Summer movies 2023: Indiana Jones, Mission: Impossible, Barbie, Oppenheimer and more

The films to watch out for this season – including two that make up the most anticipated movie weekend in years

Reports of event cinema’s death have been greatly exaggerated. As we drift into Hollywood’s flashiest season, we again see an array of titles budgeted at well over $100 million. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One clocks in at $290 million. Reports suggest Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny cost even more than that.

Those films will probably make money. One’s spirits are, however, slightly dampened by the near dearth of any potential new box-office behemoths. What is there to take over blockbuster duties when Tom Cruise retires Mission: Impossible to the hanger?

On the other hand, the furious chatter around July 21st has confirmed that cinema still matters to a lot of people. What are we talking about? No spoilers. This list takes us up to – God help us! – the arrival of the 2024 awards season, with Venice Film Festival in late August. Read on.

The Flash

All seemed well when Ezra Miller was cast as DC’s own Billy Whizz in a film from Andy Muschietti. Sasha Calle plays Supergirl. Michael Shannon reprises General Zod. What could go wrong? Miller became involved in a series of worrying incidents that ended with them being treated for “complex mental-health issues”. It has already been announced they will not be recast in any sequel. June 16th


No Hard Feelings

I have some distressing news. It seems Jennifer Lawrence is at the stage of playing the “older woman” in a romantic comedy. The Mrs Robinson! The star turns out as an Uber driver who, after the repossession of her car, accepts an offer from parents of a shy teenager to, ahem, help him into the world of grown-up dating. Andrew Barth Feldman plays the kid. Matthew Broderick is his dad. Could be a hoot. June 21st

Asteroid City

Who is in the new Wes Anderson film? Who is not in the new Wes Anderson film? Scarlett Johansson, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton and Tom Hanks – that’s just a smattering – appear in a typically pastel film about a “stargazers” convention in the United States in the 1950s. Reviews at Cannes last month were largely positive but this newspaper did have reservations. If you are looking for neat compositions, you will not be disappointed. June 23rd

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Do you really need us to tell you what this is? An indisputably game Harrison Ford turns out one more time as Indiana Jones in a film set amid a heightened version of the United States’ turbulent 1960s. Mads Mikkelsen plays a former Nazi now working on the US space programme. Phoebe Waller-Bridge turns up as Indy’s plucky goddaughter. We saw it at Cannes and it’s perfectly good fun if you’re up for an endless chase across the continents. June 28th

Smoking Causes Coughing

There is no surreal comedy like the surreal comedy of Quentin Dupieux. The latest from the director of Deerskin concerns a group of low-budget superheroes buffeted from comic adventure to comic adventure while an evil genius – in the Dr Who vein – plots to annihilate Earth. This writer reads our heroes, dubbed the Tobacco Force, as escapees from an antismoking commercial. But that may be applying too much logic. Hilarious anyway. July 7th


The latest from Pixar looks, on the basis of stills, awfully like the child of Inside Out and Soul. “In a city where fire, water, earth and air residents live together, a fiery young woman and a go-with-the-flow guy are about to discover something elemental,” the press release tells us. Debuted as the closing film of the Cannes film festival to politely positive reviews. July 7th

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

As the years have passed, Mission: Impossible has grown into one of the longest-running regular series to retain its original star. (Harrison Ford takes whole decades off from Indy.) This deep into the James Bond franchise, we were about to say goodbye to Timothy Dalton. Anyway, the latest reunites Tom Cruise with regulars Simon Pegg and Vanessa Kirby for a near three-hour scoot after another world-threatening weapon. July 11th

Squaring the Circle

Every rock fan over a certain age will have a favourite album cover by the influential design house Hipgnosis. The warrior on Wishbone Ash’s Argus. The Giant’s Causeway on Led Zeppelin’s House of the Holy. And, of course, the prism on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Anton Corbijn, a rock photographer from the next generation, directs a documentary on the team. July 14th


The most anticipated movie weekend in years – Blur vs Oasis all over again – finally arrives with, first, Greta Gerwig’s intriguing take on the popular toy, starring Margot Robbie in many shades of pink. The project was initially greeted with some scepticism but brilliant marketing has left movie fans salivating. Noah Baumbach, also the director’s romantic partner, helps out with a script allegedly based on Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. Oasis? July 21st


The most anticipated movie weekend in years – let’s stick with Blur vs Oasis, okay? – continues with, second, Christopher Nolan’s study of J Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb. Our own Cillian Murphy (implausibly now a bit older than the physicist at the time of the Manhattan Project) turns up in the title role. Matt Damon, Florence Pugh and Kenneth Branagh are just a few of the stars in support. Blur? July 21st

My Name Is Alfred Hitchcock

Can we call this counterprogramming to the above? We are always there for the film documentaries of the Belfast man Mark Cousins. Still more so when he finally gets around to the greatest director of all time. Alistair McGowan impersonates Hitchcock in a film that has the master explaining his techniques to a 21st-century audience. “The artifice adds a fitting layer of playfulness,” the Hollywood Reporter told us from Telluride Film Festival. July 21st

The Beanie Bubble

Good god. After Air, Tetris, Flamin’ Hot and Blackberry, we get yet another biography of a brand. Another brandopic, if you will. Codirected by Kristin Gore, daughter of Al, The Beanie Bubble stars Zach Galifianakis in a study of the Beanie Babies phenomenon. The source book promises ponderings on “mass delusion and the dark side of cute”. Apple will be putting the film in cinemas before streaming, perhaps suggesting some awards confidence. July 21st

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

What more do you need to know? As the Turtles prepare to celebrate 40 years since their creation (first in a comic), Jeff Rowe, director of the excellent The Mitchells Vs the Machines, takes over the directorial reins. “We wanted it to be like Stand By Me and Lady Bird. But, you know, with Ninja Turtles,” he recently told Empire magazine. Well, there’s no harm in aiming high. July 31st

The Meg 2: The Trench

Ben Wheatley has had the oddest career. A decade ago, he emerged with singular British horrors such as Kill List and A Field in England. He stumbled a tad with High-Rise, Free Fire and a drab take on Rebecca before returning with the excellent folk horror In the Earth. His response? Sequel duties on the follow-up to a Jason Statham megashark movie. August 4th

Gran Turismo

Has The Last of Us TV series finally broken the curse on video game adaptations? The makers of this variation on a now-venerable racing simulation will hope so. Neill Blomkamp, who has had trouble building on the success of District 9, gets behind the camera for a film starring David Harbour and Orlando Bloom. In development for a decade. August 11th

Haunted Mansion

Walt Disney has spent a fortune on another crack at the theme-park attraction of the same name. It is a full 20 years since Eddie Murphy shuddered his way around the spooky pile to only modest financial success. The new film has emerged from development hell with an undeniably impressive cast: LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito and the freshly minted Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis. So you never know. August 11th

The Last Voyage of the Demeter

Not a terrible idea for a Dracula flick. The storming Irish actor Aisling Franciosi stars opposite her compatriot Liam Cunningham in a shocker focusing on the ship stalked by the count in Bram Stoker’s immortal source novel. André Øvredal, who directed the excellent Norwegian comedy horror Trollhunter, sounds like just the man for megaphone duties. August 11th

Blue Beetle

The 14th film in the DC Extended Universe has reached far beyond the familiar world of Batman or Superman (or even Aquaman). Angel Manuel Soto, director of Charm City Kings, is on board for this treatment of a Mexican superhero who, then in Anglo form, made his first comic-book appearance as long ago as 1964. Xolo Maridueña, from Cobra Kai, stars in a film that promises colour and zip. August 18th

Theatre Camp

Jazz hands, everyone! Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman’s comedy set in a summer camp for theatre enthusiasts went down well at Sundance earlier in the year. It seems there were not one but two standing ovations after the screening. “The jokes are good. Sure, many require a knowledge of musical theatre but even newbies will find something to love,” Vanity Fair told us. August 25th