While there’s a great deal of promise and maximum entertainment value to be derived from the selection of this year’s summer movies, I’m already thinking ahead… to next summer. It’s not that the return of Godzilla, Chucky the Doll, and two generations of John Shaft isn’t exciting. The thing is, I’ve been waiting most of my life for Top Gun: Maverick, Bill and Ted Face the Music, and Ghostbusters III – all of which are due for summer of 2020. Still, there are ten choices below for this year that will find us gladly snacking out in the dark, away from the heat, while the AC and CGI spectacles assault our senses. Also below are my predictions for which films will be the biggest hits. Last year, I was wrong right out of the starting gate, as the seemingly can’t-miss Solo: A Star Wars Story died instantly. Well, here we go again.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (opens May 31)
The Gist: It’s a Monster Mash, starring Vera Fermiga and Millie Bobby Brown of “Stranger Things.”
Why It Could Rock: The real stars are Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, Guidorah, and lots and lots of ‘splosions! Directed by Michael Dougherty, the wildcard cult favorite who made Trick r Treat and Krampus.
Unless: the all-star cast is as wasted and needless as they were in the 2014 and 1998 westernized Godzilla remakes. Will anyone care about the plot, dialog, characters, or non-kaiju scenes?
Predicted Box Office Ranking: No. 4, the most successful of the US ‘Zilla thrillas.
Dark Phoenix (opens June 7)
The Gist: Here’s a little ditty, about Jean Grey, got scary powers and blew everyone awaaay…
Why It Could Rock: The cast, trailer, the poster – Fox/Disney will score a big opening, though longterm success is unlikely. “Game of Thrones” fans love Sophie Stark (taking over for Famke Janssen as Jean Grey/Phoenix). Presumably the last round for Jennifer Lawrence and Co. as the young X-Men crew.
Unless: all the re-shoots, missed opening dates, and bad word of mouth are right there up on the big screen. X-Men: The Last Stand already told this story wrong once before.
Predicted Box Office Ranking: No. 8, this is the actual Last Stand for this, before the Disney make-over.
Shaft (opens June 14)
The Gist: I’m just talkin’ ’bout Shaft! Can you dig it?
Why It Could Rock: Samuel L. Mutha@#$%^&*-Jackson is joined by OG Shaft Richard Roundtree (!). It looks to be more of a comedy than true blaxploitation, which could work. That Isaac Hayes theme song is one of the greatest. At the very least, this will be worlds better than last summer’s Superfly stinker.
Unless: Shaft Jr. is played by Jessie T. Usher, who bombed playing Will Smith’s son in Independence Day: Resurgence. If he can’t deliver here, its game over. The 2000 Shaft was directed by the late, great John Singleton. This is from Tim Story, who makes toothless movies. I hope we don’t get shafted.
Predicted Box Office Ranking: No. 8, right on!
Child’s Play (opens June 21)
The Gist: A mother buys her son a Teddy Ruxpin. He loves it and nothing bad happens – just kidding.
Why It Could Rock: Opening this against Toy Story 4 is brilliant counter-programming. Chucky’s back-story is different and so is the voice actor: Mark Hamill! Nerds, bow your heads!
Unless: that trailer tells the truth – it looks even worse than that limp Poltergeist remake from four summers back. Is this campy character still scary, especially in light of Annabelle? What is Aubrey Plaza doing here?
Predicted Box Office Ranking: No. 10, good enough to warrant a sequel.
Toy Story 4 (opens June 21)
The Gist: (sings) “You got a friend in me, you got a friend in me…”
Why It Could Rock: Toy Story 3 was shockingly good. MVP vocal performers Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are joined by Patricia Arquette, Jordan Peele, and Keanu Reeves (not playing John Wick, unfortunately).
Unless: Pixar sequels may find monetary success but duds like Finding Dory and Cars 2-3 illustrate that they can misfire. It seems impossible to top Toy Story 3.
Predicted Box Office Ranking: No. 2, never bet against Pixar or Woody and Buzz.
Annabelle Comes Home (opens June 28)
The Gist: If Raggedy Anne and Chucky had a daughter, she’d be Annabelle. Part three.
Why It Could Rock: The second Annabelle was even more liked and successful than the first. The so-called “Conjuring Universe” is a zeitgeist favorite. How else to explain the success of a dog like The Cure of La Llorna? Including Conjuring stars Vera Fermiga and Patrick Wilson in this one is wise.
Unless: Competition from the art house Mid Sommar proves too much. The Nun and La Lalorna were hits because they had no competition – this one has Chucky to worry about. How much mileage can you get from a doll who has no dialog and… doesn’t really do much of anything but look creepy?
Predicted Box Office Ranking: No. 7. Take my money!
Spider-Man: Far From Home (opens July 5)
The Gist: Peter Parker is back from the ashes, on a field trip, and meets Mysterio.
Why It Could Rock: the momentum of Avengers: Endgame has Marvel maniacs salivating at anything new from The House that Stan Built. The so-so Spider-Man: Homecoming cleaned up in this slot a year ago. Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio is the shot in the arm this franchise needs.
Unless: Marvel Movie Fatigue finally sets in (Editor’s note: Barry says this every year. It won’t happen).
Predicted Box Office Ranking: No. 3, not Endgame big, but still pretty big.
The Lion King (opens July 19)
The Gist: 25 years later (almost to the day), Simba and Co. are back, as photo-realistic CGI effects.
Why It Could Rock: Director Jon Favreau pulled off the new Jungle Book and looks to do the same here. The multiple award-winning Elton John/Hanz Zimmer score, a CGI representation of Disney’s biggest late 20th century blockbuster, the all-star cast, and a story as well known as Star Wars.
Unless: the bad taste leftover from Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin keeps audiences away. Even with state of the art special effects, will this actually improve upon the original?
Predicted Box Office Ranking: No. 1, the big king of the season.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (opens July 26)
The Gist: Hollywood during the Summer of ’69 gets rocked by the Manson family murders.
Why It Could Rock: Writer and director Quentin Tarantino takes on Hollywood’s phasing out of the Golden Era into the counterculture movement. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are in their element, Mike Moh as Bruce Lee(!), and Margot Robie plays Sharon Tate. This is the must-see summer movie for adults.
Unless: it might be too grown-up for the popcorn movie lovers. If you have to google who Sharon Tate is or think Charles Manson was the lead singer of scary metal band, this movie isn’t for you. If Tarantino recreates the murders, expect controversy.
Predicted Box Office Ranking: No. 6, Tarantino’s biggest success since Inglourious Basterds.
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (opens August 2)
The Gist: The Fast & The Furious 9-ish, starring lots of exploding cars, buildings, and audience IQs.
Why It Could Rock: Well, for one thing, it has THE ROCK! The Meg survivor Jason Statham returns in yet another offensively stupid summer movie you’ll hate yourself for watching the next day.
Unless: people everywhere suddenly realize, as if waking from a nightmare, that the Fast and Furious movies are moronic and that any new movie currently playing is a better choice (Editor’s note: It won’t happen. Get in line, sheeple!).
Predicted Box Office Ranking: No. 5, some late-summer Meg money from audiences worn down from their popcorn comas.