<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=192888919167017&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Sunday, September 24, 2023
Sept. 24, 2023

Linkedin Pinterest

The most anticipated movies of summer 2023


Are summer movies finally back?

The answer last summer was “um, yes?” Thanks to “Top Gun: Maverick” and a handful of other mostly early-summer releases, the 2022 summer domestic box office tally reached approximately $3.34 billion. That’s far more than 2021’s pandemic-stricken total of $1.75 billion, but still significantly below 2019’s summer haul of $4.34 billion. The difference: not as many movies compared to pre-pandemic times. Though audiences were robust last year, still-lingering production delays meant far fewer movies than usual were released between May and September.

This year, the summer roster looks closer to pre-pandemic levels, with some surefire franchise hits on tap. Here’s a look at what moviegoers might find at multiplexes and arthouses for summer 2023; note that release dates are tentative and as changeable as a Barbie outfit.

The franchises

OK, let’s subdivide and conquer this crowded section. In the category of Enormous Superhero Movies (well, some of the actual superheroes are just regular size, but you get my drift), summer kicks off with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (May 5), the third and presumably final installment in the franchise. Also superhero-sized: the latest animated adventures of super-Spidey Miles Morales in “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One)” (June 2), and Barry Allen/The Flash traveling back in time in “The Flash” (June 16), the latter of which could use a flashier title.

Elsewhere, in the category of Is He Really Going To Drive That (i.e. action movies), we have the latest “Fast & Furious” installment, “Fast X” (May 19) —presumably they were in too much of a hurry to give it a real name? Tom Cruise risks life and limb yet again in “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning, Part One” (July 14), which apparently has so many stunts in it two parts were needed. “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” (June 30) is the fifth and final installment in a franchise now more than 40 years old, with Harrison Ford doing one last swing of the whip.

“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” (June 9) features the Transformers doing whatever it is they do (it’s loud, right?), and it is my fervent hope that “The Meg 2: The Trench” (Aug. 4) reprises my favorite line from the original, delivered with resigned grit by Jason Statham: “I am proceeding toward the enormous killer shark.”

The inevitable Christopher Nolan summer movie

Should you like your summer-movie fare more serious: The British auteur now seems to be in a habit of an every-three-years summer movie (following “Dunkirk” in 2017 and “Tenet” in 2020). This one, “Oppenheimer” (July 21) tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy), who played a key role in developing the atomic bomb in the 1940s. Also in the film: Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Gary Oldman and Robert Downey Jr.

The somewhat-less-inevitable Wes Anderson summer movie

Anderson, by contrast, hasn’t had a summer movie out since “Moonrise Kingdom” in 2012. That streak is ending: “Asteroid City” (June 23) looks like a cheery rom-com/sci-fi/typically Anderson quirkfest, taking place at the 1955 Junior Stargazer convention in a desert town. Among the cast are both Anderson regulars and new faces: Jason Schwartzman, Tom Hanks, Tilda Swinton, Jeffrey Wright, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Hong Chau, Margot Robbie, Jeff Goldblum — to name just a few.

The funny ones

For everyone fretting that Robert De Niro hasn’t made a goofy dad comedy in a while, here you go: “About My Father” (May 26), in which he plays an old-school Italian immigrant who crashes a very WASP-y weekend. Stephanie Hsu follows up her Oscar nomination for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” with “Joy Ride” (July 7), a raunchy road comedy in which four friends head overseas in search of one friend’s birth mother. Another quartet of friends — played by Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen — head for Italy in “Book Club: The Next Chapter” (May 12); expect lots of pasta and turtlenecks (which will, by the way, be the title of my late-life memoir).

Julia Louis-Dreyfus reteams with writer/director Nicole Holofcener (“Enough Said”) for “You Hurt My Feelings” (May 26), with Louis-Dreyfus playing a novelist upset by her husband’s feedback on her book. Jennifer Lawrence stars in the sure-to-be-hard-R-rated “No Hard Feelings” (June 23) as a woman hired by a couple to date their awkward teen son. Speaking of awkward teens, “Theater Camp” (July 14) — an audience award-winner at the SXSW Film Festival — takes place at a drama camp in upstate New York, where a group of kids must save the place from financial ruin by, presumably, putting on a show.

“Barbie” (July 21), which originally sounded to me like quite possibly the worst idea for a movie ever, now looks like it might be fun? Credit director Greta Gerwig, who’s following up her enchanting “Little Women” with this pink-toned fantasy. And don’t mistake the talking-dog comedy “Strays” (June 9), in which Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx voice the leaders of a canine gang, for family-friendly fare; it’s rated R for “pervasive language, crude and sexual content, and drug use.”

The ones for kids

Should you be in need of family fare: Halle Bailey (“Grown-ish”) stars as Ariel in the live-action musical “The Little Mermaid” (May 26); Melissa McCarthy is the villainous sea witch. Pixar’s latest, “Elemental” (June 16), takes place in a world where the four elements — earth, air, fire, water — coexist as characters. And in the animated “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken” (June 30), a 16-year-old girl does not join the Seattle Kraken hockey team (though for the record I would definitely watch that movie) but learns that she is a mythical sea creature.

The scary ones

Based on a 1973 short story by Stephen King, “The Boogeyman” (June 2) involves two young siblings plagued by a sadistic presence in their house … brrr. “The Blackening” (June 16), whose tagline is “They can’t all die first,” looks like it’ll have some fun with horror-movie tropes; it’s about seven Black friends trapped in a cabin with a killer. Based on the longtime Disney attraction, “Haunted Mansion” (July 28) boasts an all-star cast — Rosario Dawson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Owen Wilson, Tiffany Haddish, Jared Leto, Dan Levy — to tell its story of a single mom trying to rid her newly bought home of ghosts.

The romances

Not very many love stories popping up this summer; why is that? “Love Again” (May 5), with Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Sam Heughan (aka Jamie from “Outlander”), is a romance involving a woman sending texts to her dead fiance, which I guess ends up working out for her? And Celine Song’s “Past Lives” (June 2) has at its center two childhood friends (Greta Lee, Teo Yoo) reunited after 20 years apart.

The miscellaneous

Something for everyone in this category! “Carmen” (May 12) has acclaimed ballet choreographer Benjamin Millepied making his feature-film debut with a re-imagining of the classic French novella that inspired the opera, featuring Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”) and Melissa Barrera (“In the Heights”). The action thriller “Kandahar” (May 26) features Gerard Butler and Ali Fazal as a CIA operative and his translator in Afghanistan. On the documentary front, “It Ain’t Over” (June 9) is about baseball legend Yogi Berra, and “Every Body” (June 30) follows the lives of three people born with intersex traits.