Blockbusters and horror lead the way this summer at the movies


Summer is coming — on the calendar, in the movie theaters, and at some point, outdoors in the form of actual hot weather. When summer comes to movie theaters it will led by the traditional blockbusters or tent-pole pictures designed to rake in massive amounts of money. This is why the tent-poles are almost without exception sequels, spinoffs or rebootings of movies that made massive amounts of money before.

The summer will also contain a mix of comedies, dramas and thrillers. But what is with the shocking number of horror movies, three of which are based on evil dolls? Does that tell us something about the state of our frightened and frightening cultural mindset? Best not dwell on it.

Here's a look at the summer movies to come. Release dates are subject to change and some of the films will be platformed in the big cities before arriving in the Berkshires.


Two of the summer's movie-makers are Disney animated films reborn as live-action movies, beginning May 24 with "Aladdin." Naomi Scott is the princess Jasmine, Mena Massoud plays the young lad who loves her, and Will Smith is the mischievous genie trying to bring them together.

"Godzilla: King of the Monsters'"(May 31), the follow-up to a respectable 2014 remake, sounds interesting as the giant radioactive lizard gets to do battle with old monster foes from decades ago, Mothra, Rodan and Ghidorah among them.

"Dark Phoenix" (June 7) is the latest installment of an "X-Men" saga grown muddled by the constant shifting back and forth in time. This edition, however, stars Sophie Turner — Lady Sansa Stark from "Game of Thrones" — as a villainous Jean Grey.

The original 1997 "Men in Black" was a science fiction satire classic, but sequelitus killed the franchise. It is reborn June 14 as "Men in Black: International," with Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth as federal agents exploring extraterrestrial trouble-making here on Earth.

The beloved "Toy Story" franchise from Disney/Pixar returns after a nine-year absence June 21 with Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) meeting up with Bo Peep (Annie Potts) for the first time in 20 years in "Toy Story 4."

In "Spider-Man: Far From Home" (July 2), Spidey/Peter Parker leaves the neighborhood on a class trip to Europe, where he hopes to take a break from fighting supervillains. Tom Holland is a charming web-slinger and Jake Gyllenhaal is aboard as crime-fighting accomplice Mysterio.

On July 19, the animated classic "The Lion King" gets a reboot through a pioneering "virtual reality" technique that does away with pesky artifices like sets, cameras and soundstages. Donald Glover voices Simba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, the evil Scar, and James Earl Jones returns as the voice of Mufasa.


The smart kids who inhabit the fringes of most teen movies get center stage in "Booksmart" (May 24), with Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as brainy high school students who want to catch up on the party scene before graduation. The rom-com genre is represented by "Always Be My Maybe" (May 31), with Randall Park and Ali Wong as high school pals who hook up as adults.

Writer-comedian Mindy Kaling plays the first female hire in the writing team of a caustic talk show host played by Emma Thompson in "Late Night" (June 7). Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler are a married couple accused of committing a murder in "Murder Mystery." (June 14.) The animated Dora from "Dora the Explorer" is played by Isabela Moner in the live-action "Dora and the Lost City of Gold" on July 31.


A small-town police force is overwhelmed when the dead come back to life in "The Dead Don't Die" (June 14), the latest from pioneering independent film director Jim Jarmusch. Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Tilda Swinton lead a great cast. Pro wrestler turned Marvel sidekick Dave Bautista stars as a rogue cop who teams up with Kumail Nanjiani's Uber driver to capture a killer in "Stuber" (July 12).

"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" (July 26), the latest from Quentin Tarantino, stars Leonardo DiCaprio as an actor and Brad Pitt as his stunt double in 1969 Tinseltown. The Charles Manson murders are in the background and Margot Robbie plays the doomed Sharon Tate.

Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elizabeth Moss are mob wives who take over the family business after their husbands are arrested in "The Kitchen" (Aug. 9.)


Hoping to follow last fall's "Bohemian Rhapsody" to box office and awards success, "Rocketman" (May 31) tells the tale of another pioneering pop legend, Elton John, with Taron Egerton playing the British singer during his colorfully costumed early 1970s breakout years.

Accomplished supporting actress Sienna Miller takes a starring role in "American Woman" (June 14) as a small-town party girl whose daughter disappears.

In "Yesterday" (June 28), Himesh Patel plays a young musician who finds that following a global blackout no one remembers the music of the Beatles. So he arranges his own versions of the band's classics and becomes a Beatlesque rock star.

Like "American Woman," "The Farewell" (July 17) is a far heavier drama than the two musical entries to the summer schedule. Comedienne Awkwafina shows her dramatic chops as a young Chinese-American woman who travels to China to say farewell to her ill grandmother.

Cate Blanchette stars in "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" (Aug. 16) as a world-weary architect and mother who disappears, leaving her teenage daughter to determine why and where she went.

The summer horror season begins with a May 24 double feature. Mirroring the Clark Kent./Superman saga, Pittsfield's Elizabeth Banks and David Denman play a couple that raises an extraterrestrial child in "Brightburn" — except the kid doesn't much like the inhabitants of his new planet. Allison Williams from the modern-day horror classic "Get Out" plays a disturbingly competitive cellist in "The Perfection." On May 31, Octavia Spencer, usually cast as the wry and kindly voice of wisdom, goes way against type as a disturbed killer of teenagers in "Ma."

Tales of demented dolls go at least as far back on screen as "Talking Tina," a 1963 "Twilight Zone" episode in which a doll torments bad stepdad Telly Savalas.

Chucky, the child king of the deadly movie dolls, returns for the eighth time June 21 in "Child's Play." "Star Wars" legend and veteran voice actor Mark Hamill takes over for Brad Dourif as the voice of Chucky.

A week later, on June 28, Annabelle, a doll with supernatural powers, resumes her haunting in "Annabelle Comes Home." In "Brahms: The Boy 2" (July 28), Katie Holmes' mom is disturbed by her son's apparent friendship with a lifelike doll in the sequel to 2016's "The Boy."

Ari Aster, director of last year's frightfest "Hereditary," returns July 3 with "Midsommar," in which tourists in Sweden confront local religious cultists. On July 12, a Florida family ill-advisedly ventures into the crawlspace of their home following a hurricane in "Crawl" (July 12). Just one more reason to avoid Florida.

Finally, master of horror Guillermo Del Toro brings the short stories of Alvin Schwartz and accompanying illustrations of Stephen Gammell to the big screen Aug. 9 with "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark."


One Shaft is one bad — guy, but three generations of the family, played by Richard Roundtree, Samuel L. Jackson and Jessie T. Usher, are three times as bad as they team up to solve a murder in "Shaft" (June 14).

An NYPD detective investigating a cop killer uncovers a conspiracy whose perpetrators shut down the city to track him down in "21 Bridges" (July 12).

The popular "Fast and Furious" franchise, now nine movies in, unites two of its popular spinoff characters played by Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham to combat a super-soldier played by Idris Elba in "Fast and Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw" (Aug. 2).

Joel Kinnaman's former special-ops soldiers finds himself on the outs with the NYPD, the FBI and the Mob in "The Informer" (August 16). Bad PR this summer for New York City's police department, which plays the villain in two films.

Gerard Butler's Secret Service agent is framed for a presidential assassination attempt in "Angel Has Fallen" (Aug. 23), the third film in the Mike Banning series. Also on the 23rd, Keira Knightley uncovers "Official Secrets" as a whistle-blower trying to expose a spy ring.


"Toy Story 4" is the animation big dog this summer, but there is also a dog movie, "The Secret Life of Pets 2" (June 7), the sequel to the 2016 hit about what pets do when their people are not around. Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish and Harrison Ford are among the voices.

"The Angry Birds Movie 2" (Aug. 16), also a sequel to a 2016 hit, finds the surly avians uniting in common cause with their rivals, the green pigs. Peter Dinklage, Awkwafina and Sterling K. Brown lead another all-star cast of voices.


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