The 2017 Summer Movie Season is right around the corner and so, we have selected 20 “must-see” films arriving in theaters over the next four months. It may feel a bit odd to realize that the official summer blockbuster season hasn’t already started, what with such box office heavyweights as Fate of the Furious, Beauty and the Beast, Logan and Kong: Skull Island having already hit the scene; not to mention, surprise breakout hits such as Split and Get Out pulling in sizable crowds during their respective theatrical runs. While blockbusters may be popping up in just about every time of the year nowadays, the months of May through August are still prime tentpole season in Hollywood.
As has also become customary in recent years, there will be multiple superhero movie universe installments hitting theaters during 2017’s Summer Movie Season (of both the Marvel and DC variety). On top of that, there are multiple franchise revivals/relaunches on the way, as well as some good old-fashioned sequels and reboots/remakes. Per Screen Rant tradition, however, our list goes beyond the biggest tentpoles of the summer and includes some promising indie films that are on the way, as well as more dramatic offerings and even a handful of auteur-driven productions, no less.
Per usual, these movies are listed in the order of their release date, so we leave it to you (the readers) to decide which ones are your most anticipated releases of the Summer 2017 Movie Season. So, without further ado, here is Screen Rant’s 2017 Summer Movie Preview – The 20 Films to See.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)
A Marvel Cinematic Universe film once again kicks-off the Summer Movie Season this year, this time in the form of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The Guardians sequel brings back James Gunn as director (and sole screenwriter, this time), in addition to Guardians 1 stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, among other actors who played key roles during Gunn’s original romp across the MCU’s cosmos, from back in 2014.
Joining the core Guardians cast members in the sequel is screen icon Kurt Rusell, playing Star-Lord’s (Pratt) dad – who in the MCU continuity, is the (literal) biggest visual effect ever, in the form of Ego the Living Planet. The film also introduces Mantis (Pom Klementieff) to the big screen, among other former and/or future members of the Guardians squad in the Marvel Comics Universe. Although big purple baddie Thanos (Josh Brolin) doesn’t appear in the Guardians sequel, the movie includes no less than five post-credits scenes. While some of those beats will be of the purely silly variety (think Baby Groot’s dance and Howard the Duck’s cameo in the credits for Guardians 1), others will lay the groundwork for important events and characters to come in the MCU’s ever-expanding mythology.
Early reviews for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 suggest the film is more a solid continuation of the franchise, rather than an ante-upping sequel (a la Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Of course, that still sets the stage for the rest of this summer’s superhero offerings to reach the same bar of quality as the Guardians sequel… and maybe even exceed it.
Alien: Covenant (May 19)
The last time Ridley Scott revisited the Alien franchise (back in 2012), the result was Prometheus: a quasi-prequel to Scott’s 1979 sci-fi/horror classic that took the property in some unexpected directions, to either the chagrin and/or delight of longtime fans. This year’s Alien: Covenant sees Scott take the series back to its roots, pitting a group of unsuspecting human space travelers against one nasty extraterrestrial beast that’s out to kill them all.
This time however, the humans are the members of the colony spaceship Covenant and the beast they cross paths with is the “Neomorph”, a deadly variation on the iconic (and already plenty-dangerous) Xenomorph that was by and large absent from Prometheus; unless you count the Deacon that was “birthed” by an Engineer during the final scene. Speaking of the Engineers, that mysterious alien race’s home planet serves as the main setting of Covenant; paying off the events that transpired in Prometheus before it (namely, Elizabeth Shaw and David heading off to find their world).
Alien: Covenant, in other words, aspires to be a thematic continuation of the 2001-esque Prometheus (read: a more slow-burn and overtly philosophical sci-fi film), while at the same time delivering the relentless, sci-fi flavored horror movie experience that Scott’s original Alien did, all those years ago. The hope is that Covenant succeeds in balancing those two approaches and in doing so, unifies Prometheus‘ detractors and fans alike. One hopes that it does anyway, seeing as (apparently) Scott intends to keep making Alien movies for as long as he’s still breathing.
Baywatch (May 25)
Even as the Dwayne Johnson co-headlined The Fate of the Furious continues to tear it up at the global box office, fans of ‘The Rock’ are looking forward to his next starring vehicle in May: Baywatch. A big screen reboot of the 1980s/90s TV mainstay of the same name, the movie costars Zac Efron as well as Alexandra Daddario (The Rock’s onscreen daughter in San Andreas) and Ilfenesh Hadera (Billions), among others, as the highly-photogenic members of the lifeguard crew that protects a popular Californian beach.
Much like 21 Jump Street before it, Baywatch the movie reimagines its TV show inspiration (itself, something of a soapy drama) as a raunchy action/comedy that revolves foremost around a buddy duo (Johnson and Efron) who must solve a crime plot and, quite literally, save their “Baywatch brand” in the process of doing so. Seth Gordon of Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief and The Goldbergs fame, is the director leading the charge behind the camera, while Quantico‘s Priyanka Chopra takes on the role of the movie’s “big bad.”
Putting an R-Rated movie spin on a popular TV show title isn’t necessarily a surefire recipe for success (as CHIPS demonstrated earlier this year), but Baywatch certainly won’t be hurt by having both Johnson and Efron play to their strengths at self-aware, tongue in cheek action/comedy. Either way, Johnson is already getting started on filming his next movie (the Rampage video game adaptation), so The Rock won’t be taking a break anytime soon; regardless of whether Baywatch is a hit, miss, or something in-between.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26)
Jack Sparrow hasn’t set sail on the high seas in six years, following the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in 2011. This year’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – the fifth installment in Disney’s theme park ride-inspired, swashbuckling franchise – not only brings Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack back to the big screen; it allow sees Orlando Bloom return to the role of series mainstay Will Turner, a character who hasn’t appeared onscreen since the release of the original Pirates trilogy finale, 2007’s At World’s End, a decade ago.
Dead Men Tell No Tales pits Jack against one Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), a pirate-hating captain who returns from the dead, many years after the younger Mr. Sparrow led him to his doom. Joining Jack on his adventure is Will and Elizabeth Swann’s (Keira Knightley) now-grown son, Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), as well as The Maze Runner‘s Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth: an astronomer with vital information that Jack and Henry need, in order to stop Salazar and (in Henry’s case) possibly save Will from his dark fate.
Early reactions to Dead Men Tell No Tales peg the film as being a return to form for the franchise, following the not-so-beloved (but very commercially-successful) On Stranger Tides. Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg do seem to be taking a back-to-basics approach with their addition to the Pirates franchise – including, building upon the mythology of the original Pirates film trilogy in a significant manner (something On Stranger Tides did not do) – and the fifth Pirates adventure may yet succeed at breathing fresh life into the franchise, because of that.
Wonder Woman (June 2)
Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince gets her own DC Extended Universe solo film with this year’s release of Wonder Woman. Joining Gadot onscreen in the movie is Chris Pine as WWI-era pilot Steve Trevor, while the movie’s behind-the-scenes talent includes Patty Jenkins (of Monster fame) as director and DC Entertainment President Geoff Johns as co-screenwriter; drawing from the screen story that he co-wrote with Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice director, Zack Snyder.
Wonder Woman takes place well before the events of the previously-released installments in the DCEU, following Diana as she grows up within Themyscira society and begins to tap into the full extent of her super-powers; before then journeying to the world of men with Steve, in the hopes of saving humankind in the wake of ‘The Great War’. While the historical backdrop of the film means that Wonder Woman is going to be fairly standalone in terms of its connections to the larger DCEU (a la Captain America: The First Avenger and the MCU), Jenkins’ film will nonetheless introduce key elements that will come into play in future DCEU movies. That includes a proper introduction to Amazonian society, before it serves a significant role in the prologue to Snyder’s Justice League, later this year.
Based on the trailers and the collective talent involved, Wonder Woman is shaping up to be not only a great solo movie debut for Diana Prince, but also the DCEU feature that manages to please both the fans and the detractors of previous installments in DC’s cinematic universe. Now everyone just has to wait and see if that actually turns out to be the case.
The Mummy (June 9)
As a change of pace, this year’s addition to the growing pile of Tom Cruise-led summer movies is neither a Mission: Impossible film nor a fresh IP adaptation (see Jack Reacher, Edge of Tomorrow), but rather a reboot/relaunch of a long-established film franchise. That would be a reference to The Mummy, to be exact, based on the Universal supernatural horror/adventure property that originated with the Boris Karloff-starring The Mummy in 1932 – though nowadays, most filmgoers are better familiar with the Brendan Frasier-headlined Mummy series than began in the 1990s.
This 2017 version of The Mummy differs from its predecessors in some pretty important ways. For starters, the eponymous character – once again, an ancient Egyptian who awakens in the present-day with world domination on their mind – is now Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), rather than Imhotep from the previous Mummy films. However, the bigger sticking point is that the new Mummy could serve as the first brick in the wall of a modern shared cinematic universe, bringing Universal’s most famous “monsters” together in the manner of a superhero franchise, like the MCU and/or DCEU.
However Universal’s hopes for a monster film universe ultimately pan out, The Mummy (as directed by Alex Kurtzman) seems poised to deliver everything moviegoers have come to expect from their Tom Cruise action movies – including, Cruise performing insane practical stunts, defying death at every turn and (of course) running a whole lot. In all seriousness, the trailers for The Mummy make it look like an exciting and overall fun summer thrill ride, as well as yet another solid notch in Cruise’s action hero belt.
All Eyez on Me (June 16)
Musician biopics have never gone out of style in Hollywood and among this year’s additions to the pile is Benny Boom’s All Eyez on Me. Boom’s Tupac Shikur docudrama has gone through something of a difficult development process, between its director change-ups, release date delays and battles over the rights to the late icon Tupac’s music. Having now overcome the various roadblocks that it encountered over the course of its journey however, the movie will be hitting theaters at last this June.
All Eyez on Me, by most accounts, is a straightforward dramatization of Tupac’s journey from a young man living in New York City to becoming a highly-influential and politically-active rapper, poet and actor, by the time he was only in his mid-20s. While Tupac himself is portrayed by relative newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr., Dana Gurira of The Walking Dead fame costars as his mother, Afeni Shakur, opposite actor Dominic L. Santana as Suge Knight and Jamal Woolard as Biggie Smalls – a role that he played once before on the big screen, in the 2009 biopic Notorious.
Speaking of which – for every musician and/or musical group biopic that hits it big at the box office (see Straight Outta Compton), there seem to be two or more than fail to gain much traction with mainstream audiences (a la Notorious). While Tupac fans have waited a long time for the late artist’s life to be portrayed on the big screen, there isn’t a whole lot of buzz surrounding All Eyez on Me – good or bad – some two months ahead of its theatrical release. Of course, that story could easily change either way, by the time the movie arrives on the scene.
Cars 3 (June 16)
The legend of Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) continues with Cars 3, the first of two Disney/Pixar movies opening this year (followed by Coco in the fall). Cars 3 picks up with Lightning at a point in his career where he’s no longer the hot-rod racing star on the rise, but is instead being pushed out of the sport that he once dominated by a younger, more technologically-sophisicated generation of vehicular racers. Of course, that doesn’t mean Lighting will be going quietly into the night.
Audiences were somewhat taken aback by the intense teaser for Cars 3 (showing Lightning in an accident that threatens to derail his career, once and for all), especially following the release of the decidedly light-weight Cars 2 in 2011 – a Pixar sequel driven (pardon the wording) more by Larry the Cable Guy’s Mater and his wacky antics than its dramatic story developments. Jokes about a “dark and gritty” Cars movie aside, director Brian Fee does seem invested in delivering a version of Cars 3 that, similar to those moviegoers who were kids when the first Cars came out in 2006, is more mature and sophisticated than its predecessors.
That’s not to say Cars 3 won’t have its fair share of humor and playful characters like all Pixar movies (see Nathan Fillion’s “charming” business class coupe, for example), but if the film can succeed in achieving the sort of emotional weightiness as Pixar’s best work past, including its fellow threequel Toy Story 3… well, that would certainly be a twist ending for anyone who rolled their eyes, the first time they heard that Pixar was making a Cars 3 to begin with.
Transformers: The Last Knight (June 23)
Paramount’s extremely-lucrative Transformers movie franchise returns this year with its fifth installment in ten years, titled Transformers: The Last Knight. The movie serves as something of a soft reboot of the Transformers property, after Paramount recruited a team of screenwriters to plot out a shared universe of Transformers spinoffs and sequels for the next several years. The Last Knight will also supposedly, maybe, be Michael Bay’s final round in the director’s chair on the series, after having helmed every chapter in the Autobots vs. Decepticons saga thus far.
Joining the Transformers onscreen in The Last Knight is Transformers: Age of Extinction star Mark Wahlberg, along with new franchise additions Isabela Moner, Anthony Hopkins and Laura Haddock, among others. The storyline for The Last Knight is still somewhat under-wraps, though it involves the Transformers ‘ secret history on Earth (including, their ties to King Arthur), the reveal of the Transformers’ Creators – and Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) turning against the people of Earth, for reasons that have yet to be explained in full.
Boasting some of those most impressive visuals and special effects featured in any of Bay’s Transformers movies yet, The Last Knight seems poised to please the franchise’s dedicated fanbase and once again hit it big at the box office – regardless of whether or not critics are onboard, this time around. Paramount is already moving forward with both a Bumblebee spinoff movie for 2018 and Transformers 6 a year after that, which does beg the question: exactly how long can this series continue to dominate the box office, in the way that it has so far?
The Beguiled (June 23)
While Sofia Coppola has only directed the Netflix special A Very Murray Christmas since the release of her true story-inspired 2013 film, The Bling Ring, the Oscar-winning auteur is back this year with her next big screen offering – The Beguiled. A cinematic adaptation of Thomas P. Cullinan’s novel A Painted Devil – itself, previously adapted for the big screen in 1971 as a Clint Eastwood vehicle, also titled The Beguiled – Coppola’s latest movie reunites the storyteller with her Virgin Suicides and Marion Antoinette star Kirsten Dunst, among others.
In The Beguiled, Dust and Elle Fanning (who previously costarred in Coppola’s 2010 film, Somewhere) play members of a school for girls in Virginia during the American Civil War, only for their lives to be forever changed when an injured Union soldier (Colin Farrell) is provided shelter by the head of the school (Nicole Kidman). Rounding out the movie’s acting ensemble are such young actresses as Oona Laurence (Pete’s Dragon), Angourie Rice (The Nice Guys) and Addison Riecke (The Thundermans) as members of the school overseen by Kidman’s character.
Kidman is already having a banner year thanks to her acclaimed performance in the HBO mini-series Big Little Lies and The Beguiled may keep her win streak alive, if the gorgeously Gothic and troubling trailers for Coppola’s historical drama are any indication. The Beguiled‘s script itself (written by Coppola) shifts the narrative POV from its male lead to its female characters; something that may further give rise to one of Coppola’s most intriguing and social boundary-pushing offerings in some time.
Baby Driver (June 28)
Edgar Wright hasn’t released a new movie since The World’s End in 2013, in no small part due to the Cornetto Trilogy filmmaker stepping down at the eleventh hour on Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man. That changes this year with Baby Driver, an original action/crime flick that pairs Wright with an all-star cast that includes Oscar-winners Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey, as well as Mad Men alum Jon Hamm, Lily James of Cinderella fame and The Fault in Our Stars‘ Ansel Elgert as the eponymous “Baby” himself.
Baby Driver has something of a conventional premise, concerning a young getaway driver (Elgort) who finds its harder-than-expected to leave his life of crime behind, after meeting and falling in love with a local waitress (James). The twist is that Baby (yes, that’s his name) has tinnitus and can only drone out the constant ringing in his ears by listening to music at all times. Thus, everything that Baby does in the movie – and, in fact, everything that happens during Baby Driver – is precisely coordinated with whatever song is playing on Baby’s musical playlist, at any given time.
An “action/musical,” as Baby Driver is being referred to, is far from a typical variation on the heist/crime thriller genre, but one would expect no less from the filmmaker behind the zombie rom-com Shaun of the Dead, as well as the video game/comic book sensibilities of Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Wright’s new film was bumped up from an August release date to a prime June spot after its enthusiastic reception at SXSW earlier this year, so clearly film buffs aren’t the only ones expecting big things from Wright’s Baby Driver.
Despicable Me 3 (June 30)
Illumination Entertainment has a handful of lucrative animated franchises under its belt now (thanks to last year’s hits The Secret Life of Pets and Sing), but Despicable Me/Minions remain the studio’s crown jewels. The adventures of former super-villain Gru (voiced again by Steve Carrell) and his diminutive, yellow, Minions continues with this year’s Despicable Me 3: a third installment in which Gru is thrown a curve ball, upon discovering that he has a twin brother named Dru (also voiced by Carrell).
Kristen Wiig also reprises her voice role from Despicable Me 2 as AVL agent Lucy Wilde – who is now married to Gru – in the third Despicable Me adventure, while South Park co-creator Trey Parker lends his vocal talents to Balthazar Bratt: a former 1980s TV show child star-turned adult supervillain who squares off against Gru, Lucy and the not-so-capable Dru in the film. Most of the rest of the series’ core cast remains unchanged, including co-director Pierre Coffin providing the vocals for the various Minions (Bob, Kevin and so forth), once more.
Whereas this June’s Cars 3 (as mentioned earlier) seeks to progress and evolve franchise from a narrative/thematic perspective, Despicable Me 3 looks to be more of the same for this property – which is either a good and/or bad thing, depending on how you look at it. With Disney/Pixar and Illumination’s respective threequels this year arriving a couple of weeks apart, there should be enough room for both to thrive at the box office and not cannibalize each other, in their efforts to offer families and their young ones some quality entertainment to enjoy together.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)
The Spider-Man character has already starred in a total of five solo movies released over the past fifteen years, but 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming is the first solo vehicle for the web-slinger that takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Solo movie” isn’t exactly an accurate description either, seeing as the teenaged Peter Parker – played again by Tom Holland, reprising his role from last year’s Captain America: Civil War – is joined in Homecoming by his newfound mentor figure, in Tony “I am Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr.).
Peter could use the helping hand in Homecoming though, seeing as the movie pits him against one Adrian Toomes aka. The Vulture (Michael Keaton) and his band of fellow villainous tech-gurus, who design their own super-suits in order to do battle with the web-slinger (who has some technological suit enhancements of his own, courtesy of Stark). Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Spider-Man movie if Homecoming only focused on Peter’s superhero life and indeed, much of the film revolves around Pete’s day-to-day high school life, when he’s not battling Marvel supervillains.
Directed by Jon Watts and taking its cues from the collective work of John Hughes, Homecoming seems to be something of a back-to-basics addition to the larger Spider-Man franchise, as a way of bringing Holland’s Peter Parker fully into the larger MCU. Following the release of a pair of somewhat-contentious Amazing Spider-Man movies and the not-so-beloved Spider-Man 3 over the past ten years, a perfectly solid and enjoyable Spider-Man adventure for all to enjoy could be just what the doctor ordered, at that.
A Ghost Story (July 7)
Filmmaker David Lowery made a rare venture into the mainstream last year, with his critically-acclaimed remake of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon. The Ain’t Them Bodies Saints director is attached to helm a live-action Peter Pan retelling for the Mouse House down the line, but first he’s returning to his indie roots with A Ghost Story: a drama that premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, earning almost universally-positive reviews from those critics who saw it there, in the process.
Fresh off his acting Oscar win, Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara (Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints collaborators) star in A Ghost Story as a married couple whose relationship is shattered after one of them dies – and then returns to their suburban home as, quite literally, a specter in the form of a white-sheeted ghost, seeking to reconnect with their spouse. Rounding out the movie’s supporting cast are such names as Augustine Frizzell (another one of Lowery’s trusted collaborators) and none other than Kesha, in supporting roles.
Serving as a parable about grief and loss (making it thematically-complimentary to Affleck’s last film, Manchester by the Sea), A Ghost Story should provide a nice mid-summer change of pace after a couple months of big-budget, high-octane adventures hitting theaters on a near-weekly basis. If nothing else, Lowery’s new movies seems worth checking out, if only so everyone can find out for themselves whether a movie where one of the main characters wears a bed sheet for the majority of the runtime, is as moving as the trailers suggest it will be.
War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14)
With Dominic Toretto and Optimus Prime turning to the dark side (in a manner of speaking), this year seems as good as time as any for Caesar the ape to go on a revenge mission in the next Planet of the Apes installment, War for the Planet of the Apes. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes co-writer/director Matt Reeves is overseeing this next chapter in the Apes franchise, with Andy Serkis once again reprising his famous motion-capture role as Caesar; now a leader among apes in a post-apocalyptic future.
As the title implies, War for the Planet of the Apes picks up at a point when the surviving remnants of humanity and ape-kind are essentially at full-blown war with one another, with Caesar facing off against a formidable human adversary known as simply The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) in the fight for the planet. Whether or not that means this is the end of the line for Caesar remains to be seen, but either way War should offer some sense of closure to Caesar’s story, being the finale in a trilogy of movies centered around the character.
While the Planet of the Apes series doesn’t generate as much pre-release buzz as other Hollywood franchise, the last two installments – Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn – were very much critical and commercial hits (Dawn especially) and there’s good reason to presume that War will conclude the current Apes trilogy on a strong note. There may yet be more Planet of the Apes movies to come after War too, though probably not with Reeves involved; seeing as he’s setting to work next on some indie film starring Ben Affleck.
Dunkirk (July 21)
After bringing the Caped Crusader’s story to gritty and grounded life, delivering a dark tale of dueling magicians, taking audiences through multiple layers of dream worlds and heading off into outer space, Christopher Nolan is going back in time for his next film, Dunkirk. The movie takes place during WWII and dramatizes the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbors of Dunkirk, France – an important event in the second World War that, odds are, many filmgoers are only learning about for the first time here.
As one would expect for a Christopher Nolan movie covering a prestigious subject such as WWII, the Dunkirk cast is stacked with great talent; including, Oscar-winner Mark Rylance and multi-Oscar-nominated filmmaker/actor Kenneth Branagh, as well as frequent (and acclaimed) Nolan collaborators Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy. Meanwhile, relative newcomer Fionn Whitehead and former One Direction member Harry Styles are playing potential star-making roles in the film, as two of the young soldiers who get caught up in the chaos of the Dunkirk evacuation.
Dunkirk is pushing the envelope for IMAX filmmaking, similar to Nolan’s last two movies in particular (The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar), and promises to deliver much in the way of big screen spectacle as a result; along with the sort of real-life story that usually makes for awards season fodder, rather than summer movie entertainment. For those reasons, it will be interesting to see if Dunkirk becomes the first Nolan movie that brings the filmmaker Oscar glory, in addition to big returns at the box office.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21)
Luc Besson has been wanting to adapt the Valérian and Laureline comic books (which turn 50 this year, as it were) to the big screen for decades, but it’s only been in the post-Avatar era of 3D, CGI-driven filmmaking that the director of cult hits Léon: The Professional and The Fifth Element (not to mention, co-writer of the Taken and Transporter action movie franchises) has had the tools to realize his vision in full. Enter this summer’s release of Besson’s passion project, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
Starring comic book movie alum Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad) as special cosmic operatives Valerian and Laureline, respectively, Besson’s Valerian adaptation takes place in Alpha: a futuristic, cosmic metropolis that is home to (you guessed it) a thousand different species from a thousand different worlds. Rounding out the movie’s cast are such big names as Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman, Rihanna and a whole lot of actors playing non-human residents of Alpha.
Valerian certainly looks like The Fifth Element on steroids, in terms of the sheer amount of eye candy on display; what remains to be seen is if Valerian has anywhere near the amount of personality and storytelling energy that has made The Fifth Element an endearing cult hit, even twenty years after it was originally released in theaters. As for the box office: Valerian isn’t exactly a household name here in the States (see fans comparing Valerian to Mass Effect), so it could just as easily become a John Carter-level bust as it could a dark horse success.
Atomic Blonde (July 28)
The John Wick sequel opened in theaters earlier this year, but this summer’s Atomic Blonde is shaping up to be something of a spiritual spinoff of Keanu Reeves’ cult action movie – in no small part because John Wick co-director David Leitch is calling the shots. Oscar-winner Charlize Theron stars in the latter action/thriller, playing a highly-effective (and deadly) MI6 agent who goes undercover on a more-dangerous-than-usual mission in Berlin, during the final days of the Cold War.
Joining Theron in Atomic Blonde is James McAvoy as her fellow spy and mission partner, as well as John Goodman and Toby Jones as governments officials who may or may not be trustworthy. Similar to John Wick, Atomic Blonde follows its namesake into an underworld populated by duplicitous killers, covert operatives who may or may not have secret agendas, and spies/assassins who are either friend or foe, depending on the circumstances. That includes a “French operative” played by Sofia Boutella, following her appearance in The Mummy this summer.
Like Baby Driver, Atomic Blonde earned a generally positive reception from those critics who caught it earlier this year at SXSW and is poised to deliver the sort of tightly-choreographed, bone-crunching (literally, now that we know Theron cracked some teeth while filming her combat scenes) action that brings to mind Leitch’s work on the first John Wick. The Fate of the Furious will undoubtedly be Theron’s biggest box office success of the year, but Atomic Blonde may give her a new cult movie hit to add to her greater body of work.
The Dark Tower (August 4)
Stephen King’s The Dark Tower saga has taken a long time to make the jump to either the big and/or small screen, after years of delays and false starts. A movie adaptation of the series – a blend of fantasy, horror, western and sci-fi genre elements, among others – is scheduled to hit theaters this summer at last, under the direction of filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair). However, seeing as this is the one title on our summer movie rundown without a trailer yet, The Dark Tower could very well end up being delayed again, in the near future. [UPDATE: The trailer is now online, as you can see above.]
Whenever The Dark Tower does reach theaters, it won’t be in the form of a straight-forward adaptation of King’s first Dark Tower novel (titled simply The Gunslinger). Instead, the movie draws inspiration from multiple Dark Tower books, in order to mix things up with respect to its retelling of the adventures of Roland Deschain the Gunslinger (Idris Elba) and his arch-nemesis, the sinister figure known as The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey). Tom Taylor costars as Jake Chambers, the young boy from our world, who gets swept up into Roland’s quest to find the fabled Dark Tower and save his dying homeland.
The Dark Tower certainly reads as something promising on paper, between its source material (which is ripe for both a cinematic treatment) and promising A-lister headlined cast. Again, seeing as Sony Pictures has yet to really get marketing started for the film, there is a strong possibility that The Dark Tower winds up being pushed back. If it doesn’t, then it does raise questions about why Sony is being so hesitant to promote a tentpole that could easily give rise to a long-tuning franchise, should all the pieces fall into place.
Annabelle: Creation (August 11)
While The Conjuring franchise spinoff Annabelle was far from a critical favorite, it was an extremely lucrative horror movie ($257 million worldwide gross against a $6.5 million budget) and thus, Annabelle: Creation was given the green-light. This time around, however, the director’s chair is being occupied by one David F. Sandberg: a filmmaker who made a nice splash in the horror genre last year, with the release of his acclaimed spooky short film-turned feature-length offering, Lights Out.
Annabelle: Creation further explores the history behind the eponymous doll featured in the first Conjuring film, this time setting the action in the home of a grieving couple who agree to care for a group of orphaned young girls, having lost their own daughter (tragically) some years before. There seems to be little to no direct connection between the two Annabelle movies beyond the creepy toy mentioned in their titles though, with the cast of Creation including series newcomers Miranda Otto and Anthony LaPaglia (as the couple in question).
The hope is that similar to how the Ouija movie franchise delivered a worthwhile prequel (with last year’s Ouija: Origin of Evil) by bringing a credible horror filmmaker onboard, the Annabelle property can produce a competent (and then some) chapter by bringing on someone with a proven knack for scaring audiences on Creation, a la Sandberg. One hopes so anyway, as it seems these Conjuring spinoffs are just going to keep on rolling down the assembly line – with the next one after Creation, The Nun, already scheduled for release in 2018.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (May 12th) – Director Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies were hits for Warner Bros., but after multiple release date delays – not to mention, lukewarm pre-release buzz – it remains to be seen if the studio can replicate that outcome with another Ritchie-helmed spin on a classic literary character.
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (June 2nd) – The Captain Underpants novel series has been entertaining kids for twenty years, but peaked in popularity some years ago. That said, the animated film adaptation should benefit from the star power of Kevin Hart, fresh off proving his animated movie credentials in last year’s hit, The Secret Life of Pets.
Rough Night (June 16th) – Armed with an all-star cast that includes Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Kate McKinnon and Zoë Kravitz (among others), this dark comedy – already being likened to a “gender-swapped” version of the 1998 film Very Bad Things – may yet prove to be a dark horse success, given its premise and the talent involved.
The Emoji Movie (July 28th) – This film’s very existence continues to confound moviegoers, but the same could have been said for The LEGO Movie ahead of its release – and we all saw how that turned out. Not to mention: Patrick Stewart is voicing the Poop Emoji, so that’s at least one thing working in The Emoji Movie‘s favor.
Detroit (August 4th) – Intense, politically-charged, true story subject matter, an impressive cast led by Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ John Boyega, and The Hurt Locker/Zero Dark Thirty duo of director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal – Detroit is not only one to watch out for this summer, it could also become an awards season contender, down the line.