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Summer movie guide: From ‘Thor’ to ‘Lightyear’ to ‘Nope’

For the first time since 2019, we’re getting an honest-to-goodness summer of movies.

There were some blockbuster titles last year but studios remained uncertain if we were ready to return to in-person viewing, so many top titles were held back. This year, they’re rolling the dice, with even Pixar — which opted to release its past few titles on Disney Plus instead of at multiplexes — heading back to theaters with “Lightyear.”

Because teenage boys are both the largest moviegoing demographic and the most willing to visit theaters, releases have been weighted toward their superheroes-and-serial-killers interests, but there’s something for everybody this summer. Well, almost everybody; if you like romantic comedies, you’ll have to wait until fall for Julia Roberts and George Clooney in “Ticket to Paradise.”

Meanwhile, here are the top titles you can have a chance to see in theaters, with a couple of streaming biggies thrown in.


“Top Gun: Maverick”: If the 1986 “Top Gun” were a person, numerologists would argue he’s facing a big transition, the author of “Your Best Life at Any Age” would say he’s finally an adult and his knees would say maybe it’s time to ease up on the beach volleyball. In other words, four decades is a long time between chapters but, apparently, Tom Cruise is still flying into the danger zone. May 27

“Jurassic World Dominion”: We’ll keep getting these until humans figure out the answer to the question, “Should I open the door of the velociraptor cage?” is “Hell, no!” This time, the dinosaurs rage all over the world. June 10

“Thor: Love and Thunder”: Christian Bale enters the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a maniac who’s trying to de-godify the world. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), understandably, objects and he enlists his ex (Natalie Portman) to help him. Director Taika Waititi brought a light touch to the last “Thor” and he’s back. July 8

“Day Shift”: Jamie Foxx is a pool cleaner by day, vampire smiter by night. Aug. 12 (Netflix)

“Three Thousand Years of Longing”: It stars Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba, which is great, but what you really need to know is the writer/director is George Miller, whose previous film, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” is the best movie of this century. Aug. 31


“The Bob’s Burgers Movie”: Fans of the long-running animated series about a family-owned restaurant: It’s finally here. Newcomers: Watch the restaurant’s specials board for meaty puns. May 27

“Fire Island”: We’ve seen Jane Austen adapted for teenagers (“Clueless”) and Bollywood (“Bride and Prejudice”). So why not for a bunch of friends hanging out in the East Coast gay enclave in a take on “Pride and Prejudice,” written by and starring hot comic Joel Kim Booster? June 3

“Phantom of the Open”: Oscar winner Mark Rylance stars in one of those low-key, fact-based British comedies about a bunch of working stiffs with an against-the-odds dream (see, also, “The Full Monty” and last year’s “Dream Alliance”). He plays a duffer who longs to play in the British Open. June 17

“Mr. Malcolm’s List”: The list tallies up all the qualities the Victorian gentleman requires in a successful wife. The women who don’t meet his requirements get together to exact their revenge. July 1

“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris”: Lesley Manville, an Oscar nominee for “Phantom Thread,” returns to the world of 1950s couture as a plucky, British cleaning lady who is determined to get herself some Dior. It’s based on a delightful series of novels by Paul Gallico so, if it’s good, there could be three sequels in a jiffy. July 15

“Easter Sunday”: The release date is confusing but, if you can get past that, get ready for a comedy/drama about a big Filipino clan. Aug. 5

“Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul”: Regina Hall got rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival for her performance as a woman trying to help her preacher husband (Sterling K. Brown) pick up the pieces after a scandal threatens their church. Sept. 2


“Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story”: The 2019 music festival is an occasion to look back on the event’s 50-year history (and perhaps capitalize on the success of last year’s “Summer of Soul”). June 3


“Montana Story”: Estranged siblings bicker about their ailing father, a beloved horse and what to do with the family ranch that’s about to be repossessed. Not a lot of laughs here, folks. May 27

“Hustle”: The odd couple of Adam Sandler and Robert Duvall stars in the story of a basketball phenom and the industry veterans who exploit him in the guise of helping him. June 3 theaters; June 8 Netflix

“Brian and Charles”: Like the drama “After Yang” from earlier this year and Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel “Klara and the Sun,” it investigates the bond (or lack of one) between humans and their artificially intelligent companions. June 17

“Cha Cha Real Smooth”: The first of two titles that debuted at Sundance, spotlight a possible romance between a young man and an older woman and open this same weekend, this one’s about a bar mitzvah host who sparks something in a single mom (Dakota Johnson). June 17

“Good Luck to You, Leo Grande”: Emma Thompson hires a young sex worker only to discover she’s not wired for the easy pleasure she was hoping for. June 17

“Elvis”: Presley, not Costello, incidentally. Baz Luhrmann gives the glitzy “Moulin Rouge” treatment to the biography of the King (newcomer Austin Butler) and his Svengali, Tom Parker (Tom Hanks, wearing a lot of prosthetics). June 24

“Don’t Make Me Go”: That title has a double meaning. John Cho plays a single dad who learns he has a fatal brain tumor and who forces his daughter to accompany him on a road trip during which he’ll impart all his wisdom. July 15

“Where the Crawdads Sing”: “Normal People” breakout star Daisy Edgar-Jones steps into an adaptation of Delia Owen’s blockbuster novel, a melodrama about a woman and the man who abused her. July 15


“Lightyear”: The “Toy Story” astronaut gets his own starring vehicle, as well as a makeover and a new voice (Chris Evans). June 17

“Marcel the Shell With Shoes On”: Jenny Slate turns her daffy children’s series into a daffy movie. On June 24

“Minions: The Rise of Gru”: Gru Who? The chirpy yellow creatures have always been the stars of the “Despicable Me” Cinematic Universe (although Steve Carell does return as the voice of the not-so-despicable Gru). July 1

“Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank”: A dog wants to be a samurai. And this cartoon wants to be “Kung Fu Panda.” July 15

“DC League of Super-Pets”: Another animated dog with superheroic dreams is at the center of this one. He’s Superman’s best friend and he needs to save the Man of Steel when things get ruff. July 29

“Secret Headquarters”: A kid discovers a hidden superhero lair in his house. Does it belong to his dad? Owen Wilson stars, as does Michael Peña, one of those actors who brightens everything he’s in. Aug. 5


“Bodies Bodies Bodies”: If the snarky title doesn’t clue you in that this is a horror/comedy hybrid, please note that the poster for the movie about a serial killer crashing a house party uses an approximation of the “Scream” font. Aug. 5

“Crimes of the Future”: Before its debut at the Cannes Film Festival, director David Cronenberg was already predicting his film would inspire walkouts. Starring Viggo Mortensen and Kristen Stewart, it’s set in a near-future when human organs are rapidly evolving. June 10

“Nope”: Whenever the injustices faced by Black people lead them into scary movies with succinct titles, writer/director Jordan Peele (“Get Out,” “Us”) will be there. Details on the plot are hush-hush, but the trailer hints that invaders from space are involved. July 22

“Resurrection”: Writer/director Andrew Semans is the sick mind behind a horror movie that stars Rebecca Hall. The Minneapolis native cast Hall as a professor who’s being stalked by a shockingly evil dude form her past (Tim Roth). Aug. 5


“The Black Phone”: Ethan Hawke plays a sadist holding an adolescent boy hostage in this adaptation of a story by Joe “son of Steven King” Hill. The twist? A phone connects the kid to the sadist’s previous victims, who try to help him escape. June 24

“Bed Rest”: Shades of the classic “Sorry, Wrong Number” is in this one about a woman, confined to her bed, who’s being driven mad by an intruder. July 15

“The Gray Man”: Chris Evans notches his second credit of summer alongside Ryan Gosling in a melodrama about warring CIA operatives. July 15 theaters; Netflix July 22

“Vengeance”: B.J. Novak wrote, directed and stars as a man who finds evil doings when he tries to figure out what happened to his missing girlfriend. July 29

“Bullet Train”: My entire movie summer may hinge on whether this is as riveting as it looks. Brad Pitt, Brian Tyree Henry and Joey King are riding on a train where most of the ticketed passengers are killers. And they’re probably supposed to kill one another. Aug. 5

“Beast”: Specifically, the beast is a lion. It would like to eat a doctor played by the obviously delicious Idris Elba. Aug. 19

“The Bride”: A destination wedding turns out to be a terrifying nightmare. We’ve all been there, right? Aug. 26