Summer Movie Lineup Offers Hope For Cinemas, Something For Everyone | New
The movie industry hasn’t had much to be optimistic about in recent years, with pandemic disruptions and the rise of streaming giving cinemas a boost.
A naturally temperamental Warner Brothers sent their entire slate of 2021 movies to HBO Max, a boost for their streamer but a blow to results, while The Last of the Great Movie Stars Tom Cruise saw its very sequel. The long-awaited “Top Gun” has been postponed six times since its original 2019 release date. That the high-flying “Top Gun: Maverick” finally hit theaters on May 24th signals at least a momentary vote of confidence in theaters.
Yes, summer movie season is back. So is SARS-CoV-2, in a rapidly rising sixth wave (so go to the snack bar at your own risk). In traditional summer movie fashion, What’s Next emphasizes large-scale action and family flicks, but also counter-programming for those looking for something quieter and more sophisticated. Your Friendly Neighborhood Movie Critic is here to break it all down, including some enticing streaming options for those more comfortable in a home theater this season. (One caveat: Release dates are approximate. Only COVID concerns will change blockbuster release dates, but “smaller” movies may hit our marketplace with a slightly delayed time after their LA and LA debuts. New York.)
The summer movie season unofficially kicked off on May 6, with the release of Disney’s latest Marvel superhero extravaganza “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” Superheroes still dominate blockbuster cinema, and Marvel hopes lightning will strike again on July 8 with the comedy “Thor: Love and Thunder” promoting Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor opposite Chris Hemsworth’s Thor Classic.
Although Warner’s DC Comics film franchise has mostly ceded the summer to Marvel, it’s targeting kids with “DC League of Super-Pets” (July 29), in which heavyweight stars like Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart lend their voice to these legacy characters. who are the faithful companions of Superman, Batman and others.
Meanwhile, a few smaller-scale, kid-friendly action flicks want a bit of that box office superhero mojo: “Secret Headquarters” (August 5), about a boy who starts to suspecting his father is a superhero, and “Samaritan” (August 26), in which a boy begins to suspect that a character played by Sylvester Stallone might be a long-lost superhero. Who says there aren’t new ideas in Hollywood?
Franchise photos always abound during the summer, and arguably the biggest of the bunch will be “Jurassic World Dominion” (June 10), which brings back legacy stars Laura Dern, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum to help Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard to argue dinosaurs go wild. A week later, Disney-Pixar tries a new angle on the beloved “Toy Story” line with “Lightyear” (June 17), an origin story of how the “real” Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) went for the first time to infinity – and beyond!
Also in the animated franchise’s origin story space: “Minions: The Rise of Gru” (July 1), with the fifth film in the “Despicable Me” universe recounting the adventures of young Gru (Steve Carell) in the middle of those sensitive yellow marshmallows, the minions.
Expect plenty of lively offers. Fox’s charming animated family sitcom “Bob’s Burgers” makes its big screen debut with “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” (May 27). A24 delivers the film festival hit “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” (June 24), which mixes live action with a stop-motion animated shell. And the martial arts theme “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” (July 15) managed to attract a cast of cool voices: Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, Michelle Yeoh, George Takei, Mel Brooks and Djimon Housou, among others.
Action was once the bread and butter of the summer movie season, but outside of superhero movies, action is a genre in decline. Brad Pitt hopes to change all that with the action comedy “Bullet Train” (August 5), in which he plays one of five assassins who begin to understand how their missions are interconnected. The more budget-conscious horror genre took over, starting with writer-director Alex Garland’s buzzy “Men” (May 20) (“Ex Machina”). Not to be outdone, writer-director-producer Jordan Peele (“Get Out”) returns with another chilling taunt in “Nope” (July 22); like his previous “We,” “Nope” is a California horror cocktail that comes with a sci-fi twist. The scares keep coming with David Cronenberg’s return to body horror “Crimes of the Future” (June 3), starring Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Stewart; nailbiter “The Black Phone” (June 24), with Ethan Hawke playing a serial killer for former “Doctor Strange” director Scott Derrickson; and the slasher comedy “Bodies Bodies Bodies” (August 5).
Although summer films tend to be four-quadrant pictures, appealing to the widest audience possible, many adult films hope to appeal to older audiences or at least gain some spin-off from sold-out blockbuster showings. Even the genre whose hallmark is sophistication has its franchises, as evidenced by “Downton Abbey: A New Era” (May 20), the latest installment in the film series spawned by television. Fans of musical biopics can check out Austin Butler as the king of rock ‘n’ roll opposite Tom Hanks’ Colonel Parker in Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” (June 24), while “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” (July 15 ) grants an adventure trip to the widowed English housekeeper of Lesley Manville. The closest this summer may come to a read on the beach, “Where the Crawdads Sing” (July 15), adapts the hit mystery drama under producer Reese Witherspoon’s imprimatur.
The cautious, guardian, and immune-compromised don’t have visions of popcorn and soda dancing in their heads, but streamers have them covered in aggressive slates of original movies. Disney+ has the chipmunks’ animated revival “Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers” (May 20), while Disney’s Hulu arm has become home to Searchlight Pictures, with offerings being tested by film festivals like the romantic comedy gay-themed “Fire Island” (June 3), Emma Thompson’s age-gap sex comedy “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” (June 17), and youth satire Zoey Deutch-Dylan O’Brien with “Not Okay” (July 29) – oh, and Hulu is also hosting the “Predator” prequel “Prey” (August 5), indicating that it might be a little too intense for Disney+. HBO Max has the reboot of “Father of the Bride” (June 16) starring Andy Garcia, Prime Video is dropping the alarming dramedy “Emergency” (May 27), and AppleTV+ has caught Cooper Raiff’s “S#!%house” followed by ” Cha Cha Real Smooth”, a comedy-drama starring Raiff alongside Dakota Johnson.
One way Netflix is placating jittery shareholders is the subscription streaming service’s slew of original summer movies ready to roll out. The eclectic list includes sci-fi thriller “Spiderhead” (June 17), from “Top Gun: Maverick” director Joseph Kosinski and star producer Chris Hemsworth; Adam Sandler’s basketball drama “Hustle” (June 8); the animated comic book adventure “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie” (August 5); “13: The Musical” (August 12), freshly adapted from the 2008 Broadway production; “The Gray Man” (July 15), an action thriller directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (“Avengers: Endgame”) and starring Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas; the Jane Austen adaptation “Persuasion,” starring Dakota Johnson and Henry Golding; the action comedy “Day Shift” (August 12), starring Jamie Foxx as a vampire hunter trying to raise an 8-year-old girl; and the Mark Wahlberg-Kevin Hart comedy “Me Time” (August 26).
Not enough for you? Summer has a lot of odds and ends to grab attention. How about a mystery thriller starring, written and directed by Ryan, BJ Novak of “The Office”? It would be “Vengeance” (July 29). Or writer-director John Michael McDonagh’s latest (“The Guard,” “Cavalry”), a drama starring Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain? That one is “The Forgiven” (July 1). Want to see Idris Elba being chased by a lion? Check out “Beast” (August 19). Or maybe you prefer Elba in “Mad Max” author George Miller’s epic fantasy romance, “Three Thousand Years of Longing” (August 31). Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”) switches gears in the Sundance-fueled noir crime drama “Emily the Criminal” (Aug. 12), and I’m so down for the psychological thriller “Resurrection” (Aug. 5) , which features two of the best actors working today, Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth.
Whether it’s jumbo sodas in cup holders or piña coladas on the couch, we hope you can take a break and toast some summer movies for escapism or, at least, a momentary distraction. they offer to our tired psyches. Hang in there, moviegoers!