So far, the summer movie season has proven to be a roller coaster ride of epic proportions. June 2016 brought a pair of massive misfires — at least domestically — in the long-in-development releases Warcraft and Independence Day: Resurgence, proving just how critical timeliness is in connecting with audiences. Of course, the month also delivered hits both expected (Finding Dory) and surprising (The Shallows). July, however, has an even more competitive slate of films ahead, from anticipated sequels and adaptations to a certain controversial reboot to a beloved 1980s property. Let’s delve in, shall we?
Here are 10 films to check out in July 2016:
The BFG (Release Date: July 1)
As a filmmaker, Steven Spielberg operates on a different level than nearly every other director in Hollywood. That’s what happens when your films account for some of the most beloved, profitable and influential releases ever to hit the big screen. So the fact that Spielberg hasn’t yet made a film with Disney seems all the more shocking, especially considering the Mouse House’s continuing box office domination, thanks to acquired brands like Marvel and Pixar.
The BFG finally brings Disney and Spielberg together for an adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel. Newcomer Ruby Barnhill plays a young girl who is swept up into an adventure amidst giants, and Mark Rylance — who earned an Oscar for his work in Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies — plays the “big friendly giant” who befriends her. Buzz about the film has been largely positive, indicating that the director may have yet another winner on his hands.
Check out the latest trailer for The BFG.
The Purge: Election Year (Release Date: July 1)
Long-running horror franchises often face difficulty reining in newcomers who failed to see previous releases, and The Purge franchise is no exception. After all, the provocative premise — which revolves around a national policy that allows all crime to be legal for one night a year — is precisely the kind that would alienate moviegoers not prepared for extreme violence and a certain level of disturbing material.
That being said, The Purge: Election Year could very well overcome at least some of that stigma, thanks to its timely Fourth of July weekend release in the midst of a particularly charged presidential race. The fact that Frank Grillo is returning from the generally better-received 2014 second entry in the franchise, The Purge: Anarchy, also bodes well for this third go-round.
Check out the latest trailer for The Purge: Election Year.
Swiss Army Man (Release Date: July 1)
Given the bizarre story and tone of this Sundance Film Festival selection, it’s understandable that it has received a divisive response among critics. Swiss Army Man follows a man (Paul Dano) who is marooned on an island and comes across a rotting corpse (Daniel Radcliffe). Before long, the two form a burgeoning friendship that defies all logic and develops into one of the strangest films of the year.
Dano has proven time and again that he has tremendous range onscreen, and Radcliffe has been trying to shed his Harry Potter image for several years. Swiss Army Man is already helping both actors gain recognition for their offbeat work, and the film could gain some traction as a sleeper hit among the big-budget releases in the coming weeks. Of course, its weird tale might not work for everyone though.
Check out the latest trailer for Swiss Army Man.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (Release Date: July 8)
Zac Efron has stealthily made the transition from the fresh-faced star of Disney’ High School Musical franchise into a bonafide comedic leading man, and likewise, Adam DeVine — buoyed by TV’s Workaholics and films like Pitch Perfect — has become a breakout star. So pairing the two men for the madcap Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates seems like an easy decision.
The film — which is, sort of, based on a true story — follows Efron and DeVine as two brothers who are duped by a pair of party girl slackers (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) posing as respectable young women to get a free trip to Hawaii. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is among the only high-profile R-rated comedies set for release this summer (stay tuned for another one), and as such, it may be a great choice for moviegoers looking for a laugh.
Check out the latest trailer for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.
The Secret Life of Pets (Release Date: July 8)
Illumination Entertainment was responsible for one of last year’s biggest moneymakers in the Despicable Me spinoff Minions. While The Secret Life of Pets doesn’t have the might of a proven franchise behind it, Universal has given the film a strong and steady marketing push that will likely attract a similar audience as last month’s monster Pixar hit, Finding Dory.
The Secret Life of Pets features a similar high-concept idea in that it explores what happens in the world of household pets when their owners are away. A stellar voice cast led by Louis C.K. and Eric Stonestreet should be able to wring tons of comedic and storytelling potential from the project, and early reviews have indicated that the movie is one of the best animated films to hit theaters this year.
Check out the latest trailer for The Secret Life of Pets.
Ghostbusters (Release Date: July 15)
Ah, so it has arrived. The reboot that the world has argued over for months is finally en route to the big screen. From its all-female cast and ill-received marketing campaign to its Fall Out Boy theme song, Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters has been the subject of some particularly vitriolic fan reactions. Yet, all of this hate is radically premature, since no one has yet to see the film.
When a beloved property is given the overhaul treatment, some fans are understandably going to be skeptical about how a new cast and crew will interpret the concept. However, the jury is still out on whether Feig’s film will be this summer’s Fantastic Four-sized flop or a welcome surprise. Its cast is comprised of some of the funniest women working today, and Feig’s last three films — Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy — have been hilarious. So perhaps we’re all misjudging his Ghostbusters? We’ll know soon enough.
Check out the latest trailer for Ghostbusters.
Lights Out (Release Date: July 22)
James Wan has been on a horror movie hot streak these past few years with films like Insidious and The Conjuring. So naturally, any project he takes on is immediately one to watch. For that reason, Lights Out — which counts Wan among its producers — could follow the director’s own The Conjuring 2 as the next big horror film to scare up audiences.
Based on David F. Sandberg’s 2013 short film, this supernatural horror release centers on an evil spirit that is only visible in darkness. Sandberg makes his directorial debut with the low-budget film, and its premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival has yielded positive reviews so far. Whether Lights Out has what it takes to stand out among more high-profile releases remains to be seen, but don’t count it out yet.
Check out the latest trailer for Lights Out.
Star Trek Beyond (Release Date: July 22)
J.J. Abrams is no longer behind the camera on the rebooted Star Trek franchise, having left to take on Star Wars: The Force Awakens instead. Fans frustrated with the unnecessary secrecy surrounding the villain of Star Trek Into Darkness may consider that a good thing, but so far, the marketing campaign for Fast Five director Justin Lin’s Star Trek Beyond has received a mixed reaction.
Nevertheless, we’re hopeful that Lin’s film could take the series into an exciting and fresh direction. Star Trek Beyond is being released the same year as the 50th anniversary of the entire franchise, which began with that classic 1966-1969 TV series. So in that regard, it feels like a celebration of all that’s come before. Moreover, the new film sadly offers the last chance fans will have to see the late Anton Yelchin onscreen as Pavel Chekhov.
Check out the latest trailer for Star Trek Beyond.
Bad Moms (Release Date: July 29)
Ever since Bridesmaids proved to be a breakout hit, Hollywood has finally realized that raunchy comedy fronted by women can be just as popular at the box office as those led by their male counterparts. Case in point, Bad Moms aims to reach the same audience as Paul Feig’s ensemble comedy by demonstrating that ladies can behave just as badly and to the same hilarious results.
Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn play three stressed-out mothers who attempt to break out of their responsibility-ridden lives, and in the process, they face off against a legion of self-proclaimed perfect moms led by Christina Applegate’s character. Bad Moms is written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the screenwriters behind The Hangover. So with any luck, this new film can similarly become a breakout summer hit.
Check out the latest trailer for Bad Moms.
Jason Bourne (Release Date: July 29)
When Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass left the Bourne franchise after The Bourne Ultimatum in 2007, it looked like a very real possibility that the series in its original form might be over. The studio even brought in Jeremy Renner as a new lead in the pseudo-sequel The Bourne Legacy. Alas, that film’s underwhelming reception set the stage for Damon and Greengrass to reunite for a new adventure, this time titled simply Jason Bourne.
This fifth entry in the spy thriller series sees Damon’s titular badass mysteriously return with a new quest for answers. Julia Stiles also reprises her franchise role as Nicky Parsons, while the cast adds Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel and newly minted Oscar winner Alicia Vikander. Jason Bourne is probably one of the few films this month that is virtually guaranteed to connect with audiences, but we hope it’s the best Bourne adventure yet.
Check out the latest trailer for Jason Bourne.
The slate of films hitting theaters this month may be as hot as the summer months themselves, but if this season has taught us anything, it’s that the box office is an incredibly fickle and unpredictable place. That said, we’re interested in seeing how some of this month’s biggest gambles (looking at you, Ghostbusters!) pan out, as the results either way will provide an interesting conversation. Of course, we also want to know what films you’re most excited to check out this month. So be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Once again, here are the 10 films to check out in July:
July 1: The BFG, The Purge: Election Year, Swiss Army Man
July 8: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, The Secret Life of Pets
July 15: Ghostbusters
July 22: Lights Out, Star Trek Beyond
July 29: Bad Moms, Jason Bourne