Summer movie season by the numbers:
- Approximately 90 films are scheduled for release — wide and limited — between Friday and Aug. 26.
- Of that group, less than 15 of those films could be considered tent-pole releases, e.g. the studios’ biggest movies of the year. Fifteen summer movies are also in 3D. There are 10 sequels hitting theaters in the next few months, two of which are reboots.
- Six films are based on comics/graphic novels. Four films are based on children’s books. Two films are based on toys. And there are zero films starring Tom Cruise.
It’s going to be a busy summer of movies.
Here’s a primer of what’s coming soon: one big film per week. Click on the titles to view a trailer, if available. As always, release dates and even film titles are subject to change.
Thor. Marvel’s God of Thunder hero leaps from the comic books to make his big-screen debut. Chris Hemsworth takes on the titular role, a powerful warrior-god whose arrogance gets him banished to Earth to live among humans. Then a powerful evil menace shows up and all Helheim breaks loose. Also starring Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins. Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Henry V, Hamlet).
Bridesmaids. Annie (Kristen Wiig) is a wreck, but she must get her life together in time to serve as maid of honor at her best friend Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) wedding. The comedy with a female slant was written and directed by Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig, and coproduced by Judd Apatow.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) encounters a beautiful but dangerous pirate from his past, Angelica (Penelope Cruz), the villainous Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his crew of zombies, and mermaids on an unexpected journey to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. Also starring Geoffrey Rush and directed by Rob Marshall (Nine, Chicago).
The Hangover Part II. The gang is back for this sequel to the crass comedy smash of 2009, as Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis), and Doug (Justin Bartha) travel to Thailand for Stu’s wedding. Stu wants a safe, subdued pre-wedding brunch after the debacle and debauchery of Doug’s bachelor party in Las Vegas — but things don’t go as planned. Look for return appearances by Ken Jeong, Jeffery Tambor, and Mike Tyson, as well as a cameo by Paul Giamatti. Directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Old School).
X-Men: First Class. This reboot of the once-proud superhero franchise goes to the beginning of the X-Men saga. The world is on the brink of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War, and the young mutants are caught up in it, as friendships are formed and lost, and long-lasting alliances forged. X-Men: First Class stars James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier/Professor X, Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto, and Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkholme/Mystique, and is based on a story by Bryan Singer, who successfully launched the series in 2000. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, who helmed the vastly underrated-underwatched Kick-Ass.
Super 8. In the summer of 1979 a group of friends in a small Ohio town witnesses a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident, after inexplicable events begin to take place in their town. This alien-monster-what the hell is it?-movie was written and directed by J.J. Abrams and screams of early Steven Spielberg. Which is appropriate considering he produced it.
The Green Lantern. Marvel Comics: D.C. Comics will see your Norse god superhero and his powerful hammer and raise you a Galactic superhero with an uber-powerful ring. Ryan Reynolds takes on the role of Hal Jordan, the newest recruit to an intergalactic order of protectors known as the Green Lantern Corps, who must lead the charge against a powerful new enemy, Parallax, which threatens the universe. With Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Basset, Tim Robbins, and Temuera Morrison. Directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale).
Cars 2. Pixar has given us some of the most original films in decades — so what’s with the sequels? Race car Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and his tow-truck pal Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) are off to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix. Then Mater gets caught up in international espionage and must assist British super-spy Finn McMissile (voice of Michael Caine) and spy-in-training Holley Shiftwell (voice of Emily Mortimer). Directed by John Lasseter (Cars, Toy Story).
Transformers: Dark of the Moon. When a mysterious event from our past erupts into our present, Earth is faced with a war so colossal that the Transformers alone cannot save us. At least the trailers hint at something edgier and more menacing than found in the previous two Transformers movies. Shia LaBeouf returns as Sam Witwicky and Michael Bay again directs.
Horrible Bosses. Three friends (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day) conspire to kill their intolerable bosses (Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston) after some advice from an ex-con (Jamie Foxx). Needless to say, things don’t go according to plan. Directed by Seth Gordon (the documentaries King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, Freakonomics).
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II. Four years after the final book in the series was published, the film franchise catches up. Expect a few laughs, lots of heart-pounding excitement, a few tears, and yes, the long-awaited final duel between Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and the evil Lord Voldemart (Ralph Fiennes). Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, and Tom Felton round out the cast. Directed by David Yates (who directed the previous three Harry Potter installments).
Captain America: The First Avenger. Chris Evans — who, as the Human Torch, was about the only good thing in the Fantastic Four movies — plays Steve Rogers who, through a voluntary experimental program, is transformed into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. The hero who will do battle with the evil HYDRA organization, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). And if the title didn’t give it away, Captain America — along with Thor — is prepping movie audiences for the May, 2012, release of the all-star superhero-fest The Avengers. Directed by Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, October Sky, Jurassic Park III).
Cowboys & Aliens. With Harrison Ford looking older and more awkward as an action hero, Daniel Craig takes the reins of this sci-fi action-adventure set in the old West as a mysterious stranger who holds the key to a town’s survival against an alien attack. Based on the graphic novel series, the film also stars Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy) and Sam Rockwell (Avatar). Directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Iron Man 2).
Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Tim Burton failed to kick-start the Apes franchise in 2001 with The Planet of the Apes. So now we’re back to square one with this remake of how the destinies of man and ape were shaped. Andy Serkis gives life to the CGI ape Caesar, just as he did Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films. Also starring James Franco as the scientist whose medical experiments give Caesar his super intelligence, as well as Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, and Brian Cox. Directed by Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist).
30 Minutes or Less. Jesse Eisenberg is Nick, a small-town pizza delivery driver whose dull life changes when he is kidnapped by two wannabe criminals (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson), who force him to rob a bank in 30 minutes. In desperation, Nick turns to his ex-best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) for help. The comedy reunites Eisenberg with his Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer.
Conan the Barbarian. Conan seeks revenge against those who wronged him, and finds himself in a much bigger conflict against forces far greater than he imagined. Jason Momoa takes on the shirtless, sword-and-sandal warrior first played by Arnold Schwarzenegger nearly three decades ago. Also starring Ron Perlman and Rose McGowan. Directed by Marcus Nispel (Friday the 13th, the 2009 version).
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. From Guillermo Del Toro comes a remake of a 1973 telefilm about a young girl, Sally (Bailee Madison), living in a 19th-century mansion in Rhode Island with her father (Guy Pearce) and his girlfriend (Katie Holmes). Life is normal until Sally begins to hear voices coming from creatures in the basement who want to claim her as one of their own. Co-written by Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) and directed by Troy Nixey in his feature-film debut.
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