'Dark Knight Rises' to 'Battleship': 35 summer movies
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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)
MEN IN BLACK 3 (May 25)
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 (June 1)
MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED (June 8)
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)
SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (June 22)
TO ROME WITH LOVE (June 22)
G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (June 29)
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)
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)
TED (July 13)
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)
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)
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS (Aug. 3)
TOTAL RECALL (Aug. 3)
THE CAMPAIGN (Aug. 10)
HOPE SPRINGS (Aug. 8)
THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN (Aug. 15)
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)
SPARKLE (Aug. 17)
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.
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.
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.
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.