Hollywood winced last year when a formerly reliable moneymaker — the sequel — stubbed its toe. Remember “Zoolander 2,” “Bad Santa 2,” “Alice Through the Looking Glass” or “The Huntsman: Winter War”? Neither does anybody else.
A notable sequel flop was the fiasco of “Allegiant,” which underperformed so seriously that it put the existence of the final chapter in the “Divergent” series, as yet unmade, into limbo.
So there may be a bit of anxiety about this summer’s slate of movies, which — as ever — is heavy on sequels. Even Al Gore has a sequel, which really seems like overkill. But don’t worry, there are a few remakes thrown in for variety.
Scanning the schedule, we’ve got aliens, transformers, minions and apes. And, of course, more superheroes from Marvel. Why do I get the feeling we could write exactly the same paragraph every summer from now until doomsday?
Speaking of doomsday, there’s also the big-screen adaptation of “Baywatch” to look forward to.
If you’re still reading, along with the basket of predictables, we’ve got a few smaller films, a couple of literary adaptations, and an original Christopher Nolan World War II picture. So keep your hopes up, and let’s check out the list. Keep in mind that all of these openings dates are subject to change.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”: Here’s the summer’s true opening salvo, a sequel to the super-fun 2014 hit. The creative team (and of course the cast led by Chris Pratt) returns with more tongue-in-cheek space adventures and another golden oldies mixtape. A bunch of new characters join the fray, and Groot is still teeny-tiny after the events of the first film.
“The Dinner”: An exercise in psychological suspense, as two couples dine out and hash through an increasingly disturbing evening. The actors are capable of making this four-course affair interesting: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan and Rebecca Hall.
“A Quiet Passion”: It would be impossible to make a film out of the life of Emily Dickinson, and yet Cynthia Nixon and director Terence Davies have done it. The poet’s modest life is rendered in a series of formal scenes. An unusual approach, but it works, and Nixon is amazing.
“King Arthur — Legend of the Sword”: Hey, it’s a new King Arthur movie! And the director is … oh boy, it’s Guy Ritchie. I guess we’ll see whether Ritchie does a “Sherlock Holmes” on the noble Arthurian myths, or maybe plays it straightish. Charlie Hunnam plays the title role, Jude Law and Eric Bana wear shining armor, and giant elephants roam the land.
“The Wall”: Two U.S. soldiers (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jon Cena) find themselves pinned down by sniper fire. Sounds like one of those movies that get their mojo going by limiting the field of action. Doug Liman (“Edge of Tomorrow”) directs.
“Snatched”: Some cross-generational comedy here, as free-spirited Amy Schumer convinces uptight mom Goldie Hawn to join her on a road trip that quickly becomes disastrous. It seems like those character traits should be reversed, but hey, we’ll give this one a chance based on the proven skills of the comedians involved.
“Alien: Covenant”: A space creature is discovered on a distant planet. I’ll take a wild guess here and predict that the members of the crew begin dying horrible deaths, one by one. Director Ridley Scott follows up “Prometheus” with — well, you know the “Alien” universe. Michael Fassbender returns from the previous film, and Katherine Waterston assumes a Ripley-like role.
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid — The Long Haul”: The original 2010-12 coming-of-age trilogy was quietly good, but the actors have aged out of it, so this installment has re-booted the cast. Hey, it works for James Bond movies. The plot has the family going on an epic road trip, where disaster no doubt awaits.
“Baywatch”: Let us hope that Dwayne Johnson is able to play this one in his usual style of sarcasm, because there may be no other way to bear it. Zac Efron and his six-pack share co-starring duties, as the lifeguard crew is drawn into solving a crime that really ought to be left to police.
“Pirates of the Caribbean — Dead Men Tell No Tales”: Hard to believe this franchise is still yo-ho-ho-ing along. Given the six-year layoff since the previous one, is there still an audience on land or sea? Here’s No. 5 in the series, with Johnny Depp again staggering around as Cap’n Jack Sparrow. Javier Bardem takes over villain duties, as a ghostly Spaniard out for revenge.
“Wonder Woman”: Based on the reaction from the otherwise berated “Batman v. Superman,” the casting of Gal Gadot was a masterstroke for DC Comics’ female superheroine. Here WW gets her own vehicle, an origin story set during World War I. It’s directed by Patty Jenkins, and thus probably the highest-profile movie project ever helmed by a woman.
“Captain Underpants — The First Epic Movie”: A Dreamworks animated film about two prankish kids (voiced by Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch) who hypnotize their principal (Ed Helms) into thinking he’s a superhero. In underpants. Like most superheroes, in other words.
“The Mummy”: Tom Cruise, once the king of summer movies, tries to keep it going with a starring role in a film meant to revive the tradition of Universal Pictures’ classic monsters. An ancient princess from an Egyptian tomb comes alive, like they do. Russell Crowe is also in there, playing a certain Dr. Henry Jekyll (spoiler: he probably has a dark side).
“My Cousin Rachel”: Skewing toward a more grown-up audience, here’s some counter-programming courtesy a classic Daphne Du Maurier novel (previously filmed in 1952 with Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton). Rachel Weisz plays an enigmatic woman who beguiles a man (“Hunger Games” survivor Sam Claflin) sworn to be her enemy.
“Cars 3”: Pixar’s least-ingenious animated series gets another installment, as the cartoon vehicles take a victory lap. Can Lighting McQueen (Owen Wilson) return to his winning ways on the track, or is it time for the big body shop in the sky?
“All Eyez on Me”: Tupac Shakur gets the biopic (or should it be biopac?) treatment, with a newcomer, Demetrius Shipp Jr., in the lead role. Music-video veteran Benny Boom directs; no word yet on whether the musical question “Who Killed Tupac?” will be answered.
“Rough Night”: A male stripper dies during an out-of-control bachelorette party. A female version of “Very Bad Things?” Maybe, although this one looks like it tends toward slapstick comedy. Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon and “Broad City” star Ilana Glazer are among the accused.
“Transformers — The Last Knight”: Are you wondering why there’s another “Transformers” movie? Here are a few reasons: These things are huge in China. Actually, that’s the only reason we need, so here’s director Michael Bay back with the fifth installment. Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Hopkins — who else? — team up to fight for the Earth’s continued existence.
“The Beguiled”: Did not see this one coming: A remake of the cult 1971 Civil War film starring Clint Eastwood. Apparently director Sofia Coppola likes something about the tale of a wounded soldier (Colin Farrell in this version) tended to by a group of southern ladies, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst among them.
“Baby Driver”: Lots of festival buzz sticking to Edgar Wright’s heist picture, featuring a talented getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) who’s got his hands full with colorful crime types. A juiced-up cast includes Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm.
“The House”: Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler join forces as a married couple who set up an extra-legal casino. In their basement. Let’s be generous and hope the two stars can make something out of this.
“Despicable Me 3”: It must be the little minions that keep this cartoon series popular. In part three, the grouchy hero (voiced again by Steve Carell) is joined by a long-lost twin brother (also Carell), who wants to drag his bro back into a life of crime.
“Spider-Man — Homecoming”: There can’t possibly be another origin story about how young Peter Parker gained the powers of an arachnid, can there? Maybe not. This one brings Spidey (Tom Holland) into the Avengers’ universe. Robert Downey Jr. is here to provide iron-clad advice, and Michael Keaton joins the fray as an archvillain.
“War for the Planet of the Apes”: Will Andy Serkis someday win an honorary Oscar for all the motion-capture acting he’s done? Could be. The unseen performer returns as the simian leader Caesar in another chapter of this man vs. ape saga. Woody Harrelson plays a human who recklessly leads his people into the end of their species. Gotta love fantasy, right?
“Dunkirk”: A change of pace for Christopher Nolan, as the “Inception” director re-stages the escape of Allied troops from the onslaught of the Germans during WWII. A big cast provides ballast for a story that is, after all, about a defeat: Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh.
“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”: Based on a celebrated European comic series, this film is something of a dream project for action filmmaker Luc Besson (maybe back in his “Fifth Element” mode). Among the sci-fi heroes saving the universe are Dane DeHaan and supermodel Carla Delevingne — oh, and Rihanna is knocking around in there, too.
“Girl Trip”: Given the success of last year’s “Bad Moms,” you can expect more ladies-in-trouble comedies. This one’s got Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Queen Latifah kicking up their heels in New Orleans.
“An Inconvenient Sequel — Truth to Power”: An update to the Oscar-winning documentary from 2006. Al Gore surveys the progress made in the fight against climate change. Can’t wait to see who the new supervillains will be in this one.
“Atomic Blonde”: Charlize Theron got some festival kudos for her punchy role as a Cold War-era spy in this adaptation of the graphic novel “The Coldest City.” (I enthusiastically approve of the title change.) James McAvoy and John Goodman are also involved in espionage.
“The Dark Tower”: Stephen King’s series of novels comes to the screen, bringing along the author’s blend of fantasy, sci-fi, and the western. Idris Elba stars as the wandering Gunslinger, and Matthew McConaughey is hanging around waiting for him.
“Detroit”: The Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) returns with a look at the long, hot summer of 1967, which exploded in protests and racial violence in Detroit. John Boyega and Anthony Mackie are in the cast of a film that seems likely to figure in the Oscar race.
“Annabelle — Creation”: A creepy doll. Really, need we say more? The follow-up to “Annabelle” puts the haunted doll around some adopted kids, which really doesn’t sound like a good idea. The parental figures are played by the capable Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto.
“The Nut Job 2 — Nutty by Nature”: I would’ve preferred a sequel devoted entirely to the pug dog (voiced by Maya Rudolph) from the first movie, but fine. That character does return, along with the various squirrels and raccoons. This time they band together to fight a mayor who wants to turn their home into an amusement park.