Summer movies: Forward to the past

In “Lights Out,” Teresa Palmer is haunted by a creature that only appears when everything goes dark.
In “Lights Out,” Teresa Palmer is haunted by a creature that only appears when everything goes dark. New Line Cinema

Looking to see a blockbuster movie this summer? You’ve probably seen it before.

Well, not literally. But it’s impossible not to notice that those big popcorn-crunching movies that set up shop at the multiplexes from May through August are, ever more, retreads: sequels, remakes, franchises. Here’s a look at some of those movies – and, paired with each, a perhaps less-familiar title. (Note that, in the perpetually twisting-in-the-wind movie business, all release dates are tentative and subject to change.)

“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” (May 20): This time, Zac Efron and his fraternity brothers team up with sweet young marrieds Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne to fight against a raucous sorority. A presumably graduated Efron turns up in “Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates” (July 8) as, well, a guy who needs a wedding date, opposite Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza.

“X-Men Apocalypse” (May 27): This is, what, the seventh X-Men movie? Haven’t they saved the world yet? Bryan Singer, who directed the first two and the most recent (“X-Men: Days of Future Past”), returns. As always, the X-folks will have to band together – as is the case with the comedy “Don’t Think Twice” (Aug. 19), about the tight-knit members of a New York improv group, which include Mike Birbiglia and Keegan-Michael Key. Who, presumably, do not have superpowers.

“Alice Through the Looking Glass” (May 27): Lavish costumes! Characters from classic British literature! Helena Bonham Carter (as the Red Queen) with an enormous head! In a similar vein, minus the giant head, literary types can look forward to Whit Stillman’s “Love & Friendship” (May 27), set in Regency-era England and based on the Jane Austen novella “Lady Susan.”

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” (June 3): The pizza-loving turtles are back, for reasons that continue to confuse me, with a cast that includes Will Arnett, Laura Linney and Tyler Perry. Along the lines of Movies Involving Large Cranky Animals, we have “The Angry Birds Movie” (May 20), based on the popular video game.

“Now You See Me 2” (June 10): In this sequel, the Four Horsemen/illusionists/thieves are recruited by a tech genius (Daniel Radcliffe) for that proverbial One Last Heist. Likewise, an accountant (Kevin Hart) gets recruited by a CIA agent (Dwayne Johnson) in “Central Intelligence” (June 17), as one does.

“The Conjuring 2” (June 10): More haunted-house travails, in the vein of the scary 2013 original. Also presumably scary: “Lights Out” (July 22), in which something presumably terrible happens to a young woman (Teresa Palmer) in the dark.

“Independence Day: Resurgence” (June 24): Another day, another threat from space, another Hemsworth (Liam, this time) saving the day. An entirely different world needs saving in “Warcraft” (June 10), based on the role-playing online game and set in the universe of Azeroth. Presumably there are Hemsworths there too.

“Finding Dory” (June 17): The adorably forgetful blue tang in “Finding Nemo,” voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, goes on a quest to find her family. Likewise, in the animated film “Kubo and the Two Strings” (Aug. 19), a young boy in ancient Japan seeks to find a magical suit of armor once worn by his late father.

“Ghostbusters” (July 15): Yep, this is the Lady Ghostbusters remake you’ve all heard so much about, starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones (with Chris Hemsworth as their cute receptionist). For those who think such remakes are sacrilege, note: “Ben-Hur” (Aug. 19) gets a Hollywood “reinterpretation,” 57 years after the 1959 Charlton Heston version. Chariots ahoy!

“Ice Age: Collision Course” (July 22): A group of charming animated animals goes on a quest to exotic lands. As counterprogramming, try “The Secret Life of Pets” (July 8), in which a group of charming (and possibly sardonic) animated animals stay home in their Manhattan apartment building.

“Star Trek Beyond” (July 22): Idris Elba, you guys. The third installment in this franchise’s J.J. Abrams reboot (this time directed by Justin Lin) introduces a new villain. Elsewhere on the space front, “The Space Between Us” (Aug. 19) is a sci-fi drama about a young man (Asa Butterfield) who grows up on Mars.

“Jason Bourne” (July 29: He’s baaack! Matt Damon returns as elusive spy dude Jason Bourne, with a cast that features this year’s Oscar winner for supporting actress, Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”). Speaking of Oscar winners in supporting roles, Mark Rylance (who won earlier this year for “Bridge of Spies”) turns up as the title character – a Big Friendly Giant – in Steven Spielberg’s family film “The BFG” (July 1).

And a few more summer movies of interest, in brief:

“The Nice Guys” (May 20): Pairings You’ve Never Realized You Wanted to See Until Just Now: Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, here playing a hit man and a private eye trying to solve a missing-persons case.

“Me Before You” (June 3): Based on the popular novel by British author Jojo Moyes, it’s a romance between a disabled young man (Sam Claflin) and his hired caregiver (Emilia Clarke).

“Genius” (June 17): Colin Firth, Jude Law and Nicole Kidman play … wait, I had you right there, didn’t I? This is one for the literati, about editor Max Perkins’ time at Scribner in the 1930s. (Bonus: Guy Pearce as F. Scott Fitzgerald.)

“Free State of Jones” (June 24): This Civil War drama from Gary Ross (“The Hunger Games,” “Pleasantville”) stars Matthew McConaughey and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

“The Legend of Tarzan” (July 1): Loincloth alert: Alexander Skarsgard plays the title role, back in the jungle after living in London; Margot Robbie and Samuel L. Jackson co-star.

“Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” (Charlotte date TBD): More than 20 years after the British TV hit ended its last full season, Edina and Patsy make it to the big screen.

“The Founder” (Aug. 5): McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc gets the biopic treatment, directed by John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side”) and starring Michael Keaton.

“Suicide Squad” (Aug. 5): Superhero movies are everywhere. This one, part of the DC Comics franchise, at least has some fresh faces: Viola Davis as a government official who recruits a team of supervillains; Oscar winner Jared Leto as The Joker; Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Enjoy your popcorn!

“Florence Foster Jenkins” (Aug. 12): Meryl Streep does bad opera – is there anything this woman can’t do? – in a biopic about the famously awful American singer. Hugh Grant plays her husband; Stephen Frears directs.