The 31 Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2024

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It’s been over a year now since the beginning of the Writers Guild of America strike, and needless to say, the film industry still has a long way to go, between the rising AI problem and the continued domination of scripts based on IP—along with the devaluing of smaller productions that deserve a wide release but instead get dumped on VOD or streaming too early. Still, even with another summer full of prequels and sequels and adaptations (oh my!), there’s more than enough here to look forward to, both on the studio side and the indie side. Let’s dive in.

Pamela Adlon has more than proven her chops as a writer and director, especially on her FX series Better Things. But Babes, a pregnancy comedy about the friendship between perpetually single Eden (co-writer Ilana Glazer) and settled-down Dawn (Michelle Buteau), is actually her feature directorial debut. We need more R-rated mid-budget studio comedies, and this is one of the most promising of the year.

Read more: Babes Creators Say the Pregnancy Comedy Is Not ‘Raunchy.’ It’s ‘Realistic’

Richard Linklater’s link-latest feature—his first thriller since A Scanner Darkly and probably his most action-y comedy ever—could be one of the most entertaining movies of the summer, if the reviews are to be believed. Inspired by a true story, Hit Man stars Glen Powell (who also co-wrote) as a professor with a side job posing as a hit man for the New Orleans Police Department in order to catch people trying to hire him.

Mad Max: Fury Road was one of the most widely loved blockbusters of the 2010s, fueled by director George Miller’s inventive world-building, the kinetic one-long-chase structure, and Charlize Theron’s performance as the instantly iconic Furiosa. Now, Miller is back for Furiosa’s origin story, with Anya Taylor-Joy stepping into the role for another epic of heart-pumping intensity and unexpected emotional resonance.

Read more: George Miller Can’t Quit Mad Max

Based on Sara Varon’s 2007 comic of the same name, Pablo Berger’s animated feature Robot Dreams received widespread critical acclaim when it screened at festivals and came out in Spain and France last year. Now a larger audience will be able to see this touching tale of a lonely dog who assembles a robot in ’80s Manhattan—and appreciate its entirely dialogue-free script.

This dark debut by writer-director Ally Pankiw is the latest star vehicle for Rachel Sennott, who has recently proven her potential with funny turns in Bodies Bodies Bodies and the movies of Emma Seligman (Shiva Baby, Bottoms). Here, Sennott plays Sam, a depressed comedian dealing with some secret baggage in her recent past related to Brooke (Olga Petsa), a girl she used to nanny.

M. Night isn’t the only Shyamalan with a big movie this summer. His daughter Ishana’s directorial debut The Watchers feels like a premise straight out of her dad’s filmography: when an artist’s truck breaks down and she’s stuck in the middle of the forests of western Ireland, she’s forced to take shelter with three strangers being tormented by creatures in the night. Dakota Fanning stars as Mina, with Georgina Campbell, Oliver Finnegan, and Olwen Fouéré playing the other strangers.

Inside Out was an instant Pixar classic upon its release in 2015; the brilliant idea to anthropomorphize the confusing, warring emotions in the brain of a young girl made other recent Pixar efforts feel weightless by comparison. In the sequel, Riley is now a teenager, and with maturity comes with new emotions—including Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Houser). It’s a great opportunity to update the original movie for a new age range.

A still from the documentary <i>Bread and Roses</i><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Apple TV+</span>
A still from the documentary Bread and RosesCourtesy of Apple TV+

Directed by Sahra Mani and produced by Jennifer Lawrence and Malala Yousafzai, this urgent documentary coming to Apple TV+ follows the lives of three Afghan women fighting for basic rights after the Taliban took over Kabul in 2021. Its on-the-ground perspective of oppression serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of education—and the ways that eliminating school also curtails free thinking.

Read more: ‘This Is a Film About the Women’s Resistance.’ What Bread & Roses Reveals About the Feminist Fight Against the Taliban

It’s been eight years since the premiere of Loving, the most recent film by Jeff Nichols (who also directed Mud and Midnight Special, among others). So the arrival of The Bikeriders is highly anticipated, especially after being pushed back six months during the SAG-AFTRA strike. Nichols’ newest, which stars Austin Butler and Tom Hardy as members of a fictional Chicago motorcycle club called the Vandals MC, is based on the 1967 photobook of the same name, which explored the day-to-day lives of the motorcycle club The Chicago Outlaws.

These days, Lily Gladstone in a starring role is reason enough to check out a movie. In Native American filmmaker Erica Tremblay’s feature narrative directorial debut—she’s mainly known for documentary filmmaking—Gladstone stars as Jax, who raises her 13-year-old niece Roki (Isabel DeRoy-Olson) on the Seneca–Cayuga Nation Reservation in the wake of her sister’s disappearance.

One of the buzziest titles out of Telluride last year was Janet Planet, the feature debut of playwright Annie Baker (who won the 2014 Pulitzer for The Flick). Julianne Nicholson stars as the titular Janet, a hippie acupuncturist living in western Massachusetts whose life revolves around her 11-year-old daughter Lacy (Zoe Ziegler). Will Patton, Sophie Okonedo, and Elias Koteas co-star.

Fresh off 11 Oscar nominations and four wins with Poor Things, Yorgos Lanthimos is back—with Emma Stone once again in a starring role. Unlike Poor Things, though, Kinds of Kindness is a “triptych fable,” with three loosely connected stories sharing the same main cast members: Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, and Margaret Qualley. If Lanthimos’ previous work is anything to go by (and if early reviews out of Cannes are any indication), it should be surreal, darkly funny, and fiercely original.

It shouldn’t feel so novel to see an elderly woman in an action-star role, but Josh Margolin’s film Thelma gives the 94-year-old June Squibb an opportunity few older actresses are afforded. After Squibb’s Thelma Post gets tricked into sending $10,000 in bail money to a private P.O. box—the scammers pretended to be her grandson Danny (Fred Hechinger) and claimed he was in jail—she sets off on a road trip with her late husband’s friend Ben (the late Richard Roundtree) to recover the money and stop the thieves.

A still from <i>I Am Celine Dion</i><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Amazon MGM Studios</span>
A still from I Am Celine DionCourtesy of Amazon MGM Studios

Over two years after singer Celine Dion publicly shared her diagnosis of stiff-person syndrome, this Prime Video documentary offers an unusually personal, intimate look at her career, her music, and her struggles. That comes courtesy of Irene Taylor, the Oscar-nominated director behind 2009’s The Final Inch, a short about the eradication of polio.

Nicole Kidman, Joey King, and Zac Efron<span class="copyright">Courtesy of Netflix</span>
Nicole Kidman, Joey King, and Zac EfronCourtesy of Netflix

The people want romantic comedies, so give them romantic comedies! Richard LaGravenese’s rom-com for Netflix, A Family Affair, stars Nicole Kidman as a woman who falls for the movie-star boss (Zac Efron) of her daughter Zara (Joey King). Kidman and Efron have played lovers before, in 2012’s The Paperboy, but this one should be a much lighter affair.

The first installment in Kevin Costner’s planned four-part passion project has garnered mixed reviews out of Cannes, but you have to admire the man’s ambition: Costner spent $38 million of his own money to fund the movie, which he has been working on since 1988. Set in the Old West during the Civil War, Horizon, which will release its first two chapters less than two months apart this summer, boasts a sprawling ensemble that includes the director himself, Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Giovanni Ribisi, and Danny Huston.

Director Michael Sarnoski (Pig) takes over for John Krasinski in the third entry of the A Quiet Place series, this one a prequel set during the initial alien invasion in New York City over a year before the events of the first two films. Our viewpoint characters this time around are Sam (Lupita Nyong’o) and Eric (Joseph Quinn), with Djimon Hounsou reprising his role from Part II.

It’s been 40 years since the original Beverly Hills Cop and 30 since its heavily panned third installment—but the fourth movie in the series has been in the works since the mid-’90s. For the Netflix film, Eddie Murphy once again reprises his star role as Axel Foley, a Detroit PD detective summoned to Beverly Hills to solve a crime—this time working alongside both his old partners Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggart (John Ashton) and new characters like his daughter Jane (Taylour Paige) and her ex-boyfriend (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

Mia Goth has had an eventful few years, turning out great performances in arthouse films while finally breaking through with her double-performance as Maxine and Pearl in Ti West’s slasher films X and Pearl. In the third installment, a direct sequel to X, Maxine continues to deal with the trauma of living through a massacre while pursuing an acting career, this time forced to evade the dangerous Night Stalker terrorizing 1985 L.A.

This film about prison inmates staging theatrical shows at the infamous max-security Sing Sing Correctional Facility in New York straddles the line between drama and documentary, taking heavy inspiration from the real-life Rehabilitation Through the Arts program. Two professional actors help anchor the story—recent Oscar nominees Colman Domingo and Paul Raci—but director Greg Kwedar also cast men who were actually incarcerated and involved in the same program.

Greg Berlanti is a legend of television, having written on series from Dawson’s Creek to You and developed the Arrowverse that dominated The CW for the past decade. But Fly Me to the Moon is his first project for the big screen since 2018’s Love, Simon. A romantic comedy set in the 1960s, the film follows a NASA director (Channing Tatum) at the head of Apollo 11 and a marketing specialist (Scarlett Johansson) assigned to rehab NASA’s public image—even if that means filming a fake moon landing, just in case.

The 1996 film Twister is the latest to get the decades-later standalone sequel treatment, and Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) the latest director to follow the indie-drama-to-big-budget-blockbuster pipeline. Screenwriter Mark L. Smith incorporated the causes and effects of climate change into the plot of Twisters, speaking to climate experts to update this story for the 2020s. This time, the storm chasers are played by Daisy Edgar-Jones, Glen Powell, and Anthony Ramos—and they’re dealing with twin tornadoes, not just the one.

It was only a matter of time before Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) and Logan (Hugh Jackman) shared a movie together. Comic fans know that the two characters have a deep history, from their similar origins (both were experimented on by the Weapon X project) to the frenemies dynamic they developed over the years. Director Shawn Levy seems intent on preserving that relationship in Deadpool and Wolverine, which marks both characters’ official introduction to the MCU (a result of Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox in 2019).

Sean Wang’s directorial debut Dìdi, a coming-of-age comedy-drama about a 13-year-old Taiwanese-American boy named Chris (Izaac Wang), won the Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic at Sundance this year. Set in 2008 and featuring an acclaimed performance by Joan Chen as Chris’ mother, the film has also gained attention for the way it captures the experience of growing up on the internet; it is a late-aughts period piece, after all.

Maisy Stella and Aubrey Plaza<span class="copyright">Courtesy of Prime Video</span>
Maisy Stella and Aubrey PlazaCourtesy of Prime Video

Director Megan Park’s sophomore feature is a coming-of-age comedy revolving around Elliott (Maisy Stella), who meets her 39-year-old self (Aubrey Plaza) during a shroom trip on her 18th birthday. But when Future Elliott’s retrospective advice about growing up stands in the way of Young Elliott finding love, she becomes at war with herself … literally.

Read more: Aubrey Plaza is the Low-Key Movie Star for Our Times

This atmospheric indie coming-of-age drama by newcomer India Donaldson stars Lily Collias as a young woman on an awkward hiking trip with her father (James Le Gros) and his best friend (Danny McCarthy). Positive festival reviews have praised the performance of Collias and the naturalistic depiction of complex, shifting character dynamics among the trio.

Colleen Hoover’s 2016 novel It Ends With Us has its fair share of detractors, particularly those who take issue with the book’s “romance” classification considering its depiction of domestic abuse. Could the film adaptation, directed by Justin Baldoni, overcome those issues and deliver a nuanced, sensitive take on a painful subject? Baldoni stars alongside Blake Lively and Brandon Sklenar.

M. Night Shyamalan’s latest psychological thriller centers on Cooper (Josh Hartnett), a serial killer called “the Butcher” who accompanies his daughter to a concert by the artist Lady Raven (played, in this summer of Shyamalan daughters, by Saleka Shyamalan)—only to realize that the whole event is an elaborate trap set by law enforcement to catch him. It’s a classic high-concept premise for Shyamalan, and should (maybe, hopefully) contain yet another mind-bending plot twist for the ages.

A still from <i>Daughters</i><span class="copyright">Courtesy of Netflix</span>
A still from DaughtersCourtesy of Netflix

This Netflix documentary was directed by Natalie Rae and Angela Patton, the latter of whom made headlines after giving a TED Talk in 2012 about the annual father-daughter dance her non-profit Camp Diva organized for girls with fathers in prison. Daughters focuses on four girls who participated in the program, charting the complex evolution of their feelings about their fathers in the lead-up and years-later aftermath of the dance. In addition to winning the Audience Award for documentary at Sundance, the film holds an important message about the necessity of love and basic human contact when it comes to rehabilitation.

John Cena and Awkwafina<span class="copyright">Courtesy of Amazon MGM Studios</span>
John Cena and AwkwafinaCourtesy of Amazon MGM Studios

The new Prime Video action comedy from Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy) has a high-concept premise: A contest in Los Angeles called the Grand Lottery allows competitors a day to hunt and kill the newest lottery winner to take the multi-billion-dollar winnings for themselves. In this case, Awkwafina plays jackpot winner Kate, with John Cena as her loyal amateur jackpot protector and Simu Liu as a rival protector with his own hopes to nab the commission.

In Zoe Kravitz’s directorial debut, Naomi Ackie stars as Frida, a cocktail waitress who travels with a tech mogul named Slater King (Channing Tatum) to his private island. Based on its trailer, Blink Twice is a comedy-thriller reminiscent of the Knives Out movies, with an ensemble of quirky characters played by the likes of Christian Slater, Simon Rex, Kyle MacLachlan, Haley Joel Osment, and Alia Shawkat.

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