Taron Egerton in Rocketman / Paramount Pictures
Once upon a time, the yearly movie slate was ruled by seasons.
In the summer, blockbusters, comedies, and action films of all stripes ruled the box office, and while there might be a Star Wars film that opened in early May, the season officially began with Memorial Day and ran until Labor Day.
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In September, films with Oscar aspirations would begin their slow roll out that would extend through the end of the year. These films might make their debut at the various film festivals or have exclusive showings in New York and Los Angeles to just meet the Academy of Arts and Sciences criteria for inclusion for its awards, or some might even open wide across the county if its studio felt it could make dent in the box office.
The Christmas season would overlap Oscar season in November and December with some more blockbusters, comedies, and family-friendly fare to take advantage of children being out of school for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
From January through April, studios dumped the rest of their lesser efforts or films that did not squarely fit into the three bigger categories to see if they might find an audience among less robust competition.
The last five to 10 years, those distinct seasons have blurred considerably. The difference is like comparing Michelangelo’s style to Pollock’s.
For Marvel Studios, summer began in March this year with the release of “Captain Marvel” and continued into April with the opening of “Avengers: Endgame.” Somewhat surprisingly “Captain Marvel” bolted into the billion-dollar club, grossing $1.125 billion to date to rank 22nd on the all-time box office list, according to Box Office Mojo. However, “Avengers: Endgame” is the real monster.
“Endgame’s” worldwide gross is up to $2.531 billion going into the weekend, which is second only to “Avatar,” the worldwide box office leader at $2.788 billion. The conclusion of the 22-part “Avengers Saga” must still pull in $256.6 million to equal “Avatar,” which is more money than all but five films have made so far this year.
Pundits and analysts are debating whether “Endgame” will have the legs to race past “Avatar” or not, but either way, it’s doubtful any other film this year will match it at the box office, even “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker,” which doesn’t debut until December.
That said, Hollywood has plenty of big-budget spectacles and high-concept ideas debuting in local theaters over the next 12 weeks to keep summer movie fans busy if not happy.
Here is a brief run down of some of the most anticipated movies opening this summer.
Aladdin (May 24)
Over the past five years, Disney has found more gold in its archives by remaking its animated classics as live-action extravaganzas. The latest will be in theaters next week when Will Smith takes on the role of the Genie with Mena Massoud playing Aladdin and Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine in a remake of the beloved 1992 movie. Reactions to trailers have been mixed, and Disney has barred the release of all reviews until the day the film opens. That’s never a good sign. It was a bold move for Smith to step into the role that Robin Williams crushed, but if anyone has the wit and talent to pull it off, it’s him. Guy Ritchie, who made his name directing clever, profane and violentBritish crime comedies, seemed like an odd choice for director of any Disney movie much less “Aladdin.” Maybe that’ll fly, but I smell a flop.
Godzilla: King of Monsters (May 31)
The word of mouth on “Godzilla: King of Monsters” is anything but tepid. Those who’ve seen it have enjoyed it immensely. From the trailers, this is more like the Godzilla films I doted on as an elementary school kid, except with the volume cranked up to 11. This is the third film in the series that began with “Godzilla (2014) and continued in “Kong: Skull Island” (2017). There are excellent human actors in this movie like Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Bradley Whitford and young Millie Bobby Brown, of “Stranger Things” fame, but the stars of the film are the CGI giants Godzilla, the three-headed dragon King Ghidorah, Mothra, and high-flying Rhodan. When these titans clash, mankind hangs in the balance. I take that and a bucket of popcorn.
Rocketman (May 31)
If you ever wanted to know how it all got started for pop rocker Elton John, here’s one version. Rocketman is described as a musical fantasy starring Taron Egerton as John. It depicts his growth from a musical prodigy to becoming an international superstar thanks to his enduring partnership with lyricist Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). Directed by Dexter Fletcher, the film isn’t a connect-the-dot biopic, but something more extravagant and decadent, which only befits the life of John, who was involved with the production of the movie.
Late Night (June 7)
In “Late Night,” screenwriter Mindy Kaling stars as a novice comedy writer who joins the all-male writing team for female talk show host, played by Emma Thompson. Her show is on the verge of cancelation after being a rut for years. Kaling’s influence begins to revitalize the show, but Thompson becomes a bit jealous of her new writing star. The film premiered at the Sunset Film Festival in January, and it had distribution companies fighting for the rights.
Toy Story 4 (June 21)
Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), and all of the gang are back for a fourth adventure that will no doubt hit us all in the feels like the other three films in the franchise have. Pixar is the gold standard for animated entertainment, and it have never missed with a Toy Story feature, and it’s doubtful it will this time either. I’m not that interested in the new character Forky’s existential crisis, but I do wonder what’s up with Bo Peep (Annie Potts) and that creepy antique store.
Yesterday (June 28)
Now here’s a high concept for you from director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Richard Curtis. What if after a mysterious global accident that the only person who could remember the songs of the Beatles was a struggling singer-song writer (Himesh Patel) whose confidence is fading as fast as his career. And what if that entertainer sky rockets to popularity by performing and taking credit for the Fab Four’s tunes? It’s crazy, but just crazy enough to entice a second-generation Beatles fans like me to buy a ticket.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 2)
In Marvel’s second Spider-Man feature with co-producer Sony, Tom Holland is back in the webbed tights in this film that serves as an epilogue to “Avengers: Endgame.” The film not only takes Spidey and his high school buddies to Italy for a class trip, but also promises to answer some of the questions “Endgame” left dangling. Jake Gyllenhaal is on hand to introduce Mysterio to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With its ties to “Avengers: Endgame,” this film might give Marvel its third billion-dollar movie in less than six months.
The Lion King (July 19)
Calling this production a live-action remake of the “The Lion King” is a misnomer. The animals look realistic, but they are computer-generated images and just as animated as the characters from the original 1994 film. Nothing seen on the screen is real, and that makes what director John Favreau and his crew has accomplished even more incredible. Loosely based on “Hamlet,” the original film is a classic and one of the most beloved Disney animated features of all time. My question is would Disney dare and make some changes, or will this feature follow in Mufasa’s footsteps just like little Simba should have? Also what will be the public’s appetite be for another Disney remake? This will be the third of the year after “Dumbo” in March and “Aladdin” in May.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (July 26)
Quentin Tarantino is an enormously talented director who had rather shock and rock you than entertain you. Of late his films have been particularly gruesome. Maybe this effort will be a departure as he seeks to capture the feel of Hollywood in 1969 after the studio system and the Hayes Code folded. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a Burt Reynolds-type who finds his career on the rocks, while Brad Pitt plays his trusty stunt double and drinking buddy. The film also involves the Tate Murders, committed by three members of the Charles Manson Family in that fateful year. Margot Robbie stars as Sharon Tate, one of the victims. Tarantino has been known to play fast and loose with history in some of his films, and who knows what he will do with this movie that is blessed with a stellar cast and dozens of cameos by current stars and some from the period. This might be the movie of the year, or a tremendous disappointment.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Aug. 2)
The film was in the works before the public fallout between “Fast & Furious” saga actors Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson that spilled over into both stars’ social media accounts, and it could be what started the animosity. The downside is The Rock won’t be appearing with Diesel in the main franchise any longer, but the upside is his character Federal Agent Luke Hobbs along with Jason Statham’s character mercenary Deckard Shaw are popular enough to prop up their own film if not series of films by themselves. Hobbs and Shaw, who hate each other, are brought together to take down former MI6 agent Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), whose known as the Black Superman. This looks like dumb, action-movie fun of the highest order.