13 of the hottest movies coming this winter

Steve Newall highlights a baker’s dozen of impressive upcoming releases hitting cinemas this winter.

It’s getting colder—but things are heating up at the box office over the next few months. The northern hemisphere summer movie season is a perfect fit for our gloomier climes, with cinemas offering the perfect warm and dry escape from chilly reality. You can look forward to new instalments in familiar franchises, as well as (shock) some brand-new cinematic visions.

There’s action on offer, alongside comedy, sci-fi, horror, drama and romance—and with the school holidays just around the corner, those seeking to keep kids occupied this winter will find a few colourful options…

Bad Boys Ride or Die

Don’t call it a comeback—but some of the key talent here are recovering from slaps of the self-inflicted and studio kinds… Since 2020 sequel Bad Boys for Life, not only did Will Smith disgrace himself in front of the world at the Oscars, but directors Adil & Bilall (who took over from Michael Bay on Bad Boys for Life, with positive results) went through the fiasco of having their film Batgirl cancelled during post-production, reportedly for tax break reasons.

They’ll all be looking for forms of redemption in this fourth Bad Boys pic, which sees the duo investigate corruption within the Miami PD.

Despicable Me 4

Don’t fret, kids—despite the word “minions” not being in the title, as you can see from the trailer above, they will very much play a large role in this fourth Despicable Me pic proper (the follow-up to 2017’s Despicable Me 3).

Of course, the young ‘uns will likely have nothing to say about The White Lotus showrunner Mike White joining franchise co-creator Ken Daurio to write this new entry, but this does point to some added enjoyment for grown-ups. Steve Carell returns to voice Gru, who has to go on the run with his family when they’re targeted by a supervillain and his femme fatale girlfriend (Will Ferrell and Sofia Vergara).

Inside Out 2

Acclaimed and hugely successful back in 2015, Pixar’s Inside Out did a great job of bringing to life complex psychological concepts—with plenty of heart and loads of gags.

Now, nine years later, young Riley returns, as do the often contradictory core emotions in her head: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. But with Riley now a young teen, there’s some other stuff going on in her noggin too… new emotions making their presence felt: Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser).

A Quiet Place: Day One

As the title suggests, this new pic winds the clock back to depict the brutal alien invasion that led to the post-apocalyptic realities of A Quiet Place and its 2020 sequel. Moving from the remote countryside to the dense urban environment of New York, A Quiet Place: Day One follows new cast members Lupita Nyong’o and Joseph Quinn as they try and survive aliens with ultrasonic hearing in one of the noisiest cities on Earth.

While John Krasinski may be sitting this one out as director, we’re intrigued to see what his replacement serves up: the previous film by Michael Sarnoski, who writes and directs, was excellent gourmet thriller Pig, which stars Nicolas Cage and is one of the strongest debuts in recent memory.

Ka Whawhai Tonu – Struggle Without End

Set in 1864, this action drama recreates the battle of O-Rākau, told for the first time from an Indigenous point of view, and in Te Reo Māori. A pivotal battle in the first New Zealand land wars in the Waikato comes to life here, one that saw Māori under siege and facing impossible odds against Colonial forces.

Temuera Morrison (Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Maniapoto), Cliff Curtis (Ngāti Rongomai, Ngāti Pikiao) and Miriama Smith (Te Arawa, Tūwharetoa) are among the familiar faces from Aotearoa, joined by British actor Jason Flemyng and newcomers Paku Fernandez (Ngāti Porou, Ngāi Tahu) and Hinerangi Harawira-Nicholas (Tūhoe). These young actors are central, the pic telling this heroic conflict through the eyes of two young teenagers caught up in the battle.


By design we don’t know too much about this upcoming horror—but when it comes to being freaked the hell out, unprepared is just the way we like it… What we can confidently say about Longlegs is that the run of teasers (like the one above) that have been released are chilling, and we can’t wait to see FBI agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe, It Follows) face off against a creeeeepy serial killer played by Nicolas Cage.

The latter’s casting alone in this sort of part would justify a watch—if you want another reason, this horror-thriller is directed by Oz Perkins (who previously impressed with spooky pics The Blackcoat’s Daughter and I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, and as a bonus is the son of Psycho star Anthony Perkins).

Kinds of Kindness

It seems just yesterday that Poor Things was cleaning up at this year’s Oscars, and already director Yorgos Lanthimos and repeat collaborator Emma Stone have a new pic coming out… Stone’s possibly not required to go to the lengths of her Bella Baxter performance here, though—described by its director as a “triptych fable”, Kinds of Kindness features three loosely connected stories: A man seeks to break free from his predetermined path, a cop has suspicions about his recently returned spouse, and a woman searches for a spiritual guide/cult leader.

It’s good to see Lanthimos not getting any less weird any time soon! Alongside Stone are Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Joe Alwyn, Mamoudou Athie, and Hunter Schafer.

Fly Me to the Moon

If you thought The Right Stuff, Apollo 13 or For All Mankind needed more ‘rom’ and also ‘com’, this may be the pic for you… Hell, with Channing Tatum and Scarlett Johansson meeting cute as the leads, you might not need to care about the Space Race at all!

Those with even a glancing historical bent will likely appreciate the premise: with the Apollo 11 moon landing approaching, marketing maven Kelly Jones (Johansson) is brought in to burnish NASA’s image, causing friction with launch director Cole Davis (Tatum). Hey, friction’s how you get sparks, people! And, as if the real rockets don’t deliver enough drama, soon the White House is tasking Jones with overseeing a fake(?) moon landing film shoot… just in case(?!).

Deadpool & Wolverine

Speaking of romcom, years of flirty bickering between Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman come to their logical conclusion here. Well, maybe not that logical conclusion, you creeps… As the title suggests, the two stars are teaming up as their best-known characters now that Deadpool is officially joining the MCU.

While the Time Variance Authority depicted in Loki plays a part, you won’t need to know everything that’s ever happened in a MCU film or show, with director Shawn Levy saying “I am definitely not looking to do homework when I go to the movies.” Instead, prepare for what oughtta be the most violent Marvel film ever, references and jokes at Wolverine’s past appearances, lots of fourth wall breaking… and perhaps a pegging reference (if they leave it in from the trailer).


Mia Goth’s star has risen and risen, and after the one-two punch of X and Pearl, her creative partnership with director Ti West has reached the gaudy and seedy 1980s. Having survived the massacre of X, Maxine is trying to break it on the big screen—but may have to reckon with more than just her porno past if she wants to survive, let alone become a star. As if the film business isn’t cut-throat enough, the Night Stalker is on a killing spree across 1985 Los Angeles, and Maxine’s friends keep turning up dead…

This feels like more fertile ground for star and director, who are joined by a stacked cast including Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Debicki, Moses Sumney, Michelle Monaghan, Bobby Cannavale, Lily Collins, Halsey and Giancarlo Esposito.


M. Night Shyamalan is back with a new psychological thriller, this time set at a concert arena. Josh Hartnett plays a dad who’s taken his daughter to see a pop star perform (conveniently Shayamalan’s eldest daughter Saleka is an R&B singer, and performs here as Lady Raven). At the show, Hartnett’s character feels something is amiss, and discovers the concert is an elaborate trap to catch a vicious serial killer dubbed The Butcher.

Can you guess the Shyamalan twist? Well, it’s probably the one in the trailer, so whatever you’re suspecting, there’s bound to be more in store…


Ant Timpson is an Aotearoa film legend—from the iconic Incredibly Strange Film Festival to production credits including The ABCs of Death, Turbo Kid, Deathgasm and The Greasy Strangler, he’s influenced and offended in equal measure. Having premiered Come to Daddy, his first film as director, at Tribeca in 2019, Timpson’s now made perhaps his most unexpected move yet—make a family adventure comedy.

Frequent collaborator Elijah Wood plays a washed-up magician trying to connect with his estranged daughter (Nell Fisher, Evil Dead Rise) in the rugged NZ wilderness by… going on a quest to find the mythological beast known as the Canterbury Panther. As well as the weird, Timpson has a taste for the wonderful—we can’t wait.

Alien: Romulus

Going back to basics, a new Alien pic looks to remind us just what made the early films tick. Set between the events of Alien and Aliens, and in the hands of writer-director Fede Álvarez (Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe), a new batch of unlucky space travellers encounter everyone’s favourite goo-dripping H.R. Giger-designed killing machines.

While scavenging an abandoned space station (an environment that echoes the claustrophobic working-class ships of the original) Priscilla‘s Cailee Spaeny and co. find themselves the fleshy targets of iconic facehuggers and xenomorphs—proudly brought to life using as many practical effects as possible, we’re pleased to hear.