The Biggest Movies Coming to Theaters in December 2023

Images courtesy: Warner Bros., Warner Bros., Universal

December marks the first full month since the ending of the actors’ strike, allowing for full publicity and talk show appearances by casts. How much will that help the box office?

The month’s release calendar is poised to offer much more parity than previous Decembers, when one film utterly dominated the slate. Nothing this December is likely to even remotely approach the $500M+ of December 2022’s Avatar: The Way of Water, December 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, or December 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Still, Hollywood will release not one but two musicals, a concert film by one of the biggest acts of this generation, and a sequel to a superhero movie that surpassed $1B at the global box office. Here are the most anticipated theatrical releases of December 2023, listed in chronological order by release date.

(Note: as occurs every December, several awards contender films will open in limited release, then expand wide in January. Those will be included in Boxoffice PRO‘s January preview.)

Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé

Friday, December 1

Premise: Named for her 2022 album, AMC Theatres Distribution’s concert film will reportedly feature additional behind-the-scenes “documentary” components in addition to concert footage. The R&B/pop superstar performs dozens of her biggest hits, including “Crazy In Love,” “Formation,” “Love on Top,” and “Run the World.”

Box office: A run like October’s Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is too much to hope for; its current $175.9M total, as it nears the end of its theatrical run, is more than double the total of any other concert film in history. More likely comps include 2011’s Justin Bieber: Never Say Never with $73.0M, 2009’s posthumous Michael Jackson documentary This Is It with $72.0M, and 2008’s Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert with $65.2M.

Silent Night

Friday, December 1

Premise: Lionsgate’s R-rated action movie stars Joel Kinneman (Suicide Squad and 2014’s RoboCop) as a man who sets out to avenge his young son’s death on Christmas Eve. John Woo directs his first English-language feature in 20 years.

Box office: Though more comedic in tone, December 2022’s similarly titled R-rated holiday revenge fantasy Violent Night earned $50.0M.

The Boy and the Heron

Friday, December 8

Premise: GKIDS’ anime fantasy, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited AwayPrincess MononokeHowl’s Moving Castle), uses laborious hand-drawn animation for this tale of a boy and his talking bird. The English-language dub includes voices from Christian Bale, Florence Pugh, Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Dave Bautista, and Mark Hamill.

Box office: Miyazaki’s prior releases include 2009’s Ponyo with $15.0M, 2002’s Spirited Away with $10.0M, 2005’s Howl’s Moving Castle with $4.7M, and 2014’s The Wind Rises with $5.2M.


Friday, December 15

Premise: Warner Bros.’ musical fantasy tells the origin story of eccentric candymaker Willy Wonka, the character made famous first in Roald Dahl’s 1964 book, then Gene Wilder’s portrayal in 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, then Johnny Depp’s in 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Timothée Chalamet takes the reins in this latest take, directed by Paul King (Paddington).

Box office: 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory earned $206.4M, though its reputation is largely negative today. Live-action fantasy musicals released in December over the past decade include 2018’s Mary Poppins Returns with $171.9M and 2014’s Into the Woods with $128.0M.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Friday, December 22

Premise: Jason Momoa returns as the titular underwater superhero Arthur Curry in Warner Bros.’ fantasy action sequel, which also sees the return of director James Wan.

Box office: While 2018’s original was a smash hit, earning $335.0M in North America and $1.15B globally, 2023 has proven that the superhero genre doesn’t have the box office juice it once enjoyed. The Flash flamed out with $108.1M, The Marvels may not even reach $100M, and Quantumania finished below predecessor Ant-Man and the Wasp.


Friday, December 22

Box office: The Universal/Illumination animated comedy follows a family of ducks who migrate from New England south to Jamaica for the winter. Hijinks ensue. The voice cast includes Keegan-Michael Key, Elizabeth Banks, Kumail Nanjiani, Danny DeVito, and Awkwafina.

Box office: Illumination’s Sing 2 earned $162.7M following its release in December 2021. The two big animated releases of last year’s holiday season experienced very different outcomes: DreamWorks’ Puss in Boots: The Last Wish with $185.5M and Disney’s Strange World with $37.9M.

Anyone But You

Friday, December 22

Premise: Sony Pictures’ romantic comedy stars Glen Powell (Top Gun: Maverick) and Sydney Sweeney (HBO’s “Euphoria” and “The White Lotus”) as a man and woman who must pretend to be a couple when attending a destination wedding, despite the fact that they hate each other. Will Gluck (Friends with Benefits, Easy A) directs. 

Box office: While the MPA hasn’t officially rated the film yet, many expect an R. R-rated comedies this year included the moderately successful No Hard Feelings with $50.4M and underperformers Magic Mike’s Last Dance with $26.0M and Joy Ride with $12.8M. 2022’s PG-13 Ticket to Paradise, with the similar premise “couple that hates each other forced to pair up at a destination wedding,” earned $68.2M.

The Iron Claw

Friday, December 22

Premise: A24’s sports drama stars Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White (of television’s “The Bear”), Harris Dickinson, and Stanley Simons as the real-life Von Erich brothers, who shot to wrestling stardom in the 1980s but dealt with multiple tragedies outside the ring.

Box office: 2019’s wrestling-themed Fighting with My Family, though PG-13 and a bit less heavy in terms of material and subject matter, earned $22.9M.

American Fiction

Friday, December 22

Premise: MGM’s dark comedy stars Jeffrey Wright (The Batman, Skyfall) as a black novelist pressured by his publisher to write a book that adheres more to racial stereotypes, even at the expense of his own artistic impulses.

Box office: Another satirical film about the black experience—helmed by a first-time director and released by a specialty studio (Annapurna)—is 2018’s Sorry to Bother You with $17.4M.

The Color Purple

Monday, December 25

Premise: Warner Bros.’ musical follows several black women over the decades, starting in the early 1900s, as they overcome obstacles including racism and sexual violence. Starring Fantasia Barrino, Danielle Brooks, Taraji P. Henson, Halle Bailey, and Colman Domingo and based on 1982’s Alice Walker novel, later adapted into 1985’s Steven Spielberg drama, then a 2005-08 Broadway musical and its 2015-17 revival.

Box office: Hit December musical dramas include 2017’s The Greatest Showman with $174.3M, 2016’s La La Land with $151.1M, and 2012’s Les Misérables with $148.8M. Lower performers in that category include 2014’s Annie with $85.9M and 2007’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street with $52.8M.


Monday, December 25

Premise: Neon’s biopic stars Adam Driver as Enzo Ferrari, who created an automobile empire in the 1950s; Penélope Cruz co-stars as his wife and Shailene Woodley as his mistress. Michael Mann (HeatAliCollateral) directs.

Box office: Neon usually specializes in prestige films that aren’t big earners at the box office; only two if its films—Parasite and I, Tonya—have have earned more than $15M. Auto racing films from recent years include August’s Gran Turismo: Based on a True Story with $44.4M, 2019’s The Art of Racing in the Rain with $26.4M, and 2019’s Ford v Ferrari with $117.6M. 

The Boys in the Boat

Monday, December 25

Premise: George Clooney directs MGM’s inspirational, fact-based drama about the working-class college rowing team representing the U.S. at the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in Hitler’s Germany.

Box office: 2016’s Race, about that same 1936 Olympics but focusing on track and field runner Jesse Owens, earned $19.1M.

Images courtesy: Warner Bros., Warner Bros., Universal