First movies to rush back to cinemas for
We're getting so close to being able to sit in a cinema again, sheathed in darkness, surrounded by the smell of popcorn.
With cinemas around the country due to reopen within weeks, Australians can once again indulge in one of their favourite pastimes. As much as we've taken advantage of watching movies at home, you cannot replicate the immersive, distraction-free experience of a movie theatre.
Revived drive-in cinemas have been doing booming business and a survey by Event Cinemas of its loyalty club members found 98 per cent of respondents plan to return to theatres in the first 12 weeks of reopening.
But what movies can you actually watch at the cinema in those first few weeks? There was a massive slate of finished films which had their release dates pushed back due to the COVID pandemic, but those blockbusters won't all be coming out at once.
Movie studios are extremely strategic about when to release movies, looking at what other films are opening the same week and what else may be playing. Also keep in mind that some really big movies may not be released immediately because the pandemic is still very much a threat in overseas markets such as the US.
While there are a few high-profile releases, it's also a great opportunity for audiences to discover some independent stories.
Here's a selection of some of the movies you can look forward to when the doors at your local picture house reopen.
Note: Australian release dates are confirmed at the time of publishing but may still be moved by studios and distributors responding to the evolving pandemic situation.
TENET (July 30)
Christopher Nolan's mysterious blockbuster has been the shining beacon in the pandemic fog for months, with cinema chains around the world pinning their hopes on reopening with a high-profile tentpole movie to attract moviegoers.
This week, Tenet was moved back two weeks to the end of July - apparently the studio wanted to push it back further but Nolan held firm.
Little is known about the actual story or characters beyond that John David Washington plays a secret agent tasked with preventing World War III, but, as with previous Nolan puzzle boxes, you can expect it will be a twister. Tenet also stars Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and Nolan stalwart Michael Caine.
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MULAN (July 23)
Originally slated for release in late March, Disney's most expensive live-action film to date had a reported budget of $US200 million ($A290 million). It stars Liu Yifei, Donnie Yen, Yoson An, Gong Li and Jet Li, and was helmed by New Zealand director Niki Caro.
This version of Mulan moves away from the 1998 animated version and goes further back to the Chinese folk tales of Fa Mulan - so there will not be an Eddie Murphy-voiced, wisecracking cartoon dragon.
The story centres on a female warrior who disguises herself as a man to take her ailing father's place in the imperial army which must fight off an incursion from enemies to the north.
THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD (July 2)
Armando Iannucci is better known for his biting political satires The Thick of It and Veep than adaptations of period classics such as David Copperfield, but clearly the man can do both.
This life-affirming and charismatic version of Charles Dickens' story casts Dev Patel as the title character, a plucky young man who overcomes many challenges including his cruel stepfather's factory but also meets some lovely oddballs that leave an indelible impression.
This iteration is warm and really funny, the kind of film that you'll smile about for weeks afterwards. It also features a stellar cast with Tilda Swinton, Peter Capaldi, Hugh Laurie, Ben Whishaw and Benedict Wong.
WAVES (July 9)
Waves made a huge splash (apologies) last year in the US when it premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, a movie by young filmmaker Trey Edward Shults (It Comes At Night) and starring Sterling K. Brown, Kelvin Harrison Jr and Lucas Hedges.
It tells the redemption story of a suburban African-American family who must learn to cope with loss and forgiveness after a calamitous event.
Waves was praised for its unusual narrative form and for its wonderful performances, and has been compared to Oscar winner Moonlight.
THE HIGH NOTE (August 13)
Tracee Ellis Ross should know a little something about the glitzy life of an international music superstar - her mother is Diana Ross. So the Black-ish star has plenty of life experience to draw from in this dramedy.
Directed by Nisha Ganatra (Late Night), The High Note pairs Ross together with Dakota Johnson (herself the progeny of high-flyers Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson) as a world-famous R&B singer and her long-time assistant.
Johnson's character still dreams of being a music producer even though she's stuck doing menial tasks for superstar Grace, but when an opportunity finds her, is she ready for her life to change? The High Note co-stars Ice Cube, Zoe Chao, Eddie Izzard and Kelvin Harrison Jr.
BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC (August)
The wait is almost over for Wyld Stallyns fans. A Bill & Ted sequel was long mooted, much hoped for, but surely impossible?
The two former young rockers are now middle-aged, never having achieved their musical dreams, or the utopia their talents were supposed to create. So when someone from the future tells them they have to realise their goal to save all life on Earth, there's only one thing to do.
In addition to the return of Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and William Sadler as Death, they will be joined by new cast members Samara Weaving, Anthony Carrigan, Holland Taylor and Kid Cudi.
SHIRLEY (July 9)
If the dearth of new movies this year makes Elisabeth Moss's performance in The Invisible Man an Oscar frontrunner, then her stiffest competition is also herself, because she is so unsettling as real-life horror writer Shirley Jackson.
While Shirley uses Jackson's name and some life details, it's not a biography. Rather, it resembles one of the paranoid, psychological thrillers Jackson penned. In the film, a young couple, Rose and Fred (Odessa Young and Logan Lerman), moves into the New England home of Jackson and her husband, and awakens Rose from her malaise.
Director Josephine Decker won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance where the film premiered earlier this year.
THE BROKEN HEARTS GALLERY (July 16)
Australian actor Geraldine Viswanathan is one our shiniest success stories in recent years. After stealing scenes in Blockers and Miracle Workers, she's continued to book leading roles in Hollywood, which includes new rom-com The Broken Hearts Gallery.
Viswanathan plays a 20-something art gallery assistant who keeps mementos from all her former relationships. When her latest relationship busts-up, she decided to open a pop-up space in which others can add their own tokens of lost love, creating a movement and leading to new romance.
The Broken Hearts Gallery is produced by Selena Gomez, directed by Natalie Krinsky and co-starring Dacre Montgomery, Bernadette Peters and Utkarsh Ambudkar.
BABYTEETH (July 23)
Starring Ben Mendelsohn, Eliza Scanlen and Essie Davis, this Australian film was selected to screen at the Venice Film Festival last year and is now finally being released locally.
Milla is a terminally ill 16-year-old, and a shortened clock on your life leads you down some paths you otherwise wouldn't take. In Milla's case, that's the blush of first love with Moses, a small-time drug dealer, much to her parents' panic.
Babyteeth is Shannon Murphy's directorial debut and was praised for its sensitive and raw portrayal of a girl trying to experience an adulthood she may not get to live.
THE KING OF STATEN ISLAND (July 16)
The King Of Staten Island is supposed to be the movie that will force us to re-evaluate Mr BDE himself, Pete Davidson, who has earnt plaudits for his performance.
Co-written by Davidson with Dave Sirus and director Judd Apatow, the film is semi-autobiographical and is inspired by the Saturday Night Live comedian's youth in New York where his firefighter father died in the 9/11 attacks.
In this personal film, Davidson plays a young man who must reckon with his messed-up life when his mother starts dating someone new - another firefighter.
THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY (July 23)
Danish actor Claes Bang returns to the world of art in The Burnt Orange Heresy, this time as an art critic who, bored of giving tourists lectures, is drawn into an elaborate heist involving a reclusive artist and a dealer played by Mick Jagger. Yes, that Mick Jagger.
The Burnt Orange Heresy also stars Elizabeth Debicki and Donald Sutherland and is based on a book by hard-boiled detective fiction writer Charles Willeford whose books have been adapted into three previous films.
If Claes Bang and art doesn't automatically make you think of Palme d'Or winner The Square, then you haven't seen it and really should.
BELLBIRD (July 2)
This small but big-hearted New Zealand movie is from director and writer Hamish Bennett and is set largely on a dairy farm in the picturesque Northland region.
A third-generation farmer, Ross (Marshall Napier) is a man of few words and when his wife Beth dies, he finds he can't express his grief. His son Bruce moves back in but is not the rustic type and struggles to connect to his father.
But this is a tight-knit community and together they can pull through it. When Bellbird premiered at the Sydney Film Festival last year, it was a crowd-pleaser.
A WHITE, WHITE DAY (July 9)
This Icelandic movie made the festival rounds last year, even picking up a gong at Cannes.
Directed by Hlynur Palmason, the story is about a police chief who can't come to terms with his wife's death two years earlier, convinced that it wasn't the accident it purports to be.
His suspicion is fuelled when he begins to suspect someone he believes to have been his wife's lover.
Which movie are you most excited to see when cinemas reopen? Let us know in the comments below
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Originally published as First movies to rush back to cinemas for