Movie buff or not, everyone on the Internet has been counting down to the day when two of 2023’s biggest blockbusters — Barbie and Oppenheimer — clash with each other. The former transports you to the pinkish dreamland of Barbie, where you meet its perfectly-manufactured bubbly characters and obsess over their cheerful lives. Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, however, is the stark opposite of that — a gritty biopic about the man who created the most destructive weapon on the earth, the first atomic bomb, amidst the rallying cries of World War II. Both films drop July 21 in theatres worldwide.
On the local end, Karan Johar brings Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, a romance film that mimics old Bollywood by adding some family drama into the mix. Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh star as the lead lovers in the film, which is slated to release July 28 in theatres. Meanwhile, Huma Qureshi stars in a biopic — one that charts the life story of Padma Shri-winning Indian home cook and celebrity chef Tarla Dalal, as she tries to balance her duties as a devout housewife with her passion. Tarla drops July 7, exclusively on Zee5.
Other notable releases this month include Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One — releasing July 12 — which brings some familiar old enemies back to haunt protagonist spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise). The surrounding drama is also quite amusing, with lead Tom Cruise vying for control over IMAX screens, as Barbie and Oppenheimer drop the following week, threatening to sabotage the theatrical performance of his big-budget action flick. For your convenience, we have curated the biggest July 2023 releases coming to theatres, Netflix, Apple TV+, and Zee5, which you can check out below. Also, feel free to browse our Entertainment hub to keep track of any other releases that might interest you.
Insidious: The Red Door
When: July 7
It’s already been an incredible year for campy horror, with entries such as Scream 6 and Evil Dead Rise having released earlier. Now, Sony is adding to the list with the final chapter in the Insidious franchise. Picking up 10 years after the events of Insidious: Chapter 2, we once again follow the Lambert family, as father Josh (Patrick Wilson) prepares to drop off his now grown-up son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) to college. That idyllic lifestyle is soon ruined when past demons from ‘The Further’ spiritual realm start invading the boy’s dreams, often causing real-world ramifications. The plot beats feel similar to the earlier Insidious movies, in the sense that Josh and Dalton must travel deep within the realm to stop the nightmare for good.
It also appears as if the Lambert family — or rather, the parents Josh and Renai (Rose Byrne) — have been living separately, which makes it perfect for the demons to invade and pick them off one by one. Expect tons of jump scares and tricks with framerates, as the Insidious movies don’t rely on tension-building, but instead throw terrifying action in quick succession; that could be good or boring, depending on your taste. Insidious: The Red Door also brings in a legacy character, former psychic Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), to help out Josh once again, albeit through videotapes, considering she died in the second movie.
When: July 7
Those looking for a desi version of Knives Out can check out Neeyat, a new whodunnit murder mystery set in Scotland, where the wealthy Kapoor family has gathered together for billionaire patriarch Ashish Kapoor’s (Ram Kapoor) birthday. As you’d expect, he ends up dead, spawning a blame game amongst the family members where everyone is a suspect. Enter detective Mira Rao (Vidya Balan), who determines that AK had been murdered, immediately preventing anyone from leaving the premises. That effort is soon deemed futile, as more bodies start dropping with time, as Rao struggles to unravel the suspects’ devious motives.
Neeyat boasts an ensemble cast lineup, featuring Rahul Bose (Bulbbul), Neeraj Kabi (Sacred Games), Shashank Arora (Made in Heaven), Prajakta Koli (Mismatched), and Shahana Goswami (Hush Hush). Anu Menon, who previously worked with Balan on Shakuntala Devi, directs the film.
When: July 7
Huma Qureshi (Double XL) essays the role of the real-life Indian home chef Tarla Dalal, who hosted multiple cooking shows focused on a variety of cuisines. Starting her journey by simply experimenting with dishes for close family members, she soon starts shaping her dreams, kickstarting her own cooking classes and failing multiple times. With unending support from her husband Nalin (Sharib Hashmi), who gave up on his dreams to help Tarla achieve hers, she goes from being an amateur cook to a professional one — with her confidence levels rising through each step.
Tarla plays out like a slice-of-life dramedy that also focuses on familial struggles, as she juggles between her passion and taking care of the kids at home. Piyush Gupta marks his directorial debut with this film, though for now, it’s unclear if the story will track all the way up till Tarla wins the Padma Shri award. He has co-written the script with Gautam Ved (Shuruaat Ka Interval).
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
When: July 12
I can’t be the only one who’s watched the behind-the-scenes footage for this movie on repeat, fully awestruck by Tom Cruise riding a motorcycle off a cliff — multiple times — without breaking a sweat. Such exciting tidbits are more than enough to sell a movie of this calibre, let alone the fact that the Mission: Impossible franchise has only improved over time — a rare occurrence for blockbuster sequels. This latest chapter, Dead Reckoning, has been divided into two parts, and sends spy Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his IMF crew on a mission to track down a terrifying weapon that threatens all of humanity before it falls into the wrong hands.
Yes, the premise is quite cookie-cutter, but when you watch an MI movie, you’re there for the practical action sequences. A dark force from Ethan’s past — specifically, the former IMF director Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny) from the first film, returns to make his job harder, in addition to the numerous hitmen looking to hunt him down. Among them is Pom Klementieff, who plays Paris, an assassin with clown-like makeup, who serves under the movie’s prime antagonist, the terrorist Gabriel (Esai Morales). Yep, there are multiple villains and Ethan has to accept that protecting his allies is nowhere as important as the mission itself.
Ethan will largely be seen working with an ambiguous new character Grace (Hayley Atwell) — drifting through the streets of Rome in an intense chase sequence. His team also returns — former MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), IMF computer technician Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames), the arms dealer Alanna Mitsopolis (Vanessa Kirby), and Simon Pegg as the IMF field agent Benji Dunn. Longtime Cruise collaborator Christopher McQuarrie directs Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.
Bird Box Barcelona
When: July 14
If you’ve seen the original Sandra Bullock-led Bird Box, you already know what to expect from this Spanish expansion. The events of Bird Box Barcelona run parallel to the one in the US, where a mysterious force has begun gradually annihilating the human population, causing those who look at it to kill themselves by any means necessary. With blindfolds on and a severely low sense of direction, a father-daughter pair — Sebastián (Mario Casas) and Anna (Alejandra Howard) — venture through the desolate streets of the titular city, hoping to find safe haven. But when they run into a group of other blindfolded strangers, they learn of another imminent threat that seems more formidable than the unseen creatures.
Despite being a partly Spanish film, you might recognise some of those strangers from more recent Hollywood films — Claire is played by Georgina Campbell, whom you might recognise from the horror film Barbarian, while Octavio is played by Diego Calva, star of the Oscar-nominated film, Babylon. Bird Box Barcelona marks one of the many localised spin-off movies within the shared Bird Box universe, with siblings Àlex and David Pastor returning to direct.
When: July 21
Greta Gerwig’s Barbie opens in the idyllic pink-hued dreamland, where every imaginable version of the doll exists in harmony — throwing giant blowout parties, with choreography and songs. All that starts to change when she (Margot Robbie) mysteriously starts becoming sentient, like a real human being, putting her on a journey of self-discovery as she ventures into the real world. Keeping her company is the ever-so-clingy Ken (Ryan Gosling), who has tagged along on the trip with a pair of neon outfits and rollerblades and a wide grin to go along with. The real world, however, turns out to be disappointing for Barbie, with men constantly staring and howling at her, causing her to discover the perils of sexism and unrealistic beauty standards.
Ken, however, seems to enjoy the new experiences, given his only role in Barbie Land was to, well, just be the plain old, smiling Ken. As word of Barbie’s presence in the real world reaches the evil Mattel CEO’s (Will Ferrell) ears, he sends out an entire squadron to hunt down the plastic couple and put them back in their cardboard boxes. Since the actual dolls have different versions and editions to them, the Barbie movie also features a massive ensemble cast to represent them. Widely-regarded Robbie lookalike Emma Mackey (Sex Education) plays a version of Barbie who’s won a Nobel Prize in Physics, Issa Rae is President Barbie, Hari Nef is Doctor Barbie, Sharon Rooney as Lawyer Barbie, and pop star Dua Lipa as Mermaid Barbie.
Similarly, there are additional versions of Ken as well, played by Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), Ncuti Gatwa, Kingsley Ben-Adir, and John Cena as Merman Ken. None of them have any larger descriptions because they’re irrelevant — just a bunch of Kens trying to romance Barbie. Gerwig teamed up with her real-life partner and screenwriter Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) to write Barbie, later signing on to solely direct it.
When: July 21
At this point, every Christopher Nolan project is celebrated as a movie event, thanks to his unmatched level of consistency that rivals most blockbusters. This time, he’s doing a biopic, one on the renowned theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who oversaw the creation of the first atomic bomb in The Manhattan Project, amidst the roars of World War II. It appears as an atmospheric horror film at times, focusing on a troubled man whose flaws are ignored in favour of his brilliance, through an experiment that could lead to the destruction of the world. Frequent Nolan collaborator Cillian Murphy has finally been cast as a lead in Oppenheimer, as he navigates the politics and drama surrounding the secret project, leading all the way up to the Trinity Test.
It’s quite pressuring and to help cope with that, he’s got two women in his life — one is his wife Katherine (Emily Blunt) who was an activist and a scientist, serving as one of the many links that connected Oppenheimer to the communist ideology. The other is Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh), with whom he harboured a secret on-and-off relationship. In addition to the inner mental conflict, Oppenheimer would often debate with the Atomic Energy Commission chairman Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.), who had opposing ideas about the development of the powerful hydrogen bomb. Meanwhile, Matt Damon plays Lieutenant General Leslie Groves, who directed The Manhattan Project.
Nolan, who has always been heavily reliant on practical effects for his films, has done the same with Oppenheimer as well, recreating an explosion in Los Alamos, New Mexico. This also marks his first R-rated film since 2002’s Insomnia and the first not produced by Warner Bros. in two decades. The film also stars Benny Safdie (Good Time), Josh Peck (Drake & Josh), Gary Oldman (Mank), and Rami Malek (Mr. Robot).
They Cloned Tyrone
When: July 21
In They Cloned Tyrone, you follow three outlandish characters — Fontaine (John Boyega) the hustler, Yo-Yo (Teyonah Parris) the street pro, and Slick Charles (Jamie Foxx) the pimp, in a largely African-American neighbourhood, donned in a punkish aesthetic. That is until one fine morning, when Fontaine notices a stranded individual with a gunshot wound getting kidnapped by some men in a mysterious black car. What’s weird you ask? Well, as it happens, Fontaine, who was shot dead the previous night woke up completely unharmed the next day, but the guy who got abducted looked exactly like him — same wound and everything. Perplexed by the situation, the trio head out on an investigative journey to uncover a nefarious conspiracy lurking beneath the idyllic town.
As it turns out, the scientists in a government-backed secret laboratory had been performing mind control experiments on the citizens, mixing drugs inside fried chicken, hair conditioner, and grape juice — in addition to cloning Fontaine. While initially discouraged, he chooses to exact revenge on the system by infiltrating the underground complex and exposing its secrets to news outlets and the public — some of whom can’t help but laugh at the craziness of it all and post it to social media. Juel Taylor — who wrote the screenplay for Creed II — directs They Cloned Tyrone, with satirical humour and a presentation that serves as an homage to Blaxploitation films from back in the day.
Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani
When: July 28
Karan Johar marks his 25th anniversary with a celebratory return to directing a new romance film that echoes the vibes of old Bollywood films, flush with songs and dances, and sprinkled with a healthy dose of family drama. Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani stars Ranveer Singh (83) and Alia Bhatt (Gangubai Kathiawadi) in lead roles as lovers who grapple with familial troubles from their elders. Veteran actors, namely Dharmendra, Jaya Bachchan, Shanama Azmi, and Ronit Roy fill out the cast lineup. The film, which began filming in August 2021, suffered multiple delays due to COVID-19 and lead actress Bhatt’s pregnancy. The film is being distributed by Viacom18 and therefore, fans can expect it to drop on JioCinema in due course.
The Beanie Bubble
When: July 28
Where: Apple TV+
Ignoring the elephant in the room which is a clean-shaven Zach Galifianakis, The Beanie Bubble has an interesting premise, centering around a frustrated toy salesman, who partners with — or rather, uses — three women to build a billion-dollar company selling high-end, stuffed Himalayan cats. Inspired by the Beanie Babies bubble in late 1995, Ty Warner hits a goldmine by turning his plush toy business into the biggest toy craze in history, undervaluing the unsung heroes in his life who never appeared on the brand’s heart-shaped tag — all thanks to greed.
There are three key players here: Ty’s wife Sheila Warner (Sarah Snook) who serves as the rock in life, Robbie (Elizabeth Banks) the business partner with whom he maintains a secret affair, and Maya (Geraldine Vishwanathan) the strategist who helped save the company from going under. Kristin Gore teams up with her real-life partner Damian Kulash to direct The Beanie Bubble, based on a script the former wrote. The screenplay itself is based on Zac Bissonette’s non-fiction novel ‘The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute.’