The movies are definitely back! July’s release calendar has theaters back in full swing, but Netflix and Prime Video still have a couple of summer smashes coming as well. It’s a packed month for the movies.
‘Black Widow’ July 9th (Theaters and Disney+ Premier Access)
Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow has been a fan favorite through her many appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But despite being a main member of the original Avengers team, she never received her due with her own solo adventure, and since she sacrificed herself to help save the universe in Avengers: Endgame, a stand-alone movie for the heroine seemed unlikely.
This year’s Black Widow aims to correct that. Directed by Cate Shortland, the film is set between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. With the superhero team broken up and several in hiding, Natasha is pulled into a conspiracy that ties back to her dark past before she became an Avenger. The film’s action has been compared to the likes of the recent Mission: Impossible movies, and with this being Marvel’s first theatrical release since 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, they’re surely looking to remind audiences how fantastic their big screen spectacles can still be.
‘The Forever Purge’ July 2nd (Theaters)
The Purge franchise was alluring to audiences from day one thanks to its morbidly fun concept: In a not-so-distant future, the United States has only grown more dystopian. Crime has seemingly been eliminated, only due to the fact that the country now celebrates an annual holiday that allows crimes of any kind to be legal for the one day. The 2013 original kicked off a series of three more movies and a television show, all written by creator James DeMonaco.
The fifth and supposedly final entry in the franchise, The Forever Purge follows the events of 2016’s The Purge: Election Year. It follows a Mexican couple escaping from a drug cartel who end up trapped on a Texas ranch. There, they must contend with a group of lawless killers who wish to keep the Purge going indefinitely.
‘The Tomorrow War’ July 2nd (Amazon Prime Video)
The upcoming sci-fi action flick The Tomorrow War marks the live-action directorial debut of filmmaker Chris McKay, best known for The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie. The world is stunned when a group of time travelers arrive from the year 2051 to deliver an urgent message: Thirty years in the future, mankind is losing a global war against a deadly alien species. The only hope for survival is for soldiers and civilians from the present to be transported to the future and join the fight.
Among those recruited is high school teacher and family man Dan Forester (Chris Pratt). Determined to save the world for his young daughter, Dan teams up with a brilliant scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) and his estranged father (J.K. Simmons) in a desperate quest to rewrite the fate of the planet.
‘Fear Street’ July 2nd, 9th, & 16th (Netflix)
R.L. Stine is famous for his Goosebumps series, which brought fun scares to younger audiences, but he also proved that he could frighten slightly older demographics as well with his Fear Street books aimed at teenage audiences. An adaptation has been in the works for years, with Netflix finally acquiring the distribution rights and planning to release an entire Fear Street trilogy of movies over the span of three consecutive weeks.
The first part, Fear Street: 1994, follows a group of teenagers who investigate the terrifying events that have been occurring in their town of Shadyside, Ohio. The second installment, Fear Street: 1978 takes place at a summer camp where the divided campers and counselors must band together to solve a similar mystery that connects to the first film. Finally, Fear Street: 1666 will tie all three films together by exploring the origins of the town’s deadly curse. What’s most interesting is that the trilogy will be rated R, hinting that they’ll be a bit more intense than the original books.
‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ July 14th (Netflix)
Arguably the most bizarre title of the month, Gunpower Milkshake brings together three generations of women – Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh, and Angela Bassett – to kick some serious ass in this action adventure. In her turbulent life as a professional assassin, Scarlet (Headey) was cruelly forced to abandon her daughter Sam (Gillan) and go on the run. Years later, despite the estrangement, Sam has also grown up into a cold-blooded hitwoman.
After a high-stake mission spins out of control, putting an innocent 8-year-old girl in the middle of a gang war she has unleashed, Sam has no choice but to go rogue. This ultimately leads her back to her mother and her former hitwomen sidekicks, who all join forces in an avenging war against those who took everything from them. The film is directed by Navot Papushado and also features Paul Giamatti.
‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ July 16th (Theaters and HBO Max)
Space Jam is one of those perfect encapsulations of 90s culture in all its corporate synergy glory. Originating from a pair of Nike commercials, the 1996 film merged sports megastar Michael Jordan with the iconic Looney Tunes characters and kicked off a multi-billion dollar franchise. Plans for sequels were started right after Space Jam’s immediate success, but nothing came to fruition, and the Looney Tunes were retired from feature films after the box office disappointment of 2003’s Looney Tunes: Back in Action.
But a sequel was inevitable in today’s Hollywood landscape, so now we have Space Jam: A New Legacy, which looks like…basically the same movie but with LeBron James this time. Not that that’s a bad thing; the original has a charm to it and the combination of live-action with animation is still impressive to this day. The new movie will have James team up with the Looney Tunes to take on the Goon Squad in a basketball game in order to rescue his son. And it won’t just feature the Tunes – a ton of characters from other Warner Bros. properties will be appearing as well.
‘Escape Room: Tournament of Champions’ July 16th (Theaters)
The sudden and massive popularity of escape rooms has been waning for some time now (COVID likely helped with that) but that didn’t stop 2019’s Escape Room movie from earning itself enough cash at the box office to secure itself a sequel. While originally intended to be released last year, the pandemic pushed things back for over a year, as director Adam Robitel has been adamant that the film only be in theaters rather than streaming in order for it to have the intended impact.
The first film had a group of people trapped in a series of deadly escape rooms and is actually pretty fun – think Saw but not as hyper-violent or dour. Tournament of Champions will likely be more of the same, picking up right where the first one leaves off. The escapes this time around promise to be even wilder than before, and more dangerous.
‘Snake Eyes’ July 23rd (Theaters)
The G.I. Joe film series kicked off in 2009 with The Rise of Cobra, which was followed up by Retaliation four years later. The sequel was met with a lukewarm reactions from critics and audiences, causing future films to be stalled for years. But it seems enough time has passed to wake the franchise back up with Snake Eyes, an origin film for the titular character that appeared in the previous two installments. Henry Golding will be taking over the role from Ray Park.
Directed by Robert Schwentke (Flightplan, Red, and 2/3 of the Divergent series), the film follows Snake Eyes as he’s welcomed into and trained by an ancient Japanese ninja clan called the Arashikage. But he finds his loyalties being tested when secrets from his past are revealed, as he eventually goes on the path to become the famous G.I. Joe hero.
‘Old’ July 23rd (Theaters)
M. Night Shyamalan’s last films to hit theaters were Split and Glass, his stealth-sequels to 2000’s Unbreakable (which is brilliant, watch it). Split made a huge splash, but Glass had people very divided on its ending. Either way, that hasn’t slowed down the hype for his latest project – Old, which follows a family on a tropical vacation who discover that the secluded beach they are relaxing on for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly, reducing their entire lives into a single day.
The film is based on the graphic novel Sandcastle by Pierre Oscar Levy and Frederik Peeters. Shyamalan received it as a Father’s Day gift from his daughter and immediately became interested in turning it into a movie. It stars Gael García Barnel, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Eliza Scanlen, Thomasin McKenzie, and more.
‘The Green Knight’ July 30th (Theaters)
Sir Gaiwan and the Green Knight is one of the famous Arthurian stories from all the way back in the 14th century. A24, the red-hot movie studio that’s been churning out hits like Hereditary, Lady Bird, Midsommar, and The Lighthouse, has enlisted filmmaker David Lowery to helm an adaptation of the medieval poem, with Dev Patel starring as Sir Gaiwan.
Lowery is best known for his acclaimed films Pete’s Dragon, A Ghost Story and the Old Man & the Gun, and Patel is fresh off a Oscar-nominated role in last year’s Sound of Metal. A fantasy adventure based on the Arthurian legend, The Green Knight will tell the story of King Arthur’s headstrong nephew, who embarks on a quest to confront the eponymous Knight, a gigantic tree-like creature.