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17 Blockbusters and Studio Releases You Can’t Miss This Summer Season

As they vie for the big bucks at this season's box office, summer's wannabe blockbusters offer a little something for everyone: biopics to rom coms, big monsters to tiny Pokemon, and more.

“Men in Black: International,” June 14

The return of the “Men in Black” franchise might not seem like a cause for celebration, but it’s easily one of the most anticipated blockbusters of the summer thanks to the re-teaming of “Thor: Ragnarok” duo Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. The two actors have chemistry that sets the big screen on fire and boast a comedic rapport that should make “MIB: International” endlessly watchable. Throw in a supporting cast that includes Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Kumail Nanjiani, and Rebecca Ferguson, plus director F. Gary Gray back in tentpole mold after helming “The Fate of the Furious,” and it’s clear no one should be worried that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are sitting this installment out. —ZS

“Child’s Play,” June 21

If you’re a moviegoer of a certain age, few things scared you more as a child than Chucky. The doll possessed by a serial killer grew funnier and less frightening in later installments, making this inevitable reboot more welcome than most — not that series creator Don Mancini, who has no involvement with this film and is displeased with its very existence, would agree. Brad Dourif is likewise conspicuous in his absence, and though it’s difficult to imagine anyone else voicing Chucky, the fact that Aubrey Plaza is starring alongside “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Widows,” and “Atlanta” breakout Brian Tyree Henry may compel you to give this one the benefit of the doubt. We could all use a new buddy, even if it’s an evil Buddi doll. —MN

“Toy Story 4,” June 21

Toy Story 4

“Toy Story 4”

Disney

“Toy Story 3” was so well-crafted it has been hard to get too annoyed at Pixar for becoming so sequel happy. The fourth installment in the franchise that built the studio is another “lost toy” tale, introducing Forky (“Veep” star Tony Hale), the new favorite homemade toy, who identifies as a spork, not a homemade art project/play thing. Meanwhile Woody (Tom Hanks) and Bo Peep (Annie Potts) discover a tempting life outside of being a toy, leaving Buzz (Tim Allen) and the gang to hit the road searching for their absent friends. Andrew Stanton, who wrote the script with Stephany Folsom, is the only remaining anchor of the original foursome — John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Stanton, and Lee Unkrich — that steered the first three films. Director Josh Cooley — who rose from Pixar intern to “Inside Out” writer and storyboard artist (he also wrote and directed the Pixar short “George & A.J.”) — grabs the reigns. In addition to Hale, there are new voice performances from Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, and Ally Maki. CO

“Spider-Man: Far From Home,” July 5

The first post-“Avengers: Endgame” Marvel feature to hit theaters, the Jon Watts-helmed sequel has predictably kept some of its most basic plot points (like, well, when exactly does this thing take place?) wisely obscured, all the better to play up the pathos of Spidey’s demise in “Infinity War.” Details aside, Watts and star Tom Holland’s first Spider-Man feature was a charming breath of fresh air after a pair of Spidey-centric franchises that offered up their own various disappointments, and it stands to reason that “Far From Home” will provide similar elements. This time around, young Peter Parker and pals are on a European class tour, one that seems poised for my danger, high jinks, and time spent with an amusing cast of supporting stars. Bonus: an obviously alive Spider-Man! —KE

“Stuber,” July 12

The Dave Bautista-Kumail Nanjiani action-comedy scripted by Tripper Clancy takes place over one harrowing night in the life of an Uber driver named Stu (Nanjiani) who picks up a determined cop (Bautista) on the trail of a killer. The movie co-stars Iko Uwais, the actor and fight choreographer who toplined “The Raid” and “The Raid: Redemption,” so expect impressive action setpieces, and a likely showdown between characters played by Bautista and Uwais. Directed by Michael Dowse, “Stuber” aims for the classic mismatched buddy-action comedies movies of the ‘80s, like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Belushi in “Red Heat.” Natalie Morales, Betty Gilpin, Jimmy Tatro, Mira Sorvino and Karen Gillan co-star. TO

“The Lion King,” July 19

The Lion King

“The Lion King”

Disney

Among the many live-action retreads of Disney animated classics in 2019, from “Dumbo” to “Aladdin,” Jon Favreau’s spectacular revision of the 1994 African savanna odyssey looms large. Some of that stems from the ongoing currency of “The Lion King” itself, which continues to be devoured (both as movie and Broadway sensation) 25 years after its release. And some of it has to do with Favreau’s track record with motion-capture technology in the Disney sandbox, with his visually stunning 2016 rendition of “The Jungle Book” raising the bar for the approach. However, while the notion of a faithful look back at exiled lion prince Simba and his pals with 21st century imagery in play holds plenty of technological intrigue, the latest “Lion King” comes equipped with a dream cast that’s just as exciting to anticipate. This one features Donald Glover as Simba and no less than Beyoncé as love interest Nala, with James Earl Jones reprising his role as King Mufasa. —EK

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” July 26

"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Sony

“It’s not Charles Manson, it’s 1969,” Quentin Tarantino told IndieWire of his ninth (and possibly, his penultimate) feature film, which reunites the celebrated auteur with “Django Unchained” star Leonardo DiCaprio. Here he plays a more attractive character, Rick Dalton, a sleek television Western star (think “Rawhide” era Clint Eastwood) trying to break into movies in 1969 Los Angeles. “Inglourious Basterds” star Brad Pitt plays Cliff Booth, Dalton’s hunky stunt double and roommate; they live next door to director Roman Polanski. Tarantino’s starry ensemble also includes first-timers Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, Polanski’s doomed pregnant wife, Damian Lewis as movie star Steve McQueen, Al Pacino as Dalton’s long-time agent Marvin Shwarz, Dakota Fanning as Charles Manson lieutenant Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, and Emile Hirsch as murdered hairstylist Jay Sebring, along with James Marsden, Scoot McNairy, Michael Madsen, Timothy Olyphant and the late Luke Perry. How much will we see of the Charles Manson murders? Looks like we get to find out in Cannes. —AT

“The New Mutants,” August 2

Watching the trailer for this Marvel Comics adaptation, you might not even guess it’s based on a comic at all, and it if feels more like a teen horror film, well, it is. A more eerie, horrific perspective on the mutant mythos of Marvel’s X-Men titles, “The New Mutants” comics debuted in the 1980s. License holder Fox, which held the rights to all of Marvel’s mutant properties until being acquired by Disney, clearly wanted to bring in a different, younger audience for this film — one that might not have been lured by Hugh Jackman flashing his abs. But because of the Disney deal, some are speculating if “The New Mutants” would ever get released, as Disney’s Marvel Studios surely has their own plans for mutant characters beyond what Fox has done since the first “X-Men” in 2000. As of this writing, the oft-pushed-back feature is still on deck for a late summer release, even if stars Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Charlie Heaton have been vocal about not knowing what the heck is happening with it. If it does make it to the big screen, it will be worth the watch, if only to see how such a very different twist on an old genre translates. —CB

“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” August 2

“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw”

Universal Pictures

After eight films that have amassed almost $5 billion worldwide, the “Fast & Furious” franchise releases its first stand-alone vehicle as Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprise their roles as Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw. The movie follows brawny lawman Hobbs (Johnson), a loyal agent of America’s Diplomatic Security Service, and lawless pariah Shaw (Statham), a former British military elite operative, sworn enemies who first faced off in 2015’s “Furious 7.” Now, they have to partner up when cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton (Idris Elba) gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever. Joining the party are Vanessa Kirby and Helen Mirren, who round out the starring cast. Directed by David Leitch (“Deadpool 2”) from a script by “Fast & Furious” architect Chris Morgan, “Hobbs & Shaw” will blast open a new door in the “Fast” universe when it lands in theaters in early August. —TO

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” August 9

If this movie is half as unsettling as the original book’s illustrations were, it’ll easily be the scariest movie of the summer (if not the year). The fact that Guillermo del Toro is producing and “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” helmer André Øvredal inspires confidence that “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” will be a cut above the usual horror fare, even if cynics are skeptical of an adaptation of a series of children’s books. Set in small-town America circa 1968 and featuring a cast of relative unknowns, it could end up surprising people and being the kind of sleeper hit that makes audiences afraid to actually go to sleep. —MN

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