Summer Movie Preview: A season of action, adventure, heroes, more
While "The Avengers" is breaking ticket records, this summer another hero could challenge Marvel's super team for box-office king. The final installment of Christopher Nolan's blockbuster Batman saga, "The Dark Knight Rises," highlights this season's film offerings, which also include a smattering of surefire hits from Ridley Scott and Seth MacFarlane and indie gems from up-and-comers such as Mark Duplass and Greta Gerwig.
Here are some summer movies we're hot on seeing.
'Snow White and the Huntsman'
The second of two Snow White adaptations out this year (remember "Mirror Mirror"? Me neither.), this version stars "Twilight" fawn Kristen Stewart as Snow, Chris Hemsworth ("Thor") as the Huntsman and Charlize Theron as the wicked queen. It has a bit of a "Lord of the Rings" vibe to it. (June 1)
Here's your biggest guilty pleasure of the season. This sequel pits the man-eating piranhas against a slew of unsuspecting water park enthusiasts. Lots of cameos, including Gary Busey, David Hasselhoff and Christopher Lloyd. And Ving Rhames is back - with gun legs. (June 1)
A bunch of troubled youngsters are brought together to compete in the underground dance world. From the makers of "You Got Served." (June 1)
"Alien" and "Blade Runner" director Ridley Scott revisits his science fiction roots with this epic about a crew that heads off into space to investigate the origins of life on Earth - and then may have to save the planet because of what it discovers. With an all-star cast of Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce. (June 8)
'Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted'
Your favorite zoo escapees are back and gallivanting across Europe with a circus in an attempt to find their way home. Featuring the voice talent of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith and Sacha Baron Cohen. (June 8)
Indie queen Greta Gerwig takes the lead in this coming-of-age comedy about a woman who gets dumped a few weeks before her wedding and struggles to find herself. (June 8)
'Safety Not Guaranteed'
"New Girl" star Jake M. Johnson is a magazine writer who leads a team of interns, including "Parks and Rec's" Aubrey Plaza, as they work on a story about a man (Mark Duplass) who places a classified ad looking for someone to go back in time with him. (June 8)
Robert Pattinson ("Twilight," like you didn't know) plays a poor soldier who seduces his way through Paris, having his way with important ladies, including Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman and Kristin Scott Thomas. (June 8)
'Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding'
A lawyer and mother of two on the verge of divorce (played by Catherine Keener) heads to the country to see her hippie mother (Jane Fonda). Also starring Elizabeth Olson, Chace Crawford, Nat Wolff and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. (June 8)
The always odd director Todd Solondz ("Welcome to the Dollhouse," "Happiness") returns with what seems to be his most normal film to date, about a dysfunctional guy (Jordan Gelber) who is smitten with a dysfunctional woman (Selma Blair). Also starring Christopher Walken, Aasif Mandvi, Mia Farrow and Justin Bartha. (June 8)
'Rock of Ages'
The hit Broadway rock musical comes to the big screen with Tom Cruise playing the long-haired, tattooed Stacee Jaxx and Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta as the young, love-struck couple at the center of the story. Also starring Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Malin Akerman and Mary J. Blige.(June 15)
'That's My Boy'
Another Adam Sandler film about an immature man-child. Teen Donny (who grows up to be Adam Sandler) has a kid with his high crush - his teacher. Despite having a teen dad, the kid (Andy Samberg) grows up to be rich and successful, and when Donny needs money, he seeks his son out for some cash. (June 15)
'The Woman in the Fifth'
A disgraced writer (Ethan Hawke) heads to Paris, where he meets a widow (Kristin Scott Thomas) who might partake in some illicit behavior. (June 15)
'Your Sister's Sister'
After her friend Jack's (Mark Duplass) brother dies, Iris (Emily Blunt) sends her pal to to her family's island, where he meets and sleeps with her sister in this dramedy that was a big hit on the festival circuit this year. (June 15)
Pixar's latest sees the animated studio mining territory more akin to its parent company Disney. Fierce and fiery-haired Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) rejects royal life and sets out on a life of adventure. (June 22)
'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'
Based on the horror/history mashup novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, who also co-wrote the screenplay, this flick pits the 16th president (Benjamin Walker, of Broadway's "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson"), against a horde of bloodsucking vampires. (June 22)
'Seeking a Friend for the End of the World'
Lorene Scafaria, the screenwriter of "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," writes and directs this film set on the eve of the end of the world, about a man (Steve Carell) looking for his high school sweetheart and the enigmatic neighbor (Keira Knightley) who helps him on his journey. (June 22)
'To Rome with Love'
Woody Allen continues his tour of Europe, heading to Italy for his latest comedy. Starring Allen, Ellen Page, Jesse Eisenberg, Penélope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Greta Gerwig, Alison Pill, Judy Davis and Roberto Benigni. (June 22)
'G.I. Joe: Retaliation'
Out are director Stephen Sommers, Marlon Wayans and Sienna Miller, and in are director John Chu, Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis and Adrianne Palicki. The revamped "G.I. Joe" looks spectacular. This could be the surprise action hit of the season. UPDATE: Paramount announced on May 23rd that the film is being pushed back 9 months and will be turned to 3-D. (MARCH 29)
'Madea's Witness Protection'
Tyler Perry's back in drag as Madea, who - you've guess it - is going into Witness Protection. Also starring Denise Richards and Eugene Levy. (June 29)
Channing Tatum returns to his roots as a male stripper for Stephen Soderbergh's latest film about a veteran stripper showing a newbie the ropes. Also starring Matthew McConaughey, who will, of course, take off his shirt. (June 29)
'Beasts of the Southern Wild'
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize and Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival, this film follows a young girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) living in a fantastical Mississippi Delta facing a mythic catastrophe. (June 27)
'People Like Us'
After his father dies, Sam (Chris Pine) inherits a shaving kit with a big pile of cash which he's supposed to give to Frankie (Elizabeth Banks), his sister he never knew existed. Co-written and directed by "Star Trek" scribe Alex Kurtzman. (June 29)
'Take This Waltz'
Michelle Williams stars in Sarah Polley's latest about a married woman choosing between her husband (Seth Rogen) and her neighbor (Luke Kirby). (June 29)
'The Amazing Spider-Man'
The "Spider-Man" franchise swings back into theaters with reboot from new director Marc Webb. "The Social Network's" Andrew Garfield sets into the role of Peter Parker, Emma Stone plays love interest Gwen Stacy and Rhys Ifans plays the villain The Lizard. Thankfully, there are no musical numbers. (July 3)
Oliver Stone's new thriller pits a pair of pot growers (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson) against a drug cartel in Mexico. Also starring John Travolta, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro. (July 6)
'Katy Perry: Part of Me'
Get a behind-the-scenes look at what it's like to be pop star Katy Perry in this documentary. Expect lots of costumes and cleavage. (July 6)
'The Queen of Versailles'
This documentary, which won the U.S. Directing Award for Documentary at Sundance, follows a billionaire couple who builds a monster-sized home (90,000 square feet!) inspired by Versailles. (July 6)
'Ice Age: Continental Drift'
The prehistoric creatures of the "Ice Age" franchise are back for a fourth time, where chaos ensues after the continent starts drifting apart. (July 13)
"Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane makes his feature film directing debut with this comedy about a man (Mark Wahlberg) who lives with his stuffed teddy bear Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) that is alive thanks to a wish the man made as a kid. Also starring Mila Kunis. (July 13)
Joel Kinnaman ("The Killing") stars in this crime thriller based on a best-selling Swedish novel by Jens Lapidus. In Swedish with subtitles. (July 13)
Michael Winterbottom writes and directs this film adapted from Thomas Hardy's novel "Tess of the D'Urbervilles," set in India and starring Freida Pinto ("Slumdog Millionaire"). (July 13)
'The Dark Knight Rises'
Christopher Nolan's epic Batman saga comes to a close, as the Dark Knight (Christian Bale) takes on the brutal killer Bane (Tom Hardy). Also starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway (as Catwoman!). (July 20)
Formerly titled "Neighborhood Watch" (but changed after the Trayvon Martin shooting), this Ben Stiller comedy is about a bunch of dads who form a neighborhood watch group to get out of work at home. Also starring Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade. (July 27)
'Step Up Revolution'
If you've seen one "Step Up" movie, you've seen them all. This one follows a young woman who wants to be a dancer, but her dad might be redeveloping the neighborhood where her dance mob pals live. (July 27)
A writer (Paul Dano) looking for love creates his perfect woman, Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan, who also wrote the screenplay) in words and then wills her into existence. Also starring Steve Coogan, Annette Bening and Elliott Gould. From the directors of "Little Miss Sunshine." (July 25)
A rare film to get the NC-17 rating, director William Friedkin's thriller landed that rating because of "graphic disturbing content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality." Emile Hirsch stars as a man who hires a hit man (Matthew McConaughey) to murder his mother. Also starring Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon. (July 27)
'The Bourne Legacy'
Matt Damon's Jason Bourne is out and Jeremy Renner's Alex Cross is in with this new installment of the Bourne franchise centered on a new CIA agent. Also starring Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Joan Allen, David Strathairn and Albert Finney. (August 3)
Arnold Schwarzenegger's classic sci-fi flick is remade (this time drawing closer to the original short story "We Can Remember It For Your Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick), this time with Colin Farrell in the lead role. Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy, Ethan Hawke and John Cho round out the cast. (August 3)
'Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days'
The kid's franchise (based on the super popular book series by Jeff Kinney) returns with its third movie in three years. (August 3)
Fernando Meirelles, the director of "City of God" and "The Constant Gardener," returns with a relationship drama starring Anthony Hopkins, Rachel Weisz, Jude Law and Ben Foster. (August 3)
Director Jay Roach, who's turned out a pair of political dramas for HBO ("Game Change" and "Recount") merges to his comedy roots with politics for this farce about an incumbent North Carolina Congressman (Will Ferrell) who is challenge for his office by a rival politician (Zach Galifianakis). Jason Sudeikis and Dylan McDermott also star. (August 10)
Meryl Streep plays a wife looking to reinvigorate her marriage to her husband (Tommy Lee Jones) through couples counseling with the author of a self-help book (played by Steve Carell). Directed by David Frankel, who also directed Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada." (August 10)
'The Expendables 2'
Stallone and the boys are back for a bullet-laden sequel. Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme join the awesome cast of action movie stars: Jason Statham, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Randy Couture and Terry Crews. (August 17)
"American Idol's Jordin Sparks, the late Whitney Houston and Cee-Lo Green star in this remake of a 1976 film about three sisters trying to make it in Motown in the 1960s. With those supreme singing talents, this might be a better soundtrack than movie. (August 17)
In this animated feature - which would feel at home next to "Coraline" and "Monster House" - an odd young boy who can see ghosts has to save his town from a witch's curse. (August 17)
'The Odd Life of Timothy Green'
Director Peter Hedges makes great little films like "Dan In Real Life" and "Pieces of April," and he's turning out another little charmer about a couple (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) unable to have a child but who miraculously receive the kid they wished to have. (August 17)
Joseph Gorden-Levitt is a bike messenger in New York City who is delivering a package that a crooked cop wants. Also starring Michael Shannon and Aasif Mandvi. (August 24)
Sebastian Stan ("Captain America: The First Avenger"), Ashley Greene ("Twilight") and Tom Felton ("Harry Potter") star in this supernatural horror flick. (August 24)
'Hit and Run'
Writer and co-director Dax Shepard ("Parenthood") also stars in this hilarious looking rom-com by way of thriller about a guy in Witness Protection who puts his life in danger to help his girlfriend. Also starring Kristen Bell (Shepard's real-life fiancee), Bradley Cooper, Kristin Chenoweth and Tom Arnold. (August 24)
Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf play a pair of bootlegging brothers in this film based on a true story. Jessica Chastain, Guy Pearce, Gary Goldman and Mia Wasikowska round out the cast. (August 31)
A man (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his ex-wife (Kyra Sedgwick) have to reunite to save their daughter, who is possessed by a mysterious Hebrew spirit. Produced by Sam Raimi. (August 31)
'For a Good Time, Call ...'
To pay for their luxe apartment in Gramercy Park, a pair of women who knew each other from college start a phone sex line. (August 31)
Follow Entertainment Editor Scott A. Rosenberg on Twitter: @RosenbergScottA