10 Totally Original Non-Franchise-Based Movies to Look Out For This Year

There are plenty of reasons why there are so many movies made each year based on preexisting franchise material. Whether a sequel, prequel, spin-off, remake, reboot, or a legacy sequel, it is often considered a safe bet by studio execs as there is already a preexisting fanbase for the content and less work is required to establish lore and characters that are already beloved by many. It pays off a lot of the time, too. Just a quick glance at the list of highest-grossing movies of all time, and you will spot multiple franchise-based movies from the likes of Harry Potter, Marvel, and Star Wars to Jurassic Park and Toy Story.

However, head to any comments sections regarding the latest reboot or sequel, and it won’t take long before you realize that not everyone is super enthralled with the idea, and many out there are clamoring for new and original stories. While 2023 is chock-a-block full of franchise-based movie releases — including big ones from the likes of Fast and Furious, Indiana Jones, Scream, Star Trek, Evil Dead, The Little Mermaid, The Equalizer, The Meg and numerous DC and Marvel offerings — there are still a fair few non-franchise-based movies slated for release that could be just the ticket for those looking for new characters and settings they can fall in love with. Here are 10 of them to look out for this year.


Cocaine Bear — February 24

cocaine bear
Universal Pictures

Okay, so apparently this year’s black comedy thriller Cocaine Bear is loosely based on a true story, so while maybe not totally original in every sense of the word, the movie concept is certainly one we’ve never seen before. Here’s hoping it lives up to the hype generated by the bonkers looking trailer that recently dropped. The movie basically does what it says on the tin: a bear ingests vast quantities of cocaine, which had been hidden in the woods by drugs dealers, and goes on a drug-fueled murderous rampage. Starring Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Ray Liotta in one of his final performances recorded before his death, expect plenty of blood, guts mixed with a healthy dose of humor in what could be one of this year’s biggest surprise hits.

Related: Upcoming Western Movies to Watch in 2023

65 — March 10

Sony Pictures Releasing

With Sam Raimi among the producers, a score composed by Danny Elfman, and Adam Driver in the lead role, the names of those involved alone in the sci-fi thriller 65 should be enough to grab the attention of the public. But combine that with an intriguing premise, which is best described as Jurassic Park meets Predator, and we could be in for something quite spectacular here. The plot sees space explorer Mills, played by Driver, somehow crash-landing onto an unknown prehistoric planet crawling with dinosaurs and other savage creatures from the past.

Righteous Thieves — March 10

Broken English Productions

Very little was known about Righteous Thieves until recently, when we were hit with an action-packed trailer that arguably revealed a little too much (via YouTube). There are plenty of punches thrown and asses kicked as we witness a crew attempting to pull off a high-stakes heist in which they steal back artwork plundered by Nazis during World War II. Admittedly not the most original premise, but it’s refreshing to see a heist movie that doesn’t have the word Ocean in the title. The movie stars Cam Gigandet, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Lisa Vidal and is directed by Anthony Nardolillo.

Renfield — April 14

Nicolas Cage Dracula Renfield
Universal Pictures

Whilst the legendary vampiric Count Dracula is no stranger to the world of Hollywood, this year’s upcoming Renfield, which is not part of any existing vampire franchise, looks to put a new spin on the character. This modern day-set horror comedy sees Nicholas Hoult take on the titular role of Renfield, the long-suffering servant of Count Dracula, played by Nicolas Cage, in what could be one of his most “Nicolas Cage” roles to date, if the trailer is anything to go by. He has confirmed that he wants it “to pop in a unique way. We’ve seen it played well, we’ve seen it play not so well, so what can we do? So I’m thinking to really focus on the movement of the character”. While not a whole lot has been revealed about the plot as yet, Awkwafina and Ben Schwartz also star in what looks to be a bloody good time.

Beau Is Afraid — April 21

Beau is Afraid

Helmed by one of the industry’s most exciting directors, Ari Aster, who gave us Hereditary and Midsommar, and starring the inimitable talents of Joaquin Phoenix, Beau Is Afraid looks to be the definition of original. Described as a “decades-spanning surrealist horror film set in an alternate present,” the trailer was certainly surreal, and would have likely piqued the interests of fans of the aforementioned and those looking for something a little different to the usual Hollywood blockbusters we’ve become accustomed to.

Elemental — June 16


The official premise for Elemental released by Disney Pixar reads: “In a city where fire, water, land and air residents live together, a fiery young woman and a go-with-the-flow guy are about to discover something elemental: how much they actually have in common.” It’s been reported that the plot is loosely based on director Peter Sohn’s own experience of growing up as the son of immigrants in the multicultural city of New York. Considering Pixar’s immaculate record and amazing ability to evoke the strongest of emotions from even the most apathetic of viewers, one can expect to be taken on a rollercoaster of emotions involving a whole heap of heart, laughter, and, most likely, tears.

Related: 20 Big-Name Directors With Movies Out in 2023

Asteroid City — June 16

Asteroid City
Focus Features 

Director Wes Anderson has amassed a large and loyal fanbase thanks to his years in the industry creating an impressive cataloged of memorable movies, each stamped with his trademark quirkiness and eccentricities, and Asteroid City looks to be no different. Set in 1955, the premise sees parents from around the country coming together for the Junior Stargazer Convention. Anderson most excels in his creation of weird and wonderful characters and with a cast that is truly out of this world, including Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Willem Dafoe, Matt Dillon, Maya Hawke, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, and Bryan Cranston, Asteroid City will undoubtedly feature its share of memorable characters.

Oppenheimer — July 21

Universal Pictures

Directed by Christopher Nolan and starring some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Josh Hartnett, Jack Quaid, Rami Malek, Florence Pugh, Garry Oldman, Casey Affleck, and Robert Downey Jr, this summer blockbuster could well be one of the biggest hits of the year. With a hefty budget of around $100 million, the studio will certainly be hoping that Oppenheimer will be. The movie is based on the life of Robert Oppenheimer, the American scientist known as the “father of the atomic bomb” (per History.com) for his role in the Manhattan Project — the World War II undertaking that developed the first nuclear weapons.

Next Goal Wins — September 22

Beulah Koale looks at his white gloves in Next Goal Wins
Searchlight Pictures

Outside of the huge Thor movies for Marvel, Taika Waititi has proven himself to be a master of quirky original indie movies, with the likes of Jojo Rabbit, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and What We Do in the Shadows all receiving universal acclaim from critics. Following the mixed reviews of Thor: Love and Thunder, it looks as if Waititi is taking some time to revisit his roots. Drawing inspiration from a 2014 documentary of the same name, Next Goal Wins is a movie that chronicles the efforts made by the American Samoa national football team who were considered to be the weakest professional soccer team in the entire world, as they strive to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Wish — November 22


Released during Disney’s 100th anniversary, Wish poses the question, “How did the wishing star, upon which so many Disney characters wished, come to be?” and follows young Asha (voiced by Ariana DeBose) as she struggles to overcome the most formidable of foes to save her community in the kingdom of Rosas, with a little help from some good old fashion magic. The movie is shaping up to be one of Disney’s most exciting, animated projects in a long time and is reported to be full of Easter eggs relating back to older Disney classics. Not only that, the art style is being described as a hybrid between traditional 2D and modern CGI.