2015 Summer Movie Preview: Our 30 Most Anticipated Films

As you can tell from our "ABCs of Summer Movies" video — which you can watch above — this summer promises to be one of the most spectacular moviegoing seasons in years, featuring everything from globetrotting spies to mutating superheroes to dangerous dinos.

The festivities kick off with a bang (or, at least, a Hulk smash) when Avengers: Age of Ultron lands in theaters May 1. But Marvel’s A team won’t be the only familiar faces making their way to cineplexes: We’ll also see the return of Ethan Hunt, Mad Max, Magic Mike, The Terminator, the Poltergeist poltergeist, and the Griswold family. Looking for something more original? Circle the dates for the buzzy Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck or the latest Pixar creation Inside Out. If it’s indie fare you favor, there’s plenty of that to look forward to as well, with Sundance darlings like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and The Wolfpack (which, no, is not a Hangover spinoff) getting their time to shine in theaters. Here are our 30 most anticipated movies opening between May and August.

30. Self/less
Release Date: July 10
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley, Matthew Goode
Director: Tarsem Singh
The Scoop: After a rough stretch of flops that included Green Lantern and R.I.P.D., Ryan Reynolds is primed for a Reynaissance, especially with Deadpool on the horizon. His comeback could very well start with this futuristic thriller about a dying real estate tycoon (Kingsley) given a shot at immortality by having his soul transferred into a younger vessel (Reynolds). It’s like a thinking man’s 17 Again. —Kevin Polowy

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘Self/less’


29. Paper Towns
Release Date: July 24
Starring: Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Halston Sage
Director: Jake Schreier
The Scoop: After watching the trailer, we have considerable faith that the John Green magic that made The Fault in Our Stars a hit just might strike again for the author’s second big-screen adaptation. After a wild, prank-filled night with Margo Roth Spiegelman (Delevingne) at the end of their senior year of high school, Q (Wolff) wakes up to find his enigmatic crush missing. What follows is a quest we can’t wait to go on. —Breanne L. Heldman

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘Paper Towns’

28. Masterminds
Release Date: Aug. 7
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Zach Galifianakis
Director: Jared Hess
The Scoop: Hess has a track record of wonderfully weird comedies like Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre, and Gentlemen Broncos. So we’re hoping this heist movie, based on a bumbling, real-life 1997 robbery, goes as far off the deep end as his previous endeavors. It helps that he’s found such merry band of misfits for the big score: In addition to Wiig, Wilson, Sudeikis, and Galifianakis, current Saturday Night Live stars (and future Ghostbusters) Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones also join in the misadventures. —Meriah Doty

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘Masterminds’

27. Poltergeist
Release Date: May 22
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris
Director: Gil Kenan
The Scoop: The 1982 film Poltergeist is thoroughly embedded in our collective unconscious, and this faithful remake promises to revive its scares for a new generation. Kenan explored the spooky secrets of the suburbs with his Oscar-nominated animated feature Monster House, so this tale of a family terrorized by a malevolent ghost should be right up his haunted alley. —Gwynne Watkins

Watch the 'Poltergeist’ trailer:

26. The Gift
Release Date: July 31
Starring: Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton
Director: Joel Edgerton
The Scoop: Warrior star Edgerton makes his directorial debut with this psychological thriller about a married couple (Bateman and Hall) who are visited by Gordo (Edgerton), a guy the husband knew as a teenager. Gordo’s not interested in just reminiscing though: The creepy interloper comes bearing inappropriate gifts and dark secrets, making for a deeply unnerving high-school reunion. —M.D.

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘The Gift’

25. Fantastic Four
Release Date: Aug. 7
Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell
Director: Josh Trank
The Scoop: We first saw the superhero troop onscreen a decade ago in 2005’s Fantastic Four. Now, the quartet returns to the Marvel universe with a new version courtesy of Chronicle and future Star Wars spinoff director Trank. The reboot follows the Ultimate comic-book storyline and retells the origin story of Mr. Fantastic (Teller), Human Torch (Jordan), Invisible Woman (Mara), and the Thing (Jamie Bell) who gain their powers after a teleportation attempt gone awry. We really hope it’s going to rock. —M.D.

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘Fantastic Four’

24. The D Train
Release Date: May 8
Starring: Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn
Directors: Andrew Mogel, Jarrad Paul
The Scoop: Jack Black hasn’t headlined a movie since 2011’s Bernie, but the comedian already earned raves at Sundance for his newest starring role. Black plays a Pittsburgh dweeb determined to make his 20th high school reunion a hit by recruiting a “celebrity” classmate — a commercial actor played by Marsden — back to town for the festivities. Let’s just say things take an unexpected twist.  —K.P.


23. The Look of Silence
Release Date: July 17
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
The Scoop: Festival favorite The Look of Silence comes with an impeccable pedigree. First, it’s produced by nonfiction legends Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, Fog of War) and Werner Herzog (Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Into the Abyss). Second, it’s Oppenheimer’s follow-up to his 2012 Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing, about some of the perpetrators of the mid-1960s Indonesian genocide. In Silence, he picks up with a family whose son was killed during the purge and who is now trying to track down his murderers. —M.D.

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘The Look of Silence’

22. Spy
Release Date: June 5
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Rose Byrne
Director: Paul Feig
The Scoop: Who needs James Bond when you’ve got Melissa McCarthy? The star reunites with her Bridesmaids and The Heat director for this over-the-top action comedy about a CIA analyst who moves from a desk job into the field. The cast is packed with comedy veterans, but a surprisingly hilarious Jason Statham may be this movie’s secret weapon. —G.W.

Watch the 'Spy’ trailer:

21. Welcome to Me
Release Date: May 1
Starring: Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Linda Cardellini
Director: Shira Piven
The Scoop: After a dazzling dramatic performance in last year’s The Skeleton Twins, Kristen Wiig veers back into comedy with the dark, offbeat Welcome to Me. In the film, which opened to positive reviews at the Toronto Film Festival, Wiig plays an Oprah-obsessed woman who wins the lottery, then uses her earnings to produce a talk show entirely about herself. —G.W.

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘Welcome to Me’ 

20. Pitch Perfect 2
Release Date: May 15
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow
Director: Elizabeth Banks
The Scoop: These ladies don’t need superpowers — they have their mouths. The Barden Bellas are back for a whole lot more aca-mazingness, and this time, they’ll be battling in an international a cappella competition. They’ll face tough competish from the Germans, but no matter what happens, they’re all winners because they have ach other. Girls! — B.L.H.

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘Pitch Perfect 2′

19. Dope
Release Date: June 12
Starring: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Zoe Kravitz
Director: Rick Famuyiwa
The Scoop: A breakout hit at Sundance, Dope is a hip hop-infused madcap adolescent adventure — think a John Hughes flick set in South Central. Directed by Rick Famuyiwa, the film stars newcomer Shameik Moore as Malcolm, a smart high-school senior who gets stuck with a huge bag of drugs belonging to the local kingpin (played by rap star A$AP Rocky). With thugs in pursuit, Malcolm and besties Jib (Tony Revolori, Grand Budapest Hotel) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) embark on a crazy odyssey that rivals even Ferris Bueller’s day off. — Jordan Zakarin

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘Dope’


18. Vacation
Release Date: July 31
Starring: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Chris Hemsworth
Director: John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein
The Scoop: The Griswolds are back with a grownup Rusty (Helms), his wife (Applegate) and their two sons carry on the family tradition of disastrous adventures. They embark on a trip to — where else? — Walley World. Of course, not before stopping to check in on grandparents Clark and Ellen; both Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo return for cameo/torch-passing roles. — K.P.

17. Ricki and the Flash
Release Date: Aug. 7
Starring: Meryl Streep, Sebastian Stan, Kevin Kline
Director: Jonathan Demme
The Scoop: Streep with a guitar?! Seeing as the three-time Oscar winner is a rock-star actress, it’s about time we see her wielding an axe on screen. The musically inclined comedic drama, directed by Oscar winner Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) and written by Oscar winner Diablo Cody (Juno), revolves around a musician who returns to her family to make good on past mistakes. Oh, and Rick Springfield co-stars. — M.D.

16. Terminator Genisys
Release Date: July 1
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons
Director: Alan Taylor
The Scoop: After a series of mind-bending teasers that played out like fan fiction on steroids, the premise of Genisys became clearer with the release of the second full trailer. Maybe too clear. The film revisits the dual timelines of the 1984 original, but now we’re not sure whether John (Jason Clarke), son of Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), is good or evil. — M.D.

Watch the 'Terminator Genisys’ trailer:

15. Batkid Begins: The Wish Heard Around the World
Release Date: June 26
Director: Dana Nachman
The Scoop: Remember how much we collectively cried during the news segments chronicling how the city of San Francisco came together to make a 5-year-old cancer-stricken boy feel like Batman for a day? Well, get your tearducts ready for this heart-wrenching documentary that premiered at Slamdance and is already being adapted into a feature film produced by Julia Roberts. — K.P.

14. Magic Mike XXL
Release Date: July 1
Starring: Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello
Director: Gregory Jacobs
The Scoop: It’s three years on and Magic Mike (Tatum) is still dancing to that sexed-up Ginuwine jam. XXL is poised to be a lot more outrageous — if you can imagine it — with less gritty realism than the original. This time around, the guys hit the road for a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach, S.C., linking up with Mike newcomers, including Jada Pinkett Smith and Michael Strahan. And since we’ve already seen sparks fly off Tatum in the teaser trailer, we can’t wait to see if they’re even more spectacular with Amber Heard involved. — M.D.

Watch the 'Magic Mike XXL’ trailer:

13. Straight Outta Compton
Release Date: Aug. 14
Starring: O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell
Director: F. Gary Gray
The Scoop: Following biopics about legendary funk and soul stars (James Brown in Get On Up, Ray Charles in Ray), Universal makes a natural progression to the hip-hop realm with the story of seminal gangsta rap collective NWA, which launched the careers of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E. While the leads are mostly unknown (aside from Paul Giamatti as manager Jerry Heller), the filmmakers appear to have nailed it in the casting department: It helps that Cube’s oldest son, O'Shea, is the perfect age to play the rap icon as an upstart. — K.P.

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘Straight Outta Compton’

12. Tomorrowland
Release Date: May 22
Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
Director: Brad Bird
The Scoop: No company is better at transforming its own history into screen projects than Disney, which can turn a cartoon into live action and an animatronic ride into a hit movie franchise with the wave of Mickey’s wand. Next up: Tomorrowland, a movie inspired by the futuristic section of Disneyland. But the film aspires to be more than just integrated marketing, with a cast led by George Clooney and Hugh Laurie, a sci-fi story developed by Damon Lindelof, and action orchestrated by director Brad Bird (The Incredibles and Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol). — J.Z.

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘Tomorrowland’ 

11. Ant-Man
Release Date: July 17
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly
Director: Peyton Reed
The Scoop: Can Ant-Man be 2015’s Guardians of the Galaxy? In terms of owning the year’s box office, there’s no chance — not in a year with Avengers and Stars Wars movies. But Ant-Man has much in common with GOTG: The film taps into Marvel’s canon of (relatively) obscure superheroes, it has a lovable funnyman (Rudd) in the lead, and its plot is less traditional than Captain America's or Thor's (while GOTG went to space, this one is framed like a heist flick). Based on Marvel’s track record, we have big expectations for this little guy. — K.P.

Watch the trailer for 'Ant-Man’

10. The Wolfpack
Release Date: June 12
Director: Crystal Moselle
The Scoop: This hit Sundance documentary tells the incredible story of six brothers who spent much of their childhoods locked away in a crowded New York City apartment, where they learned about life via popular culture, especially movies like Goodfellas and The Dark Knight. Moselle spent years chronicling the boys’ daily lives, observing the stresses and strains of their situation — and capturing the moment when one of the kids decides to open the door and walk outside. —J.Z.

9. Southpaw
Release Date: July 31
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker
Director: Antoine Fuqua
The Scoop: Gyllenhaal might just have Hollywood’s most malleable metabolism: Last year, he slimmed down to play an emaciated crime-scene videographer in the indie hit Nightcrawler. Now, for this boxing drama from Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, the 34-year-old actor has transformed himself once again, this time to play an uber-ripped fighting-machine. That extra strength no doubt came in handy during the filming of this riches-to-rags drama, in which a hot-tempered scrapper loses his wife (played by Rachel McAdams) and subsequently watches his family — and his career — fall apart. — J.Z.

Watch the trailer for 'Southpaw’

8. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
Release Date: July 31
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Alec Baldwin, Simon Pegg
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
The Scoop: Most of the IMF gang is back together… but, as usual, they’re under attack, this time by the seemingly fictional Syndicate, a league of rogue operatives and assassins. If Ghost Protocol was any indication, this franchise is far from over, and we anticipate more ridiculous, unrealistic, and undeniably fun action and stunts. We wholeheartedly accept this mission. —B.L.H.

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation’

7. The End of the Tour
Release Date: July 31
Starring: Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Anna Chlumsky
Director: James Ponsoldt
The Scoop: In the Sundance-adored Tour, Segel departs from some of the goofier roles of his past to play David Foster Wallace, the funny, brilliant, Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer who committed suicide in 2008. Directed by The Spectacular Now’s James Ponsoldt, this road-trip tale documents a mid-‘90s encounter between Wallace and a Rolling Stone writer (played by Jesse Eisenberg), which took place just as Wallace was beginning his uncomfortable reign as a literary superstar. Expect an awards-season push for this funny, poignant drama. —M.D.

6. Jurassic World
Release Date: June 12
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Judy Greer
Director: Colin Trevvorow
The Scoop: There are plenty of heroes to root for this summer, but the one we’re most intrigued by is the velociraptor. We first met the deliciously vicious big bad in Steven Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park, and now the raptors are back in World, the fourth in the series (and the first since 2001’s lackluster Jurassic Park III). This time, the vicious beasties just might be one of humanity’s best allies, as the park has been transformed into a luxe resort with all kinds of dino attractions — including the dangerous Indominous Rex, a genetically modified monster. Once the new rex gets loose, he becomes a major headache for the park’s prim operations manager Claire (Howard) and a for-hire raptor whisperer (Pratt), who pits dino versus dino in an attempt to save the park (and possibly mankind). —Kerrie Mitchell

Watch the 'Jurassic World’ trailer:

5. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Release Date: June 12
Starring: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler
Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
The Scoop: As you could probably guess from the title, this won’t be the feel-good smash of the summer, but that doesn’t mean Girl — which won jury and audience awards at Sundance — isn’t a potential crowd-pleaser. The drama follows a misfit high-schooler (Mann) and his friend Earl (Cyler), who spend their days making low-budget movie parodies. Their lives change, though, when they befriend a cancer-stricken neighbor (Cooke). It sounds a bit like Fault in Our Stars meets Be Kind Rewind — which is exactly why we’re so excited to see it. —K.P.

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’

4. Inside Out
Release Date: June 19
Starring: Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black
Director: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
The Scoop: Pixar has taken audiences to the toy room, a space station, and the deep blue sea. This summer though, we’re going to get a trip into one of the most formidable spaces imaginable: the mind of a young girl. Inside Out follows the life of Riley, an 11-year-old who’s dealing with a turbulent move to San Francisco after her dad lands a new job. While she navigates the homesickness and loneliness of the outside world, inside her actual Headquarters, her emotions Joy (Poehler), Sadness (The Office’s Smith), Disgust (Kaling), Fear (Hader), and Anger (Black) are desperate to keep Riley righted. —K.M.

Watch the 'Inside Out’ trailer:

3. Mad Max: Fury Road
Release Date: May 15
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Director: George Miller
The Scoop: It’s common — and perfectly understandable — for movie buffs to rail against summer’s oversaturation of reboots, remakes and sequels. But this fourth incarnation of Mad Max has a major selling point: The return of George Miller, the man who wrote and directed the first three installments. In other words, this isn’t some cheap knockoff. The brooding, brawny Hardy is the perfect choice to reclaim Australia as the new Max Rockatansky, and Miller — who’s reinvented himself as an animation filmmaker (Happy Feet) in recent years — sure looks like he’s taken advantage of three decades of technological advances in making the dystopian Outback look cooler than ever. —J.Z.

Related: Watch the trailer for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road:’

2. Trainwreck
Release Date: July 17
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, LeBron James
Director: Judd Apatow
The Scoop: A rapturous reception greeted Amy Schumer’s romantic comedywhen it premiered at SXSW — and that wasn’t even the final version. The Comedy Central star plays a commitment-averse New York City magazine writer drawn into a romance with a sports doctor (Hader) whose clients include LeBron James, here making his comedy debut. Trainwreck is the first movie Apatow has directed that he didn’t write himself — a strong endorsement for Schumer, who wrote the screenplay and whose world domination will likely be made complete with this breakout comedy. —G.W.

Watch the 'Trainwreck’ trailer:

1. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Release Date: May 1
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner
Director: Joss Whedon
The Scoop: The sequel to 2012’s The Avengers brings all the threads of the Marvel universe (including the intervening Iron Man, Captain America, andThor movies) together in a full-scale superhero epic. This time, the reunited Avengers face a threat that may divide them forever: Ultron (James Spader), an artificially intelligent monster created inadvertently by Tony Stark (Downey). Get ready to geek out hard. —G.W.

Watch the 'Age of Ultron’ trailer:

Watch a video comparing how your favorite flicks compare to this summer's sequels, reboots, and remakes below: