Thus far the 2015 summer movie season has seen two of the highest grossing domestic opening weekends of all-time, with $208 million going to Jurassic World and a not-shabby $191 million to Avengers: Age of Ultron (only The Avengers stands between them at $207 million).
What do these big box offices grosses mean? Not necessarily that more people are going to the movies than ever before, what with inflation, 3D, large-screen format upcharges and variable pricing playing a role in the high numbers. Rather, the large grosses this year – including a worldwide top five of all time $1.5 billion and counting for Furious 7 – suggest known commodities are still the way to go in Hollywood, because fans can’t seem to get enough. So in the long-term we can expect more remakes, sequels, adaptations, prequels, rip-offs, etc. In the short term, i.e. the rest of the summer, is there anything original to look forward to? Yes and no. Take a look. (Release dates subject to change.)
Ted 2 (June 26)
America’s favorite foul-mouthed teddy bear (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) returns alongside Mark Wahlberg, this time with Amanda Seyfried as their lawyer trying to prove Ted has feelings.
Terminator: Genisys (July 1)
Aside from not spelling "Genesis” correctly this franchise reboot takes the 1984 original and changes elements of the story. You know, like a reboot should. Point of curiosity: The film somehow features 1984 Arnold Schwarzenegger and 2015 Schwarzenegger. Why would a robot age?
Magic Mike XXL (July 1)
Ahem. Who said 18-35 white males were the only demographic Hollywood cared about? Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, six-pack abs, stripping, this time in Myrtle Beach with Elizabeth Banks. Enjoy, ladies.
Minions (July 10)
Remember those adorable little yellow rapscallion Twinkies in the Despicable Me movies? Now they have their own movie, which will be interesting considering they don’t speak. Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton and Geoffrey Rush, however, do provide voices.
Self/less (July 10)
Clever premise: A wealthy but dying businessman (Ben Kingsley) undergoes a procedure that transports his mind into a young, healthy body (Ryan Reynolds); side effects ensue. Who wouldn’t want to be Ryan Reynolds? Expect lavish visuals from director Tarsem Singh (The Cell).
Trainwreck (July 17)
Star-on-the-rise comedienne Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer) wrote and stars in this Judd Apatow-directed comedy about a woman (Schumer) who doesn’t believe in monogamy and the doctor (Bill Hader) who makes her change her mind. Schumer is immensely talented, and this looks funny. Let’s hope Apatow doesn’t pull another Funny People and ruin it.
Ant-Man (July 17)
Time to add another superhero to the Avenger-filled Marvel Cinematic Universe, this time in the form of an ant. But at least Paul Rudd plays the ant.
Mr. Holmes (July 17)
A retired Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) battles his failing memory as he tries to solve a 50 year-old case in director Bill Condon’s (Dreamgirls) latest. Imagine how crappy this movie would be if in the end Holmes just said, “ah well, can’t remember. Screw it.”
Pixels (July 24)
It looks silly, but could be fun: Aliens misinterpret electronic feeds of classic video games as an act of war, so they attack earth in the form of monsters from the games. That or Ms. Pac-Man is super pissed at Pac-Man and taking it out on us.
Southpaw (July 24)
A boxer (Gyllenhaal) becomes a champion but soon after needs redemption in this drama from Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) that also stars Rachel McAdams and Forest Whitaker. Early word has raving buzz for Gyllenhaal, and one look at the trailer makes it easy to see why.
Vacation (July 29)
It’s a self-aware sort-of remake of the Chevy Chase classic Vacation, this time with Ed Helms as the patriarch and Christina Applegate as his wife. Chris Hemsworth, Leslie Mann, and Wally World also star. Word is it’s hilarious, and definitely earns its R-rating. It's the rare thing of being a remake that's actually (hopefully) worth looking forward to.
Irrational Man (July 31)
Writer/director Woody Allen chronicles a philosophy professor (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls for one of his students (Emma Stone). It’s another of Allen’s existential treatises, which have been hit (Blue Jasmine) and miss (Magic in the Moonlight) in recent years. Hopefully this will be a hit, though the trailer doesn’t look promising.
Fantastic Four (August 7)
There has yet to be anything fantastic about the movie versions of Fantastic Four, and the buzz surrounding this reboot is far from enthusiastic. Four friends with mutant powers battle one former friend with mutant powers. Doesn’t seem like a fair fight.
Ricki and the Flash (August 7)
Meryl Streep plays a rock star who returns home to her family after her daughter’s (played by Mamie Gummer, Streep’s real-life daughter) breakup. Kevin Kline also stars, Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) directs, and Diablo Cody (Juno) wrote the script. For a similar story, check out Al Pacino in “Danny Collins,” available on home video June 30.
Masterminds (August 7)
It was one of the biggest bank heists in U.S. history, and total morons pulled it off. So why not make a comedy about it? Kristen Wiig and Zach Galifianakis play the morons, while Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play degenerates who’re also after the money. Directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite).
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (August 14)
Based on the hit ‘60s TV show and set in 1963, secret agents from the U.S. and Russia (played by Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, respectively) team up to stop villains from launching an atom bomb. This is the kind of thing Austin Powers made fun of! Directed by Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes).
Sinister 2 (August 21)
Because apparently the first film wasn’t sinister enough. No Ethan Hawke this time.