Summer of 2016 looks to be absolutely packed, as far as blockbuster films are concerned anyways. In fact, it might even feel a bit overwhelming to look down the slate of upcoming movies and realize just how many intriguing titles are coming up within the next three months or so.
Well, fear not, because within this article I have provided you with a guide to the summer's biggest and most anticipated movies, complete with all of the stars, synopses, release dates, directors, and trailers. Consider this your one stop shop for all of your summer moviegoing needs.
This is 2016 Summer Movie Preview.
1. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (MAY 6TH)
Director: Russo Brothers
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr.
Plot Summary: After another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s decision to support government oversight.
Why You Should Be Excited: Marvel Studios and Disney have been on quite the roll lately. So far, Disney has just been owning box offices in 2016 with the likes of Zootopia and The Jungle Book, which have both been massive critical success as well. Not to mention, this third installment of the Captain America saga also features many of our favorite Avengers – Iron Man, Black Widow, Ant-Man, Vision, War Machine, Hawkeye, Falcon, Scarlet Witch – as well as some fan favorite newcomers, Spider-Man and Black Panther.
2. MONEY MONSTER (MAY 13TH)
Director: Jodie Foster
Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell, Giancarlo Esposito
Plot Summary: After losing money on a stock tip, a disgruntled investor holds a Wall Street guru and a producer hostage on live television.
Why You Should Be Excited: Jodie Foster's fourth directorial feature looks to be an interesting story with a solid cast. The trailer definitely paints an intense picture, and not to mention, there is really nothing opening up against Money Monster when it debuts. While Foster's first three pictures would probably fall in the "good, not great" category, here's to hoping that the fourth time is the charm.
3. NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING (MAY 20TH)
Director: Nicolas Stoller
Starring: Seth Rogan, Zach Effron, Chloë Grace Moretz
Plot Summary: Now that Mac and Kelly Radner have a second baby on the way, they are ready to make the final move into adulthood: the suburbs. But just as they thought they’d reclaimed the neighborhood and were safe to sell, they learn that the new occupants next door are a sorority even more out of control than Teddy and his brothers ever dreamed of being.
Why You Should Be Excited: Firstly, if you have yet to see the predecessor to this upcoming comedy (Neighbors) do your self a favor and check it out. The followup to this hilarious romp looks to deliver just as many laughs, and even more star power with Selena Gomez and Chloë Grace Moretz. Additionally, this film has already received stellar reviews from Guy Lodge at Variety, Alonso Duralde over at The Wrap, and Terri Schwartz for IGN.
4. THE NICE GUYS (MAY 20TH)
Director: Shane Black
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling
Plot Summary: Down-on-his-luck private eye Holland March and hired enforcer Jackson Healy must work together to solve the case of a missing girl and the seemingly unrelated death of a porn star in 1970s Los Angeles. During their investigation, they uncover a shocking conspiracy that reaches up to the highest circles of power.
Why You Should Be Excited: Shane Black has been the mastermind behind some of the best and most influential action/crime mystery screenplays of the past couple of decades – the Lethal Weapon series and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He has proven himself as a more than capable director with the aforementioned Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, as well as with the somewhat controversial Iron Man 3. The team up of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling is looking to be the greatest duo that we never new we wanted before in arguably, this year's best trailer.
5. X-MEN: APOCALYPSE (MAY 27TH)
Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Oscar Issac, Jennifer Lawrence
Plot Summary: Upon awakening after thousands of years, Apocalypse – the first and most powerful mutant – is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of mutants to cleanse humankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign. It’s up to the X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save humanity from complete destruction.
Why You Should Be Excited: Bryan Singer has simply yet to make a bad X-Men film – X-Men, X2: X-Men United, and X-Men: Days of Future Past – and there is no reason to believe he is going to stop now. The cast is phenomenal, Singer is on fire, and oh year, Wolverine is back! Sure, the trailers have not been fantastic, but at this point, the actors in these iconic roles, and the team behind the camera have done more than enough to earn our trust.
6. ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (MAY 27TH)
Director: James Bobin
Starring: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mia Wasikowska
Plot Summary: Alice returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter. We are also introduced to several new characters, including: Zanik Hightopp, the Mad Hatter’s father and Time himself, a peculiar creature who is part human, part clock.
Why You Should Be Excited: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland has become quite the divisive little piece over the years, but that did not stop it from making over a billion dollars at the box office. As one of the film's defenders, I may be a little biased, but with James Bobin at the helm (The Muppets (2011), The Muppets: Most Wanted), we might get the change of direction that this franchise needs in order to stay fresh and continue its success.
7. POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING (JUNE 3RD)
Director: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Starring: Andy Samberg, Imogen Poots, Maya Rudolph, Sarah Silverman
Plot Summary: When his new album fails to sell records, pop/rap superstar "Conner4Real" goes into a major tailspin and watches his celebrity high life begin to collapse. He'll try anything to bounce back, anything except reuniting with his old rap group "The Style Boyz."
Why You Should Be Excited: Personally, I had the chance to catch an early screening for this film and I have to say that it was certainly a pleasant surprise. As a sort of 'mockumentary' in the style of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, this film, as constructed by the minds behind Hot Rod, delivers laughs early and often.
8. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (JUNE 3RD)
Director: David Green
Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett
Plot Summary: After super villain Shredder escapes custody, he joins forces with mad scientist Baxter Stockman and two dimwitted henchmen, Bebop and Rocksteady, to unleash a diabolical plan to take over the world. As the Turtles prepare to take on Shredder and his new crew, they find themselves facing an even greater evil with similar intentions: the notorious Krang.
Why You Should Be Excited: As a mega fan of TMNT myself, even I have to admit to 2014's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot being a giant mess. Having said that, I still have some hope for the film's successor. While it appears to be a bit of a CGI orgy in a Transformers-like style, we have already seen plenty of fan service within the movie's two trailers. Krang, Dr. Baxter Stockman, Casey Jones, Bebop, and Rocksteady, along with The Foot, in addition to the Shredder checks off just about every fan favorite character aside from the turtles, Splinter, and April O'Neil. And they all are making appearances in this film! Here's hoping that Out of the Shadows is a fun popcorn flick, rather than a disgraced turd smeared all over the original source material.
9. THE CONJURING 2 (JUNE 10TH)
Director: James Wan
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson
Plot Summary: Director James Wan brings this supernatural thriller to the screen with another real case from the files of renowned demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren – who, in one of their most terrifying paranormal investigations, travel to north London to help a single mother raising four children alone in a house plagued by malicious spirits.
Why You Should Be Excited: James Wan is an absolutely visionary director, and he has a handle on this material. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are a formidable team with great chemistry, and the original Conjuring film is hailed by many as a modern horror classic. So yeah, this is basically a must see.
10. NOW YOU SEE ME 2 (JUNE 10TH)
Director: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Daniel Radcliffe
Plot Summary: The illusionists known as the Four Horsemen must perform an unprecedented stunt to clear their names and expose the unethical practices of a tech magnate.
Why You Should Be Excited: Now You See Me (2013) may have been a critically panned film, but the summer is a perfect time for this sort of whimsical premise. The addition of Daniel Radcliffe certainly has me excited, and while this film does not necessarily scream "must see," I think it could certainly be an entertaining, potentially pretty fun time at the cinema.
11. WARCRAFT (JUNE 10TH)
Director: Duncan Jones
Starring: Toby Kebbel, Travis Fimmel
Plot Summary: The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: Orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people and their home.
Why You Should Be Excited: So, video game adaptations on film have not been all that successful thus far, but perhaps Warcraft can change all that. At least, that is the conversation these days. Whether or not this movie ushers in a new era of cinema is perhaps a different conversation for a different day, but Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) is helming this project and he is a filmmaker that should be certainly be taken seriously at this point. Additionally, many of the people working on this film, both on-screen and off, are huge fans of the source material and are treating it with respect.
12. FINDING DORY (JUNE 17TH)
Director: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Ellen Degeneres, Albert Brooks, Idris Elba
Plot Summary: Dory goes with her friends Nemo and Marlin on a search for answers about her past. What can she remember? Who are her parents? And where did she learn to speak Whale?
Why You Should Be Excited: Disney/Pixar is making it. Finding Nemo was great. You have a soul. Pick a reason.
13. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (JUNE 17TH)
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Aaron Paul
Plot Summary: The story follows a one-time bullied geek who grew up to be a lethal CIA agent, coming home for his high school reunion. Claiming to be on a top-secret case, he enlists the help of the former “big man on campus,” now an accountant who misses his glory days. But before the staid numbers-cruncher realizes what he’s getting into, it’s too late to get out.
Why You Should Be Excited: With word on the street claiming that Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart are slated to co-star in 2017's Jumanji reboot, it would appear as though their team up in Central Intelligence is already a perceived hit. At least, it would certainly appear that way from this hilarious trailers.
14. INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (JUNE 24TH)
Director: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldbloom
Plot Summary: We always knew they were coming back. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force.
Why You Should Be Excited: Honestly, I am not that excited for this movie. Roland Emmerich may have directed the first Independence Day, but he has since gone on to make Godzilla (1998), The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and 10,000 B.C. Still, I figured that a lot of people have been diggin' the trailer so I'm throwing it on here.
15. FREE STATE OF JONES (JUNE 24TH)
Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Keri Russell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Plot Summary: Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Southern farmer Newt Knight launches an uprising that leads Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones.
Why You Should Be Excited: Now on to the other "Civil War" movie. This may be an odd time period to release Free State of Jones, considering how it appears to be a film primed for Oscar consideration, but either way, it looks like it could potentially be refreshing counter programming in contrast to some of the run-of-the-mill popcorn flicks we generally find during the summer months.
16. THE SHALLOWS (JUNE 29TH)
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Blake Lively
Plot Summary: When Nancy is attacked by a great white shark while surfing alone, she is stranded just a short distance from shore. Though she is only 200 yards from her survival, getting there proves the ultimate contest of wills.
Why You Should Be Excited: I am not going to overzealously hail this film as "Jaws for a new generation," but it does seem like an intense survival tale based on a fairly interesting premise. Perhaps not a perceived Oscar contender, but much like Free State of Jones, The Shallows could provide us with a nice change of pace this summer.
17. THE BFG (JULY 1ST)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader, Mark Rylance
Plot Summary: A young girl named Sophie is whisked away one night by the Big Friendly Giant or BFG, a giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. However, when Sophie’s presence in Giant Country attracts the unwanted attention of other blood-thirsty giants, she and the BFG come up with a plan to make Giant Country (and the world) safe once and for all.
Why You Should Be Excited: It may be a bit cliché at this point to call Steven Spielberg the greatest director of our generation, but that does not make it any less true. Anything that Spielberg sticks his name one (at least as a director) should be an opening night, "must see" for any film fan. The BFG is no exception.
18. THE LEGEND OF TARZAN (JULY 1ST)
Director: David Yates
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson
Plot Summary: Many years after he left Africa behind, Tarzan returns to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary, unaware that he is actually a pawn in a Belgian captain's deadly plot.
Why You Should Be Excited: If you would allow me, once again, to express myself honestly, I am not sure what to make of this film either. This movie certainly has its share of pros – a great cast, an intriguing story, and David Yates at the helm – but it also has a concerning number of cons – it is releasing on the same day as Spielberg's The BFG, the trailers are fairly unimpressive thus far, Warner Bros. appears to be backing off on marketing for the film, and the studio has recently crapped the bed with their most recent fairy tale adaptation in 2015's Pan.
19. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (JULY 8TH)
Director: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney
Starring: Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Albert Brooks
Plot Summary: Taking place in a Manhattan apartment building, Max's life as a favorite pet is turned upside down, when his owner brings home a sloppy mongrel named Duke. They have to put their quarrels behind when they find out that an adorable white bunny named Snowball is building an army of abandoned pets determined to take revenge on all happy-owned pets and their owners.
Why You Should Be Excited: The minds behind Despicable Me are back to deliver another animated adventure with a loaded cast. The trailers deliver some laughs, and the premise sounds like the beginning of a fun, family-friendly franchise.
20. GHOSTBUSTERS (JULY 15TH)
Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Mellissa McCarthy, Kristen Wig, Chris Hemsworth
Plot Summary: Thirty years after the beloved original Ghostbusters franchise took the world by storm, director Paul Feig brings his fresh take to the supernatural comedy, joined by some of the funniest actors working today. This summer, they’re here to save the world!
Why You Should Be Excited: Like many of you, I have not been super impressed by the film's trailers thus far, but I will say this: the trailers for a majority of Paul Feig's films have been poorly received and yet he has managed to deliver numerous times (The Heat, Spy, Bridesmaids). Fingers crossed that this is once again the case.
21. THE INFILTRATOR (JULY 15TH)
Director: Brad Furman
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Diane Kruger
Plot Summary: U.S. Customs agent Robert Mazur works under cover to infiltrate Colombian drug cartels in the 1980s.
Why You Should Be Excited: Ever since the hit AMC serial Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston has amassed enough star power to draw audiences in to all of his big budget endeavors on the silver screen. The team up between Cranston and Lincoln Lawyer director, Brad Furman, seems appealing enough, and the true story on which this film is based is incredibly intriguing.
22. LIGHTS OUT (JULY 22ND)
Director: David F. Sandberg
Starring: Teresa Palmer, Alicia Vela-Bailey
Plot Summary: A woman is haunted by a creature that only appears when the lights go out. A feature adaptation of the 2013 short film, "Lights Out" by David Sandberg.
Why You Should Be Excited: The viral short film, Lights Out, was an absolutely suspenseful watch from beginning to end, and if a feature length movie can capture that essence, it should be an absolutely terrifying time at the theater.
23. STAR TREK BEYOND (JULY 22ND)
Director: Justin Lin
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Idris Elba
Plot Summary: The U.S.S. Enterprise is only part-way through its five year mission into uncharted territory when it’s nearly destroyed in a battle – leaving its crew stranded on a hostile alien planet. Captain James Kirk, Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew struggle to reunite and make their way back home safely.
Why You Should Be Excited: Justin Lin knows how to elevate a franchise. He has been the director for arguably the best Fast and the Furious films (Fast Five, Fast and the Furious 6), and has really served to revive the series. Also, I am not sure why there is so much hate for the film's trailer. Does no one like the Beastie Boys?
24. JASON BOURNE (JULY 29TH)
Director: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon
Plot Summary: In the next chapter of the Bourne franchise, the CIA’s most lethal former operative is drawn out of the shadows after having lived off the grid since the events of The Bourne Ultimatum. Jason Bourne soon learns the truth about his past, even as the U.S. government attempts to hunt him down.
Why You Should Be Excited: The same cast and crew behind the original Bourne trilogy are back, and with that news, so am I. Also, the trailer is really, really good.
25. SUICIDE SQUAD (AUGUST 5TH)
Director: David Ayers
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto
Plot Summary: U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller assembles a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provides them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. Will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself?
Why You Should Be Excited: During a period of time when superhero films are coming out every month or so it seems, Suicide Squad appears to be offering us something truly unique within the genre. Jared Leto appears to be absolutely nuts, Margot Robbie is always a welcome sight, and even Jai Courtney looks not just passable, but actually hilariously charming. Also, Batman.
26. THE FOUNDER (AUGUST 5TH)
Director: John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, The Alamo, Saving Mr. Banks)
Starring: Michael Kaeton
Plot Summary: 1950s milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc becomes America’s most successful fast food entrepreneur, after he transforms a small chain of fast-food restaurants into the multibillion dollar McDonald’s Corp.
Why You Should Be Excited: Ever since Keaton's resurgence in 2015 and 2016's Best Picture winners, Birdman and Spotlight respectively, I am going to be among the first in line in to see whatever he is in. This is certainly no exception.
27. PETE’S DRAGON (AUGUST 12TH)
Director: David Lowery
Starring: Karl Urban, Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford
Plot Summary: Pete is a mysterious 10-year-old with no family and no home who claims to live in the woods with a giant, green dragon named Elliott. With the help of Natalie, an 11-year-old girl whose father Jack owns the local lumber mill, forest ranger Grace sets out to determine where Pete came from, where he belongs, and the truth about this dragon.
Why You Should Be Excited: Disney has already signed David Lowery to direct their live-action Peter Pan in addition to Pete's Dragon. Obviously they like what they see, and if they trust him, then I am inclined to as well.
28. SAUSAGE PARTY (AUGUST 12)
Director: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon
Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogan, Paul Rudd, Kristen Wieg, Selma Hayek, Bill Hader, Edward Norton
Plot Summary: When Frank the sausage learns that he will eventually become a meal, he tries to warn his supermarket pals about their similar fate.
Why You Should Be Excited: The filmmakers behind Shrek 2, Monsters vs. Aliens, and the Thomas & Friends series come an idea so crazy that it just may work. Sure, the premise is absolutely ridiculous, but the trailer is really freakin funny.
29. KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS (AUGUST 19TH)
Director: Travis Knight (first time)
Starring: Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Matthew McConaughey, George Takei
Plot Summary: Clever, kindhearted Kubo ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town. But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past. Now on the run, Kubo sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known.
Why You Should Be Excited: The animation is absolutely beautiful. The story appears to be refreshingly unique. The cast is stacked, and I have basically been hooked since the trailer ran in front of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. This is one of my most anticipated films, not only of the summer, but of the entire year. I could not be more on board.
30. WAR DOGS (AUGUST 19TH)
Director: Todd Phillips
Starring: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller
Plot Summary: The unbelievable true story of arms dealers Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, who supplied weapons for U.S. allies in Afghanistan.
Why You Should Be Excited: At the very least, this is one of the more intriguing movies slated for release this summer. The combination between Jonah Hill and Miles Teller is not one that I could have predicted, but I very much enjoyed the trailer. Much like The Founder and Free State of Jones, this feels like an odd picture for a studio to drop during the summer, but nonetheless, I am looking forward to it. Sure, Todd Phillips was the filmmaker behind Hangover Part II, but he also directed Hangover, Starsky & Hutch (2004), School for Scoundrels, Due Date, and Old School.
Honorable Mentions: So, even with 30 entries on this list, I could not squeeze all of the summer's most anticipated films into this one article. Still, they are deserving of a mention, so here are a few more titles that just missed the list, but are still worth getting excited about: Angry Birds (May 20), Swiss Army Man (June 17), Bad Moms (June 29), Ben Hur (Aug. 12), and Southside With You (Aug. 19).
Which movies are you all excited to see? What film's do you think will be hits, and which will be misses? Do we potentially have a 'Jurassic World' in our midst? Make sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.