Two franchises, both unlikely, both silly and both endlessly watchable get new installments this year. Keanu Reeves is back as the vengeful hit man John Wick in the sequel to the 2014 sleeper hit. And the Fast and Furious crew is joined by Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren in movie No. 8, directed by “Straight Outta Compton’s” F. Gary Gray.
“Harry Potter’s” Emma Watson stars as the beautiful, bookish Belle in director Bill Condon’s live-action, musical adaption of the fairy tale, which he promises will include nods to both Disney’s animated feature as well Jean Cocteau’s black and white classic. “Downton Abbey’s” Dan Stevens plays the Beast opposite a strong supporting cast of Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (May 5 ), SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (July 7), THOR: RAGNAROK (Nov. 3)
What superhero fatigue? The studios have assembled some formidable talent behind some of the year’s most high profile sequels (and reboots). Taika Waititi will bring his comedic edge to the “Thor” world, while James Gunn tries to recreate that mixtape magic with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” One film that doesn’t require any catch-up work is “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” yet another reboot of the web-slinging teen, but a promising one — star Tom Holland upstaged even the likes of Robert Downey Jr. when introduced in “Captain America: Civil War.” Director Jon Watts says his “Spider-Man” will be in the vein of classic high school films.
ALIEN: COVENANT (May 19), BLADE RUNNER 2049 (Oct. 6)
Ridley Scott is back to playing his old hits this year, with a twist. Scott directs the sixth installment in the “Alien” universe with “Alien: Covenant,” about a crew traveling to a remote part of the galaxy in search of paradise, only to find something much more horrifying. Katherine Waterston stars with Michael Fassbender. As for “Blade Runner 2049,” Scott’s only producing — “Arrival” and “Sicario” director Denis Villeneuve is directing the longtime-coming sci-fi sequel, set 30 years after the original film. Ryan Gosling stars as a new LAPD officer who needs to find Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard.
WONDER WOMAN (June 2)
Gliding by the crazy fact that it’s taken until 2017 for one of the most popular characters in comic book history to get her own feature film, this one also looks like it packs the potential to define this whole modern era of DC Comics adaptations (“Justice League,” out Nov. 17, could too). “Wonder Woman” has the promising team of “Monster” director Patty Jenkins at the helm and Gal Gadot wielding the iconic lasso in this World War I-set origin story.
THE BEGUILED (June 23)
Sofia Coppola is making a Western, and not just any Western — a remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1971 film (itself an adaptation of “A Painted Devil” by Thomas P. Cullinan) about an injured Union soldier in an all-girls Confederate boarding school whose presence causes rifts among the women. Kristen Dunst, Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell and Elle Fanning star.
DUNKIRK (July 21)
Christopher Nolan is perhaps the only filmmaker working on this level whose movies are events in and of themselves. He doesn’t need the stamp of Intellectual Property to make his a must-see (regardless of what you think of “Interstellar”). “Dunkirk” takes us to the beaches of France early in WWII when the Allied forces were surrounded and evacuated. Newcomer Fionn Whitehead leads the cast, which includes Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and even Harry Styles (yes, that Harry Styles).
VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (July 21)
Most Americans probably aren’t familiar with the French comic source material Valerian and Laureline, but don’t let that dissuade you from checking out Luc Besson’s (“Lucy,” ”The Fifth Element”) wildly ambitious sci-fi epic starring Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as a pair of space and time travelling agents.
BABY DRIVER (Aug. 11)
So Edgar Wright didn’t get to do “Ant-Man.” The maestro behind “Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End” has his own action pic up his sleeves, and an original one at that, about a getaway driver (Ansel Elgort), the girl he wants to leave it all behind for (Lily James) and the crime boss (Kevin Spacey) who might destroy it all.
STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII (Dec. 15)
At the rate of one new Star Wars film (spinoff or otherwise) a year for the foreseeable future, it’s hard to imagine that The Force Awakens-level excitement can be sustained, but “Episode VIII” has its own credentials separate from the nostalgia of that galaxy far, far away. Simply: It’s a Rian Johnson film, the mind behind “Looper” and “Brick,” and he’s setting the story for the final two films of the main trilogy (he’s writing Episode IX but ceding directing responsibilities to Colin Trevorrow). There’s also the bittersweet knowledge that it’ll feature one of Carrie Fisher’s final performances, fittingly in her most iconic role.
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr