Ever since Jaws set the standard for the modern-day blockbuster in 1975, audiences have flocked to theaters for summer movie season to catch action flicks, comedies and even a few Oscar hopefuls. Not so this year.
With most movie theaters still closed or operating with social distancing measures across the U.S., most of the big-budget movies that were set to release in May and June—like Wonder Woman 1984, Top Gun: Maverick and Black Widow—have already delayed their premieres until the the fall and winter. The major July and August releases will likely follow suit, with annual box office receipts expected to be down as much as 50%.
But moviegoers can take some comfort in the fact that plenty of films are shifting from theaters to video-on-demand—or, in some cases, were always set for streaming releases—so new movies will still be coming this summer, including Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods and Lonely Island’s buzzy Sundance rom-com Palm Springs. And there is still hope that movies set to debut later in the season, like Christopher Nolan’s much-anticipated Tenet and Wes Anderson’s star-studded The French Dispatch, will help jump-start the theater business before the year is out.
Below, find a new crop of summer movies coming straight to streaming for your viewing pleasure (and a few still slated for theatrical release). We’ve also included a list of rescheduled dates for summer films that have been delayed—along with older movies you can watch to scratch the itch while you wait for the return of the blockbuster.
Movies Premiering This Summer—and Where You Can Watch Them
Shirley (June 5, 2020)
Hulu, VOD and drive-ins
One of the buzziest films to emerge from Sundance, Shirley stars Elisabeth Moss as a fictionalized version of horror writer Shirley Jackson. This surreal film kicks off when a young couple interrupts the reclusive life of Shirley and her husband (Michael Stuhlbarg) and things get weird from there. (Read TIME’s review here.)
Da 5 Bloods (June 12, 2020)
Spike Lee’s latest follows a group of Vietnam War veterans, played by Delroy Lindo and Clarke Peters among others, who return to Vietnam in the present day to hunt for buried gold and bring home the remains of their fallen squad leader (Black Panther‘s Chadwick Boseman, in flashbacks). The trailer suggests there will be violence, frank discussion of race relations and some major channeling of Apocalypse Now.
The King of Staten Island (June 12, 2020)
In the tradition of Trainwreck, Judd Apatow directs another film loosely based on a breakout comedian’s own life, this time Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson. Like the real Davidson, his character lost his father, a firefighter, when he was growing up. Unlike the real Pete, though, he’s not famous and hasn’t dated Ariana Grande (his friend-with-benefits is played by Bel Powley). He drifts through life in a haze of weed smoke, half-heartedly pursuing his dream of becoming a tattoo artist. Marisa Tomei plays his widowed mom and Bill Burr, her new boyfriend.
Artemis Fowl (June 12, 2020)
Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s YA novel about a boy criminal mastermind has been in the works for a long time. Now that theaters across the country are closed, it’s one of the few movies that Disney has decided to move out of theaters and onto its streaming service. Colin Ferrell, Judi Dench and Ferdia Shaw star.
Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (June 26, 2020)
Will Ferrell co-writes and co-stars, alongside Rachel McAdams, in this comedy about an Icelandic singing duo competing in the real-life Eurovision contest, a zany, uber-popular competition that gave the world ABBA and Celine Dion. The cast includes Dan Stevens, Pierce Brosnan and Demi Lovato.
Irresistible (June 26, 2020)
Jon Stewart is back. The former Daily Show host wrote and directed this political satire about a Democratic political strategist (Steve Carrell) and a Republican one (Rose Byrne) battling each other in a seemingly small-potatoes Wisconsin mayoral race that they believe will influence whether the state swings red or blue in the next national election. Chris Cooper plays the unlikely Democratic candidate.
Hamilton (July 3, 2020)
With Broadway and theaters across the country closed, live Hamilton shows are on hold. But those who have yet to catch the musical—or just want to see it again without forking over their life savings—can finally check it out at home. This is not a movie version of Hamilton but rather a filmed version of the stage production, starring the original cast, including star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
The Truth (July 3, 2020)
Famed Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters) makes his non-Japanese language debut with a film about a daughter who excavates her difficult relationship with her famous mother when the mother publishes a memoir full of half-truths. Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke star in the movie, which premiered to warm reviews at the Toronto Film Festival last year.
Palm Springs (July 10, 2020)
Hulu and drive-ins
This Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti rom-com, which set the record for the most expensive acquisition ever made at the Sundance Film Festival, comes from the Lonely Island team. That prolific comedic group also dreamt up Hot Rod and Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping, both of which are worth seeking out after catching the new one. Palm Springs begins with a meet-cute at a wedding, but things quickly get much weirder than your typical rom-com.
The Old Guard (July 10, 2020)
If you are bemoaning the fact that you have to wait a year to see Charlize Theron fight Vin Diesel in Fast & Furious 9 (more on that movie below), this Netflix film may sate you. Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball) directs this action-packed comic book adaptation about a group or immoral mercenaries. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kiki Layne star alongside Theron.
Tenet (July 17, 2020)
Christopher Nolan’s latest mind-bending film has become the most anticipated movie of the summer. The thriller stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki and boasts Inception vibes: Washington’s character can, apparently, make time move backwards. This is a big movie that demands to be watched on IMAX. If it keeps its July release date, Hollywood is hoping the film can draw fans back to theaters to help save summer blockbuster season.
Mulan (July 24, 2020)
Disney has already moved the live-action adaptation of the beloved animated film Mulan from March to July in hopes of drawing massive crowds in both the U.S. and China, where the film is set. If the movie is delayed again, you can always catch the animated version on Disney+. The live-action version, which stars Liu Yifei, won’t include songs, so this is your moment to belt “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” alone in your apartment.
An American Pickle (August 6, 2020)
Seth Rogen stars in this absurdist take on Rip Van Winkle, based on a 2013 short story by Simon Rich, in which a 1920s Brooklyn man falls into a barrel of pickle brine and brines himself for 100 years. He wakes up in a much-transformed modern-day Brooklyn and seeks out his great-grandson, also played by Rogen. Hijinks ensue.
Wonder Woman 1984 (August 12, 2020)
Last we saw Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and her beloved Steve (Chris Pine), they were battling Germans in World War I. In this movie, the presumed-dead Steve appears alive and well in 1980s Washington D.C. to assist Wonder Woman in her fight against Cheetah (Kristin Wiig) and an evil bigwig (Pedro Pascal). The movie has already been delayed from June to August. Time will tell if we’ll have to wait longer to find out how Steve returned to this mortal coil.
Charm City Kings (August 14, 2020)
HBOMax acquired the rights to this film after it won the Best Ensemble prize at Sundance. Based on 12 O’Clock Boys, a 2013 documentary about the dirt bike scene in Baltimore, the intense drama features Meek Mill and a handful of newcomers.
Project Power (August 14, 2020)
The script for this sci-fi film starring Jamie Foxx, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Courtney B. Vance inspired a major bidding war back in 2017. Netflix has released few details about the movie except that involves a pill that gives people superpowers.
Bill & Ted Face the Music (August 21, 2020)
The Keanussance is far from over. Even though the next entry in the John Wick franchise has been pushed all the way until 2022, the sequel to cult comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is still scheduled to hit theaters this year, with Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter reuniting 31 years after the original film hit theaters.
Antebellum (August 21, 2020)
The Janelle Monáe horror film centers on a modern-day author who finds herself trapped on a plantation in the antebellum South and racing to solve the mystery of how she traveled back in time. The movie already shifted from its spring release date to August.
Tesla (August 21, 2020)
VOD and in theaters
Ethan Hawke re-teams with director Michael Almereyda 20 years after they worked on their modern version of Hamlet together for an absurdist and satirical biopic about inventor Nikola Tesla (Hawke) and his feud with Thomas Edison (Kyle MacLachlan).
The New Mutants (August 28, 2020)
Oh what a journey New Mutants has taken to theaters. The plagued X-Men spinoff, originally supposed to debut in 2018, is finally (supposedly) hitting theaters this summer. The cast of the superhero-horror mashup includes buzzy young stars like Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams, Emma’s Anya Taylor-Joy and Stranger Things’ Charlie Heaton.
When to Expect Delayed Summer Movies—and What to Watch in the Meantime
A Quiet Place Part II (September 4, 2020)
The much anticipated follow-up to A Quiet Place is currently slated for September, but given that writer-director John Krasinski wrote in a note to fans that he wanted to delay its March release until groups of fans could enjoy the horror movie together in a dark theater, it might be awhile until we watch Emily Blunt silently navigate her family past terrifying monsters again.
The original film is available to stream, but if you’re looking for something different, Trey Edward Shults’ 2017 It Comes at Night is a critically acclaimed horror film about a father trying to protect his family in a post-apocalyptic world where a disease has taken out much of the population. The two movies hit on a lot of the same themes.
The French Dispatch (October 16, 2020)
Wes Anderson’s latest, The French Dispatch, was one of the few Oscar hopefuls originally set to premiere this summer. If the film about a New Yorker-type magazine does indeed premiere in the fall, its ridiculously talented cast—which includes Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Kate Winslet, Elisabeth Moss, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Willem Defoe, Edward Norton, Jeffrey Wright, Owen Wilson, Benicio del Toro and Jason Schwartzman — may well be seen together on the awards campaign trail collecting accolades. (Although it bears mentioning that awards season, too, may well be postponed.)
If you’re willing to shell out a few bucks to rent or buy Anderson’s past films, you can have your pick from his oeuvre. The Royal Tenenbaums, one of his earlier and best films, which also features a stacked ensemble cast like The French Dispatch, is currently free for DirectTV subscribers.
Black Widow (November 6, 2020)
A decade after Scarlett Johansson made her debut in the Marvel movies, Black Widow is finally getting her solo superhero film. The prequel to Avengers: Infinity War features not just Johansson but Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz and David Harbour as Russian spies. The plot of Black Widow probably impacts the plots of other Marvel movies set to debut after its release, so the sooner we can see its post-credits scene, the sooner we’ll see what’s next to come in the MCU.
Sure, you could watch Black Widow in all the Marvel movies on Disney+, but you could also opt to watch a weirder ScarJo movie, Under the Skin. The creepy sci-fi thriller is the peak of Johansson’s run playing all-powerful alien and robot beings (see also: Lucy, Her and the problematic Ghost in the Shell).
Soul (November 20, 2020)
The next Pixar movie is sure to make fans weep—in a good way. The movie centers on a jazz musician (Jamie Foxx) who gets into an accident and travels to another realm to see how souls are made and help another soul (Tina Fey) find her passion. As usual, Pixar director Pete Docter (Monsters Inc., Up, Inside Out) plans to mix philosophy and humor.
What to watch in the meantime: Up (Disney+)
Docter, the creator behind Soul, also dreamed up the wonderful Up, a heartwarming movie that will carry you away to an exotic destination if you stream it on Disney+. (If only we all had enough balloons to fly our houses to a socially-distant vacation destination.)
No Time to Die (November 21, 2020)
No Time to Die was the first major spring movie to push its release date. What initially seemed like a risky reaction to the pandemic turned out to be a savvy move: The film, long plagued by setbacks, snagged a coveted release date right before Thanksgiving. In the movie, Daniel Craig’s 007 is pulled out of retirement for one last mission, but he must team up with his replacement (Lashana Lynch) as he faces off against Rami Malek’s villain (whose name has been conspicuously withheld—perhaps he’s a familiar nemesis).
As Craig wraps up his run as Bond, why not revisit his debut? If already have an HBO, HBO Now or HBO Max subscription, Casino Royale is available on those platforms. (You’ll have to shell out a few bucks to rent Craig’s best Bond movie, Skyfall, on Amazon or Apple.)
Top Gun: Maverick (December 23, 2020)
The Top Gun sequel seemed tailor-made for July, with its patriotic verve and beach volleyball scenes. But fans will have to wait until Christmas to watch Tom Cruise’s Maverick show off his flying skills—and maybe even teach a thing or two to Miles Teller and Glenn Powell’s characters in the process.
You’ll have to pay a few dollars to watch the original Top Gun on Apple or Amazon. But let’s be honest, with all its insane stunts, this Top Gun sequel looks more like a Mission: Impossible movie than a quaint ’80s drama. To get your yearly dose of Tom Cruise’s death-defying stunts, seek out the most recent Mission: Impossible movie, Fallout, on Hulu or Amazon Prime. The epic action film is well worth your time.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (March 5, 2021)
Yet another sequel to Ghostbusters is headed to theaters — but not until next year. Jason Reitman, the son of original Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, is helming the movie and has wrangled a bunch of cameos from old cast members.
If you’ve already memorized the original Ghostbusters, maybe check out some of Jason Reitman’s work to get a feel for his tone. He broke out with Thank You for Smoking and went on to direct Juno and Up in the Air.
Morbius (March 19, 2021)
Even though Sony currently shares Tom Holland’s Spider-Man with Marvel Studios, they have sole custody of the various villains of the Spider-Man universe and are producing solo films for several of these baddies. Last year’s critically panned but commercially successful Venom kicked off the trend of antihero films. Next will be Morbius, starring Jared Leto as a vampire.
What to watch in the meantime: Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (Netflix)
By far the best entry in the Spider-Man saga in the last several years is this animated film that snagged an Oscar in 2019. The inventive and delightful Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse brings together several Spider-people from multiple dimensions for a major battle in Brooklyn.
Fast & Furious 9 (April 2, 2021)
Fans of the family that races cars and fights crime together will have to wait an entire year from its original release to meet their newest adversary, the brother of Vin Diesel’s Dom, played by John Cena. The films’ car-based stunts have gotten increasingly ridiculous with each new installment, and while Vin Diesel and his crew are not headed to space, as some fans suspected they might, they are now apparently able to bring back the dead (#justiceforHan).
I cannot emphasize enough what a perfect summer blockbuster Fast Five is. It’s the first Fast & Furious movie that brings the crew we know and love today together from all the various Fast movies that preceded it. This film features epic stunts, corny lines that will make you laugh out loud and a chase scene through Rio that has to be seen to be believed.
Spiral: From the Book of Saw (May 21, 2021)
In a surprising swerve for the comedian, Chris Rock came up with the idea for a new Saw movie and is both producing and starring in the project. Rock and Samuel L. Jackson play detectives investigating a series of gruesome murders that are targeting cops and find themselves caught up in the killer’s game.
Horror fans can revisit the old Saw movies, but the Spiral trailer is giving off some serious Se7en vibes, even down to an ominous-looking box.
In the Heights (June 18, 2021)
Before Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda made his name on Broadway with In the Heights. The movie version of the musical, which is direccted by Jon M. Chu and covers three days in New York City’s Dominican-American neighborhood of Washington Heights, will star Melissa Barrera and Hamilton alum Anthony Ramos.
What to watch in the meantime: Singin’ in the Rain (HBO Max)
Lin-Manuel Miranda once listed The Little Mermaid, Singin’ in the Rain, The Bandwagon, Chicago and Labyrinth as his favorite movie musicals. While they are all worth your time, Singin’ in the Rain is one of those classics that has cemented its place in the film canon and is a must-see—especially now that it’s available to stream on HBO Max.
Minions: The Rise of Gru (July 2, 2021)
The minions have officially overtaken their master Gru as the most popular characters of the franchise since this Despicable Me prequel is, puzzlingly, made after the little yellow henchman, and not the movie’s main character Gru himself. All the little fans carrying stuffed minions to the movie theaters will have to wait a year to see Gru as a child aspiring to be a supervillain.
What to watch in the meantime: Despicable Me (Netflix)
The movie that introduced the little yellow critters as the henchman of evil mastermind Gru (Steve Carell) remains the best film from Illumination Studios.
Jungle Cruise (July 30, 2021)
Jungle Cruise is Disney’s latest attempt to turn one of their theme park rides into a sepia-toned adventure. Emily Blunt stars as a doctor who hires Dwayne ‘the Rock” Johnson’s boat captain to race a gaggle of ill-intentioned bad guys towards a magical tree that offers great medicinal powers.
What to watch in the meantime: Pirates of the Caribbean (Disney+)
Remember the last time Disney successfully turned a theme park ride into a massive franchise? You probably have not revisited the first Pirates movie in awhile. But they struck gold with that first film: Johnny Depp even got an Oscar nomination. The movie holds up (Depp as a movie star, perhaps less so).
The Forever Purge (Delayed indefinitely)
The Forever Purge will be the fifth and final installment in the horror series (though writers always find new ways to revive these scary stories). The studio has kept the details under wraps but the film will likely focus on a Purge Night—a 12-hour period when all crime, including murder, becomes legal—and deal with class warfare, a major theme of the franchise.
Revisit the original Purge movie starring Ethan Hawke or try another class warfare thriller, like Bong Joon Ho’s Snowpiercer, about a class revolution led by lower-class passengers (like Chris Evans’ character) against upper classes (like Tilda Swinton’s) on a post-apocalyptic train ride. (In fact, while you’re examining class clashes, you should also check out Bong’s Oscar-winning film Parasite on Hulu.)
Promising Young Woman (Delayed indefinitely)
Carey Mulligan plays a, yes, promising young woman whose life is derailed by a single incident. Years later, life presents her an opportunity to become an avenging angel against the supposed “nice guys” who abuse women, and she seizes it. The film got rave reviews out of the Sundance Film Festival.
Kill Bill and Promising Young Woman have radically different vibes and budgets. But if you’re looking for a female-fronted revenge fantasy, Kill Bill is the ultimate example of the genre.
The Woman in the Window (delayed indefinitely)
The hit mystery novel (whose real-life author also proves mysterious) gets a star-studded adaptation written by Tracy Letts. Amy Adams plays an agoraphobe who believes she witnesses a crime, a la Rear Window, but she has a troubling past of her own that makes the police question her story. The cast also includes Julianne Moore, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anthony Mackie, Gary Oldman and Brian Tyree Henry.
Let’s be honest: Most of the recent years’ Girl and Woman novels and their adaptations are rip-offs of Gillian Flynn’s brilliant Gone Girl and David Fincher’s eerie adaptation of that book. Few measure up. Revisit for the twist. Stay for Ben Affleck’s incredibly suspicious smile.
The Personal History of David Copperfield (delayed indefinitely)
This new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel from Veep creator Armando Iannucci stars Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Ben Whishaw and Benedict Wong. The irreverent film has already debuted in England to raves. But Searchlight has delayed its U.S. release indefinitely.
What to watch in the meantime: Death of Stalin (Netflix)
Iannucci has consistently proven himself to be one of the funniest filmmakers around, from In the Loop to Veep. His recent film Death of Stalin is a parody of what really happened in Russia after Stalin died and his various stooges fought over who would replace him. At moments it’s so horrifying, there’s nothing you can do but laugh.
The Green Knight (delayed indefinitely)
Dev Patel was supposed to have a big summer between David Copperfield and this spooky-looking Arthurian movie from Ghost Story director David Lowery. But A24 has pulled The Green Knight from its schedule, presumably so audiences can enjoy the drama in theaters.
What to watch in the meantime: Midsommar (Amazon)
The vibe of the Green Knight trailer is reminiscent of A24’s hit film from last summer, Midsommar—except replace all those brightly-lit maypole dancing images with shots of brightly-robed knights in dark castles. A24 has a long history of promoting excellent and inventive films. Midsommar is a good place to start if you’re looking for something dark (for something even darker, try Hereditary).
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