Arts & Entertainment

The Phoenix’s Must-see Box Office Bangers Hitting Theaters This Summer

With the blaze of summer sun comes a plethora of big-name movies hitting the box office. Here are the top 10 summer blockbusters to tide moviegoers over when the Chicago heat is too much to bear.

1. “Aladdin”

Based on the original 1992 Disney film, “Aladdin” (2019) — a live-action retelling — follows a homeless Aladdin (Mena Massoud) as he tries to win over Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott). Along the way, he must overcome the devious Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) with the help of a genie (Will Smith). Audiences can re-witness the story unfold when “Aladdin” hits theaters May 24.

The underdog story of Disney’s “Aladdin” — a person in rags elevated to a position of power through his struggles and life lessons — became one of Disney’s classics and elevated Aladdin and Princess Jasmine to staples of Disney merchandise. Directed by Guy Ritchie (“Sherlock Holmes,” “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”), “Aladdin” will give audiences the chance to see classic characters realistically re-imagined.

2. “X-Men: Dark Phoenix”

Following the events of “X-Men: Apocalypse” (2016), “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” focuses on Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) as they try to prevent the Phoenix Force — Jean Grey’s wildly unstable and dangerous cosmic power— from destroying Earth and the X-Men.

The June 7 release of 21st Century Fox’s “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” will mark the culmination of a 20 year journey with Fox’s “X-Men” properties — now under Disney. This may be the last chance for moviegoers to see McAvoy, Fassbender and other favorites in their “X-Men” roles before a potential reboot into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

3. “Men in Black: International”

Taking place in the same universe as the original “Men in Black” (MIB) movies, “Men in Black: International” follows Agent M (Tessa Thompson) and Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) as they work together to prevent an alien invasion using a variety of extra-terrestrial technology along the way.

Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith — who played the main protagonists in the original three MIB movies — won’t reprise their roles for this alien-hunting outing but familiar faces can be expected, including Agent O (Emma Thompson). Fans of the original MIB movies are likely to see the same wacky humor from the original movies — including jokes from talking aliens and humans alike — with a unique twist from Thompson and Hemsworth’s performances when the men (and women) in black come to theaters June 14.

4. “Toy Story 4”

“Toy Story 4” will follow widely beloved sentient toys Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) as they go on a journey with friends old and new. “Toy Story 4” will see the return of Bo Peep and the original cast of toys and take audiences on a trip down memory lane. As the characters grow accustomed to their lives under a new owner, the past is yet to be forgotten.

For moviegoers looking for something to spark nostalgia or a family-friendly flick for viewers young and old, “Toy Story 4” is bound to please. The emotional moments and light-hearted comedy are sure to tug at some heart strings while keeping the upbeat tone expected of a Pixar movie. “Toy Story 4” will be hitting theaters June 21.

5. “Midsommar”

Produced by A24 Entertainment, “Midsommar” — directed by Ari Aster (“Hereditary,” “The Strange Thing About the Johnsons”) — follows Dani (Florence Pugh) as she joins her boyfriend for a nine-day midsummer festival. But there’s more to the trip than meets the eye.

A24’s history of producing unique, off-the-wall horror films such as “Hereditary” and “Climax” positions “Midsommar” to likely be in that same vein. The uniquely claustrophobic and uncomfortable nature of Aster’s horror films makes the wait for the July 3 release of “Midsommar” almost unbearable.

6. “Spider-Man: Far From Home”

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” will focus on the web-slinging superhero as he travels to Europe for a school trip with his friends. After Peter Parker (Tom Holland) meets Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), his trip takes an unexpected turn. When the elementals — immortal humanoids with power over fire, water, air and earth — make an appearance, Peter sticks a fork in his plans for rest and relaxation and suits up to battle these destructive forces. He won’t be without help as Mysterio — Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) — will aid in the battle.

For Spider-Man comic book fans, Mysterio’s appearance as a friend is a 180-degree turn from the source material — which depicted him as a non-superpowered villain capable of creating illusions and hypnotizing adversaries through special effects to thwart Spider-Man. Hardcore and casual fans can see his true intentions when the movie premieres July 5.

As the first MCU movie to depict post-“Avengers: Endgame” events, long-time fans and casual audiences won’t want to miss the return of the lovable kid from Queens.

7. “The Lion King”

Retelling the timeless tale of a lion destined to be king, “The Lion King” (2019), the live-action Disney remake, will feature beloved characters from the 1994 animated movie. With a CGI re-imagination of icons like Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Simba (Donald Glover), Timon (Billy Eichner) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen), audiences will likely experience what it’s like to walk across the African Savannah once more.

The film’s trailers have shown the re-imagining of Zazu (John Oliver), Rafiki (John Kani), Nala (Beyoncé) and more, with a CGI showcase of the famous opening scene — Rafiki lifting baby Simba into the air over a cliff facing the animal kingdom — from the original movie. Interested moviegoers can revisit the coming-of-age tale when “The Lion King” hits theaters July 19.

8. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Following television actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” — directed by Quentin Tarantino (“Pulp Fiction,” “The Hateful Eight”) — aims to depict 1969 Hollywood as two television stars looking for fame in the film industry.

Sporting an all-star cast — with big names including Margot Robbie and Al Pacino — “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” has garnered high expectations from audiences, with CBS listing it as one of the 50 most anticipated films of 2019. With a storied history of making quality films, Tarantino likely has another gem on his hands. Audiences can be the judge when the film comes to theaters July 26.

9. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”

Based on the book series by Alvin Schwartz, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” — directed by André Øvredal (“Troll Hunter,” “The Autopsy of Jane Doe”) — delves into the paranormal fears of its characters. After coming across an old book in the eerie small town of Mill Valley, California, a group of teens must face their fears in order to survive.

With Guillermo Del Toro (“The Shape of Water,” “Pacific Rim”) among the seven writers for the film, “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” has the chance to do the horror genre justice and give a serious fright to moviegoers. Audiences can witness the children’s hidden fears for themselves when the movie hits theaters Aug. 9.

10. “Good Boys”

Mixing comedy and adult jokes with the carefree life of a fifth grader, “Good Boys” — directed by Gene Stupnitsky (“The Office,” “Bad Teacher”) — follows 12-year-old Max (Jacob Tremblay) and his friends as they embark on a journey to get home for a party. They encounter roadblocks along the way, brought on by a stash of accidentally stolen drugs and childhood mischief.

With the R-rated trailer promising the clash of childhood innocence with the real world, “Good Boys” may be the ideal fim to see for moviegoers yearning for a laugh. Audiences will have the chance to revisit a simpler time when the movie hits theaters Aug. 16.

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