Movies to watch in July, from 'Oppenheimer' to 'Barbie'

Ethan Hunt, Barbie, and J. Robert Oppenheimer are headed to a theater near you

Margot Robbie in 'Barbie'
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / Screenshot)

Next month at the movies: Tom Cruise nearly dies for our entertainment, Ryan Gosling unleashes his Kenergy, and Christopher Nolan once again threatens to permanently damage our eardrums. What more could you want? From the year's most anticipated double feature to a horror sequel and a Sundance crowd-pleaser, look out for these titles at the multiplex and on streaming in July 2023:

'Joy Ride' (July 7)

Do comedies have a future in movie theaters? They do if "Joy Ride" has anything to say about it. In this new comedy from the co-writer of "Crazy Rich Asians," Ashley Park and Sherry Cola star as Audrey and Lolo, who go on a trip to Asia to find Audrey's birth mother. Joining them are Lolo's eccentric cousin, played by Sabrina Wu, and Audrey's "college friend turned Chinese soap star," played by "Everything Everywhere All at Once" star Stephanie Hsu. "Their no-holds-barred, epic experience becomes a journey of bonding, friendship, belonging, and wild debauchery that reveals the universal truth of what it means to know and love who you are," the synopsis says. Here's to the Hsuaissance.

'Insidious: The Red Door' (July 7)

Patrick Wilson is extending his reign as Scream King, this time by getting behind the camera. The actor made his directorial debut with this fifth "Insidious" installment that he also stars in, which brings the series back to the storyline of the first two movies. A decade after "Chapter 2," Josh Lambert (Wilson) brings his son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) to college, but the "repressed demons of his past suddenly return to haunt them both," the synopsis teases. Lin Shaye returns as Elise, and the "Lipstick-Face Demon" is back to give us even more nightmares. "The Red Door" is advertised as the "Insidious" series' conclusion, though, so don't hold your breath for further expeditions into the Further.

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'Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One' (July 12)

Tom Cruise has accepted his mission to save the movies for the second consecutive summer. He returns as Ethan Hunt in the highly anticipated seventh "Mission: Impossible," in which the IMF must "track down a terrifying new weapon that threatens all of humanity before it falls into the wrong hands." Hayley Atwell and Pom Klementieff join returning stars Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Vanessa Kirby, and Rebecca Ferguson, and Henry Czerny is back former IMF director Eugene Kittridge. Strap in for Cruise's most dangerous stunt yet, as he legitimately rode a motorcycle off a cliff. But the film is part one of two, so as with "Fast X" and "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse," don't expect everything to be resolved. We're old enough to remember when movies actually ended.

'Theater Camp' (July 14)

Searchlight Pictures is bringing theater kid representation to the summer movie season. Ben Platt and Molly Gordon star in this mockumentary as drama instructors at a New York theater camp, which Gordon also co-directed and Will Ferrell produced. "When clueless tech-bro Troy (Jimmy Tatro) arrives to run the property (into the ground)," they and production manager Glenn (Noah Galvin) band together "with the staff and students, staging a masterpiece to keep their beloved summer camp afloat," per Searchlight. Ayo Edebiri and Amy Sedaris also star in the film, which was a major crowd-pleaser at January's Sundance Film Festival.

'Bird Box Barcelona' (July 14)

"Bird Box" was far too big of a hit not to spawn its own cinematic universe at Netflix. The 2018 post-apocalyptic thriller, which took place in a world where people must blindfold themselves to survive against an unseen force, gets a spin-off with "Bird Box Barcelona." But rather than being a direct follow-up, it moves the action to Spain to center on a new group of characters in a "parallel timeline to the original," Netflix says. The cast includes Georgina Campbell ("Barbarian") and Diego Calva ("Babylon"). It could be another hit for Netflix, given the viewership numbers for the original, though let's maybe skip the Bird Box blindfold challenge this time.

'They Cloned Tyrone' (July 21)

A movie about cloning, ironically, looks like it could be one of the summer's most original films. Juel Taylor directs this sci-fi comedy from Netflix, in which an "eerie series of events leads an unlikely trio," played by John Boyega, Teyonah Parris, and Jamie Foxx, "down a rabbit hole into a sinister neighborhood conspiracy." As the title suggests, the conspiracy involves cloning experimentation, and the trailer teases Boyega's character discovering a replica of himself. According to Entertainment Weekly, the movie was inspired by Blaxploitation films of the 1970s, which Boyega noted "always represented movies that let us express ourselves, and we could just look snazzy and do cool s--t."

'Barbie' (July 21)

The time has finally come to enter Greta Gerwig's Barbie world. In one of the year's most fervently anticipated films, Margot Robbie stars as Barbie, who leaves the bright pink Barbieland with Ken (Ryan Gosling) on a journey of self-discovery that takes her into the real world. It might sound like a cynical cash grab, but film fans have long suspected the Oscar-nominated "Little Women" director has something subversive in store, especially considering she wrote it with her partner Noah Baumbach, also an Oscar nominee. "Barbie" has even been rated PG-13, suggesting it's aimed at more of an adult audience and isn't a mere toy commercial. Now if you'll excuse us, we'll get back to manifesting a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for Gosling.

'Oppenheimer' (July 21)

You can tell a lot about a person by whether seeing "Barbie" or "Oppenheimer" is their bigger priority. Coming out on the same day, Christopher Nolan's latest looks like it's as different a film from "Barbie" as humanly possible: a three-hour drama about the "father of the atomic bomb," J. Robert Oppenheimer. Cillian Murphy stars in the lead role, while Emily Blunt plays his wife, and Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, and more flesh out the stacked cast. Nolan teased to WIRED that the film is "kind of a horror movie," and early viewers have left "absolutely devastated" to the point that they "can't speak." So that's something for Barbie fans to keep in mind while planning the weirdest double feature ever.

'Cobweb' (July 21)

For anyone hardcore enough to make their "Barbie" and "Oppenheimer" viewing experience into a triple feature, consider throwing the new horror film "Cobweb" into the mix. It centers on an eight-year-old boy who's "plagued by a mysterious, constant tap, tap from inside his bedroom wall," and he soon comes to believe his parents, played by Lizzy Caplan and Antony Starr, "could be hiding a terrible, dangerous secret and questions their trust," per Lionsgate. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg produce, as does Roy Lee, a producer on last year's surprise delight "Barbarian." Their solemn vow is to ensure you never hear the sound of tapping the same way again.

'The Beanie Bubble' (July 28)

The new rule in Hollywood is that every new movie must either be about a superhero or a product. We've already had films this year about the creation of Air Jordans, the BlackBerry, and even Flamin' Hot Cheetos, and now, Apple TV+ brings us the origin story of Beanie Babies. A beardless Zach Galifianakis stars as Ty Warner, whose "collaboration with three women grew his masterstroke of an idea into the biggest toy craze in history," per the streamer. Sarah Snook, Elizabeth Banks, and Geraldine Viswanathan also star in the film, which was co-directed by Kristin Gore, daughter of Al Gore, and her husband Damian Kulash, the lead singer of OK Go. No, that description was not created by Mad Libs.

'Sympathy for the Devil' (July 28)

"Sympathy for the Devil" looks like it features Nicolas Cage at his most unhinged in a while, and that's truly saying something. Joel Kinnaman stars in this thriller as a man forced to drive a mysterious passenger, played by Cage, at gunpoint, leading to a "high-stakes game of cat and mouse where nothing is as it seems," the plot synopsis teases. "Cage and Joel Kinnaman bring to life a suspenseful tale on screen that will keep audiences guessing," the studio promised. Cage seems to really be going for it even more than usual, and he may be the only actor who could play Count Dracula and not have it be his most deranged performance of the year.

'Haunted Mansion' (July 28)

Will happy haunts materialize for Disney in its second attempt at a Haunted Mansion movie? The studio has had a mixed track record at turning its theme park attractions into films, and the Haunted Mansion already inspired a 2003 movie starring Eddie Murphy that critics hated. Two decades later, LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito, and Rosario Dawson star in this reboot that follows a "woman and her son who enlist a motley crew of so-called spiritual experts to help rid their home of supernatural squatters," per Disney. Justin Simien ("Dear White People") directed the film, which was written by Katie Dippold, co-writer of 2016's "Ghostbusters" reboot. If audiences are getting tired of superhero films, which Martin Scorsese famously compared to theme park rides, perhaps movies based on actual theme park rides are the answer.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.