Arts & Culture News

The Best Dallas-Centric Films and TV Shows Happening This Summer

If his face stirs up emotions, it's because you loved to hate him in Breaking Bad. Dallas-born actor Jesse Plemons is now starring in Jungle Cruise.
If his face stirs up emotions, it's because you loved to hate him in Breaking Bad. Dallas-born actor Jesse Plemons is now starring in Jungle Cruise. Jon Kopaloff/Getty
Widespread vaccinations promise Dallasites something they didn’t have last year: an actual summer. It was hard to enjoy the season last year — what’s to love about warm weather if you can’t enjoy summer concerts, cookouts, waterparks or festivals? In the short window before the daily high temperature skyrockets above 100 degrees, locals should have the chance to go out and interact socially. Strange that it would ever seem like a novelty.

After being forced to stay indoors for what seemed like a century, the prospect of plopping down on our couches doesn’t seem particularly appealing. But like every industry, film and TV productions are back in swing, and this summer has a robust schedule of exciting new projects. It’s hard not to get excited about returning to movie theaters with local chains opening up again, and, at the very least, we should be able to have some friends and family over for home viewing.

We’re also keen to support the Dallas artists who are looking to reclaim their audiences after a year off work. If you’re sick of watching reruns of Desperate Housewives and have already binged WandaVision three times, make sure to add these Dallas-centered movies and TV series to your summer watchlist.

What if Hansel was a bad guy? Ask Loki
If you asked us who would be starring as the main antagonist in a bonkers Marvel series, we probably wouldn’t have guessed Owen Wilson. The Dallas actor is best known for his comedic performances, but we’re eager to see what he does as the villain Mobius M. Mobius in the Disney+ spinoff series Loki, which streams weekly on Disney+ starting June 11.

Emmy-nominated Dallas actor headlines one of the most important shows of the year

We’re still getting over the emotional finale of The Good Place, but Chidi himself, Dallas’ William Jackson Harper, is headlining the historical adaptation The Underground Railroad, which streams on Amazon Prime Video. We’re not expecting this to be a particularly easy watch, but any project from Moonlight creator Barry Jenkins is certainly going to be a timely and emotional piece of work.

Batman is from Dallas, naturally
Forget Ben Affleck, Christian Bale, Robert Pattinson, George Clooney and Michael Keaton; some of the best Batman projects ever have been animated. The latest actor to voice the world’s greatest detective is none other than Dallas’ Jensen Ackles, who’ll lend his voice to the role in the animated feature Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One, coming to VOD, DVD and Blu-Ray on June 22.

After a yearlong delay, we finally get the latest from a beloved Dallas filmmaker

We were fired up to catch Dallas filmmaker David Lowery’s latest project at SXSW last year, and the idea of having to wait until May felt like an eternity. Now we won’t get the chance to see it until July. Either way, our enthusiasm for the modern retelling of the Arthurian epic The Green Knight hasn’t dampened in the slightest, and given Lowery’s amazing track record (A Ghost Story, The Old Man & The Gun, Pete’s Dragon) we’re excited to see what looks like one of the best films of the year when it hits theaters (yes!) on July 30.

An inspirational Texas story spotlighted in new drama
We’re never not in the mood for a feel-good sports underdog story. The upcoming 12 Mighty Orphans tells the true story of a poor Fort Worth high school team that ascends to the state championship. Texas filmmaker Ty Roberts helms the adaptation of the bestselling novel by Jim Dent, which stars Dallas’ Luke Wilson in what looks to be one of his more serious roles. 12 Mighty Orphans hits theaters on June 11.

We can’t get enough of the creepy Conjuring kids
Ignore the pointless Annabelle and The Nun spinoffs. We’ve been waiting for a proper conclusion to The Conjuring franchise. The latest installment, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, will finally cap off the series when it hits theaters and HBO Max on June 4. As a bonus, Dallas child star Jullian Hilliard, most recently seen as another supernatural preteen in WandaVision, is joining the series.

We can’t get enough Jesse Plemons, even if it’s a theme park adaptation
OK, on paper a big-budget version of the Jungle Cruise ride sounds like a terrible idea, but we’re hoping that it’s more Pirates of the Caribbean than Tomorrowland. This may be the last movie in which we can catch Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson before he starts a political campaign, and we’re curious to see how Dallas’ Jesse Plemons will do as the main villain. Hey, Johnny Depp got an Oscar nomination for Curse of the Black Pearl; will this be the role that finally earns Plemons his first nomination after years of being snubbed? Jungle Cruise hits theaters on July 30.

Dallas’ Christian Kane is bumped to lead in Leverage revival

Maybe you don’t know the name Christian Kane off the top of your head, but the Dallas actor has co-starred in many of our favorite genre shows, including Angel, The Librarians, Supernatural and Into the West. Kane was one of the co-leads of the heist procedural Leverage from 2008 to 2012, but he’s been bumped up to the lead role in the upcoming spinoff Leverage: Redemption. Get ready for some heist shenanigans when the show begins streaming on IMDb TV on July 9.

The exciting return of a beloved Dallas film festival
Sure, we’re excited about the films and series with Dallas connections, but nothing excites us more than participating in a time-honored local event. After last year’s festivities were delayed, the indie-centric Oak Cliff Film Festival will hold in-person film screenings under limited capacity in June. Not only does it promise the excitement of big-screen visuals and surround sound, but the fest supports emerging talent. The Oak Cliff Film Festival will be held June 24- 27 at the Texas Theater.
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Liam Gaughan has been covering film and television since before he had a driver's license, and in addition to the Observer has been published in, Schmoes Know, Taste of Cinema and The Dallas Morning News. He enjoys checking classic films off of his watchlist and working on spec scripts.