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The Most Anticipated Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Movies of Summer 2023
Atomic bombs, fast cars, dream houses, and so much more!
"For a movie fan and a moviegoer, this is gonna be a great summer," proclaims Paul Dergarabedian.
Speaking to SYFY WIRE over the phone, the Media Analyst at Comscore exudes infectious optimism for the 2023 blockbuster season, which is currently shaping up to deliver the best box office numbers since the pandemic began three years ago. Theaters are on the mend with summer ticket sales steadily increasing to just over $3 billion in 2022 .
"Last year, we had 22 wide release summer films and this year, we’re gonna have 42," Dergarabedian adds. "I don't want to go too far out on a limb, but $4 billion does seem within the realm of possibility, given the depth and breadth of potential wide release blockbusters as well as some sleeper hits that could be in the mix."
RELATED: 'Across the Spider-Verse,' 'Fast X' and more top Fandango's most-anticipated summer movies list
There's a little something for everyone among those 42 titles: fast cars, lewd canines, atomic bombs, dream houses, haunted mansions, dials of destiny, spider-themed superheroes, kraken queens, impossible missions, and an unhinged Nicolas Cage. In particular, Dergarabedian is very much looking forward to July 21, aka "the Barbie-Oppenheimer weekend."
"That’s emblematic of how strong the industry is right now to have two movies perfectly counter-programmed," he says. "Both could do well, albeit with different trajectories and different audiences. But I think that just spells normalcy for the industry, and that’s a good thing."
"Without a doubt this is one of the most exciting summer movie slates we’ve had in years," echoes Erik Davis, Managing Editor at Fandango. "Not only is there truly something for everyone, but we’ll also see the return of major franchises and fresh takes on classic characters. When we surveyed over 6,000 Fandango ticket buyers, 89 percent said they were more excited about this summer’s lineup than in previous years, and over 80 percent will see more than three films in theaters over the course of the season. That’s just a testament to both the love of the theatrical experience, as well as a very strong slate of releases heading our way. It’s the perfect time to head back to the movie theater!"
Head below for the genre movies we can't wait to see this summer.
Hypnotic (May 12)
Minority Report meets Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism. For real, though: where are our Molly Moon fans at? After playing around in the Star Wars sandbox with The Book of Boba Fett, director Robert Rodriguez returns to the world of feature filmmaking with this mind-bending thriller, in which an Austin detective (played by Ben Affleck) begins to seriously question his reality.
Fast X (May 19)
The penultimate chapter in the high-octane Fast Saga pits the ever-growing Toretto family against franchise newcomer Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa), a ruthless baddie whose motivations stem all the way back to the events of Fast Five. The Transporter alumnus Louis Leterrier directed the fast-paced blockbuster, which boasts an insanely stacked cast of Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Jordana Brewster, John Cena, Nathalie Emmanuel, Sung Kang, Daniela Melchior, Tyrese Gibson, Brie Larson, Alan Ritchson, Rita Moreno, Leo Abelo Perry, Helen Mirren, and Scott Eastwood.
The Little Mermaid (May 26)
The 1989 classic that saved Walt Disney Animation from utter ruination comes to the world of live-action under the captaincy of Mouse House veteran, Rob Marshall (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Mary Poppins Returns). Grown-ish star Halle Bailey leads the maritime adventure as Ariel, a young mermaid longing to join the world of humanity. Her father, King Triton (Javier Bardem) completely detests the two-legged denizens of the surface world, prompting our heroine to strike a questionable deal with the tentacled sea-witch known as Ursula (Melissa McCarthy).
The Wrath of Becky (May 26)
When theaters across the globe shut down amidst the COVID-19 pandemic three years ago, Becky managed to rise above the devastating box office decline with a surprising haul of just over $1 million (most of it coming from drive-in screenings). The ultra-violent twist on the Home Alone format was brutal and strange and exactly what audiences needed in such uncertain times. Wrath adds a dash of John Wick to the proceedings as Becky (Lulu Wilson) once again mows through a collection of fascist dick-bags who have taken her dog captive.
The Boogeyman (June 1)
A feature-length adaptation of the Stephen King short story of the same name, The Boogeyman is being touted as one of the scariest movies in recent memory. According to director Rob Savage, the film had to be re-edited because test audiences were so terrified, that they were missing important plot information. Chris Messina (Birds of Prey) stars as a grieving therapist trying to protect his two daughters from a relentless supernatural entity.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (June 2)
Miles Morales finally returns to the big screen in Sony's long-awaited sequel to the eye-popping, heart-wrenching, groundbreaking, and, of course, Oscar-winning Into the Spider-Verse. After reuniting with Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Miles (Shameik Moore) discovers an entire team of Spider-People from across the webbed multiverse. Things get rather heated when the teenage superhero from Brooklyn disagrees with the collective on how to handle an emerging threat.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (June 9)
Rise of the Beasts turns the clock back to 1994 for a globe-trotting adventure that unites the Autobots and Maximals for an epic battle against Unicron (essentially the Galactus of the Transformers universe). The cast includes: Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Luna Lauren Velez, Dean Scott Vazquez, Tobe Nwigwe, Peter Cullen, Ron Perlman, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Yeoh, Liza Koshy, John DiMaggio, David Sobolov, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Pete Davidson, Cristo Fernández, and Tongayi Chi. The project marks the third directorial effort from Steven Caple Jr. (Creed II).
Elemental (June 16)
Zootopia and Avatar: The Last Airbender collide in the latest Pixar original from director Peter Sohn (The Good Dinosaur). Set against the backdrop of Element City — where beings of fire, water, air, and earth live together — the animated outing tells the story of Ember (Leah Lewis) and Wade (Mamoudou Athie), a pair of star-crossed lovers hailing from two vastly different communities.
The Flash (June 16)
The DC Extended Universe is dead! Long live the DC Universe! Following years of development turmoil and more than a few public scandals concerning its central star, The Flash will effectively wipe Warner Bros.' superhero slate clean and usher in a brand-new era of storytelling carefully guided by new DC studio co-chiefs, James Gunn and Peter Safran. Ezra Miller returns to the role of Barry Allen, who uses his super-speed to travel back in time to prevent his mother's untimely death. Things, of course, go horribly wrong as the multiverse splinters apart and gives Man of Steel's General Zod (Michael Shannon) another crack at conquering the Earth. If he wants any hope of rectifying his mistake, Barry must join forces with an alternate version of himself, Supergirl (Sasha Calle), and Michael Keaton's Batman.
The Blackening (June 16)
Directed by Tim Story (Taxi, Fantastic Four), The Blackening seeks to lampoon that old horror trope of the Black character being the first to die. Tracy Oliver (Girls Trip) and Dewayne Perkins (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) wrote the screenplay, which centers around a group of friends hoping to celebrate Juneteenth at a remote cabin in the woods. What begins as a relaxing getaway turns into a hilarious fight for survival as the group is stalked by a remorseless killer.
Asteroid City (June 23)
Wes Anderson applies his ever-charming brand of cinematic quirk to the awe-inspiring wonder of Spielbergian sci-fi in what looks to be an absolutely delightful throwback to America's Cold War obsession with outer space and UFOs. Like Oppenheimer (more on that below), Asteroid City is packed to the gills with an insane amount of acting talent: Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Stephen Park, Rupert Friend, Maya Hawke, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, Margot Robbie, Tony Revolori, Jake Ryan, and Jeff Goldblum.
Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken (June 23)
Ruby Gillman (Lana Condor) is just your average 16-year-old, desperate to fit in at Oceanside High and gain the affections of her skater-boy crush (Jaboukie Young-White). Ruby's attempts to fit in with the other teens are stymied at every turn by her overprotective mother (Toni Collette), who forbids the girl from hanging out at the beach and swimming in the water. That's because Ruby is secretly the latest descendant in a long line of Kraken queens tasked with protecting the high seas from their sworn enemies: mermaids. Jane Fonda, Colman Domingo, Sam Richardson, and Blue Chapman are also part of the voice cast.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (June 30)
Harrison Ford dons the whip, fedora, and leather jacket for one last race to an ancient artifact of incredible power. Now on the verge of academic retirement and something of an outdated relic himself, Professor Henry Jones Jr. joins up with his goddaughter, Helena, (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) for an adventure involving a dial capable of changing the very course of history. And in true Indy fashion, the celebrated professor of archaeology finds himself at odds with a band of — what else? — Nazis! These "former" members of the Third Reich were recruited by the U.S. government as part of Operation Paperclip, but their leader, Nazi turned NASA scientist Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), harbors a secret ambition to reshape the world by obtaining the Dial and using it to correct Hitler's mistakes.
Insidious: The Red Door (July 7)
Patrick Wilson makes his directorial debut with the fifth entry in the hit horror franchise originally launched by Saw masterminds: James Wan and Leigh Whannell. Penned by Scott Teems (Halloween Kills, Firestarter), The Red Door finds Josh Lambert (Wilson) delving into the terrifying secrets of The Further with his son, Dalton (Ty Simpkins). Rose Byrne and Andrew Astor return to play their roles from the first two installments, while Sinclair Daniel and Hiam Abbass tackle brand-new characters.
Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (July 12)
The next chapter in the saga of the Impossible Mission Force was so big, that writer-director Christopher McQuarrie had to split it into two parts. Once again, McQuarrie (the only director in the franchise to helm more than a single installment) shows his reverence for previous outings by reuniting Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt with the likes of Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny) and even William Donloe (Rolf Saxon) — a pair of characters that haven't been seen since the 1996 original. While plot details are still tightly under wraps, the trailer does imply a heated battle for a new kind of technology that allows the user to shape the truth to their will. Part Two follows next June.
Oppenheimer (July 21)
Longtime Christopher Nolan collaborator Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Inception) steps into the shoes of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the gifted scientist who gave the world the terrible power of the first atomic bomb, and all the ills that came with it.
Rumored to clock in at a whopping three hours, Oppenheimer features a cast on par with that of Asteroid City: Emily Blunt (Katherine "Kitty" Oppenheimer), Robert Downey Jr. (Lewis Strauss), Florence Pugh (Jean Tatlock), Josh Hartnett (Ernest Lawrence), Michael Angarano (Robert Serber), Kenneth Branagh, Rami Malek, Alden Ehrenreich, David Dastmalchian, Dane DeHaan, Jack Quaid, Matthew Modine, Dylan Arnold, and David Krumholtz.
Barbie (July 21)
Come on, Barbie, let's go party! Directed and co-written by Greta Gerwig, the film stars Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Suicide Squad) as most famous doll in the history of American consumerism, who decides to leave her utopian existence for a trip to the real world alongside Ken (a hunkier-than-usual Ryan Gosling). America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Michael Cera, Ariana Greenblatt, Issa Rae, Rhea Perlman, Will Ferrell, Ana Cruz Kayne, Emma Mackey, Hari Nef, Alexandra Shipp, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Simu Liu, Ncuti Gatwa, Scott Evans, Jamie Demetriou, Connor Swindells, Sharon Rooney, Nicola Coughlan, Ritu Arya, Dua Lipa, and Helen Mirren co-star.
Cobweb (July 21)
Written by Chris Thomas Devlin (scribe behind last year's Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot on Netflix), Cobweb tells the story of Peter (Woody Norman), an 8-year-old boy who begins to hear a strange tapping noise emanating from within his bedroom wall. His parents — played by Fatal Attraction's Lizzy Caplan and The Boys' Antony Starr — believe the sounds to be a figment of the child's imagination, but what if they're actually hiding a terrible secret?
Sympathy for the Devil (July 28)
Based on the first look photo alone, Renfield's Nicolas Cage presumably goes full Nicolas Cage in this cat-and-mouse thriller from director Yuval Adler (The Secrets We Keep). The plot synopsis gives us heavy Collateral vibes, promising a tale in which a man (The Suicide Squad's Joel Kinnnaman) is forced to drive a stranger at gunpoint, embarking on a high-stakes journey "where it becomes clear that not everything is at it seems."
Haunted Mansion (July 28)
Beyond Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney has really struggled to turn its popular theme park attractions into billion-dollar film franchises. The studio previously translated The Haunted Mansion ride into a blockbuster film starring Eddie Murphy two decades ago and while the box office returns were promising, no follow-ups were made. This fresh attempt (directed by Bad Hair's Justin Simien) follows a mother and her son as they attempt to rid their home of supernatural squatters. The ghostly romp stars an ensemble cast of LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Chase W. Dillon and Dan Levy, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Jared Leto.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (August 4)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem lives up to its name by featuring actual teenagers as the voices of our favorite sewer-dwelling heroes in a half shell. What's more: it employs an eye-popping animation style (no doubt inspired by Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse)that pairs perfectly with comic book adaptations. The voice cast includes: Micah Abbey, Shamon Brown Jr., Hannibal Buress, Rose Byrne, Nicolas Cantu, John Cena, Jackie Chan, Ice Cube, Natasia Demetriou, Ayo Edebiri, Giancarlo Esposito, Post Malone, Brady Noon, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, and Maya Rudolph.
The Meg 2: The Trench (August 4)
Indie darling Ben Wheatley (High-Rise, In the Earth) makes the jump to the realm of blockbusters with a sequel that clearly amplifies the endearing schlock factor of its 2018 predecessor, which managed to chomp on more than half a billion worldwide. Jason Statham is back to battle the biggest sharks you've ever seen, as well as a few other prehistoric beasties that have been waiting several millennia to emerge from the deepest depths of the ocean and snack on those puny bipeds known as human beings.
Gran Turismo (August 11)
Part video game adaptation and part biopic, Gran Turismo marks director Neill Blomkamp's return to big-budget studio filmmaking (his last mainstream release was 2015's Chappie). The movie tells the true story of Jann Mardenborough (portrayed by Archie Madekwe), a young man who went from gamer to professional race car driver.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter (August 11)
Let's be real: the story of Count Dracula has been done six ways from Sunday. With projects like Renfield and Demeter, however, Universal Pictures wants to explore the more obscure corners of the original Bram Stoker novel. The latter, for instance, takes a single chapter from the celebrated 19th century source material and expands it into a feature-length tale of maritime terror in which a merchant vessel unknowingly transports a bloodsucking fiend from Carpathia to the shores of England.
Strays (Aug. 18)
A long-abused Border Terrier named Reggie (voiced by Will Ferrell) finally snaps and decides to bit off his owner's...er....rod and tackle in this raunchy, R-rated upheaval of the heartwarming pet genre made famous by films like Homeward Bound and Beethoven. Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher, Randall Park, and Brett Gelman lend their pipes to Reggie's fellow canine pals. Will Forte, meanwhile, rounds out the ensemble as Reggie's dirtbag of an owner. Josh Greenbaum (Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar) directed from a script by American Vandal co-creator Dan Perrault.
Blue Beetle (August 18)
The second-to-last holdout of the DC Extended Universe (Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will be the final chapter of the old regime), Blue Beetle was once intended to an HBO Max exclusive before Warner Bros. Discovery decided to give it a wide theatrical rollout. Xolo Maridueña leads the adventure as Jaime Reyes, a college graduate who becomes a reluctant superhero when he comes into possession of a piece of symbiotic alien biotechnology known as the Scarab.
The Equalizer 3 (September 1)
Director Antoine Fuqua's film franchise reboot of the classic '80s television series comes to an end with government killer turned everyday avenger Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) attempting to settle down in Southern Italy. Unfortunately, there isn't much relaxation to be had once it becomes clear that McCall's new friends live in constant fear of local crime bosses. Our hero springs into action, ready to kick all the ass without breaking a sweat. And before you start making any John Wick comparisons, just know that the first Equalizer movie opened a month before Keanu Reeves sought revenge on behalf of his dog. Another fun fact: Dakota Fanning appears in The Equalizer 3, which officially makes the film a mini Man on Fire reunion. Neat!
Want more blockbuster releases in the meantime? Violent Night, Cocaine Bear, Knock at the Cabin, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, and M3GAN are all streaming on Peacock.