On the calendar summer is still a ways away, but at the movies summertime is ready to roll.
Next weekend’s release of “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ”marks the kickoff of the summer box office season, the first true summer movie season in three years, after 2020 was wiped out entirely and 2021 was hobbled by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
There are some big dogs ready to get out and play in the yard, including Marvel heavy hitters (in addition to “Strange,” there’s a new Thor movie on its way in July), marquee franchise fare (new “Jurassic Park” and “ Despicable Me ”entries and a“ Toy Story ”prequel, of sorts) and a“ Top Gun ”sequel that has been waiting to take off for what seems like forever.
Here’s your guide to summer’s best and brightest movies, coming soon to a theater or a streaming service near you. (Remember, dates are always subject to change.)
1. ‘Top Gun: Maverick’
We’ve been feeling the need, the need for speed since the sequel to the 1986 original was set to fly the friendly skies back in 2019. Now we’re finally ready to find out what Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell has been up to all these years, and whether or not he’s lost that lovin ‘feeling. (May 27, theaters)
Do we know anything at all about this move other than its cast (Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer and Steven Yeun) that it has something to do with something happening in the sky, and that it was written and directed by Jordan Peele? Nope. But we still can’t wait anyway. (July 22, theaters)
3. ‘Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’
Benedict Cumberbatch Returns as Stephen Strange, last seen opening up various timelines so all the Spider-Mans could re-create that Spidey meme. Here he’s fiddling with the Fate of Lizzie Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, so it’s a “WandaVision” follow up, too. Our Sam Raimi directs. (May 6, theaters)
4. ‘Bullet Train’
“John Wick” director David Leitch Helms this action Comedy starring Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Joey King, Michael Shannon, Bad Bunny and Sandra Bullock about a trained killer (Pitt) trying to give up the life who finds himself pulled into one more job on board a speeding train full of competing Assassins. (July 29, theaters)
5. ‘Jurassic World Dominion’
The gang’s all back, and we’re not even talking about the Dinosaurs. OG “Jurassic Park” stars Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern return to the fold in the series ’6th installation, the follow-up to 2018’s“ Fallen Kingdom ”and the closing chapter of the current“ Jurassic Park ”Trilogy. (June 10, theaters)
“This isn’t the Buzz Lightyear of the toy,” Chris Evans, who voices the Buzz Lightyear in the upcoming movie, tweeted in December 2020. “This is the original story of the human Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on.” Got that? Good. Any more questions? Didn’t think so. (June 17, theaters)
Elvis has entered the building. Director Baz Luhrmann always shoots for the stars, and when he hits them (“Moulin Rouge!”), The results are magic. When he doesn’t (“Australia,” “The Great Gatsby”), well, that’s another story. Starring Austin Butler as the King and Tom Hanks as Colonel Parker. (June 24, theaters)
8. ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’
Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is back, and the dude’s just looking for a little R&R but is brought back to hammer-swinging duty by Gorr the God Butcher, a super bad guy, played by Christian Bale in his Marvel debut. Natalie Portman assumes the role of Mighty Thor, while Taika Waititi directs. (July 8, theaters)
9. ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’
Entry No. 5 in the “Despicable Me” series is a direct follow-up to 2015’s “Minions,” and takes its place in the 1970s, when a young Gru (Steve Carell) is sharpening his super-villain skills. With the Voices of Taraji P. Henson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Michelle Yeoh and more. (July 1, theaters)
10. ‘Downton Abbey: A New Era’
The Crawley family enters the Marvel Cinematic Universe in this follow-up to the 2019 film, in which they join forces with their staff to take on the Interplanetary Overlords who want to rule the Galaxy. Orrrr it’s more Downton Abbey drama, the kind the show’s fans adore. Definitely one of those two. (May 20, theaters)
11. ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’
Daisy Edgar-Jones (“Fresh”) stars in this adaptation of Delia Owens ’hugely popular 2018 novel, about a girl who grows up in the North Carolina Marsh and later becomes entangled in a Murder plot. (July 15, theaters)
Adam Sandler stars as former basketball scout Stanley Sugarman in this co-production with LeBron James that also stars Queen Latifah, Ben Foster, JoJo Siwa and a host of NBA stars. Sure, why not? (June 8, Netflix)
13. ‘DC League of Super-Pets’
Pets can have superpowers, too. So Superman’s dog, Krypto (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) teams up with Batman’s dog (Kevin Hart) and others to save the day when their human counterparts are captured. (July 29, theaters)
14. ‘Senior Year’
Rebel Wilson stars as a high school cheerleader who suffers a Coma and wakes up 20 years later, only to learn she’s missed her senior year of high school and now wants to re-create everything she missed. (May 13, Netflix)
15. ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’
Marcel is a shell with shoes on, voiced by Jenny Slate, who also co-wrote this feature length film that follows several adorable Marcel shorts, including a 2010 festival favorite. (June 24, theaters)
“The Office” star BJ Novak writes and directs this Horror thriller about a New York radio host who travels south to investigate the Murder of his girlfriend. With Issa Rae, Ashton Kutcher and Boyd Holbrook. (July 29, theaters)
17. ‘The Sea Beast’
Maybe sea monsters aren’t so bad after all? The young girl stows away on a creature-hunter’s boat and befriends a great beast in this animated tale that features the Voices of Dan Stevens and Zaris-Angel Hator. (July 8, Netflix)
18. ‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’
After 12 seasons and nearly 250 episodes, Creator Loren Bouchard’s animated comedy comes to the big screen for more burger-flipping good times. (May 27, theaters)
19. ‘Shotgun Wedding’
Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel star as a couple whose picture perfect destination wedding is interrupted when they end up getting taken Hostage. (June 29, Amazon Prime Video)
20. ‘The Black Phone’
Ethan Hawke, who has a pretty good track record in Horror movies (see “Sinister,” the first “Purge” movie) plays a kidnapper known as “The Grabber” in this adaptation of Joe Hill’s 2004 short story. (June 24, theaters)
21. ‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’
Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova and Pete Davidson are among the stars of this slasher film about a group of friends stranded at a house party during a hurricane. (Aug. 5, theaters)
This reboot of the 1984 Stephen King adaptation that starred Drew Barrymore as a young girl with pyrokinesis features Ryan Kiera Armstrong in the title role and Zac Efron as her concerned father. (May 13, theaters and on Peacock)
Writer-director Alex Garland (“Ex-Machina,” “Annihilation”) Returns with this eerie-looking Horror title that stars Oscar nominee Jessie Buckley (“The Lost Daughter”) as a woman looking to let go of the death of her husband . (May 20, theaters)
24. ‘Petite Maman’
After the death of her grandmother, an 8-year-old meets a new friend while building a Treehouse in the Woods in this French drama from “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” by Writer-Director Celine Sciamma. (May 6, theaters)
25. ‘Fire Island’
No, it’s not about Fyre Fest. Joel Kim Booster and “SNL’s” Bowen Yang star in this “Pride and Prejudice” -inspired romantic comedy about a group of friends who vacation at the gay hot spot off the coast of Long Island. (June 3, Hulu)
26. ‘Sharp Stick’
The latest from Writer-director Lena Dunham (HBO’s “Girls”) stars Kristine Froseth as a babysitter who loses her Virginity to her employer. Dunham, Scott Speedman, Jon Bernthal and Jennifer Jason Leigh co-star. (Aug. 5, theaters)
27. ‘Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’
In this Sundance hit, Emma Thompson stars as a retired widow who hires a sex worker (Daryl McCormack) in the hopes of finding one night of ecstasy. (June 17, Hulu)
28. ‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’
Cooper Raiff writes, directs and stars in this comedic drama about a Bar Mitzvah host who pursues a friendship, and maybe a romantic relationship, with a mother (Dakota Johnson). (June 17, Apple TV +)
Miles Teller and Jurnee Smollett star as prisoners allowed to reduce their sentences by using emotion-altering drugs administered by a warden (Chris Hemsworth) in this sci-fi thriller from “Oblivion’s” Joseph Kosinski. (June 17, Netflix)
A documentary that looks at Jennifer Lopez and her career in music and movies, with stops at her performance at the 2020 Presidential inauguration and her halftime performance with Shakira at the 2020 Super Bowl. (June 15, Netflix)
n A pair of insomniacs experience nightlife in “Along for the Ride” (May 6, Netflix).
n Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen are a pair of WWII Intelligence officers in “Operation Mincemeat” (May 11, Netflix).
n The Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer directs “Chip N ‘Dale: Rescue Rangers,” a meta-comedy about the cartoon duo featuring the Voices of John Mulaney, Andy Samberg, Keegan-Michael Key and more (May 20, Disney +).
n “Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story” looks at the history of the long-running Big Easy festival (June 10).
n Ralph Fiennes and Oscar Winner Jessica Chastain star in “The Forgiven,” about an accident that affects the lives of those in a Moroccan town (June 17).
n Oscar Winner Mark Rylance golfs the worst round in British Open history in “The Phantom of the Open,” the true story of Maurice Flitcroft (June 17).
n Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas star in the film industry send-up “Official Competition” (June 17).
n Rebeca Huntt writes, directs and stars in the New York-set coming of age tale “Beba” (June 24).
n Isabelle Huppert and Lesley Manville star in “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, ”about a London widow who takes a trip to Paris to indulge her newfound love of fashion (July 15).
n Michael Cera Voices a dog that wants to be a samurai in “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank” (July 15).
n “Super Troopers” director Jay Chandrasekhar directs “Easter Sunday,” with Comedian Jo Koy playing a version of himself (Aug. 5).
n Rebecca Hall plays a character Haunted by her past in “Resurrection” (Aug. 5).
n “Luck” is an animated tale about the conflicting nature of good luck and bad luck (Aug. 5).
n Zoey Deutch and Dylan O’Brien star in “Not Okay,” about a would-be influencer who has a Sudden brush with reality (Aug. 5).
n Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (“Catfish”) take on “Secret Headquarters,” about a child who suspects his father may be a superhero (Aug. 5).
n Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson star in “The Man from Toronto,” about an Assassin and a screw-up who are mistaken for each other (Aug. 12, Netflix).
n Aubrey Plaza becomes “Emily the Criminal” after a credit card scam lures her into LA’s criminal underground (Aug. 12).
n A lion is on the hunt in “Beast,” with Idris Elba as a father trying to keep his two daughters from becoming lunch (Aug. 19).
n John Boyega stars in the true story of an ex-Marine who robs a bank in “892” (Aug. 26).
n Sylvester Stallone is a superhero thought to have long ago disappeared in “Samaritan” (Aug. 26).
n “On a Wing and a Prayer” (Aug. 31) is a faith-based drama about a passenger forced to land a plane safely after a pilot suddenly dies, starring Dennis Quaid, Heather Graham and Jesse Metcalf.