PEOPLE's Summer Movie Preview: 12 Films to Get Excited About as Hollywood Heats Up

The big screen is back! Here, PEOPLE's picks for the 12 movies to see this summer

01 of 12

In the Heights

in the heights
Macall Poley/Warner Bros.

The movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway hit In the Heights is "filled with all of the music and excitement and love stories you'd want out of the summertime," says star Leslie Grace. With massive, inventive dance numbers shot on the streets of New York City, Heights spotlights the largely Latino Washington Heights neighborhood, following bodega owner and dreamer Usnavi (Hamilton's Anthony Ramos) and his friends, played by Grace, Melissa Barrera and Corey Hawkins. Out June 11 in theaters and on HBO Max.

02 of 12

F9

F9

Start your engines — finally! The ninth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise — which has earned more than $5 billion — was originally slated for May 2020. John Cena joins the car-crazy cast, which also features Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren. Out June 25 in theaters.

03 of 12

Black Widow

Marvel Studios' BLACK WIDOW L to R: Yelena (Florence Pugh) and Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson)
©Marvel Studios

Originally slated for release last May, the action-packed film about Scarlett Johansson's Avengers character Natasha Romanoff (a.k.a. Black Widow) is finally coming to the big screen (and streaming). Johansson is thrilled for audiences to see a new side of the Russian superspy, with Florence Pugh joining her as fellow assassin Yelena Belova. "I've been eagerly, anxiously awaiting the release, just wanting to share this movie with everyone," she says. "It has such a beautiful message about the importance of the family that you choose." Out July 9 in theaters and on Disney+.

04 of 12

Those Who Wish Me Dead

those who wish me dead
EMERSON MILER/WARNER BROS.

Angelina Jolie plays a smoke jumper still reeling from the loss of three lives she failed to save when she meets a distressed 12-year-old boy (Finn Little). He's being hunted by the men who killed his father. Jolie says her character is "a bit of an adrenaline junkie, but she's also somebody who has experienced tragedy. She carries a lot of guilt." In theaters and on HBO Max now.

05 of 12

Respect

respect
Quantrell D. Colbert/Metro Goldwyn Meyer Pictures

The Aretha Franklin biopic follows the singer from her early days in Detroit to becoming an international superstar. "Once you see the film and learn her story, you can't help but to have a newfound respect for her," says star Jennifer Hudson. Out August 13 in theaters.

06 of 12

The Woman in the Window

woman in the window
Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix

Amy Adams puts on a terrifying performance as Anna Fox, an agoraphobe trapped inside her home who tries to solve a violent crime she sees from her window. The film is based on A.J. Finn's bestselling 2018 novel. On Netflix now.

07 of 12

A Quiet Place Part II

A Quiet Place II
A Quiet Place Part II. Paramount Pictures

The highly anticipated sequel to John Krasinski's 2018 sci-fi horror hit stars his wife, Emily Blunt, along with Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe. The film, about a family trying to survive attacks from monsters who hunt via sound, had its world premiere in March 2020, just before pandemic lockdowns. In theaters now; coming to Paramount+ in July.

08 of 12

Free Guy

free guy
Free Guy. Alan Markfield/Twentieth Century Fox

In this witty action-comedy, Ryan Reynolds plays a bank teller who realizes he's a background character in a video game. He and one of the game's developers (Killing Eve star Jodie Comer) set out to save his world from destruction. Out August 13 in theaters.

09 of 12

Space Jam: A New Legacy

space jam a new legacy
Warner Bros.

Like Michael Jordan in 1996's Space Jam, LeBron James gets sucked into an alternate universe where he teams up with Bugs Bunny and his pals to battle evil in a high-stakes basketball game. Out July 16 in theaters and on HBO Max.

10 of 12

Luca

luca
Luca (2021). Disney/Pixar

Pixar's latest film centers around two boys who are secretly sea creatures in the form of humans. They spend the summer exploring a seaside town on the Italian Riviera. "At the heart of it, it's a story about friendship," director Enrico Casarosa told Entertainment Weekly. Out June 18 on Disney+.

11 of 12

Cruella

cruella
Laurie Sparham/Disney

The prequel to 101 Dalmatians, an origin story for iconic villain Cruella de Vil, features exquisite costumes — Emma Stone had 47 total outfit changes, Emma Thompson had 33. The comedy-drama, rated PG-13, is set in 1970s London and shows Stone playing a fur-obsessed young designer who works for fashion legend Baroness von Hellman (Thompson). Out May 28 in theaters and on Disney+.

12 of 12

Jungle Cruise

jungle cruise
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Emily Blunt in Jungle Cruise. Frank Masi/Disney

It's inspired by the Disney ride, but also film classics, and starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Emily Blunt. "Dwayne and I grew up obsessed with Raiders of the Lost Ark and Romancing the Stone, so to do an ode to those films was exciting," says Blunt, whose scientist character adventures in the Amazon with a riverboat captain (Johnson). Out July 30 in theaters.

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