Each week on Atom Insider, we’re giving you the heads up on the biggest and most talked about films arriving in theaters. If you’re not terrified of dolls coming to life for unexplained reasons, then this is the perfect box office weekend for you.

The Toys Are Back In Town

In 2010, the Toy Story trilogy wrapped up in just about the best way possible. Critics loved Toy Story 3, and so did audiences, as the film went on to become one of the highest-grossing Pixar movies of all time. So the announcement of Toy Story 4 naturally raised a few eyebrows.

Why make another one of these movies when the trilogy already ended so well? Turns out, Pixar still has some tricks up its sleeve with this franchise, as critics are already raving about Toy Story 4 becoming yet another instant favorite from the Emeryville-based studio.

The movie, directed by Josh Cooley (writer of Inside Out), continues the story of Woody and the gang as they help their new owner, Bonnie, cope with the pressures of kindergarten. Along the way, they have to protect the confused and befuddled “Forky,” a new favorite toy Bonnie “made” in class. But Forky has no intention of leaving where he thinks he truly belongs: the trash.

The cast includes a lot of familiar voices, plus some newcomers: Tom Hanks, Annie Potts, Tim Allen, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, and many more.

Read Atom Insider’s review of Toy Story 4.

It’s Slaytime

The Child’s Play movies, starting with the first one in 1988, have always been true to the “play” aspect of their title. Yes, they’re horror films, through and through, but there’s always been an inherent silliness to these movies about a “Chucky” doll that has been possessed by a serial killer.

Though apparently similar to the original in tone, the 2019 Child’s Play reboot from Orion Pictures features an updated “killer doll” as a more high-tech version named “Buddi,” voiced by Mark Hamill, who suddenly becomes self-aware and capable of turning the A.I. technology of the “smart home” into a weapon.

The film was directed by Lars Klevberg (Polaroid) with a screenplay by Tyler Burton Smith, based on characters created by Don Mancini. The cast includes Aubrey Plaza, Brian Tyree Henry, and Gabriel Bateman.


‘Anna’ And The Assassination

French director Luc Besson didn’t exactly win the box office summer two years ago with Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, but his new thriller, Anna, appears to be borrowed in spirit from Atomic Blonde, another 2017 summer action film. In this movie about government assassins, newcomer Sasha Luss plays the titular role as a woman whose incredible beauty also matches her incredible combat prowess.

In addition to directing, Luc Besson wrote the film, which is being released by EuropaCorp. The cast includes Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, and Helen Mirren. With music by Éric Serra.


Now In Limited Release

If you’re looking for something a little more low key this weekend, be sure to keep an eye out for Wild Rose, a new music drama coming from Neon. This is the latest film directed by Tom Harper (War Book), and it stars Jessie Buckley (Beast) and the legendary Julie Walters. It has been quietly flying under the radar, but the buzz it has gotten has been overwhelmingly positive.

Stay tuned next week for our recap of how these films fared at the box office. To get tickets to these movies and more, hit the button below.

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Meanwhile, if you missed the last few weeks, allow us to catch you up…

Previous Releases


They Make This Look Good

Going by domestic box office, the Men in Black movies have made less and less with each release, despite coming out so far apart. The original 1997 film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld was a huge hit with audiences and critics, so Sonnenfeld returned as director for Men in Black II five years later. The sequel also did well at the box office, but it was trounced by critics and quickly forgotten. A decade later, Sonnenfeld returned for Men in Black III, which was a big improvement on the second film, but by this point, audiences had lost interest.

Ready to go back to black, Sony hired F. Gary Gray — who’s directed sequels for Sonnefeld’s films before — to make Men in Black: International, a soft reboot of the series with new leads, some familiar faces, and a fresh story about a mole who has infiltrated the MIB organization. Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth star in the main roles, fresh off their collaboration in Thor: Ragnarok (and Avengers: Endgame to a lesser extent). And Sony has suited up a promising cast to accompany them: Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Rebecca Ferguson, Rafe Spall, and Kumail Nanjiani, just to name a few.

No One Understands Him But His Family

Every generation since the 70s has gotten their own Shaft movie. Richard Roundtree defined the role under the direction of Gordon Parks in 1971 (and in the TV show, of course). Samuel L. Jackson took up the mantle in 2000 with John Singleton. And now, in 2019, Jessie T. Usher is up to bat with Tim Story (Barbershop, Ride Along and Ride Along 2), though the new Shaft is unique in how it unites all three generations of the iconic films. That means Roundtree, Jackson, and Usher are all in on the action this time around.

The screenplay for Shaft is by Kenya Barris & Alex Barnow, and it’s worth mentioning the original character of John Shaft comes from the novel by Ernest Tidyman, who co-wrote the screenplay for the 1971 film. The cast of Shaft (2019) includes Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, Method Man, Matt Lauria, and Avan Jogia.


Date Night?

In Late Night, Mindy Kaling tries to revamp a struggling late-night comedy show with her youthful perspective, much to the chagrin of the show’s host, played by Emma Thompson, a veteran of the industry who worries her relevance has faded. Sure, Late Night isn’t a romantic comedy in the traditional sense, but there’s no question the chemistry between Thompson and Kaling makes this one a great option for couples looking to get in a few laughs this weekend.

Directed by Nisha Ganatra with a screenplay by Mindy Kaling, Amazon Studios is expanding Late Night to wide release this weekend after terrific reviews and a buzz-building festival rollout. The cast includes Max Casella, Hugh Dancy, John Lithgow, Denis O’Hare, Reid Scott, and Amy Ryan.


Now In Limited Release

Jim Jarmusch’s deadpan zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die hits 550 theaters this weekend, featuring a massive cast that includes Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, and too many other recognizable faces to briefly name. Plus you can catch the new Roadside Attractions drama American Woman in select theaters, which stars Sienna Miller, Christina Hendricks, and Aaron Paul.


Stark Phoenix

X-Men: Dark Phoenix is essentially a “second chance” film. It attempts to correctly redo X-Men: The Last Stand from 2006, which also centered around the storyline of Jean Grey coming into uncontrollable psychic powers that pit her against her former allies, the X-Men. Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) reprises her role as a younger Jean in the ’90s after introducing her younger version of the character in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. But with Fox now bought out by Disney, it looks like Dark Phoenix will be the last we’ll see of this 19-year saga (excluding next year’s unrelated New Mutants).

This is the first film directed by Simon Kinberg, who also wrote this film and many of Fox’s other X-Men films (including The Last Stand). Dark Phoenix is based on “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” a 1976 comics storyline by John Byrne, Chris Claremont, and Dave Cockrum. The cast includes James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Alexandra Shipp.

Read Atom Insider’s review of Dark Phoenix. 

Old Dogs, New Tricks

The Secret Life of Pets was a massive success for Illumination in 2016, cementing their status as a studio that could make money off of non-Minion characters. But some critics had notable complaints about the animated film, pointing out that the generic story lifted too generously from other family comedies, mainly the Toy Story movies. Secret Life of Pets 2 appears primed to address that shortcoming by maintaining its “hidden world” appeal of what pets do when their owners aren’t around, while also mixing in a fresher story with a wide range of characters big and small.

The film was directed by Chris Renaud, who directed the first Pets along with Despicable Me, its sequel, and The Lorax. The screenplay is by Brian Lynch, who wrote the first film. And the massive voice cast includes Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Harrison Ford, Lake Bell, Jenny Slate, Albert Brooks, Bobby Moynihan, Nick Kroll, Kylie Hart, Dana Carvey, Hannibal Buress, and Pete Holmes.


Now In Limited Release

Searching for some indie fare? Late Night — a new comedy starring Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson — rolls out in select theaters this weekend before going wide next week. There’s also The Last Black Man in San Francisco, a Sundance favorite directed by Joe Talbot and starring Jimmie Fails (it also happens to be my favorite film of 2019 so far). And you can also catch This One’s For The Ladies, a music documentary directed by Gene Graham.


To see everything that’s hit theaters so far this year, click here. 





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