This year is loaded: long-anticipated sequels, the final film in a prominent teen series, spin-offs from popular movie franchises, creative remakes of classics, adaptations of popular books, and lots and lots of animated animals – musical and otherwise. Mark your calendars now, these are 30 can’t-miss family films of 2016.
Kung Fu Panda 3.
Po uses his Dragon Warrior skills to fight off two different threats, but honestly, kids love this series for three reasons: Jack Black, the comedy, and the you-can-master-anything message that’s evident when a lumbering, awkward panda trumps evil with ninja ease. In theaters January 29.
In a world where humans have never existed, anthropomorphized animals take over our roles. It’s hilarious, oddly relatable and – best of all – from the filmmakers behind Frozen and Big Hero 6, arguably the most kid-tastic movies of the last two years. In theaters March 4.
Featuring a power couple who are equally tough, smart and clever, the dystopian Divergent trilogy is a teen sensation. In this final film, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) discover the leaders running the “real” world on the other side of the wall may not be a better alternative to the ones they’re running from. In theaters March 18.
The Little Prince
This animated adventure modernizes and gives a less ambiguous meaning to the children’s classic novel by adding a framework around the magical interstellar story. The film follows a girl who is leaning in to the academic plans of her Sheryl Sandbergian mother until her friendship with the elderly retired pilot next door opens up another world. In theaters March 18.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Since the dawn of the superhero, Batman and Superman rank as the two kings of caped crime fighting. Pitting these two icons against each other is the cinematic equivalent to the Pied Piper. In theaters March 25.
The Jungle Book
Disney continues its trend of making live-action versions of the studio’s early animated films with this Rudyard Kipling classic. Just like Maleficent, be aware that the film is much darker than the 1967 cartoon and is intended for older children. In theaters April 5.
Ratchet and Clank
Adapted from the wildly successful PlayStation video games, this animated film follows a Lombax (think of a cat with some human qualities) and a sentient robot as they planet hop to fight an evil alien force bent on destruction. In a lighthearted, comedic way, of course. In theaters April 29.
A Beautiful Planet
NASA astronauts serve as cameramen for this documentary which takes a look at Earth from the perspective of space, leaving us to ask: did Disney space out by releasing this year’s nature documentary a week after Earth Day? In theaters April 29.
Captain America: Civil War
Captain America and Iron Man disagree on the direction of the Avengers, causing the rest of the team to take sides. Steve Rogers’ alter ego may get the title credit here, but make no mistake, this is practically The Avengers 3 with a bonus: Spider-Man! In theaters May 6.
The Angry Birds Movie
We predict the animated comedy will be as addicting as the gaming app! In theaters May 20.
Alice Through the Looking Glass
Two favorite movie tropes mash together – fairy tales and time travel – to give us Alice the Time Bandit! In the sequel to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Alice learns her dear Mad Hatter is in danger and the only way to save him is to travel back in time. In theaters May 27.
Apocalypse is both a villain and a cusping world event in the ninth X-Men film, which sees the title troublemaker recruit four mutants to do his evil bidding. The last two X-Men movies are ranked among the best superhero films ever made, so don’t just drop the teens off for this one, get a ticket for yourself. In theaters May 27.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2
For those of us who can’t walk across our living room without tripping over a katana or a four-inch sensei rat figure, Michael Bay’s sequel to 2014’s action-comedy about tough humanoid turtles is highly anticipated. This outing brings in Casey Jones, a vigilante with a penchant for turning athletic gear into weapons, Shredder’s henchman Bebop (a humanoid mutant warthog), and Rocksteady (a humanoid mutant black rhinoceros with a purple Mohawk). By the way, this is the one movie outing where you’ll definitely want to choose pizza over popcorn at the concession stand! In theaters June 3.
Nemo is one of Pixar’s best movies and one of cinema’s finest family films. Dory, voiced by the affable Ellen DeGeneres, is one of the best animated sidekicks to ever hit the screen. This is the sequel no one was expecting and, now, movie lovers are gleefully anticipating. In theaters June 17.
BFG stands for Big Friendly Giant, but it’s a BFD (Big Fun Deal!) for three reasons: the screenplay comes from the woman who wrote E.T., the late Melissa Mathison; it’s adapted from a Roald Dahl book, and Steven Spielberg directs the movie. Magic is afoot. In theaters July 1.
The Legend of Tarzan
This film leaps beyond the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel and imagines Lord Greystoke, 10 years a civilized London gentleman, returning to his African homeland as an emissary of Parliament. The drama abandons the typical Tarzan story of a wild man learning how to function in society, and instead tells the story of a society man rediscovering the wild man within. In theaters July 1.
Secret Life of Pets
You may think you know your pet, but this animated comedy from the folks behind the Despicable Me movies show us what Fluffy and Fido do in our homes when we’re not there. Hilarious! And horrifying! In theaters July 8.
There’s something weird and it does look good! One of the favorite comedies of Generation X is regenerated into the modern era with some of this generation’s favorite funny actresses. Who ya gonna
call text? In theaters July 15.
Ice Age: Collision Course
The enduring animated franchise about a wooly mammoth, a saber tooth tiger and a sloth leaves issues of Pangea behind when the trio is forced to leave their home after an intergalactic incident, set off by Scrat’s adventures in acorn acquisition. In theaters July 22.
Star Trek Beyond***
Star Trek continues its space odyssey with the rebellious Captain Kirk, the logical Mr. Spock and the rest of the U.S.S. Enterprise. In theaters July 22.
Kids of the 1970s remember with fondness this fanciful musical about a boy and his dragon. Disney is changing it all up this time, removing the music, and making it all about an orphan whose best friend is a green, furry dragon who is at odds with the townspeople who think he’s making it up. In theaters August 12.
Kubo and the Two Strings
Japanese mythology is adapted in this supernatural boy-becomes-samurai tale in stunning stop-motion animation from Laika, the filmmakers who wowed us with Coraline and ParaNorman. In theaters August 19.
Nicholas Stoller, the screenwriter who brought back the Muppets in such a funny and relevant way, gets animated with a story of two disgruntled storks (voiced by Andy Samberg and Kelsey Grammer) who look into how their species got roped into bringing babies into the world. In theaters September 23.
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
For the Diary of a Wimpy Kid crowd, this comedy comes from James Patterson’s series of best-selling books. It’s about a lonely sixth grader who entertains himself by trying to break all the school rules. In theaters October 7.
The Mattel fashion dolls are the progeny of famous gods and monsters who attend a school where it’s good to be different. The animated Web series and DVD movies have whet your daughter’s appetite, now the live-action movie promises to take scary cool to a new level… just in time for Halloween. In theaters October 7.
Just when you thought you’d seen every way to fight crime in a Marvel movie – superpowers, super tech and the supernatural – abracadabra, there’s something new! Benedict Cumberbatch’s title character wards off evildoers with magic. In theaters November 4.
Who thought those ugly troll dolls with the crazy hair could be so darn cute? In this musical comedy, Anna Kendrick voices an optimistic princess and Justin Timberlake her “hard-core survivalist” friend who find out what they’re really made of when they venture outside the familiarity of their community.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Pour the butter beer! It’s the Harry Potter prequel! Potter series author J.K. Rowling “adapted” this Hogwarts textbook, which reports the adventures of magical creature researcher Newt Scamander when he loses some of his beasts during a New York layover. In theaters November 18.
Disney princesses have come a long way from meek Cinderella and boy-crazy Ariel. Moana is a confident, fearless and determined South Pacific Islander who navigates the ocean alongside her hero, a demigod no less. She’s destined to become the hero of little girls – and their parents – everywhere. In theaters November 23.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story***
One year after Star Wars: The Force Awakens proved to be the droid we were looking for with the biggest opening weekend in movie history, this spin-off arrives in theaters. It’s about a group of rebel soldiers who set out to steal the plans for the Death Star and promises to make good on the “wars” part of the franchise’s title. In theaters December 16.
Winners never quit and quitters never win – especially if your board game doesn’t allow you to stop playing. The Robin Williams family adventure gave kids a scare in 1995 and now, with evolved cutting-edge special effects, the safari game that comes to life with every turn is set to wow today’s kids. In theaters December 28.
What goes on backstage at the theater run by a koala and a black sheep? Performance anxiety, personal problems, big dreams and bigger realities all conflict but, of course, the show must always go on. This may be the family animated-musical-comedy version of Birdman. In theaters December 28.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Beginning in 2012, this young-adult novel spent 63 weeks topping the New York Times best-seller list. Tim Burton creates the creepy world of an orphanage of children who are “differently abled” in amazing ways. In theaters December 28.