Blockbuster movies may be sneaking into February and March release dates, but the summer remains where many studios hope to find success with their big budget films.
And this summer features plenty of big-name actors in movies that some critics see as a vast improvement in quality from last summer.
There are three major superhero films spread over three months this summer.
Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” is first up and will arrive in theaters on May 5. Early reviews indicate some surprise that the sequel is able to live up to its strange predecessor, while adding a more emotional storyline to the film.
Next up is DC with “Wonder Woman” on June 2. There may be a lot riding on this film considering the lack of critical favor for other DC Universe films (“Man of Steel,” “Batman vs. Superman” and “Suicide Squad”), though none have suffered on the box office front. Director Patty Jenkins is at the helm of “Wonder Woman,” but the movie was plagued with rumors about the quality of the final product.
The film is Wonder Woman’s origin story set in World War I, and its box office pull will be important for other movies featuring women in the lead of superhero movies, including Marvel’s “Captain Marvel” that recently nabbed two indie filmmakers as directors, and Joss Whedon’s production of “Batgirl” for DC.
There’s little question that the third movie in this category will make a ton of money. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” arrives July 7, and is on plenty of people’s most-anticipated lists given the love for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in “Captain America: Civil War.” Even though the trailer for the Marvel flick shows way too much of the movie and is dominated by a presence of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, it will undoubtedly score big for Holland’s feature debut as Spidey.
Those who like the superhero genre may also look forward to a few action movies this summer.
“The Mummy” will be the start of what Universal hopes will be a movie monster franchise along the lines of what Marvel has created with its comic book movies. Tom Cruise’s film is first up on June 9, but it also introduces Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll, who will get his own movie—as will reportedly the Invisible Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wolf Man, Van Helsing and Frankenstein’s Monster.
More appealing to some critics, however, is “War for the Planet of the Apes,” which brings back Andy Serkis’ Caesar who is pitted against a much stronger military than the two previous films in the rebooted franchise. At the head of his adversaries is Woody Harrelson, and the trailer shows a film that is only growing in its ability to animate its apes.
“Dunkirk” may be more drama than action, but Christopher Nolan’s film on July 21 will be an epic film about the World War I battle that is renowned in Britain and rarely discussed in U.S. classrooms. The film will show all sides of the war and features a cast that includes Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Cillian Murphy and Kevin Branagh.
In what may be a return to “Fifth Element” type action, director Luc Besson is adapting “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” which stars Dane Dehaan, Cara Delevingne, John Goodman, Ethan Hawke and Clive Owen. I’m skeptical this will do that well despite interest from some fans online. The title doesn’t have a broad appeal (would likely turn some away automatically), and I’m not seeing an attraction to anything the trailer has shown yet.
Also this summer is Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver” on June 28 about a young getaway car driver, “Atomic Blonde” on July 28, which is gaining traction among critics for the brutal spy-thriller starring Charlize Theron, and “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” on Aug. 18 that recently released a trailer featuring the comedy styles of Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds.
“The Dark Tower” featuring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey is also scheduled to be released on Aug. 4, but so little has been released about it that critics are a little worried about what that means for the Stephen King adaptation.
Other big action movies scheduled to come out are Guy Ritchie’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” on May 12, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell no Tales” on May 26, and “Transformers: The Last Knight” on June 23. It pains me to think the last two will make money regardless of the quality of the last films in those franchises.
There are plenty vying to be the next “Get Out” this summer, and I’ll start with one that also fits in the action category.
Ridley Scott promises “Alien: Covenant” on May 19 will be a return to horror, and critics who saw some footage at CinemaCon this year say it may very well live up to that statement. The movie is a sequel to “Prometheus,” which means Michael Fassbender is back (playing two different robots), and joining him is a fairly large cast of people who aren’t all likely to make it through to the end.
“It Comes At Night” on June 9 is more along the lines of the “backwoods horror” genre, but is already promising for critics after its teaser was released. Joel Edgerton and Riley Keough star in the film, which is itself a good indication of the quality.
Less certain is the sequel, “Annabelle: Creation” on Aug. 11. “Annabelle” has little competition its opening weekend, so it’s possible it could attract audiences after the success of “The Conjuring” where the doll was first featured.
Child-friendly and other comedies
Among this year’s children’s selections is “Despicable 3,” which will probably attract a crowd despite a ho-hum sequel and shruggable spin-off in “Minions.” Everything in the franchise has done well, and there’s nothing that indicates this won’t pull in millions.
The big children’s movie of the year may be Pixar’s “Cars 3” on June 16, though that is one of the few franchises of the animation company that continues to get the brush-off from critics.
Also opening this summer is “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” on May 19, the teenage romance drama “Everything, Everything” also on May 19, and “Captain Underpants” on June 2.
Though children’s movies do well almost no matter what release date they get, this summer is also pushing hard on the R-rated comedies, specifically those geared toward women.
Though not rated, it seems likely that Amy Schumer’s newest movie with Goldie Hawn, “Snatched,” will push boundaries with the vacation misadventures of a mother and daughter.
“Rough Night” on June 16 follows the night of a bachelorette party that goes awry after the death of a stripper. The film has Kate McKinnon and Scarlett Johannsson with comedienne Ilana Galzer to help bring the laughs.
The R-rated casino-comedy “The House” on June 30 with Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler will also likely bring in some female audiences, along with Ferrell’s usual fans.
What is aggressively not being targeted for women is the R-rated “Baywatch” that seems to have no qualms about what the original TV show thrived on. Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron lead the cast of lifeguards who are presumably decent at their job.
Though some of these may be harder to find this summer compared to others on the list, these movies are already making waves after premiering at various film festivals across the world.
“The Bad Batch” with a limited release date on June 23 is directed by Ana Lily Amirpour (who directed “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night,” available streaming on Netflix). The film stars Suki Waterhouse in the lead with plenty of help from a supporting cast of Jason Momoa, Diego Luna, Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey and Giovanni Ribisi. Many critics are in love with it, despite the film being a dystopian, cannibal story.
Though Casey Affleck certainly got some flak last year for his alleged treatment of women on sets, some critics still welcomed his newest film, “A Ghost Story” that features a ghost with an actual white sheet over it.
Sofia Coppola is also making a return with “The Beguiled,” and though there aren’t early reviews, the premise of Virginia women in the Civil War caring for a soldier while the men are gone has plenty of material for Coppola to use. The first trailer has an intriguing twist on the characters, though it may feature too many spoilers for those who want to watch the movie without too much prior knowledge.
“Detroit” has the biggest release of these films, coming out on Aug. 4 in wide release, and is being hyped as an early Oscar contender. The film is directed by Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker”) and stars “it” actor John Boyega in the film about the Detroit riots.