In mid-20th century America, going to summer movies came with the added bonus of enjoying air conditioning, something most homeowners couldn't afford. That, coupled with 50-cent admission prices meant theaters were packed to the gills. In the latter half of the century, cineplexes continued to see huge summer box-office receipts from blockbusters such as Jaws, Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Now, in the summer of 2017, with ticket prices in the double digits and home entertainment options growing rapidly, it will be a tough task for cinemas to compete for time and cash. There will be some familiar faces on the big screen this summer—pirates, web-slingers, talking apes and transformers—but there are also plenty of original titles to pique your interest. So, here's my list, ranked by level of enthusiasm, of the must-see movies of summer 2017. And for the first time, my summer movie list includes TV network and streaming service premieres.
1. Dunkirk—Director Christopher Nolan's epic should be a Best Picture Oscar contender (July 21).).
2. The Big Sick—One of the best-reviewed comedies in ages (July 14).
3. Okja—Director Bong Joon-ho's follow up to Snowpiercer (June 28, Netflix).
4. Detroit—Director Kathryn Bigelow visits the 1967 Motor City riots (Aug. 4).
5. Hell on Earth—Director Sebastian Junger chronicles the fall of Syria and the rise of ISIS (June 11, NatGeo).
6. Maudie—Sally Hawkins is Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis (June 16).
7. The Trip to Spain—Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden hit the road again (Sept. 8).
8. Baby Driver—This hard-driving action thriller stars Kevin Spacey and Jon Hamm (June 28).
9. Ingrid Goes West—The heir apparent to Bridesmaids or The Hangover (Aug. 18).
10. Atomic Blonde—Charlize Theron is a super sexy super spy (July 28).
11. Wonder Woman—Gal Godot is the Amazon princess (June 2).
12. Churchill—Another in a long list of Churchill biopics (June 9).
13. The Beguiled—Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell in the remake of the 1971 thriller (June 30).
14. My Cousin Rachel—Rachel Weisz in an adaptation of the 1951 novel (June 9).
15. Buena Vista Social Club: Adios—A follow up to the smash 1999 documentary (June 2).
16. A Ghost Story—This Sundance hit stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara (July 28).
17. The Little Hours—A hard R-rated comedy starring Aubrey Plaza and Alison Brie (July 14).
18. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales—This is the fifth cruise for Johnny Depp (May 26).
19. Paris Can Wait—Diane Lane cruises the French countryside (June 16).
20. Landline—This comedy made a big splash at Sundance (July 21).
21. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)—TCM and Fathom bring the 1988 classic back to the big screen (June 25).
22. It Comes At Night—This horror film could be the sleeper hit of the summer (June 9).
23. Death Note—This supernatural thriller is one of the biggest productions ever on a streaming service (Aug. 25, Netflix).
24. War for the Planet of the Apes—Caesar and his simian soldiers go to battle (July 14).
25. The Hitman's Bodyguard—An action comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Sam Jackson (Aug. 18).
26. The Journey—The true story of the Northern Ireland peace talks (July 7).
27. Captain Underpants—The children's favorite makes his big screen debut (June 2).
28. The House—Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler team up (June 30).
29. Lost in Paris—Emmanuelle Riva stars in this comic puff pastry (June 23).
30. Brigsby Bear—SNL vets Kyle Mooney, Andy Samberg and Beck Bennett co-star (Aug. 25).
31. Lady Macbeth—An adaptation of the 1865 novella (July 14).
32. The Life and Death of John Gotti—John Travolta stars as the crime boss (Aug. 25).
33. Becoming Cary Grant—Newly-discovered footage of the iconic movie idol (June 9, Showtime).
34. If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast—Documentary about comedians in their 90s (June 5, HBO).
35. Brave New Jersey—Tony Hale stars in a comedy about the night of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast (Aug. 4).
36. An Inconvenient Sequel—For those who wonder whatever happened to Al Gore (July 28).
37. Once Upon a Time in Venice—Action adventure/comedy starring Bruce Willis and John Goodman (June 16).
38. The Dark Tower—A big screen adaptation of Stephen King's series of novels (Aug. 4).
39. Annabelle: Creation—The sequel to the 2015 summer smash thriller (Aug. 11).
40. Despicable Me 3—Steve Carrell returns as Gru (June 30).
41. The Emoji Movie—The epic adventures of three emojis (July 28).
42. Spider-Man: Homecoming—Tom Holland is the latest actor to sling the web (July 7).
43. Rough Night—A bachelorette party goes so wrong (June 16).
44. Cars 3—Lightning McQueen steps on the gas for another sequel (June 16).
45. Amityville: The Awakening—Still another sequel in the supernatural franchise (June 30).
46. Blind—A sight-impaired Alec Baldwin falls for Demi Moore (July 14).
47. The Last Face—This Sean Penn-directed film has garnered some horrible reviews (July 28).
48. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets—Based on the French science fiction comic series (July 21).
49. The Mummy—Tom Cruise is reincarnated for another summer blockbuster (June 9).
50. Transformers: The Last Knight—Really? I mean, really? (June 21).