Barbenheimer is just the beginning of this year’s summer blockbuster season

An image split in half. The left half depicts a tight sight of a stern-looking man wearing a black hat and a black suit with a matching tie and white shirt. The right half of the image depicts a blonde woman wearing a neon visor and yellow hoop earrings.
Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer in Oppenheimer and Margot Robbie as Barbie in Barbie. | Image: Universal / Warner Bros. Pictures

After all the mermaids, superheroes, talking robots, and superspies that have already invaded theaters over the past few weeks, you might have gotten the sense that this year’s season of summer blockbusters was already upon us. It’s wild to consider given all the new movies that have recently debuted, but the truth is that things are only just beginning — especially for the film buffs who’ve been patiently waiting to take in Barbie and Oppenheimer (Barbenheimer, if you will) double features. Here’s a little guide to all the features we’re looking forward to seeing and digging into.

Barbie — read our review

July 21st

Warner Bros. Discovery’s Barbie movie from director Greta Gerwig has already so thoroughly saturated the pop culture discourse that the movie’s going to have a hell of a time living up to the hype when it finally hits theaters this July. But even if Barbie, the movie, doesn’t end up being particularly interesting, Barbie, the phenomenon — this corporate-owned IP event that’s gotten pulled into controversy and political theatrics — has been fascinating to live through. And it feels like something we’ll be talking about at the end of the year when we look back on how odd 2023 was.

Oppenheimer — read our review

July 21st

In addition to being one of director Christopher Nolan’s longest films, Oppenheimer is also shaping up to be one of his most massive in scale, judging from a new featurette from Universal that details all of the practical effects that went into the project’s creation. Somewhat similar to Barbie, Oppenheimer’s already gotten caught up in an unexpected wave of backlash that has a bit more to do with what people are bringing to the movie than the substance of the project itself. But this also feels like a sign that Oppenheimer is set to become one of the year’s more popular and overanalyzed debuts when it hits theaters.

They Cloned Tyrone

July 21st

On a day when a lot of people will be packing into theaters to lose themselves in stories about living dolls and / or audacious bomb-makers, Netflix’s They Cloned Tyrone is going to feel like the perfect counterprogramming for everyone planning to stay home. The blaxploitation-inspired sci-fi comedy from director Juel Taylor brings John Boyega, Teyonah Parris, and Jamie Foxx together as an unlikely trio who become the rallying force against a secret governmental plot to prey on poor Black people. It’s tough to really describe the film without giving too much of it away, but fans of new classics like Attack the Block and The Blackening are going to want to check this one out.

Haunted Mansion

July 28th

We won’t know for sure until the movie’s actually in theaters, but each trailer for Disney’s upcoming Haunted Mansion remake from director Justin Simien has made the movie look surprisingly… decent? It’s not that the movie’s going to properly scare anyone, but it feels like it has a solid sense of what it wants to be (cool and unsettling) and a genuine desire to translate the feeling of being on a wild ride into movie form, which could end up making for an interesting filmgoing experience.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

August 2nd

Even if the OG Turtles weren’t exactly your bag, it’s hard to deny how inspired and exciting the visuals in Paramount’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem seem like they’re going to be. Mutant Mayhem might be the seventh movie in the 35-year history of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise and mark Paramount’s third attempt at rebooting the IP in the past decade. But the thing looks like a delight and the sort of reimagining that could mint an entire new generation of fans.

Problemista

August 4th

The brilliant thing about Julio Torres’ Problemista is that even if you’ve never personally dreamt of immigrating and moving to a big city to become a toymaker, chances are solid that you have worked for an overbearing boss who doesn’t exactly see you as a person with a rich, complex interiority. It’s a tale as old as time — and one that’s way more relatable than it should be. But it’s probably going to make for one of A24’s more interesting new releases this year.

The Last Voyage of the Demeter

August 11th

Post-Renfield, with all of its plays at campiness, Universal’s The Last Voyage of the Demeter is set to remind audiences just what made Bram Stoker’s Dracula such an unnerving and terrifying presence in his original novel. Set largely on a doomed merchant ship full of unsuspecting humans who don’t know the danger they’re in, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the tale of how a doctor (Corey Hawkins), a stowaway (Aisling Franciosi), and a captain (Liam Cunningham) and his first mate (David Dastmalchian) realize that they’re all being stalked at sea by the king of vampires (Javier Botet).

Blue Beetle

August 18th

We’ve heard quite a bit about what James Gunn and Peter Safran plan to do with Warner Bros. Discovery’s universe of movies built around DC’s superheroes now that The Flash has come and gone. But director Angel Manuel Soto’s Blue Beetle is actually going to be one of the studio’s first projects set in the all-new, largely rebooted cinematic universe, and it’s probably going to play a rather significant role in shaping how people feel about what’s coming down the pipeline.

Poor Things

September 5th

In director Yorgos Lanthimos’ adaptation of Poor Things, a young woman named Bella’s (Emma Stone) death and subsequent revival at the hands of an orthodox scientist (Willem Dafoe) frees her to live the kind of life that she never could have imagined before meeting her untimely end. When Bella crosses paths with a too-cool lawyer (Mark Ruffalo) who promises to show her the world, she doesn’t necessarily know whether to suspect what ulterior motives he might have. But looking at the surrealist adventure Bella seems to be decidedly in control of in Poor Things’ trailer, other people’s intentions might not be all that much of a concern to her.

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