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Summer ’17 preview: Sequels, blockbusters and ‘Detroit’

It’s sequel madness at the movies this summer, here’s what to expect at the multiplex the next three months

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

The summer movie season is right around the corner, and if you take a deep breath, you can smell the sequels in the air.

3. Transformers: The Last Knight: The fifth installment of perhaps the biggest, dumbest film franchise of all-time finds the giant robots trying to save the world again. Yay? Prediction: No film franchise has ever proved more critic proof than Michael Bay’s ever-evolving ode to incoherence. Still, domestic grosses for the last entry were down $100 million from the previous film, so signs of robot fatigue are showing. Finally.

The blockbusters start rolling out with next Friday’s release of “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” and they continue, one after another, right through Labor Day. Of course, mega-earners aren’t relegated strictly to summer — nine films this year have already crossed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office — but summer is still the time where sequels, tent poles and big budget extravaganzas shine like the July sun.

Aside from “Guardians,” this summer’s biggies include the next chapters in the “Transformers,” “Alien” and “Planet of the Apes” sagas, along with fresh takes on “Baywatch” and “The Mummy.” And there are a few originals in the mix for good measure: Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn team up in “Snatched,” and Christopher Nolan takes on WWII with “Dunkirk.”

For more on this summer’s most anticipated movies, read on. Sunscreen optional.

(Note: Dates are subject to change at the whim of Hollywood studio heads.)

1. “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2”

Who: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel (voice), Bradley Cooper (voice), Dave Bautista, Kurt Russell

What: The sequel to the 2014 smash (worldwide gross: $770 million) finds the “Guardians” crew back together as Star-Lord, er, Peter Quill (Pratt) looks to find his father.

Prediction: As long as the Marvel formula of fun and irreverence holds, there shouldn’t be anything stopping this from being summer’s biggest hit.

When: May 5

2. “Detroit”

Who: John Boyega, Will Poulter, Anthony Mackie, John Krasinski

What: During the summer of its 50th anniversary, Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) takes on Detroit’s 1967 riots.

Prediction: Oscar fare doesn’t usually come out in summer, except when it does: the last Best Picture winner to be released in the summer was, well, Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker.” Brace yourself for this one.

When: Aug. 4

3. “Transformers: The Last Knight”

Who: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Stanley Tucci, Optimus Prime

What: The fifth installment of perhaps the biggest, dumbest film franchise of all-time finds the giant robots trying to save the world again. Yay?

Prediction: No film franchise has ever proved more critic proof than Michael Bay’s ever-evolving ode to incoherence. Still, domestic grosses for the last entry were down $100 million from the previous film, so signs of robot fatigue are showing. Finally.

When: June 23

4. “Wonder Woman”

Who: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen

What: After her character was introduced in last year’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” Wonder Woman gets her own standalone film in the latest piece of DC Comics’ ongoing interlocking puzzle.

Prediction: Fans hope this is the film to perk up the DC machine; “Suicide Squad” and “Bats V. Supes” made tons of cash but were both mercilessly dogged by critics.

When: June 2

5. “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

Who: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Donald Glover, Robert Downey Jr.

What: Another Spider-Man? Another Spider-Man. Forget the Andrew Garfield films — everyone else has — we’re back with another start-up of the superhero franchise, the third in 15 years.

Prediction: Holland’s debut as Spidey in last year’s “Captain America: Civil War” actually got us excited for the latest webslinger reboot. Yep, we’re suckers.

When: July 7

6. “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Who: Woody Harrelson, Andy Serkis, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer

What: The third entry in the “Planet of the Apes” reboot series follows 2014’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and finds Caesar (Serkis) getting even madder at those blasted humans.

Prediction: As summer fare goes, this is a smart, thoughtful franchise that uses metaphors to comment on our own political landscape, and there’s no shortage of material there. This should be a fun one.

When: July 14

7. “Alien: Covenant”

Who: Michael Fassbender, Billy Crudup, James Franco, Danny McBride

What: The sequel to “Prometheus” promises more alien action than that 2012 “Alien” prequel, at least if those creeped out posters are any indication.

Prediction: Director Ridley Scott has a hit or miss track record, but he’s in his element here and should deliver plenty of cool scares.

When: May 19

8. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”

Who: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom

What: Quick, who remembers what happened in the last “Pirates” movie? Who even remembers what it was called? You all flunk. It was called “On Stranger Tides.” But still no one has any idea what happened in it. Does it matter?

Prediction: Last year’s unwanted Johnny Depp sequel “Alice Through the Looking Glass” took a nosedive at the domestic box office, bringing in $257 million less than its predecessor; a similar fate likely awaits this curiosity.

When: May 26

9. “Despicable Me 3”

Who: Voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Trey Parker

What: A sibling rivalry arrives in the form of Gru, long-lost twin brother of series star Dru. (Both are voiced by Carell.) Oh yeah, and expect lots of madness from the Minions, the cash cow of the franchise.

Prediction: The first two “Despicable Me” films and 2015’s “Minions” have grossed a combined $955 million domestically; anything less than $300 million from this latest chapter would be a disappointment.

When: June 30

10. “Cars 3”

Who: Voices of Owen Wilson, Armie Hammer, Larry the Cable Guy, Bonnie Hunt

What: Vroom. Pixar’s least-beloved franchise returns for a third trip around the track, with Lightning McQueen (Wilson) attempting to mount a comeback after enduring a nasty crash.

Prediction: This franchise needs more than a tune-up, and six years after “Cars 2” (and 11 years after the first “Cars”), it may be time to put this one in the junkyard.

When: June 16

11. “Dunkirk”

Who: Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Harry Styles

What: Director Christopher Nolan (“Inception,” “Interstellar”) takes on WWII in this story of the famous French evacuation of 1940.

Prediction: No one makes better, smarter blockbusters than Nolan, and this one is not only looking to score with fans, but could ride a wave of buzz to a Best Picture nomination.

When: July 21

12. “Baywatch”

Who: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach

What: Back to the beach. The iconic red swimwear and buoys are back in this update of the iconic 1990s TV series.

Prediction: Expectations are low for this one, but as long as it can provide some fun in the sun (and some bangin’ beach bods), it could be a welcome summer surprise.

When: May 25

13. “The Mummy”

Who: Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Courtney B. Vance, Sofia Boutella

What: DC and Marvel both have their own film universe, why can’t the Universal monsters have one, too? This reboot of the “Mummy” franchise attempts to kickstart it.

Prediction: This seems beneath Tom Cruise. Rocky sands ahead.

When: June 9

14. “Snatched”

Who: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Joan Cusack, Wanda Sykes

What: A mother-daughter team (Hawn and Schumer) find themselves entangled in an adventure in this comedy from director Jonathan Levine (“50/50,” “The Night Before”).

Prediction: Two years ago, Schumer scored a summer hit with “Trainwreck,” and this original comedy is looking to do similar business and further her big screen stardom.

When: May 12

15. “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword”

Who: Charlie Hunnam, Djimon Hounsou, Jude Law, Eric Bana

What: King Arthur, the sword in the stone — we’ve been here before. But director Guy Ritchie hopefully has some fresh tricks up his sleeve.

Prediction: Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy”) is positively magnetic in the current “The Lost City of Z,” so we’ll watch him in anything.

When: May 12

16. “All Eyez on Me”

Who: Demetrius Shipp, Jr., Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan, Jamal Woolard

What: The story of slain rapper Tupac Shakur, who lived the thug life until his 1996 murder.

Prediction: Rap biopics mean well but rarely hit their mark — see “Notorious” — but hopes are high for the story of the recently inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.

When: June 16

17.Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”

Who: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna

What: A sci-fi bonanza from bonkers director Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element”) that unfolds in the 28th century.

Prediction: This looks like a visual feast, but it will be an uphill climb for marketers to explain what it is or why anyone should care.

When: July 21

Also:

May: Meet “Chuck,” the real-life inspiration for Rocky Balboa (May 5); Richard Gere is a New York networker in “Norman” (May 5); director Doug Liman (“Edge of Tomorrow”) helms a tight war thriller in “The Wall” (May 12); “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” continues the middle school franchise (May 19); a girl lives her life totally indoors in “Everything, Everything” (May 19); Debra Winger and Tracy Letts explore love and marriage and beyond in “The Lovers” (May 19).

June: Kiddie book superhero Captain Underpants heads to the big screen in “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” (June 2); “The Exception” is a WWII romance with Jai Courtney and Janet McTeer (June 2); Diane Lane and Alec Baldwin star in “Paris Can Wait” (June 2); Ken Loach directs “I, Daniel Blake,” the 2016 Cannes winner (June 9); “It Comes at Night” marks director Trey Edward Shultz’ follow-up to “Krisha” (June 9); “Megan Leavey” is the story of a soldier and her combat dog (June 9); Rachel Weisz stars in the dark psychological thriller “My Cousin Rachel” (June 9); Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell and Ilana Glazer are friends who partake in a bachelorette party gone awry during a particularly “Rough Night” (June 16); Mandy Moore comes face-to-face with a shark in “47 Meters Down” (June 16); Naomi Watts stars in the suburban thriller “The Book of Henry” (June 16); comedian Demetri Martin makes his writing and directing debut with “Dean” (June 16); “The Journey” shows how different sides of the political divide can come together as one (June 16); Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell star in Sofia Coppola’s latest, “The Beguiled” (June 23); Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”) returns with his latest, “Baby Driver” (June 28); Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler team up as a couple who run a basement casino in “The House” (June 30).

July: A down-and-out rapper tries to hit the big time in “Patti Cake$” (July 7); Sundance hit “The Big Sick” is a rom-com with Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan (July 14); a group of citizen journalists take on ISIS in “City of Ghosts” (July 14); Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara tell “A Ghost Story” (July 14); Bella Thorne and Patrick Schwarzenegger star in the romance “Midnight Sun” (July 14); spooky things happen in “Wish Upon,” the latest from “Annabelle” director John R. Leonetti (July 14); Florence Pugh stars in the latest retelling of “Lady Macbeth” (July 14); Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish take a “Girls Trip” to New Orleans (July 21); more good news about our planet is delivered in “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” (July 28); Charlize Theron is a spy assigned to take down a group of double agents during the fall of the Berlin Wall in “Atomic Blonde” (July 28); the dancing girl in the red dress better make a cameo in “The Emoji Movie,” otherwise what’s the point? (July 28)

August: Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey star in the Stephen King adaptation “Dark Tower” (Aug. 4); dance takes center stage in “Step,” the story of a female dance team in inner-city Baltimore (Aug. 4); Lizzie Olsen and Jeremy Renner take a break from “Avengers” duty in the FBI thriller “Wind River” (Aug. 4); the scary doll is back in “Annabelle: Creation” (Aug. 11); Ryan Reynolds teams up with Samuel L. Jackson in the action comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” (Aug. 18); Steven Soderbergh returns to the big screen with “Logan Lucky,” starring Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as brothers who plan a major heist (Aug. 18); animated squirrels run amok in “The Nutjob 2: Nutty by Nature” (Aug. 18); Academy Award winners Alicia Vikander and Christoph Waltz star in “Tulip Fever,” which unfolds in 17th century Amsterdam (Aug. 25); a young girl dreams of being a ballerina in the animated adventure “Leap!” (Aug. 30).

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama