These Summer Movies Will Take You Back to a Simpler Season

Summer may officially begin on June 20, but the movie season is still delayed thanks to coronavirus. Let these movies from seasons past help you get in the mood even if you can't hit the multiplex!

By Billy Nilles Jun 20, 2020 7:00 AMTags
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The summer movie season is looking a lot different this year.

Despite entering the warmest season, officially, on June 20, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made it so that all the blockbusters planned for release between June and August are delayed just a bit longer. So, while multiplexes may begin to open up around the country with strict protocols in place to keep customers safe, their offerings certainly won't be what they once intended to be.

For instance, want to see Wonder Woman 1984, which was originally set for release on June 5? Well, it was just moved—yet again—from August 14 to October 2, 2020, taking it out of summer altogether.

But just because COVID-19 is impacting our present summer movie season, it doesn't mean we can't look back to the films of seasons past to get into the spirit. Thanks to streaming services, we can bring turn our living rooms into our own movie theaters and let these films remind us of simpler times.

Movies to Be Released Early On-Demand and Streaming in 2020

The good news? The popcorn's a lot cheaper at home...


This 2019 horror film from Hereditary director Ari Aster reminded us, among other things, that everlasting sunshine isn't always a happy prospect.

Crazy Rich Asians

This sumptuous 2018 big-budget adaptation of Kevin Kwan's 2013 novel was not only the first film by a major Hollywood studio to feature a majority cast of Asian descent in a modern setting since The Joy Luck Club in 1993, but it also became the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade. We loved to see it.

Once Upon a Hollywood

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio together on screen for the first time. A star-studded recreation of the year that shattered Hollywood's innocence. A role that earned Pitt his first acting Oscar. What's not to love about this 2019 filck from Quentin Tarantino, billed as potentially his last?

Girls Trip

Not only did this 2017 film introduce audiences to the splendor that is Tiffany Haddish, but it also became the first film by an African-American female screenwriter—Tracy Oliver, sharing credit with Kenya Barris—to gross over $100 million at the box office. And if it didn't make you want to immediately spend some time in New Orleans, you were watching it wrong.

Wonder Woman

The No Man's Land sequence in this 2017 film was worth the price of admission alone. But the way it proved to the world that a female-fronted superhero film could go on to gross over $800 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film by a solo female director (Patty Jenkins) ever, sure was an added bonus.

The Dark Knight

Take note, future DC and Marvel installments: This was everything we wanted in a summer movie and a superhero movie. There was hype, but no over-saturation. The flick was dark, but not so dark as to make us question why we watch these movies in the first place. And Christian Bale made for a great hero we could all get behind. In other words, this was the summer movie we all needed, but not the one we deserved.

The Hurt Locker

Summer is normally a place for gaudy comedies and over-the-top action flicks, which is what made this July, 2009 release stand out even more. Then-newcomers Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie starred in a heavy hitter about a bomb disposal unit in the Iraqi War that went on to win six Oscars (and be nominated for another three on top of it). By accolades alone, this has to take at least one of the top spots. After all, just because it's summer doesn't mean that audience members couldn't use a good life lesson on the perils of war and mental repercussions that soldiers face.


It was May 13, 2011, and America was readyyyy to partyyy. This was the kind of flick that you found excuses to see (in the theater!) several times during the course of its run. Your dog walker's sister hasn't seen Bridesmaids? Time to hit the AMC.

Men In Black

Humans fighting aliens will always make for a stellar summer movie—as long as it's not a sequel, of course. Men In Black, for its part, even had a Top 40-ready soundtrack to really lean in on that whole branding thing. "The galaxy defenderssss."

Saving Private Ryan

It seems like there may be a theme here: If you're looking to release a movie during the summer months that has a momentum that lasts through awards season, make sure it's about war. 


Ugh, we can't even look at this photo without ugly-crying. And thus, into the record books it goes.

There's Something About Mary

The lucky moviegoers who were old enough to see There's Something About Mary had no idea that they were about to witness history. Never before, and never again, has a single chunk of hair made such a lasting legacy on the film industry.

Mad Max

This is kind of still war, right? The awards season rule stands. We're also going to go out on a limb and say this was the last honestly amazing summer movie. Your move, August slate.

The Blair Witch Project

So not every good summer release has to be good in the technical sense. There are other boxes to check, too, like did the movie make me feel more feelings than the world's most intense therapy session? The Blair Witch Project certainly counts for that, as long as the feelings you're talking about are every single type of fear known to the civilized human.

The Bourne Identity

Fight scenes? Check. Chase scenes? Check. Secret government cover-ups? Check. Hot young actor with a chiseled jaw? Check please!

Iron Man

We're going to give credit here almost entirely to Robert Downey, Jr. If you want to make a comic book movie that's actually (gasp!) fun, call on RDJ. There's a strong possibility that our sentimental feelings for this flick stem at least somewhat from the fact that Marvel mania hadn't yet come to a head in 2008, but whatever.

Toy Story 3

This movie single-handedly disproved the belief that animated movies shouldn't have sequels—or trilogies, for that matter. Sometimes an audience just needs a quality hang with Buzz, Woody and the gang.

Independence Day

Humans fighting aliens. Enough said.


As it turns out, the secret to summer movie success might actually just be hiring Christopher Nolan to direct. The guy knows what he's doing. Some may have found this film a little bit frustrating, but at least you'll always have the did-the-top-stop-spinning debate to lean on in a conversation drought.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Choosing just one Harry Potter installment is like choosing which Weasley twin we like better: It's an impossible feat. Luckily some of them came out over the Thanksgiving holiday, thus eliminating them from this particular argument. And nothing gathers a summer movie-watching crowd better than the culmination of a decades-long pop culture phenomenon. Oh, and hot Neville Longbottom. That transformation will go down in history.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

We're going to ignore that this movie was probably just an elaborate ploy to convince America that we all needed to take a trip to Disney World, and just focus on the fact that Jack Sparrow is perfection. 

Crazy, Stupid Love

Ryan Gosling. Emma Stone. The lift from Dirty Dancing. Case closed.

The Fault In Our Stars

Every summer needs a heart wrenching tearjerker, and Fault delivered in spades. Watching Shailene and Ansel's teenage love (and some other things we won't mention for fear of spoiling) was the most cleansing thing we did during the summer of 2014.

American Pie

Summer blockbusters are as American as apple pie, which means this movie was the most patriotic thing to happen to the late '90s.

Magic Mike

The awesomeness of this movie was twofold: It provided lust-hungry Americans with a veritable crap ton of eye candy, and it also turned out to be kind of a sleeper legitimately good movie. Which, if we're being honest, was way more than anybody expected out of a flick about down-on-their-luck male strippers. Steven Soderbergh, you evil genius.

The Parent Trap

The true mark of a quality blockbuster (okay, maybe "blockbuster" is a little generous here) is if it holds up culturally over time. And not to be grandiose, but it's almost 20 years later and this is still a total classic. Oreos and peanut butter forever.


Thanks to Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis, the world will never look at asteroids the same. We'll also never listen to Aerosmith the same. 

For more of the best summer movies, click here.

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