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Once upon a time, there was a summer movie season.

You remember. Movies opened in theaters and people went to see them there. Sometimes on a dark and stormy night, while we’re pulling out the cliches. Though rarely in Phoenix. But you get the idea.

Then the pandemic struck and that went away for a while.

As things inch back toward normal, sort of, we can start looking at movies as a seasonal thing again. With modifications, of course. Some of the movies coming out this summer are the same movies that were coming out last summer. Until … well, you know. But now they’re back, and the chances of them actually opening are much better.

With all that in mind, here are the movies I’m most looking forward to this summer. Which lasts until November here, I know. But these are the more traditional, my-brain-is-on-summer-vacation movies for the most part. Dates can change; always be sure to consult local listings. And it isn’t a comprehensive list by any means. But it’s a good start toward living happily ever after.


The origin story of one of the great Disney villains, starring Emma Stone, who has a blast as the title character. She also plays Estella, the good half of Cruella’s personality. It’s darker than you’d think, although keep in mind that while “101 Dalmatians,” Cruella’s eventual destination, is a movie for kids, she kills dogs and makes clothes out of them.

Details: In theaters and streaming on Disney+ Premier Access on May 28.

‘A Quiet Place Part II’

Emily Blunt, whose facial expression at the end of the first film was the best part of a good movie, returns to try to keep what’s left of her family alive. John Krasinski (Blunt’s husband) returns as director; best of all, so does Millicent Simmonds as the daughter who figured out a way to slow down the monsters in the first film. This one’s got a lot to live up to.

Details: In theaters on May 28.

‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’

Sure, why not? The first film in what is evidently now an endless franchise was genuinely scary, which is a surprisingly ignored ingredient in horror movies. Subsequent entries and spinoffs have been more hit and miss. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as Ed and Lorraine Warren. Guess what? This installment involves demonic possession! Go with what you know, I guess.

Details: In theaters and on HBO Max on June 4.

‘In the Heights’

Before “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda created this multiple-Tony-winning musical, about Washington Heights, a neighborhood in the north part of Manhattan. Jon M. Chu directs this and Miranda has a small part; he was one of the lead characters in the Broadway production. It’s not the most hard-hitting social statement you’ll ever see, but the songs are downright joyous.

Details: In theaters and on HBO Max on June 11.

‘America: The Motion Picture’

An animated film that, judging from the promotional material, is not the history lesson you had in high school: “A chainsaw-wielding George Washington teams with beer-loving bro Sam Adams to take down the Brits in a tongue-in-cheek riff on the American Revolution.” Also, Channing Tatum plays Washington. Also starring Simon Pegg, Judy Greer, Andy Samberg. I am in.

Details: Streaming on Netflix on June 30.

‘Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It’

Mariem Perez Riera’s documentary about the incomparable Moreno, who grew up in poverty in Puerto Rico and went on to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, has gotten raves at festivals. Includes testimonials from the likes of Morgan Freeman, Whoopi Goldberg and Hector Elizondo.

Details: In theaters on June 18.


A boy (voice of Jacob Tremblay) spends the summer with his friend in a town on the Italian Riviera. The catch: The boy is a sea monster, who is disguising himself as human while on land. Hijinks ensue. Sounds kind of iffy, but Pixar has good luck with high-concept ideas. With Maya Rudolph and Giacomo Gianniotti.

Details: Streaming on Disney+ on June 18.


Kevin Hart gets serious, at least some of the time, playing a widower bringing up his daughter alone. It’ll be interesting to see what Hart will do with the role, which is not what we expect from him. That could be a good thing. Or bad. With Lil Rel Howery, and lots of bonus points for casting Anthony Carrigan, so great as NoHo Hank on HBO’s “Barry.” When’s that coming back, by the way? (March of 2022, reportedly.)

Details: Streaming on Netflix on June 18.


Yet another installment in “The Fast and the Furious” empire of movies. Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez drive fast cars fast. Charlize Theron returns as a villain. You don’t come to these for innovative plots. You come for the speed and destruction, of which you are guaranteed plenty. And just in case you’re wondering, yes, there will be a 10th. Vrooom.

Details: In theaters on June 25.


Taylour Paige and Riley Keough embark on a wild road trip to Florida in Janicza Bravo’s film after bonding over pole dancing. Sound strange? It’s based on a 148-tweet Twitter thread. How can you not be intrigued?

Details: In theaters on June 30.

‘Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)’

Questlove’s documentary explores the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which has been largely ignored (it was the same summer as Woodstock). How can that possibly be? Performers include Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Nina Simone, the Staple Singers, Mahalia Jackson — the lineup is stunning. Cannot wait.

Details: In theaters and streaming on Hulu on July 2.

‘The Tomorrow War’

Chris Pratt plays a schoolteacher recruited to fight in a war in 2051 — evidently mankind in the future is losing a war to deadly aliens. I guess they figure Pratt can help. Maybe they saw “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Hmm. Or maybe not.

Details: Streaming on Amazon Prime on July 2.

‘Black Widow’

So they say. This is one of those movies that’s moved around about 300 times. Or so. Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as the title character, also known as Natasha Romanoff. She has to confront her past, which is always good for some drama. Cate Shortland directs — the first woman to helm a film solo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although there’s a pretty good second one on deck: Oscar-winner Chloe Zhao is directing “The Eternals” due in November.

Details: In theaters and streaming on Disney+ Premier Access on July 9.

‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’

LeBron James stars in the seemed-like-it-would-never-happen sequel; he has to join Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang. Lots of big names from entertainment and sports — Don Cheadle, Zendaya, Phoenix Sun Chris Paul, Anthony Davis. But really looking forward to seeing the greatest athlete in Arizona history, Diana Taurasi, as herself and as White Mamba.

Details: In theaters and streaming on HBO Max on July 16.

‘The Green Knight’

Writer and director David Lowery takes on the legend of Sir Gawain and the title character, who is what you might call a tough customer. Tough as in chop his head off and he’s still standing there, holding it, talking to you. Dev Patel plays Gawain. The big interest lies in what Lowery (“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” “A Ghost Story”) will do with a story from the 14th century. From the looks of the trailer, quite a bit.

Details: In theaters on July 30.

‘The Suicide Squad’

Wait, you say — didn’t this movie come out in 2016? No no no, that was just “Suicide Squad.” This is “The Suicide Squad.” Big difference. With any luck. James Gunn (who directed the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies) takes over as director. Margot Robbie is back as Harley Quinn, and there are new faces. What Pete Davidson is doing in this movie is anyone’s guess. (Playing Blackguard, actually.) Done right, it could be a lot of fun. Done like the original, not so much.

Details: In theaters and on HBO Max on Aug. 6.


Emilia Jones plays a young woman who is the child of deaf parents (the title is an acronym for Children of Deaf Adults). She’s torn between her parents and her love for music. It was a big hit at Sundance — so big it sold to Apple TV+ for a reported $25 million. With Marlee Matlin.

Details: In theaters and streaming on Apple TV+ on Aug. 13.

‘Free Guy’

Ryan Reynolds plays a meek bank teller who learns he’s actually a non-playing character in a violent video game. Jodie Comer plays the woman playing the game, whom he falls for. (Man, that first season of “Killing Eve” was so great.) It looks nuts, in the most fun way possible.

Details: In theaters on Aug. 13.


Imagine how much confidence it takes to play Aretha Franklin.Well Jennifer Hudson must have it, because that’s exactly what she’s doing in Liesl Tommy’s biopic. And from the looks and sounds of the trailer, the confidence is justified. Really looking forward to this one.

Details: In theaters on Aug. 13.


Maggie Q plays an assassin, Samuel L. Jackson her mentor. Michael Keaton also plays a killer. Their paths will cross. To say more might give away too much, although the trailer has no problem spoiling the whole movie. Avoid it, and sit tight and wait.

Details: In theaters on Aug. 20.

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