This summer could be the biggest blockbuster season ever recorded, with a stellar slew of sequels, reboots and fresh new stories. As expected, men in tights are very much the order of the day. But there’s plenty of room for rampaging dinosaurs (Jurassic World), apocalyptic vigilantes (Avengers: Age of Ultron), trash-talking teddy bears (Ted 2) and Meryl Streep in leather (Ricki and the Flash). Rock on, 2015!
Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth
When Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man creates the world’s first functioning artificial intelligence, Ultron, he doesn’t expect the machine to go rogue and try to wipe out humanity. He clearly hasn’t seen many movies. Expect writer-director Joss Whedon to spice up this classic sci-fi storyline with fresh ideas, snappy dialogue and furious action as the Avengers grudgingly reunite to tackle a deadly foe.
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen
Wax your moustaches for the latest take on Thomas Hardy’s timeless tale of love among the sheep pens in 19th-century England. Mulligan plays Bathsheba Everdene, the farm girl turned landowner torn between three suitors: honest shepherd Oake (Matthias Schoenaerts), strapping soldier Troy (Tom Sturridge) and kindly but dull aristocrat Boldwood (Michael Sheen).
Director: George Miller
Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Original director George Miller has recruited an all-new Max—British beefcake Tom Hardy—but retained the apocalyptic Australian setting, marauding mutant villains and thunderous dune-buggy chase sequences for this belated franchise reboot. Charlize Theron plays a mercenary tasked with chaperoning a busload of women through the wasteland, with only the Road Warrior standing between her and a tribe of psychotic cannibals.
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Cast: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld
The ladies are hitting the high notes again (we hope) as Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson return as the fearless frontwomen of campus a cappella group the Bellas. The first Pitch Perfect followed the gang in a national competition. This time they’re headed to Germany for a global one.
Director: Gil Kenan
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris
We were dubious when this remake of the classic suburban fright flick was announced—it looked like just another cheap Hollywood cash-in. But when it emerged that Monster House creator Gil Kenan was set to take charge (and had cast some amazing actors), the prospects for Poltergeist improved immeasurably. Kenan's films have precisely the right blend of spooky thrills, oddball invention and emotional heft to suit this story of a young girl abducted by vengeful ghosts.
Director: Brad Bird
Cast: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
Taking inspiration from a Disneyland theme-park ride (don't laugh—it worked for Pirates of the Carribean), this fantasy from The Incredibles director Brad Bird follows the adventures of a young runaway who is transported to an alternate universe where humanity has created a flawless utopia. The trailer promises grand vistas, retro-future technology and Clooney laying on the twinkly old-Hollywood charm.
Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino
Geologists claim that the San Andreas fault between California and the rest of the U.S. will one day violently tear apart, turning the state into an island. We finally have a date when this will happen: May 29, 2015. Yep, it’s disaster on an epic scale as an earthquake rips through L.A., forcing rescue pilot the Rock to go on a quest to rescue his teenage daughter. For bonus weirdness, Kylie Minogue co-stars.
Director: Leigh Whannell
Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Lin Shaye, Stefanie Scott
In time-honored horror-franchise tradition, this prequel takes us back to the beginning, following psychic warrior Elise Rainier as she learns to develop her demon-fighting powers. The first two movies haven’t exactly set the world on fire, but if you like your fright flicks slick, stylish and packed with jumps, this should tick all the right boxes.
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Alison Janney
Before they reteam for next year’s all-female Ghostbusters, Bridesmaids director Paul Feig and his regular muse Melissa McCarthy pastiche the Bourne-style espionage movie in this slapstick action flick. She plays a lowly CIA secretary who must go undercover as a tourist to infiltrate a Russian intelligence ring. Jason Statham is her long-suffering handler.
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio
It’s been two decades since the dinosaurs first broke loose, and the fictional Jurassic Park is now a fully functioning holiday destination drawing crowds from across the world. But are those fences really as sturdy as they look? Steven Spielberg has passed the directing reins to newcomer Colin Trevorrow for this big-budget sequel, which promises smart velociraptors, genetically engineered megasaurs and plenty of tourist-munching action.
Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
Cast: Diane Lane, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling
Could this be the movie Pixar fans been praying for? The animation company’s recent output has been uneven, with far too much emphasis on sequels over the brilliantly original work that made their name. But with Monsters, Inc. and Up director Pete Docter back in the chair, we don't know how this oddball story of a little girl with voices in her head can fail.
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried
After his comedy cowboy flick A Million Ways to Die in the West turned out to be about as funny as a case of saddle sores, it’s no surprise that Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has retreated to safe ground and cooked up a sequel to his big-screen smash about a trash-talking teddy bear with an eye for the ladies. Mark Wahlberg returns too.
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Cast: Channing Tatum, Amber Heard, Joe Mangianello
Inspired by star Channing Tatum’s own experiences as a young male stripper, Magic Mike was a surprise hit with both critics and audiences. This sequel offers more of the same upbeat blend of onstage thrust-and-grind and offstage emotional upheaval, as Mike and the team set out to take part in a stripping convention. Expect more strapping man-meat than you can handle.
Director: Alan Taylor
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney
Apparently there’s a reasonable explanation for the fact that the Terminator is looking a little bit long in the tooth these days (it’s something to do with the natural aging process of the machine’s organic components). Either way, we’re thrilled to see Arnold Schwarzenegger back in the role that defined his career, returning from the future to make life interesting for a whole new family of Connors.
Directors: Kyla Balda and Pierre Coffin
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Michael Keaton, Jennifer Saunders (voices)
Those little yellow guys from the Despicable Me movies have earned their own big-screen outing, which tracks the critters from their prehistoric origins to the present day. When three minions set out across the globe to search for a new supervillain to serve, the mission hits a snag when one of them is inadvertently crowned King of England.
Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker
I’m getting too old for this sh…erlock. While you’re waiting for the next season of the BBC series, get an interim fix with this cozy detective drama. Ian McKellen is perfectly cast as the great detective in his sunset years, coming out of retirement to solve a 50-year-old case that he can remember only in part.
Director: Peyton Reed
Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly
Now that we’ve got over the heartbreak that Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright is no longer occupying the director’s chair for this Marvel superhero comedy, perhaps we can begin to assess Ant-Man on its own terms. The cast is great—Michael Douglas plays the inventor of a shrink ray, with Paul Rudd as the luckless loser who decides to steal it for himself—but the first trailer was distinctly underwhelming, and replacement helmer Peyton Reed doesn’t fill us with confidence. The jury’s still out.
Director: Chris Columbus
Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage
Okay, so what are the kids into these days? 1980s video games! Disaster movies! Adam Sandler! It may be arriving a good 30 years too late, but Pixels could be a lot of fun if the jokes are there. It’s the story of an aging arcade champion who is dragged out of retirement when aliens disguised as old-school Atari characters attack the Earth for some reason.
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin
The Mission Impossible series seems to have been trundling along forever without ever going anywhere particularly interesting—does anyone out there care what happens to Tom Cruise’s smirking spy hero Ethan Hunt? That said, the films are always a lot of breezy fun, and with The Usual Suspects writer Christopher McQuarrie in the chair, expect this fifth instalment to have a little more grit than usual.
Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Mamie Gummer
Ready to rock? Put your hands in the air for…Meryl Streep? Yes, the queen of Hollywood plays a retired rock & roll hellraiser who heads home to patch things up with her estranged family in this Oscar-baiting indie drama. The premise may not be new (Crazy Heart, anyone?), but with Streep doing her best Janis—and Jonathan Demme in the chair—we anticipate greatness along with the volume.
Director: Josh Trank
Cast: Milles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell
As superheroes dominate the box office, it was inevitable that someone would reboot this popular series about a quartet of crime fighters with unlikely special powers. Chronicle director Josh Trank’s movie skews younger than previous Fantastic flicks, aiming for a high-school vibe as Whiplash star Miles Teller leads the team into battle against a cruel Russian tyrant. (Ooh, topical!)
Director: Jared Hess
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis
One of the more low-key summer releases, we love the sound (and the cast) of this true-story-inspired heist comedy about a nightwatchman who plans a break-in. The real Loomis Fargo Robbery was the biggest illegal haul in U.S. history, but it ended in convictions all around, so don’t hope for a happy ending.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Hugh Grant
Here’s another British spy spoof packed with snappy suits, sneering villains and Bond-ish retro chic. Guy Ritchie’s reboot of the 1960s espionage TV series is oddly cast—Henry Cavill may be Superman but he’s hardly a household name, while the last time Armie Hammer took a sidekick role in The Lone Ranger, the results were disastrous. Make it punchy, Guy.
Director: F. Gary Gray
Cast: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins
They may have been a fairly reprehensible bunch of reprobates, but there’s no underestimating the impact of N.W.A. when they broke onto the rap scene in the 1980s. Now their story comes to the screen courtesy of Friday director F. Gary Gray. Expect big hats, big guns, epic machismo, rampant misogyny, incredible music and a whole lot of harsh language when the film drops in late summer.