By Kevin Slane
After a 2020 summer movie season that was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic and a 2021 summer movie season that saw its share of delays, the 2022 summer movie calendar is packed with long-awaited and oft-delayed projects.
Movies like “Top Gun: Maverick” and “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” which were moved from 2020 to 2021 to 2022, will finally see the light of day. And studios like Disney can finally release their full slate in theaters after two years of shifting half of their movies directly to Disney Plus.
The question remains whether audiences will return to movie theaters at pre-pandemic levels. While blockbusters like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” have raked in the cash, non-superhero fare may find it tougher to find an audience conditioned to expect new releases to debut on a streaming platform within a month or two of their theatrical releases.
Here is your official 2022 summer movie preview, featuring the biggest releases — both theatrical and on streaming platforms like Netflix — coming out from now through Labor Day.
Multiverse mania at Marvel continues, as Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, “Sherlock”) casts a spell that opens a portal to multiple universes. As a demon chases Strange from universe to universe, the doctor searches for who is responsible, and comes across a familiar face. A tip for non-Marvel completists: You can get away with having not seen every single title before seeing “Doctor Strange 2,” but you should probably catch up on the Disney Plus series “Wandavision” before heading to theaters. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” casts into theaters May 6.
Fans of the long-running British drama will be queueing up this May for “A New Era,” which is a sequel to the 2019 film “Downton Abbey.” In this iteration, much of the original show’s cast heads to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the newly inherited villa of the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith). “Downton Abbey: A New Era” rides into theaters May 20.
After appearances in our 2020 summer movie preview and 2021 summer movie preview, “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” makes its (hopefully) last appearance in our 2022 summer movie preview, heading to the big screen after 12 seasons on Fox. When a ruptured water main creates an enormous sinkhole right in front of Bob’s Burgers, the restaurant’s hope of a successful summer is in danger. While Bob (Worcester native H. Jon Benjamin) and Linda (John Roberts) work to keep the restaurant in business, it’s up to the kids — Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Lexington native Eugene Mirman), and Louise (Kristen Schaal) — to unravel a mystery that could help save the restaurant. “Bob’s Burgers: The Movie” flips into theaters May 27.
Another film that’s appearing for a third (and hopefully final) time in our 2022 summer movie preview: More than 35 years after the original film, Tom Cruise is back as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, still pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and intentionally sabotaging any promotion that would take him out of the sky. Maverick soon finds himself training a generation of new recruits for a dangerous mission, including “Rooster” (Miles Teller, “Whiplash”), the son of Maverick’s late best friend Nick “Goose” Bradshaw. The cast includes Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”), Ed Harris (“The Rock”), Worcester native Jean Louisa Kelly (Uncle Buck”), and returning star Val Kilmer (“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”), “Top Gun: Maverick” flies into theaters May 27.
The first of several Netflix originals to appear in our 2022 summer movie preview is this Adam Sandler feel-good sports film. After discovering a generational basketball player abroad with a checkered past, a washed-up NBA scout (Adam Sandler) takes it upon himself to bring the phenom to America, hoping to invigorate both of their careers in the process. Aside from starring longtime New Hampshire resident Sandler, “Hustle” also features Queen Latifah (“Last Holiday”), Robert Duvall (“The Godfather”), and Boston native Ben Foster (“Hell or High Water”). “Hustle” debuts on Netflix on June 10.
Two generations of “Jurassic Park” stars unite in “Dominion,” with stars of the 1993 original (Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum) joining the new era (Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard) in a world overrun by dinosaurs. Since the destruction of Isla Nublar four years ago, dinosaurs now share the entire world with humans, living and hunting side by side in an uneasy balance. Will humans remain the apex predators of Earth, or will dinosaurs reign supreme? Find out when “Jurassic Park Dominion” roars into theaters June 10.
Chris Evans joins to “Toy Story” universe (sort of) in “Lightyear,” a Disney film in which the Sudbury native plays the space ranger that the toy central to the Pixar franchise was based on. When Buzz heads to space on a quick, four-minute mission, he somehow returns to Earth almost 63 years later, finding a ravaged planet in need of a hero to defeat Emperor Zurg. Co-starring Keke Palmer (“Hustlers”), Taika Waititi (“Free Guy”), and Boston native Uzo Aduba (“Orange Is the New Black”), “Lightyear” buzzes into theaters June 17.
The King gets the biopic treatment, as director Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge!”) explores the life of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler, “Once Upon A Time … In Hollywood”) and his complicated relationship longtime manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). Co-starring Olivia DeJonge (“The Visit”) as Priscilla Presley, “Elvis” enters the building June 24.
In case you missed its local debut at IFF Boston this week, Milton native Jenny Slate and ex-husband filmmaker Dean Fleischer-Camp’s “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” will be back in area theaters for a wide release next month. Based on the the stop-motion short films the pair created years ago, Marcel (voiced by Slate) is a tiny shell who lives at home with its nana and its best friend, a piece of lint. When Marcel’s quest to find its family goes viral, the shell’s life is irrevocably changed. “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” washes into theaters June 24.
Acton native Steve Carell (“The Office”) has officially become second banana in his own franchise, with Illumination retitling the “Despicable Me” franchise to focus on the real stars of the movies, the yellow, gibberish-spewing minions. “Rise of Gru” tells the story of a teenaged Gru (Carell) as he dreams of becoming a super-villain in a world already filled with adult villains who don’t think much of him. Co-starring Taraji P. Henson (“Hidden Figures”) and Michelle Yeoh (“Crazy Rich Asians”), “Minions: The Rise of Gru” lands in theaters July 1.
Like a good ’80s cop film, “Thor: Love and Thunder” begins with titular god (Chris Hemsworth) taking a break from superhero work and trying to find inner peace. That plan is foiled by Goor the God Butcher (Christian Bale), a galaxy-traveling villain on a quest to exterminate the gods. Co-starring Tessa Thompson (“Creed”), Taika Waititi (“Free Guy”), and Harvard grad Natalie Portman (“Jackie”), “Thor: Love and Thunder” strikes theaters July 8.
Ryan Gosling (“La La Land”) and Chris Evans joins forces in this Netflix action title, which has made waves as the most expensive film ever produced by the streaming giant. When the CIA’s most skilled mercenary (Gosling) — whose true identity is known to none — accidentally uncovers dark agency secrets, a psychopathic former colleague (Evans) puts a bounty on his head, setting off a global manhunt by international assassins. Co-starring Ana de Armas (“Knives Out”), Billy Bob Thornton (“Bad Santa”), Alfre Woodard (“Scrooged”), and Regé-Jean Page (“Bridgerton”), “The Gray Man” will have a limited run in theaters July 15 before it lands on Netflix July 22.
Horror maestro Jordan Peele (“Get Out,” “Us”) returns with his third film this summer in “Nope,” re-teaming the “Key & Peele” funnyman with “Get Out” star Daniel Kaluuya. Like his previous two films, details about “Nope” are scarce: All that’s known so far is that Kaluuya, Keke Palmer (“Hustlers”), and Steven Yeun (“Minari”) play residents of a remote gulch in inland California who “bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery.” “Nope” creeps into theaters July 22.
Following “Nope,” moviegoers will be treated to a second straight weekend in which the biggest studio movie isn’t based on an existing story or IP, a rarity in our 2022 summer movie preview. “Bullet Train” stars Brad Pitt as one of several assassins who all have their own conflicting agendas aboard a fast-moving bullet train in Japan. Directed by David Leitch (“Deadpool 2”) and co-starring Sandra Bullock (“Speed”), Lady Gaga (“House of Gucci”), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals), Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta”), and Michael Shannon (“Knives Out”), “Bullet Train” whizzes into theaters July 29.
Along with an upcoming cameo this summer as Reed Richards of “Fantastic Four” fame, Newton native John Krasinski will have his animated superhero debut in “DC League of Super Pets,” playing none other than Superman. Krypto the Super-Dog (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and Superman are best friends who fight crime side by side in Metropolis. When Superman is kidnapped, Krypto must lead the pack to help rescue his master. With a deep voice cast that includes Kevin Hart (“Central Intelligence”), Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”), and Natasha Lyonne (“Russian Doll”), “DC League of Super Pets” flies into theaters July 29.
Speaking of Newton natives, B.J. Novak, Krasinski’s Newton North High School pal and co-star of “The Office,” makes his big screen directorial debut with “Vengeance,” a twist-filled horror-thriller. Novak plays a New York City radio host attempting to solve the murder of his girlfriend. His journey leads him south, where strange and terrifying happenings are afoot. Co-starring Issa Rae (“Insecure”) and Ashton Kutcher (“That 70s Show”), “Vengeance” stalks into theaters July 29.
In this upcoming comedy from Netflix starring Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg, a stay-at-home dad reunites with his former best friend while his family is out of town for a wild weekend that nearly upends his staid, domestic life. “Me Time” debuts August 26 on Netflix.
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