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Fans vote for most anticipated 2023 family movies in Fandango poll

by Blake Taylor

There’s nothing quite like getting the whole family together for an outing at the movies. Whether your family prefers superheroes, musicals, or spooky tales, Fandango’s list of most anticipated 2023 family movies is sure to fit the bill.

Jamie Lee Curtis riding in a doom buggy to promote the 2023 family movie "Haunted Mansion"
Jamie Lee Curtis surprises fans at D23 Expo 2022, teasing her role as Madame Leota in 2023’s “Haunted Mansion” movie.
Image courtesy of Disney.

Fandango polled 5,000 fans to gauge audience’s most anticipated family movies for 2023. Here are the top five picks — and how they might find their way into your favorite theme parks!

5. Elemental

Elemental | Teaser Trailer

From Pixar comes “Elemental,” debuting June 16, 2023. According to the film’s official description, its story is “set in Element City, where fire-, water-, land- and air-residents live together.” Leah Lewis voices Ember (made from fire) and Mamoudou Athie voices Wade (made from water). “Elemental” is directed by Pixar veteran Peter Sohn, who also directed 2015’s “The Good Dinosaur” and voiced Sox the cat in 2022’s “Lightyear,” among other past favorite Pixar characters.

Speaking of “Lightyear,” last summer the reimagined version of Buzz made his debut in Disneyland as a face character for a limited time. While it’s too early to know if Ember, Wade, or any of their friends might make appearances in Disney theme parks, that’s probably the most likely way “Elemental” would show up in the parks at first. Regardless, “Elemental” seems like it will be filled with Pixar’s signature creativity that could lend itself to a more elaborate attraction in the future.

4. Haunted Mansion

2022 Haunted Mansion Movie announced with surprise Jamie Lee Curtis!

Welcome, foolish mortals, to another big-screen adaptation of the classic Disney theme park attraction, hitting theaters Aug. 11, 2023. This movie is a clean slate from the 2003 “Haunted Mansion” movie, in which Eddie Murphy starred as Jim Evers (of Evers & Evers Real Estate, where he and his wife want you to be happy for evers and evers).

Completely disconnected from that version (other than its source material), the new movie is directed by Justin Simien, who also helmed “Dear White People” and “Bad Hair.” Moviegoers can likely expect a spooky-but-not-horrific take on the story, much like the attraction itself. The film stars Rosario Dawson, LaKeith Stanfield, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Winona Ryder, Dan Levy, and Danny DeVito — with Jared Leto as the fan favorite Hatbox Ghost and Jamie Lee Curtis and the iconic Madame Leota. Disney has yet to announce if the ride itself will be updated to tie in with the movie.

Unrelated to the film, it was announced in September at D23 Expo 2022 that Magic Kingdom’s Haunted Mansion will add the Hatbox Ghost sometime in 2023.

3. The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid - Official Teaser Trailer

Following a long line of live-action remakes, Disney will introduce audiences to a reimagined version of “The Little Mermaid” on May 26, 2023.

Halle Bailey stars as Ariel with Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Awkwafina as Scuttle, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Art Malik as Grimsby, Noma Dumezweni as Queen Selina, Javier Bardem as King Triton, and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula. Rob Marshall (“Mary Poppins Returns”) directs. The film will include classic songs that audiences know and love from songwriters Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as new tunes written by Ashman and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

While Disney usually sticks to the animated classics when adapting fairytale stories into theme park attractions, there are a few exceptions. Disney Cruise Line’s 2017 production of “Beauty and the Beast,” for example, was based on the live-action version of the tale as old as time. Meanwhile, the show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios sticks to the animated movie, as it has since it opened with the film in 1990. Given this precedence, and similar examples elsewhere, it’s possible the new live-action “Little Mermaid” may find its way into Disney’s parks or resorts somehow, but unlikely that it would replace any existing “Little Mermaid” attraction, of which there are many.

2. The Super Mario Bros. Movie

The Super Mario Bros. Movie | Official Trailer

“Mushroom Kingdom, here we come!” Nintendo and Illumination present “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” debuting in theaters April 7, 2023.

The star-studded cast includes Chris Pratt as Mario, Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach, Charlie Day as Luigi, Jack Black as Bowser, Keegan-Michael Key as Toad, and Seth Rogen as Donkey Kong. “Teen Titans Go!” alumni Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic are in the directors’ chairs.

Families spending time with Mario at the movies might also want to add a trip to California to their 2023 calendar. Opening Feb. 17 at Universal Studios Hollywood, Super Nintendo World will transport guests in the middle of Mario’s video game atmosphere. The highlight is “Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge,” a ride using augmented reality to place guests on the racetrack with favorite Nintendo pals. Super Nintendo World first debuted in 2021 at Universal Studios Japan and will open in 2025 at the new Epic Universe park in Orlando.

1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE - Official Trailer (HD)

“Anyone can wear the mask” was the mantra of 2018’s Oscar-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and we’re about to see the full extent of that promise as the multiverse bursts wide open. The sequel, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” debuts in theaters June 2, 2023, and is at the top of fans’ list for most-anticipated 2023 family movies.

Shameik Moore returns as Miles Morales a.k.a. Spider-Man, as does Hailee Steinfeld as Gwen Stacey a.k.a. Spider-Woman. Joining them are a host of other multiversal versions of themselves voiced by Oscar Isaac, Issa Rae, Daniel Kaluuya, and more.

The legal rights surrounding Spider-Man’s use in film and in theme parks are each their own complicated web of rules within their respective industries. Disney California Adventure opened “Web-Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure” in 2021, while guests at Universal’s Islands of Adventure have enjoyed “The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man” since opening day in 1999, though neither stars Miles Morales. The “Spider-Verse” world has yet to be adapted into a theme park attraction, but never say never.

Fandango's top five 2023 family movies
Image courtesy of Fandango.
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