The summer movie season is always one of high points of the movie year. It’s a season dominated by blockbusters, and following a couple of quieter years in 2020 and 2021, tentpole movies are back with a vengeance this year. Marvel fans have two different movies to look forward to, and there’s also a long-awaited Top Gun sequel in the hopper.
Even if you’re not an action fan, there should be plenty to intrigue you in this lineup. From original horror vehicles like The Black Phone to comedies like The Bob’s Burgers Movie to dramas like Elvis and Where the Crawdads Sing, 2022’s summer movies have it all. Here’s a look at the most exciting titles coming up from May through August.
What’s it about: Dr. Strange opens a portal to the multiverse, but isn’t totally prepared for what comes through.
Who will love it: MCU nerds, Cumberbatch stans, and anyone excited by the return of Sam Raimi.
Preview: Multiverse of Madness is the first of Marvel’s big-ticket releases, and speculation is already running rampant as to which Marvel characters could make appearances. (Our money is on a certain member of the Fantastic Four stretching his way to the silver screen.) Ultimately, the biggest reason to be excited is Spider-Man director Sam Raimi’s return to the world of superhero filmmaking, which may bring some interesting visual touches with it. Elizabeth Olsen has been on quite a run recently, and her co-lead turn here as the fan-favorite Scarlet Witch will hopefully continue that streak.
The movie is destined to be massive, but hopefully it’ll also be good.
What’s it about: A Scottish man becomes a shepherd following tragedy and has to fight for his own sanity after moving to a freaky island.
Who will love it: Horror fans of the A24 variety and people who love Scottish vistas.
Preview: A small British horror film, Shepherd tells the story of a Scottish man who, looking for seclusion, retreats to a job as a shepherd on a secluded island. Haunted by the mysterious death of his wife, the shepherd finds himself in the grasp of supernatural forces as he finds that the past is not so easy to escape. Shepherd may not have the high budget of many of the other movies on this list, but early word has been generally positive, so horror fans should keep an eye out for this potential gem.
What’s it about: A family’s failed attempt to hide their daughter, who can start spontaneous fires.
Who will love it: Stephen King devotees, reboot horror fans, and all those attracted to Zac Efron.
Preview: During the initial glut of Stephen King adaptations in the ’80s and ’90s, an attempt was made to get Firestarter onto the big screen. While that attempt was not a rollicking success, director Keith Thomas is hoping that the second time’s the charm. This incarnation, which stars Zac Efron as Charlie the firestarter’s father, may be able to pull it off. At the very least, the fire effects are likely to be more convincing, even if the story might fall flat when its translated to the screen.
What’s it about: The Crawley family travels to France to uncover a mystery from the past.
Who will love it: Maggie Smith devotee (everyone), fans of bitchy period melodrama, and baby boomers looking to escape in a good old-fashioned movie about the rise of fascism!
Preview: The first Downton Abbey moviewas a surprising success at the box office, so it was only a matter of time before we got a sequel. This one seems to take the Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! path of splitting its time between the story’s past and the contemporary, 1920s timeline. Downton Abbey has been off the air for years now, but it seems that a certain segment of the American public can’t get enough of the Crawley family. Although we have no proof Cher will appear at the end of singing “Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)” like she did in Mamma Mia 2, we’re still holding out hope that something like that will occur to enliven this installment.
What’s it about: A woman retreats to the English countryside in the wake of tragedy, only to find herself stalked by a stranger.
Who will love it: A24 horror fans, the growing legion of people who know how great Jessie Buckley is, and fans of Alex Garland’s existential horror vibes.
Preview: Garland’s directorial work has been pretty great thus far, and Men is hoping to continue the streak. The movie’s trailers suggest that the cast is composed of just Buckley as the put-upon lead and Rory Kinnear playing a wide variety of men, and that’s it. The movie looks deeply unsettling, and Buckley has proven with last year’s The Lost Daughter that she’s a star in the making. The pairing Garland and Buckley makes this a compelling movie on paper, and A24’s backing suggests that it’s probably worth checking out, whether it lives up to its promise or not.
What’s it about: When a sinkhole opens right in front of Bob’s Burgers, the Belchers fight to save their restaurant.
Who will love it: Bob’s Burgers fans and those who love The Simpsons Movie.
Preview: It’s not often that an animated series gets a chance to make its impact on the big screen, but The Bob’s Burgers Movie could prove to be a worthy addition to this tradition. The show is fundamentally sweeter than something like The Simpsons, but it shares a fundamental interest in telling as many great jokes as possible without overstaying its welcome. Will those jokes translate to the big screen? It’s impossible to say for sure, but given the creative talent that’s in place on this movie, it’s definitely worth taking a chance on.
What’s it about: Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is forced to confront his past as he trains a new group of naval aviators.
Who will love it: Lovers of late-period Tom Cruise flicks like the Mission: Impossible franchise. Top Gun fans, and those who like unnecessary sequels to ’80s hits (Ghostbusters: Afterlife).
Preview: Top Gun: Maverick has already faced several pandemic-related delays, but it seems like they’re really going to release it this time. The long-awaited sequel to the 1980s box-office smash promises plenty of incredible aviation footage, as well as a few death-defying stunts from star Tom Cruise. It’s unclear how many Top Gun fans there still are in 2022, and this film may ultimately sink or swim based on how strong the nostalgia is for this particular property. Still, if Tom Cruise thinks it’s worth revisiting, it feels hard to argue with him.
What’s it about: An American moves to Bucharest, Romania, with her boyfriend, and begins to worry she’s being constantly watched.
Who will love it: Fans of indie thrillers, true-crime weirdos, and short movie lovers.
Preview: Watcher premiered at Sundance at the beginning of 2022, and it’s already earned a reputation as a sturdy thriller that excels in part because of director Chloe Okuno’s steady hand. Following a young American woman who believes that she’s being watched while alone in Bucharest, the movie seems to be a paranoid thriller with some genuine scares. Of course, it helps that Watcher also features a serial killer who seems to be lurking in the background for much of its breezy, 90-minute runtime.
What’s it about: DINOSAURS! Following the events of Fallen Kingdom, humanity is threatened by the presence of dinosaurs all over the planet.
Who will love it: Jurassic Park superfans and all those who worship at the altar of Colin Trevorrow.
Preview: The Jurassic World is one of the oddest franchises in recent memory. Following the enormous success of the first film and the more middling success of the second, Dominion promises to reunite the cast of the original Jurassic Park for the first time, although it’s unclear how big their roles will be. Regardless, there are sure to be plenty of dinosaurs with made-up names, and Chris Pratt is also likely to grimace his way through every scene. If you’re excited for Dominion, then I hope you enjoy it.
What’s it about: Buzz Lightyear sets off on an intergalactic mission with a robo sidekick and some roughshod recruits.
Who will love it: Toy Story fans, origin story lovers, and anyone who actually understands what this movie is supposed to be.
Preview: Apparently, Lightyear is not just Toy Story 4.5 but a film set within the world of the Toy Story universe. It’s the movie that a young Andy sees that ultimately leads him to become obsessed with Buzz Lightyear. Confused? If that doesn’t totally mystify, you’ll probably have a good time with this. At the very least, it may be interesting to watch another space adventure from the studio that brought us Wall-E. Given how weirdly indebted this movie seems to be to preexisting IP, don’t get your hopes too high.
What’s it about: Elvis’s rise to fame and his complex relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
Who will love it: Baz Luhrmann die-hards, Elvis fans, and people who like it when Tom Hanks does a strange accent.
Preview: Baz Luhrmann has not made a feature film in almost a decade, and regardless of how good Elvis is, it’ll be great to have him back. Although it may look like a fairly conventional biopic on the surface, anyone who knows Luhrmann knows that Elvis is pretty unlikely to play it safe. The movie is sure to feature plenty of great Elvis songs, but whether it proves to be as great as something like Romeo + Juliet will depend on whether Luhrmann’s creative choices are in service to some larger point about one of the most famous musicians of the 20th century.
What’s it about: A young woman discovers she can save her boyfriend’s life by traveling back in time through a mixtape.
Who will love it: Teenage girls who have watched The Fault in Our Stars way too many times, time travel completists, and Danny Glover stans.
Preview: A small-scale YA romance, Press Play could be a worthy addition to the genre or another entry that largely falls by the wayside. Telling the story of a boy and a girl who love each other and bond over their shared interest in music, the film takes a sci-fi turn when the girl discovers that she can save her boyfriend by traveling back in time through her mixtape. This sci-fi twist may seem a little out of left field, but if Press Play can execute its premise with confidence, it has some potential.
What’s it about: A 13-year-old boy is trapped in a basement by a sadistic killer, only to discover he can connect with the killer’s previous victims.
Who will love it: Horror fans and people who liked It: Chapter One, but not It: Chapter Two.
Preview: Ethan Hawke rarely makes boring choices, so his interest in The Black Phone should be enough to instill some confidence. The movie was directed by Scott Derrickson, who made 2012’s Sinister before he made the first Doctor Strange film. Now, he’s returning to horror with a fairly innovative premise and a great actor taking on the central role of the villain. If the children in this movie are as great as the kids in Sinister, The Black Phone may be the sleeper horror hit of the summer.
What’s it about: In the 1970s, a young Gru attempts to join an organization of supervillains ,but eventually finds himself on the run.
Who will love it: Those who love the minions, children, and people who have been missing Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Preview: The minions continue to be a genuine phenomenon among small children, and until that stops, we’re going to keep getting more movies featuring the small, yellow characters and their leader, Gru. Steve Carrell has managed to turn in some pretty wonderful performances in this role, but The Rise of Gru is likely to be dominated by the minions. These movies used to be called Despicable Me, but now, they’re called Minions, and there’s a reason for that.
What’s it about: Thor’s attempts to find inner peace are interrupted by the arrival of a brutal god killer.
Who will love it: People who loved Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel completists, and people who admire how chill Chris Hemsworth is these days.
Preview: Picking up where Avengers: Endgame left off, it seems that Thor: Love and Thunder will be all about vibes, at least in its opening act. The movie follows Thor as he tries to figure out who he is when he isn’t trying to be a god. Eventually, Christian Bale’s god-killer will show up and get the plot in motion, but here’s hoping that Love and Thunder can be a calmer entry in Thor’s overall canon. We all know that our favorite thunder-loving god deserves a break.
What’s it about: A woman who raised herself in the North Carolina marshes becomes a suspect in a local murder.
Who will love it: Normal People fans, true-crime lovers, and the masses who loved the book.
Preview: Based on a best-seller of the same name, Where the Crawdads Sing is the kind of literary adaptation that we get one or two of basically every year. The intrigue of its murder plotline will likely ensnare some, but others will be most interested in seeing Daisy Edgar-Jones, who was so great as one of the two leads in Normal People, get a chance to headline a movie of her own. Where the Crawdads Sing is a classic beach read, so it’s only fitting that the movie adaptation will come out in July.
What’s it about: A California horse ranch is beset by a mysterious, otherworldly force.
Who will love it: Universal studio execs hoping for the next Get Out, horror fans, and people who enjoyed Outer Range.
Preview: Following up on the hit horror films Get Out and Us, it would be wise not to bet against director Jordan Peele. Nope will see him reunite with Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya, but based on the limited footage we’ve seen thus far, it seems like its going to have a slightly different tone. We don’t know much about what Nope will actually be, but we don’t need to know much to get excited for Peele’s next project. He’s one of the most exciting voices in Hollywood.
What’s it about: Krypto the Superdog must assemble a group of super pets to save the Justice League.
Who will love it: DC comic nerds, beleaguered parents desperate to get the kids out of the house, and people who have been waiting for Keanu Reeves to play Batman.
Preview: If all of our movies have to be about superheroes, at least some of them can be animated. In League of Super-Pets, an all-star voice cast that includes Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Natasha Lyonne, John Krasinski, and Keanu Reeves assembles to play a cadre of superheroes and super pets. The movie will likely have its fair share of jokes, but it’ll also be the kind of superhero movie that is truly kid-friendly, so it could be a big hit upon release.
What’s it about: Five assassins find themselves on a bullet train from Tokyo to Morioka, and they’re all after the same briefcase.
Who will love it: Deadpool fans, all those rooting for Brad Pitt, and lovers of Japanese culture.
Preview: If the trailer is any indication, Bullet Train seems like it’ll be a pretty fun time at the movies. The claustrophobic setting, when combined with the immense charms of Brad Pitt, suggest that the movie could be the perfect combination of action movie and comedy. Add in a supporting cast that includes Zazie Beetz, Hiroyuki Sanada, Bryan Tyree Henry, Bad Bunny, and Sandra Bullock, and you have a recipe for an action-comedy that can actually deliver on both halves of its genre breakdown.
What’s it about: A man begins to lose control of his body as he’s haunted by a physical manifestation of his trauma.
Who will love it: Hardcore horror fans, devotees of emerging auteurs, andauthentic cinephiles.
Preview: Those who have already seen Hypochondriac, which debuted at SXSW, have described the movie as artistic if imperfect. Director Addison Heimann is making his debut, and it seems that Hypochondriac is a promising first at-bat. The horror genre is a great place for emerging directors to play around and find their voice, and Hypochondriac is a great example of someone doing exactly that.
What’s it about: A professional woman has her life totally upended by the return of a figure from her past.
Who will love it: People who appreciate Rebecca Hall and fans of quietly unsettling films like Ex Machina.
Preview: Coming out of the Sundance Film Festival, Resurrection earned a reputation as one of the sickest and most disturbing movies to make its debut. The movie follows Rebecca Hall as a whose life is thrown into disarray by the return of an older man from her past. Hall’s performance is, as expected, outstanding, but what makes Resurrection worth looking out for is how utterly committed this movie is to its spoiler-laden premise.
What’s it about: A group of friends reunite in a secluded mansion, and discover that one of them has committed a murder.
Who will love it: Those who can’t get enough of Pete Davidson (besides the Kardashians), fans of Knives Out, and people who want more of Borat 2 star Maria Bakalova in their lives.
Preview: A black comedy is often the best way to end the summer, and it’s all the better if the movie is also a murder mystery. A good old-fashioned whodunit is becoming more and more common, but they are still fairly rare, and it’s always exciting to see great actors coming together to tell some jokes and solve a mystery. Bodies Bodies Bodies could be exactly the right film to end the summer movie season if it’s done well.
What’s it about: A young boy discovers a lair under his home, and begins to believe his father is a superhero.
Who will love it: Owen Wilson fans, people who like “cute” movies, and those looking for a new perspective on superhero stories.
Preview: Another example of a movie taking a somewhat diagonal look at the superhero story, Secret Headquarters imagines what it would be like to discover that your dad is one of the most powerful people on the planet. If it works, Secret Headquarters could be a look at the way a superhero’s professional heroism clashes with his closest relationships, allowing us to see how a child might feel about an absent father who becomes too obsessed with his job, which just happens to be saving the world.
What’s it about: A gay rom-com about a group of men falling in and out of love.
Who will love it: Billy Eichner fans and lovers of the romantic comedy genre.
Preview: Movies with gay protagonists are still rare in modern Hollywood, but Billy Eichner is working to change that. Eichner stars in and co-wrote Bros, which is thrilling not just because it focuses on gay men, but also because romantic comedies of all sorts have become less common. One of the great joys of going to the movies is watching people fall in love on screen, and Bros could be a sweet release when it hits theaters in August.