Summer started early this year in Hollywood with the record-breaking release of Avengers: Infinity War, and the marquee Marvel superheroes couldn’t have come at a better time.
The box office for the year is down nearly 3 percent, and the industry is looking to redeem itself after last summer, which, despite hits like Wonder Woman, had its worst performance in more than a decade. Although studios are embracing the year-round blockbuster schedule and massive hits can emerge in any month (Black Panther in February, It in September, Star Wars in December) with work and school vacations, nothing can beat summer’s potential.
This summer movie-going season, which typically runs from May through Labor Day, could get things back on track with profitable franchises. Some franchise flicks already at work at the box office are Avengers: Infinity War, which set records for the highest-grossing openings both domestic and worldwide, Deadpool 2 and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
More than a handful of sequels and familiar brands is still coming, including: The Incredibles 2 (June 15); Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22); Sicario: Day of the Soldado (June 29); The First Purge (July 4); Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6); Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (July 13); The Equalizer 2 (July 20); Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (July 20); and Mission: Impossible — Fallout (July 27).
But many studios are touting the diversity of their slates beyond the spectacle of superheroes and blockbusters.
"Today, it’s even more important that there is a wide variety of films out there, films that are provocative, that are thrilling, that obviously are entertaining and that you’re presenting them in new and exciting ways," said Jim Orr, Universal Pictures’ president of domestic theatrical distribution. "We have right now a theater-going audience who is discerning, and I think we need to keep that in mind with everything we put forth."
A number of gender-flipped reboots and bawdy female-led comedies are due, including Ocean’s 8, with Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Rihanna and others (Friday); the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remake The Hustle (June 29) with Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson; and The Spy Who Dumped Me (Aug. 3) with Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon.
Indie distributor Focus Features has films like Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman (Aug. 10) and documentaries about Mr. Rogers (Won’t You Be My Neighbor, June 15) and Pope Francis (now playing). Sundance breakouts coming include Eighth Grade (July 13), about an eighth-grade girl’s last week of middle school; Blindspotting (July 20), about a police shooting in Oakland, Calif.; and Sorry to Bother You (July 6), a quirky sci-fi tale.
Here’s a week-by-week guide to the action stars, sequels and offbeat releases coming to a screen near you.
All-star cast? Check. High-stakes heist? Check. Sounds like an Ocean’s movie, but with a little twist: women. Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter and Awkwafina.
Jodie Foster runs a hospital for criminals in a futuristic Los Angeles action-thriller. With Sterling K. Brown and Jeff Goldblum.
A solitary, middle-aged parish pastor (Ethan Hawke) gets plunged into a thriller about a crisis of faith.
When a her mother dies, a woman (Toni Collette) and her family begin to unravel cryptic and terrifying secrets about their ancestry.
The Incredibles 2
Get your supersuit ready, the Incredibles are back, and Mr. Incredible has to stay with the kids (and baby Jack-Jack) while Elastigirl is out saving the world.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Put on your comfy sneakers and cardigan for this documentary about Mr. Fred Rogers, from Academy Award winner Morgan Neville.
John Travolta stars as mob boss John Gotti, with wife Kelly Preston playing his wife.
Adult friends (Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Rashida Jones, Isla Fisher) continue the tradition of their annual, competitive game of tag.
Natalie Portman-narrated and produced documentary based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s book.
Set It Up
Young assistants try to make their lives better by setting up their cruel bosses. With Lucy Liu and Taye Diggs. (On Netflix)
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Owen (Chris Pratt) and Clare (Bryce Dallas Howard) travel back to Isla Nublar to save the remaining dinosaurs from a volcano.
Under the Silver Lake
A kooky Los Angeles-set odyssey from the director of It Follows about a guy (Andrew Garfield) searching for a disappeared girl (Riley Keough).
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro take on drug cartels responsible for smuggling terrorists across the border in this sequel.
Get Out scene-stealer Lil Rel Howery stars in this comedy about a Harlem basketball tournament.
A remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson.
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Paul Rudd is back as the shrinking superhero, now with a possible partner in Evangeline Lilly’s the Wasp.
Sorry to Bother You
A Sundance breakout, this Oakland-set sci-fi comedy stars Lakeith Stanfield as a telemarketer opposite Tessa Thompson and Armie Hammer.
A documentary from Kevin Macdonald that explores the life of Whitney Houston with the support of her estate.
Hotel Transylvania 3
Summer Vacation: Dracula (Adam Sandler) takes his family on a cruise. With Mel Brooks and Selena Gomez.
Framed and on the run, Dwayne Johnson has to save his wife and kids from the world’s tallest building, which also happens to be on fire.
A 13-year-old girl navigates her last week of middle school in Bo Burnham’s directorial debut.
The Equalizer 2
Denzel Washington reprises his role as gun for hire Robert McCall.
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again
Pack your bags to spend another ABBA-filled summer in the Greek isles with a pregnant Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who learns about her mom Donna’s youth. With Meryl Streep, Cher and Lily James.
A police shooting tests a friendship in this Oakland-set drama.
Mission: Impossible — Fallout
Tom Cruise returns as agent Ethan Hunt in the sixth installment in the franchise. St. Petersburg’s own Angela Bassett plays the director of the CIA.
The Darkest Minds
When teenagers get superpowers, the government turns against them in this sci-fi actioner based on the Alexandra Bracken novel. With Amandla Stenberg and Mandy Moore.
Christopher Robin A grownup Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is visited by some old friends. Jim Cummings voices Pooh.
The Spy Who Dumped Me
Two friends (Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon) get entangled in a high-stakes international conspiracy in this comedy.
It’s Jason Statham and a giant shark. Enough said.
Filmmaker Spike Lee tells the story of a detective (John David Washington) and his partner (Adam Driver) who go undercover to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan.
The Happytime Murders
In a world where puppets and humans coexist, two odd-couple cops (one human, one puppet) band together to solve a crime. With Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph and Joel McHale.
Crazy Rich Asians
An American woman (Constance Wu) gets transported into a world of excess when she flies to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family in this adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s popular book.
A romantic comedy with Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd and Ethan Hawke as an elusive rocker.
The terrifying boogeyman with the featureless face is coming to haunt theaters.