Each week on Atom Insider, we’re giving you the heads up on the biggest and most talked about films arriving in theaters that weekend. This week is the big holiday season push with the tentpoles to match.

Family Film Tentpoles

Jason Momoa as Aquaman

Jason Momoa as Aquaman

First, Mary Poppins Returns. Disney’s long-awaited sequel to the 1963 classic musical hit wide release in the U.S. on December 19. The film follows the continued adventures of everyone’s favorite magical nanny, this time portrayed by Emily Blunt.

Directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha, Into the Woods) and co-starring Ben Wishaw, Lin Manuel-Miranda, Emily Mortimer, Colin Firth, and Meryl Streep, this superfragi-you-get-it return to form is sure to enchant audiences across the globe with heaping spoonfuls of sugar.

Read our Mary Poppins Returns review here.

Next, Aquaman. The DC Extended Universe has seen its share of hits over the years, notably with last year’s Wonder Woman. Warner Bros. plans to raise the stakes on their cinematic universe by unveiling their next superhero origin on December 21, this time helmed by acclaimed horror director James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring, Furious 7), who showed he’s adept at handling action, as well, when he stepped into the Fast & Furious franchise.

Briefly introduced in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and certainly a hard-to-miss presence in last year’s Justice League, the burly sea king himself (played by Jason Momoa) will team up with Mera (Amber Heard) to fight off an epic war between land and ocean, while also battling it out with King Orm (Patrick Wilson).

Read our Aquaman review here.

If that weren’t enough, Bumblebee is also slated for release this weekend. A prequel to the decade-spanning Transformers franchise, this new film takes the radio-voiced robot-in-disguise to bold new places: the 1980s. Directed by Travis Knight (co-founder of Laika and director of the delightful Kubo and the Two Strings), Bee will make new allies with Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld) and Memo (Jorge Lendeborg Jr) and contend with the infamous Sector 7, operated in the shadows by new baddie Jack Burns (John Cena) while also being pursued by ruthless Decepticons Shatter (Angela Bassett) and Dropkick (Justin Theroux). In a weekend packed with so many other blockbusters, I wouldn’t count Bumblebee out as yet another colossal hit for Paramount’s Transformers franchise.

Read our Bumblebee review here.

Mid-Budget Originals

Welcome to Marwen

Welcome to Marwen

But wait, that’s not all! Welcome to Marwen will finally open in the US after getting pushed back a month. This is the latest film from veteran director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, The Walk, Allied). His new film features a strong ensemble — Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Diane Kruger, and Janelle Monáe, just to name a few — and the premise certainly seems to justify the talent involved. Based on the 2010 documentary Marwencol, this new film from Universal and DreamWorks tells the story of an assault survivor who tries to regain his lost memories by creating vivid miniature worlds populated by the women who inspire him.

For comedy lovers, Second Act will also kick off its release in the US after opening in a few international markets. Jennifer Lopez stars in this new comedy from STX, which resembles a cross between Working Girl and Maid in Manhattan, where a woman with a dead-end job uses a fake social media profile to trick her way into an executive office. Directed by Peter Segal (50 First Dates, Anger Management, Grudge Match) and co-written by Justin Zackham and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Second Act will definitely serve as a starkly different alternative for undecided moviegoers.

Here’s a wildcard: American Renegades. This Navy SEALs action thriller from EuropaCorp has gone by quite a few different names and has been released in theaters abroad over the course of the last year, but it’s finally about to hit theaters in the U.S. Directed by Stephen Quale (Aliens of the Deep), this sort-of-new film has some of the same filmmaking team behind the Taken trilogy and The Equalizer. Luc Besson even had a hand as producer and co-writer. Consider us intrigued.

Limited Releases & Indies

For those who are more into indie films and limited release award darlings, there is a film hitting theaters this weekend that might pique your interest. Cold War from Amazon Studios, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival and scored a Best Director Award for Pawel Pawlikowski (The Woman in the Fifth, Ida). Set in Europe in the Cold War of the 1950s, the dramatic love story focuses on two star-crossed lovers who are mismatched but fated to be together. 

There’s a little something for everyone this weekend. Stay tuned next week for our box office recap of how these movies fared at the box office. To get tickets to these movies and more, head to the Atom Tickets homepage.


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