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Summer movies: 'Fantastic Four,' 'Ricki and the Flash,' more

Everything old is new again this summer, as many familiar characters and beloved titles -- some more than 50 years old -- return to the big screen.

That means superheroes, of course, and so summer officially begins with the second "Avengers" film on May 1 and continues with "Ant-Man" and "Fantastic Four." But we'll also see sequels to Seth MacFarlane's "Ted," the a cappella rom-com "Pitch Perfect" and the Channing Tatum vehicle "Magic Mike." Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park" will get a new sequel; his "Poltergeist" will get an update. George Miller, the action-pulp auteur behind the "Mad Max" franchise, delivers a new one starring Tom Hardy in the title role.

Another clear pattern is emerging: In the wake of hits like "Bridesmaids" and "The Heat," we'll see a wave of female-fronted comedies this summer. Reese Withspoon plays a cop in "Hot Pursuit," Melissa McCarthy joins the CIA with "Spy" and Amy Schumer takes the spotlight in "Trainwreck." A smaller but buzzed-about release, "Welcome To Me" (in theaters May 1), stars Kristen Wiig as an oddball who launches her own TV show.

Here are this summer's biggest movies, plus a few limited releases that may break through the noise.


Photo Credit: Marvel / Jay Maidment

"Avengers: Age of Ultron": Box-office-wise, the summer may be downhill from here. The Marvel superheroes are back, though the most intriguing casting is James Spader as Ultron, a villainous techno-wizard. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen join the cast as the Maximoff twins. In theaters May 1.


Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures and MGM / Sam Emerson

"Hot Pursuit": An uptight cop (Reese Witherspoon) is assigned to guard a drug dealer's widow (Sofia Vergara). Directed by Anne Fletcher ("27 Dresses"). In theaters May 8.


Photo Credit: Universal Pictures / Richard Cartwright

"Pitch Perfect 2": A sequel to the 2012 hit about women competing in the male-dominated world of a cappella. With Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson. And this time, co-star Elizabeth Banks directs. In theaters May 15.


Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow / Jasin Boland

"Mad Max: Fury Road": Writer-director George Miller returns to his post-apocalypse franchise for the first time in 30 years. Tom Hardy takes over Mel Gibson's title role; Charlize Theron plays Imperator Furiosa. In theaters May 15.


Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox and Metro-Gold

"Poltergeist": Steven Spielberg's 1982 classic about a suburban haunted house gets an update. With Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt. Directed by Gil Kenan, in theaters May 22.


Photo Credit: Disney

"Tomorrowland": A jaded genius (George Clooney) and a chipper teenager (Britt Robertson) go in search of a mysterious point in time and space. Named for the 1955 Disney theme-park section. Directed by Brad Bird, in theaters May 22.

ALOHA (May 29)

Photo Credit: AP / Neal Preston

"Aloha": The latest from writer-director Cameron Crowe stars Bradley Cooper as a military contractor caught between a long-ago love (Rachel McAdams) and a young Air Force officer (Emma Stone). With Bill Murray and Danny McBride. In theaters May 29.


Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

"San Andreas": Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino star in a disaster movie about the looming earthquake Californians like to call "the big one." Brad Peyton directs. In theaters May 29.


Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures, HBO / Claudette Barius

"Entourage": The HBO series about Hollywood wannabe's went off the air four years ago; the movie picks up the story. Adrien Grenier leads the crew, while show creator, Merrick native Doug Ellin, directs. In theaters June 3.

SPY (June 5)

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox / Larry Horricks

"Spy": Melissa McCarthy plays a deskbound CIA analyst who suddenly gets the chance to go deep undercover. With Rose Byrne, Jason Statham and Jude Law. Written and directed by Paul Feig ("The Heat"), in theaters June 5.


Photo Credit: Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment / Chuck Zlotnick

"Jurassic World": That darned park is open again, this time with Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard on the premises. The fourth installment in Steven Spielberg's franchise -- and the first since 2001 -- is directed and co-written by Colin Trevorrow ("Safety Not Guaranteed"). In theaters June 12.

INSIDE OUT (June 19)

Photo Credit: Disney / Pixar

"Inside Out": A 3-D animated Disney-Pixar movie about the emotions who live inside a young girl. With the voices of Amy Poehler as Joy, Bill Hader as Fear and Mindy Kaling as Disgust. Directed by Pete Docter, in theaters June 19.

SOUTHPAW (June 26)

Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company / Kent Smith

"Southpaw": Antoine Fuqua's drama about a washed-up boxer staging a comeback stars a jaw-droppingly ripped Jake Gyllenhaal. With Forest Whitaker and Rachel McAdams, in theaters June 26.

MAX (June 26)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / Kent Smith

"Max": A wayward teen finds comfort in the military dog of his older brother, a fallen soldier. With Josh Wiggins, Lauren Graham and Thomas Haden Church. Directed by Boaz Yakin, in theaters June 26.

PIXELS (June 26)

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures

"Pixels': When Earth is attacked by giant video-game icons from the 1980s, including Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, humanity's last hope is a middle-aged arcade champion (Adam Sandler). Directed by Chris Columbus, in theaters June 26.

TED 2 (June 26)

Photo Credit: Tippett Studios / Universal Pictures

"Ted 2": The fuzzy star of Seth MacFarlane's raunchy comedy gets married, but must prove that he's a "person" in a court of law. With Mark Wahlberg and Amanda Seyfried, in theaters June 26.


Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / Claudette Barius

"Magic Mike XXL": The sequel to the 2012 hit "Magic Mike" finds Tampa's hottest male strippers ready to hang up their chaps -- but not before one last show. With Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello and Elizabeth Banks. Gregory Jacobs directs. In theaters July 1.


Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions / Marco Grob

"Terminator: Genisys': John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends Sgt. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 -- the year of the first film's release. Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger is in this. Directed by Alan Taylor, in theaters July 1.

MINIONS (July 10)

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

"Minions": The little yellow babblers from the "Despicable Me" films get their own feature, and a new supervillain, Scarlet Overkill (the voice of Sandra Bullock). Also with Jon Hamm, in theaters July 10.

SELF/LESS (July 10)

Photo Credit: Focus Features / Hilary Bronwyn Gayle

"Self/Less": A radical new medical procedure transplants the consciousness of a dying man (Ben Kingsley) into a healthy body (Ryan Reynolds). There are complications. Directed by Tarsem Singh ("The Cell"), in theaters July 10.

ANT-MAN (July 17)

Photo Credit: Marvel / Zade Rosenthal

"Ant-Man": Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang, a master thief who becomes a superhero -- albeit a very small one. With Michael Douglas. Written by Rudd and Adam McKay; directed by Peyton Reed. In theaters July 17.


Photo Credit: Universal Studios / Mary Cybulski

"Trainwreck": Screenwriter Amy Schumer plays a non-monogamous woman who might be ready to settle for one guy (Bill Hader). With Colin Quinn and Tilda Swinton. Directed by Judd Apatow, in theaters July 17.

PAPER TOWNS ( July 24)

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film / Michael Tackett

"Paper Towns": An adaptation of a novel by John Green ("The Fault in Our Stars") about a high-school boy (Nat Wolff) trying to track down an elusive girl (Cara Delevingne). Directed by Jake Schreier, in theaters July 24.

VACATION (July 31)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures / Hopper Stone

"Vacation": The Griswolds are heading to Wally World again, but young Rusty, played by Anthony Michael Hall 32 years ago, is now a grown man played by Ed Helms. With Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, in theaters July 31.


Photo Credit: Bo Bridges

"Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation": Tom Cruise returns as agent Ethan Hunt, who must prove that the nefarious Syndicate is real. With Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner. Directed and co-written by Christopher McQuarrie ("The Usual Suspects"). In theaters July 31.


Photo Credit: Armored Car Productions / Glen Wilson

"Masterminds": Zach Galifianakis plays an armored-car driver who is lured into a crime scheme but left holding the bag. With Kristen Wiig and Owen Wilson. Based on a true story; directed by Jared Hess ("Napoleon Dynamite"). In theaters Aug. 7.


Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

"Fantastic Four": Another Marvel superhero team -- but this one features Miles Teller as Mister Fantastic, Kate Mara as the Invisible Woman, Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch and Jamie Bell as the Thing. Toby Kebbell plays the villain, Doom. In theaters Aug. 7.


Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures / Bob Vergara

"Ricki and the Flash": A comedy-drama about an aging rocker (Meryl Streep) who tries to reconnect with her estranged family. With Kevin Kline, Rick Springfield and Streep's real-life daughter Mamie Gummer. Directed by Jonathan Demme, in theaters Aug. 7.

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (Aug. 14)

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment / Daniel Smith

"The Man From U.N.C.L.E.": Director Guy Ritchie takes on the 1960s television series about two agents, an American (Henry Cavill) and a Russian (Armie Hammer), who join forces. With Hugh Grant and Alicia Vikander, in theaters Aug. 14.


Photo Credit: Universal Pictures / Jaimie Trueblood

"Straight Outta Compton": A biopic of the pioneering gangsta-rap group N.W.A. O'Shea Jackson Jr. portrays his father, Ice Cube; Paul Giamatti plays the co-founder of Ruthless Records, Jerry Heller. Directed by F. Gary Gray, in theaters Aug. 14.

SINISTER 2 (Aug. 21)

Photo Credit: Focus Features / Elizabeth Morris

"Sinister 2": The sequel to the 2012 horror film centers on a mother (Shannyn Sossamon) and her young sons (real-life twins Robert and Dartanian Sloan). In theaters Aug. 21.

HITMAN: AGENT 47 (Aug. 28)

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film / Reiner Bajo

"Hitman: Agent 47": Rupert Friend (Showtime's "Homeland") plays a super-engineered human assassin. Based on the Danish video games. With Zachary Quinto, in theaters Aug. 28.


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