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Morgan Freeman sits with his sneakers up on his desk, with a sign that reads “SCI . Trinity” behind him in 57 Seconds. Image: The Avenue

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2023’s most original movies are still on their way

Looking for a movie that isn’t a remake, reboot, sequel, or spinoff? Here are the most original movies coming in 2023

Even with Dune: Part Two postponed to 2024, fall 2023 is full of major movie releases, from franchise projects like the Marvel Cinematic Universe installment The Marvels to a new Hunger Games movie, a new Godzilla movie, and the long-awaited Chicken Run sequel Dawn of the Nugget. But as usual, the biggest films of fall are largely tied to existing IP or familiar stories, whether it’s series installments (Saw X, The Nun II, new Equalizer and Expendables movies), biopics and other based-on-real-life movies (Priscilla, Ferrari, Napoleon), or book adaptations (The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, Poor Things, the film adaptation of the Broadway adaptation of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple). Film buffs frequently look at this kind of lineup and grouse, “Where are the original stories?”

Fortunately, there are quite a few of those coming to theaters or streaming this fall as well! Here’s a quick roundup of the movies we’re most looking forward to over the next several months that aren’t remakes, reboots, sequels, spinoffs, adaptations, franchise films, or any other form of brand extension. If you’re looking for unusual or standout stories this fall, here’s our best guess on where you’re going to find them.

Outlaw Johnny Black

In select theaters Sept. 15

Michael Jai White as Outlaw Johnny Black sets on a deck chair, wearing all black with a black cowboy hat, long side burns, and a thick mustache. Image: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Genre: Spoof comedy
Director: Michael Jai White
Cast: Michael Jai White, Byron Minns, Anika Noni Rose

If you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for another movie in the vein of Black Dynamite for nearly 15 years now. Michael Jai White is here to help.

The star and co-writer of that excellent Blaxploitation spoof returns to spoof comedies with this Western sendup, where he plays an outlaw on the run who pretends to be a preacher in a small town under the heel of a vicious capitalist. Oh, and he’s also trying to avenge his father. And he’s also in love, but the preacher he’s pretending to be is in love with someone else. Just like Black Dynamite, Outlaw Johnny Black is packed to the brim with outrageous bits that test the borders of good taste, but never fail to make you laugh your head off. Just make sure Johnny Black doesn’t shoot it first. —PV

No One Will Save You

On Hulu Sept. 22

Brynn Adams (Kaitlyn Dever), a long-haired young woman in a blue nightgown, hides under her bed in the dark with her hand clapped over her mouth in the horror movie No One Will Save You Photo: 20th Century Studios

Genre: Sci-fi horror
Director: Brian Duffield
Cast: Kaitlyn Dever

Booksmart co-star Kaitlyn Dever stars as an anxious shut-in menaced by aliens in a science fiction take on a home-invasion thriller. This one has some clear Signs DNA in its genetic makeup, with a little bit of 10 Cloverfield Lane on the side, minus the gaslighting shut-in partner. Mostly, though, it just looks like a breathless chiller, as Dever’s character tries to use blankets and her bed to fend off a force that’s a bit more powerful than nails and cloth. —TR

The Kill Room

In theaters Sept. 29

Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman talk with a deli counter between them in The Kill Room. Jackson has a disposable sanitary glove on his right hand, which is raised with his pointer finger up as he talks to Thurman, who smiles behind the other side of the counter. Image: Shout! Studios

Genre: Crime comedy
Director: Nicol Paone
Cast: Joe Manganiello, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson

Uma Thurman and Samuel L. Jackson reunite for the third time (and the first in a non-Quentin Tarantino movie) in this quirky movie from Friendsgiving director Nicol Paone.

Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike) stars as a quiet hitman convinced by his chatty boss (Jackson) to start painting as part of a money-laundering scheme with a struggling art dealer (Thurman). Going by the pseudonym The Bagman, he produces unconventional paintings that become a sudden sensation in the art world, bringing him plenty of attention — not all of it wanted.

Thurman’s daughter Maya Hawke also features as a young artist looking for a breakthrough, and Our Flag Means Death’s Matthew Maher shows up as the drug dealer that connects the parties together. It’s a bit like The Producers by way of the Coen brothers, with a strong cast and a fun story. —PV

The Creator

In theaters Sept. 29

A young android child with a shaved head and partially missing skull places their hand on a piece of machinery in The Creator Image: 20th Century Studios

Genre: Sci-fi action thriller
Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast: John David Washington, Madeleine Yuna Voyles, Gemma Chan

We also covered The Creator under our “biggest new movies of fall” banner, but we’d feel negligent if we didn’t include it on our list of our most anticipated original movies as well, given how we’re all salivating to see it. Gareth Edwards, director of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, returns with a Terminator-esque tale about humanity’s war against an AI, and the hunt for a potential weapon against it, which turns out to be a second AI in the form of a child. The first trailer highlights a production design that reminds us all a bit of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune in its starkness, beauty, and attention to fine detail. —TR

57 Seconds

In theaters and on digital Sept. 29

Morgan Freeman in a slick blue-grey suit with the jacket off sits smiling across a shiny board-room table from journalist Josh Hutcherson, in front of a wall reading “TRINITY” in the sci-fi movie 57 Seconds Image: The Avenue

Genre: Sci-fi thriller
Director: Rusty Cundieff
Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Morgan Freeman, Greg Germann

Josh Hutcherson plays a tech journalist who discovers a device that can send a user back in time — you guessed it — by 57 seconds. Naturally, things go wrong. It’s an intriguing premise, but what really grabs our eye is that it was co-written by Macon Blair, star of Blue Ruin and director of I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. —PV


In theaters Oct. 6

John Cena and Alison brie dive on the floor in Freelance in a palatial room. Cena holds a pistol, while Brie holds her IPhone out, as if to film. Image: Relativity Media

Genre: Action comedy
Director: Pierre Morel
Cast: John Cena, Alison Brie, Christian Slater

John Cena seems to be everywhere these days. The DC Universe! Jackie Chan movies! Fortnite and Rocket League! Subway ads! Turning up as a mermaid in Barbie!

Directed by Taken’s Pierre Morel, Freelance sees Cena playing a former special forces soldier who takes on a security gig for a journalist (Alison Brie) who’s set to interview a dangerous dictator (Narcos’ Juan Pablo Raba). It seems to be in line with the tone of the fun Channing Tatum/Sandra Bullock vehicle The Lost City, which sounds like a good time to me. —PV

Showdown at the Grand

In theaters and on demand Nov. 3

Terrence Howard holds a crossbow in front of a movie marquee while wearing a cowboy hat in Showdown at the Grand. Image: Shout! Studios

Genre: Action comedy
Director: Orson Oblowitz
Cast: Terrence Howard, Dolph Lundgren, John Savage

You put Dolph Lundgren in a movie, and I’m there. Terrence Howard wearing a big hat is just a bonus.

Howard plays a movie theater owner whose business is threatened by corporate developers, presumably the same people who are always trying to pave over kids’ clubhouses in dance movies. He enlists the help of an action movie star (Lundgren), because the show must go on. That’s a great premise with a promising cast from writer-director Orson Oblowitz, a former cinematographer. —PV

The Holdovers

In limited theaters Nov. 3, wide Nov. 10

Dominic Sessa, Paul Giamatti, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph gather around a table with a Christmas tree in the background in The Holdovers. Image: Focus Features

Genre: Dramedy
Director: Alexander Payne
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Dominic Sessa

A low-key movie from low-key Oscar winner Alexander Payne (Sideways), The Holdovers follows an unpopular teacher (Paul Giamatti) who is tasked with looking after the students who can’t go home during the winter holiday. It’s the first collaboration for Payne and Giamatti since Sideways, and promises a significant role for the extremely talented Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Dolemite Is My Name), who plays the school’s head cook. —PV

Dream Scenario

In theaters Nov. 10

A schlubby-looking Nicolas Cage holds a backpack and stands in front of a car with “LOSER” painted on it in bright pink letters in Dream Scenario. Image: A24

Genre: Comedy
Director: Kristoffer Borgli
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Julianne Nicholson, Michael Cera

One of the odder-sounding projects on the 2023 roster, this dark comedy produced by Hereditary and Midsommar director Ari Aster and directed by Sick of Myself’s Kristoffer Borgli stars Nicolas Cage as a man who starts appearing in the dreams of millions of strangers, turning him into a strange sort of star against his will. It’s the latest from A24, which earmarks it as yet another unusual and challenging title from America’s most consistently weird and intriguing distribution house. —TR


In limited theaters Nov. 24, releasing wide Dec. 1

A man with a robe falling off his back surveys a lawn littered with clothes, furniture, and odds and ends, as if a massive party happened the previous night, in Saltburn. Image: Amazon Studios

Genre: Drama
Director: Emerald Fennell
Cast: Barry Keoghan, Jacob Elordi, Rosamund Pike

Emerald Fennell’s spiky 2020 feminist revenge movie Promising Young Woman was divisive at the time, and remains provocative, acidic, and one of the most cleverly cast movies of recent years. Saltburn is her follow-up, and sounds as though it will be a satirical tour through a world of privilege and decadence. Barry Keoghan, fresh from stealing 2022’s The Banshees of Inisherin, is an Oxford University student in the mid-2000s who’s invited by aristocrat Jacob Elordi to spend the summer at Saltburn, his eccentric family’s huge estate. Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, Gran Turismo’s Archie Madekwe, and Carey Mulligan round out a delicious cast. —Oli Welsh

Rebel Moon

Streaming on Netflix Dec. 22

A dark-haired character in intricate armor fires a beam weapon that produces a bright pink light in Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon Image: Netflix

Genre: Space opera/Sci-fi epic
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Sofia Boutella, Djimon Hounsou, Charlie Hunnam

Another one we covered in much more detail in our “biggest new movies of fall” rundown (not to mention in our sneak preview and roundtable interview with Zack Snyder and the other folks behind Netflix’s two-movies-and-maybe-more Rebel Moon project), this one warranted inclusion on our “most anticipated originals” list as well. In spite of its original inspiration as a Star Wars movie, Snyder is sure angling to make this an original project like no other. We’ll see when Rebel Moon Part One: A Child of Fire hits Netflix in December. —TR