Cha Cha Real Smooth | Courtesy AppleTV+

Franchises take a back seat to exciting original fare

The hot days stretch on and on. The pools are open. Summer has arrived. For some people that means cookouts and beach days. For others, it means vacations and family. But for many of us, the summer months mean a slew of new, exciting movies to watch in a cool, dark theater (or at home if you’re not up for leaving the house). Feature films big and small will hit screens between now and the fall. We’ve gathered some of them together for a surefire guide to the best summer movies.


Jurassic World Dominion and Lightyear are the juggernauts this month, released on June 10 and 17, respectively. The most recent Jurassic film brings together the casts of the modern Jurassic World trilogy (starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard) and the original Jurassic Park legends (Sam Neil, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum) in what is being hailed as a finale of sorts. And Lightyear finally gives Toy Story fans a chance to watch young Andy’s favorite movie about his beloved new toy.

The Black Phone | Courtesy of Universal Pictures

But there were other movies swimming in the June waters that are worth a mention. Ethan Hawke’s The Black Phone finally released June 24 after what felt like ages of trailers. The horror film follows Hawke as a serial killer whose latest victim may escape with the help of a mysterious voice on the other end of a phone. The Baz Luhrmann-directed biopic of the king of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis, starring Tom Hanks and Austin Butler, dropped the same day.

On AppleTV+, Cha Cha Real Smooth hit the screen June 17, in which Dakota Johnson stars as a mother of an autistic child who meets a young man, played by Cooper Raiff, who she sparks a relationship with. The film earned an audience award from the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Not to be outdone, Netflix had Spiderhead on June 17 and The Man from Toronto on June 24. Spiderhead stars Chris Hemsworth and Miles Teller as they take part in a mysterious drug study. The Man from Toronto puts Kevin Hart in the middle of a crime caper featuring Woody Harrelson. 


Heroes and villains have dominated the summer movie landscape for much of the last two decades. This year, it’s all piled into July. July 1, supervillains have their day when the animated film Minions: The Rise of Gru tells the backstory of the renowned thief Gru and his delightfully marketable minions. Marvel Studios has one big summer blockbuster on its books — July 8’s Thor: Love and Thunder. The next adventure of the Norse hero features the introduction of Jane Foster as Thor, once again played by Natalie Portman. And DC will be represented July 29 with the release of League of Super-Pets, an animated feature centered on SuperDog, Batdog and many more.

Nope | Courtesy Universal Pictures

Also dropping in July is the newest film from Oscar-winning writer/director Jordan Peele. It’s been three years since Peele’s last film (2019’s Us), and the wait for his followup has been felt heavily. The waiting ends July 22 when Nope finally opens in theaters. Starring Oscar-winning actor Daniel Kaluuya, Nope has been shrouded in mystery since its announcement, but seems to be about an alien invasion.

On July 15, Netflix will release The Gray Man. Based on the 2009 novel, the film is directed by the Russo Brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and stars Ryan Gosling as a CIA agent who stumbles upon dark agency secrets. This makes him a target, and he’s hunted by a relentless agent played by Chris Evans. If that’s too intense for the whole family, maybe check out The Sea Beast on July 8. This animated tale follows a young girl who stows away on a pirate ship that hunts giant sea creatures — which is still somewhat intense.


Brad Pitt stars in Bullet Train on Aug. 5, opposite a cadre of assassins all vying for a valuable suitcase. The film is based on a Japanese novel called Maria Beetle. The cast is star studded: Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Sandra Bullock, Michael Shannon and international music sensation Bad Bunny. Elsewhere in theaters, Idris Elba fights to protect his children from both poachers and an incredibly dangerous Beast on Aug.19. 

Three Thousand Years of Longing | Courtesy MGM

And on Aug. 31, Three Thousand Years of Longing hits theaters. George Miller, who last directed Mad Max: Fury Road, brought this visually stunning feature to this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Tilda Swinton stars as a scholar who discovers a Djinn (intelligent spirit), played by Idris Elba, who offers her three wishes. The two kick up a relationship with unexpected consequences. The film promises to be a treat for the senses.

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