The best new movies coming to cinema and TV this summer

We also have the interesting development of certain blockbusters – notably those in the Disney family – making their way to the small screen at more or less the same time as their theatrical release. Photograph: iStock
From witch-hunts in Fear Street to visitations in The Night House. The key mystery here is: why all the horror? 

The summer is back! The summer is back! Days of soda and pretzels and beer… and Scarlett Johansson and The Rock and Jason Statham. The movies are on big screens. They are also on Netflix and Disney+. It’s as if Covid never happened. Okay, that is a bit of a lie. The rearranged sunny season is not quite so stuffed with big commercial releases as we have come to expect. A few of last year’s projected tentpoles have moved past the warmer months and into autumn. Top Gun: Maverick will not be with us until November. No Time to Die, the latest James Bond film, leapfrogged from Spring 2020 to September of that year and on towards November 2021. We also have the interesting development of certain blockbusters – notably those in the Disney family – making their way to the small screen at more or less the same time as their theatrical release. The key mystery here is: why all the horror? There is little else in late August.

Fear Street Part 1: Julia Rehwald as Kate, Fred Hechinger as Simon and Kiana Madeira as Deena. Photograph: Netflix
Fear Street Part 1: Julia Rehwald as Kate, Fred Hechinger as Simon and Kiana Madeira as Deena. Photograph: Netflix

FEAR STREET PART 1: 1994

Netflix is releasing a trilogy of films based on RL Stine’s teenage horror sequence in successive weeks throughout July. The first, set in the Clinton era, concerns a group of teenagers disentangling horrible events in a midwestern town. Part 2 is set in 1978. Part 3 takes place takes place during the witch-hunts of the 17th century. A cast of largely unknown youngsters shrieks and hollers. (July 2nd)

Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in Black Widow.
Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in Black Widow

BLACK WIDOW

Don’t say “nature is healing”. Too late. The cliché of the season is out. It will be over two years since the last Marvel Cinematic Universe film when Scarlett Johansson fills out events from Natasha Romanoff’s life in the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War (you’ll surely know why this has to be an interquel). Is Florence Pugh set to take over from SJ? We’ll soon find out. In cinemas and on Disney+ Premium. (July 9th)

THE CROODS: A NEW AGE

Where the heck have you been? It has been eight years since The Croods, a prehistoric animation from DreamWorks, took half a billion dollars. The new film again features voice work from Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone. It seems that the new film will, as sequels so often do, take the characters on some sort of journey. (July 16th)

THE FOREVER PURGE

The Purge films have had their ups and downs, but, for the most part, they have worked as broad satire of Trump’s America and where it might end up if we don’t watch out. The new film, allegedly the last, deals with the aftermath of an attempt to rid the US of The Purge. The future looks optimistic. Then things turn awful again. That is hardly fair on poor old America. (July 16th)

Summer of Soul: Questlove’s documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival
Summer of Soul: Questlove’s documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival

SUMMER OF SOUL

Advance word on Questlove’s documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival is all positive. Archival footage of Stevie Wonder, The 5th Dimension, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Sly and the Family Stone peppers a film that seeks to spread the word about an event that has not achieved the legendary status it deserves. Winner of a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, the Fox Searchlight Production is now with Disney. (July 16th)

Space Jam: A New Legacy stars LeBron James.
Space Jam: A New Legacy stars LeBron James

SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY

Space Jam is another of those films that was indifferently received on release before eventually building up a huge nostalgic following. A quarter of a century after the first collaboration between the NBA and Looney Tunes, the sequel stars LeBron James and basketball stars we haven’t heard of. It also features Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Foghorn Leghorn, but not –“cancelled by the woke mob” according to neckbeards on Twitter – the priapic Pepe Le Pew. (July 16th)

OLD

M Night Shyamalan has been erratic in recent years. The Visit was a hoot. Glass was simply terrible. His latest stars Gael García Bernal, Ken Leung and Vicky Krieps in the tale of an island that causes visitors to age dramatically in a single day. Based on Sandcastle, a graphic novel by Pierre Oscar Levy, it sounds like promising material for the twisty director. But we’ve said that before and been disappointed. (July 23rd)

The Suicide Squad
The Suicide Squad

THE SUICIDE SQUAD

Didn’t we already have a film with this name? No, that was Suicide Squad, you eejit. This is The Suicide Squad. James Gunn, he of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, shifts allegiances for this follow-up to the deafening, chaotic DC team-up film from 2016. Sylvester Stallone and Idris Elba join familiars Margot Robbie, Viola Davis and Joel Kinnaman. (July 30th)

The Green Knight stars Dubliner Barry Keoghan.
The Green Knight stars Dubliner Barry Keoghan

THE GREEN KNIGHT

One of the year’s most eagerly awaited pictures. David Lowery follows up A Ghost Story and The Old Man and the Gun with his take on the 14th century Arthurian romance Sir Gawain and The Green Knight. Dev Patel is Gawain. Our own Barry Keoghan is also along for the ride. Lowery makes even the most unlikely material sing. (August 1st)

Jungle Cruise
Jungle Cruise stars The Rock and Emily Blunt

JUNGLE CRUISE

Another film delayed from 2020, this big family release stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt (together at last!) in an adaptation of some ride or other from Disneyland. You may laugh. But The Pirates of the Caribbean films generated more loot than the GDP of several European countries over the same period. Blunty and Rocky are on a search for the Tree of Life. (August 6th)

STILLWATER

Tom McCarthy brings us the tale of an American oil worker trying to save his daughter from an unjust conviction in Marseilles. Well-known Dalkey fan Matt Damon is the campaigning dad. Abigail Breslin is the woman in the clink. McCarthy, director of Spotlight, winner of best picture Oscar in 2016, continues to have a fascinating career. Always worth taking seriously. (August 6th)

BOYS FROM THE COUNTY HELL

Irish film that happily throws the kitchen sink at its grateful audience. A bunch of road workers accidentally awaken a vampire and find surviving the night a challenge. Chris Baugh, who has directed the series Tin Star, returns to the dark territory of his admired film Bad Day for the Cut. (August 6th)

FREE GUY

Oh this sounds high concept. In an open-world video game, a non-player character becomes aware of the truth and moves to make himself the hero rather than a bank teller in the background. Sounds a bit The Truman Show. Sounds a bit Ready Player One. Ryan Reynolds and Jodie Comer star in a family flick by money-maker Shawn Levy. (August 13th)

DON’T BREATHE 2

It has taken a while to follow-up the excellent home invasion horror from 2016. Let’s hope this means the filmmakers worked hard at rekindling the magic. The charismatic Stephen Lang returns as “the blind man”. This time he is living happily in an isolated cabin. Not for long, I bet. (August 13th)

CENSOR

Much-acclaimed British meta-horror starring Niamh Algar as a censor during the video nasty craze that stirred up so much hysteria in the 1980s. A hit at Sundance earlier in the year, Prano Bailey-Bond’s film was described in the LA Times as “a striking and wholly original piece, a cinematic experience that has no obligation to offer the audience pat conclusions”. We’re in. (August 20th)

THE NIGHT HOUSE

More horror (and we’re not finished yet). More Sundance action. David Bruckner’s film stars Rebecca Hall as a woman disturbed by apparent visitations in an isolated lakeside house. The singular Stacy Martin, so good in Vox Lux and Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, is also among the strong cast. Another unlikely acquisition for Disney from the Fox slate. (August 20th)

DEMONIC

Yet more horror. Neill Blomkamp has had a strange time of it since District 9 scored a best picture nomination at the 2010 Oscars. Elysium was a bit overstuffed. Chappie was terrible. His latest picture will, in future years, be screened in festivals of projects that somehow got made at the height of pandemic. It’s to do with possession obviously. (August 27th)

CANDYMAN

What is going on here? Yes, it’s a remake of the popular, um, horror film from 1991 relating the dangers of saying that title into the mirror five times. Jordan Peele, the man behind Get Out, writes and produces. Nia Da Costa directs a largely African-American cast including Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Parris. Promises to be a cut above the average retread. (August 27th)

The Nest stars Jude Law and Carrie Coon.
The Nest stars Jude Law and Carrie Coon

THE NEST

A critical smash at Sundance way back in January 2020, Sean Durkin’s drama stars Jude Law and Carrie Coon in a tale of the American upper crust. Somehow missed out on awards season, but sure to appeal to discerning audiences as the leaves begin to sag. Co-produced by the Irish company Element Pictures. (August 27th)