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The Movies You Need to Watch Before You Go to the Movies in 2020

Our annual backwards guide to the remakes, reboots, and franchise returns of the coming year.
Movies To Watch
By  · Published on January 9th, 2020

This is part of our 2020 Preview. Follow along as we explore all the things that have us mildly hopeful in the new year.

With so many movie franchises disappointing lately and a number of original films becoming phenomenal hits, you’d think Hollywood might balance out its leanings towards sequels, remakes, reboots, and spinoffs. But 2020 is a lot of the same in terms of familiar series, especially regarding the continuations of major superhero cinematic universes.

Here is our annual guide to which upcoming stories have been done before or begun previously (excluding those solely based on TV shows such as the Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark). If you want to know what to expect or need to play catch up on certain narratives and characters, this is a list of past installments and incarnations to watch before the redos and returns and perpetuations of IPs. The due date is the release date of the new movie.

Ju-On: The Grudge (2003) and The Grudge (2004)

After 2009’s The Grudge 3 went direct to video, the fourth installment of the American incarnation of The Grudge has been changed to a reboot and is heading to the big screen. Before you find out how the latest version of the supernatural horror movie fares in comparison, go back and watch the Japanese original and then the initial Hollywood redo.
Watch Ju-On free with ads via Tubi.
Due Date: January 3rd

Doctor Dolittle (1967)

The first adaptation of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle stories came in the form of a German silent animated short titled Doktor Dolittle und seine Tiere (Doctor Dolittle and his Animals). As that work is not easily accessible today, the next best thing to familiarize you with the character on screen is this Oscar-winning effort, which was even nominated for Best Picture. For extra credit before the new movie Dolittle, you can check out the 1970s animated TV series, the five-film movie franchise initially starring Eddie Murphy, and a 2011 direct-to-video animated feature in which Tim Curry voices the main character.
Due date: January 17th

Bad Boys (1995) and Bad Boys II (2003)

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are finally reunited to round out their Bad Boys trilogy with Bad Boys for Life, helmed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. Seeing as there are now 17-year-olds who can attend an R-rated movie who were born the same year as the previous installment, we can guess a lot of the audience for the sequel hasn’t yet seen Michael Bay’s first two. Welcome to Miami, newbies, and meet Mike and Marcus before riding along with the duo one last time.
Due date: January 17th

Your Name (2016)

While not necessarily a sequel to this popular Japanese animated feature, the latest from filmmaker Makoto Shinkai, titled Weathering with You, does feature some brief appearance from Your Name characters. There’s also a live-action remake in development in Hollywood, so you can get a jump on that by seeing the original, too.
Due date: January 17th

The Innocents (1961)

There are a ton of adaptations of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw and other films inspired by the classic horror novella, but only Jack Clayton’s retitled The Innocents is worth watching (and that goes for its prequel The Nightcomers, as well). Hopefully, the long-delayed Steven Spielberg-produced modernization, titled The Turning, won’t be another wasted attempt.
Due date: January 24th

The Curse (1987)

H.P. Lovecraft stories haven’t had the best of luck being turned into movies, and The Curse is therefore unsurprisingly bad. But if you’re going to acquaint yourself with the original incarnations of all this year’s remakes and sequels, you’ll want to give it a look before seeing Color Out of Space, which is based on the same short story (titled “The Colour Out of Space”). There’s also the 1965 horror movie Die, Monster, Die!, which isn’t great and isn’t as faithful.
Due date: January 24th

Hansel and Gretel (1909)

There was apparently an even earlier German short adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairytale of Hansel and Gretel, but the 1909 version for Thomas Edison’s company seems to be the oldest to have survived. You can watch it (or what I believe it to be) via YouTube, ahead of seeing Oz Perkins’ new horror incarnation titled Gretel & Hansel.
Due date: January 31st

Our Godfather (2019)

Two movies arrived last year about Tommaso Buscetta, the notorious Italian mobster who turned informant. One of them is the foreign-language biopic The Traitor, which was Italy’s submission for the Oscar for Best International Feature (it wasn’t shortlisted) and which comes out in the US in early 2020. The other was this documentary about the infamous gangster.
Due date: January 31st

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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.