Vulture’s Guide to the Would-be Movie Blockbusters of Summer 2017

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Photo-Illustration: Vulture

Every month is blockbuster month at movie theaters these days, but that doesn’t mean summer has lost its traditional spot as the natural home of the tentpoles. While the rest of the year sees studios carefully portion out their billion-dollar hopefuls — March was for Beauty and the Beast, April for Fate of the Furious — with last Friday’s arrival of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Hollywood begins serving up blockbusters on a weekly basis. Some will be good, some will be bad, but all of them will be holding court at that palace of air-conditioning, the multiplex, just waiting for you to pay tribute.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (May 12)
Did you realize it’s been a whole 13 years since the Clive Owen version of King Arthur came out? That’s an eternity by Hollywood standards, which means the time is right for another grim and gritty remake of the high medieval saga. This one’s directed by Guy Ritchie, fresh off better-than-usual critical notices for The Man From U.N.C.L.E., with Charlie Hunnam getting his chance to pull the sword of movie stardom out from the stone of anonymity. —Nate Jones

Snatched (May 12)
After 15 years away from movies, Goldie Hawn finally returns to the screen as Amy Schumer’s mom in this adventure comedy that follows a mother-daughter trip to South America gone horribly awry. Between this and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the Hawn-Russell household is really conquering the summer season. Never leave us again, Goldie! —Kyle Buchanan

Alien: Covenant (May 19)
Alien
hasn’t been Alien since probably Aliens in 1986. The rest of the movies (3, Resurrection, and Prometheus) have ranged from “fine” to “flat-out bad,” but Covenant is the first one in 30 years that looks capable of recapturing the first movie’s raw, terrifying power. Besides the throwback aesthetic being channeled through Katherine Waterston’s hair and Billy Crudup’s 1970s hot-dad face, Ridley Scott’s third Alien directorial effort looks like he’s made the franchise gross again. Let’s hope he has. —Jordan Crucchiola

Everything, Everything (May 19)
“Go see ur carefree black girl infiltrate mainstream media,” Amandla Stenberg wrote to her million followers on Instagram. She’s the lead in Everything, Everything, a classic teen weepy based on the popular YA novel. Maddie (Stenberg) has a life-threatening illness that keeps her indoors 24/7, until she’s coaxed outside by crush-next-door Olly (Nick Robinson). Star-crossed lovers made The Fault in Our Stars a hit three years ago, and with neither Riverdale nor 13 Reasons Why offering that particular dynamic, the teens may be hungry for more. —Hunter Harris

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26)
The fifth Pirates movie brings back Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow for another high-seas romp, and this one reunites him with the original’s Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom. It also adds Javier Bardem to play the undead villain Captain Salazar, who is out for Captain Jack’s blood after our hero double-crossed him years ago. Reviews were lukewarm on its 2011 predecessor On Stranger Tides, so maybe this one can re-up some of the ingenuity that made the first entry so much fun. —Hunter Harris

Baywatch (May 26)
Remember that old Onion headline, “Ironic Porn Purchase Leads to Unironic Ejaculation”? This is the movie version of that. —Nate Jones

Wonder Woman (June 2)
After more than 75 years of star-spangled existence, we finally have a Wonder Woman movie. But will it be worth the astoundingly long wait? It’s no secret that the DC Comics–based Warner Bros. movie franchise is in a bit of trouble, what with last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad receiving brutal critical drubbings, and BvS failing to crack a billion dollars at the box office. (What a world we live in.) Wonder Woman will be the first DC film to feature heavy influence of new DC Films heads Geoff Johns and Jon Berg, and advance footage shown to fans at this spring’s L.A.-based WonderCon was promisingly free of the grimness and grit of the past two filmic outings. Is an injection of wit just what the doctor ordered for pop culture’s premiere superheroine? —Abraham Riesman

The Mummy (June 9)
For the last several years, Universal has been trying to exhume its stable of classic horror monsters for a shared cinematic universe in the vein of what Marvel and DC have got going. The Mummy, then, isn’t just an attempt to revive a franchise that Brendan Fraser most recently toplined — it’s also a launchpad for more monstrous adventures to come, including a planned foray for Johnny Depp to star as the Invisible Man. First, audiences will have to take to this new incarnation of the mummy, played by Kingsman scene-stealer Sofia Boutella. Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe will team up to try to stop her supernatural havoc. —Kyle Buchanan

Transformers: The Last Knight (June 23)
The fifth installment of the Transformers franchise is will explore “the hidden history of Transformers on Earth.” Before you ask how many times they’re going to make the same movie, Optimus Prime is a bad guy this time, so it’s a very different story, and Michael Bay’s latest pouty-mouthed female lead is the excellent Gemma Chan. Mark Wahlberg is back, along with the ultimate Transformers anchoring presence, Josh Duhamel. —Jordan Crucchiola

Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)
The title of the latest Spider-Man picture is, perhaps, a little on the nose: Spidey had lived in movie-rights-induced exile for the past five films, and this reboot returns him to the Avengers-populated Marvel Cinematic Universe. No matter, this movie is probably going to be a license to print money. The initial trailers have been huge hits, Spider-Man is the most globally famous Marvel character, and the MCU is more or less financially infallible at this point. There’s a significant chance that this younger, John Hughes–inspired take on the webslinger may swing close to the billion-dollar mark, but even if it doesn’t, it’ll likely be a major coup for both Marvel Studios and Spider-Man’s rights-bearers at Sony. —Abraham Riesman

War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14)
Like clockwork, the rebooted Planet of the Apes series has risen, then dawned, and is now being warred over. This time, the chief obstacle to total simian domination is Woody Harrelson, playing a gung-ho colonel leading the last bit of armed human resistance. He’s up against Andy Serkis’s Caesar, as well as a new ape played by Steve Zahn, an actor who’s known for monkeying around. —Nate Jones

Dunkirk (July 21)
Christopher Nolan’s first movie since Interstellar looks like the kind of movie they don’t make much anymore: an unabashedly straightforward, patriotic war film. And as in classics like The Longest Day, this one is absolutely star-studded, with a cast that includes Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, and a newly shorn Harry Styles making his feature-film debut. It tells the story of the rescue of the British Expeditionary Force from near-certain destruction in the early days of World War II — an event that is justifiably famous in the U.K., but, as there were no heroic roles for Americans to play, is slightly less well-known here. —Nate Jones

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21)
Based off the comic series Valérian and Laureline, Valerian follows a pair of space adventurers played by Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne. It’s a longtime passion project for director Luc Besson, and seems even more sprawling and fantastical than The Fifth Element. It also looks suspiciously similar to Jupiter Ascending, but let’s hope this movie can find a bigger audience than the Wachowski’s big swing sci-fi effort. —Jordan Crucchiola

Atomic Blonde (July 28)
Charlize Theron is an undercover MI6 agent in late-’80s Berlin who shoots guns, beats the hell out of henchmen, has sex with Sofia Boutella, and tries to recover a list of double agents before it gets into the wrong hands while avenging the death of another spy who she was in love with. Take out Theron and you still have a female-led James Bond movie with the added bonus of James McAvoy as Theron’s grubby, drunk partner. Add her back, and you may have the best action movie of the summer. —Jordan Crucchiola

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (July 28)
Man, even Al Gore is getting into the sequel business these days, with a follow-up to 2006’s Oscar-winning documentary that follows Gore’s efforts to combat climate change over the past decade. If … everything is any indication, the film is not quite a victory lap, though the filmmakers promise it’s not all doom and gloom, either. —Nate Jones

The Dark Tower (August 4)
It’s been a long, bumpy road for this Stephen King joint. The venerable scribe’s longest — and, perhaps, greatest — work is his Dark Tower novel cycle, in which a hybrid knight-cowboy named Roland traverses a multitude of dimensions in a quest to track down the Man in Black, a recurring King character also seen in such hits as The Stand and The Eyes of the Dragon. But, like Roland, The Dark Tower’s journey wasn’t easy, passing through years of development hell — a companion TV show may or may not ever happen — and rescheduled release dates. The current plan is for this flick, helmed by A Royal Affair alum Nikolaj Arcel, to come out in August, and the casting is perfect: Idris Elba as the stoic Roland and Matthew McConaughey as the wily Man in Black. It’s also doing its best to intrigue existing King-heads by claiming that it’s actually a sequel to the books, while also reaching out to novices by allegedly requiring no prior knowledge of the story. Those who have finished the book cycle will understand how such a thing is possible, but will those narrative quirks alienate casual viewers? Indeed, will the whole endeavor be simply too weird to attract Joe and Jane Q. Public? Hey, at least the poster is great. —Abraham Riesman

Detroit (August 4)
Detroit aims to tell the story of the city’s 12th Street riot by pinning down exactly what happened on July 25, 1967. That night, three black men were killed, and nine others — two white women and seven black men — were beaten by authorities at the Algiers Hotel downtown. Kathryn Bigelow directs John Boyega, Will Poulter, John Krasinski, and Anthony Mackie, from a script written by Mark Boal. The movie, out August 4, will be Annapurna’s first time distributing (the mini-major has built up its staff in recent months to handle financing, marketing and distributing), but the fact that the production seemingly lacks any black female leads has already caused controversy. —Hunter Harris

Vulture’s Guide to the Would-be Blockbusters of Summer 2017