The most anticipated movies of summer 2024

They say it’s a strange summer for movies. Studios are putting all their chips on 2025 being the year that movie theaters come back, and are stacking the calendar accordingly. The big superhero movie houses are almost all on pause. Massive franchises are staying out of the summer window, with Dune: Part Two a spring fling and Joker: Folie à Deux biding its time until fall.

But that just means there’s actually room for the little guys to breathe. There are inventive geri-action comedies, summer horror flicks, literary romance adaptations, and even an Oscar-nominated animated feature finally getting wide release. Some of your favorite franchises are back with new installments, like Inside Out, Alien, Bad Boys, and The Crow. And, of course, there’s still one remaining big-budget superhero crossover blowout. Here’s what Polygon is looking forward to most.


Image: Lionsgate Films

Release date: July 4

This is one of those movies I’ve been waiting for all year after hearing the buzz from the festival circuit. Kill promises to rewrite American expectations of popular Bollywood cinema, bringing a darkly violent action thriller to the screens.

Set on a train to Delhi, the movie follows a commando (Lakshya) and his friend as they try to reunite with the man’s lover after her family takes her away ahead of an arranged marriage. As the two men make their way through the train, bandits attack and violence ensues. The action is absolutely brutal and the movie has plenty of surprises in store — not the least of which is the absence of the markers of “masala films” (like musical numbers) typical of many big Bollywood offerings that make it stateside. It’s more like The Raid and Project Wolf Hunting, and is a thrill ride from start to finish. —PV


Two women in short dresses, walk down a Hollywood street together in MaXXine.

Image: A24

Release date: July 5

The third movie in Ti West’s trilogy of Mia Goth-led slashers, MaXXXine takes the horror franchise to Hollywood. This sequel to X and Pearl takes place in the 1980s, and follows Maxine in the aftermath of the events of X, when she goes to Los Angeles to break out of porn and into real movies. Of course, there’s a mysterious murderer on the loose in the City of Angels, and he might be after Maxine herself. If the previous movies in the series are anything to go on, it seems that this one will feature plenty of gruesome murders and enough twists to constantly keep audiences on their toes. —AG


A woman wearing an FBI ID lanyard stands in what seems to be a dim, blood-splattered room in Longlegs.

Image: Neon

Release date: July 12

If you know anything about this movie at all, it’s likely from its incredibly creepy promotional campaign that seems to be purposefully keeping details vague. What we know for sure is that Longlegs is about a mysterious serial killer played by Nicolas Cage, and involves some kind of cryptic Zodiac killer-like code that keeps cropping up in each new poster and teaser trailer. The movie is directed by Osgood Perkins (The Blackcoat’s Daughter), and looks horrifying and absolutely gruesome. As for what’s at the end of the codes in the teasers and pictures, we’ll likely just have to wait for the movie to find out. —Austen Goslin


People and debris fly through the air in Twisters.

Image: Universal Pictures

Release date: July 19

It’s more than fair to be skeptical about a sequel to Twister that’s coming out nearly 20 years after the original movie was released — especially when it looks so much like a remake. But when faced with the sheer F5-force of Glen Powell’s charisma, it’s awfully hard not to get on board. Powell seems to be playing a tornado-chasing internet personality whose whole gimmick is driving his truck straight into the path of oncoming tornados, anchoring the vehicle to the ground, then filming the inside of one of nature’s most terrifying weather phenomena. With a premise like that and a star like Powell, how can you help but be excited for Twisters? —AG

Skywalkers: A Love Story

Two figures embrace on the top of a very, very high up crane in Skywalkers: A Love Story.

Image: Netflix

Release date: July 19

Being in love often comes with fears of “falling too hard.” Rarely is that concern so literalized as it is in Skywalkers: A Love Story, where a (you guessed it) love story is set against two daredevils attempting to climb the highest structures in the world. Unfortunately for the two “rooftopping” influencers, their rough patch has hit right as they’re about to attempt their most ambitious and risky climb ever.

Skywalkers goes down easy thanks to the same slick narrativizing that influencers employ in their work. But it succeeds as a documentary because the story, told across grand heights and spires above cityscapes, feels neat and specific: time-tested love story tropes, with hair-raising stakes. —Zosha Millman

Deadpool & Wolverine

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool/Wade Wilson and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine/Logan Deadpool and Wolverine. Deadpool has his hands pressed over his mouth humorously, while Wolverine looks tired.

Photo: Jay Maidment/20th Century Studios

Release date: July 26

Ryan Reynolds returns as Wade Wilson for a third Deadpool flick, and he’s dragging Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine along with him for the only big blockbuster superhero movie of the summer.

Deadpool & Wolverine seems to serve both as a farewell tribute to the franchise that put Reynolds back on the map after Green Lantern, and as a coming-out party for the Merc with a Mouth. Not in the sense that he’s pansexual, of course, but in the sense that, thanks to corporate acquisitions, he can now reckon with the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the first time. Specifically, reckoning with the Time Variance Authority, which needs him on a mission to… do something, with a washed-up alternate timeline Wolverine, to combat Professor Xavier’s evil twin sister. Folks, it’s a hot Cassandra Nova summer. —Susana Polo


Three young men in matching blue tracks suits walk up some stairs

Image: British Film Institute via The Sundance Institute

Release date: Aug. 2

No one spends enough time talking about Irish rap music. Thankfully, Kneecap is here to help. The new movie is a semi-biopic of the influential Irish-language rap group of the same name, and actually stars the real members of the band in a slightly fictionalized version of their rise to fame. Aside from just being an extremely fun movie about extremely kickass music, the film also has one eye toward Ireland’s relationship to its past and its culture in a way that makes perfect sense considering the group behind it. Along with the members of Kneecap, the movie also stars Michael Fassbender — who gets to use his Irish accent for once. —AG


Josh Hartnett wearing a brown jacket and unassuming smile in a closeup from the movie Trap

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: Aug. 9

M. Night Shyamalan’s next movie has one of the best trailers of all time, and the trailer itself even includes a twist worthy of his reputation. The movie follows a man, played by Josh Hartnett, who takes his daughter to a pop star’s show at a massive arena. But when police and armed guards start congregating by all the exits, he discovers that this whole concert is a setup to capture a notorious serial killer who the police know is in attendance. We’ll save the real twist for the trailer to reveal, but suffice it to say we’re pretty excited for this one. —AG


Hunter Schafer hides behind a shelf as a scary figure looms in Cuckoo

Image: Neon

Release date: Aug. 9

Cuckoo is a horror movie that follows Gretchen (Hunter Schafer) as she settles into a new home in the German Alps with her dad and his new family. Her dad moved there for a job, but it seems his employer, Mr. König (Dan Stevens), has some kind of ulterior motive for having the family move. Few things sound more terrifying than being isolated in the mountains with someone you can’t trust, which is exactly why Cuckoo looks so fascinating and terrifying, and why we can’t wait to see it. —AG


Kevin Hart as Roland, Jamie Lee Curtis as Tannis, Ariana Greenblatt as Tiny Tina, Florian Munteanu as Krieg, and Cate Blanchett as Lilith in Borderlands. They are all dressed outlandishly, peering around a rusted metal structure looking apprehensive.

Image: Lionsgate Films

Release date: Aug. 9

Though the film is embroiled in public reshoot drama and attribution mysteries, trailers for Borderlands make the upcoming video game movie look like an unexpectedly fizzy, flamboyant good time. With the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy behind us, Cate Blanchett, Kevin Hart, Jamie Lee Curtis, ex-boxer Florian Munteanu, Barbie’s Ariana Greenblatt, and Jack Black — voicing the franchise’s sarcastic robot pal Claptrap — have stepped up to fill the void of the goofy found family that bounds across alien worlds while shooting laser guns. Somehow this is Blanchett, Black, and director Eli Roth’s second collab (maybe you missed The House with a Clock in Its Walls), which is an odd vote of confidence as they attempt to go big and weird with an adaptation that needs to be big and weird. —MP

It Ends With Us

Blake Lively and Justin Baldoni as Lily and Ryle in It Ends With Us. They’re happily doing karaoke together.

Photo: Nicole Rivelli/Sony Pictures

Release date: Aug. 9

If you’ve followed the BookTok phenomenon at all, you’re probably already familiar with Colleen Hoover’s name — even if you haven’t read any of her books, her name has been all over the media for years, as TikTok reviews turned her into a massive bestseller. The first movie based on one of her novels is set to be released in August (after being bumped from February, then June, so we’ll see…), with Blake Lively and Justin Baldoni as recent college graduate Lily and abusive boyfriend Ryle, whose romance-novel relationship has launched endless online arguments since It Ends With Us was first published in 2016. Look for the film adaptation to revive all that debate. —TR

Alien: Romulus

A xenomorph snarls and drools at a person’s face in Alien: Romulus

Image: 20th Century Studios

Release date: Aug. 16

It’s not like recent Alien films haven’t been interested in horror — 2012’s Prometheus has one of the franchise’s most frightening sequences, and the misanthropy of its 2017 sequel Alien: Covenant is downright chilling. It’s just that Alien films haven’t been so thoroughly committed to scaring audiences since, well, Ridley Scott’s original film. Alien: Romulus is billed as a return to form, and the early teases are tantalizing. The film is directed by Uruguayan horror phenom Fede Alvarez, who co-wrote the script with frequent collaborator Rodo Sayagues. Details on Romulus are scant, with a story set between Alien and Aliens centering on young scavengers finding the Xenomorphs on an abandoned space station. What is clear, however, is that this movie is meant to be very scary — something Alvarez has proven to be extremely good at, given his breakout Don’t Breathe and his very mean remake of Evil Dead. —Joshua Rivera

The Crow

Bill Skarsagård as Eric/the Crow in The Crow, walking down a street at night lookin pretty goth.

Photo: Larry Horricks/Lionsgate Films

Release date: Aug. 23

After spending an eternity in development, Lionsgate’s The Crow reimagining is finally upon us, with Bill Skarsgård (IT, John Wick: Chapter 4) stepping into the gothic shoes of the gone-way-too-soon original star Brandon Lee. The new version, directed by Rupert Sanders (Ghost in the Shell), sounds a lot like the old version, kicking off with the vicious murder of two “soulmates,” Eric (Skarsgård) and Shelly (FKA Twigs). As in the 1994 film, Eric finds himself resurrected and ready for revenge — but, you know, in a more 2024 way. The Crow knows gun fu now. —MP

My Old Ass

Maisy Stella and Aubrey Plaza sitting on a log in the woods with a tent in My Old Ass

Image: Indian Paintbrush via The Sundance Institute

Release date: Sept. 13

Mushroom trips come in all shapes and sizes, and for Elliott (Maisy Stella), on one fateful day, it comes in the form of a vision of her older self (Aubrey Plaza) warning her not to fall in love with one specific boy. Of course, as these things go, once she actually meets him, it might not matter how many drug-trip time travelers warn her not to fall in love. My Old Ass comes from the director of the excellent and underrated Jenna Ortega movie The Fallout, and already looks like one of the most fun and heartwarming comedies of the year so far. —AG

[Ed. note: Here are the movies that used to be on this list but have already premiered. We’ve moved them to the bottom to help keep the rest of the list easy to read.]


In a Violent Nature

A hooded figure standing in front of a dirty white four-door van raises an axe to swing. They’ve got chains draped around their shoulders and appear to be in the middle of the woods. (In a Violent Nature)

Photo: Pierce Derks/IFC Films

Release date: May 31

If you have found yourself looking at the last few years in horror movies and thinking that the monsters are getting a raw deal lately, then In a Violent Nature is for you. Billed as a slasher movie from the killer’s point of view, it follows a vengeful spirit that returns from the dead to take vengeance on some unsuspecting hikers. The movie is a clever mix of beautiful pastoral images, as we watch the killer wander through fields and forests in search of his victims, and some of the most brutal kills you’ll find in any horror movie this year. —AG


Robot Dreams

Dog and Robot at the beach — amusement park rides and boardwalk restaurants are visible behind them. They watch as three pigs in bathing suits dash towards the water in Robot Dreams.

Image: Arcadia Motion Pictures

Release date: May 31

The mysterious fifth entry in the 2024 Oscars’ Best Animated Feature category finally gets a wide release this summer. Robot Dreams follows a lonely dog in a world of anthropomorphic animals who decides to buy a robot to be his best friend. It’s a touching and poignant tale of friendship, told entirely without dialogue. You’ll never listen to “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire the same way again. —Petrana Radulovic


Three men stand over disturbed earth. Two look horrified, but the one in the middle looks stoic in Exhuma.

Image: Showbox

Release date: June 4 (digital)

This blockbuster horror movie is the highest-grossing film in Korea this year, beating out even the latest installment of Ma Dong-seok’s box office heavy hitter series The Roundup. Exhuma stars Choi Min-sik (Oldboy) as a feng shui master recruited by a shaman (Kim Go-eun, Guardian: The Lonely and Great God) to help relocate a haunted grave.

Director Jang Jae-hyun, whose specialty is supernatural movies that focus on the occult, has said he emphasized real props and locations for filming, avoiding not just CG, but building sets whenever possible.

A box office sensation in Korea, it could be the next big crossover horror hit for American audiences. While it had a limited theatrical run in March, its digital arrival means a whole lot more people will be able to see one of the year’s biggest horror movies this summer. —Pete Volk

The Watchers

Dakota Fanning as Mina in The Watchers. She has her cheek pressed against a large mirror, creating an eerily symmetrical image.

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: June 7

The first feature film directed by M. Night Shyamalan’s daughter Ishana, The Watchers follows a young girl who ventures deep into the woods and ends up trapped in a strange house that’s supposedly observed by mysterious creatures. Every day, the occupants of the house must line up to be inspected by the creatures, leading to some truly terrifying scenes, if the trailer is to be believed. The movie stars Dakota Fanning and is based on a novel by A.M. Shine. —AG

Bad Boys: Ride or Die

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence ready guns in Bad Boys: Ride or Die. They’re sharing a “look” as they stand in a bodega wearing somewhat bedraggled black tie formalwear.

Photo: Frank Masi/Sony Pictures

Release date: June 7

You’d be forgiven for being skeptical of the fourth entry of an action franchise that started in the mid-’90s, but that just tells me you didn’t watch Bad Boys for Life. Directing duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (now also known for their shelved Batgirl movie) took the mantle of Michael Bay’s buddy cop franchise and ran with it, delivering one of the best legacy sequels in an era filled with them, and making the prospect of a fourth movie a very exciting one.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return as detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett. This time, the supporting cast includes Tiffany Haddish, Eric Dane, Joe Pantoliano, Rhea Seehorn, and, ominously, “DJ Khaled as Manny the Butcher.” Adil and Bilall won me over with Bad Boys for Life (and I’ve heard great things about their independent drama Rebel), and I couldn’t be more excited for them to get another run at this ridiculous franchise. —PV

Hit Man

Glen Powell as Gary in Hit Man. He’s sneering badassfully while wearing a ridiculous wig.

Image: Netflix

Release date: June 7 (limited release on May 24)

Glen Powell is one of our finest movie stars, and there’s no better proof of it than his new Netflix movie Hit Man. Directed by Richard Linklater, Hit Man tells the story of Gary (Powell), a mild-mannered nerd who participates in police sting operations to arrest people who are trying to hire contract killers. Gary does his part by mimicking whatever he thinks his latest target’s ideal assassin might look like — which results in Powell donning some hilarious disguises, wigs, and accents. Everything goes swimmingly until he ends up getting too close to someone he’s supposed to help set up, leading to fantastic comedy and some genuine danger. —AG

Descendants: The Rise of Red

The blue-garbed Chloe, daughter of Cinderella and Prince Charming, and the red-garbed Red, daughter of the Queen of Hearts, crouch hidden and concerned in the woods.

Photo: Quantrell Colbert/Disney

Release date: July 12 on Disney Plus

If you only know Disney for theatrical blockbusters, you could easily overlook one of its biggest franchises: The Descendants. This July, the “what if Disney villains’ kids went to high school together?” series graduates to the Disney Plus big leagues with a tentpole event film that finds Red (Kylie Cantrall) averting a coup staged by her mother, the Queen of Hearts, by time-traveling back to before her villainous turn. Yes, it’s the Disney Channel version of Terminator, and Brandy is back as Cinderella. Major. —Matt Patches

Inside Out 2

Riley, a blonde white girl in a teal hockey uniform, enthusiastically meets with two of her friends, an Asian girl and a Black girl, in the stands

Image: Disney/Pixar

Release date: June 14

Pixar takes on… Anxiety! Also Embarrassment, Ennui, and Envy — the big, self-conscious emotions that come with being a teenager. Joy and the rest of the gang from the original movie confront these new feelings on the morning that Riley goes to a hockey camp that could determine her social status in high school forever (or so Anxiety would have them think). How do these new emotions fit in with what we know of the Inside Out world? Guess we’ll find out on a zany new ride into Riley’s inner mind. —PR

Ultraman: Rising

Ultraman, a giant, streamlined, humanoid figure, streaks through city streats, running with traffic.

Image: Netflix

Release date: June 14 on Netflix

Ultraman returns with a new movie this summer, and from what we’ve seen so far, it’s shaping up to be one of the most visually astounding entries in the franchise yet. Directed by Shannon Tindle (Lost Ollie), Ultraman: Rising follows the story of Ken Sato (Christopher Sean), a brash and hotheaded baseball player who returns to his hometown of Tokyo to assume the mantle of Ultraman from his elderly father. Reluctant to fully embrace his responsibilities as a defender of humanity, Ken is faced with his greatest challenge yet in the unlikeliest of forms: a baby kaiju who mistakenly takes him for its mother.

Featuring an original cast of characters and a stunning animation style that conjures obvious comparisons to Sony’s Spider-Verse films, Ultraman: Rising might be the franchise’s best chance yet at breaking through into the Western mainstream. —Toussaint Egan


June Squibb and Richard Round Tree as Thelma and Ben, look to their right as they motor down the sidewalk on a two-seater mobility scooter in Thelma.

Image: Magnolia Pictures

Release date: June 21

Thelma is basically The Beekeeper if Jason Statham’s character were played by your grandmother, and it’s just as much fun as that sounds. The movie stars 94-year-old June Squibb as Thelma, an older woman who gets scammed and wants revenge. To get it, she hops on her motorized scooter, rounds up an accomplice (the late Richard Roundtree), and gets to work. Thelma is absolutely hilarious, and makes great use of action movie staples like slow motion to add both tension and comedy to Thelma’s quest for revenge. —AG

Kinds of Kindness

Margaret Qualley, Jesse Plemons and Willem Dafoe lie in a tender embrace in Kinds of Kindness (although Plemons looks kind of worried about it).

Photo: Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures

Release date: June 21

Just a few months after scoring a slew of Oscars, including Best Actress, Poor Things pair Emma Stone and Yorgos Lanthimos are back with a new one, a “triptych fable” that smashes together ruminations on love and faith. The stacked cast, which includes Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hunter Schafer, and Hong Chau, all play different roles in what looks like one of Lanthimos’ more grounded efforts; unlike with The Favourite or The Lobster, he shot the movie in various parts of New Orleans. But fans shouldn’t fear that Stone and the director are going soft; the words “surreal” and “aggressive” are all over the early Cannes reviews. —MP

The Bikeriders

Austin Butler as Benny in The Bikeriders. He sits slouched and scruffy in a jacket covered in patches.

Photo: Bryan Schutmaat/Focus Features

Release date: June 21

If your major objection to Dune: Part Two was that Denis Villeneuve had Austin Butler shave his head to play Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen, and you didn’t get to see Butler’s glorious hair (and really, what possible objection could people have to Villeneuve’s film otherwise?), have we got a movie for you. Based on a nonfiction book about exploring and photographing motorcycle clubs in Chicago in the 1960s, the latest film from indie darling Jeff Nichols (Midnight Special, Mud, Take Shelter) seems to have been built entirely around Austin Butler’s hair and his effortless sense of cool. Co-starring Tom Hardy in a rare nonmasked role, this one is a swoony love letter to the glory days of motorcycle clubs, and watching it feels a lot like looking into modern fandoms, just with more mechanics and less internet squabbling. —Tasha Robinson

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