2017 summer movie preview
To help you navigate the upcoming season's overwhelming movie lineup, The Globe presents its guide to five months' worth of sequels, reboots, would-be franchises – and even a few original concepts, too
No, this isn't a delayed April Fool's prank – we're barely a month into spring and it's already time to prepare for the summer movie season. It makes a perverse sort of sense, as seasons matter less and less to Hollywood's tentpole-heavy calendar. Take last year's March 25 release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, or next week's premiere of The Fate of the Furious – both summer-flavoured blockbusters that would have once waited until at least May to begin their box-office conquests. To help you navigate this ever-encroaching summer lineup, The Globe and Mail presents its guide to five months' worth of sequels, reboots, would-be franchises – and even a few original concepts, too. (All release dates are subject to change.)
SEQUELS EVERYONE EXPECTED
The Fate of the Furious (April 14)
In the trailer for this, the eighth entry in Vin Diesel's fever dream of a franchise, the word "family" is said three times – which means it should have logically been uttered five more times, right? No matter. The Fast and Furious series has no time for such silly notions as logic in its juiced-up world of muscle cars and the muscleheads who love them. Just sit back and enjoy star Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson, who increasingly seems less a human being and more a cartoon who's escaped into the live-action world like a forgotten Cool World subplot.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)
Fifteen films in, it's clear that Marvel Studios doesn't like messing with a winning formula. Which is why Guardians of the Galaxy's seemingly krazy-with-a-k premise – a doofus teams up with a talking raccoon and a walking tree to save the universe! – still rests firmly in the company's wheelhouse, with its colourful explosions, forgettable villains and endless treasure chest of McGuffins. Don't expect a departure for the sequel, which its marketing assures will be more of the same. (Just listen to this exchange between Rocket Raccoon and Star-Lord in the trailer: "So, we're saving the galaxy again?" "Yep." Don't get too excited, guys.)
Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)
One day, our children will marvel at how many Spider-Men we could choose from. Tobey Maguire for three films! Andrew Garfield for two! And now a third Spidey emerges with British actor Tom Holland. This time, your friendly neighbourhood web-slinger has been absorbed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe proper, which can only mean one thing: a smirking Robert Downey Jr. cameo.
Alien: Covenant (May 19)
In space, no one can hear you exploit intellectual property. Which is how we've come face to face with yet another glimpse into the xenomorph's maw, courtesy of original Alien helmer Ridley Scott, who is threatening this latest horror to be the start of a new trilogy. Or perhaps Prometheus was the start of the trilogy. Or is this the second part of a new quadrilogy? As long as Michael Fassbender is playing a creepy cyborg, we'll be fine.
Cars 3 (June 16)
The Pixar franchise that everyone loves to hate returns to spin its wheels one more time – and cut some cheques for Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy and Bonnie Hunt.
Transformers: The Last Knight (June 23)
Quick: How many Transformers films are we up to now? Points to whoever guesses the correct number of five – but then again, this is a game with no real winners. Unless you count franchise director Michael Bay and returning stars Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro and Stanley Tucci, all of whom should know better.
Despicable Me 3 (June 30)
In a plot that loosely resembles the Adult Swim series Venture Bros., the world's worst supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) meets his long-lost brother, the suave and successful Dru (also Carell). Hilarity allegedly ensues – as will an endless stream of pleas from your children for more Minions merchandise.
War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14)
The only question to be asked of this third entry in the new Apes canon – this time with Woody Harrelson getting into the monkey business – is why no one on the marketing team thought to employ the tag line, "Make America Ape Again." There's still time, Twentieth Century Fox.
SEQUELS NO ONE EXPECTED
Bon Cop Bad Cop 2 (May 12)
It only took 11 years, but Canada finally has an English-language franchise to call its own (well, if you don't count Goon, which accomplished the feat in half the time, or Porky's, whose only constant was being terrible). Questions of timing aside, it will be fascinating to see how well the buddy-cop dynamic between Colm Feore and Patrick Huard has aged, and whether audiences still carry any lingering affection for the series' blatant Cancon commercialism.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26)
If the fourth Pirates film, 2011's On Stranger Tides, wrapped a tidy bow on the series, then Johnny Depp's tabloid-ready exploits took that bow and showered it with six feet of dirt. Yet here we are with an improbable fifth high-seas adventure, this time roping in not only series regulars Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Orlando Bloom, but also Javier Bardem. Arrr.
Annabelle: Creation (Aug. 11)
If nothing else, the success of the Annabelle series (this is a prequel to 2014's Annabelle, which itself is a prequel to The Conjuring, which spawned a sequel of its own – got it?) proves you don't need an original idea to succeed in show business. A creepy doll, some subpar lighting and down-on-their-luck actors (hi, Anthony LaPaglia) will suffice.
MOVIES THAT HOPE TO EARN THEIR OWN SEQUELS ONE DAY
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (May 12)
In the battle over which summer movie trailer has the worst soundtrack, King Arthur's anachronistic appropriation of Led Zeppelin's Babe I'm Gonna Leave You surely bests The Mummy's reliance on a cover of the Stones's Paint It Black. Otherwise, though, it's puzzling to see how this Guy Ritchie joint will spark a hopeful six-film (!) franchise. At least Jude Law looks in fine Young Pope form.
Baywatch (May 19)
Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson strikes again, as he and Zac Efron hop aboard what Paramount surely thinks will be a lengthy Jump Street-style reboot. But we know Jump Street's Channing Tatum. Channing Tatum is a friend of ours. And you, Zac Efron, are no Channing Tatum.
Wonder Woman (June 2)
Technically, this is a prequel to last year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But it's also designed to act as a bridge between that film and this fall's Justice League. And it will likely spark a sequel of its own. Maybe a spinoff, too. Needless to say, there is a lot riding on Gal Gadot's Princess Diana, but at least this standalone film is in the hands of Patty Jenkins (director of Monster) and not Zack Snyder (cinema's greatest monster).
The Mummy (June 9)
For whatever reason (okay, it's money), Universal is dusting off its classic monster properties, despite The Mummy having already produced three blockbusters and four Scorpion King spinoffs. Here to unwrap the gauze for a new generation is Tom Cruise, who battles an ancient evil with the help of Russell Crowe (playing Dr. Jekyll, ready for his own spinoff). Somewhere, Brendan Fraser sheds a single tear.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21)
After introducing the world to three endlessly exploitable, low-rent European series ( Taxi, Transporter and Taken), writer-director Luc Besson returns to the world of high-concept sci-fi fantasy that he mined so well in The Fifth Element. In this adaptation of the acclaimed French comic Valerian and Laureline, Besson goes into deep space and beyond, bringing along a disparate cast that includes Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, John Goodman and Rihanna.
The Emoji Movie (July 28)
Sir Patrick Stewart voices the poop emoji. What more could you possibly need to know?
The Dark Tower (Aug. 4)
The irony of this Stephen King adaptation having been trapped in development hell is surely not lost on fans of the series, so concerned is it with the cosmic intersection of good and evil. Yet after a decade of starts and stops (with everyone from J.J. Abrams to Ron Howard attached), the first film in a planned mega-series is here, starring Idris Elba as the gunslinger Roland and Matthew McConaughey as the devilish Walter – two otherworldly beings who battle it out to save the universe (or several universes; it's unclear how close director Nikolaj Arcel's vision will stick to King's dense novels).
MOVIES THAT HAVE NO SEQUELS IN MIND … FOR NOW
The Circle (April 28)
Tom Hanks has obviously been keeping up his McSweeney's subscription, as this is the actor's second Dave Eggers adaptation, after last year's A Hologram for the King. Hopes are higher for this James Ponsoldt-directed drama, with Hanks playing the mogul of a sinister Facebook facsimile, and Emma Watson as the naive millennial sucked into the company's agenda.
Snatched (May 12)
After taking a 15-year break, Goldie Hawn returns to the screen in this defiantly crass comedy. In a perfect bit of casting, Hawn plays the mother of Amy Schumer, coaxed into taking a tropical vacation that goes haywire. Comedy ringers Ike Barinholtz, Christopher Meloni, Wanda Sykes and Randall Park round out the cast.
Rough Night (June 16)
For anyone who's been clamouring for a rework of Peter Berg's Very Bad Things (in which a bachelor party goes horribly wrong) but starring some of the funniest women working today (Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer), Rough Night should do the trick.
All Eyez on Me (June 16)
Newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr. gets the role of a lifetime with this Tupac Shakur biopic. Crass comparisons to Straight Outta Compton are already likely stewing, but Shipp and director Benny Boom have a much larger challenge in front of them in honouring Shakur's remarkable legacy.
Baby Driver (June 28)
After receiving a rapturous reception at SXSW in Austin, Tex., last month, Sony moved up the release date for this Edgar Wright crime caper, which follows a getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) who ferries around various unsavoury types (Jamie Foxx, Jon Hamm), all to the beat of whatever's playing on his iPod. With a stacked cast, stellar soundtrack and Wright in the director's chair for the first time since 2013's The World's End, Baby Driver might be the sleeper hit of the summer.
The Beguiled (June 23)
After taking a lighthearted detour with Netflix's A Very Murray Christmas (starring her Lost in Translation accomplice Bill Murray), Sofia Coppola is back in more familiar dramatic territory with The Beguiled. That's not to say the project is standard for Coppola – it's her first remake, an update of the 1971 Clint Eastwood-starring western (itself adapted from Thomas Cullinan's novel A Painted Devil). The director has once again surrounded herself with familiar collaborators, though, including Elle Fanning (Somewhere) and Kirsten Dunst (The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette).
The House (June 30)
It's not summer without Will Ferrell screaming maniacally, for no reason in particular. Hence, The House, in which Ferrell and Amy Poehler play a suburban couple who open up an illegal casino to fund their daughter's college education. Finally, a film for our times.
The Big Sick (July 14)
The breakout hit at Sundance, Michael Showalter's romantic dramedy should make waves as the summer gives way to awards season. Written by real-life couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, the film follows the pair's lightly fictionalized courtship (Nanjiani plays himself; Zoe Kazan plays Gordon), which is derailed by a culture clash on Nanjiani's part and medical problems on Gordon's. Nanjiani, best known for HBO's Silicon Valley, delivers a standout performance as a man torn between family and love, while Ray Romano, as Gordon's father, just might earn himself an Academy Award nomination. Really.
Dunkirk (July 21)
Whatever you might think of his overwhelming scores or stylistic reliance on forebears like Michael Mann, there is no denying that Christopher Nolan makes full use of the big screen. For his next act of cinematic bombast, Nolan takes on the 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk, capturing the chaos on a mix of Imax 65mm and 65mm large-format film. Five minutes' worth of footage floored attendees at Las Vegas's CinemaCon last month, and performers including both Nolan regulars Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy and newbies Mark Rylance and Harry Styles (!) only add to the intrigue.
Untitled Detroit Project (Aug. 4)
For the 50th anniversary of Detroit's infamous "12th Street Riot," director Kathryn Bigelow is set to unveil her as-yet-untitled drama chronicling the bloody saga that left 43 people dead. Reuniting with her Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal, Bigelow is set to balance a stacked cast (Anthony Mackie, John Krasinski, John Boyega) with a still-timely issue – though don't be surprised if the buzzy film is shifted to a more awards-friendly fall release date.