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This story first appeared in the May 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
For Hollywood studios, no time of year is more important — or more expensive — than the four-month summer season. The stakes are particularly high this year, since domestic box-office revenue is trailing 2012 by a dire 12 percent, thanks in large part to a glut of violent R-rated films in the first three months of the year.
During CinemaCon, the theater owners convention held April 15 to 18 in Las Vegas, studios hosted lavish presentations parading their summer slates in the hopes of instilling confidence. Exhibitors were particularly keen on May’s four mega-franchise installments: Marvel Studios and Disney’s Iron Man 3, which kicks off the season May 3; Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness on May 17; and Universal’s Fast & Furious 6; and Warner Bros.’ The Hangover Part III, which both roll out May 24, the beginning of the long Memorial Day weekend. The Iron Man series, featuring Robert Downey Jr. as the droll Tony Stark, burst onto the scene in 2008, raking in $585.2 million globally and paving the way for The Avengers, Captain America and Thor. Theater owners already have seen the threequel and, says one Midwest exhibitor, “I give it an A plus.”
STORY: Summer Movies Preview: Indies ‘The Iceman,’ ‘Aftershock’
But not everything is geared toward fanboys. Warners is counting on adults, and especially women, to turn out for The Great Gatsby, Baz Luhrmann‘s risky, 3D adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s iconic novel, with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. It bows May 10 in the U.S. before opening the Cannes Film Festival five days later.
And May 31, Sony’s After Earth, starring Will Smith sharing the screen with his son, Jaden, opens opposite the offbeat crime caper Now You See Me. M. Night Shyamalan directed After Earth, originally set to open June 7. At the eleventh hour, Sony moved up its release by one week, partly to provide more distance between it and the looming Superman pic Man of Steel.
INDIES TO WATCH FOR THIS MONTH:
What Maisie Knew (Millennium)
Something in the Air (IFC)
Augustine (Music Box)
The East (Fox Searchlight)
The Kings of Summer (CBS Films)
Shadow Dancer (Magnolia)
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