We’re two weeks into April and pop culture pandemonium is nearing its peak. Three days until the rumored title and trailer reveal of “Star Wars Episode IX.” Five until the premiere of the final season of “Game of Thrones.” After all, we’re just 16 days from the biggest theatrical event of our lifetime, “Avengers: Endgame.”
But the franchise giants don’t end in April – they’re just getting started. May is headlined by “Detective Pikachu,” “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” and Disney’s live-action remake of “Aladdin.” In June we’re getting “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” and “Toy Story 4,” followed by “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and the live-action “The Lion King” in July.
With all of these big names hogging the spotlight, it can be hard to hear about the other exciting films to look out for this summer, and there are plenty to put on your calendar. So, if you ever get tired of superheroes, monsters or remakes, head to the theater to check out some of these films.
“Long Shot” – May 3
After debuting to high praise at South by Southwest last month, this Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron-led rom-com looks like a can’t-miss summer flick. Rogen plays Fred Flarsky (what a name…), a gifted journalist who’s hired to write speeches for Theron’s Charlotte Field, a powerhouse diplomat running for president. The thing is, Field was Flarsky’s childhood babysitter, and he’s had a crush on her ever since.
“Brightburn” – May 24
Okay, I take it back. There is a superhero movie on this list, but it’s not like anything you’ve seen before. As if James Gunn didn’t have his hands in enough superhero properties, directing both Marvel and DC films, he decided to go and produce his own. “Brightburn” begs the question of what if a superhero used their powers for evil? Except this time, it’s not a man in bright spandex – it’s a child. It seems like an anti-Superman with some of the similar dark vibes of 2012’s “Chronicle.”
“Booksmart” – May 24
Another big winner from South by Southwest, “Booksmart” is actress Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, and it’s currently sitting at a perfect 100-percent on Rotten Tomatoes after 34 reviews. After diligently working their way through high school and following every rule, academic superstars Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) realize that all the party animals and rule breakers ended up getting into the same colleges, too. So, at the end of their high school career, the two embark on a quest to experience four years of wild high school rebellion into a single night.
“Late Night” – June 7
Written by Mindy Kaling herself, “Late Night” stars Kaling as Molly, the newest writer on late night legend Katherine Newbury’s (Emma Thompson) show. What started as an HR move to meet diversity requirements, Molly’s addition to the all-white, all-male writing room could be just what Katherine needs to save her show from going off the air. Simply because everything Kaling touches turns to gold, this one is pretty high on my list.
“The Dead Don’t Die” – June 14
Look at that cast! Bill Murray! Adam Driver! Tilda Swinton! Chloë Sevigny! Steve Buscemi! Danny Glover! Caleb Landry Jones! Selena Gomez! And that’s not even all of them! Adam Driver has simultaneously arrived while still being one of the biggest up-and-coming stars in Hollywood today. While the zombie trend is close to being played out, this take looks ridiculous enough to stand out. Think “Zombieland,” but more campy, with less emphasis on making thing realistic, but instead embracing the insanity.
“Yesterday” – June 28
If 2018 taught us anything, it’s that everyone loves music movies! With “Yesterday” and “Rocketman” coming this summer, it doesn’t look like 2019 plans on bucking the trend. Without trying to cause too much of a stir, I have to say, THIS LOOKS LIKE THE GREATEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME. Forget “Endgame,” this is what I’m most excited for this summer. In a world where The Beatles never existed, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) takes credit for all their songs and immediately rockets to international superstardom. With Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “127 Hours,” “Steve Jobs”) at the helm, it’s certainly in good hands.
“Midsommar” – July 3
If you went to the theater last summer and were subsequently scarred and terrified by “Hereditary,” you might want to sit this one out, because director Ari Aster is back – and it looks absolutely wild. Your guess is as good as mine after checking out that trailer, but whatever is going on at that camp, it can’t be good. Led by Florence Pugh, Chidi from “The Good Place,” and my guy Eyebrows from “We’re the Millers,” it’s a pretty solid cast to build around. If this is anything like “Hereditary,” it’s sure to be one that will keep you thinking long after the credits roll.
“Stuber” – July 12
It’s 2019, so we all knew it was only a matter of time until we got a movie about Ubers and Lyfts. Now, I’m not saying this is going to be a good movie by any means, but I do think it’ll be a perfect popcorn movie where you can turn your brain off and enjoy some laughs and explosions. But, if it does turn out to be amazing, don’t forget where you heard about it first! Plus, with the recent rumors that Kumail Nanjiani is set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this could be our first glimpse of him on-screen with fellow MCU stars Dave Bautista and Karel Gillan.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” – July 26
It’s hard to call a Quentin Tarantino film “under the radar,” especially when it’s starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie – but I just needed to make sure this one didn’t get lost in the shuffle. Not much is known about the film’s plot, and the trailer doesn’t really help, but what it does do is show that this is going to be un-freaking-real. It’s set in the final years of the Golden Age of Hollywood and we know the Charles Manson murders will be tied in somehow, but other than that, it’s anyone’s guess. Count me in.
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.