The Biggest Movies Coming to Theaters in May 2023

Images courtesy: Disney (Marvel Studios), Disney, Universal

Could May 2023 become the second billion-dollar month at the post-pandemic box office?

The last two pre-pandemic Mays—2018 and 2019—both reached that mark, with eight of the last 11 pre-pandemic Mays hitting that vaunted threshold.

So far, though, only one such month has achieved that milestone since the pandemic: July 2022. Domestic grosses totaled $1.13B on the strength of new releases Minions: The Rise of GruThor: Love and Thunder, and Nope, plus June holdover Elvis and May holdover Top Gun: Maverick.

May 2023 sports some key similarities to that high water mark of July 2022, with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Little Mermaid ticking the MCU and family movie boxes, while The Super Mario Bros. provides the box office legs.

Here are the biggest movies coming to cinemas next month, listed in chronological order of wide release date.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Friday, May 5

Premise: Disney and Marvel Studios complete the Guardians trilogy in what is ostensibly promised as the crew’s final installment. (Then again, Disney also said that in advance of Toy Story 3 in 2010.)

Writer-director James Gunn brings the whole gang back, including Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Dave Bautista’s Drax, and Zoe Saldana’s Gamora.

Box office: 2014’s original Guardians of the Galaxy was one of Marvel’s biggest surprises ever, grossing $333.7M domestically. The 2017 sequel outearned its predecessor with $389.8M.

Of the past year’s four Marvel films, the most stylistically similar to Guardians 3 is 2022’s Thor: Love and Thunder, which—with its $343.2M domestic haul—is the best-performing of that franchise’s four installments.

Love Again

Friday, May 5

Premise: Sony Pictures’ romantic comedy stars Priyanka Chopra Jonas as bereaved widow Mira Ray, who sometimes texts her deceased boyfriend’s old phone number when she feels lonely. But after the phone number gets transferred to the single Rob Burns, played by Sam Heughan, romance heats up. 

Box office: Current tracking projects a total well below such recent romantic comedies as 2022’s Ticket to Paradise ($68.2M). At the moment, Love Again is tracking closer to underperforming romantic comedies like 2022’s Marry Me ($22.4M), 2019’s Last Christmas ($35.1M), and 2019’s Long Shot ($30.3M).


Friday, May 12

Premise: Ben Affleck stars in this R-rated action thriller as a detective trying to rescue his missing daughter while battling criminals who use hypnosis to disarm their enemies. Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Alita: Battle AngelSpy Kids).

Box office: This one is looking to earn around the same as some of Affleck’s other R-rated underperformers of the past decade: 2013’s Runner Runner ($19.3M), 2016’s Live by Night ($10.3M), and 2021’s The Last Duel ($10.8M).

Book Club: The Next Chapter

Friday, May 12

Premise: Focus Features’ comedy sequel sees Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen return in the follow-up to 2018’s Book Club. In this installment, the action moves overseas to Italy, with a trailer that seems to indicate little to zero plot involving an actual book club.

Box office: 2018’s original Book Club proved a surprise hit at $68.5M, though the sequel is highly unlikely to match that number. A more likely comp would be February’s 80 for Brady with $39.3M.

Fast X

Friday, May 19

Premise: Universal’s 10th movie in the 20+ year Fast and the Furious franchise reunites the usual gang of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew of auto-racing globetrotters. New characters in this installment include Jason Momoa’s villain Dante, along with Brie Larson’s Tess and Rita Moreno’s Abuela Toretto. This is supposed to be the first installment in a two-part finale, the final part of which will come out in 2025. 

Box office: The franchise’s two most recent installments earned nearly identical amounts: 2021’s F9 with $173.0M and 2019’s spinoff Hobbs & Shaw with $173.9M. Both were down from the prior film: 2017’s The Fate of the Furious with $225.7M.

The Little Mermaid

Friday, May 26

Premise: Disney’s live-action retelling of 1989’s animated musical classic stars relative newcomer Halle Bailey as Ariel, alongside Melissa McCarthy as the evil Ursula and Javier Bardem as King Triton.

Animated CGI sea creatures are voiced by Daveed Diggs (who won a Tony Award for playing Thomas Jefferson in Broadway’s Hamilton), Jacob Tremblay, and Awkwafina. Director Rob Marshall is a movie musical veteran, having helmed Chicago, Into the Woods, and Mary Poppins Returns.

Box office: Disney’s most successful modern reimaginings of classic films include 2019’s The Lion King ($543.6M), 2017’s Beauty and the Beast ($504.0M), 2016’s The Jungle Book ($364.0M), and 2019’s Aladdin ($355.5M). 

About My Father

Friday, May 26

Premise: Lionsgate’s comedy stars comedian Sebastian Maniscalco, who also co-wrote the screenplay, as a man whose embarrassing father, played by Robert De Niro, crashes a weekend get-together.  

Box office: Many of De Niro’s recent comedies in the past decade haven’t attracted mass audiences: 2020’s The War with Grandpa ($21.2M), 2016’s Dirty Grandpa ($35.5M), and 2013’s Grudge Match ($29.8M).

The plot is reminiscent of 2022’s Easter Sunday, also starring a standup comedian in Jo Koy, which earned only $13.0M.


Friday, May 26

Premise: Gerard Butler stars in another action thriller, a genre he’s become known for in recent years. In this one, he plays CIA operative Tom Harris, on the run in the titular Afghanistan city after helping to destroy an Iranian nuclear reactor.

Box office: These Gerard Butler action movies generally tend to earn somewhere in the $15M to $40M range, especially when excluding more lucrative sequels. His recent titles include January’s Plane ($32.1M), 2018’s Hunter Killer ($15.7M), 2018’s Den of Thieves ($44.9M), and 2017’s Geostorm ($33.7M).

The Machine

Friday, May 26

Premise: In 2016-17, standup comedian Bert Kreischer went viral for a 14-minute set telling the true story of how he accidentally got caught up with the Russian mafia in college. (Watch the YouTube video, with 52M views, here.)

In Sony Pictures’ meta R-rated action comedy, Kreischer plays a fictionalized version of himself who’s targeted for retribution by those same Russian mobsters in the present day—which, to be clear, did not actually occur in real life. Mark Hamill costars as his father.

Box office: This one has so few true comparable titles that it’s hard to say. But 2022’s similar R-rated “meta” action comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent earned $20.3M.

Images courtesy: Disney (Marvel Studios), Disney, Universal

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