Summer Movie Preview: 'Avengers,' 'Dark Knight,' 'Spider-Man,' 'Prometheus' Invade the Screen

 

This story originally appeared in the April 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

As if rising tempertures, longer days, and summer vacations weren't enough to make you wish for summer, the months of May, June, July and August will also bring with them a slew of high-profile film projects. From Christopher Nolan's final chaper in his Batman series, The Dark Knight Rises, to Ridley Scott's highly anticipated sci-fi epic Prometheus, The Hollywood Reporter looks ahead at the coming months and the movies set to heat up the big screen.

PHOTOS: Summer Movie Preview 2012: 'Avengers,' 'Dark Knight,' 'Spider-Man,' 'Prometheus'

MAY: WHO WILL TRIUMPH IN THE ATTACK OF THE ALIEN MOVIES?

Earth is under attack at the multiplex in May. The month’s three biggest movies involve pitched battles with creatures from other planets. Hollywood might consider that a formula for success, but there’s plenty at risk — especially for Universal’s $200 million Battleship, a big-budget adaptation of the Hasbro game and the lone nonsequel among the big three. And the movie, starring Taylor Kitsch of the late John Carter, has precious little breathing room: It opens May 18, a week before Sony’s Men in Black 3 debuts May 25, the start of the lucrative Memorial Day weekend. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are reteaming for MiB 3, returning the franchise to its roots. (Jones appeared only briefly in the first sequel.) But it has been a decade since Men in Black II was in theaters, and box-office observers will be watching to see if the lengthy hiatus hurts. It also has been nearly four years since Smith appeared onscreen, so MiB 3 will be a fresh test of his genuine star status.

The one May title with a wide berth, opening May 4, is Marvel Studios and Disney’s The Avengers, the superhero extravaganza in which everyone from Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man to Chris Hemsworth’s Thor joins forces for the first time on the big screen to fight an interplanetary villain.

Meanwhile, Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and The Dictator, starring Sacha Baron Cohen, will face off mid-month. Shadows, starring Johnny Depp, is striking a more comedic tone than many expected, meaning two comedies will go up against each other. Another comedy, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, aimed at female moviegoers and based on the best-selling guidebook about impending parenthood, opens a week later with an ensemble cast that’s headed by Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Chris Rock and Dennis Quaid.

 

JUNE: SCI-FI, FOLK TALES TAKE A FRONT SEAT

Fanboys are salivating for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, headlining Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender. The Fox release isn’t intended as a prequel, per se, to Scott’s 1979 classic Alien, but there is a definite connection — though the filmmakers are trying to keep a lid on it. Prometheus, opening June 8, should have more than enough room to maneuver.

There’s not another action tentpole for three weeks, when Paramount sends its sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation into the field. (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra grossed $302.5 million worldwide in August 2009, good enough to launch a franchise.) This time, G.I. Joe features Dwayne Johnson, who has morphed into a worldwide star and should boost the pic’s potential, as well as Bruce Willis. Returning castmembers include Channing Tatum, who will compete with himself because his male-stripper flick Magic Mike opens on the same date.

The action movies don’t just belong to the guys, though. On June 1, Universal serves up Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart, who in this retelling becomes a woman warrior. The studio is determined to make the film accessible to males as well as females, but Hollywood has had a hard time turning fairy tales into four-quadrant hits, as evidenced by the poor performances of Red Riding Hood and Mirror Mirror.

June’s comedy spotlight will go to That’s My Boy, starring Adam Sandler opposite Andy Samberg and Leighton Meester. Opening June 15, it features Sandler as a derelict dad who tries to reunite with his son on the eve of the son’s wedding. Sandler’s most recent film, Jack and Jill, was a disappointment for the usually Teflon-coated comedian, grossing $74.2 million domestically and $148.8 million worldwide. Sony is counting on That’s My Boy to reverse Sandler’s mild slump, while the studio’s specialty division, Sony Pictures Classics, will see if its June release, Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love, can duplicate some of the success of Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

 

JULY: ONE HERO RETURNS, ANOTHER SAYS GOODBYE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's no wonder the July release calendar isn't as  crowded as the other summer months — rival studios have generally steered clear of Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man and, even more notably, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, though two dark horses are the concert movie Katy Perry: Part of Me and Oliver Stone’s Pulp Fiction-like Savages.

Sony has a great deal riding on this Spider-Man, which opens July 3 to dominate the holiday weekend. A retelling of the familiar origins story, it is headlined by Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, the high schooler who becomes the iconic superhero, and Emma Stone as his love interest. Although it has been only five years since the previous Spider-Man movie (directed by Sam Raimi), the studio is calculating that a redo will refresh its marquee franchise. The bar is high: The three Spider-Man films starring Tobey Maguire were among the most successful titles in Hollywood history, with the third entry grossing more than $890 million worldwide. If Spider-Man doesn’t work, Sony will have to go back to the drawing board.

An even bigger behemoth — Dark Knight — arrives July 20. The conclusion of Nolan’s wildly successful Batman trilogy aims to gross more than $1 billion worldwide. A week later, Fox debuts its big summer comedy Neighborhood Watch, starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill. Although its premise is pure escapism — the Akiva Schaffer-directed movie centers on a neighborhood watch group that fights off an alien invasion — its marketing just got a whole lot trickier in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death at the hands of a neighborhood watch volunteer. Also opening July 27 is Tyler Perry’s Kim Kardashian starrer The Marriage Counselor, the first of Perry’s 12 films to open in the summer.

 

AUGUST: LATE SUMMER BRINGS A HIGH-PROFILE SHOWDOWN



August is more crowded than ever, beginning with a head-to-head battle between The Bourne Legacy and Total Recall during its first weekend. (By grossing $442.8 million worldwide in 2007, The Bourne Ultimatum proved that August, once considered a graveyard, could produce a tentpole hit.) The future of Universal’s Bourne franchise is riding on the latest installment, which features Jeremy Renner in the lead instead of Matt Damon, who didn’t want to star in the fourth installment if Paul Greengrass wasn’t returning to direct. Instead, Tony Gilroy, who wrote the first three Bourne movies, claims the director’s chair for the spy tale.

And Sony has franchise hopes for Total Recall, a remake of the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi movie now featuring Colin Farrell in the lead role. Directed by Len Wiseman (the Underworld franchise, Live Free or Die Hard), the remake follows a different storyline and is set in a dystopian future when Euroamerica (formerly the U.S.) battles New Shanghai (formerly China) for global power. Kate Beckinsale, Wiseman’s wife, stars opposite Farrell. With that combination of talent, Recall is generating plenty of heat on the Internet and in social media circles.

As the month gets under way, Fox will bring out its sequel Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Although August isn’t usually a stomping ground for kid pics, Disney on Aug. 15 will open The Odd Life of Timothy Green, and two days later Focus Features rolls out the animated ParaNorman, from the filmmakers behind Coraline.

Then there’s the usual August crush of genre titles, including The Apparition and Premium Rush on Aug. 24, followed by 7500 and The Possession on Aug. 31, when John Hillcoat’s Depression-era drama Lawless (formerly known as The Wettest County) also is due.

View more photos in THR's Summer Preview here.

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