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Wonder Woman funning with US Government building in the background Photo: Warner Bros. Studios via Polygon

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16 new movies set for the strangest summer season ever

With movie theaters temporarily closed, here’s what to expect

The past few months have seen seismic shifts in the 2020 summer movie season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s unclear exactly when audiences will once again head to the multiplex. Movie theaters are closed, and blockbusters have come to VOD early or on the day that they were supposed to hit theaters.

Big movies like Scoob! and Artemis Fowl have forgone a theatrical release in light of the pandemic, instead setting digital release dates. Others, like Mulan and Wonder Woman 1984 have been pushed to later in the year, or in the case of F9, all the way to 2021, holding out for a time when people will be back in theaters.

The shift has had an effect on the industry as a whole, with theater chains and studios butting heads over broken traditions. Because of the success of the on-demand success of Trolls World Tour, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said that “[when] theaters reopen, we expect to release movies on both formats,” leading representatives from AMC and Regal theaters to say they would no longer show Universal films. Whatever actually sticks when things return to some level of normalcy, the pandemic is likely to have irrevocably disrupted the movie business.

For audiences, however, the way summer blockbuster season has been a disappointment. Summer is the time for big-swing entertainment, for movies that demand to be seen on the big screen. There’s an entire breed of high-flying, franchise-curious movies that rely heavily on the kind of visual spectacle that loses some of its power when seen at a smaller scale. The shift in the calendar also means a slight overlap with awards season movies, pitting prestige pictures against summer fluff rather than allowing each to have their day.

Though the film landscape continues to change, here’s the current 2020 summer movie calendar, along with where you’ll be able to watch each release.


Capone

fonzo aka capone (tom hardy) and his wife (Linda Cardellini) in Capone 2020 Photo: Vertical Entertainment

Chronicle and Fantastic Four director Josh Trank returns with Capone, a movie that explores notorious gangster Al Capone’s sunset years, including his struggles with syphilis and dementia. Tom Hardy stars as Capone, with Linda Cardellini as his wife and Jack Lowden as the FBI agent trying to make sure Capone ends his life behind bars. Matt Dillon, Kyle MacLachlan, and Noel Fisher fill out the rest of the cast. The movie, originally titled Fonzo, is written, edited, and directed by Trank.

Available on VOD on May 12

Scoob!

an animated young shaggy and scooby Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

The upcoming Scoob! isn’t a sequel or prequel to any existing Scooby-Doo movies, but a reboot of the franchise’s film series. Only Frank Welker remains from previous installments, voicing the famous dog, with Will Forte as Shaggy, Gina Rodriguez as Velma, Zac Efron as Fred, and Amanda Seyfried as Daphne. The story this time picks up as the mystery-busting crew is hired by the Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg) to stop Dick Dastardly’s (Jason Isaacs) “dogpocalypse.”

Available on VOD on May 15

The Lovebirds

issa rae in a unicorn onesie and kumail nanjiani in a gold bomber jacket Photo: Skip Bolen/Netflix

Issa Rae (Insecure) and Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) star in this romantic comedy, in which a lovestruck couple find themselves in the middle of a criminal conspiracy and, even worse than that, suspects for murder. The two set off on a journey to clear their names, testing not only their resourcefulness but the strength of their relationship. Anna Camp and Paul Sparks also star.

Available on Netflix on May 22

The Trip to Greece

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in front of temple ruins in The Trip to Greece Photo: IFC Films

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s globe-trotting series returns for its final installment, as the two comedians once again play versions of themselves going on a restaurant tour. The Trip to Greece has them following in Odysseus’ footsteps, traveling from Troy to Ithaca. You can be sure this last leg of The Trip will feature as many impressions and barbed ribbing as the previous ones.

In theaters and available on VOD on May 22

Artemis Fowl

Ferdia Shaw is Artemis Fowl in Disney’s ARTEMIS FOWL, walking with his cool sunglasses Photo: Nicola Dove/Walt Disney Pictures

The Artemis Fowl books center on a child genius whose idea to kidnap a fairy for ransom plunges him into a supernatural war. The film adaptation changes things around a little, but with the blessing of author Eoin Colfer. Ferdia Shaw stars as Artemis, with Colin Farrell as his father, Nonso Anozie as his bodyguard, and Josh Gad, Judi Dench, and Hong Chau as an assortment of supernatural creatures.

Available on Disney Plus on June 12

Kajillionaire

three figures at a bus stop Photo: Matt Kennedy

Miranda July is perhaps best known for Me and You and Everyone We Know, which focused on a series of intertwining relationships and included the emoticon “))<>((“ as a symbol for “pooping back and forth, forever.” We reviewed July’s new film, which follows a family of con artists, when it premiered at Sundance earlier this year:

Like July’s other films, Kajillionaire is featherweight and goofy, tapping into deep emotions but not examining them in a particularly deep way. It’s a shiny bauble of a movie, full of irrational giggles and outsized character acting. But the cast works hard at making these losers-at-life distinctive and memorable, and the film builds to a terrific punchline of a sequence as everything comes together.

In theaters June 12

The King of Staten Island

a shirtless pete davidson spreads out his arms Photo: Universal Pictures

Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson co-wrote and stars in this semi-autobiographical film, in which Scott, a slacker (played by Davidson) who has trouble coping with his firefighter father’s death, is finally forced to deal with his grief. The latest from The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Trainwreck director Judd Apatow, the movie costars Marisa Tomei as Scott’s mother, Maude Apatow as his little sister, Bel Powley as his best friend, and Bill Burr as a disruptive new force in Scott’s life.

Available on VOD on June 12

The Truth

ethan hawke, juliette binoche, and catherine deneuve Image: IFC Films

After winning the Palme d’Or in 2018 for Shoplifters, director Hirokazu Kore-eda immediately set to work on The Truth, his first film set outside Japan. Catherine Deneuve stars as Fabienne, a legendary actress whose upcoming autobiography causes waves in the family when her daughter (Juliette Binoche), her American husband (Ethan Hawke), and their daughter arrive in Paris.

In theaters and available on VOD on July 3

The Forever Purge

creepy baby statue of liberty lady from The Purge 3 aka Purge: Election Year Image: Universal Pictures

Details on the fifth Purge movie are scant, though the newest installment will reportedly take the action “out of its usual metropolitan setting.” The franchise centers on a ritual known as “Purge night,” in which all crime in the United States is made legal for a 12-hour-period, leading to mass murders and similar violent crimes.

In theaters July 10

Tenet

john david washington looks at a bullet hole in a window Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Christopher Nolan’s latest film is still a big mystery. Tenet stars John David Washington (BlackKklansman) as a secret agent tasked with preventing a third World War from breaking out, with Robert Pattinson, and Nolan stalwarts Kenneth Branagh and Michael Caine, also along for the ride. The trailer suggests a focus on time, and the fact that the film’s title is a palindrome only adds further fuel for speculation as to how Nolan will defy audience expectations once again.

In theaters July 17

Mulan

mulan with a sword Image: Walt Disney Studios

Disney’s live-action remakes continue with Mulan, though the new version drops the original’s musical aspect and Mushu has been removed from the mix. The story, however, still follows the story of Hua Mulan (played now by Liu Yifei), and now boasts Gong Li as a witch, Jet Li as the Emperor of China, and Donnie Yen as the commander who becomes a mentor for Mulan.

In theaters July 24

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

two permed hairdos stick out from the sand Photo: Lionsgate

The delightful title alone should be enough to convince you to go see Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, but in case it isn’t, here’s the gist: Bridesmaids co-writer Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig are Barb and Star, two best friends who leave the small town they live in to go on a beach vacation. While there, they find love, as well as a villain who may just be out to kill everyone in town.

In theaters July 31

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run

Keanu reeves’ disembodied face gives Patrick and SpongeBob some advice in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run Image: Nickelodeon

The SpongeBob franchise is getting a shot in the arm in the form of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, which is the first movie in the series to feature the characters as fully CGI-animated beings rather than their usual 2D selves. Sea god Poseidon has kidnapped Gary the snail, and SpongeBob and Patrick set out to get him back. Plus Keanu Reeves shows up in a tumbleweed.

In theaters August 7

Wonder Woman 1984

Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) looking at a wall of 12 TVs in Wonder Woman 1984 Photo: Clay Enos/Warner Bros. Pictures

The Wonder Woman sequel finds Diana, as its title promises, in 1984, battling big shoulder-pads as well as businessman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and friend-turned-enemy Cheetah (Kristen Wiig). The jump forward in time also somehow reunites Diana with her beau Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), who has somehow escaped the clutches of death.

In theaters August 14

Bill & Ted Face the Music

bill and ted with an unexpected visitor Photo: United Artists Releasing

Stoners Bill and Ted return to the big screen after almost three decades. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter reprise their roles, as Bill and Ted now deal with middle age as well as looking after their daughters Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving). Their day-to-day monotony is broken when a visitor from the future tells them that the only way to save life on Earth is for them to write a truly great song.

In theaters August 21

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

The Hitman’s Bodyguard Photo: Lionsgate

The Hitman’s Bodyguard starred Ryan Reynolds as a bodyguard who ends up having to protect a hitman played by Samuel L. Jackson. The sequel takes place three years later, as the two, who are now friends, work together to protect the hitman’s wife (Salma Hayek). Richard E. Grant is also set to return as one of the bodyguard’s clients, with Frank Grillo, Antonio Banderas, and Morgan Freeman as the newcomers to the series.

In theaters August 28