The big guns — and we mean the hottest ticket of the summer, ‘The Avengers’ — kick off an early movie season, with plenty of action, humor and sex appeal to take you through Labor Day


­­YOU CAN LEAVE YOUR HAT ON Channing Tatum returns in the male stripper extravaganza ‘Magic Mike XXL,’ due out July 1.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | ­­­Life+Style Editor

Astronomers, farmers, the world’s major religions and even your smartphone calendar all agree: Summer doesn’t start until June 21.
Don’t believe any of them.

Know when summer actually starts in 2015? May 1 … just ask Hollywood. Cuz that’s when the season’s tallest tentpole, the sequel to the No. 2 highest grossing movie of all-time — Avengers: Age of Ultron — storms into theaters. Forget equinoxes and solstices and planetary alignments; the guardians of the galaxy have spoken.

Or at least, Tinseltown hopes they will. The summer film season in 2014 was something of a disaster, with most of the hoped-for hits (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow) all under-performing expectations. In fact, 2014 became the first year since 1999 that the year’s No. 1 film to date was released in August: Guardians of the Galaxy (the last time that happened was The Sixth Sense).

There are more sequels of course, more action films … but also some less testosterone-fueled entries, many with gay appeal, including the musical comedy Pitch Perfect 2, Mr. Holmes (which played at the USA Film Festival last week), the documentaries Do I Sound Gay? and Best of Enemies, plus the biopic Saint Laurent. And there’s Magic Mike XXL and plenty of shirtless hunks in other releases to entertain us. Hey, we’re gay — not dead.

Here’s our run-down of major films and their planned release dates, all of which are subject to being yanked, moved or rolled out on a different schedule locally.

Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Also: Man from Reno; Adult Beginners.

Hot Pursuit. A buddy comedy with some estrogen replacing the testosterone — Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara co-star.
Far from the Madding Crowd. An adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel.
5 Flights Up. Out actress Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City) co-stars with Oscar winners Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton in this drama.
The D Train. Jack Black and James Marsden appear in this movie about a class reunion.
Also: Black Souls; Welcome to Me; Maggie.


The girls return to a capella into your heart again in ‘Pitch Perfect 2’.

MAY 15
Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller revisits his most iconic character, set in a dark post-apocalypse, with Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult.
Pitch Perfect 2. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and friends reunite for the sequel to the surprise, gleeful hit about collegiate a capella groups.
Iris. Another recent film festival hit, a doc about the fashionista Iris Apfel.
Also: Good Kill.

MAY 22 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Poltergeist. The remake of the modern classic, once again produced by Spielberg.
Tomorrowland. Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) directs the latest Disney adaptation of a theme park ride into a feature film, with George Clooney.
Saint Laurent. Gaspard Ulliel stars in the second of the biopics about famed gay fashion designer Yves St. Laurent.
Also: Love at First Sight (from Strand Releasing).

MAY 29
San Andreas. A massive earthquake hits California; appropriately, The Rock stars.
Aloha. The new film from Cameron Crowe.

Entourage. The long-awaited film adaptation of the cult HBO series about life in Hollywood, once again including out actor Rex Lee.
Insidious Chapter 3. Threequel to the scare series.
Spy. The latest antics from Melissa McCarthy.
Love and Mercy. Biopic of Beach Boy Brian Wilson.

Jurassic World. Chris Pratt, last year’s No. 1 box office star (The LEGO Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy) leads the new cast in this dinosaur cloning series.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. This coming of age story looks to be the sleeper his of the season.


The second biopic of designer YSL in a year, ‘Saint Laurent,’ opening May 22.

Inside Out. Animated feature from Disney, including voice work from Paula Poundstone and others.
Dope. A coming of age story set in the post-hip-hop streets of Southern California.

Ted 2. Sequel to Seth McFarlane’s hit comedy about a living, foul-mouthed teddy bear.
Max. A family-friendly heartwarmer about a dog.
The Outskirts. Unpopular kids get revenge on their school’s queen bee in this comedy.

JULY 1 (Independence Day Weekend)
Magic Mike XXL. Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer and Joe Mangianello take it all off (again) in this sequel to the male stripper hit.
Terminator Genisys. The latest entry in the sci-fi saga.

Minions. The world-less helpers of Despicable Me get a prequel, with Sandra Bullock voicing the villain.
Self/Less. Tarsem Singh (Immortals) directs this sci-fi action film.
The Gallows. A horror film about a tragedy at a high school play.
Also: Nowitzki (about the Dallas Mavericks superstar); Do I Sound Gay? (documentary that debuted at DIFF).

Ant-Man. Paul Rudd stars in this latest entry from Marvel.
Trainwreck. Judd Apatow’s new comedy, starring Amy Schumer and Bill Hader.
Mr. Holmes. Ian McKellen may be headed for an Oscar with an astonishing performance as Sherlock, reliving his last case, in the new film from Oscar-winning gay writer-director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Gods and Monsters).


Chris Pratt, above, continues to soar as the lead in the dinosaur actioner ‘Jurassic World,’ out June 12.

Southpaw. Remember those photos of Jake Gyllenhaal as a ripped boxer? Those were from this film.
Paper Towns. A young man and his friends look for a neighbor who went missing.
Pixels. Chris Columbus (the first two Harry Potter movies) directs Adam Sandler in this comedy about video games attacking earth.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. The first in the Tom Cruise action-espionage series.
Vacation. A new Griswold family comedy, this time with Chris Hemsworth.
The Gift. Jason Bateman goes against type, starring in this domestic thriller, the directorial debut of Joel Edgerton.
Best of Enemies. A documentary about the rivalry between out activist and novelist Gore Vidal and conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr.

AUG. 7
Fantastic Four. Reboot of the Marvel franchise.
Masterminds. Dallas’ Owen Wilson co-stars with Kristen Wiig and Zach Galifianakis in this comedy.
Ricki and the Flash. Meryl Streep sings again (after Into the Woods and Postcards from the Edge) with this musical drama.


Paul Rudd as mini-hero ‘Ant-Man’ opens July 17.

AUG. 14
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The ’60s-era TV spy spoof gets the big-screen treatment. And we all know how well The Saint worked out…
Straight Outta Compton. Biopic of the hip-hop pioneers NWA.
Underdogs. Animated film about foosball players who are alive.

AUG. 21
Criminal. Ryan Reynolds stars in this spy thriller with Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones.
Me Before You. Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke stars as a woman who falls in love with a paralyzed man.
Sinister 2. Sequel to the scarefest.

AUG. 28 (Labor Day Weekend)
Don’t expect much from this de facto dumping ground slot. Hitman: Agent 47 (with Zachary Quinto); Regression.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 1, 2015.