This week, IndieWire will be rolling out our annual Summer Preview, including offerings that span genres, niche offerings for dedicated fans, a closer look at festival favorites finally headed to a theater near you, and plenty of special attention to all the new movies you need to get through a jam-packed summer movie-going season.
Check back throughout the week for a new look at the best the season has to offer, and clear your schedule, because we’re going to fill it right up.
While the box office landscape is so often dominated in the summer months by franchise tentpoles and sequel after sequel after sequel, this season includes some major contenders that offer a wide berth of options: biopics to rom coms, monsters to tiny Pokemon, plus a brand new joint from Quentin Tarantino. Sure, the superhero stuff is there, too, but summer 2019 has plenty more for audiences looking for something a touch different from the usual studio fare.
Today — a look at 17 blockbusters (or would-be blockbusters) well worth your time and movie-going dollars.
“Long Shot,” May 3
Seth Rogen’s rambunctious brand of self-deprecation tends to dictate the tone of the many raunchy studio comedies he’s appeared in over the last decade, but “Long Shot” finally provides a co-star who can match that dopey charm. In director Jonathan Levine’s frisky romantic comedy, Charlize Theron’s workaholic Secretary of State exudes power and intimidation with her every move, putting Rogen’s overbearing journalist-turned-speechwriter in his place even as they fall in love; in the process, she injects this formulaic movie with fresh bite. —EK
“Detective Pikachu,” May 10
The adorable world of Pokemon has spawned over 20 animated films, but this summer’s Ryan Reynolds-starring feature marks the little monsters’ first big jump into the live-action fray. Smartly centered on everyone’s most favorite ‘mon (Pikachu, duh), the Rob Letterman film expands out a natty little idea inspired by a 2016 video game: what if Pikachu wasn’t just totally cute, but also a world-class detective? Early looks at the film have capitalized on the obvious humor of Reynolds voicing the lil guy, with rising star Justice Smith on hand as the only human who can hear him, with an eye towards the wonderment of seeing the rest of the Pokemon fam getting their own live-action versions. Fans of the franchise will likely flock to the feature, but it also seems like the rare adaptation that can snare newbies with its creative take on a rich mythos. —KE
“John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum,” May 17
If ever you find yourself feeling down about the world, take solace in the fact that Keanu Reeves is still being Keanu Reeves. He’s also being John Wick for a third go-round this summer — the first time he’s done that since entering the Matrix way back when — proving himself a friend not only to the dogs of the world but also, of course, action-minded moviegoers. Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, Jason Mantzoukas, and Hiroyuki Sanada have joined the cast this time around, as has a fancy subtitle taken from a Roman saying meaning “if you want peace, prepare for war.” One imagines Keanu is pretty damn prepared at this point, ditto anyone coming back to “John Wick” for more. —MN
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” May 31
Following the global success of “Godzilla” and “Kong: Skull Island” comes the next chapter in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ cinematic Monsterverse: “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” an action adventure that pits Godzilla against some of the most popular monsters in pop culture history. The new story follows the efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members contend with a series of mega monsters, including, of course, the mighty Godzilla. As these ancient species rise again, they battle each other for dominance, leaving the future of humanity entirely uncertain. The film was directed by Michael Dougherty (“Krampus”), with an ensemble cast led by Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, and “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown in her feature film debut. A sequel to “Godzilla” (2014), “King of the Monsters is the thirty-fifth film in the Godzilla franchise. —TO
“Ma,” May 31
Octavia Spencer reuniting with her “The Help” director Tate Taylor is not exactly the stuff of cinema dreams, but seeing Spencer in the film’s first trailer playing off, and against, her sweet-as-pie persona in this Blumhouse horror film looks delicious. When loner Sue Ann (Spencer) buys a group of high schoolers some booze and offers her sweet basement as a place to party and avoid drinking-and-driving, it seems too good to be true. And it is, as the rules and hospitality of the woman who insists on being called “Ma” turns into a source of obsessive terror for the good-time-having teens. —CO
“Rocketman,” May 31
Even if Taron Egerton’s Elton John is only a shadow of Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury, (that is, if you think prosthetic teeth and lip-synching make an Oscar-worthy performance), “Rocketman” will still be ten times better than “Bohemian Rhapsody” — the bar is just that low. Egerton’s young Elton already has interest piqued, thanks to early photos in which he is clad some of Elton John’s most fabulous looks, including one provocative spread-legged pose in gold lamé hot pants, and recent footage screenings in New York and Los Angeles that have been very well-received by industry crowds. Having been burned once by “Bohemian Rhapsody,” LGBT audiences will be hyper-vigilant in evaluating the movie’s queerness, and they will only be satisfied with the most joyous of celebrations. It’s what the Pinball Wizard would want. —JD
“Dark Phoenix,” June 7
It’s high time Jean Grey get her very own X-Men movie — and this time they even got a natural redhead to play her. In the latest addition to the non-MCU-but-still-Marvel franchise, Sophie Turner trades in her fur cloak and dire wolf for a superpower no less dangerous than Sansa Stark’s ruthless political mind. It’s a huge outing for the “Game of Thrones” star to lead a blockbuster, but seeing as “GOT” is the blockbuster of prestige television, she’ll be right at home. Even better, she’ll go head to head with reigning franchise queen Jennifer Lawrence, promising not one but two powerful women in the spotlight. As Jessica Chastain fills out a still-mysterious third role, and the success of “Captain Marvel” presages a strong turnout for woman superheroes — the sparks are definitely going to fly. —JD
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