As summer movie season gets underway and people start heading back to theaters, we’re thinking about our favorite film franchises, past, present and future. So, all this week, TODAY is celebrating sequels — the sequel to a beloved franchise you might have forgotten about, the sequel that’s become a cult classic, the upcoming sequels we can’t wait to watch and the sequels we wish had been made.
Movies in theaters are coming back after the lengthy pause of 2020 pandemic quarantines, and that means there's a slew of new, blockbuster, big-budget motion pictures ready to burst onto your big screens again! And guess what: Many of them are going to look more than a little familiar, because they're sequels.
And we're super excited to check them out! Who wouldn't want to revisit the next generation of Ghostbusters, or see what Elle's been up to since the last "Legally Blonde," or figure out where the journey will take us next in "The Matrix"? We've lined up the next installments in several favorite franchises (some of which won't be out until 2022!) that we can't wait to check out.
'No Time to Die'
Daniel Craig returns for his fifth and reportedly final time as James Bond (this is the 25th film in the franchise series), with a story that starts five years after 007's nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld has been captured and the superagent is no longer actively out there with a license to kill. And we hear it will be nearly three hours long! But Bond's pal, CIA agent Felix Leiter, pulls Bond in to find a missing scientist. (Oct. 8)
Two kids move with their single mom to a farm their grandfather once owned in Oklahoma, right around the time the town starts shaking and quaking with some serious paranormal activity. And then they learn they have a connection to the original Ghostbusters, and things start getting seriously slimy and, from what we hear, marshmallowy. (But in a great, scary way.) Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts are all set to return from the 1984 classic, joining "Stranger Things" actor Finn Wolfhard and "The Leftovers" actor Carrie Coon. (Nov. 11)
'Top Gun: Maverick'
Thirty-five years after "Top Gun" flew Tom Cruise into our hearts, Pete Mitchell (yeah, that's Maverick's/Cruise's actual character name) is still one of the Navy's top flyboys — and keeps breaking boundaries as a test pilot while battling against being raised in rank, a move that would keep him bound to earth. (Nov. 19)
'The Matrix 4'/Untitled Fourth 'Matrix' Film
Turns out that the "Matrix" trilogy, which concluded in a muddy way in 2003's "The Matrix Revolutions," was not actually over. Lana Wachowski (one of the original pair of siblings who wrote/directed the originals) is back in the director's seat, much of the original cast (Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith) are back and "Cloud Atlas" author David Mitchell co-wrote the script with Wachowski and Alexsandar Hemon. What is there still to say? You'll have to wait to find out — the story is tightly under wraps. (Dec. 22)
'Scream'/Fifth 'Scream' Film
Over a quarter century since the first "Scream" film introduced us all to the Ghostface killer, small towns, investigative young women and horror murders are all back in fashion — along with a masked serial killer. Also back: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and Marley Shelton. (Jan. 14, 2022)
The Caped Crusader gets a reboot in the latest entry in the franchise based on the DC Comics hero — and things are looking really dark. Not just because there's a lot of low light in Gotham, based on the trailer, but because Robert Pattinson's Bruce Wayne/Batman appears to be more about "vengeance" than being heroic. The film will focus on his being a relatively new superhero (he's been fighting crime for a year or so) and will feature versions of familiar characters like the Riddler, Catwoman and the Penguin. (March 4, 2022)
'Downton Abbey 2'
Not much yet is known about "Downton Abbey 2" except that much of the upstairs-downstairs cast from the "Masterpiece" series and 2019 film are set to return, along with new actors: Hugh Dancy, Dominic West and Laura Haddock, for a start. We expect lush sets, lavish costumes, big dinner parties, romance and — Maggie Smith? Quite likely: The 86-year-old legend is on the cast list at IMDb, so we think that portends well. (March 18, 2022)
'Legally Blonde 3'
Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is back and blonder than ever — but there's not yet much to be known about this third entry in the franchise. At the end of the first film (in 2001) she'd graduated Harvard Law School and landed a boyfriend (Luke Wilson), and in the second (from 2003) she'd married the guy. So what's up next for Elle? Little blond babies? A dog rescue farm? Fixing thorny international legal entanglements? What we do know is several favorites are back, according to IMDb: Witherspoon, Jennifer Coolidge, Alanna Ubach and Jessica Cauffiel. Wilson has not confirmed a return. So, we wait! (May 20, 2022)
'Jurassic World: Dominion'
There's not a lot of official story yet to the sixth entry in the "Jurassic Park" franchise. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are back from the more recent films, while classic stars like Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum return. This'll be quite a ride. (June 10, 2022)
Untitled 'Indiana Jones' Project
The first time we saw the swashbuckling archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) was in 1981. The last time was in 2008, when Shia LaBeouf played Indy's son and came along for the ride. Now, Ford is 79 and is showing up for the latest entry, though maybe he'll be doing less derring-do than advising from the sidelines. (For reference, Sean Connery, who played Indy's dad in 1989's "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade," was in his late 50s when they shot that film.) In any case, adventure awaits with Ford and cast members Mads Mikkelsen and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, among others — but no sign of LaBeouf at this stage. (July 29, 2022)
The first "Avatar" film came out and blew everyone's minds in 2009 (it's still the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide), with four new movies planned for release through 2028. Beyond that, details are skimpy. Despite lots of fan-made trailers floating around the web, there's nothing official about how Jake (Sam Worthington), now transformed permanently into his Na'vi avatar, and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) will move forward in the second "Avatar" film. Also on board: Kate Winslet, Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Edie Falco and more. In May 2020 a producer told New Zealand's RNZ that "Jake and Neytiri have a family in this movie, they are forced to leave their home, they go out and explore the different regions of Pandora." Whatever happens, it will undoubtedly be a feast for the senses. (Dec. 16, 2022)