'Dark Knight Rises' to 'Battleship': 35 summer movies

Christian Bale as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures' Christian Bale as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' action thriller "The Dark Knight Rises," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

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Is that faint buzzing sound coming from the first mosquitoes of summer? Or from the upcoming swarm of heavily promoted blockbusters?

Either way, the noise will only get louder over the next few weeks as the summer movie season heats up. Last summer was Hollywood's hottest in five years, with May through Labor Day ticket sales totaling $4.3 billion, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. The main driver was the final "Harry Potter" installment, which accounted for almost 9 percent of the total, though hits like "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," "The Hangover Part II" and "Thor" also helped.

Already, a few movies look ready to dominate this summer. The top contender is "Marvel's The Avengers," which kick-starts the season May 4 and arrives with a fan base that Marvel has been building for years. Christopher Nolan's final Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises" (July 20), is another contender: The previous film crushed the competition in 2008, with a whopping 12.8 percent of all summer ticket sales. And don't forget "The Amazing Spider-Man" (July 3), which reboots the hugely popular franchise with Andrew Garfield in the title role.

If you're tiring of men in tights, take heart: There are several sci-fi films, from Ridley Scott's serious-looking "Prometheus" (June 8) to the lighthearted "Men in Black 3" (May 25); comedies like Sacha Baron Cohen's "The Dictator" (May 16) and the maternally minded "What to Expect When You're Expecting" (May 18); and even a handful of music movies, including the hair-band tribute "Rock of Ages" (June 15) and Whitney Houston's final film, "Sparkle" (Aug. 17).

Here are 35 movies making the biggest buzz this summer:

MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS (May 4)

The last four years of superhero movies were just prequels to Joss Whedon's 3-D extravaganza, which teams up Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). (Also in IMAX.)

DARK SHADOWS (May 11)

Director Tim Burton turns the 1960s supernatural soap opera into a Gothic comedy, with Johnny Depp as an antique vampire who awakes in 1972. With Chloë Grace Moretz and Helena Bonham Carter. (Also in IMAX)

THE DICTATOR (May 16)

Sacha Baron Cohen's latest creation seems vaguely Gadhafi-esque (note the all-female security force), though the film was reportedly inspired by Saddam Hussein's bizarre novel of 2000. With Ben Kingsley and Anna Faris.

BATTLESHIP (May 18)

Hasbro made a movie out of Transformers, so why not this decades-old kids' game? Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna and Brooklyn Decker star in what Universal is calling an "epic-scaled action-adventure." With aliens!

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING (May 18)

An ensemble comedy inspired by the bestselling maternity-advice book. With Cameron Diaz, Chris Rock, Chace Crawford and Brooklyn Decker.

MEN IN BLACK 3 (May 25)

After a 10-year absence, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as the sleek-suited secret agents J and K, this time dabbling in time travel. Josh Brolin plays the younger K. (Also in IMAX)

MOONRISE KINGDOM (May 25)

Wes Anderson's latest, set in the summer of 1965, is about preteen sweethearts (newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman) who run away from a New England town. With Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis and Tilda Swinton.

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN

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(June 1)

A serious twist on the fairy tale, starring Kristen Stewart in the sword-swinging title role, Chris Hemsworth as the huntsman and Charlize Theron as the evil queen.

MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED (June 8)

The animated franchise edges toward spy-spoof territory, a tactic that sank Pixar's "Cars 2." But there's also a traveling circus in the plot. With the voices of Chris Rock and David Schwimmer.

PROMETHEUS (June 8)

Director Ridley Scott's return to "Alien" territory, already one of the year's most anticipated films, sends Noomi Rapace and Charlize Theron screaming into space. Michael Fassbender plays the android. (Also in IMAX)

ROCK OF AGES (June 15)

The film version of the hit play about the 1980s hair-band craze, starring Diego Boneta, Julianne Hough and Tom Cruise as Arsenal singer Stacee Jaxx. With music by Joan Jett, Twisted Sister and other favorites.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER (June 22)

This action-horror film "explores the secret life of our greatest president, and the untold story that shaped our nation," according to 20th Century Fox. With Benjamin Walker as the 16th president.

BRAVE (June 22)

Pixar's first film to feature a heroine focuses on Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), who must save a Scottish kingdom from a beastly curse.

SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (June 22)

Steve Carell and Keira Knightley are neighbors who take a road trip on the eve of Armageddon. With Connie Britton and Rob Corddry.

TO ROME WITH LOVE (June 22)

Little is known about Woody Allen's latest, but the cast includes Alec Baldwin, Penélope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Greta Gerwig and Allen himself.

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (June 29)

Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis are said to be the leads in this sequel to 2009's "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra." Channing Tatum returns as Duke.

MAGIC MIKE (June 29)

A doubleheader weekend for Tatum, who also stars in this comedy-drama inspired by his former life as a male stripper. Directed by Steven Soderbergh.

TYLER PERRY'S MADEA'S WITNESS PROTECTION (June 29)

Perry returns as the grating granny Madea, this time giving shelter to a mob target (Eugene Levy). With Denise Richards.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (July 3)

So long, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Andrew Garfield dons the stretchy suit and Emma Stone plays the love interest, Gwen Stacy, with villain duties going to Rhys Ifans as The Lizard. (Also in IMAX)

KATY PERRY: PART OF ME (July 5)

A concert film and biopic about the pop singer, reportedly inspired by Madonna's 1991 self-produced documentary "Truth or Dare." In 3-D.

SAVAGES (July 6)

Oliver Stone directs this thriller about two California drug dealers (Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch) who run afoul of a Mexican cartel. With Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro and Salma Hayek as the kingpin.

ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT (July 13)

Pangaea starts cracking in the fourth installment of this animated franchise about Mesozoic-era animals. With the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and the usual gang. In 3-D.

TED

(July 13)

Mark Wahlberg is a grown man whose magical, living teddy bear still hasn't left his side. Seth McFarlane (Fox's "Family Guy") co-wrote, directs and provides the voice of the animated bear.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (July 20)

The third and final chapter in Christopher Nolan's acclaimed superhero series pits Batman (Christian Bale) against Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and the gas-masked Bane (Tom Hardy). With Marion Cotillard. (Also in IMAX)

RUBY SPARKS (July 25)

A struggling young novelist (Paul Dano) is stunned when his newest female character comes to life. Zoe Kazan, granddaughter of Elia, wrote the script and plays the title role.

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH (July 27)

Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill are crime-conscious suburbanites battling space aliens in a comedy that suddenly seems topical after the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, where 20th Century Fox has pulled some promotional material.

THE BOURNE LEGACY (Aug. 3)

A clever title, since Matt Damon's Jason Bourne isn't in this one. Now our hero is Jeremy Renner as agent Aaron Cross. With Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS (Aug. 3)

Zachary Gordon returns as Greg Heffley, this time livening up his summer by pretending to get a job at a swanky country club. With Devon Bostick and Steve Zahn.

TOTAL RECALL (Aug. 3)

Colin Farrell replaces Arnold Schwarzenegger in this new version of the 1990 sci-fi action flick about a man whose virtual vacation suddenly goes south. With Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale.

THE CAMPAIGN (Aug. 10)

A potentially topical comedy about a Southern congressman (Will Ferrell) running for re-election against a naive civil servant (Zach Galifianakis). Directed by Jay Roach ("Meet the Parents").

HOPE SPRINGS (Aug. 8)

Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are a longtime couple trying to reignite their romance when they go for relationship therapy. Steve Carell plays their counselor.

THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN (Aug. 15)

Married couple Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton ("Warrior") make a wish for their ideal child. Magically, he appears. Written by Ahmet Zappa (son of Frank).

THE EXPENDABLES 2 (Aug. 17)

Sylvester Stallone and his grizzled gang of mercenaries return, joined by Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Youngsters Liam Hemsworth ("The Hunger Games") and Yu Nan ("Speed Racer") skew the age curve.

PARANORMAN (Aug. 17)

In this 3-D stop-motion comedy-thriller, a haunted town seeks help from a young medium (voice of Kodi Smit-McPhee, of "The Road"). With John Goodman, Anna Kendrick and Casey Affleck.

SPARKLE (Aug. 17)

A remake of the 1976 drama about singing sisters in the Motown era. Jordin Sparks plays the title role; Whitney Houston plays her mother. With Derek Luke, Mike Epps and Cee Lo Green.

 

And 10 more to keep in mind

THE PERFECT FAMILY (Friday) -- Kathleen Turner plays a suburbanite whose chances of winning "Catholic Woman of the Year" keep dwindling, thanks to her not-so-immaculate family. With Emily Deschanel and Jason Ritter.

HYSTERIA (May 18) -- A Victorian-era comedy starring Hugh Dancy as Dr. Mortimer Granville, who patented the first electromechanical personal massager (ahem). With Maggie Gyllenhaal and Felicity Jones.

KILLER JOE (July 27) -- Dependably dark director William Friedkin ("The Exorcist," "The French Connection") returns with a comedic noir about a man plotting to murder his mother. With Emile Hirsch and Matthew McConaughey.

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CHELY WRIGHT: WISH ME AWAY (June 1) -- A documentary about the onetime country chart-topper (1999's "Single White Female") who risked her career by publicly revealing her homosexuality.

BEL AMI (June 8) -- Robert Pattinson plays Georges Duroy, a 19th century charmer climbing the ranks of Parisian society. With Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci.

NEIL YOUNG JOURNEYS (June 29) -- Director Jonathan Demme ("Stop Making Sense") took a car ride with the classic rocker last year and interwove that footage with live performances for this film.

RED LIGHTS (July 13) -- Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy are paranormal debunkers who meet their match in blind psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro). With Elizabeth Olsen.

THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES (Aug. 3) -- In this documentary, billionaire timeshare magnate David Siegel builds himself a 90,000-square-foot house, the biggest in America. Then the economy tanks.

2 DAYS IN NEW YORK (Aug. 10) -- Julie Delpy returns as Marion, the neurotic urbanite of 2007's "2 Days in Paris," now with a new home and a new boyfriend (Chris Rock).

LITTLE WHITE LIES (Aug. 24) -- Oscar winners Jean Dujardin ("The Artist") and Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") star in this drama about a group of friends who take an emotionally fraught vacation.

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