You'll see Hollywood bobbing and weaving in 2010, looking for an opening to deliver some knockout entertainment.
It's going to be a tough fight.
The upcoming slates from the major studios reveal slow reflexes (more movies based on young-adult novels), old tricks (Mel Gibson in an action thriller, Bruce Willis as a headstrong cop) and wild swings (Jude Law as an organ-ripping repo man). Dodging the vampire trend, Universal is telegraphing "The Wolfman," starring Benicio Del Toro. And Paramount is keeping its elbows in, releasing Martin Scorsese's "Shutter Island," starring A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio, in the normally slow early months of winter.
Here are the big releases for the first five months of the year. Some of them could even be contenders.
CREATION (Jan. 15)
Director: Jon Amiel
The story: Real-life spouses Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly play Charles Darwin and his deeply religious wife in this biopic.
Controversy meter: Fairly low, considering the potentially touchy material, but the opening is still less than a week away.
EDGE OF DARKNESS (Jan. 29)
Director: Martin Campbell
The story: Homicide detective Mel Gibson searches for his daughter's killer and discovers a world of corporate-government collusion.
Welcome back: This actioner marks Gibson's first proper acting role since the 2002 chiller "Signs."
Director: Chris Columbus
The story: The gods of Mount Olympus emerge from young Percy's high-school textbook to hunt for Zeus' stolen lightning bolt. Guess who they suspect?
Potter fodder: Based on the first in a series of young-adult novels, this movie has "franchise" tattooed on its forehead.
THE WOLFMAN (Feb. 12)
Director: Joe Johnston
The story: Benicio Del Toro plays a nobleman with some hairy ancestors. Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt also star.
Set it off: Will the cultural reign of vampires give way to the rise of the lycans? Place your bets!
SHUTTER ISLAND (Feb. 19)
Director: Martin Scorsese
The story: U.S. Marshal Leonardo DiCaprio investigates a fortresslike asylum and finds it oddly difficult to leave. With Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley.
Looking for clues: What does it mean that Paramount switched this brand-name movie from October (Oscar season) to February (the winter doldrums)?
COP OUT (Feb. 26)
Director: Kevin Smith
The story: Bad-boy cops Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan follow the trail of a missing baseball card. With Seann William Scott as their loudmouth captive.
That Kevin Smith? Yep! The man behind "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy" delivers a Hollywood buddy-cop comedy.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND (March 5)
Director: Tim Burton
The story: In this version of the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) is 19 years old and revisiting her childhood dreamland.
The usual suspects: Look for Burton favorites Johnny Depp (as the Mad Hatter) and Helena Bonham Carter (as the Red Queen).
GREEN ZONE (March 12)
Director: Paul Greengrass
The story: Army operative Matt Damon hunts for weapons of mass destruction in occupied Baghdad. With Greg Kinnear and Amy Ryan.
Bourne free: Greengrass and Damon struck gold with the Jason Bourne films, but this isn't part of the franchise.
CLASH OF THE TITANS (March 26)
Director: Louis Leterrier
The story: Sam Worthington plays Perseus, born of a god but raised as a man, who battles the underworld lord Hades (Ralph Fiennes). With Liam Neeson and Gemma Arterton.
In effect: A pattern is emerging for Worthington: first "Terminator Salvation," then "Avatar," and now this effects-driven fantasy.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (March 26)
Directors: Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
The story: In this animated feature, young Hiccup the Viking (voiced by Jay Baruchel) makes an unusual friend - a dragon. With Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and America Ferrera.
Another movie deal: Like so many kids' movies these days, this one is based on a book (by British author Cressida Cowell) that launched a successful series.
REPO MEN (April 20)
Director: Miguel Sapochnik
The story: In the future, patients who fail to pay for organs are visited by Jude Law. Liev Schreiber plays the chief of the world's worst HMO.
Repo redux: Though based on a novel, this movie seems awfully similar to the 2008 cult flick "Repo! The Genetic Opera."
WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS (April 23)
Director: Oliver Stone
The story: In this sequel to the 1987 classic, ruthless financier Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) tackles a new economic era. Shia LaBeouf replaces Charlie Sheen as the young buck.
Crash course: Filmed as the economy collapsed, this movie promises to deliver some Stone-ian pronouncements on the state of our union.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (April 30)
Director: Sam Bayer
The story: A reboot of the popular horror franchise about teenagers murdered by a hideous dream figure.
New creep: Robert Englund had a good run as the blade-fingered Freddy Krueger, but the torch now passes to Jackie Earle Haley ("Watchmen").
IRON MAN 2 (May 7)
Director: Jon Favreau
The story: Munitions mogul Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) tries to prevent his superhero technology from falling into the wrong hands.
New faces: Intriguing additions include Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Mickey Rourke as the villainous Whiplash.
ROBIN HOOD (May 14)
Director: Ridley Scott
The story: Take a guess. Russell Crowe plays the 13th century freedom fighter; Cate Blanchett stars as Lady Marion.
No tights? And certainly no pointy little hat. The Crowe-Scott team, of "Gladiator," wants a tougher, rougher Hood.
SEX AND THE CITY 2 (May 28)
Director: Michael Patrick King
The story: According to Warner Bros., "Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda take another bite out of the Big Apple."
Too much "Sex"? Some viewers were put off by the first movie's tantric running time (two-plus hours). No news on how long this one will be.
AND COMING OUT LATER THIS YEAR . . .
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE (June 30)
A new installment, a new director: This time it's David Slade (the edgy indie drama "Hard Candy"). As for the story, Bella is still juggling Jacob and Edward.
THE TOWN (Sept. 10)
Ben Affleck directs himself as a criminal who falls for his own hostage (Rebecca Hall).
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART I (Nov. 19)
The beginning of the final chapter in the wildly popular franchise.