A still from the trailer for the film “Lightyear.”
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After nearly two years of theatrical delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, multiplexes can rejoice at a forthcoming slate of perpetually delayed blockbusters coming in 2022.
The studios behind “The Batman,” “Morbius” and “Top Gun: Maverick” patiently pushed back their release dates time and time again, but viewers should finally be able to see them in all their big-screen glory.
Although there will still likely be an impressive slate of direct-to-streaming films in the coming year, the trend of simultaneous digital releases seems to be paused for now, with several major films having announced they won’t land on streaming services like HBO Max until 45 days after their theatrical release.
Here are the films we’re most excited about that are scheduled for release in 2022.
Jan. 14, only in theaters
Twenty-five years have passed since the original masked murderer terrorized Courteney Cox and Neve Campbell in Wes Craven’s blockbuster 1990s slasher. Rejoined by David Arquette, the two leads face off against their tormentor one last time (hopefully).
Feb. 4, only in theaters
Critically lauded on the festival circuit (and the third best reviewed film of the year according to our pseudoscientific rubric), “The Worst Person in the World,” from Norwegian director Joachim Trier, tells a romantic 12-chapter story of a young woman living in Oslo over the course of four years.
Feb. 18, Netflix
Banned in several countries for its extreme violence, the original “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” was a surprise hit in 1974 that spawned seven sequels of varying quality. The ninth chapter in the series, following 2017’s “Leatherface,” stars Sarah Yarkin as a San Franciscan who moves to Texas to start a business and runs afoul of a very angry local.
March 4 in theaters, HBO Max 45 days later
One of the many films on this list pushed back because of the pandemic, “The Batman” is back on track for 2022. Starring Robert Pattinson, who took over for Ben Affleck, this chapter of the caped crusader’s saga focuses on a younger Batman hunting down the Riddler, played by Paul Dano, while also dealing with Zoe Kravitz’s rendition of Catwoman. Matt Reeves of “War for the Planet of the Apes” directs.
March 18, only in theaters
The original television version of this British historical drama came to U.S. shores via PBS and became a surprise hit, spawning a film adaptation in 2019. The sequel takes place over Christmas at Lord and Lady Grantham’s Yorkshire country estate.
April 1, only in theaters
This “Spiderman” spin-off was originally planned for a late January release, but just days ago Sony once again pushed the film back, this time to April. Jared Leto stars in the titular role as the vampiric villain Michael Morbius.
May 6, only in theaters
Marvel is going to have a big 2022, and expect the sequel to 2016’s “Doctor Strange” to be one of their best offerings. The second chapter in Benedict Cumberbatch’s saga as a master of the mystical arts takes place chronologically after “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and the first season of “Loki,” focusing on the consequences of unlocking the multiverse. Expect a major role from Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, who comes to Strange’s aid.
Reese Witherspoon, right, and Linda Cardellini, left, star in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures’ “Legally Blonde.”
May 20, release plan unknown
Twenty-one years after Reese Witherspoon’s Elle Woods snapped her way into Harvard Law School, the beloved character returns. Little is known about the plot other than it follows Woods, at age 40, and that her signature bend-and-snap move hasn’t yet gone out of style.
May 27, only in theaters
Tom Cruise returns to his iconic role as the loose canon fighter pilot nicknamed Maverick in this long-awaited and much delayed sequel. Despite his battles with throat cancer, Val Kilmer will reprise his role as Iceman. And as an added bonus for locals, expect beautiful aerial shots filmed in the Lake Tahoe area.
The animated series “Bob’s Burgers” is slated to return as a feature film in 2022.
May 27 in theaters, HBO Max 45 days later
The greatest animated show ever made about a burger restaurant will finally be getting its flowers in the form of a feature-length film. Details are scarce, but it has been revealed that the plot will dive into Bob’s relationship with his parents, and reveal the origin of Louise’s bunny ears hat.
June 17 in theaters, Disney Plus 45 days later
Fans of “Toy Story” will finally get to see the roots of astronaut Buzz Lightyear’s gigantic ego in this highly anticipated Pixar film. Chris Evans takes over voice duties from Tim Allen.
Copies of the best-selling novel “Where the Crawdads Sing,” by Delia Owens, a retired wildlife biologist, at the New York Botanical Garden in New York on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019.
July 22, only in theaters
Based on the best-selling novel by Delia Owens, the film tells the story of Catherine Danielle Clark (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones) who is abandoned by her family and grows up in seclusion in the swamplands of North Carolina.
Nov. 11, only in theaters
When Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer in 2020, the producers of “Black Panther” decided the story would continue without him. T’Challa won’t be recast, but the rest of the stars will return for what will likely be one of the biggest blockbusters of the year.
In this Saturday, April 29, 2017, photo, the Na’vi Shaman of Songs celebrates with music in Na’vi River Journey ride at Pandora-World of Avatar land attraction in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 12-acre land, inspired by the “Avatar” movie, opens in Florida at the end of May at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.
Dec. 16, release plan unknown
The sequel to the wildly expensive 2009 sci-fi epic “Avatar” will take place 14 years after the original. The setting will be both underwater and in volcanic environments, with a plot focusing on the family of Sully and Neytiri, who are now chieftain and high priestess of their clan.
In this Nov. 20, 2019, file photo, Elizabeth Banks poses for photographers upon arrival at the U.K. premiere of “Charlie’s Angels” at a central London cinema.
2022, release plan unknown
Some real life events are so incredible they simply demand a cinematic treatment. The story of an American black bear that died in 1985 after consuming a duffel bag full of cocaine is one of those stories. Elizabeth Banks directs, with Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Ray Liotta in starring roles.
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— Here’s how much SFPD were paid during the filming of ‘The Matrix 4,’ ‘Venom 2’ and ‘Shang-Chi’
— How Lake Tahoe became the site of the epic climax of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’
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Dan Gentile is the culture editor at SFGATE. He moved to San Francisco from Austin, TX where he worked as a vinyl DJ and freelance writer covering food and music. His writing has been featured in Texas Monthly, American Way, Rolling Stone, Roads & Kingdoms, VICE, Thrillist and more. Email: Dan.Gentile@sfgate.com.
A still from the trailer for the film “Lightyear.”