If "The Avengers" taught us anything last year, it's that audiences still flock to a good superhero movie filled A-list stars, jaw-dropping effects and a storyline that revolves around a threat to the world as we know it. Well, summer 2013 serves up what the people want, and then some!
And if "Iron Man 3's" record-breaking, domestic opening haul of $174 million and Memorial Day's record-breaking box office of over $300 million are any indication, ticket registers will be working hard right through the July 4 period.
Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy keep the thermostat turned up in "The Heat" as Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx bring the explosions in "White House Down." Disney's long-gestating reboot of "The Lone Ranger" finally rode into cineplexes while those adorable little yellow minions are up to new tricks in "Despicable Me 2."
For your viewing pleasure:
"Iron Man 3" (In theaters)
Poor Tony Stark. Last year's adventures in "The Avengers" has left the billionaire/man behind the Iron Man mask (Robert Downey Jr.) with a case of post-traumatic stress in "Iron Man 3." But that's the least of his worries as new villain called the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) terrorizes the United States. Along for the bumpy ride are Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), inventor Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and Stark's BFF Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). But is everybody really who they say they are?
"The Great Gatsby" (In theaters)
Director Baz Lurhmann ("Moulin Rouge," "Romeo & Juliet") adds F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic story to his over-the-top oeuvre - in 3D, no less. Would-be writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) finds himself immersed in the jazz-age decadence of New York in 1922. Carraway is lead on a journey of self-discovery by his mysterious, party-throwing neighbor, the millionaire Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom and Daisy Buchanan (Joel Edgarton and Carey Mulligan) and Myrtle and George Wilson (Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke). Wardrobe wizard Catherine Martin brings to life the era of deco decadence and Jay-Z is behind the music mash-up of modern tunes and period drama.
"Star Trek Into Darkness" (In theaters)
It's going to take all the ingenuity of Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Bones (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Chekov (Anton Yelchin) and Scotty (Simon Peg) and the crew of the Starship Enterprise to get out of this one. Kirk & co. go on a manhunt to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction ("Sherlock's" Benedict Cumberbatch) in "Star Trek Into Darkness," the follow up to 2009's "Star Trek" by director J.J. Abrams (the man behind the new "Star Wars" film set for 2014).
"Hangover III" (In theaters)
The most successful R-rated comedy franchise in movie history (the first two installments have grossed over $1 billion at the box office worldwide), "The Hangover Part III" finds the orgingal cast all onboard for what is being billed as the "epic finale" to the trilogy. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham, Jeffery Tambor and Ken Jeong reunite and are joined this time around by John Goodman. Current trailers reveal that Allan (Galifianakis) is off his meds and heading to rehab, but the Wolfpack are abducted on the journey to deliver him by Goodman's character who wants them to track down Mr Chow (Jeong). Add a cameo from Melissa McCarthy to the mix and watch the box office numbers skyrocket.
"Fast & Furious 6" (In theaters)
The sixth (yes, six!) installment in the high-torque, gas guzzling franchise centered around would-be criminals and their rides finds the all-star cast (see above introduction) reuniting in London in an effort to stop an organization of lethally skilled mercenary drivers lead by newcomer Luke Evans and alum Michelle Rodriguez. With director Justin Lin behind the camera for the fourth time, expect lightening-fast chases, the t-shirts to be skin tight and crashes that'll have you involuntarily hitting the break pedal. Oh, and there's even a tank!
"After Earth" (In theaters)
Will Smith is joined onscreen by his real-life son Jaden Smith as a father and son intergalactic ranger team who become stranded on future Earth 1000 years after humans abandoned the planet. With dad injured, the son must embark on a dangerous journey to signal for help. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan ("The Sixth Sense), there's sure to be a twist or two to keep audiences on the edge of their seats.
"This Is the End" (In theaters)
If the Academy handed out awards for highest use of cameos, "This Is the End" would have an Oscar to place on its mantle. James Franco, Emma Watson, Paul Rudd, Craig Robinson, Seth Rogan, Jason Segal, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Jay Baruchel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mindy Kaling, Kevin Hart, Danny McBride, Axziz Ansaru and Rihanna all make the cast list of "This Is the End," which follows the comedic happenings of six friends trapped in a house after a series of catastrophic events devastate Los Angeles.
"Man of Steel" (In theaters)
Brit actor Henry Cavill ("The Tudors") takes on the role of Clark Kent/Superman in this rebooted origin tale of the man faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap... you know the rest. "Man of Steel" features Amy Adams as Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane, Laurence Fishbourne as Perry White, Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as Kent's adoptive parents and Russell Crowe as his biological father Jor-El. In this update from director Zack Snyder ("300," "Watchmen"), Superman must battle two other surviving Kryptonians, the villainous General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his evil partner Faora (Antje Traue) who arrive on earth looking for our caped hero.This is the second time in the story of the son of Krypton has been refashioned in less than a decade. 2006's modestly received "Superman Returns" starred Brandon Routh in the titular role and Kate Bosworth as Lane.
"World War Z" (In theaters)
Brad Pitt plays a U.N. worker named Gerry Lane who finds himself in a race against time to stop a zombie pandemic that threatens not only his family, but our entire way of life. Leaping, running and jumping, the ravenous undead in the trailer number in the thousands and move like lightening. "The Walking Dead" zombies have nothing on these guys.
"Monsters University" (In theaters)
It's been over a decade since we first met monsters Sully and Mike and were introduced to their alternate world where monsters create energy by jumping out of the closets of unsuspecting children. Rather than check in and see what's happened in the interim years, the folks at Disney/Pixar chose to look back and have envisaged an origin story for the walking eyeball (Sully, voiced once more by Billy Crystal) and furball Mike (a returning John Goodman). If the title hasn't already given the premise away, "Monsters University" shows our anti-heroes meeting cute at college where they must contend with "Scaring 101" and the imposing Dean Hardscrabble (voiced by Helen Mirren).
"The Heat" (In theaters)
Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock. Need we say more? How about the fact that "The Heat" is directed by Paul Feig, who showed us he knows a thing or twelve about female buddy comedy movies with "Bridesmaids." In "Heat," Bullock plays special agent Sarah Ashburn, a by-the-book FBI operative who finds herself working with McCarthy's Shannon Mullins, a police detective happiest working outside the lines. It's a welcome return to comedy fare for Bullock and only reinforces McCarthy's appeal as the current go-to actress for over- the-top hilarity.
"White House Down" (In theaters)
Sexiest man alive and current box office favorite Channing Tatum teams up with Jamie Foxx in this action thriller. While touring the White House with his teenage daughter, capitol policeman John Cale (Tatum) must spring into action when a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders threatens the president (Foxx). Tatum rocks tank top and Foxx gets to shoot a rocket launcher out of the presidential limousine. You get the picture!
"The Lone Ranger" (In theaters)
Tonto (a makeup covered Johnny Depp) reveals the secrets behind John Reid, the lawman who transforms into the Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer). Plot details remain scarce, but what is known is that this dynamic duo must battle greed and corruption in the old west.
"Despicable Me 2" (In theaters)
Steve Carell is back as the evil mastermind Gru in this sequel to the 2010 animated hit. Only this time Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain league in an effort to stop evil genius Eduardo (voiced by Benjamin Bratt). Gru's three adopted girls are back for more fun, as are the minions, those little yellow pill-shaped henchman who are also getting their own spin-off movie come 2014.
"Pacific Rim" (July 12)
Hordes of monstrous creatures arise from the oceans threatening humanity. Giant robots are called in to service to combat the attack and must be piloted by humans whose minds are locked via a neural bridge. Guillermo del Toro ("Hellboy") directs and Charlie Hunman, Idris Elba and Ron Perlman star.
"The Wolverine" (July 26)
Hugh Jackman digs his claws in to the "X-Men" franchise once again as Marvel's "The Wolverine." After the death of Jean Grey in "X-Men: The Last Stand," Jackman reprises the role of Logan, who in this outing travels to Japan for a little soul-searching but instead finds himself engaging in battle with a mysterious figure from his past.
"Elysium" (August 9)
In this highly anticipated sophomoric effort from director Neill Blomkamp ("District 9"), the year is 2154 and the haves and the have-nots are separated more than ever before. The wealthiest citizens now live on a man-made space station named Elysium, while the rest of the population must live a hardscrabble life on ruined Earth. Matt Damon stars as Max De Costa, an earthbound citizen who attempts to gain access to Elysium in order to save his own life and bring equality to the two disparate worlds. As Elysium's Secretary Rhodes, Jodie Foster will stop at nothing to refuse him entry and maintain the status quo.