As the year goes on, we’re updating our weekly post for weekend releases, where we’ll include the last few weeks of releases. But if you want to know what else has come out earlier this year, we’ll keep updating this page as well.
FOR THE WEEKEND OF APRIL 26
Last year, Avengers: Infinity War ended on a cliffhanger of epic proportions. As one of the biggest box office successes of all time, it makes sense for us to expect an even stronger reaction to its subsequent follow-up, Avengers: Endgame, which promises to effectively conclude a shared cinematic universe of franchises over a decade in the making. To call this an event movie would be putting it lightly.
Anticipation is so high, in fact, pre-ticket sales crashed on the first day of their release, which means you’ll have to be wary of spoilers on social media if you didn’t already secure your own ticket. I had the chance to see Endgame a little early, and I can safely say that this is one three-hour Marvel movie you have to see to believe.
Avengers: Endgame was directed by Anthony and Joe Russo with a screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Its huge cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, and Josh Brolin as Thanos.
The White Crow
It’s unsurprising to see a lack of other wide releases competing with Avengers: Endgame, which will dominate screen share in theaters for the next few weeks. But we do have one limited release braving these early summer waters. That film is White Crow, which was directed by Ralph Fiennes, who also co-stars in the film alongside Oleg Ivenko and Adèle Exarchopoulos.
FOR THE WEEKEND OF APRIL 19
The Curse of La Llorona
Ghost stories surrounding “The Weeping Woman” have existed in Mexican folklore for many centuries, perhaps all the way back to the Aztec civilization. The familiar sight of a ghostly woman dressed in white has long adorned the iconic figure, who is based on a peasant woman who drowns her own children after their nobleman father leaves her for a woman of higher status. The Curse of La Llorona (Warner Bros.) tells a more contemporary story about a haunting involving “La Llorona” in 1970s Los Angeles and.
It’s actually been over 50 years since a direct film adaptation of the witch herself has been made (La Maldición de la Llorona in 1963), though pop culture has seen influences of the character in many movies and TV shows over the years. James Wan produced this new take on the old story (yes, it’s part of the Conjurverse), which is directed by Michael Chaves (his feature debut after a few short films) with a screenplay by Mikki Daughtry & Tobias Iaconis. The gothic horror stars Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, and Patricia Velásquez.
Breakthrough is based on the true story of a young Guatemalan teen named John who falls through an icy lake and is without oxygen for at least 15 minutes before getting rushed to the hospital. His life is presumed over by the medical professionals until his adoptive mother Joyce enters the room and prays over him, which apparently keeps him just barely alive and kicks off a fight for his life.
This will be one of the last films we see released by Fox 2000 (if not the last), since Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox. It’s based on the book The Impossible by Joyce Smith with the screenplay by Grant Nieporte. The film was directed by Roxann Dawson (who starred in Star Trek: Voyager and has directed episodes of “House of Cards” and “The Americans”) and stars Chrissy Metz, Marcel Ruiz, Josh Lucas, Topher Grace, Mike Colter, and Dennis Haysbert.
The Disneynature films are always a treat for audiences old and young alike because they find ways to tell cute stories about these animals that are as informative as they are entertaining. The best of these films also do well to stress how important it is to appreciate the planet as a whole and think of how our actions as humans affect the other creatures on Earth, which will hopefully be a through line in Penguins, the latest feature from Disneynature. This time, we’ll follow Steve, an Adélie penguin, as he treks across the Antarctic with his new Emperor penguin friend, Wuzzo, in order to find a life partner and start a family of his own.
Nature filmmaker Alastair Fothergill directed the film with the same team that made Bears and Chimpanzee for Disneynature. If you’re hoping to celebrate Earth Day in a few days, then Penguins just might be a worthwhile watch for the whole family.
FOR THE WEEKEND OF APRIL 12
It doesn’t feel like it’s been over a decade since the last Hellboy movie, at least for me, and that’s probably because while those initial two movies from Guillermo del Toro weren’t exactly cultural phenomenons (in terms of box office or ratings), they did come out at an exciting time for comic book cinema, when the possibilities felt a little more expansive and unrestricted compared to the mid-MCU era. In 2019, we’re in the full steam of a new era of comic book franchises that push the envelope on how far directors can go with their vision for these projects. A new Hellboy can be darker, gorier, and truer to the Dark Horse comics without being slavish to the fanbase. And judging from the trailers, that might be what we’re about to get with this R-rated reboot.
Directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent) and written by Andrew Cosby and Christopher Golden, Hellboy recasts our titular anti-hero as David Harbour of “Stranger Things” fame. Unlike the films made by Universal, Lionsgate and Summit have greenlit a reimagined Hellboy who leans far darker into the “give evil hell” aesthetic, along with a heavy-hitting cast that includes Sasha Lane, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Thomas Haden Church, Daniel Dae Kim, Brian Gleeson, and plenty more.
From the studio that brought us some of the best stop-motion films of all time, here comes Missing Link, an animated film with a premise about as unique as its main protagonist, especially compared to some of the other films by LAIKA. The “missing link” in question is in fact Mr. Link, a tall and heavy-set “something” covered in fur and voiced by Zach Galifianakis. He one day comes across an adventurer named Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman), and the two embark on a journey to find Link’s long-lost relatives, eventually with the help of Adelina Fortnight (Zoe Saldana).
Written and directed by Chris Butler (ParaNorman), who is also the head of story at LAIKA, Missing Link doesn’t exactly capture the same scope and wonder of films like Coraline or Kubo and the Two Strings, at least judging by the trailers. Despite this, Annapurna Pictures is betting big on the film going over well with mainstream audiences, as it’s pushing a wide release clearly aimed for families and younger viewers.
Like the name implies, Little is about a woman who is mysteriously transformed into a little girl, much to her own inconvenience as a high-power businesswoman with no interest in “growing down.” Little is, of course, an age and gender swap of the concept from Big, a comedy about recognizing the similarities and hilarious differences between our kid and adult selves. It should also be noted this is coming off the heels of Shazam!, a superhero movie with a similar body swap gimmick at play.
Little was directed and co-written by Tina Gordon Chism (Peeples), co-written by Tracy Oliver, and is based on an idea by Marsai Martin. The Universal film stars Regina Hall and Marsai Martin in the lead body-swapping roles, along with Issa Rae, JD McCrary, Justin Hartley, Tone Bell, and Caleb Emery.
Unlike most other low-budget teen romances based on YA novels, After comes to us from a self-published Wattpad series by Anna Todd, which was initially based on the bandmates from One Direction. Strange as that may sound (to some), After is really about a young woman who goes off to college and is tempted to cheat on her high school sweetheart with a Harry Styles-esque “bad boy.” Sold yet?
Yes, After has a very particular audience in mind, and based on the trailers, Aviron Pictures has basically nailed what made Todd’s novel so organically successful. This is the first narrative feature film directed by Jenny Gage (All This Panic), and the screenplay is by Susan McMartin. The cast includes Josephine Langford, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Jennifer Beals, and Peter Gallagher.
FOR THE WEEKEND OF APRIL 5
The concept of Shazam! is that of true wish fulfillment. Anyone, of any age, just has to say the name “Shazam” and become the best, superheroic version of themselves. In the case of Billy Batson (Asher Angel), that “fully realized” adult self is played by Zachary Levi in a career highlight for the actor, best known for his TV roles and untimely demise as a side character in the Thor movies. But in the year 2019, Levi is getting his due in this action-and-laugh-packed superhero adventure from Warner Bros. about family, responsibility, maybe a dose of Greek mythology, and other comic book tropes that are bound to make audiences smile.
Shazam! was directed by David F. Sandberg (Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation) with a screenplay by Henry Gayden (Earth to Echo). The additional cast includes Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Djimon Hounsou, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Cooper Andrews, and Marta Milans.
To be honest, most of Stephen King’s stories have failed to click with me, especially some of the more famous horror adaptations like The Shining and original Pet Sematary. But like It from 2017, Pet Sematary is getting another chance to re-enter the pop culture zeitgeist, and even I’m pretty excited about what we’ve seen so far. It just looks flat out creepy, centering around a family moving to a rural home where a nearby cemetery for neighborhood pets is home to some absolutely horrifying secrets and terrors.
The Paramount film was co-directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer (Absence, Starry Eyes) with a screenplay by David Kajganich and Jeff Buhler. It’s of course adapted from King’s novel of the same name, which was first released in 1983. The cast includes Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, and Jeté Laurence.
The Best Of Enemies
At first glance, The Best of Enemies looks like a standard civil rights era drama centered around a story not so new to cinema. But it’s really the ensemble behind this film that promises a worthwhile and authentic narrative for these real-life figures from history. The film stars Taraji P. Henson as Ann Atwater, a renowned civil rights activist pitted in a contentious rivalry with KKK leader C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell) over school desegregation in Durham, North Carolina.
The obvious appeal of the STX film is to showcase the inspiring life of Atwater, but also to highlight the room for redemption when it comes to system racism and how it can be stamped out through legislative action. The Best of Enemies was written and directed by Robin Bissell in his feature directorial debut, and it’s based on the book of the same name by Osha Gray Davidson.
Limited Releases: Amazing Grace, Peterloo, The Wind
Amazing Grace (Neon) opens in select theaters this weekend, documenting the famous and powerful “Amazing Grace” concert by Aretha Franklin in 1972. Mike Leigh’s Peterloo (Amazon Studios) also hits limited release, telling the true story of the Peterloo Massacre in 1819. And The Wind (IFC Midnight) opens in just 35 theaters and is a western horror film from director Emma Tammi.
FOR THE WEEKEND OF MARCH 29
At this point, Disney’s brand of live-action remakes fit into a wide, but diverse handful of categories. There are the princess reimaginings (Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and the upcoming Little Mermaid), the subversive spins (Pete’s Dragon, Maleficent), and the stylish repeats (Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, and the upcoming Lion King and Aladdin). There’s overlap, of course, especially when trying to factor in the role of Dumbo, one of the more classic Disney films with an opportunity to impress with otherworldly visuals (this is Tim Burton, after all), while also evolving aged material.
Like the original, Dumbo doesn’t quite fit into the exact same categories as a lot of its contemporaries, which if anything, is an exciting sign for this movie to do something different with a familiar story. Fortunately, the live-action family film has a strong pedigree of talent, with Tim Burton as ringleader (director) and a star-studded cast that includes Colin Farrell, Eva Green, Michael Keaton, Alan Arkin, and yes, Danny DeVito. Dumbo also includes Danny Elfman as composer and Ben Davis as cinematographer, giving us more than a few reasons to see just how high this flying elephant can soar.
The Beach Bum
Clocking in at 95 minutes, Neon’s The Beach Bum features Matthew McConaughey at his most mellow, which is seriously saying something. The film follows the stoner antics of Moondog (McConaughey), our titular beach bum who soaks in the sun, shrugs off responsibilities, and…well, that’s actually about all we know so far based on the trailer and synopsis.
Written and directed by Harmony Korine (Mister Lonely, Spring Breakers), The Beach Bum recently premiered at SXSW and co-stars Snoop Dogg, Isla Fisher, Jimmy Buffett, Zac Efron, Martin Lawrence, and Jonah Hill. It’ll be opening in about 750 theaters this weekend.
Diane (IFC Films) opens in just three theaters this weekend and stars Mary Kay Place (The Big Chill, Being John Malkovich, Sweet Home Alabama). This is the feature film debut of Kent Jones, and after premiering at Tribeca Film Festival, Diane has already gained universal acclaim from critics.
FOR THE WEEKEND OF MARCH 22
It’s not often a horror film will gain prestige attention from Hollywood, let alone from a first-time feature film director transitioning from a comedy sketch show. But that’s just what happened with 2017’s Get Out, Jordan Peele’s psychological brain melt, which mixed thrilling horror elements with provocative social commentary. Now, two years later, Peele returns with his sophomore effort, Us, which looks every bit as scary and insightful as its unrelated predecessor.
Us centers around a suburban family vacationing at a beach house, only to discover a group of mysterious doppelgangers bearing a striking resemblance to…them…who show up on their front door ready to “get crazy.” Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke star as the parents, along with Evan Alex and Shahadi Wright Joseph as their two kids. The cast also includes Elisabeth Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Kara Hayward, Anna Diop, Madison Curry, and Tim Heidecker.
Hotel Mumbai & Sunset
Two films will have a soft rollout this weekend, so be sure to check with your local theater for showtimes. First, there’s Hotel Mumbai, an action thriller starring Dev Patel and Armie Hammer about the real-life Taj Mahal Hotel terrorist attack that took place in Mumbai over a decade ago. There’s also Sunset, from Sony Pictures Classic, a new historical drama from László Nemes (Son of Saul), which premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival.
FOR THE WEEKEND OF MARCH 15
Five Feet Apart
In the trailer for Five Feet Apart, a romantic YA drama from Lionsgate and CBS Films, Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse have a life-threatening disease that forces them to remain six feet apart, despite being love-sick teens. So obviously the movie is called Five Feet Apart after them deciding to break the rules and be one foot closer, because medical science definitely works on the rounding down system.
Regardless, this looks like the sort of heartbreaking, melodramatic Sunday matinee that’ll hit you right in the gut in part because of the emotions, but also because you’re so sad you have to wait a little bit longer for Richardson and Sprouse to be in a better movie that deserves them. In other words, I already bought my tickets.
The premise for Wonder Park couldn’t be simpler. A kid obsessed with building amusement parks in her neighborhood stumbles across a huge abandoned one in the woods, which she promptly sets up for success with a quirky cast of animal characters. It’s Nickelodeon Movies, of course, so you know it won’t be a horror movie based on that premise alone (not a bad idea for a sequel, though).
There’s no official director attached after original director Dylan Brown was let go, but we do know the story and screenplay are by Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec with Robert Gordon getting partial credit for the story as well. The voice cast is pretty extensive and includes Brianna Denski as the main character, along with Mila Kunis, Jennifer Garner, John Oliver, Matthew Broderick, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong, and more.
If you’ve ever complained that Hollywood has run out of ideas or never greenlights mid-budget sci-fi thrillers, then you have a chance this weekend to make amends with Focus Features. Yes, Captive State is hitting over 2,000 theaters this weekend, which is kind of surprising if you consider how original and avant-garde the trailers make it seem, but it might also be a good call if you narrow in on the cast and director.
That director is Rupert Wyatt, who found large success with his 2011 sci-fi film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And the cast includes John Goodman, Vera Farmiga, Kiki Layne, Madeline Brewer, Machine Gun Kelly, and plenty more. To be honest, I still have no idea what this one is actually about, but that’s sort of the appeal when it comes to science fiction with a hint of crime thriller and intrigue. We thought the same thing about Leigh Whannell’s Upgrade last year and it was largely considered an underrated gem of a movie and surprisingly good given the shoestring budget.
Stay tuned next week for our recap of how these films fared at the box office. To get tickets to these movies and more, head to the Atom Tickets homepage.
FOR THE WEEKEND OF MARCH 8
The wait is finally over. After 11 years and 20 movies, Disney and Marvel Studios will release their first female-led superhero movie with Captain Marvel. Similar to the momentum gained from last year’s Black Panther, fans of the character are over the moon about seeing Brie Larson in what will likely become her most iconic performance ever to hit pop culture (sorry Room and Short Term 12, we still love you).
There are a lot of firsts worth mentioning with Captain Marvel, like the fact that the film also features the MCU’s first female director, Anna Boden, who co-directs with her longtime collaborator Ryan Fleck. They also co-wrote the screenplay with even more women: Meg LeFauve, Nicole Perlman, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Liz Flahive, and Carly Mensch. The cast includes Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Gemma Chan, Colin Ford, and Lashana Lynch.
You’ll have to forgive the film community for not knowing much about The Kid, a new Western from Lionsgate that hasn’t gotten much in the way of marketing or festival traction, despite featuring some big names like Ethan Hawke, Dane DeHaan, and even Chris Pratt as the villain (we don’t see that very often). Though the title implies this is a story mainly about the infamous gunslinger/outlaw “Billy the Kid,” it’s actually about a young boy (Jake Schur) who witnesses the showdown between Billy (DeHaan) and Sheriff Pat Garrett (Hawke).
This is the second feature film directed by acclaimed actor Vincent D’Onofrio (his first was Don’t Go in the Woods in 2010). If sci-fi and superheroes aren’t your thing, then you might have good reason to pay the Old West a visit this weekend.
The last two films by Sebastián Lelio (A Fantastic Woman, Disobedience) have featured complex women struggling to survive an oppressive society, but his newest film Gloria Bell feels noticeably lighter based on the trailers and early reactions. The film stars Julianne Moore as Gloria, a newly-divorced woman searching for enlightenment in LA, which leads her to an unexpected romance with Arnold (John Turturro).
Sure, Gloria Bell doesn’t sound very different from a whole host of romantic comedies you’ve probably seen before (and in fact, it’s an American remake of Lelio’s 2013 film, Gloria). But with Lelio behind the film and co-writing with Alice Johnson Boher, this might be a surprising, maybe even uplifting new take on a story we all know and love.
AND FOR EARLIER WEEKS…
For the weekend of March 1 – ‘Greta’ and ‘A Madea Family Funeral’
For the weekend of February 22 – ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ and ‘Fighting with My Family’
For the weekend of February 15 – ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ and ‘Happy Death Day 2U’
For the weekend of February 8 – ‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’ and ‘What Men Want’
For the weekend of February 1 – ‘Miss Bala,’ ‘Arctic’ and ‘Piercing’
For the weekend of January 25 – ‘The Kid Who Would Be King,’ ‘Serenity’ and ‘In Like Flynn’
For the weekend of January 18 – ‘Glass’ and ‘An Acceptable Loss’
For the weekend of January 11 – ‘The Upside,’ ‘Replicas’ and ‘A Dog’s Way Home’