2023 summer movie preview: Our 25 most anticipated releases
From "Barbie" to 'Indiana Jones," "Fast X" to "Little Mermaid," there's something for everyone this season.
Movies are back, people. If there was any doubt that fans were ready to return en masse to theaters post-pandemic, take a look at The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Universal’s animated adaptation just crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide in only its fourth weekend. One… billion… dollars. Mario and Luigi are following in the footsteps of other big breadwinners this year like John Wick: Chapter 4 ($403 million) and Creed III, ($274 million) — heck, even Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, considered an underperforming Marvel movie, has tallied $475 million, which is pretty huge by non-MCU standards.
Even better news for Hollywood? Its most lucrative time of year, the summer movie season, hasn’t even begun. (The bad news, of course: All of its writers just went on strike, which could have serious ramifications for next summer’s release schedule, but that’s another story.)
Beginning this month with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Little Mermaid, the next four months will bring likely hits from familiar franchises (Indiana Jones, Mission: Impossible, Fast and Furious, Transformers), a heavy dose of kid-friendly fare (Across the Spider-Verse, Pixar’s Elemental) and a trio of R-rated comedies aiming to prove the genre still has a future on the big screen (No Hard Feelings, Joy Ride, Strays).
We’ve sat through early screenings, pored over trailers in Zapruder-esque detail, crunched the tracking data and came up with our 25 most hotly anticipated releases of the summer season.
25. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
Release date: June 9 in theaters
The scoop: While the cinematic universe of Autobots and Decepticons has had some flats over the years, even the most hardened Transformers cynic had to admit that the 2018 prequel Bumblebee was a breath of fresh air in a franchise that seemed increasingly DOA. The good news about Rise of the Beasts: It’s an official sequel to Bumblebee, moving the nostalgic action from the late '80s to the mid '90s. And like Bumblebee (directed by Travis Knight and starring Hailee Steinfeld), Beasts is bringing exciting new talent into the fold, with Creed II director Steven Caple Jr. calling the shots and on-the-rise actors Anthony Ramos (In the Heights) and Dominque Fishback (Judas and the Black Messiah) costarring.
24. Haunted Mansion
Release date: July 28 in theaters
The scoop: Eddie Murphy does not return for Disney’s second adaptation of the classic theme park ride — releasing 20 years after Murphy’s modest success — but what an eclectic (and weirdly great) cast assembled by director Justin Simien (Dear White People). Rosario Dawson, Owen Wilson, LaKeith Stanfield, Danny De Vito, recently minted Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Levy, Hasan Minhaj, Winona Ryder, Jared freaking Leto in a Disney movie. … Add a screenplay by the always reliable Katie Dippold (The Heat) and this could be some valuable real estate.
23. Extraction 2
Release date: June 16 on Netflix
The scoop: When the coronavirus outbreak shut down movie theaters in March 2020, it was Chris Hemsworth to the rescue as the actor headlined Netflix’s first major quarantined release. The film — about an Australian black ops agent entangled in the Indian crime world — quickly became the streamer’s biggest original hit. Now, Part 2 arrives three years later, with the Thor star’s thought-dead hero joined by Olga Kurylenko for another high-stakes mission.
22. Flamin’ Hot
Release date: June 9 on Hulu and Disney+
The scoop: 2023 has already brought us biopics about George Foreman, Joseph Bologne (Chevalier) and the guys who signed Michael Jordan to Nike; next up, a particularly delicious historical icon also get its due: the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto. Desperate Housewives alum Eva Longoria directs the inspiring and unlikely story of Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia), a custodian at Frito-Lay who led the spicy crunch corn puff snack revolution.
21. Talk to Me
Release date: July 28 in theaters
The scoop: While the Sundance Film Festival is traditionally launching ground for edgy indie dramas and the occasional crowd-pleasing comedy, it also launches the occasional must-see horror movie into our nightmares. In 1999, there was Blair Witch. In 2018, there was Hereditary. And this year everyone was talking about Talk to Me, an Australian import about a group of teens who discover an embalmed hand that can conjure spirits into their world. Twin brother filmmakers Danny and Michael Philippou have already been anointed Hollywood’s next big things, signing on in April to direct a new Street Fighter movie.
20. Blue Beetle
Release date: Aug. 18 in theaters
The scoop: Originally slated to be a streaming-only premiere à la Leslie Grace’s scrapped Batgirl feature, the inaugural adventure of Jaime Reyes, aka Blue Beetle — played by breakout Cobra Kai star Xolo Maridueña — is now headed exclusively to theaters. Maridueña is the first Latino hero to be front and center in a DC movie, and his alien-tech-powered teen crimefighter has a good shot at surviving the upcoming DC Extended Universe purge, considering that DC Studios’s new co-head, Peter Safran, is one of the producers on this movie. And maybe George Lopez will stick around as well: The comedian is poised to steal scenes as Jaime’s Uncle Rudy. Here’s hoping he doesn’t go the Uncle Ben route.
19. Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
Release date: May 12 on Apple TV+
The scoop: The Back to the Future icon stays in the present for Davis Guggenheim’s intimate documentary portrait, which thrilled audiences at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Both a “this is your life” recap of Fox’s on-camera career — from his breakout role on Family Ties to hit movies like the Future franchise and Doc Hollywood — and a candid account of how his life has been changed by Parkinson’s, the film is a reminder of the actor’s still-potent star power.
18. Heart of Stone
Release date: Aug. 11 on Netflix
The scoop: Gal Gadot fans who felt teased by her cameo at the end of Shazam! Fury of the Gods won’t have to wait too long to see the Wonder Woman star on the screen again. Netflix hopes to have a new Mission: Impossible-style franchise with with this spy thriller starring Gadot as globetrotting adrenaline junkie CIA agent Rachel Stone. “It’s going to be extremely epic,” Gadot promises in a first look at the action. Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades) and Alia Bhatt costar, while Tom Harper (The Aeronauts) directs.
17. Asteroid City
Release date: July 23 in theaters
The scoop: Handmade aesthetic, deadpan humor and more movie stars than a Blockbuster video store? Yup, we’re back in Wes Anderson country. The writer-director’s latest bit of whimsy takes place in a remote desert town in circa '50s-era America, where a Junior Stargazer convention has attracted such famous faces as Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Jeff Goldblum and Maya Hawke. The only actor not in this movie? Bill Murray, who had to drop out of the film just before shooting started — the first time the Ghostbusters icon has missed an Anderson-organized get-together since 1998’s Rushmore.
Release date: June 16 in theaters
The scoop: You’ve got to give it up for the creative minds at Pixar for continually finding new entities to anthropomorphize (see: toys, bugs, cars, emotions, souls). For the studio’s next trick, we get the elements: earth, water, fire and air. Leah Lewis voices Ember Lumen, a temperamental “firish” child of convenience store owners in the vast metropolis of Element City whose plans to take over the family business are threatened by the neurotic water element inspector Wade (Mamoudou Athie). It’s a bold swing, but we’d expect nothing less from Pixar.
15. Theater Camp
Release date: July 14 in theaters
The scoop: Paging Corky St. Clair! Christopher Guest's Waiting for Guffman alter ego could easily be lurking in the wings of this riotously funny recreation of bucolic summer camps that literally run on drama… with a capital D. Real-life friends and theater world veterans Ben Platt and Molly Gordon play unhealthily co-dependent counselors at AdirondACTS, a summer destination for aspiring Broadway babies that has fallen on hard economic times. Enter Troy, a would-be internet influencer (played to comic perfection by Jimmy Tatro) who hopes to make like Ernest P. Worrell and save the camp from closure. The hijinks end with the greatest musical-within-a-movie production since Guffman's immortal Red, White & Blaine.
14. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
Release date: Aug. 4 in theaters
The scoop: How about a little sausage on that sewer pizza? Sausage Party duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg serve as the producers of the first big-screen animated feature starring the butt-kicking heroes in a half shell since 2007’s TMNT. Rogen has promised that it will emphasize the “teenage” part of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and he’s keeping his word with a youthful voice cast that includes a quartet of newcomers alongside familiar voices like Jackie Chan as Master Splinter and Rogen and John Cena as Bebop and Rocksteady, respectively. Now that’s cooking with Turtle Power.
13. The Little Mermaid
Release date: May 26 in theaters
The scoop: Disney’s live-action reboots of the studio’s animated classics have been a mixed bag so far (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Mulan, Cruella, etc.). But we’ve got faith in the pedigree that went under the sea to re-energize Ariel and company, from director Rob Marshall and songwriters Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda to blossoming star Halle Bailey in the title role and a killer supporting cast that includes Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay.
12. Past Lives
Release date: June 2 in theaters
A breakout hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Celine Song’s debut feature stars Greta Lee and Yoo Teo as Nora and Hae Sung — childhood sweethearts in Seoul who go their separate ways after Nora’s family immigrates to America. Flash-forward 12 years, and the two meet again thanks to the magic of Skype and then follow that up with an IRL visit a full 24 years after their youthful relationship. Past Lives is already being talked about as a Best Picture contender for next year’s Oscars, so make sure to experience that possible future… now.
Release date: Aug. 18 in theaters
The scoop: Universal is wise to emphasize Strays’s R-rating front and center on the movie’s poster. The film is a CGI/live-action talking animal adventure, so parents would be forgiven if they thought it’d make for a fun Saturday afternoon out with the family. Make that mistake, though, and you’ll be explaining why those mushrooms the funny dogs ate made them obliterate an adorable family of rabbits. Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx (who will hopefully will be recovered from a recent medical emergency in time for release) lead the voice cast of wild roving pups in this VERY R-RATED ADULT COMEDY.
10. Joy Ride
Release date: July 7 in theaters
The scoop: Go on and take a Joy Ride through China with a quartet of rising Asian-American stars — Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, Ashley Park and Sabrina Wu. Adopted by an American family as a child, Park’s Washington-raised Audrey returns to Beijing on a business trip joined by her three friends. Once in China, she decides to take a detour and locate her birth mother — a journey that triggers both fish out of water comic misunderstandings and deeply emotional moments. It’s a summer road trip you’ll be eager to take.
9. The Flash
Release date: June 16
The scoop: Here speeds summer’s most complicated blockbuster. The buzz on DC’s long-awaited Justice League spinoff has been immaculate, and many a reviewer and blogger insisted we must believe the hype when the film had its first public screening last week at CinemaCon. But the film stars Ezra Miller, the controversial actor whose troubling pattern of arrests and disturbing behavior has wielded little consequence, much to the chagrin of a vocal group of critics. Will audiences — many excited to see the return of Michael Keaton as Batman — be as forgiving as the movie bloggers? We’ll find out.
8. Fast X
Release date: May 19 in theaters
The scoop: It’s nearly the last ride for Dom Toretto and his Fast and Furious familia as Universal’s premiere car-based franchise nears the finish line. After director Justin Lin bailed out of the driver’s seat early on in production, Louis Leterrier stepped in to complete the gang’s penultimate adventure, which introduces Jason Momoa and Brie Larson into the ever-expanding universe. But our favorite addition is EGOT legend Rita Moreno as Dom’s abuela. Obviously, he learned all of his moves from her.
7. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Release date: June 2 in theaters
The scoop: Think you’ve seen every Spider-Person there is to see? Think again. Based on the early trailers, the follow-up to the Oscar-winning Into the Spider-Verse introduces Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) to a plethora of arachnid humanoids representing every conceivable iteration of Marvel’s wall-crawling hero, from Spider-Punk to the Scarlet Spider. But amid all the Spider-mania, you can almost certainly expect the same grounded, emotional storytelling that distinguished our previous trip through the Spider-Verse. Just as long as there’s plenty of ham… Spider-Ham, that is.
6. No Hard Feelings
Release date: June 23 in theaters
The scoop: Are comedies still bankable at the box office? The genre has struggled mightily post-pandemic — see the high-profile bombing of the Billy Eichner-led Bros last fall. But maybe we just need an R-rated sex comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence as a down-on-her-luck Uber driver who answers a Craigslist ad from parents desperate to get their awkward teenage son some experience between the sheets. A hilarious first look at the film at CinemaCon teased some seriously promising funny business.
5. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
Release date: July 12 in theaters
The scoop: Buckle up, because the first part of Tom Cruise’s two-movie farewell to the Mission: Impossible franchise is gonna be impossible to resist. Once again tasked with saving the world, Ethan Hunt goes on a globetrotting adventure that will bring back old M:I allies and antagonists, while also introducing newbies like Hayley Atwell’s mysterious badass, Grace. Along the way, the death-defying super-agent will also repeatedly defy death in crazy stunts that Cruise risked his own life and limb to perform. Just think, when this series wraps up, the Top Gun star is gonna have to BASE jump off of cliffs on his own dime.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Release date: May 5 in theaters
The scoop: Press play for the final Guardians of the Galaxy mixtape before James Gunn moves over to run Marvel Studios’s Distinguished Competition full time. The outgoing writer-director has promised plenty of tears and tunes in the gang’s last tour of the galaxy, which will finally reveal the story behind Rocket’s origins and bring each member of the team a satisfying — but not necessarily permanent — conclusion. After all, you’d better believe that some of these Guardians will live to fight another phase as the MCU’s Multiverse Saga builds to its next Avengers crossover.
Release date: July 21 in theaters
The scoop: Christopher Nolan’s last release, the challenging Robert Pattinson-John David Washington actioner Tenet, received a surprisingly muted response. But doubt the maestro at your own peril. Nolan proclaims his next film is about “the most important person who ever lived,” atomic bomb builder J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy), and Nolan has made a stunning-looking biopic rumored to run nearly three-and-a-half hours. Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Florence Pugh, Kenneth Branagh and Josh Hartnett costar.
Release date: July 21 in theaters
The scoop: Get ready to party as Margot Robbie becomes the first big-screen Barbie girl in a Barbie world. Ryan Gosling plays her ab-tastic boyfriend, Ken, and a slew of famous faces — from Dua Lipa to Issa Rae — pop up as versions of Mattel’s famous doll line. But the real star of this toy-based comedy is co-writer-director Greta Gerwig, now poised to score her first big-studio blockbuster after helming art-house favorites Lady Bird and Little Women. It’s no accident that Gosling served as the hype man for his director at CinemaCon, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with Gerwig’s name. Forget Barbie’s world… we’re all living in a Gerwig world come July.
1. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Release date: June 30 in theaters
The scoop: Will Dial of Destiny be more Raiders of the Lost Ark than Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? That’s the billion-dollar question at the beating heart of our most anticipated movie of the summer. But with the deft touch of James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Logan, Ford v. Ferrari), the emotional heft of 80-year-old Harrison Ford giving it one last go under the fedora, and the sharp comic timing of Phoebe Waller-Bridge added to the mix, we’re betting on fortune and glory.
No, the Lily James-starring British rom-com What’s Love Got to Do With It? (May 5) is not another Tina Turner biopic; Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Sam Heughan find Love Again (May 12) with the help of Celine Dion; Jennifer Lopez is firing shots again as an ex-assassin in The Mother (May 12); Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Mary Steenburgen and Candace Bergen go on Roman holiday in Book Club: The Next Chapter (May 12); Ben Affleck is a detective searching for his missing daughter in Robert Rodriguez’s twisty Hypnotic (May 12); Jay Baruchel and company tell the true story behind the rise and fall of the Blackberry (May 12); Crazy Rich Asians breakout Henry Golding is a current assassin in Assassin Club (May 16); Maybe we’ll get to know Anna Nicole Smith in the Netflix doc Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me (May 16); Sinqua Walls and Jack Harlow dribble on hallowed ground in White Men Can’t Jump (May 19); No, Paul Schrader’s Master Gardener (May 19) starring Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver is not a sequel to The Constant Gardener; Josh Duhamel and buds are up to more shenanigans in the sequel Buddy Games: Spring Awakening (May 19); Gerard Butler is a CIA operate fleeing Afghanistan in Kandahar (May 26); popular comedian Sebastian Maniscalco gets his first movie star vehicle, and opposite Robert De Niro, with About My Father (May 26); Bert Kreischer brings his stranger-than-fiction story to the screen alongside Mark Hamill in The Machine (May 26); Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a novelist struggling with her marriage in You Hurt My Feelings (May 26).
Jordana Brewster tries to replace her dead husband (Robbie Amell) with a Simulant (June 2); Chris Messina’s hot year continues as he headlines Rob Savage’s Stephen King adaptation The Boogeyman (June 2); We’re already getting a (teen) LeBron James biopic with Shooting Stars (June 2); Chilli and T-Boz tell their own story in the doc TLC Forever (June 3); so does the horror icon who played Freddy Krueger in Hollywood Dreams & Nightmares: The Robert Englund Story (June 6); Bomani J. Story puts a contemporary social twist on Frankenstein with Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (June 9); we get a double dose of diva power with Mary J. Blige’s Real Love (June 10) and Mary J. Blige’s Strength of a Woman (June 17); seven African American friends are haunted in a cabin in the woods in The Blackening (June 16); Gabrielle Union starts dating her frenemy’s son in The Perfect Find (June 23); Lana Condor turns giant in the animated adventure Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken (June 30).
Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and the original gang are back in Insidious: The Red Door (July 7); Sterling K. Brown and Mark Duplass are the last two men on Earth in Biosphere (July 7); a pregnant single mom fights to reclaim her family in A24’s Earth Mama (July 7); Jamie Foxx, John Boyega and Teyonah Parrris’s delayed sci-fi comedy They Clone Tyrone (July 21) finally nears; an 8-year-old fears his parents (Lizzie Caplan and Anthony Starr) are hiding a horrendous secret in Cobweb (July 21); a bachelorette party gets violent in Neil LaBute’s Fear the Night (July 21), starring Maggie Q; considering its title, the sports doc Stephen Curry: Underrated (July 21) is clearly a period piece; Ellie Kemper’s divorcée signs up for wilderness survival camp in Happiness For Beginners (July 27); Nicolas Cage is roped into a game of cat and mouse in Sympathy for the Devil (July 28); Zach Galifianakis is the guy who invented Beanie Babies in The Beanie Bubble (July TBA).
It's round 2 of who’s tougher? Jason Statham or a 75-foot-long megalodon shark in The Meg 2: The Trench (Aug. 4); Casey Affleck and Walter Goggins are singer brothers Donnie and Joe Emerson in Dreamin’ Wild (Aug. 4); Gran Turismo (Aug. 11) is a video racing game turned into an actual race turned into a movie starring David Harbour and Orlando Bloom; The Last Voyage of the Demeter (Aug. 11) is a spinoff from Bram Stoker’s Dracula; the 2021 Juliette Binoche French drama Between Two Worlds (Aug. 11) finally gets a U.S. release; Tiffany Haddish, Wesley Snipes and Kevin Hart team for Back on the Strip (Aug. 18); Helen Mirren tells stories of Nazi-occupied France in the Wonder spinoff White Bird (Aug. 18); Helen Mirren also is Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in Golda (Aug. 25); Chloë Grace Moretz voices the eponymous shape-shifting teen in animated comic adaptation Nimona (summer TBA); Stephanie Hsu and Bowen Yang lead an all-Asian voice cast for the animated The Monkey King (Aug. TBD); two high school girls set up a fight club to hook up with cheerleaders in Bottoms (Summer TBA); 88-year-old international treasure Maggie Smith heads up The Miracle Club (Summer TBA); Julio Torres’s buzzy comedy Problemista (Summer TBD) has one of the year’s best costarring tandems: Tilda Swinton and RZA.