F9, new Pixar, and a third Conjuring bring blockbusters back this June

F9, new Pixar, and a third Conjuring bring blockbusters back this June

Clockwise from top left: Zola (Photo: A24), In The Heights (Photo: Warner Bros.), Luca (Image: Disney/Pixar), The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (Photo: Warner Bros.), F9 (Photo: Universal Pictures)
Clockwise from top left: Zola (Photo: A24), In The Heights (Photo: Warner Bros.), Luca (Image: Disney/Pixar), The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (Photo: Warner Bros.), F9 (Photo: Universal Pictures)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

Against all odds, we might get a real summer movie season this year. Hollywood is certainly banking on it. These next four weeks bring some bona fide studio escapism (remember that?) to movie theaters (remember those?). It’s a June of animated adventures, Broadway adaptations, action vehicles for movie stars, and lots and lots of sequels. You know, summer stuff! And if you’re not quite ready to brave the open air of the multiplex, quite a few of these prospective blockbusters will also be available to watch from home. Keep reading to find out what’s coming to a theater and living room near you this June. And before heading out to catch a film on the big screen, check out our updated interview with experts on the risks of going back to the movies.

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2 / 26

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

Theaters everywhere and HBO Max June 4

Following spinoffs for supporting apparitions from the files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the Conjuring franchise arranges another loosely “fact-based” starring vehicle for the real-life paranormal investigators (played, once more, by Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson). This disappointing trilogy capper dramatizes the case of one Arne Johnson, who murdered his landlord and then mounted the defense in court that he was the victim of demonic possession. Sadly, his story does not prove the catalyst for some sort of supernatural courtroom drama. Instead, it inspires more holy-roller sleuthing, hellish visions, and shadowy figures reaching clammy hands out of dark corners—a.k.a. standard Conjuring protocol, only regrettably orchestrated this time by Curse Of La Llorona director Michael Chaves instead of series creator James Wan.

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Spirit Untamed

Spirit Untamed

Spirit Untamed

Theaters everywhere June 4

Animation aficionados may recall Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron, a nature-centric adventure from DreamWorks that underperformed way back in 2002, in part due to its lack of belching green ogres. Now, nearly 20 years later, a follow-up is hitting the big screen… but it’s based on the Netflix TV spinoff Spirit: Riding Free, which follows the adventures of the original horse’s progeny and a trio of plucky young girls. In order to make sure no audience segment is left unconfused, this feature version expands and rewrites the first episode of Spirit: Riding Free rather than continuing the series, with the original voice actors mercilessly recast in favor of celebrities like Isabela Merced and Jake Gyllenhaal. But the horse-girl demo has to take what it can get, and what it can get in this case is a mild if sweet-natured junior-level Western.

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Undine

Undine

Undine

Select theaters, digital platforms, and VOD June 4

Undine (Paula Beer) is an art historian with a strange connection to the water. Still aching from a hard breakup, she rebounds with a diver (Franz Rogowski) unaware of her true nature. Those up on their mythology will anticipate some of the revelations of this new drama from German filmmaker Christian Petzold, whose Barbara, Phoenix, and Transit (the last of which also romantically paired Beer and Rogowski) were among the great movies of last decade. Here, the director chases that winning streak with an unlikely left turn into magical realism, albeit indulged with that signature Petzold economy of style and storytelling.

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5 / 26

The Amusement Park

The Amusement Park

The Amusement Park

Shudder June 8

The late George Romero is revered as the father of the modern zombie movie, but he was capable of commandeering more than just shambling, flesh-eating corpses. Shot in 1973, rediscovered in 2018, and restored last year, this lost work-for-hire effort by the Pittsburgh indie legend is an episodic, impressionistic portrait of a carnival that’s really an oversized metaphor for the indignities of aging in a society that doesn’t value its older citizens. Romero’s widow, Suzanne, called the film “disturbing in its depiction of societal indifference.” The Lutheran Society, which originally commissioned the movie, was so horrified by it that they indefinitely shelved it. The Amusement Park arrives now on Shudder, as posthumous proof that Romero could make skin crawl even when he wasn’t making the dead walk.

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6 / 26

Awake

Awake

Awake

Netflix June 9

Add mass insomnia to the list of maladies dreamt up by our dystopian cinema. Awake, from writer-director Mark Raso (Copenhagen), casts Gina Rodriguez as an ex-soldier who comes to believe that her young daughter may be the key to curing a world suddenly and entirely unable to fall asleep. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Shamier Anderson, Gil Bellows, and Barry Pepper fill out the supporting cast of deliriously and desperately unrested characters. If nothing else, late-night Netflix browsers battling their own chronic lack of shuteye will feel seen.

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Infinite

Infinite

Infinite

Paramount+ June 10

Mark Wahlberg reunites with director Antoine Fuqua for an adaptation of the sci-fi novel The Reincarnationist Papers. His character, Evan McCauley, is haunted by visions that turn out to be memories from past lives—a revelation that plummets him into a world of fellow “Reincarnationists,” including a villain (Chiwetel Ejiofor) named, uh, Ted. Originally slated to hit theaters in September, Infinite will now go straight to streaming in June, as part of Paramount’s plan to compete with Netflix and its ilk by debuting a supposed “mountain of movies” on their own service over the next year. Looking on the brightest side possible, the film could almost only exceed whatever expectations “from the star and director of Shooter” create.

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8 / 26

In The Heights

In The Heights

In The Heights

Theaters everywhere and HBO Max June 11

In The Heights has taken a long road to the big screen, even by contemporary musical standards: What started as a student production from the college days of Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda eventually made it to Off-Broadway, and then to Broadway, and is now arriving in multiplexes one year later than scheduled as a movie musical directed by Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians). The film follows an ensemble of Washington Heights residents, led by Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner; Nina (Leslie Grace), returning home from her freshman year at Stanford; and Benny (Corey Hawkins), who harbors feelings for Nina. Beyond the considerable excitement of a predominantly Latinx cast bringing the splashy production to cinematic life, In The Heights is also a bona fide musical from Chu, who’s been flirting with the genre since his days directing Step Up sequels. Our own glowing review called it “the perfect note on which to kick off this summer’s blockbuster season.”

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9 / 26

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway

Theaters everywhere June 11

Peter Rabbit 2 has been scampering around the release calendar constantly since the pandemic scuttled its planned Easter 2020 debut; for some reason, Sony has decided that its theatrical release is of utmost importance and but can also be arbitrarily shifted at will. In this sequel to the 2018 film, Peter (James Corden) has developed a reputation as the most toxically arrogant and mischief-addicted rodent since Alvin the Chipmunk. Fed up with being stigmatized by this accurate description of his personality, he leaves his home and sets out for the big city to vex a whole new population. For what it’s worth, the non-Peter bits of the 2018 film are sometimes charming, and the sequel’s recent Australian release has garnered some forgiving reviews.

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10 / 26

Wish Dragon

Wish Dragon

Wish Dragon

Netflix June 11

Sony Pictures Animation joined forces with several Chinese studios for this international co-production, an animated adventure set in modern Shanghai, in which a cash-strapped college kid (Jimmy Wong) awakens a dragon (John Cho) that grants wishes. Though the film hit Chinese theaters in January, it will get a streaming debut in the States—a result of the same deal that saw Sony’s The Mitchells Vs. The Machines land on Netflix instead of in multiplexes. It looks sweet, albeit like a blatant gloss on Aladdin, with Cho (or Jackie Chan, in the Mandarin dub) doing his best Robin Williams.

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11 / 26

Censor

Censor

Censor

Select theaters June 11; VOD June 18

In the London of the early ’80s, a high-strung censor (Niamh Algar) finds her grasp on reality slipping after watching a grimy exploitation movie with unexpected parallels to her own traumatic childhood. A buzzed-about selection of January’s chiefly digital Sundance Film Festival, this first feature from writer-director Algar meticulously recreates the look, vibe, and atmosphere of moral hysteria that characterized its time period, the so-called Video Nasties era, when British authorities were cracking down hard on genre movies believed to be a poisonous influence on the public imagination. Our correspondent from the festival praised the unsettling mood, while also suggesting that mood is pretty much entirely what the film has going for it.

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12 / 26

Holler

Holler

Holler

Select theaters, digital platforms, and VOD June 11

A forgotten corner of an economically depressed region in a misunderstood part of the country, Jackson, Ohio is an ideal location for a coming-of-age drama about scrappy nobodies just trying to get by. In this case, the nobody in question is Ruth (British actress Jessica Barden, best known for her role on the buzzy Netflix YA series The End Of The F***ing World), a high-schooler who finds she may have to bend the law to escape the fate of opiate addiction and jail time that’s swallowed the life of her mother (Pamela Adlon). Holler, which premiered in Toronto last fall, recalls the hard-boiled authenticity of films like Winter’s Bone and Little Woods, even if (per our festival review) it’s not nearly as memorable or involving as either.

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13 / 26

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

Theaters everywhere June 16

As a nation slowly considers returning to movie theaters after a long pandemic break, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard will be there to inspire grateful cries of, “Wait, is this a sequel to something that I saw?” The answer is maybe: The Hitman’s Bodyguard was a chart-topping action-comedy sometime in the past 10 years, starring Ryan Reynolds as the bodyguard and Samuel L. Jackson as the hitman. Sounds like a movie, right? For the follow-up the public asked for and swiftly forgot about, the efficient and orderly Reynolds must again protect the foulmouthed Jackson, as well as Jackson’s wife (Salma Hayek) who was—trivia alert!—actually introduced in the first movie that you have only a hazy recollection of watching, possibly on a plane.

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Luca

Luca

Luca

Disney+ June 18

If this month’s Sony-by-way-of-Netflix cartoon is plainly a spin on Aladdin, there’s an apparent touch of a different Disney Renaissance classic in rival animation house Pixar’s competing release: It’s a Little Mermaid variation about two plucky kids (Room’s Jacob Tremblay and Its Jack Dylan Grazer) who are really sea monsters in disguise, taking their own “Part Of Your World” tour of dry land on the scenic Italian Riviera. Director Enrico Casarosa has cited everyone from Fellini to Miyazaki to Wes Anderson as influences on the production, though something tells us those disparate touchstones (along with the accidental or intentional echoes of Call Me By Your Name caught by Twitter jokesters) will coalesce into the usual, identifiable Pixar house style.

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15 / 26

Fatherhood

Fatherhood

Fatherhood

Netflix June 18

There comes a time in every comedian’s life where he must participate in a gooey paean to the life-changing sorrows and joys of having children. If they’re lucky, it’s something funny and observant, like Steve Martin’s Parenthood; if they’re not, it’s desperate and sappy, like Steve Martin’s Cheaper By The Dozen. Kevin Hart seems to be aiming closer to the former with the dramedy Fatherhood, in which he plays a widower attempting to raise his young daughter. Hart has often struggled to find vehicles that reward his comic energy; maybe this movie’s basis in a memoir by Matthew Logelin, or the presence of director and co-writer Paul Weitz, will offer an opportunity to play in a different key.

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16 / 26

The Sparks Brothers

The Sparks Brothers

The Sparks Brothers

Select theaters June 18

Sibling art-pop duo Ron and Russell Mael, a.k.a. Sparks, have a passionately loyal fanbase, which includes Edgar Wright. The director’s love for the group is reflected in every aspect of his new documentary, which packs gushing celebrity testimonials from “Weird Al” Yankovic, Patton Oswalt, and Flea into a very fan-friendly 140 minutes of running time. Chronicling the history of “your favorite band’s favorite band,” as Sparks are described early and often, it’s a film as whimsical and eclectic as the music it celebrates.

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17 / 26

Summer Of ’85

Summer Of ’85

Summer Of ’85

Select theaters June 18

You never know quite what you’re going to get with a new film from François Ozon, whose work runs the gamut from sobering drama to delirious erotic thriller to retro musical comedy. The French director’s latest, an adaptation of the young adult novel Dance On My Grave, is a swoony puppy-love romance between two young men off the coast of Normandy. Reviews from the fall festival circuit referenced Eric Rohmer—a name any filmmaker might hope to evoke when capturing stolen kisses against a balmy, idyllic seaside.

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18 / 26

F9

F9

F9

Theaters everywhere June 25

With Marvel’s traditional summer kickoff vacating May, Universal has staked out the end of the month as the designated time when everyone should feel safe enough in movie theaters to spend a buttload of money on a massive new blockbuster—specifically, a Fast And Furious sequel. Even without Dwayne Johnson or the late Paul Walker, this is the biggest Fast yet, at least in terms of running time; the saga of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his newly reappeared, apparently nefarious younger brother (John Cena) commands nearly two and a half hours, only some of which is expended on vehicular mayhem and fisticuffs. Returning director Justin Lin allocates the rest of the plus-sized runtime to a swollen ensemble and plenty of turgid family drama. As detailed in our review, fans will probably have a good time—provided they’re expecting something closer to The Fate Of The Furious than Fast Five.

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19 / 26

The Ice Road

The Ice Road

The Ice Road

Netflix June 25

Liam Neeson has now starred in enough late-period B-pictures that describing them requires a lot of qualification: No, The Ice Road is not the snowplow-driving revenge one or the other snowy thriller, but a third movie that pits Neeson’s eternal gravitas against a wintry climate, among other obstacles. The actor plays an ice-road trucker leading a rescue of some trapped Canadian miners, which presumably involves a more teamwork-oriented approach to his particular set of, well, you know. The movie comes from longtime screenwriter and occasional writer-director Jonathan Hensleigh and marks Neeson’s fledgling foray into direct-to-streaming action.

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20 / 26

False Positive

False Positive

False Positive

Hulu June 25

Following the career path paved by fellow Comedy Central alum Jordan Peele, Broad City creator/star Ilana Glazer hops from humor to horror with a thriller billed as a “modern Rosemary’s Baby.” Glazer, who co-wrote the screenplay, plays a woman whose excitement about finally getting pregnant after months of trying curdles when she starts to suspect sinister intentions from her new fertility doctor, played by Pierce Brosnan. (Justin Theroux is in the John Cassavetes role of the husband—perfect casting, on paper anyway.) Wonder Showzen veteran John Lee directs this new addition to the A24 horror stable.

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21 / 26

Werewolves Within

Werewolves Within

Werewolves Within

Select theaters June 25; VOD July 2

Even compared to other video game properties, Werewolves Within is an unlikely choice for a film adaptation. After all, it’s basically a VR version of the old “social deduction” party game alternately known as Werewolf or Mafia, which means that the source material possesses neither much of a story nor characters much deeper than the archetypal identities (Werewolf, Watcher, Gossip, etc.) assigned to players. All of that aside, Scare Me director Josh Ruben is giving a non-playable take on the game a go, loosely reconfiguring it into a horror-comedy about a small town beset by both lycanthropes and mistrust. The main draw here is the cast, which is led by DetroitersSam Richardson and places established comedy names like Cheyenne Jackson and Harvey Guillén next to up-and-comers like Milana Vayntrub, best known up to this point as the voice of Squirrel Girl in Marvel’s various animated properties.

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22 / 26

I Carry You With Me

I Carry You With Me

I Carry You With Me

Select theaters June 25

Documentarian Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp, The Boys Of Baraka) makes her first foray into fiction filmmaking—albeit with some nonfiction elements woven in—with this decade-spanning love story about an aspiring chef (Armando Espitia) and a young teacher (Christian Vázquez) whose burgeoning romance is threatened when one of them makes plans to leave Mexico for new job opportunities in the States. Reactions to the film on last year’s festival circuit skewed positive, though some felt that the aforementioned nonfiction material was much more interesting than what it accompanies.

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23 / 26

America: The Motion Picture

America: The Motion Picture

America: The Motion Picture

Netflix June 30

America: The Motion Picture
America: The Motion Picture
Photo: Netflix

Channing Tatum voices a chainsaw-wielding George Washington. If that’s somehow not enough to pique interest in this revisionist animated retelling of the American Revolution, take a closer look at the cast list, which also includes Simon Pegg, Judy Greer, Jason Mantzoukas, Will Forte, Andy Samberg, Amber Nash, Bobby Moynihan, and Killer Mike. Note, too, that the film’s been directed by an executive producer of Archer and produced by animation pros Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Not much further information is currently available on the plot of Netflix’s adult-courting comedy. But, again: Channing Tatum as George Washington with a chainsaw. That’s about all we need to know.

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24 / 26

Zola

Zola

Zola

Select theaters June 30

“Y’all wanna hear a story about why me & this bitch here fell out?” Such are the opening words of a wild tale: the recounted misadventures of Aziah “Zola” King, a Detroit waitress and moonlighting exotic dancer who chronicled a shocking, dangerous, debaucherous couple days in Florida through a series of 148 tweets back in 2015. Writer-director Janicza Bravo (Lemon) gives King’s first-person anecdote the Tarantino-esque big-screen treatment with this A24 festival fave, with Taylour Paige as the author, Riley Keough as impromptu travel-mate Stefani, and Colman Domingo as the latter’s unpredictable sugar daddy and maybe pimp. The talk of the town at Sundance 2020, Zola arrives in theaters now to open the floodgates of Tweetstorm cinema.

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25 / 26

Plus:

Plus:

Plus:

Changing The Game
Changing The Game
Photo: Hulu

Kick off Pride Month with Changing The Game (Hulu 6/1), a festival-feted documentary that follows three trans teen athletes. Woman In Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek, And The Remaking Of NASA (Paramount+ 6/3) goes where no Trekkie-courting doc has gone before. Rat Film director Theo Anthony returns with All Light, Everywhere (select theaters 6/4), an essay film about the relationship between camera technology and human biases. A struggling actress flails through the aftermath of a relationship with a counterterrorism specialist in Paul Felten and Joe DeNardo’s scrappy American indie Slow Machine (virtual theaters 6/4). Kelvin Harris Jr., Charlie Plummer, and Jacob Latimore embark on a 48-hour bender/rampage in Nabil Elderkin’s Gully (select theaters, digital platforms, and VOD 6/8). Venice winner Tragic Jungle (Netflix 6/9) follows a young woman’s flight from an arranged marriage and into the mysterious foliage. Pierce Brosnan offers yet another aging variation on James Bond in Renny Harlin’s The Misfits (select theaters 6/11; VOD 6/15), which casts the one-time 007 as an escaped master thief who joins the eponymous team of bandits for One Last Heist. The House Next Door: Meet The Blacks 2 (select theaters 6/11) is the dubiously anticipated sequel to a Mike Epps Purge parody from a few years back. The Great Depression, Luke Wilson, and shoeless football are the ingredients for the inspirational sports drama 12 Mighty Orphans (select theaters 6/11). Puerto Rican EGOT winner Rita Moreno gets the documentary profile treatment in Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It (select theaters 6/18). SXSW midnight selection Gaia (select theaters 6/18; VOD 6/25) joins In The Earth in this year’s suddenly crowded, ahem, field of eco horror movies. Stand-up/sketch comedian Iliza Shlesinger wrote and stars in the romantic comedy Good On Paper (Netflix 6/23). And legendary Iranian director Majid Majidi returns with Sun Children (select theaters 6/25).

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