Summer Box Office Season is here, defined as the period between the first Friday in May and Labor Day weekend, where some of the biggest movies of the year are released including potential blockbusters, possible award season favorites and even a few possible surprises that could become sleeper hits. I love this time of year. Even though I do enjoy the outdoors, this is when the biggest crowds tend to turn out to embrace cinema whether it’s to experience an epic box office smash or to enjoy something a little more simple and down to earth. Today I’m going to try to serve as your key to some of the summer’s must-see films from this weekend to Labor Day. For today’s countdown I’m going to explore ten films that could make 2019 a summer to remember on the big screen. These are my picks for the Top 10 Anticipated Films of Summer 2019.
For today’s list it’s not necessarily about the ranking as much as it is about shining light on movies that are sure to be at the top of many must-watch lists in the coming months. I looked at any film scheduled for release between now and the last weekend in August (Labor Day Weekend) to compile this list. There’s no guarantee that these films will succeed or even be good, these are just ten movies I personally felt were worth keeping and eye on and that have stirred anticipation among mass audiences. In some cases these are long awaited features, in other cases they are simply productions that have the potential to get people talking whether they are good or bad.
Now some big names that will be coming to theaters were left off this list in order to try and provide a fun variety so I’m sure there are a few features being left out that might irritate some readers. But that’s why I always close by asking your input. These are just ten films I am anticipating. I want to know from you, what upcoming summer movies are you looking forward to the most in 2019? Let me know in the comments below. Let’s get to the list.
10. “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu” (May 10)
Let’s start with a film hitting the big screen this weekend, “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu”. The first ever live action Pokémon movie, “Detective Pikachu” is based on the video game of the same name and follows the titular mascot of the series, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, as he teams with a young failed trainer to solve a mystery in Ryme City with the help of a reporter and her Psyduck. For me and many other 90s kids this is a dream come true as we get to enjoy seeing Pokémon rendered in the real world for the first time in the theater. Early reviews for the film have been relatively positive although it’s still hard to tell if “Detective Pikachu” will break the video game movie curse. Regardless it’s expected to be a sure fire hit and could lead to a new era for the long-running franchise with more live-action adaptations potentially on the way if it succeeds.
9. “Rocketman” (May 31)
Musician biopics hit a resurgence in 2019 with “Bohemian Rhapsody” scoring a few Golden Globes and Oscars so it’s no surprise that 2019 will feature its own big-budget biographical film of an eccentric legend of the music world, Elton John. “Rocketman” will explore the origin of Elton and his eventual musical partnership with Bernie Taupin as well as his rise to becoming one of the world’s most flamboyant and charismatic performers and his discovering his sexual identity. Taron Egerton will bring Elton to life on the big screen as the star of the show and the hopes are that this picture won’t only replicate the success of Fox’s Queen biopic, but maybe even name Paramount and the cast a few awards nods in the process. Even if it fails to shine as an awards contender though “Rocketman” could be a huge hit due to the popularity of its famous subject alone.
8. “Brightburn” (May 24)
There are actually quite a few similarities between this film and the next one I’m going to cover, but first let’s start with “Brightburn” a Memorial Day weekend release that looks to flip the superhero story on its head. What if someone like Superman landed on Earth and found themselves tortured by their differences from society leading them not on a path of heroism, but one of evil and destruction? That’s the horror being depicted in this upcoming feature written by Mark and Brian Gunn, the cousin and brother of James Gunn respectively who is producing the film. The trailers alone promise plenty of terror and action as the film seeks to explore a new possibility for an outcast in a world without heroes to stop or inspire him. There’s amazing potential for this to be an great subversive feature worth checking out and I for one, as a fan of the superhero genre, can’t wait to see what it has to offer.
7. “Dark Phoenix” (June 7)
Fox’s X-Men franchise will come to a close in 2019 with “Dark Phoenix”. Originally meant to be released in 2018, “Dark Phoenix” has had a rocky road to the big screen being rescheduled several times and undergoing re-shoots late last year. While it’s not the final X-Men film from Fox that Disney plans to release (“New Mutants” could still see the light of day) it is the last film in the main series before Disney looks at possibly rebooting the franchise again in the far future. This is the second time the Phoenix Saga will be the subject of an “X-Men” film after the disastrous “X-Men: The Last Stand” and is directed by Simon Kinberg in his directorial debut who wrote “The Last Stand” as well as “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “X-Men: Apocalypse”. There’s a lot this film has to prove, from doing justice to one of the most legendary storylines in Marvel Comics to sending the “X-Men” franchise as we know it off in proper fashion. While it’s destined to be divisive “Dark Phoenix” will be the end of an era for superhero movies bringing a close to a franchise that truly sparked the comic book movie craze way back in the early 2000s.
6. “Godzilla: King on Monsters” (May 31)
While Disney and Marvel have managed to create a massive cinematic universe with the MCU, Warner Bros. has actually managed to create THREE cinematic universes of its own with the DC Universe, the Conjuring Universe and the Legendary MonsterVerse. While DC released ‘Shazam!” to great responses in the spring and the Conjuring Universe added “The Curse of La Llorona” and will add “Annabelle Comes Home” this summer, it’s the MonsterVerse that carries one of the most epic looking films of 2019, “Godzilla: King of Monsters”. The third film in the series, after “Godzilla” and “Kong: Skull Island”, this new film will focus again on the legendary titular monster and will adapt some of his most famous foes, Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah, in a battle for supremacy that could determine the fate of humanity. The trailers look absolutely epic promising destruction and plenty of monster-on-monster conflict. With “Godzilla vs. Kong” set to be released in March of next year here’s hoping this promising monster flick is a delicious taste of the what’s still to come.
5. “John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum” (May 17)
In 2014 “John Wick” became a surprise success thanks to its impressive filming style and an awesome performance by Keanu Reaves in the titular role. In 2017 a sequel proved that the success was not a fluke and itself became a hit teasing a third and final movie in its conclusion. After over two years of waiting we will finally get that finale with director Chad Stahelski and screenwriter Derek Kolstad as well as much of the cast returning for one more go around. While there’s always potential for the series to continue (there have been rumors of an “Atomic Blonde” crossover and a television show is in production) “John Wick Chapter 3” will serve as the conclusion of the main series bringing the titular assassin’s story of redemption and his attempt to escape his deadly trade for good full circle. In the film Wick has been excommunicated due to his actions at the end of “Chapter 2” making him a prime target for every hitman and assassin on the planet. If it’s anything like the previous films, this promises to be an epic good time but if it amps up the energy and violence as the trailers have teased it could be the best film in the trilogy and send off the original story in epic fashion.
4. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” (July 4, Spoiler Free Trailer Below)
Marvel has had a huge 2019 already with “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame” but after the conclusion of the Infinity Saga the MCU has to go somewhere. “Spider-Man: Far From Home” will pick up right after the end of “Endgame” and will serve as the final movie in Phase 4 of the MCU and the first film towards a new era in the franchise. Without going into too many spoilers for those who have not seen “Endgame” yet (and yes the trailer above is spoiler free), “Far From Home” will team Spider-Man with Mysterio, traditionally a villain in the comics, as they try to defeat a trio of elemental creatures terrorizing the world. This film has a lot on its shoulders as it need to establish what’s next for the MCU and how the world has changed after the results of “Endgame” while also trying to live up to the legacies of two billion-dollar-earning films that came before it in 2019. I don’t think Marvel Mania is ready to die just yet so “Spider-Man: Far From Home” will likely be an equally massive hit perfectly timed for the holiday weekend.
3. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (July 26)
When Quentin Tarantino’s name is on a movie it automatically becomes a must see. The ninth feature by Tarantino is set in Los Angeles in 1969 in the wake of the infamous Tate murders and is the director’s first work based on true events offering viewers a very different kind of project from a director whose films are usually heavy on blood, story and dialogue. Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie make up part of the star-studded cast that also includes Dakota Fanning, Al Pacino, and the final big screen performance of the late Luke Perry so, yeah, there’s a lot going for this film. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” will also incorporate the director’s penchant for intertwining stories and is said to be an homage to the golden age of Hollywood. Considering that the Oscars loves to award films about, well, films and acting, this feature could very well be an award season favorite if it lives up to the expectations its big name director brings to every one of his movies.
2. “Toy Story 4” (June 21)
Honestly if it were any other film “Toy Story 4” would probably be written off as a “why do we need this” kind of sequel. The third film brought a nice, heartwarming closure to the story and left fans crying on their way out of the theater. Nine years later and we get a fourth film that continues the tale of our favorite toys, this time with a new owner, and follows Woody as he tries to help a new toy named Forky through an existential crisis and reunites with an old friend leading him to learn new lesson of what being a toy is all about. With familiar cast members and new toys added to the gang, “Toy Story 4” promises to be the animated event of the year and with the trailers showing off amazing animation and the potential for a touching story that stands apart from the original trilogy here’s hoping that it delivers this franchise yet another classic to add to Pixar’s growing library of must see animated features.
1. “The Lion King” (July 19)
Disney has a pretty significant live action remake slate for 2019. “Dumbo” proved to be a mild success critically but earned decent revenue at the box office and “Aladdin” could very well become a hit unto itself even with some of the controversy surrounding its depiction of Genie. But the one remake that has everyone attention, and possibly the biggest and most anticipated theatrical film of the year aside from “Avengers: Endgame”, is the live action take on “The Lion King”. Twenty-five years after the release of one of Disney’s most respected and beloved animated films (despite it’s notorious similarities to “Kimba The White Lion”) Jon Favreau, who directed the live-action “Jungle Book”, will bring “The Lion King” to literal life utilizing motion capture and an ethnically diverse voice cast including Donald Glover, Seth Rogan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Beyoncé, Billy Eichner and more. Even James Earl Jones is back to play Mufasa as he did in the original. Many have touted this as the summer’s biggest potential hit and a possible cinematic triumph that may even rival “Endgame’s” numbers by some predictions. Just how big will this remake become? We’ll see when it makes it’s debut in mid-July.