In Hollywood, “summer” began three weeks ago.
When Avengers: Endgame — the 22nd film in Disney’s interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe — stormed into theaters near the end of April and sucked up $1.2 billion internationally in a single weekend, the annual horse race that is the summer movie season effectively got underway.
As the end of the school year nears and the thermometer begins to tick upward, studios go to work trying to lure you inside, with the promise of polar air conditioning, bags of popcorn the size of an ottoman, and big, splashy blockbusters that will try to be bigger and splashier than last summer’s blockbusters.
The movie slate for summer 2019 is absolutely stuffed. While this isn’t a comprehensive list of what will hit cinemas, it is a look at a few of the highlights.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (May 31) — Long a titan of Japanese cinema, it has become something of a tradition to relaunch Godzilla with American audiences every so often. Sometimes it works, such as with the critically and commercially successful 2014 predecessor to this summer’s King of the Monsters. And sometimes it, uh, doesn’t work: The 1998 version starring Matthew Broderick and directed by Roland Emmerich is one of the most infamous cinematic disappointments of the 1990s, a film that landed with a thud after a breathless, yearlong marketing campaign. (Confession time: I have an ill-advised soft spot for 1998’s Godzilla. Even my mother is ashamed of me for that.) In King of the Monsters, Godzilla is set to take on his most storied kaiju rivals, including Mothra, Rodan and, most notably, the three-headed Ghidorah. Most of you will show up for the city-crushing monster battles, but, for what it’s worth, there are some humans along for the ride, too, portrayed by the likes of Kyle Chandler, Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga and the great Ken Watanabe. Warner Bros. also made an interesting choice for director, tapping Michael Dougherty, previously most known for helming horror romps like Trick ‘r Treat and Krampus.
Dark Phoenix (June 7) — No.
Disney: Raidin’ the Hits — Disney’s had an unprecedented run at the box office in the last several years, perhaps most visibly through the Marvel Cinematic Universe and via its purchase of Lucasfilm and the subsequent release of a host of Star Wars flicks. But the Mouse House also has found fertile ground by cashing in on its classic animated films via live action remakes and sequels. The trend continues this summer, first through director Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin (May 24). Reaction to early photos and trailers, particularly as they related to Will Smith playing Genie, was decidedly mixed, but recent previews have seemed more promising. Then there’s Toy Story 4 (June 21). I was initially skeptical of this franchise being revived, if only because 2010’s Toy Story 3 was so damn perfect. But then the trailers hit, and out came the laughs and, notably, the tears, (Maybe it was just dusty in the theater. Yeah, that’s it), so maybe this will be a toy box worth revisiting. Disney will round out what could be a dominant summer with The Lion King (July 19), a “live action” (it will be mostly computer generated) remake of the 1994 smash. Director Jon Favreau is a skilled hand at this, having helmed 2016’s successful retelling of The Jungle Book. The Mouse is going to clean up this Killer Dolls!! — Years from now, when we look back at the summer of 2019, someone will undoubtedly ask, “Why were there so many movies about creepy ass dolls?” Getting the murderous toy party started will be Child’s Play (June 21), a remake of the 1988 slasher classic. Aubrey Plaza and Brian Tyree Henry (TV’s Atlanta) are among the stars, and, in a perfect bit of casting, Mark Hamill is on-board as the voice of the villainous Chucky. The next week brings Annabelle Comes Home (June 28) the seventh film in Warner Bros.’ interconnected Conjuring universe of scare pics and the third dedicated to the decrepit doll Annabelle. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, from the main Conjuring films, are set to be featured in this one. And then there’s The Boy 2 (July 26), a follow-up to the 2016 original, which was a sleeper hit and an effective chiller that was better than it had any right to be. The eerie doll Brahms is back and, if you remember the twist in the first film, I’m not sure exactly how they’re going to pull that off. Either way, they’ve roped Katie Holmes into the sequel, because even Katie Holmes needs to purchase a new boat every once in a while.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 2) — A Spider-Man movie hitting just before the Fourth of July? The box office tally on this thing will be roughly the size of the gross domestic product of a modestly developed country. What remains to be seen, however, is how the new Spidey will hold up under the weight of being the first Marvel film to follow the legitimately epic Avengers: Endgame. I love Tom Holland in the lead, and 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming remains my top MCU film. But, after the emotional heft of Endgame, I worry that returning to Peter Parker and his pals could feel a little…light. We do get Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, which is worth it even if only to see him in that fishbowl helmet.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (July 26) — The ninth film from Quentin Tarantino. I’m here for it.
Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (August 2) — Few would have ever guessed when The Fast and the Furious — a movie about street racers who steal DVD players — was released in 2001 that it would be the genesis of a series that would span two decades and become one of the most lucrative film franchises on the planet. And yet, here we are. With Hobbs and Shaw, the series will make its first foray into spin-off territory, with a story that finds Luke Hobbs (the omnipresent Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) teaming up to fight a genetically enhanced (yes) villain played by Idris Elba. That’s right, we’ve gone from quarter-mile street races and stealing DVD players to saving the world from literal supervillains.