Release date: May 1
Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jeremy Renner
What it is: This is the latest, and perhaps biggest, chapter in Marvel's quest to assert its box-office dominance. Avengers: Age of Ultron caps off the last three years of Marvel action movies (Iron Man 3,Thor: Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Solider, and Guardians of the Galaxy) with a showdown between Earth's Mightiest Heroes™ and a hyper-intelligent, ruthless robot named Ultron.
Fun fact: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are some of the few characters who can appear in both Fox and Marvel movies. Fox owns the rights to those in the X-Men universe, and Marvel owns everything Avengers. The siblings are players in both, but because of the way the rights were divided, they probably will have their mutant origin stories altered.
Release date: May 8
Director: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sofía Vergara
What it is: A woman-powered cop comedy from the director of The Proposal, Hot Pursuit stars Reese Witherspoon as a police officer charged with bringing Sofía Vergara's character safely to court so that she may testify against the head of a Mexican cartel. If that sounds like a gritty thriller about uncovering the truth, remember that Witherspoon and Vergara star in it. This isn't a movie about truth — this is a movie about hysteria, explosions, and Reese Witherspoon's bad underwear. Happy summer!
Fun fact: This movie was originally titled Don't Mess With Texas. We can only assume it was retitled because Reese Witherspoon has a Southern (not Texan) accent in the previews.
Release date: May 15
Director: George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
What it is: The Mad Max franchise has always seemed like a tabletop role-playing game gone deliriously wrong. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where fuel is scarce but people still fight each other with cars, the initial Max Max trilogy — released between 1979 and 1985 — put the names of its director (George Miller) and star (Mel Gibson) on the map. Now, 30 years later, Warner Brothers has committed to spending a bunch of money on a fourth for reasons that strike us as financially unsound, but God bless 'em anyway. Miller is one of the great visual stylists of his generation, and Tom Hardy (who replaces Gibson) is a star waiting to happen. Bring on the fighting cars.
Fun fact: Roger Ebert really, really liked the third film in the original trilogy, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Of the titular battleground, he wrote: "Thunderdome is to fighting as 3-D chess is to a flat board."
Release date: May 15
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld
What it is: The sequel to the surprise hit Pitch Perfect once again stars the "Hollywood weird" (meaning conventionally attractive almost everywhere else) girl heading up a group of misfits trying to win an a cappella competition. Having done their best on a local level in OG Pitch Perfect, the Barden Bellas move on to an international competition that no American singing troupe has ever won before. So they're Mighty Ducks 2–ing this series. Cool.
Fun fact: The most famous moment of the original Pitch Perfect was Anna Kendrick's character's audition for the Bellas, in which she sings a song (cleverly) coined "The Cup Song" while providing percussion on a cup. The music video for this song currently has almost 200 million views on YouTube.
Release date: May 22
Director: Gil Kenan
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris
What it is: There's nothing more frightening than a remake, especially when it involves redoing a classic like 1982's Poltergeist. But the premise is still strong: when Eric Bowen (Sam Rockwell) and his wife Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) move to a new development, strange things start happening, and the couple loses their daughter to some angry ghosts. In the original Poltergeist, the ghosts heralded their arrival through an ominous television set, and the remake will have a lot to say about flat-screens, smartphones, and other modern tech. We also know a reality show figures into the plot, courtesy of a paranormal show host who tries to help the Bowens recover their daughter. That alone is proof modern life can be more frightening than even the '80s.
Fun fact: The original Poltergeist's spooky reputation was boosted by rumors of a curse, which were sparked by the sudden death of two of the film's stars. Curse aside, some verifiable weirdness happened on the set of the original film: there have been persistent rumors that real skeletons were used in one of the scenes.
Release date: May 22
Director: Brad Bird
Starring: Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Hugh Laurie
What it is: This movie is the summer's great hope for a big-budget blockbuster that's not part of a preexisting franchise — and it's based on a section of the Disneyland theme park. Not exactly the salvation of the cinema, but we'll take what we can get. Sort of a Harry Potter for science fiction, the film focuses on a young woman transported to a world where all of the futuristic inventions of 1950s pulp sci-fi are really real, up to and including jetpacks. George Clooney serves as her guide. He's known for picking solid scripts, and the presence of Brad Bird, who's directed everything from Ratatouille to the fourth Mission Impossible, suggests good things.
Fun fact: An early exhibit at the late '50s Disneyland version of Tomorrowland — sponsored by Monsanto! — introduced park-goers to the "oven of the future," now better known as a microwave.
Release date: May 29
Director: Cameron Crowe
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams
What it is: This isn’t Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Hawaii, but it's close. From writer/director/producer Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, We Bought a Zoo), the film follows a successful defense contractor (Bradley Cooper) who falls for an Air Force pilot and reconnects with an old flame while on assignment to supervise a weapons satellite launch. It’s a wannabe weepy romance, but with a killer cast: in addition to the central trio, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, Bill Murray, Jay Baruchel, and Alec Baldwin make appearances.
Fun fact: The movie went through the working titles Deep Tiki and Volcano Romance. Fortunately for everyone involved, they didn’t go with either.
Release Date: May 29, 2015
Director: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Alexandra Daddario, Carla Gugino
What it is: If you’ve ever been in a particularly morbid mood and wondered what exactly will happen when The Big One causes California to go drifting out to sea, allowing the water to take its revenge and finally consume both Hollywood and Silicon Valley, then San Andreas may be exactly what you need. Unlike in your dreams, however, Dwayne Johnson is there. He plays a rescue-helicopter pilot who, with his ex-wife (Carla Gugino), attempts to flee Los Angeles in order to rescue their estranged daughter (Alexandra Daddario) in San Francisco.
Fun Fact: Seismologists have been predicting that a massive earthquake will occur in California on the San Andreas Fault. A fault is a fracture in a volume of rock, caused by the earth’s movement. Dwayne Johnson’s wrestling name was The Rock. Coincidence? Almost certainly, but we can pretend it's foreshadowing.
Release date: June 5
Director: Doug Ellin
Starring: Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Jeremy Piven
What it is: Think of every great HBO show you’ve watched. Think of The Sopranos and The Wire and Deadwood. Hell, think of the next tier down — the Romes and the Curb Your Enthusiasms. None of those shows got post-series movies, but somehow Entourage, the bro-tastic story of dunderhead actor Vincent Chase and his bros out bro-ing around, did. In the film, Vince wants to direct. Super-agent turned studio head Ari (Jeremy Piven) lets him. Bad call, Ari.
Fun fact: In the fictional world of Entourage, Vincent Chase's summer 2006 star vehicle Aquaman shattered Spider-Man’s 2002 record for best opening weekend at the box office — a record that real-life Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest quickly toppled with its massive first weekend in the summer of 2006.
Release Date: June 5
Director: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Lin Shaye
What it is: Throughout the previous two films in the Insidious series, the Lambert family has been tormented by souls from an alternate dimension called The Further. The tormented family is assisted by the psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), who gets an origin story of sorts in this prequel. Also returning are her ghoul-hunting pals Tucker (Angus Sampson) and Specs (Leigh Whannell). In the film, an all-new family is menaced by beings from The Further, the better to explain how Rainier first came to use her abilities to protect said family's teenage girl.
Fun Fact: Although James Wan directed the first two instances of Insidious, he was unable to return as the director for the third installment, due to his work on Furious 7. That opened up room for Leigh Whannell, who has produced, written, and acted in many films, including the Saw series and previous Insidious chapters, to make his directorial debut.
Release Date: June 5
Director: Paul Feig
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Jude Law
What it is: When the CIA needs an inconspicuous agent to lead a big mission, they turn to an untrained analyst: Susan Cooper. Because that untrained analyst is played by Melissa McCarthy, you can guess that there will be loud noises, some falling, and at least one shot of her kicking someone's testicles. Director Paul Feig makes this movie a wild card: which of his previous movies will it resemble? Bridesmaids or The Heat? The trailer leaves it up for grabs, though early reviews have been good. But perhaps the most important question may never be answered: is Jude Law wearing a wig?
Fun fact: Even though Spy is a comedy, Feig says he was inspired to make it while watching the James Bond movie Skyfall. "I wanna do one of those," he told Bustle, and he's appropriate for a spy movie in more ways than one — the director famously always wears a natty suit.
Release date: June 12
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard
What it is: This film is an attempt to capture the awe and magic of the original Jurassic Park, in which people thought it a good idea to bring carnivorous dinosaurs back to life. It's been 14 years since the last Jurassic movie and 22 years since the original movie. Needless to say, it's been a long time, and a slew of expectations — bigger dinosaurs, better special effects, possibly a shirtless Chris Pratt — have come with the wait.
Fun fact: B. D. Wong is reprising his role from the original Jurassic Park: Dr. Henry Wu, the chief geneticist.
Release date: June 19
Directors: Pete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen
Starring: Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader (voice cast)
What it is: In Pixar’s first film in an original setting since 2012’s Scottish fairy tale Brave, five anthropomorphized emotions — Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear, and Sadness — struggle for control inside a young girl’s brain. Humans fall by the wayside here — the emotions are the main focus. With a peppering of familiar voices from Saturday Night Live, The Office, and standup, the script taps into its stars’ improv and comedy chops, too.
Fun fact: Pixar’s movies are always full of self-referencing Easter eggs; Inside Out contains quite a few. Watch out for memory shelves (they’re stocked with scenes from the "married life" scene of Up), Riley’s classmates (one is wearing a Toy Story camouflage outfit), and a familiar telephone wire scene from the 2002 short film "For the Birds."
Release date: June 26
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane (voice), Amanda Seyfried
What it is: In this comedy sequel, living teddy bear Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) and his human wife, Tami Lynn (Jessica Barth, whom you may remember from her work in Ted), want to have a baby, so they ask Ted's best friend John (Mark Wahlberg) to be their sperm donor. (A scene in which an entire rack of sperm jars spill onto Wahlberg follows, because of course it does.) When the state of Massachusetts insists Ted must first prove he's human, he enlists attorney Sam L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried) to fight for his civil rights.
Fun fact: The teddy bear was originally named in honor of President Teddy Roosevelt. That's where the cute part of this story ends. When Roosevelt was on a hunting trip in 1902, guides beat a bear, tied it to a tree, and offered Roosevelt the opportunity to shoot it, according to the History Channel. Roosevelt refused, the story spread, and a New York shopkeeper capitalized on the story's popularity to create an adorable stuffed children's toy that's popular to this day.
Release date: July 1
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Starring: Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Elizabeth Banks
What it is: Can male strippers cry? Do they feel? What do they think about small business? Have you ever wanted to know the answers to these questions but never really had the chance to befriend a stripper from South Florida? If any of these questions have ever kept you up at night, then you must see Magic Mike XXL.
This follow-up to Magic Mike, the surprisingly somber stripper hit of 2012, also guarantees many, many views of Channing Tatum and friends shirtless.
Fun fact: Despite the inclusion of "magic" in its title, this is not a movie featuring wizards, witches, or sorcerers. Mike is magic because of his dance moves and stripping aptitude.
Release date: July 1
Director: Alan Taylor
Starring: Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Arnold Schwarzenegger
What it is: The fifth film in the Terminator franchise, Genisys aims to be both sequel and reboot. As in the original, John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends soldier Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to protect his mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), from the machines — but Reese finds himself in an alternate past, in which Sarah was raised by the T-800 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), and the three have to battle Skynet as well as Sarah and Reese's future son, who’s now somehow a human-cyborg hybrid.
Fun fact: Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke portrays Sarah Connor, a role played by her GoT costar Lena Headey in the TV series The Sarah Connor Chronicles; the film’s director, Alan Taylor, also served as a producer and director on the HBO show.
Release date: July 10
Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Michael Keaton, Jon Hamm (voice cast)
What it is: Yes, technically the kid-friendly Minions has a plot: it's a Despicable Me prequel set in 1968, about the journey of three yellow, pill-shaped henchmen in search of a villain to serve. They find Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) and her husband, Herb (Jon Hamm), who want to take over the world. But the plot is a mere excuse — the point of Minions is more minions. Your opinion of the minions will determine whether you want to see the movie: if you think they're gibberish-spewing annoyances, you'll want to skip it. But if you have the correct opinion, you'll realize the incipient glory of this film is the greatest event in the history of cinema.
Fun facts: Director Pierre Coffin typically voices the minions (and his co-director Kyle Balda has been known to speak minionese, as well). The henchmen were originally going to be big thugs, but were reimagined into cute yellow things because they were easier to render.
Release date: July 17
Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly
What it is: Ant-Man might be Marvel's biggest challenge yet. In the comic books, Ant-Man is kind of like the worst player on your favorite sports team. He never seems to do anything right, and his lasting contribution to the team is being able to shrink and be tiny. Figuring out how to frame an entire movie around this without turning it into Honey, I Shrunk the Kids will be a challenge. But if any studio can do it, it's Marvel. Its track record of turning obscure (Rocket Raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy) or B-tier heroes (Iron Man) into superstars is nothing short of spectacular.
Fun fact: In the comic books, Ant-Man — not Iron Man — actually created Ultron, the main villain in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Release date: July 17
Director: Judd Apatow
Starring: Amy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, and introducing LEBRON JAMES
What it is: If you believe monogamy is a lie, but really hate Entourage and romantic comedies starring Katherine Heigl, Trainwreck is the summer movie for you. "I'm just a modern chick who does what she wants," Amy Schumer's character, Amy, says in the trailer. Already it's clear this won't be your everyday boring rom-com. No, this is a rom-com that is spunky or something. It's unclear whether Trainwreck will hit the same hysterical notes as the Apatow-produced Bridesmaids, but Amy Schumer's wit suggests a good time.
Fun fact: Amy Schumer's music video "Milk Milk Lemonade" has nothing to do with this movie, but is great. Watch it already.
Release date: July 24
Director: Jake Schreier
Starring: Cara Delevingne, Nat Wolff, Halston Sage
What it is: In this romantic drama, young Quentin (Nat Wolff) loves Margo (Cara Delevingne), the ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Girl. After they spend a magical night together exacting revenge on Margo's ex-boyfriend, Margo disappears. Fortunately, she has also left a string of clues to help Quentin find her — clues that also coincidentally signal her epic coolness (a Woody Guthrie poster! Walt Whitman poetry!). They lead Quentin and his friends on an epic road trip.
Fun fact: John Green, author of the novel that Paper Towns is based on, also wrote The Fault in Our Stars. A movie version of his first book, Looking for Alaska, has been attempting to get off the ground for a decade. Sarah Polley is now attached to write and direct.
Release date: July 24
Director: Chris Columbus
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage
What it is: Every few years, Adam Sandler makes a big-budget, high-concept family comedy that rakes in millions upon millions, thus keeping his asking price relatively high. Here's his latest entry in that subgenre, in which he and some video game experts battle an alien invasion that takes the form of classic arcade games. The invaders include tons of familiar faces, but the trailer focuses on a gigantic Pac-Man who devours a city whole. Pac-Man? A bad guy? This is blasphemy, Pixels, and we won't have it.
Fun fact: Pixels isn't just based on old arcade games. It's actually based on a French short film made in 2010. So if this movie's bad, we have only the French to blame.
Release date: July 31
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg
What it is: The IMF has been disbanded. No, not the International Monetary Fund — the NGO dedicated to fostering international economic cooperation. We mean the Impossible Missions Force, for which Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has risked his life in four movies now. In the fifth installation, he and his team take on the Syndicate, the IMF's evil twin (i.e., the "rogue nation" referenced in the title), which is hell-bent on destroying the IMF. A few of Cruise's costars from the earlier movies (Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner) are back for this round, as well as a new hot woman (Rebecca Ferguson) who, judging by the trailer, kicks ass but also wears a bikini.
Release date: July 31
Director: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein
Starring: Ed Helms, Christina Applegate, Chevy Chase
What it is: The National Lampoon's Vacation franchise died an ignominious death on the big screen after 1997's Vegas Vacation ushered Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo from the franchise. (A TV movie follow-up to 1989's Christmas Vacation did similarly poorly in 2003.) But for many fans, the franchise died after Christmas Vacation, the last good movie in the series. Now Chase and D'Angelo are back as ornery grandparents in a film actually focused on their kids, including Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold, all grown up, and Christina Applegate as his wife. Hey, there are worse franchises out there right now.
Fun fact: The co-director and screenwriter of this film is John Francis Daley — none other than awkward younger brother Sam Weir from TV's one-season wonder Freaks and Geeks.
Release date: August 7
Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Starring: Charlize Theron, Christina Hendricks, Chloë Grace Moretz
What it is: Here's another Gillian Flynn novel adaption, à la last year's Gone Girl, but with a much darker premise. If you wanted even more murder and bloody writing on the wall in Gone Girl, then this movie is for you. Libby Day (Charlize Theron) is the only surviving witness of a brutal massacre in Kansas with Satanic cult implications. Decades later, she is forced to revisit the massacres and rethink her original convictions.
Fun fact: Amy Adams almost played Libby Day. That could have been kinda weird.
Release date: August 7
Director: Josh Trank
Starring: Kate Mara, Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell
What it is: Director Josh Trank (Chronicle) has the arduous task of re-imagining and rebooting a Marvel franchise that was plunged into garbage-level cinema via movies like Rise of the Silver Surfer. With a fresh and tremendously talented cast, there's a hope that Trank and screenwriter Simon Kinberg can breathe new life into Mr. Fantastic (Teller), the Invisible Woman (Mara), the Human Torch (Jordan), and The Thing (Bell) — doing what First Class did for the X-Men after Brett Ratner got his hands on the franchise.
Fun fact: The Fantastic Four is known as the comic book that saved Marvel from shutting down in 1961. Without the Fantastic Four, there would be no X-Men, Avengers, or Spider-Man.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Release date: August 14
Director: Guy Ritchie
Starring: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander
What it is: Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer jostle for jawline space on screen as CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB agent Ilya Kuryakin, respectively, who must work together to take down a shadowy international criminal organization in this remake of the 1960s TV series. (Yes, the Brit is playing the American, and the American is playing the Russian.) Expect slickly stylish spy hijinks with a hefty dose of self-referential humor.
Fun fact: Since he first optioned the rights in 1993, producer John Davis has been through around a dozen scripts, with multiple directors (Matthew Vaughn, Steven Soderbergh, David Dobkin) and stars (Tom Cruise, George Clooney) attached or rumored to be.
Release date: August 14
Director: F. Gary Gray
Starring: Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, O'Shea Jackson Jr.
What it is: N.W.A. (Ni**az Wit Attitudes) is one of the most influential hip-hop groups ever. Five young men, including Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, and Ice Cube, solidified the creation of gangsta rap and West Coast hip-hop in Compton, California. That music came from a place filled with frustration and anger, one so relatable that it broke out into the mainstream and became a musical revolution. Straight Outta Compton is a loose, fictional biography of the group.
Fun fact: N.W.A.'s debut full-length album, Straight Outta Compton, was released on August 8, 1988 (8/8/88).
Release date: August 21
Director: Ariel Vroman
Starring: Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Tommy Lee Jones
What it is: Late summer is a weird time, when the strangest of concepts can get released to theaters, because, hey, most of the big blockbusters have already run out of gas. That's why there's a summer release of this odd little movie about Kevin Costner as a super-criminal with the brain of a dead CIA agent implanted in him to finish One Last Job. It pairs Costner — who continues to have a quiet renaissance filled with movies your dad might want to see — with Ryan Reynolds, whose days as a hot new star are very much over. Maybe Costner can give him advice on how to deal with the backlash.
Fun fact: Kevin Costner has an Oscar for Best Director for Dances With Wolves. That's not a surprising fact, but we thought it bore repeating. Isn't it weird to think about that? A little bit?
Release date: August 21
Director: Ciarán Foy
Starring: Shannyn Sossamon, James Ransone, Nicholas King
What it is: What’s better than a movie that squishes some of horror’s most well-worn tropes — creepy kids, leathery demons, found footage — into one slightly convoluted story? When that movie gets a sequel! Picking up where the 2012 Ethan Hawke flick left off, Sinister 2 sees single mom Shannyn Sossamon and her 9-year-old twin sons moving into an isolated rural house, where kid-possessing spirit Bughuul begins terrorizing them, aided by several ghosts of children past.
Fun fact: Jason Blum, executive producer of Blumhouse Productions, which is behind the Sinister and Insidious franchises, has hinted at the existence of Easter eggs within both film series that make clear they exist in a shared universe, à la Marvel’s stable of superhero movies.
Release date: August 28
Director: Aleksander Bach
Starring: Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto, Hannah Ware
What it is: Yes, in 2007, Hitman, a film based on the video game series of the same name, did fairly well at the box office, scoring nearly $100 million off a budget that was less than $25 million. Nobody was exactly crying out for a trip back to this universe — particularly without any of the original film's stars or its director — but Rupert Friend is a fine actor waiting for a breakthrough, and Zachary Quinto can sometimes be fun in movies like this. Still, a video game adaptation releasing on the last Friday in August? That's far too late in the season to bode well.
Fun fact: Does the line "No, you're locked in here with me" from the trailer sound familiar? It should. It's originally from the comic (and later film) Watchmen.