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14 summer movies you’ll have to see in theaters

Updated April 30, 2022 - 4:42 pm

Let’s try this again.

The 2020 summer movie season barely registered. With just $176.4 million at the box office, all of its movies combined to earn slightly more than the $157.5 million the previous summer’s “Avengers: Endgame” hauled in during its opening day.

Last summer was supposed to be the rebirth of moviegoing. But with many of its biggest titles — including “Black Widow,” “The Suicide Squad,” “Cruella,” “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and “Jungle Cruise” — simultaneously available on streaming services, there just wasn’t as much reason to leave the house.

That hybrid release model is no more, though, meaning you’ll have to see this summer’s movies in theaters — or wait at least 45 days from their initial release to watch them at home. With these big titles and more on their way, movie theaters are once again ready to party like it’s 2019.

Here’s a look at some of what’s coming this summer:

‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ (Friday)

That spell that tore a hole in the multiverse in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” continues to torment Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). The sequel, which marks the return of director Sam Raimi (the original “Spider-Man” trilogy) to the Marvel fold, adds Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and introduces America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) alongside returning characters Wong (Benedict Wong), Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams).

‘Downton Abbey: A New Era’ (May 20)

The television phenomenon continues on the big screen as Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) oversees a film shoot at Downton Abbey, while other members of the Crawley family head to the South of France to see the villa recently inherited by the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith).

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ (May 27)

Thirty-six years after we first met him — and nearly three years after the sequel’s intended release — Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is back in the cockpit, training a new group of naval aviators, including Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s late best friend, Goose.

‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’ (May 27)

The Belchers and the rest of Fox’s long-running animated comedy are heading to the big screen, only to have their summer plans ruined when a giant sinkhole opens in front of the restaurant.

‘Jurassic World Dominion’ (June 10)

Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, dinosaurs live alongside humans — including the original trilogy’s Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) — in what’s being billed as the conclusion to the “Jurassic World” saga.

‘Lightyear’ (June 17)

Meet the hero who started it all as Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans), the legendary Space Ranger who inspired the beloved toy, is marooned on a hostile planet and battles his nemesis, Zurg (James Brolin), in this “Toy Story” prequel/spinoff.

‘Elvis’ (June 24)

Genre-bending director Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge,” “The Great Gatsby”) looks at the changing landscape of America through the eyes of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) and his controversial manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks).

‘The Black Phone’ (June 24)

“Doctor Strange” director Scott Derrickson didn’t return for the sequel, but he did co-write and direct this horror tale about a 13-year-old boy (Mason Thames) abducted by a masked killer (Ethan Hawke). When he’s locked in a soundproof basement, previous victims begin helping him, communicating through a disconnected telephone on the cellar’s wall.

‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ (July 1)

The summer’s second animated origin tale follows a 12-year-old Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) in 1970s suburbia as he meets Minions Kevin, Stuart and Bob while scheming to take over the world from his basement. Taraji P. Henson, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren and Danny Trejo join the vocal cast.

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ (July 8)

Since the defeat of Thanos, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has been living the good life as a retired god. Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) remains king while Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) wields the magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. When the galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) seeks to live up to his name, though, Thor turns to those allies, plus Korg (Taika Waititi) and the Guardians of the Galaxy, for help.

‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ (July 15)

How do you stand out in the summer without being a sequel, a superhero movie or a sequel to a superhero movie? It helps when you’re based on a best-selling novel that captured the attention of producer Reese Witherspoon and have a noted fan in Taylor Swift, who wrote and recorded a new song for you. After being abandoned and raising herself in the North Carolina marshlands, a young woman (Daisy Edgar-Jones) emerges in nearby Barkley Cove only to be almost immediately suspected of murder.


‘Nope’ (July 22)

It’s wild to think that a writer-director could become a franchise after just two films, but that’s just what Jordan Peele has done with “Get Out” and “Us.” His latest, starring “Get Out” Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya, is still shrouded in mystery, but it’s believed to involve an alien invasion.

‘DC League of Super-Pets’ (July 29)

Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart (“Central Intelligence,” the “Jumanji” movies) re-team as the voices of Krypto the Superdog and Ace, one of the shelter animals who gain superpowers and are called on to save the day when the Justice League is kidnapped, in this animated feature.

‘Bullet Train’ (July 29)

Brad Pitt stars as one of an eclectic group of assassins fighting over a mysterious briefcase aboard a high-speed Japanese train in this action romp from “Deadpool 2” director David Leitch.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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