nuptials. You can grab a ticket to “Ticket to Paradise” starting Oct. 21.

“Armageddon Time” (In theaters Oct. 28) 

Banks Repeta and Anthony Hopkins in "Armageddon Time."
Banks Repeta and Anthony Hopkins in “Armageddon Time.”

Filmmaker James Gray (“Ad Astra”) gets semi-autobiographical with his latest, which received a seven-minute ovation at Cannes in May. The film follows a sixth-grader named Paul (Banks Repeta, “The Black Phone”) who faces anti-Semitism at his Queens public school. At the behest of his grandfather (Anthony Hopkins), Paul enrolls in a private school, where his wealthy, Young Republican classmates begin to tug him away from his roots. Also featuring Anne Hathaway (“The Devil Wears Prada”) and Boston native Jeremy Strong (“Succession”), “Armageddon Time” will have a limited release Oct. 28 before expanding nationwide Nov. 4.

“Call Jane” (In theaters Oct. 28)

A timely historic drama from Phyllis Nagy (“Carol”), “Call Jane” is centered around a 1960s housewife (Pittsfield native Elizabeth Banks, “Pitch Perfect”) who joins the Jane Collective, an clandestine network that helped women obtain abortions when they were illegal. Also featuring Chris Messina (“The Mindy Project”), Sigourney Weaver (“Alien”), and Kate Mara (“House of Cards”), “Call Jane” hits theaters Oct. 28.

November

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (In theaters Nov. 11)

Boston, Cambridge, and Worcester got their first tastes of superhero movie fever when this sequel to “Black Panther” filmed a series of action scenes here in August 2021. “Wakanda Forever” takes place following the death of King T’Challa (the late Chadwick Boseman), with Wakanda leaders facing a series of invading threats seeking to take advantage of the power vacuum. Featuring a number of Marvel veterans including Letita Wright, Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” hits theaters Nov. 11.

“The Fabelmans” (In theaters Nov. 11) 

After a nearly 50-year career of making escapist blockbuster fare, Steven Spielberg is getting personal with his latest. The semi-autobiographical film is about a young boy named Sonny Fableman (Gabriel LaBelle, “The Predator”) growing up in 1950s Arizona who “discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.” Also featuring Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea”), Seth Rogen (“Knocked Up”), and Paul Dano (“There Will Be Blood”), “The Fabelmans” will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 10 before hitting theaters Nov. 11. 

“The Menu” (In theaters Nov. 18) 

Young couple Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy, “The Queen’s Gambit”) and Tyler (Nicholas Hoult, “Mad Max: Fury Road”) travel to a remote island to dine at Hawthorne, an ultra-exclusive restaurant run. On the island, an eccentric celebrity chef (Ralph Fiennes, “The English Patient”) has prepared a multi-course menu that blurs the line between interactive dining, conceptual art, and criminality. “The Menu” slices into theaters Nov. 18.

“She Said” (In theaters Nov. 18) 

The story that arguably sparked the “Me Too” movement gets the big-screen treatment, with Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”), and Zoe Kazan (“Ruby Sparks) playing the New York Times journalists who unearthed decades of sexual misconduct by film honcho Harvey Weinstein. Also starring Samantha Morton (“Sweet and Lowdown”), Andre Braughner (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”), and Patricia Clarkson (“Sharp Objects”), “She Said” will be released in theaters Nov. 18.

“The Noel Diary” (Streaming on Netflix Nov. 24)

Justin Hartley as Jake Turner in "The Noel Diary."
Justin Hartley as Jake Turner in “The Noel Diary.” – KC Bailey/Netflix

Thanksgiving typically marks the start of the holiday movie season, and Netflix is no different, jumping into the holiday film fray with “The Noel Diary.” Based on a 2017 novel, the film follows a man (Justin Hartley, “This Is Us”) who returns home on Christmas to help settle his estranged mother’s estate. At the home, he discovers a diary that unlocks secrets from his past and and ties his fate to Rachel (Barrett Doss, “Station 19”), a young woman on a mission of her own. Also featuring Boston native James Remar (“Dexter”), “The Noel Diary” begins streaming on Netflix on Nov. 24.

“White Noise” (Streaming on Netflix Nov. 25) 

Don DeLillo’s 1985 postmodern masterpiece has long been considered unfilmable, but Noah Baumbach (“Marriage Story”) is convinced he can do the darkly comic novel justice. Centered around the life of Jack Gladney (Adam Driver, “The Last Duel”), a professor of Hitler studies at the College-on-the-Hill, whose comfy existence is thrown into disarray by “the Airborne Toxic Event,” a train crash that spreads chemical waste through the air of his small town. Featuring Greta Gerwig (“Frances Ha”), Don Cheadle (“Hotel Rwanda”), and Boston native Alessandro Nivola (“The Many Saints of Newark”), “White Noise” begins streaming on Netflix on Nov. 25.

December

“Avatar: The Way of Water” (In theaters Dec. 16)

It’s been 13 years since director James Cameron introduced audiences to the world of Pandora in “Avatar,” a global phenomenon that is still the highest-grossing movie of all time. Since then, Cameron has been diligently working on four planned sequels to the film, utilizing never-before-seen film technology including the ability to shoot motion-capture scenes underwater. Set more than a decade after the 2009 film, the plot synopsis for “Avatar: The Way of Water” is vague, stating only that it tells the story of the Sully family (Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver) and “the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.” “Avatar: The Way of Water” splashes into theaters Dec. 16.

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” (In theaters Dec. 21)

Whitney Houston gets the biopic treatment in “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” which filmed for several months in 2021 in Arlington, Belmont, Boston, Brockton, Brookline, Canton, Foxborough, Hull, Lynnfield, Quincy, Wellesley, Weston, Westwood, and Worcester. The film follows the life of Houston (Naomi Ackie, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”), tracking her rise from humble beginnings in Newark, N.J., to the zenith of pop superstardom, as well as chronicling her tumultuous marriage to New Edition member (and Boston native) Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders, “Moonlight”). Also featuring Stanley Tucci (“Easy A”) and Clarke Peters (“The Wire”), “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” hits theaters Dec. 21. 

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” (In theaters TBA, streaming on Netflix Dec. 23)

(L-R) Edward Norton, Madelyn Cline, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson, Janelle Monae, and Daniel Craig in "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery."
Edward Norton, Madelyn Cline, Kathryn Hahn, Dave Bautista, Leslie Odom Jr., Jessica Henwick, Kate Hudson, Janelle Monae, and Daniel Craig in “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery.” – John Wilson/Netflix

Following the success of the Massachusetts-filmed murder mystery “Knives Out,” Netflix enlisted Rian Johnson to make a sequel. The only returning character from 2019’s original is detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, “No Time To Die”), who heads to a private Greek island owned by tech billionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton, “Fight Club”). Once again, Blanc must figure out who among an ensemble cast of rogues is responsible for a murder on the remote island. Featuring Janelle Monáe (“Hidden Figures”), Kathryn Hahn (“Wandavision”), Leslie Odom Jr. (“Hamilton”), Kate Hudson (“Almost Famous”), and Dave Bautista (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” will have a brief theatrical run during the holiday season before it begins streaming on Netflix on Dec. 23.

“Spirited” (Streaming on Apple TV+ TBA 2022)

Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in “Spirited.”

The holiday spirit will be alive in “Spirited,” a modern musical version of the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol,” that was filmed in Boston, Braintree, Devens, Everett, Framingham, Lynnfield, Melrose, Weymouth, Worcester in 2021 for Apple TV+. Starring Ryan Reynolds in the misanthropic Ebeneezer Scrooge role, Reynolds will be joined on a magical journey by Will Ferrell (“Anchorman”), Octavia Spencer (“The Help”), and Sunita Mani (“Glow”). Apple TV+ has not revealed a specific release date for “Spirited,” other than to say that it will be coming during the holiday season in 2022.

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