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Upcoming Movie Trilogy Conclusions

Cinematic universes, a large collection of films with overlapping characters and plots that all lead up to one big payoff, are fun, engrossing, and keep theaters packed over and over again. Notable examples such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe are merely ambitious, extra-modern takes on the way filmmakers used to present a huge saga with the same characters when one movie just wasn't enough: the trilogy. Some of the most popular, profitable, and well-liked movies of the 20th and early-21st century came in threes, such as Peter Jackson's "The Lord of the Rings," Christopher Nolan's Batman films, and "Star Wars" — a nine-part story presented as three distinct trilogies. There's just something about a three-part system that works well for grand cinematic storytelling.

But despite the growth of the open-ended, as-many-films-as-it-needs universe-style of moviemaking, the trilogy remains alive and viable in Hollywood. Over the next few years, some recent hits (and their sequels) will see a definitive end when the third and final leg of their three-part series arrives in theaters. Here are all the trilogy-completing movies on the way.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Movies featuring Spider-Man, the web-slinging superhero who swings through skyscrapers and fights villains like Doctor Octopus, predate the development and box office dominance of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Following two successful 2000s franchises starring Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield respectively as the iconic character, rights-holder Sony agreed to a deal with Disney to bring Spidey into its growing MCU, resulting in the not-subtly subtitled 2017 movie "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and 2019's "Spider-Man: Far From Home." Both starred Tom Holland as a young, unsure Spider-Man facing the challenges of growing up and doing battle with some of the most imposing villains in comic book movie history. The films were a massive success, earning a combined worldwide box office haul of more than $2 billion.

With more story to tell, Holland, along with returning cast members Zendaya (MJ), Marisa Tomei (Aunt May), and J.K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson) will reprise their roles in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Arriving in theaters on December 17, 2021, the movie finds Spider-Man/Peter Parker dealing with the fallout of the revelation of his secret identity, teaming up with fellow MCU hero Doctor Strange, and facing off against Doctor Octopus (with Alfred Molina reprising the role he played in Maguire's 2002 "Spider-Man").

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

In 2014, Marvel Studios went cosmic, bringing the relatively little-known and kind of odd comics property "Guardians of the Galaxy" to the big screen. Lacking the name recognition of familiar franchises like "Captain America" or "The Incredible Hulk," the long-running title followed the deep-space, interplanetary adventures of a motley crew of rogues and renegades, like Earth-born pirate Peter Quill (who prefers to be called Star-Lord), adoptive daughter of MCU big-bad Thanos and all-around warrior Gamora, avenging beast Drax the Destroyer, the always-angry raccoon Rocket, and the sweet and sentient tree known as Groot. A crackling script and enthusiastic direction by cult filmmaker James Gunn (plus a soundtrack of '70s radio gold), helped make "Guardians of the Galaxy" a hit. The fun continued with the even more sprawling and ambitious "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" in 2017.

Disney quickly ordered a "Vol. 3," but after briefly parting ways with Gunn after some old and unseemly tweets resurfaced, the writer-director got back to work. "It's pretty heavy actually. It's a heavier story, so it's an emotional process to go through," Gunn told Entertainment Weekly of his script in July 2021. "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" is currently scheduled to hit theaters on May 5, 2023.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Within the overarching, Avengers-centric Marvel Cinematic Universe, there's a concurrent, science-heavy, and absurdly funny parallel story going on with the character Ant-Man. In 2015's action-comedy "Ant-Man," Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang, a paroled, convicted thief, who takes on the identity of Ant-Man when he wears a special suit made by genius scientist Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) that allows him to shrink into a figure of tiny size but incredible strength. Pym, utilizing the same technology, ultimately joins Ant-Man in an effort to stop the evil Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). In 2018's "Ant-Man and the Wasp," Ant-Man teams up with Pym's daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lily) to save the day.

Both sillier and more unabashedly sci-fi-oriented than the usual Marvel fare, "Ant-Man" is another billion-dollar blockbuster series, and since the possibilities of exploring tinier worlds are almost infinite, the franchise will continue. Lily told The Hollywood Reporter in October 2021 that filming of the third installment, "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," is about halfway complete. (The film's theatrical release date is currently scheduled for July 28, 2023.) Peyton Reed is directing his third "Ant-Man" movie from a script by "Rick and Morty" writer Jeff Loveness.

Halloween Ends

Across several decades there are have been multiple stabs at "Halloween," the classic horror franchise featuring the relentless, seemingly unstoppable, weirdly masked serial killer Michael Myers laying waste to teenagers with a well-sharpened chef's knife. The first "Halloween," directed and co-written by John Carpenter in 1978, spawned seven sequels released throughout the '80s, '90s, and early 2000s. Rock star turned horror auteur Rob Zombie rebooted the series with "Halloween" and "Halloween II" in 2007 and 2009, respectively, but didn't finish out a trilogy.

"Eastbound and Down" star and co-creator Danny McBride and frequent collaborator David Gordon Green then took over the franchise in 2018 with yet another "Halloween," ignoring all those other sequels and revivals. They picked up the story directly after the original 1978 film, bringing back Jamie Lee Curtis to play Michael Myers' most elusive victim, Laurie Strode. (After all these years, Strode and her associates aren't going to stop until Myers is finally dead.) They squared off again in the 2021 hit "Halloween Kills,"  and Strode looks to finish off the iconic villain (and conclude the tale) for good with the upcoming "Halloween Ends." "It's going to make people very angry and it's going to be shocking because it asks a lot of questions. So that's all I can tell you," Curtis told NME about the movie, which is scheduled for release around Halloween 2022.

Jurassic World: Dominion

The first time Hollywood embraced Michael Crichton's techno-thrillers about an island theme park stocked with real-life dinosaurs cloned from DNA found in fossilized mosquitoes, it stretched the premise into three "Jurassic Park" movies. Over the course of the initial trilogy, the new monsters ran amok, wreaked havoc, and attempted to kill every human they could find. In 2015, the franchise returned with "Jurassic World," starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Set two decades after the original "Jurassic Park," the story centers on a new dinosaur theme park that opens near Costa Rica. But even with enhanced security measures, things go wrong again when a genetically engineered dinosaur of enormous size and human intelligence (Indominus rex) escapes, precipitating a full-scale dinosaur revolt.

The film is the sixth-highest grossing film of all time, and 2018's sequel, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" (featuring new dinosaurs, an insidious conspiracy, and an ominous volcano) sold almost as many tickets. After a pause in production in March 2020 due to coronavirus lockdowns, the summer 2021 release of the franchise's next chapter, "Jurassic World: Dominion," was rescheduled. Colin Trevorrow, who directed all three of the new movies, announced on Twitter in October 2020 that "Dominion" (with a cast full of actors from both "Jurassic Park" series) will arrive on June 10, 2022.

Deadpool 3

When Disney absorbed Fox, it acquired the latter's properties, including the film rights to the Deadpool character. The popular Marvel franchise currently consists of two filthy, riotously funny action-comedy blockbusters starring Ryan Reynolds as the fourth-wall-breaking masked mercenary with scaly skin and the ability to instantly heal.

In 2020, Deadline reported that sisters Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin, longtime writers for the long-running animated sitcom "Bob's Burgers" and co-creators of the hit cartoon "The Great North," had been hired to pen the script for "Deadpool 3." The duo won the gig over other candidates who also pitched Reynolds on their ideas. Like the first two "Deadpool" films, the third installment will be comedic in nature and shoot for an R-rating. A new director not previously associated with the series will likely come on board. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told Collider that the new movie will take place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is slated to start filming in 2022 for a 2023 theatrical release date.

A third Quiet Place movie

Every few years, a horror movie with an original premise will come around and shake up the genre with its inventiveness and unpredictability. The most successful are able to appeal even to people who don't usually like scary fare and thus enjoy box office numbers so large a sequel is inevitable. Such is the trajectory followed by "A Quiet Place." Set in a post-apocalyptic world where hungry aliens — who are incredibly sensitive to and hyper-aware of sound — have invaded and decimated Earth, the film follows a family trying to survive by staying as quiet as possible.

"A Quiet Place," starring co-writer and director John Krasinksi, earned $340 million and a sequel, focusing on the character played by Emily Blunt in the first film, made $297 million. In the wake of the second movie's pandemic-delayed release in 2021, Paramount announced another entry in the series (a spinoff more than a direct sequel) was on the way. According to Deadline, it will be the first "Quiet Place" not directed or penned by Krasinski, though it will be based on his original idea. It's scheduled to open on March 31, 2023.

Fantastic Beasts 3

"Harry Potter," the saga of an orphan boy who finds out he's a powerful wizard, attends the Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, and leads an epic war against the evil Lord Voldemort, remains a cultural phenomenon. According to publisher Scholastic, more than 500 million copies of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" novels have been sold worldwide, and the eight movie adaptations raked in a total of $7.6 billion. It's no surprise that a market for films set in Rowling's "Wizarding World" remains, and in 2016, Warner Bros. launched the spinoff "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" film franchise.

Taking the title from a short Rowling book about magical animals in the Harry Potter-verse, the kickoff film is set in the 1920s and finds magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) chasing down loose magical beasts in New York. The 2018 release, "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," served as more of a Harry Potter prequel, detailing the rise to power of a dark wizard and examining the young life of future Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore. That beloved character will be the focus of the next film, "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore." According to Variety, the film will find the titular wizard tasking Newt Scamander with assembling an elite team of magical individuals of all stripes in an effort to stop Grindelwald. After a series of lawsuits and tabloid scandals, Warner asked Johnny Depp to step away from the film, and Mads Mikkelsen ultimately replaced him in the role of Grindelwald. The third "Fantastic Beasts" movie opens on April 15, 2022.

Legally Blonde 3

"Legally Blonde," released in the summer of 2001, elevated Reese Witherspoon from supporting roles in teen movies to the A-list. Fans couldn't get enough of her engaging and complex portrayal of Elle Woods, seemingly a ditzy blonde stereotype of a sorority member who defies all expectations when she breezes into the prestigious Harvard Law School and injects some cheer into its dreary confines. In the process she proves that wearing pink and acting bubbly doesn't equate to stupidity or frivolity. "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde" followed two years later, and found Elle taking on Congress. Both films were hits, but a third "Legally Blonde" wasn't a sure thing until 2018, when Deadline reported that MGM was working on a deal for Witherspoon to reprise her role in a threequel with a script penned by the original film's writers Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah. 

With little development over the next two years, Deadline announced in 2020 that "The Office" and "The Mindy Project" writer-actor Mindy Kaling would write a new screenplay with "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" co-creator Dan Goor. According to Variety, "Legally Blonde 3" arrives in theaters on May 20, 2022.

The third Sesame Street movie

"Sesame Street" is easily one of the most famous, influential, and most-loved children's TV shows of all time. It has taught millions of kids around the world numbers, letters, empathy, and other important skills through engaging tools like sketch comedy, songs, cartoons, and Muppets. The characters from "Sesame Street," particularly the felt-based and bug-eyed ones provided by Jim Henson and his fellow Muppet makers and operators, proved so popular and marketable that they starred in two theatrical spinoffs. These films were purely commercial endeavors far removed from the series' origins in late 1960s public television. In 1985, "Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird" found Big Bird sent away from Sesame Street to live with a foster family of birds, only to get so homesick he embarks on a harrowing road trip to come back home. Fourteen years later, breakout character Elmo ventured into the gross and fantastical Grouchland (homeland of Oscar the Grouch) to retrieve his security blanket in "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland."

Nearly 40 years after the release of the first film, this long-building trilogy will finally be complete when "Sesame Street" hits theaters. According to TheWrap, "Portlandia" co-creator Jonathan Krisel directed the film while musical comedian Bo Burnham wrote some songs. After a filming start date of 2019 was delayed until early 2021, the movie (featuring Anne Hathaway in a major role) will debut in January 2022.