Memorial Day weekend signals the unofficial start of the summer blockbuster season. Here are five films we can’t wait to see in the summer of 2023:

5. Asteroid City

Release date: June 16

Wes Anderson films are unique experiences. There aren’t any arthouse filmmakers like him. Fans who love his work have followed him religiously since the early days of Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, and The Royal Tenenbaums. His last movie, The French Dispatch (2021), was critically acclaimed but a financial disappointment. His latest feature will be a fairer test of how much box-office juice he has in a post-pandemic world.

In keeping with Anderson’s trademark style, Asteroid City looks like a diorama with vibrant colors. This time, it’s beautiful pastels in a 1950s desert small town with colorful charterers. Asteroid City boasts a loaded cast (Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Jason Schwartzman, Jeffrey Wright, Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell, Tilda Swinton, Margot Robbie, Adrien Brody, etc.). This could be Anderson’s biggest hit since The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).

4. The Flash

Release date: June 16

Superhero fatigue is a concern. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Shazam! Fury of the Gods underperformed. Perhaps The Flash will give the genre a much-needed jolt. It’s the first standalone movie for the beloved DC Extended Universe character. He’s appeared in other films and a successful TV show. As popular as The Flash is, the supporting cast is the most fascinating aspect of this flick.

The Flash should be boosted by the highly anticipated return of Michael Keaton as Batman. The 71-year-old hasn’t portrayed the Caped Crusader since Batman Returns (1992). That alone will bring in several fans of a certain generation who grew up with Keaton. Also, the always-excellent Michael Shannon will reprise his role as General Zod from Man of Steel (2013). There’s another concern: will Ezra Miller’s legal troubles drive people away?

3. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Release date: July 12

Tom Cruise was the biggest box-office winner of 2022. His gamble to delay the release of Top Gun: Maverick paid off. It was the highest-grossing domestic film of the year and earned six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor. Now, Cruise is back with one of Hollywood’s most reliable franchises. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is so big that it has been split into two films with the second part coming out next year.

By now, you know what to expect: plenty of action with plenty of amazing set pieces across the globe with Cruise performing many of his own stunts. The Mission: Impossible franchise has surpassed the James Bond franchise when it comes to spy thrillers. It has gotten to the point where we don’t really care about the details of the plot. We just want to see Cruise running after or running away from bad guys.

2. Barbie

Release date: July 21

Barbie going against Oppenheimer on the same debut date seems like the ultimate example of cinematic counterprogramming. Are you Team Barbie or Team Oppenheimer? We all might be winners no matter which film you’re rooting for. Barbie is the biggest gamble of the summer since this is director Greta Gerwig’s first venture into blockbuster territory. There will be a lot of pressure on her. If it’s a massive hit, it will lead to several more opportunities for the indie darling. If it’s a gigantic bomb, Gerwig might never have access to a $100 million budget again.

Having talented and impossibly beautiful Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in the lead roles should help. Robbie, in particular, elevates any material with her fearless acting (See her performance in Babylon). This will be the most fascinating movie of the summer, hit or miss.

1. Oppenheimer

Release date: July 21

Christopher Nolan is one of the most bankable filmmakers. He makes big movies about big ideas with groundbreaking special effects and sounds. But even Nolan is not immune to the evolving business of entertainment.

Nolan was one of the biggest cinematic losers of the pandemic. Under normal circumstances, Tenet (2020) would have been a box-office smash. While it grossed over $365 million worldwide, only $58 million was earned domestically due to many American theatres being closed at the time. The film reportedly lost $50 million. Nolan should be able to bounce back with Oppenheimer, which has been hyped since last summer thanks to a $100-million marketing budget

Nolan’s take on J. Robert Oppenheimer and the creation of the atomic bomb looks spectacular in the trailers. It might be the movie that’s too big to fail.

[Photo Credit: Universal Pictures]

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant, Anthony Grant, Amy Grant or Hugh Grant.