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The Best Summer Movies of 2020 (and Their Changing Release Dates)


Will we ever go to the movies again? To borrow and slightly amend a catchphrase of cinema’s most famous blockbuster assassin, they’ll be back. Be assured that, yes, one day the movie theaters will reopen and the films whose premieres were affected by the coronavirus pandemic will eventually find their way to the big screen. Since around the beginning of March, films including A Quiet Place 2 and Mulan have seen their debuts shuffle around the boxes of a calendar like corn popping on a heat source. And with no realized end to social distancing in sight, what does this mean for the summer slate?

Summer is typically the season when the box office is bursting at the seams with moneymaking franchises, star-studded blockbusters, and top-grossing headliners that producers want as many moviegoers as possible to see. But with the looming virus, we can’t help but wonder what summer 2020 will like, and how dark the brightest season for movies will actually get. Below, we’re highlighting the must-sees the season has and had slated, but know that many of them won’t see a theater until next year. Keep an eye on this space for updates. Fingers crossed, we’re back in the red velvet saddle soon.


A Quiet Place Part II

Not technically a summer movie originally, the John Krasinski-Emily Blunt horror sequel was slated for a late-winter release, but Paramount announced it would be moving the anticipated thriller to Labor Day—which could be a box-office blessing in disguise, as September is the month when awards season kicks into full gear. It’s just a few more months now until we catch back up with the Abbotts in their postapocalyptic world lurking with creatures that hunt by sound.

Original release date: March 8

Now set for: September 7



Black Widow

Directed by indie auteur Cate Shortland (Somersault, Berlin Syndrome), Black Widow stars Scarlett Johansson as the titular Marvel character, real name: Natasha Romanoff. Little Women’s Florence Pugh costars, with the film’s narrative falling between the Civil War and Infinity War chapters. Johansson will have to wait a little bit longer to make her sole Marvel debut, however, as the tentpole film in the Disney juggernaut has pulled its premiere due to the current pandemic. There was talk, though, by costar David Harbour of Stranger Things fame—and much criticism—to send the film straight to video on demand.

Original release date: May 1

Now set for: November 6



The Personal History of David Copperfield

It’s easy to fall for a period piece that stars Dev Patel as Charles Dickens’s favorite character, David Copperfield. But what makes this costume comedy even more alluring is the fact that it’s scripted by Simon Blackwell, one of the writers of Veep, Four Lions, and In the Loop, and directed by Armando Iannucci, helmer of the aforementioned laugh riots as well as The Death of Stalin. Oh, and Tilda Swinton costars. Alas, we’ll have to wait another several weeks. This one’s on hiatus too.

Original release date: May 8

Now set for: TBD



Spiral: From the Book of Saw

This is the ninth installment in a franchise everyone thought was done after the trilogy. But before you just scroll on by, hear us out. The helmer of Saw II and III, Darren Lynn Bousman, who worked closely with original Saw masterminds James Wan and Leigh Whannell, is back in the director’s chair, with actors Chris Rock, Max Minghella, and Samuel L. Jackson reawakening the saga. A bloody game of balancing the scales of justice from the mind of Rock, who’s also an executive producer, it, too, has an undetermined release date.

Original release date: May 15

Now set for: TBD




Full disclosure: We don’t really go fast or get that furious over too much. But when you throw Charlize Theron’s name into the mix, we’re full-throttle on board. The South African goddess joins the on-screen pit crew for the next film in the Fast Saga as Cipher, a bowl-cut criminal mastermind and cyberterrorist who teams up with John Cena’s Jakob to seek revenge on Vin Diesel’s Dom. Cardi B makes an appearance, and Justin Lin is back in the driver’s seat as director.

Original release date: May 22

Now set for: April 2, 2021



Wonder Woman 1984

Not necessarily a sequel but rather a subsequent chapter, Wonder Woman 1984 honors its title and rocks the fashions signature of the decade, color-blocking neons and all, with Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince heading to America and coming face-to-face with two new foes: The Cheetah, played by Kristen Wiig, and Max Lord, played by The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal. Luckily, after a date-hopping winter, the film has found its premiere in mid-August.

Original release date: June 5

Now set for: August 14




Nia DaCosta, whose work directing Little Woods and Top Boy have gotten critical attention, is now focusing her attention on updating the acclaimed ‘90s horror tale with a social edge exploring race, class, and deprivation in the ‘90s. Touted on IMDb as a “spiritual sequel” that returns to the “now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood” where the story began, the film has Jordan Peele co-scripting the screenplay. With Peele and the director’s own trademark for telling diverse, inclusive stories, the modern update to the racially charged slasher classic is definitely one to watch.

Original release date: June 12

Now set for: September 25




Pixar mainstay Pete Doctor pulls the strings behind another crowd-pleasing animated adventure, this time with the help of co-director Kemp Powers. The story, about a jazz musician, voiced by Jamie Foxx, who falls down a manhole and meets a cynical infant soul, who sounds a lot like Tina Fey, has a lot going for it: Its director is also the one who brought us the emotionally dense Inside Out, its tunes feature notes by Stephen Colbert’s bandleader, and its score was composed by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. This one’s got so much more than just soul.

Original release date: June 19

Now set for: So far we’re still on for June.

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Top Gun: Maverick

We could arm you with ample film-buff reasons for seeing this 30-years-in-the-making sequel: Oblivion and Only the Brave’s Joseph Kosinski is directing; writers include those with impressive American Hustle, Edge of Tomorrow, and Mission Impossible: Fallout credits. But, really, don’t we all want to see the film if only to just watch Tom Cruise do what Tom Cruise does? Resurrecting his role as ace fighter pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell is the perfect conduit for him to perform the death-defying stunts at warp speed without a stunt double we’ve come to love him for.

Original release date: June 24

Now set for: December 23



In the Heights

The summertime explosion of singing, dancing, and Fla-Vor-Ice from director Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda may be one of the most anticipated stage-to-screen adaptations ever. But the classic tale about the delight and despair of a tightknit Dominican-American neighborhood has been put on hold. Indefinitely. “I’m really hopeful that [In the Heights is] something we all get to watch in the theaters together,” Miranda said per Broadway Buzz, “when it’s time and we feel safe to.”

Original release date: June 26

Now set for: TBD

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Free Guy

Ryan Reynolds breaks free from the crimson-hued Deadpool spandex to give the ordinary joe a go in Free Guy. He plays a nameless bank teller who learns that he’s an NPC (non-player character) in an all-out destructive video game wreaking chaos on the world. Inimitable costars Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) and Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) costar, with Shawn Levy of Stranger ThingsUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Date Night fame at the wheel. Should be a fun ride.

Original release date: July 3

Now set for: December 11

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Ghostbusters: Afterlife

The nostalgia trend continues with Ghostbusters reuniting the original crew for a supernatural adventure reboot led primarily by a group of kids and their science teacher, played by Paul Rudd. Jason Reitman, son of Ivan, the director of the 1984 original, is leading the charge here, with Dan Aykroyd, Annie Potts, Bill Murray, and Sigourney Weaver all credited with cameos. Originally slated for July, this one’s putting an entire turn of the calendar page between us and its premiere.

Original release date: July 10

Now set for: March 5, 2021

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Christopher Nolan, who has been incredibly vocal about the future of cinema post-coronavirus, has every intention of releasing his Tenet, a mind-puzzle that will no doubt infuse international espionage, evolution, and the direction’s trademark, time travel, into one seamless package, on its designated July release date. So until further notice, plan on buying a ticket to the epic starring Elizabeth Debicki, Robert Pattinson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John David Washington, and a slew of other familiar faces.

Original release date: July 17

Now set for: So far, we’re still on for July.

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The French Dispatch

Texas-born filmmaker Wes Anderson has another audio-visual treat set in another fictional town (this time, we’re headed to Ennui-sur-Blasé) for his dedicated fan base come summer. Dubbed a love letter to journalists, it will follow three interconnect stories published in the titular magazine, inspired by The New Yorker. The cast calls upon Anderson film alums like Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, and others, with first-timers Elisabeth Moss and Timothée Chalamet also joining the club.

Original release date: July 24

Now set for: October 16



Jungle Cruise

Should social distancing ease its rules come time for Jungle Cruise, Emily Blunt will go from self-isolation with her real-life husband John Krasinski to being stuck between The Rock and a sweaty place in Disney. The film, inspired by an Adventureland ride, promises to takes it two lead actors on a wet and wild trip scattered with predatory animals and supernatural forces. Interestingly, horror film helmer Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows, Orphan) is directing.

Original release date: July 24

Now set for: July 20, 2021

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From Harper’s Bazaar US

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