2021 Summer Movie Preview: 32 Films to Help Bring Theaters Back

Brian Welk

Movies are back. We didn’t have a proper summer movie season last year thanks to COVID, but as more and more people get vaccinated, audiences have already shown a willingness to return to theaters, that is if there’s good stuff to actually see. Thankfully this summer movie season has us covered, and with delays and constant schedule shuffles, we’ve been waiting a really long time for some of these. Here are the 32 movies we’re most excited for coming soon.

“Spiral” – 5/14Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson star in this “Saw” sequel that casts Rock as a detective investigating a Jigsaw copycat killer and a new series of grizzly murders.

“The Woman in the Window” – 5/14Amy Adams stars in this updated take on “Rear Window,” in which she plays an agoraphobic woman who witnesses the murder of her friend, only to realize the woman she thought was murdered is someone else entirely. Joe Wright directs the film that was originally a 20th Century release but will now debut on Netflix.

“Those Who Wish Me Dead” – 5/14Angelina Jolie plays a firefighter in Big Sky country fighting forest fires but also protecting a teenager who witnessed a murder. Taylor Sheridan wrote and directed the film that’s debuting on HBO Max and in theaters.

“Army of the Dead” – 5/21After the success of the Snyder Cut, Zack Snyder’s zombie movie spectacle “Army of the Dead” finds Dave Bautista leading a team of mercenaries on a casino vault heist through a zombie-infested Las Vegas.

“A Quiet Place Part II” – 5/28John Krasinski’s long-awaited follow-up to his modern horror classic “A Quiet Place” was one of the first films delayed due to the pandemic. But we finally get to see how Emily Blunt’s family manages to survive outside the confines of their home, fighting threats that aren’t limited just to the alien monsters who pounce at the slightest sound.

“Cruella” – 5/28Earning comparisons to “Joker” for how it provides an origin story and new perspective at one of the most iconic movie villains, Emma Stone looks to give a devilish take on the “101 Dalmatians” baddie in “Cruella.”

“Spirit Untamed” – 6/4Now digitally animated, “Spirit Untamed” is the follow-up to the Oscar-nominated film “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” and finds a new girl whose life is changed forever when she meets a breathtaking wild horse. The film’s voice cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Julianne Moore and McKenna Grace.

“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” – 6/4The third proper “Conjuring” film brings back Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as Lorraine and Ed Warren, and this film is based on a real murder case in which a man argued in court that he was possessed by the devil.

“In the Heights” – 6/11The film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical stars Anthony Ramos in the role of Usnavi that Miranda first popularized on stage. Jon M. Chu directs the film that draws from Miranda’s roots growing up in Washington Heights.

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard’s Wife” – 6/18Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson return for the sequel to the action comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” from 2017, and they’ve now got Salma Hayek in tow as she’s now the one in danger. The film’s trailer shows Reynolds attempting to retire from hired killing, and you can imagine how that goes.

“Luca” – 6/18The latest Pixar original, and yet another Pixar film to debut directly on Disney+ following the Oscar-winner “Soul,” “Luca” is set in the Italian riviera and follows two young sea monsters who disguise themselves as human children and attempt to live out a normal summer on land. Enrico Casarosa directs the film that features a voice cast including Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan.

“Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It” – 6/18This documentary about the life of Rita Moreno first debuted at Sundance and shows the stage and screen icon getting candid about her early career choices, her experiences with abuse and why she’s not slowing down.

“The Sparks Brothers” – 6/18For his first documentary, “Shaun of the Dead” director Edgar Wright turned his attention to the L.A. art-pop band Sparks, sitting down with members Ron and Russell Mael and trying to understand how a widely respected band whose music has spanned decades and influenced many are still somehow elusive, unknown and under-appreciated.

“Fatherhood” – 6/18Kevin Hart gives a more dramatic turn in this heartwarming and true story that spans years about a widower who has to learn to become a single dad. Paul Weitz directs the film that also stars Lil Rel Howery, Anthony Carrigan and Alfre Woodard. The Sony film was meant to be released theatrically but will now debut on Father’s Day Weekend on Netflix.

“False Positive” – 6/25Ilana Glazer wrote this horror film about a couple who have spent months trying and failing to get pregnant, only to meet a fertility doctor played by Pierce Brosnan who helps them get far more than they bargained for.

“F9: The Fast Saga” – 6/25The ninth installment of 10 “Fast & Furious” movies brings in John Cena as Dom Toretto’s brother, who is recruited by the previous film’s villain Cipher (Charlize Theron) to get revenge on Dom and his family. Oh and also, HAN RETURNS and that quite frankly has us feeling very good.

“Zola” – 6/30This A24 film is based on a viral tweet thread about the wild story of a stripper’s road trip to Florida. The film is directed and written by Janicza Bravo and stars Taylour Paige and Riley Keough.

“The Forever Purge” – 7/2The fifth and final film in the “Purge” horror franchise, a group of marauders aims to keep the lawlessness and anarchy of the Purge ongoing with no end to the crime and violence. James DeMonaco, the original film’s creator, returns to write the film opening on 4th of July weekend.

“Summer of Soul (…Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) – 7/2Questlove’s Sundance darling documentary uncovers footage from the Harlem Cultural Festival in the summer of 1969, which featured magnificent performances by artists like Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone and more that somehow was ignored by the media and was forgotten to history.

“Black Widow” – 7/9Marvel’s Phase 4 finally makes it theaters with Scarlett Johansson returning to mother Russia and filling in some of the blanks of Natasha Romanoff’s backstory. Florence Pugh, David Harbour and Rachel Weisz also join the cast of the superhero film directed by Cate Shortland.

“Space Jam: A New Legacy” – 7/16LeBron James leads this reboot of the Michael Jordan and Looney Tunes comedy, this time going into a server populated by all of WarnerMedia’s properties, to win a basketball game that will help him rescue his son. Just don’t call it “Ready, Baller One.”

“Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins” – 7/23Henry Golding leads this spinoff of one of the “G.I. Joe” franchise’s most popular characters, taking up the mantle of the sword-wielding commando Snake Eyes. “R.E.D.” director Robert Schwentke directs the film that also stars Samara Weaving and Iko Uwais.

“Hotel Transylvania: Transformania” – 7/23The fourth and final film in the “Hotel Transylvania” franchise brings back Drac’s Pack for a new adventure that also features the voice talents of Kathryn Hahn, Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi, Fran Drescher, Selena Gomez and Keegan-Michael Key.

“Old” – 7/23M. Night Shyamalan’s latest original suspense story finds a family vacationing on a mysterious beach, only to realize that it is causing them to age rapidly and having their entire lives flash by in a day. Gael Garcia Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Thomasin McKenzie, Eliza Scanlen, Rufus Sewell and Alex Wolff star in the film.

“Jungle Cruise” – 7/30Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt star in this adventure comedy that’s inspired by the Disney World attraction “Jungle Cruise” that’s known for its campy wildlife puns. Jaume Collett-Serra directs the film.

“The Green Knight” – 7/30Dev Patel stars in this stylized retelling of the Arthurian legend of Sir Gawain from writer and director David Lowery. Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton and Barry Keoghan also star in the film from A24.

“The Suicide Squad” – 8/6James Gunn gets his stab at the story of the madcap DC baddies the Suicide Squad, bringing back Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn but also recruiting Idris Elba, John Cena, Pete Davidson and the CGI King Shark as they are recruited by the shady Task Force X.

“The Kissing Booth 3” – 8/11Joey King returns as Elle Evans for the third installment of the wildly popular teen romance franchise on Netflix, and in this film she’s about to head off to college but is faced with a big decision first.

“Respect” – 8/13Jennifer Hudson stars in this long-awaited biopic of Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. Liesl Tommy directs the film that also stars Forest Whitaker, Audra McDonald, Marlon Wayans and Marc Maron.

“CODA” – 8/13A massive hit and awards winner at Sundance, “CODA” is the story about a child of deaf adults who decides to join her school’s choir, all while juggling the needs of her deaf family. Apple picked up the film in a record breaking deal, and the film stars Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin and Eugenio Derbez.

“Gunpowder Milkshake” – 8/15Karen Gillan plays a fierce hit-woman in this action thriller who has to team up with a trio of other lethal women in order to protect the life of an innocent girl. Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, Lena Headey and Chloe Coleman all co-star.

“Free Guy” – 8/20Ryan Reynolds has had some fun with the constantly changing release dates for his film “Free Guy,” which will finally hit theaters at the end of the summer. The film casts Reynolds as a non-player-character in a brutal and violent open world video game who gains autonomy and tries to fight his way to freedom.
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