Movies that are going to blow everyone away in 2017

Though 2016 was an epic year for movies, it almost feels like a warm-up compared to the long list of blockbuster films on the release calendar for 2017. It's never too early to get excited about taking a trip to the theater, so we've lined up the biggest upcoming releases—and whether you're into action, comedy, horror, or drama, there's something here for everyone.

Transformers: The Last Knight - June 23

Every time Michael Bay thinks he's out of the Transformers franchise, they pull him back in with a fresh boatload of cash. Bay's been making noises about being done with Optimus Prime and his buddies for years, and was initially only on board to produce this installment in the series. But the executives at Paramount must have been pretty persuasive, because he's still in the director's seat for what he insists will be his final Transformers film. Aside from Mark Wahlberg being back as the saga's current human star, The Last Knight looks like it'll plunge viewers into a time-traveling plot that includes King Arthur and an alternate history in which Nazis won World War II—plus plenty of action and lots of lead-ins to the assortment of spinoff films the studio's planning.

Despicable Me 3 - June 30

From its humble beginnings as a cartoon about a funny-looking supervillain who sets out to steal the moon and ends up adopting three adorable munchkins, Despicable Me has grown into an impressively adaptable franchise for Universal. In addition to 2013's Despicable Me 2, it's also spun off a prequel (2015's Minions), six short films, three video games, and a theme park attraction—and as we can see from the 2017 release schedule, it isn't done yet. Details are still very sketchy regarding this third installment, but we can safely assume Steve Carell will be back as the nefarious (but kinda cuddly) Gru—and we know he'll be working from a script written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, who collaborated on the first two films.

Spider-Man: Homecoming - July 7

Sony's hopes for a Spider-Man film universe were dealt an embarrassing setback after director Marc Webb's reboots underperformed. But even if we aren't getting a Sinister Six or Venom movie anytime soon, the core franchise remains a top priority at the studio—as evidenced by this new reboot, which will find Tom Holland starring as the web-slinger in a standalone film while doing double duty as a supporting player in a number of Marvel movies (starting with Captain America: Civil War). Jon Watts, who helmed the creepy low-budget Kevin Bacon thriller Cop Car, is on board as director for a storyline that features Robert Downey, Jr.'s Tony Stark playing mentor to young Spidey in his battle against the Vulture (Michael Keaton).

War for the Planet of the Apes - July 14

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves returns for this follow-up, which picks up from Dawn's final scene—a grim foreshadowing of the major conflict brewing between genetically enhanced primates and a human population decimated by a virus dubbed the Simian Flu. Andy Serkis is back as the apes' leader, Caesar, whose journey from young chimp to noble warrior has formed the backbone for the franchise's overall arc. He's joined by Steve Zahn (as a new ape) and Woody Harrelson (as a character known as the Colonel, reportedly the film's chief antagonist). Reeves, who co-wrote the script, is keeping storyline details under wraps, but says the events depicted in War for the Planet of the Apes see Caesar achieving "mythic" status.

Dunkirk - July 21

After a decade spent in the sci-fi/fantasy realm, writer-director Christopher Nolan has put his considerable talents to work on a historical drama about a World War II battle. Dunkirk reunites Nolan with a pair of his Dark Knight and Inception alums, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, and early footage hearkens back to the heart-pounding beachfront battle imagery in the legendary opening scene from Saving Private Ryan.

Nolan's attention to historical detail on the partial IMAX production—including shooting on the site of the real-life events that inspired it—will no doubt serve his tale of heroism and survival well. And considering his box office track record, Dunkirk is sure to be a summer blockbuster that's much more engrossing than the usual generic popcorn fare.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - July 21

Anyone who's seen The Fifth Element knows director Luc Besson is capable of delivering irresistible sci-fi eye candy when he's given the right concept (and a big enough budget). It's been awhile since we've seen Besson scale those colorful flights of fancy, but he's back in space with Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which adapts the French comics series Valérian and Laureline—and sends Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne on a quest to save the universe. Packed with incredible visuals and rounded out by an eclectic cast that includes Rihanna and John Goodman, this looks like one summer movie well worth the price of an IMAX ticket.

The Emoji Movie - July 28

Some movies we see for the drama, others for the spectacle, and still others because they hold the potential for a viewing experience that's too singularly strange to resist. Into that latter camp falls The Emoji Movie, in which Sony attempts to spin a grand animated yarn around the pictures you make with your phone when you're too lazy to type. Stranger things have happened—remember when everyone thought The LEGO Movie was an idiotic idea?—and if nothing else, it'll make your kids laugh and give you an opportunity to later say "Yes, I've seen a movie starring Patrick Stewart as the voice of a talking piece of poop."

The Dark Tower - August 4

Of all the adaptations Stephen King's written works have produced, Nikolaj Arcel's The Dark Tower has to be the most anticipated. The sci-fi western horror film will follow the events of King's prolific Dark Tower book series—reportedly picking up some time after the ending of The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, with elements from the first book, The Gunslinger.

The story will present the apocalyptic adventure of an 11-year-old boy named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) as he accidentally uncovers the Mid-World dimension and joins up with Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) to find the Dark Tower before the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) can stop him from saving his dimension from certain destruction. Like King's book series, the film will juxtapose Wild West-style revolver action with supernatural elements and fantastic locales that constitute their own, radical plane of reality. The King faithful are sure to turn up for this long-overdue Hollywood treatment of the beloved series, especially with Elba and McConaughey's star power driving the narrative.

Annabelle: Creation - August 11

Everyone's favorite freaky doll from The Conjuring got her own movie with 2014's Annabelle, and although the reviews weren't great, it made a bunch of money—so now naturally, ol' Annabelle is back for another round. According to the official synopsis, Annabelle: Creation will focus on the dollmaker responsible for her creation, who unwittingly exposes a group of homeless orphans to her curse when he and his daughter take them in. The setup's really nothing we haven't seen before, but there's nowhere to go but up after the original, and the Conjuring franchise shows no signs of slowing down: The Conjuring 2 scared up more than $300 million in 2016, and another spinoff, The Nun, is due to arrive in 2018.

The Hitman's Bodyguard - August 18

We still don't have any idea when we'll see Ryan Reynolds suit up for the Deadpool sequel, but in the meantime, here's The Hitman's Bodyguard, which promises similarly irreverent action with a story forcing Reynolds' character, the titular bodyguard, to team up Samuel L. Jackson, who plays a hitman with whom he's sparred in the past. What forces this odd couple to come together? Their common enemy, a dictator played by Gary Oldman. Great cast, promising premise—this looks like it could be a perfect late-summer blend of one-liners, frenemy bonding, and stuff blowing up real good.

Polaroid - August 25

Until now, the only people frightened by Polaroid cameras were grandmothers who freaked out when the company went bankrupt. That's all due to change with the August 25 release of Polaroid, in which a teenage outcast stumbles across one of the cameras, only to discover that the darn thing kills everyone unfortunate enough to have his or her picture taken. Norwegian director Lars Klevberg adapts his own short film for this Dimension-distributed horror outing, which looks to fill the late-summer fright gap between Annabelle 2 and It.

IT - September 8

The 1990 TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's IT amassed a cult following but, unfortunately, the four-hour feature's laughable special effects and disorienting cutaway-style editing haven't aged well. Tim Curry's original performance as the town-terrorizing clown Pennywise still set a high bar for anyone to follow in the role, though—his signature cackle remains a chilling childhood memory for many—so when director Andrés Muschietti revealed his new version of the character (now played by Bill Skarsgård) in a costume that could've easily been borrowed from a schoolgirl's dress-up chest, it's only natural that he faced a little blowback.

There's still reason to believe this thing will be a hit with the King faithful, though. There's a bevy of talent on board, including Skarsgård and Finn Wolfhard (of the breakthrough young cast from Stranger Things), and there were plenty of scenes from the book that were glossed over in the first adaptation. IT is just one of two chapters in the story of an ageless monster who picks the wrong group of kids to mess with; part two is expected to pick up their story as adults, when they reunite to grapple with it again.

Blade Runner 2049 - October 6

What kind of chutzpah does a person need to have in order to try and follow up a towering sci-fi classic like Blade Runner? It's a daunting task to say the least, but Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve has a few big things going for him—most importantly, the presence of original Blade Runner director Ridley Scott, who's producing, and star Harrison Ford, reprising his role as Rick Deckard. Ford's joined by an ensemble rounded out by Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, and Jared Leto (not to mention Dave "Drax" Bautista), all working from a script co-written by Blade Runner writer Hampton Fancher with Michael Green (Logan, Alien: Covenant). Storyline details are under wraps and whether the end result can stand up alongside the original obviously remains to be seen, but all the ingredients are here for a helluva movie.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle - September 29

The creative team behind 2015's Kingsman: The Secret Service reunites for this sequel, with director Matthew Vaughn continuing to work with characters created by comics legends Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. The plot details are still a little loose—rumor has it that the Kingsman British spy team will team up with their American equivalents after their headquarters are destroyed by a lethal foe—but who needs a synopsis when you've got a cast this intriguingly weird? Returning stars Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, and Sophie Cookson are joined by an eclectic ensemble that includes Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, and Elton John. Also reportedly in the mix? Kingsman star Colin Firth, who—if you've seen the original—is kind of a surprising addition. Whatever happens in The Golden Circle, we're betting it won't be dull.

Saw: Legacy - October 27

Lionsgate was definitely playing a game by presenting 2010's Saw 3D: The Final Chapter as the very last round of Jigsaw's punishing plans. While details are scant on what the newest round of trap-filled thrills will bring, composer Charlie Clouser told The Hollywood Reporter that the eighth installment of the franchise will be a "reinvention" of the series and that co-directors Michael and Peter Spierig offer "a fresh take on the material that will establish a new storyline and new characters that can carry the saga into the future."

Some speculate that the new flick will pick up material left on the screenwriting table by Saw 3D, as that film was originally supposed to be split in two. As screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan revealed to Bloody-Digusting.com, the return of Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) to the final installment was supposed to be a little more eventful than it already was. "The big reveal of Dr. Gordon was a bit underserved as a result [of not being split into two], perhaps creating more questions than answers. There were several ideas we never quite figured out, but I don't want to say what they were because you never know what might happen in the future."

Thor: Ragnarok - November 3

In Norse mythology, Ragnarök is an apocalyptic series of events that results in the world being plunged into water after the deaths of several gods—including Odin, Thor, and Loki—and culminates in a planetary rebirth. Needless to say, it's obvious from the title that Thor: Ragnarok won't be a jolly good time for our hammer-wielding hero (Chris Hemsworth), although we can guess from his imminent participation in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War movies that he'll emerge relatively unscathed after the final act. First, however, he'll have to bust out of prison—without his hammer—and, according to the official synopsis, "survive a deadly gladatorial contest that pits him against his former ally and fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk!" Thor: Ragnarok marks the MCU debut of New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi, who earned raves for his 2014 vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows.

Justice League - November 17

Marvel has done a brilliant job of laying out the template for a successful shared universe, and now Warner Bros. is following in its rival's footsteps with its DC Comics properties, which are due to get their first moments in the all-star superhero team spotlight with Justice League. Director Zack Snyder has already agreed to helm, and confirmed members of the cast include stars from the studio's pre-existing franchises, including Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, and Ben Affleck, as Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, respectively. While we don't yet have any idea what danger our team will face, we do know it'll be serious enough to attract the attention of Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). And with a sequel already scheduled for 2019, you can bet the battle won't end here.

Star Wars: Episode VIII - December 15

This is Star Wars we're talking about, so the list of things we truly know about Episode VIII is awfully short. But we do know a couple of important facts: one, Rian Johnson (Looper) will be in the director's chair; and two, most of Episode VII's cast will be back, including Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, and Adam Driver, along with OG franchise stars Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. (Carrie Fisher had wrapped filming for Episode VIII before her tragic and unexpected death.) Beyond that, pretty much all we can tell you is that this installment follows the events of Episode VII, and advances the new trilogy pitting the Resistance against the First Order led by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and his apprentice Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Oh, and another thing: it'll sell tons of tickets.

Now that you've marked up your movie calendar for 2017, there's no time like the present to plan ahead for next year—and you can get an early jump on your fellow filmgoers by taking a look at our list of the top movies of 2018.