What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters

What can screenwriters learn from the recent Fandango Most Anticipated Movies for 2023 Survey?
by Ken Miyamoto on January 25, 2023

Whether you want to believe it or not, data analysis matters — especially regarding Hollywood trends, including the most anticipated movies. Screenwriters can't predict what will or won't be a successful screenplay to write and market. No one can.

It was iconic screenwriter William Goldman that said:

"Nobody knows anything... Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one."

It's the educated aspect of that quote that we're focusing on here. You can't predict what's going to hit. But you can use data analysis to better your odds.

Fandango has released its annual Most Anticipated Movies Survey. For their 2023 offering, the digital ticket sales company focused on the movies and performances audiences are most excited about in the coming year. They polled 5,000 moviegoers. Let's look at the results and see what we can learn about screenwriting from their findings, all while discovering this year's most anticipated movies.

2023's Most Anticipated Movies

What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
  2. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
  3. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
  4. John Wick: Chapter 4
  5. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
  6. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
  7. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
  8. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes
  9. Creed III
  10. The Super Mario Bros. Movie

Most Anticipated New Performances on the Big Screen in 2023

What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_Margot Robbie Barbie

Margot Robbie in Barbie (2023)

  1. Halle Bailey (The Little Mermaid)
  2. Viola Davis (The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes)
  3. Jonathan Majors (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania)
  4. Christopher Walken (Dune: Part 2)
  5. Margot Robbie (Barbie)

Most Anticipated Heros in 2023

What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_Keenu Reeves John Wick 4

Keanu Reeves as John Wick in John Wick 4 (2023)

  1. Chris Pratt as Star-Lord (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3)
  2. Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny)
  3. Keanu Reeves as John Wick (John Wick 4)
  4. Zoe Saldana as Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3)
  5. Paul Rudd as Ant-Man (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania)

Most Anticipated Villains in 2023

What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_Ant Man

Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)

  1. Melissa McCarthy as Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
  2. Bill Skarsgård as the Marquis (John Wick 4)
  3. Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania)
  4. Jack Black (voice) as Bowser (The Super Mario Bros. Movie)
  5. Jason Momoa as Dante (Fast X)

Most Anticipated Family Films in 2023

What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_The Little Mermaid

Halle Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid (2023)

  1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
  2. The Super Mario Bros. Movie
  3. The Little Mermaid
  4. Haunted Mansion
  5. Pixar's Elemental

Most Anticipated Horror Films in 2023

What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_Scream 6

Scream 6 (2023)

  1. Salem's Lot
  2. Insidious: Fear the Dark
  3. The Exorcist
  4. Scream 6
  5. M3gan

Read More: 10 of the Best Horror Movies of 2022

Most Anticipated Live-Action Comedies in 2023

What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_Magic Mike's Last Dance

Channing Tatum as Mike Lane in Magic Mike's Last Dance (2023)

  1. Magic Mike's Last Dance
  2. Barbie
  3. Cocaine Bear
  4. House Party
  5. 80 for Brady

Most Anticipated Action/Adventure (Non-Superhero) Movies in 2023

What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (2023)

  1. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
  2. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
  3. The Hunger Games: The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes
  4. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
  5. Fast X

Most Anticipated Superhero Movies in 2023

What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Jason Mamoa as Arthur Curry in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
  2. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
  3. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
  4. The Marvels
  5. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Okay, that's all great and interesting information for movie buffs. But what can screenwriters really learn from the survey?

All-time Favorite Movie Genres That Never Get Old

Yes, every single one of the Top 10 most anticipated movies of 2023 is either a sequel, prequel, or based on iconic intellectual property (Super Mario Brothers). You can't play in that sandbox as an undiscovered screenwriter. It may take you well over a decade to get to a point in your screenwriting career when you can be involved in those conversations regarding studio assignments.

However, one part of the survey reveals some interesting and truthful data. Fandango asked filmgoers participating in the poll what their favorite movie genre is. The survey provided the Top 5 Movies Genres regarding audience anticipation.

There are two dynamics displayed here:
1. What do audiences want
2. What do movie studios and production companies seek because of those audiences' wants

You can only write what you want to see when trying to break through as a screenwriter. It would be best if you also explored movie genres that Hollywood is willing to pay for. But not all genres are ones newcomers can break through with, so here we will offer simple breakdowns of what those genres mean to screenwriters.

Top 5 Movies Genres of All Time

What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_cinema


The superhero genre is today's Western. Back in the earlier days of Hollywood, the Western was the type of movie that audiences flocked to see. And because of that, it was the most produced genre of its time. Hollywood knew what audiences wanted.

Today, superhero movies are the biggest box office draws. And they're also the most anticipated titles each year.

While we had successful Batman films in the 1990s — and even more high-quality offerings from Christopher Nolan in the later 2000s and early 2010s — it was the Marvel Cinematic Universe that created the current trend of superhero films. And that trend has been going strong since 2008's Iron Man, continuing to build and build into tens of billions of dollars worth of box office glory.

DC tried its best to capitalize on Marvel's success. However, the rush to achieve the success of a multi-franchise backfired. They are now resetting under the direction of former-MCU director/writer James Gunn and Peter Safran.

So when it comes to superhero movies, you're not going to do much as a screenwriter in that sandbox.

But the action-adventure genre offers a compelling look when choosing your next spec script.

Read More: 101 Action-Packed Story Prompts and 101 Epic Adventure Story Prompts!

Audiences love a good rollercoaster ride filled with action, suspense, adventure, and thrills. It's a calculated decision on the studio's part to worry less about the critical acclaim of the story and character depth and more about the innovative action sequences that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.

Rollercoasters don't take riders on an educational tour in between major drops, twists, and turns, do they? They don't slow down for a Shakespearean Review.

No. Instead, the best rollercoasters go as high and fast as they can because that's what the riders want — the thrill.

That's what an action-adventure movie offers. If you can throw in some compelling story and characterization, great. But the key is that they always deliver innovative and visually enticing action sequences.

So if you're writing in the action-adventure genre, you need to offer creative sequences that take what audiences have already seen and evolve them into something new and different.

That's what you're up against when writing in the action-adventure genre. However, there's a catch with this genre regarding what the studios and production companies are and are not looking for. Action-adventure flicks are also costly for studios to produce. Any action sequence or stunt is going to cost a lot of money. Truly, that is a red flag that plagues undiscovered screenwriters trying to sell action-adventure scripts on spec.

One way around this hurdle is to create a contained action-adventure piece that doesn't involve multiple sets, locations, stunts, and special effects. When you condense that action and display it within a confined location, the budget decreases, and Hollywood eyebrows will raise in interest.


What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Dave Bautista and Madelyn Cline as Duke and Whiskey in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)

When you scroll through streaming libraries, the comedy section is usually full of titles.

While comedy is the most prolific genre in Hollywood, it is also one of the most difficult to sell on spec.

The hard truth is that it's a challenging genre to sell on spec. Those scripts will be complicated to sell if you're not an established comedy writer, auteur, or popular stand-up comic.


Comedy is subjective, and what may sound hilarious to you may read as bland to a dozen script readers. You may love slapstick comedy, but that script reader may prefer the dry humor of Wes Anderson.

Action concepts and clever use of thrills and explosions are relatively universal when reaching an audience. On the comedy side of things, differing types of humor can be very niche.

Read More: 10 Styles of Comedy Screenwriters Can Master!

The struggle with writing comedies is that you face the barriers of subjectivity. While every script struggles with that, comedic scripts take it to the next level.

You can overcome this by focusing on the core concept. Most successful comedies are "fish out of the water" concepts. You take a character out of their usual surroundings and throw them into places that are unusual to them — and hilarity ensues. The characters' conflicts drive the comedy as they acclimate (or don't) to their new, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable surroundings.

  • Big (a child in an adult world)
  • Tootsie (a man in a woman's world)
  • Liar Liar (a lawyer who cannot lie)
  • Crocodile Dundee (an Australian bushman visiting New York)
  • Free Guy (an NPC within a videogame becomes self-aware)

Read More: 101 Hilarious (Or Slightly Amusing) Comedic Story Prompts!

Those small, quirky comedies that the spec market is saturated with usually only see the light of day if they are produced through the independent market. But the high-concept comedies are the ones that draw interest on spec.

Read More: High Concept Comedy: What It Is and How to Write It!


Writing for animation takes a lot of work. It would help if you generally were an animator or in an animation house's story development team to get an animated screenplay purchased and greenlit for production.

For more information on that dynamic, read ScreenCraft's The Simple Guide to Writing Animated Screenplays!

But the family movie genre, in general, is a massive draw for Hollywood. The movie-going experience is often a family affair. And because of that, Hollywood does its best to cater to the broadest audience possible regarding family — trying to offer something for everyone. This is what Hollywood refers to as a four-quadrant film.

Hollywood breaks up its marketing strategy markers into four quadrants:

  1. Males Under 25
  2. Females Under 25
  3. Males Over 25
  4. Females Over 25

Four-quadrant films are movies that hit all four of those demographic quadrants.

With most releases, studios and distributors try to target at least two of those quadrants. The screenplays sold on spec should try to hit at least two as well — to make the scripts more desirable and increase the odds of them getting picked up by studios and production companies.

Most animated movies are four-quadrant films. Even most superhero movies offered up by Marvel are four-quadrant efforts as well.

While breaking through via animated and superhero movies is difficult — if not outright impossible for a newcomer — the family genre is still a four-quadrant possibility to explore.

What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_the adam project

Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell as Big Adam and Little Adam in The Adam Project (2022)

Look no further than Netflix's successful Ryan Reynold four-quadrant film The Adam Project.

After accidentally crash-landing in 2022, time-traveling fighter pilot Adam Reed teams up with his 12-year-old self for a mission to save the future.

The film wasn't based on any pre-existing intellectual property. It was a spec script sold in 2012 and eventually rewritten and developed by the film's star.

Yes, it had a hefty production budget of $116 million. However, because the concept was so strong — and also because of its four-quadrant dynamics — Netflix took the risk. If you can find a contained, high, concept family story, your odds of breaking through are even more significant.

Read More: How to Write a Four-Quadrant Family Film!


Generally, dramas just don't sell on the spec market. Yes, there are anomalies, but you can't bet on anomalies.

The one true exception is dramas that are based on true stories. Hollywood loves true stories as long as they are compelling and cover subject matter that piques the interest of the audience's curiosity.

Read More: 101 Story Prompts Based on True Events!

Suppose you have a drama based on a true story. In that case, your odds of it drawing interest skyrocket, especially if it is military-based, True Crime, or a biopic of a historical figure.

Most dramas nominated for major awards come from the independent market or are developed by studio specialty companies. And more often than not, again, they are based on true stories or acclaimed novels.

What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_Emily the Criminal

Aubrey Plaza as Emily in Emily the Criminal (2022)

So what can you do with your powerful fiction drama?

You can make the film yourself in the independent market (easier said than done, for sure), or you can market the script directly to those studio specialty companies or the production companies owned by acclaimed dramatic actors looking for a significant role.

The contest, competition, and fellowship market is an excellent place for those scripts, especially if they have a specific Drama category. Excellent writing gets you noticed in that respect, opening possible opportunities for your other scripts that may have a more marketable genre or concept.


Horror is the most profitable genre because most horror scripts cost less to produce. And audiences love a good scare.

Much like the action-adventure genre, horror movies offer audiences a thrilling experience. For whatever reason, people love to be scared. Primarily because they get that adrenaline rush knowing that, in the end, it's all fake, and they're not going to suffer any consequences from the horror they've just experienced, beyond sleepness nights and apprehensive walks in the dark.

Read More: The Neuroscience Behind Horror Screenwriting and Filmmaking!

  • The original Halloween had a production budget of just $325,000. It made $47 million. Adjusted to inflation, that's $181 million.
  • Get Out was produced for just $4.5 million. It went on to gross $255 million worldwide.
  • Split was produced for just $9 million and garnered $278 million worldwide.
What Fandango's 2023 Most Anticipated Movies Can Teach Screenwriters_Smile

Caitlin Stasey as Laura Weaver in Smile (2022)

Horror is easy money compared to other genres. Scares cost less because audiences are more afraid of what they don't see in the dark, unlike the visual spectacles of CGI.

But that doesn't mean you can just write the latest haunted house flick and expect it to scare people into buying it. The horror spec market is concept-driven, like comedy, and new and different takes also drive it on familiar horror tropes.

And because this market is so popular, with everyone trying to get in on the action, you have to stand out with a strong, compelling horror concept or a new and original take on what's already been produced.

If you can accomplish that, the horror genre is an easy way in.

Read More: 101 Terrifying Horror Story Prompts

The second easiest is the horror genre's cousin, the thriller.

Thrillers give viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation, and anxiety through the numerous and overlapping subgenres like mystery thrillers, suspense thrillers, horror thrillers, psychological thrillers, etc.

These types of stories hinge on the tension created, accompanied by the anticipation of how the protagonist will prevail over the seemingly constant thrashes of conflict thrown at them.

Whether it's The FugitiveThe Bourne IdentityMementoRear Window, or The Davinci Code, the thriller genre — and its many subgenres — are huge draws for the audience.

But if you plan on competing with the best, you need to craft a script with ongoing conflict and ever-evolving twists, turns, plants, payoffs, and reveals every few pages.

Read More: 101 Great Plot Twist Ideas to Elevate Your Script!

Thrillers put the audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride instead of the more visceral rides that action-adventure takes the audience on. They challenge our intellect rather than our senses.

They're the best scripts to read, but only when done right. So you need to be ready to bring your A-game to keep readers interested, invested, engaged, and compelled.


Data analysis isn't foolproof. And trends aren't easy bandwagons to jump on. But you can increase your odds of success by writing scripts that give audiences what they want — and, in turn, what Hollywood wants.

Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures. Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.

He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, and many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout, starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner, the feature thriller Hunter's Creed, and many Lifetime thrillers.

Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies.

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