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All the Movies You Need to Watch Before You Go to the Movies in 2018

A backwards guide to the remakes, reboots, and franchise returns.
Mary Poppins
By  · Published on December 31st, 2017

A backwards guide to the remakes, reboots, and franchise returns.

In the past, I’ve referred to this annual list as a guide to the unoriginal movies ahead. It’s better to think of them as familiar works. In 2018, we’ve got more horror franchise reboots, fresh takes on historical figures, and sequels to films going back more than half a century. Below is a sort of homework syllabus for moviegoers to become acquainted with previous installments and incarnations. Just because Hollywood is lost in a sea of repetition and redundancy doesn’t mean you have to be.

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

The fourth chapter of the Insidious horror franchise, titled Insidious: The Last Key, is a sequel to this prequel. Prior installments, though set later, may also help or could be considered necessary, but Chapter 3 seems to be the most essential lead-in.
Due Date: January 5th

Paddington (2014)

Everyone’s favorite British (by way of Darkest Peru) bear returns in live-action (by way of CGI) form in the simply titled Paddington 2. See how he came to live with a human family in London in the first movie.
Due Date: January 12th

The Maze Runner (2014) and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

After a long hiatus due to star Dylan O’Brien’s on-set injury early into filming, the Maze Runner trilogy finally comes to a close with Maze Runner: The Death Cure.
Due Date: January 26th 

Cloverfield (2008) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Even though the Cloverfield movies aren’t narratively connected, even if it turns out they indeed are set in the same story-verse, it’s a good idea to see the other installments to appreciate the next, which so far is untitled.
Due Date: February 2nd

Haunting of Winchester House (2009)

For once The Asylum had the upper hand by almost a decade with this direct-to-video horror film based on the story of Sarah Winchester and the landmark Winchester Mystery House. It’s not as direct as the new Spierig Brothers feature, Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built, but it’s more accessible than the better, artier 2016 short Sarah Winchester, Phantom Opera.
Due Date: February 2nd

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) and Fifty Shades Darker (2017)

If there’s any chance you’ll be seeing the trilogy-capping Fifty Shades Freed, you’ve no doubt see these two precursors. You’ve probably also read the books, as well.
Due Date: February 9th

Tales of Beatrix Potter (1971)

What better gateway to Will Gluck’s new slapstick adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s stories, Peter Rabbit, than with this classic, relatively highbrow take involving ballet that was directed by Reginald Mills, Oscar-nominated editor of The Red Shoes?
Due Date: February 9th

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Ahead of the long-awaited Black Panther, you’ll need to see the title character’s introduction in the last Captain America movie. You should also watch the second Avengers movie for the first appearance of Ulysses Klaue, as played by Andy Serkis.
Due Date: February 16th

Oh Lucy! (2014)

Before making a feature-length version with the same name, Atsuko Hirayanagi helmed a 21-minute short of Oh Lucy! that played Cannes and won awards at Sundance and other film festivals.
Due Date: February 16th

Samson and Delilah (1949)

Most movies involving the Biblical character Samson are sword-and-sandals fantasy adventure films, but for something dramatic akin to the upcoming Samson, you can’t do better than this Oscar-winning pic helmed by Cecil B. DeMille.
Due Date: February 16th

Death Wish (1974)

Bruce Willis takes over the role made famous by Charles Bronson in the Death Wish remake, and if you want to realize how strange that casting idea is you have to see the original.
Due Date: March 2nd

The Intouchables (2011)

This popular, Oscar-shortlisted French buddy comedy/drama about the friendship between a quadriplegic aristocrat and an ex-con has already been remade in India and Argentina, and now there’s an English-language American version with Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart titled The Upside.
Due Date: March 9th

The Strangers (2008)

Ten years on, this home-invasion horror film is finally getting a sequel, titled The Strangers: Prey at Night. It involves a new set of victims, a family of four, but the same three masked “strangers” from this original. No word on whether the new movie will also have a creepy scene set to Joanna Newsom song.
Due Date: March 9th

A Wrinkle in Time (2003)

Madeleine L’Engle’s classic children’s novel of the same name is at last getting a major motion picture adaptation, from director Ava DuVernay. Previously there was only this TV movie version, which will surely be overshadowed in every way.
Due Date: March 9th

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

Before giving the reboot simply titled Tomb Raider and its new star, Alicia Vikander, a shot, go back and see Angelina Jolie in the first adaptation of the popular video game. There’s also a sequel, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, but you can skip it.
Due Date: March 16th

Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)

The animated movie with the punniest title involving gnomes and a classic story is about to be challenged by the follow-up, Sherlock Gnomes.
Due Date: March 23rd

Midnight Sun (2006)

This Japanese romance film involving a girl who is deathly allergic to sunlight is being remade with Bella Thorne and Patrick Schwarzenegger as the two leads.
Due Date: March 23rd

Operation Thunderbolt (1977)

Many movies have been made about and/or depicting the hostage incident at Entebbe Airport in Uganada in 1976. Two TV movies, including one helmed by The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner, arrived immediately, and later action movies such as The Delta Force were inspired by the story. Now we’re getting a more detailed telling with the latest information about the incident with Jose Padilha’s 7 Days in Entebbe. Previously the most comprehensive dramatized version, for what was known at the time, was this Israeli production, which was nominated for the Oscar for best foreign language film.
Due Date: March 23rd

Pacific Rim (2013)

The apocalypse is in need of cancelation once again, in the sequel Pacific Rim Uprising, so look back at the first time when Guillermo del Toro was at the helm with this original mecha vs. kaiju blockbuster.
Due Date: March 23rd

From the Manger to the Cross or Jesus of Nazareth (1911)

This very early silent Bible film depicts the life of Jesus, including his relationship with Mary Magdalene. Here and in most portrayals after, including DeMille’s The King of Kings, are different than how she will be played in the upcoming Mary Magdalene, making it good for comparison.
Due Date: March 30th

God’s Not Dead (2014) and God’s Not Dead 2 (2016)

The hit Christian movie series defending the existence of God is getting a third part, titled God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness. Watch the first two installments and see if you are convinced enough or actually need another.
Due Date: March 30th

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.