The summer movie season used to begin on Memorial Day weekend, a tradition that started with Star Wars in 1977 and continued as a sort of “good luck charm” with Empire, Jedi and the Indiana Jones trilogy. That changed in 1999, when Universal tried to get ahead of the Phantom Menace juggernaut by releasing The Mummy three weeks early. The gamble paid off – The Mummy became a big hit and made its nut back long before Episode I hit theaters – and since then the first weekend in May has been considered the start of summer. That bar may be moving again this year. The Winter Soldier cleaned up in April, and while it helped that Captain America and his buddies were pretty damn awesome in it, don’t be surprised if “summer” starts around April Fool’s Day.
For now, however, we’re still looking at the beginning of May as the start of summer, and that means we officially kick it all off this week. We’ve included a quick look at the big films, along with a few genre-appropriate smaller ones, broken down week by week. Final dates are subject to change, but for now, here’s a scorecard to help you plan your attendance at the local movie theater for the next four months.
Things kick off in spectacular fashion with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 this Friday. Andrew Garfield reprises his role as the ubiquitous wall-crawler, and now that we’ve all gotten comfortable with the reality of a reboot, this new film has a chance to send Spidey to new heights. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t but it’s still a pretty solid bit of fun.)
Comedy takes center stage here with Neighbors, starring Seth Rogen as a new father and Zak Ephron as the head of the frat house moving next door to him. It’s from the gang that gave us This is the End so expectations are high. Other notable releases include an awful-looking animated movie Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return and a small horror film, Stage Fright.
You know his name, and we’re betting plenty of extras will be shrieking it in fear when Godzilla arrives to wreak havoc on this side of the Pacific. If there are any torture porn fans out there, they’ll find something to feast on with Wolf Creek 2 arriving at the same time.
The traditional start of the summer season belongs to Hugh Jackman and his fellow mutants in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Bryan Singer remains mired in off-screen controversy, but that hasn’t dampened anticipation for this adaptation of one of the most famous comic book stories of all time. Adam Sandler fans – and we’re led to believe that some actually exist – can tune into his latest rom-com Blended the same day, and Robin Williams provides another bit of counter-programming with his comedy The Angriest Man in Brooklyn.
Disney is betting a lot on its live-action reboot of Maleficent, with Angelina Jolie looking incredible in the lead role. Whether the rest of the film lives up to her example has yet to be seen. If wicked witches aren’t your thing, then Seth Macfarlane provides another example of his particular brand of button-pushing with A Million Ways to Die in the West. And if X-Men hasn’t scratched your James McAvoy itch, he stars as a corrupt cop in the indie film Filth opening the same day.
Tom Cruise has taken a liking to science fiction films of late, and he remains enough of a box office draw to open them in a big summer push like now. His most recent. Edge of Tomorrow, also stars Emily Blunt as soldiers in a war against alien forces. Low-budget horror maestro Ti West brings us another one of his blow-burning creepers in The Sacrament the same day.
How could anyone have predicted that 21 Jump Street would be as funny as it was, or that we’d actually be looking forward to a sequel? But here we are with 22 Jump Street. It’s going head to head with another powerhouse sequel – How to Train Your Dragon 2 – along with the Guy Pierce post-apocalyptic thriller The Rover for those hoping to avoid the multiplex this weekend.
This is a fairly quiet weekend for genre films. Clint Eastwood’s musical drama Jersey Boys and the romantic comedy Think Like a Man Too competing for our attention. That’s because everyone’s clearing the deck for the next week…
Love Michael Bay or hate him, his films make money. And even the staunchest critic must be at least a little excited at the prospect of replacing Shia LaBeouf with Mark Wahlberg in the fourth Transformers movie: Age of Extinction. It’s a suitable bombastic way to close out the month.
July 4th weekend is marked by a trio of intriguing entries: the Eric Bana thriller Deliver us from Evil, the science fiction Earth to Echo and the Melissa McCarthy vehicle Tammy (an effort which she co-wrote as well as starring in). Independence Day is traditionally Bay’s turf, and you can sense some of the smaller films taking full advantage of the comparative vacancy.
Again with the surprise hits turning out highly anticipated sequels. Andy Serkis goes to war with the survivors of a human plague in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, marking perhaps the most anticipated summer movie of July.
For some reason, someone still insists on giving the Wachowskis money to make movies, and they’ll have another chance to redeem themselves with Jupiter Ascending. Things don’t get much better with the cheap-o Pixar sequel Planes: Fire and Rescue, though I hold out at a little hope for the quickie The Purge: Anarchy also opening this weekend.
Hercules. I won’t say I’m excited about it, but you can’t deny that it was the role the Rock was born to play. It also marks another curious summer creep: the arrival of overt Dog Days movies, which are usually a little quicker and dirtier than the Juggernauts or May and June. Speaking of which…
Let’s face it. Marvel Productions is playing with house money at this point, and in a year in which their Distinguished Competition has no films on the schedule, Kevin Feige & Co. are capping their 4-movie victory march with Guardians of the Galaxy, featuring little known characters who (judging by the enthusiastic response to the trailer) may be getting a whole lot bigger very soon. In order to top it, Marvel’s next effort will involve three straight hours of a little person in George Lucas’s old Howard the Duck costume, spraying seltzer water in Batman’s face and cackling maniacally. Ball’s in your court DC.
Having played a big role in the success of The Winter Soldier, Scarlett Johansson returns to the big screen with Luc Besson’s Lucy, playing a drug mule whose “cargo” turns her into a super-powered being. The controversial Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remake makes for some hefty competition at the box office. The tornado thriller Into the Storm will likely take the bronze for the weekend.
Sylvester Stallone puts the band back together with a few additional placed in The Expendables 3: an ideal incarnation of the Dog Days movie. The thriller As Above, So Below provides the biggest genre competition that weekend.
They said it would happen and somehow, they found a way. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For hits the screens nine years after the original, with Robert Rodriguez returning to direct Frank Miller’s screenplay (likely a word-for-word adaptation of his famous comics).
The late Elmore Leonard’s novel Life of Crime comes to the big screen this week, along with the horror thriller The Loft and the low-budget ghost story Jessabelle. Let’s be honest here. We’re all really waiting for Leprechaun: Origins to be unleashed on the world this weekend. And hey, Warwick Davis has bowed out. What could go wrong?
That’s where it all stands from our perspective. As always, we’ll be here to offer our reviews, insight and general snarkiness on every one of them. Do please join us, won’t you?