Aquaman 2, Sam Bahadur, Dunki, and More: The 9 Biggest Movies in December


What are the biggest movies releasing in December 2023? Shah Rukh Khan headlines the biggest offering in Bollywood this month with Dunki, in which an Indian soldier offers to illegally relocate four locals to a foreign country through the donkey flight method. Marking his first collaboration with filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani, the film is out December 21 in theatres. Long before that, we’ve got Zoya Akhtar’s The Archies, which puts an Anglo-Indian spin on the beloved comic book characters, as they navigate friendship, heartbreak, and high school politics. It’s been a whole year since production on the film ended and it’s now slated to release December 7 on Netflix.

In what’s the de facto final entry in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) — before James Gunn changes the course — Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom sees Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) trying to balance his duties as the King of Atlantis, while a larger threat looms in the deep seas. The film underwent its third round of reshoots earlier this year, discarding Ben Affleck’s appearance as Bruce Wayne due to the canonical shifts at the end of The Flash movie. Aquaman 2 splashes into cinemas on December 21. Zack Snyder’s highly-anticipated intergalactic opera Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire, in which a young Kora (Sofia Boutella) seeks out strong warriors from neighbouring planets to fight back against the corrupt and oppressive government of the Motherworld, also release this month. While the longer R-rated cut is planned for a later date, the PG-13 version drops December 22 on Netflix.

Other notable releases this month include the Timothée Chalamet-led Wonka, an origin story for the eccentric chocolate maker in a fantasy musical format that should liven up the Christmas spirit. It will be out December 8 in theatres. For your convenience, we have curated the biggest December 2023 releases coming to theatres and Netflix, which you can check out below. Also, feel free to browse our Entertainment hub to keep track of any other releases that might interest you.

Animal

When: December 1
Where: Theatres

Out of devotion for and wanting to impress his repressive father Balbir Singh (Anil Kapoor), his son Arjun (Ranbir Kapoor) takes a liking for violence — a series of actions that doesn’t suit the rich family’s image, who wants him to travel the world and crash sports cars like an arrogant kid would do. But when circumstances cause his father to get shot and hospitalised, his rage grows tremendously, sending him on a revenge path as he leads an army of cultish goons — armed with axes, firearms, and miniguns — into a gruesome gang war against some baddies wearing animalistic masks.

Despite the father-son bond beginning to fracture, Arjun vows to stay back at home and protect his family, all the while dealing with resurfacing childhood trauma that turned him into an attention-starved deadly Animal. Meanwhile, Rashmika Mandanna (Mission Majnu) plays his wife Geetanjali, who is often perplexed by Arjun’s overtly affectionate behaviour towards his father, which could easily be confused with obsession. Sandeep Reddy Vanga — best known for the controversial Kabir Singh — directs this film, which also stars Tripti Dimri (Qala) and Suresh Oberoi.

Sam Bahadur

When: December 1
Where: Theatres

Vicky Kaushal (Sardar Udham) heads this biopic on decorated army officer Sam Manekshaw, who became India’s first field marshal following the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War. Often referred to by fellow soldiers as Sam Bahadur, he leads his disciplined troupe into the heart of Kashmir while constantly assuring the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (Fatima Sana Shaikh) of success, despite his unorthodox tactics. Other key players include Sanya Malhotra (Jawan) as Sam’s wife Silloo, Neeraj Kabi (Sita Ramam) as Jawaharlal Nehru, and Govind Namdev as Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. Meghna Gulzar, who rose to prominence with Chhapaak, directs the film.

The Archies

When: December 7
Where: Netflix

Drawing inspiration from the beloved Archie Comics, filmmaker Zoya Akhtar reimagines the fictional town of Riverdale through an Anglo-Indian perspective, laser-focusing on a troublesome group of teenagers who unite to save the local park from destruction. Leading the gang is the titular Archie Andrews (Agastya Nanda), an aspiring rocker, who’s built himself a reputation for taking pretty much every girl from the local high school on dates. Stuck between choosing best friends Betty (Khushi Kapoor) and Veronica (Suhana Khan) as a lover, he fears that dark secrets of his might unravel in time. Dancing to rock-n-roll music in the swinging sixties, playing dress-ups, and while figuring out their future, the gang is hit with the realisation of how quickly the hill station town is changing.

Veronica’s father — who’s returned from London — is at the helm of new development, shutting down every local store and chopping down trees to erect his new plaza, in what he asserts is simply a business matter and nothing personal. Unfortunately, it’s personal for Veronica, who’s been taking all the blame at school when Ethel Muggs’ (Aditi Saigal) beauty parlour was forced to be closed down. Audiences have generally shown a dislike for The Archies, owing to its incorrect portrayal of Indian teenagers in the 1960s, despite being based on the Anglo-Indian roots. Only time will tell how the musical fares, which also stars Vedang Raina as the wannabe comedian Reggie Mantle and Mihir Ahuja as the always-hungry Jughead Jones.

Wonka

When: December 8
Where: Theatres

Timothée Chalamet trying to act all whimsical and Hugh Grant’s face being superimposed onto a CGI Oompa-Loompa are utterly cringy sights, so hopefully Paul King’s (Paddington) direction saves it. Wonka serves as a prequel, a glimpse at the quirky infamous chocolatier’s life before he started his business empire fuelled by a deep hatred for undisciplined children. After spending years perfecting his craft and magic, a young Willy Wonka comes to the town of Galeries Gourmet with dreams of selling chocolate, only to see it crushed by the wealthy and scheming Chocolate Cartel, hellbent on preventing any new businesses from flourishing. Seizing this opportunity, Wonka teams up with a local child named Noodle (Calah Lane) and vows to fire back by making tasty and affordable chocolate imbued with all kinds of magic.

Hoverchoc makes you float in the air, but more importantly, it’s cheap, which doesn’t sit well with the greedy cartel, forcing them to get the law involved. But when the local police chief (Keegan-Michael Key) is drawn by Wonka’s magical chocolate and fattened up, the cartel unites on a mission to destroy his shop and dreams. Through it all, it appears that the film will touch upon his relationship with his estranged mother, played by Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), as he plots out splendid ways to build his factory up from the dust. The spin-off film also stars Oscar-winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) as the grumpy Mrs. Scrubbit, Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean), and Paterson Joseph (The Leftovers).

Priscilla

When: December 15
Where: Theatres

While Baz Luhrmann’s biopic on Elvis Presley was headlining the awards season last year, filmmaker Sofia Coppola had been cooking up an opposing take on it, specifically centring on Priscilla Presley’s romantic life with the rock-and-roll artist. A subject of controversy for decades, the pair began their relationship when Priscilla (Cailee Spaeny) was only 14 years of age, thrust into the limelight without warning and forced to maintain an image of stardom, characterised by long eyelashes, bougie hairdo, and fashionable clothing. All this is worsened by obsessive fan mail and rumour pieces in magazines, causing her to worry whether Elvis (Jacob Elordi) has been unfaithful to her — and if so, having to endure it.

By treating the singer as a side character, Coppola tells an unseen story about Hollywood’s much-celebrated courtship that began at a German army base and an unstable marriage, as Priscilla succumbs to medication to keep up with her husband’s bizarro lifestyle. The filmmaker was unable to get rights to any of Elvis’ songs for use in the movie’s soundtrack, and therefore, had to create an original tracklist, which in my opinion, would better serve as a response to Priscilla’s mistreatment at the hands of a controlling man. The biopic competed at the Venice Film Festival, earlier this year, earning lead Spaeny a best actress award. Other major players include Dagmara Domińczyk (Succession), Ari Cohen (Spiral), and Tim Post (Titans).

Maestro

When: December 20
Where: Netflix

Bradley Cooper returns to the director’s chair to tell the story of the generation-defying American composer Leonard Bernstein in the aptly titled Maestro. He also stars in it, elegantly swinging a baton and conducting some of the most important pieces of music against a live audience, as his wife Felicia (Carey Mulligan) watches in awe and pride from backstage. But she’s also born witness to his on-and-off romantic affairs with other men while being completely accepting of his sexual orientation and even helping him maintain appearances in the public eye. Much of this biopic plays out through Felicia’s perspective, from their first encounter at a party to their complicated marriage, and the eventual fallout when she realises there’s nothing she can do to change his character. As Bernstein grows as a musician, she mixes into his monstrous shadow, conveyed visually in the trailer.

Maestro will play around with numerous aspect ratios and colours to best represent the time skips, as it focuses on pivotal moments in Bernstein’s professional and personal life, which hopefully, includes some insight into how his three children grappled with the massive shifts. As part of his preparation, Cooper spent six years learning how to conduct music for an alleged six-minute-long scene in Maestro, which recreates Bernstein’s work with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1976. The ensemble cast also features Matt Bomer (Doom Patrol) as Bernstein’s close friend and clarinettist David Oppenheim, Maya Hawke (Stranger Things) as his daughter Jamie, Sarah Silverman as his second daughter Shirley, and Sam Nivola (White Noise) as his son Alexander. At one point, Martin Scorsese was attached to direct this film but had to drop out because of his commitment to 2019’s The Irishman — also for Netflix.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

When: December 21
Where: Theatres

Four years after the events of Aquaman, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) is a father now, balancing duties between caring for his newborn and diving underwater to rule the kingdom of Atlantis. In the background, returning villain Black Mantis (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is plotting revenge, having obtained the cursed Black Trident and threatening to burn Arthur’s home into ash and murder everyone he holds dear. As the global meltdown starts to become a reality, Arthur seeks help from his half-brother Orm the Ocean Master (Patrick Wilson), who’d been imprisoned for crimes of treason against Atlantis in the first film. While there’s certainly bad blood between the two — with Orm still refusing to accept Arthur as a legitimate brother — they do share a love for their divine kingdom and its populace.

But it seems the mission in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will once again take our heroes up on the surface level, interacting with ancient crypts and showing off Arthur’s new stealth suit that lets him camouflage with his surroundings at will. Director James Wan claims that the sequel will focus a lot on the Atlantean worldbuilding, hence the extensive use of CGI — albeit it is quite concerning that all of this is futile. You see, Aquaman 2 is the final entry in the long-running DCEU, soon to be overtaken by James Gunn’s revised DC Universe, where it’s unclear whether Momoa would once again reprise his role. There are rumours of him playing the cigar-smoking Lobo next, and given how brutally The Flash movie fractured the timeline, I’ve got a feeling that most audiences would be watching Aquaman 2 to keep track of how many scenes Amber Heard is featured in.

Regardless, I hope this serves as a fair send-off to the aquatic world, which also brings back Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna, Randall Park as the scheming marine biologist Dr. Stephen Shin, and Temuera Morrison as Arthur’s human father Tom. Both Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton were also supposed to return as Bruce Wayne for a scene, but it got cut during some final reshoots.

Dunki

When: December 21
Where: Theatres

Hardy (Shah Rukh Khan), a soldier returning home from service, stumbles upon a group of four — played by Taapsee Pannu, Boman Irani, Vicky Kaushal, and Vikram Kochhar — with dreams of moving to England, despite lacking work experience, visas, and being unable to afford flight tickets for travel. Inspired by their goals, he promises to relocate them to the country via the donkey flight method, by having them jump from one European country to the next to eventually reach the destination via a backdoor method. Of course, such acts require a lot of negotiations with travel agents, which our silver-tongued protagonist is good at, for acquiring visas at reduced rates in exchange for weird promises. Dunki marks the first collaboration between SRK and director Rajkumar Hirani (3 Idiots) and should be available to stream on JioCinema, after its theatrical run.

Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire

When: December 22
Where: Netflix

Ditching superhero capes for molten metal swords, Zack Snyder is building a new dystopian saga in space, specifically on the peaceful farming moon of Veldt, where an outsider with a mysterious past, Kora (Sofia Boutella), has taken refuge. That serene lifestyle soon comes to a close when soldiers of the oppressive Motherland — led by Admiral Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein) — descend upon the village, enacting violence in the name of snuffing out the rebel insurgents. Knowing their intentions due to an undisclosed connection with the tyrannical Regent Balisaurus (Fra Fee), Kora decides to fight back and to that end, decides to hop across the galaxy to find fierce warriors. Indeed, she isn’t alone on this globe-trotting pick-up quest, as the local villager Gunnar (Michael Huisman) tags along, wanting to learn about the enemies and the galaxy as a whole — since he’s never left his home planet before.

Other members of the crew include the hardened gladiator General Titus (Djimon Hounsou), the sneaky pilot looking to make a quick buck Kai (Charlie Hunnam), the super-athletic Tarak (Staz Nair), and the cyborg Nemesis (Doona Bae), whose mechanical arms can turn into piping hot blades, which she dual-wields. All of them have tragic pasts and therefore, find it difficult to trust one another as the armies of the Motherworld slowly approach to dominate the galaxies. Split into two halves, Rebel Moon was originally conceived as a Star Wars movie, but things went silent when Disney acquired Lucasfilm. Both Part One: A Child of Fire and Part Two: Scargiver will receive longer explicit cuts in the future, keeping with Snyder’s liking for making sure every project of his is R-rated.

Watch the Trailer for Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire, Coming to Netflix

Sofia Boutella in a still from Rebel Moon
Photo Credit: Netflix


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