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Sequels, reboots, spinoffs rule summer films

Fingers crossed there could be surprises

By Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
Published: May 25, 2024, 5:37am
3 Photos
&ldquo;Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga&rdquo; rides into theaters on May 24. (Warner Bros.
“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” rides into theaters on May 24. (Warner Bros. Pictures) Photo Gallery

A century ago, or so it feels, there was a time of pink and fiery atomic orange, when moviegoing turned back into a communal miracle, Hollywood beat the odds and two movies that weren’t sequels to anything opened up against each other and ended up lifting each other’s spirits and profits into the billions.

A new conjoined word — Barbenheimer — ruled the land. And both movies were worth seeing and arguing about, and everybody made some money. The CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav, acknowledged that its billion-dollar smash, based on a Mattel doll, wouldn’t lighten its debt load much. But it felt like it should, which counts for something.

Here we are, a year on. Feels longer, and a little … less. The reasons are many, one being the supply-chain disruptions caused by last year’s adventures in capital vs. labor, the Writers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild strikes. Like many recent summer movie seasons, but more so, sequels, reboots and spinoffs rule our screen world. Summer 2024 is the summer of colons or numbers in titles: “Inside Out 2.” The fourth “Bad Boys” movie, “Bad Boys: Ride or Die.” The fourth “Despicable Me.” The seventh “Alien,” not counting the Alien vs. Predator outings.

There are also a few movies coming out, in theaters, between now and Labor Day, without franchises or existing intellectual property behind them. Kevin Costner doubles down with “Horizon: An American Saga,” releasing Chapters 1 and 2 of a Civil War-era drama he co-wrote, directed and designed for a Kevin Costner type to lead the cast. There’s a new take on a fondly remembered children’s book of yore, “Harold and the Purple Crayon.” There’s a live-action Disney drama, originally slated for Disney+ streaming, that has been deemed Good Enough to Play Theaters First: “Young Woman and the Sea,” about Trudy Ederle (played by Daisy Ridley) who in 1926 became the first woman to swim the English Channel.

The year’s not half over, and already the 2024 Hollywood mantra has been muttered to death: Stay alive ‘til ‘25. Here are 10 summer hopefuls. .

Release dates will vary and are subject to change.

  • “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga” (May 24): Anya Taylor-Joy and her gaze of unblinking intensity co-star in director George Miller’s “Mad Max” sequel, which promises to be a wild ride from the Green Place of Many Mothers to the Wasteland. If you saw “The Fall Guy,” you saw a bit of the vehicular stunt and camera work that went into the previous, delirious “Mad Max” movie. More coming!
  • “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” (June 7): On the cusp of the pandemic, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reteamed for a profitable third outing in their action-comedy franchise. The latest sequel pits the Miami heat against the drug cartels, with the detectives on the run, as falsely accused fugitives out to clear their names.
  • “The Bikeriders” (June 21): Based on the 1967 photo collection, writer-director Jeff Nichols’ fictionalized treatment of the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club stars Jodie Comer, Austin Butler, Tom Hardy, Mike Faist and Michael Shannon. This one’s a strike-delayed release, originally scheduled for late last year.
  • “A Quiet Place: Day One” (June 28): Lupita Nyong’o runs for her life, quietly, in this prequel to the “Quiet Place” franchise, imagining what the New York City premiere of Earth’s ultimate monster movie might’ve looked like.
  • “Horizon: An American Saga” (June 28 and Aug. 16): The nation’s hopelessly divided by civil war, with the West awash in bloodshed and struggle of varying degrees of honor, in director, co-writer and star Costner’s bid for big-screen glory. Or at least a couple of worthwhile dramas. Part one premieres in June; part two of a planned four-part project charges the multiplexes in August.
  • “Fly Me to the Moon” (July 12): With the Apollo 11 moonshot on the line, a public relations whiz (Scarlett Johansson) is tasked with ensuring its success (up to and including a faked moon landing) in this lavishly produced romantic comedy. Co-starring Channing Tatum as a NASA specialist along for the ride.
  • “Twisters” (July 19): The other side of the wind! Daisy Edgar-Jones, Glen Powell and Anthony Ramos chase storms while a mu ltinational army of digital effects workers chase new ways to wow us in this remake of the 1996 hit. Katy O’Brian co-stars.
  • “Deadpool & Wolverine” (July 26): In what most industry pundits are predicting to be the summer’s surest box office thing, Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman team up for a frenemy project directed by Shawn Levy. I hope it’s more about the funny than the mayhem. Mayhem’s cheap; comedy, priceless.
  • “Harold and the Purple Crayon” (Aug. 2): Created in 1955, for books, on paper, Crockett Johnson’s wondrous magic writing implement and the imaginative boy who wields it have now inspired a sequel of sorts, with Zachary Levi playing the grown-up version of Harold, negotiating worlds both real and improvised.
  • “Alien: Romulus” (Aug. 16): The seventh “Alien” movie takes place between the 1979 “Alien” (John Hurt, stomach trouble) and the 1986 “Aliens” (an even bigger hit). This one stars Cailee Spaeny of “Priscilla” and “Civil War” as one of a group of space colonists scavenging a mysteriously abandoned space station. Or is it?
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