Bring on the blockbusters: Summer movies pack 1-2 punch of 'Avengers,' 'Dark Knight'
Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne in "The Dark Knight Rises," which opens July 20.
Anne Hathaway tools around Gotham (aka Pittsburgh) as Catwoman in "The Dark Knight Rises."
"Marvel's The Avengers" from left, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), opens May 4.
Jordin Sparks and the late Whitney Houston star in the movie "Sparkle" which opens Aug. 17.
Johnny Depp stars as Barnabas Collins in "Dark Shadows, opening May 11.
Ghoul whisperer Norman gets spooked by his zombie lamp in "Paranorman," which opens Aug. 17.
(Left to right) Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith), Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) and Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock) are the voices in "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," which opens June 8.
"Brave," about a courageous young archer, is the latest from Disney-Pixar. It opens June 22.
Cindy (Jennifer Garner, left), Timothy (CJ Adams, center) and Jim (Joel Edgerton, right) Green give an impromptu performance at a family gathering in the movie "The Odd Life of Timothy Green," which opens Aug. 15.
Sam (Chris Pine) gets to know Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) the sister he has just discovered and her son Josh (Michael Hall D?Addario) while trying to figure out how to tell her they are siblings in the DreamWorks drama/comedy "People Like Us," which opens June 29.
Keira Knightley stars as Penny and Steve Carell stars as Dodge in Lorene Scafaria's "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," which opens June 22.
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Movie studios live by their own calendar, marked not by months but seasons such as winter, summer, fall, holiday and Oscar.
Summer begins Friday with "Marvel's The Avengers," a superhero spectacular that certainly will bump "Think Like a Man" from atop the box office charts and could give "The Hunger Games" an eventual run for its money, which happens to be $372 million so far in North America.
Will it outmuscle "The Dark Knight Rises"? Who knows? Although "Avengers" will get a 3-D bounce, unlike Batman which is not in 3-D. Both, however, will pick up extra dollars from IMAX showings.
As always, this list is subject to change.
"Marvel's The Avengers": The summer starts with a big bang theory -- throw a half-dozen superheroes (Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow) at moviegoers and watch them explode with happiness and ticket buying. Cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgard and Tom Hiddleston.
"Boy": An 11-year-old, living on a farm in New Zealand with his grandmother, younger brother and a goat in 1984, has spun all sorts of stories about his absent father. The boy must reconcile fantasy with reality when the dad, an inept hoodlum, returns.
"Damsels in Distress": Whit Stillman, who earned an Oscar nomination for original screenplay for his first film, "Metropolitan," and followed it with "Barcelona" and "The Last Days of Disco," is back. This time he dramatizes a trio of beautiful young women who set out to revolutionize life at a grungy East Coast college.
"Dark Shadows": Tim Burton, reteaming with partner Helena Bonham Carter and muse Johnny Depp, gives the old TV show a campy spin as Barnabas has the world by its tail in the 18th century, breaks the heart of a witch (Eva Green), is turned into a vampire and entombed until 1972, when he finds his once-grand estate in ruin.
Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival: The seventh annual celebration will feature 25 films and 48 showings at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' three venues. Festival opens with "The Lady" starring Michelle Yeoh as Myanmar pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.
"Hit So Hard": A no-holds-barred look at Patty Schemel, hard-hitting drummer of Courtney Love's rock band Hole during its peak years.
"The Dictator": This is the movie Sacha Baron Cohen was plugging when he appeared, in costume and with faux ashes he dumped on Ryan Seacrest, on Oscar's red carpet. Cast includes Anna Faris and Ben Kingsley.
"Battleship": "You sunk my battleship" has an alien ring to it, literally, in this action-adventure loosely based on the Hasbro game and starring Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna and Liam Neeson. It unfolds across the seas, in the skies and over land as Earth fights for survival against a superior force.
"What to Expect When You're Expecting": Comedy about five couples whose intertwined lives are turned upside down by the challenges of impending parenthood. Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez and Elizabeth Banks lead the cast.
"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel": Seven British retirees, played by the likes of Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith, head to India for promised elegant accommodations, only to find a rundown hotel and, with it, a chance to reinvent themselves.
"Elles": Director Malgoska Szumowska puts female sexuality under a microscope in this film for adults featuring Juliette Binoche as a wife, mother and journalist researching an article on student prostitutes for the French edition of Elle magazine.
"Crooked Arrows": Underdog sports movie about a fictional Native American high school lacrosse team and its new coach and how they overcome battles with better-trained and equipped prep school teams on their unlikely journey to a championship game.
"Men in Black 3": Will Smith trades Fourth of July for Memorial Day with the third installment of this funny franchise. Agent J travels back in time and meets a young Agent K (Josh Brolin, nailing Tommy Lee Jones' voice and mannerisms).
"Chernobyl Diaries": Six young vacationers hire an "extreme tour" guide and find themselves in the city once called home by workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Turns out they're not alone in this story by Oren Peli ("Paranormal Activity") who co-wrote the screenplay.
"We Have a Pope": When a cardinal is unexpectedly elected pope, he is caught off guard and panics when presented to the faithful in St. Peter's Square in a tender Nanni Moretti comedy starring French actor Michel Piccoli.
"God Bless America": Bobcat Goldthwait wrote and directed this black comedy about a divorced, recently fired and possibly terminally ill man (Joel Murray) who buys a gun, gains an accomplice and goes after the country's most irritating celebrities.
"Snow White and the Huntsman": Kristen Stewart is Snow White but she's no sleeping beauty; she's been training in the art of war with the very huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) dispatched by the evil queen (Charlize Theron) to kill the girl. Traditionalists will be happy to know there's still a prince enchanted by the fairest one of all.
"For Greater Glory": Andy Garcia, Peter O'Toole, Oscar Isaac, Ruben Blades, Catalina Sandino Morena and Eva Longoria are among the cast in this epic about the battle for religious freedom and the martyrdom of Mexican Catholics in the 1920s.
"Prometheus": Ridley Scott ("Alien") creates a mythology in which explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe and battle to save the human race. Cast includes Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green and Charlize Theron.
"Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted": Still trying to get home to New York, Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippo and Melman the giraffe find themselves in Europe where they become part of a traveling circus.
"Rock of Ages": Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Alec Baldwin star in the story of a rock 'n' roll romance between a small town girl and city boy, told through the hits of Def Leppard, Joan Jett, Journey, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Night Ranger, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, Whitesnake and others.
"That's My Boy": Adam Sandler is the now-estranged father of Andy Samberg who shows up on the eve of his son's wedding and sees the repercussions of his 18 years of parenting.
"Brave": A courageous, flame-haired girl takes her place alongside another skilled archer and headstrong daughter who won moviegoers' hearts this spring. Her name is Merida and she's from Pixar-Disney which employs the Highlands of Scotland and a star-studded voice cast led by Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly and others.
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter": Based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, director Timur Bekmambetov ("Wanted") reimagines the president as history's greatest hunter of the undead with help from Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World": Steve Carell and Keira Knightley star in a comedy, set in the near future, as humanity's last days are at hand. Directorial debut of "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist" writer Lorene Scafaria.
"Magic Mike": Steven Soderbergh directs this story about male strippers, inspired by the real life of Channing Tatum whose character of Mike takes a younger dancer (Alex Pettyfer from "I Am Number Four") under his wing and schools him in partying, picking up women and easy money.
"G.I. Joe: Retaliation": Sequel to the 2009 hit, with the G.I. Joes fighting their enemy, Cobra, and battling threats from within the government that jeopardize their existence. Large cast includes double-dipping Mr. Tatum, Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson.
"Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection": Culture-clash comedy in which Madea's house becomes a hideout for a Connecticut man (Eugene Levy) who has been set up in a mob-backed Ponzi scheme.
"People Like Us": While putting his late father's estate in order and reconnecting with his estranged family, a fast-talking salesman learns he has a 30-year-old sister in this blend of drama and comedy starring Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks.
"The Amazing Spider-Man": The franchise is rebooted, with Andrew Garfield ("The Social Network," "Never Let Me Go") as outcast high school student Peter Parker, being raised by his aunt and uncle played by Sally Field and Martin Sheen. He finds a briefcase that belonged to his father and ends up in the lab of a reptilian doc portrayed by Rhys Ifans.
"Katy Perry: Part of Me": 3-D concert film, with footage from shows at LA's Staples Center.
"Savages": Oliver Stone turns Don Winslow's best-selling crime novel into an ensemble showcase with Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch and Demian Bichir. Two men, a woman and a California marijuana business are threatened by a Mexican cartel that wants a piece of the action.
"Ice Age: Continental Drift": Scrat's pursuit of the cursed acorn triggers upheavals leading to Sid reuniting with his cantankerous granny and the herd meeting ragtag pirates determined to stop them from returning home.
"Ted": "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane speaks for the title character in this combo of live action/CG-animated comedy about a grown man (Mark Wahlberg) who must deal with the cherished teddy bear who came to life thanks to a childhood wish but has refused to leave his side ever since.
"The Dark Knight Rises": Director Christopher Nolan made it snow in August in Pittsburgh, gave Hines Ward what may be his last run for daylight across Heinz Field and turned Pittsburghers into fanboys and fangirls on the lookout for Batman, Catwoman, Bane and company in the much-anticipated conclusion to his trilogy.
"Step Up Revolution": Next installment in the "Step Up" franchise, this time set in Miami. Kathryn McCormick portrays an aspiring professional dancer who falls for a young man (Ryan Guzman) who leads a dance crew in elaborate flash mobs.
"Neighborhood Watch": Although the title may be unsettling, in light of recent events in Florida, this sci-fi comedy is about four average men who accidentally discover their town is overrun with aliens posing as ordinary folks. With Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade and Rosemarie DeWitt.
"Total Recall": The Philip K. Dick story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale," which inspired Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1990 sci-fi release, gets a do-over with Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel. Mr. Farrell is a factory worker who tries for a mindless escape through Rekall, a company that can turn dreams into actual memories, and becomes a hunted man.
"The Bourne Legacy": The franchise is relaunched with faces new -- Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Stacy Keach and Oscar Isaac -- and old as Joan Allen, Albert Finney, David Strathairn and Scott Glenn reprise their roles.
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days": During his summer vacation, Greg Heffley, hero of the book series and previous movie, pretends he has a job at a ritzy country club but still has embarrassing mishaps at a public pool and a camping trip that goes wrong.
"The Campaign": When a veteran congressman (Will Ferrell) commits a major public gaffe before an election, a pair of ultra-wealthy CEOs plot to put up a rival candidate and gain influence over their North Carolina district. They turn to the naive director of the local tourism center, played by Zach Galifianakis, who becomes a contender in an increasingly down and dirty contest.
"Hope Springs": After 30 years, a married couple portrayed by Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones enter intense counseling in Maine to decide the fate of their union. Steve Carell is the counselor trying to put the spark and love back in their relationship.
"The Odd Life of Timothy Green": Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton can't wait to start a family but can only dream about what their child will be like. Lo and behold, though, young Timothy shows up on their doorstep one stormy night in this tale from director-writer Peter Hedges ("Dan in Real Life").
"Sparkle": Fans of the late Whitney Houston likely will flock to this musical to see her last screen performance as the mother of a musical prodigy named Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) struggling to become a star while coping with issues tearing her family apart. Set in affluent Detroit during the Motown era.
"ParaNorman": 3-D stop-motion comedy thriller from the makers of "Coraline" about a small town under siege by Zombies. Who can it call? Misunderstood local Norman (voice of Kodi Smit-McPhee from "The Road") who is a young ghoul whisperer.
"The Expendables 2": Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) -- with newest members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) aboard -- are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job. One of their own is killed, and the Expendables are hellbent on revenge.
"Premium Rush": Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an agile, aggressive bike messenger who discovers his last delivery of the day -- a premium rush run -- turns into a life-or-death chase through Manhattan in this film also with Michael Shannon. Expect intensity.
"The Apparition": A young couple (Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan) discover they are being haunted by a presence accidentally conjured during a university parapsychology experiment. An apparition feeds on fear and even a supernatural expert (Tom Felton) may not be able to help.
"Lawless": John Hillcoat, who made "The Road," directs this Prohibition-era thriller about bootlegging brothers (Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf) who take the law into their own hands. Also on board are actors Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain and Guy Pearce.
"The Possession": Horror-thriller, formerly called "Dibbuk Box," starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan as a recently divorced dad whose daughter becomes strangely connected to an antique wooden box discovered at a yard sale. Co-starring Natasha Calis and Kyra Sedgwick.
"Monsieur Lazhar": A refugee from Algiers is hired as the replacement for a middle school teacher who killed herself in her classroom in this poignant Oscar nominee for best foreign language film. (May)
"Darling Companion": On the side of a busy freeway, a woman finds a stray dog that becomes her darling companion. When the canine goes missing, a search draws together friends and family and rekindles a longtime love. Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline lead the cast in Lawrence Kasdan's film. (May)
"Moonrise Kingdom": Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, this Wes Anderson ("Fantastic Mr. Fox," "Rushmore") comedy tells the story of two 12-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. (June)
"Where Do We Go Now?": In a remote village, Lebanese women try to keep their blowhard men from starting a religious war by distracting them with ruses such as faking a miracle and hiring a troupe of Ukrainian strippers. (June)
"Lola Versus": Greta Gerwig is Lola, a 29-year-old dumped by her longtime boyfriend (Joel Kinnaman) three weeks before their wedding. With the help of close friends, she embarks on desperate encounters to find her place in the world as a suddenly single woman almost 30. Oh the horror. (June)
"Gerhard Richter Painting": Filmmaker Corinna Belz follows up her 2007 short about the German artist with a deeper look at Mr. Richter's creative process, juxtaposed with rare archival material and conversations with critics, collaborators and American gallerist Marian Goodman. (June)
"First Position": Documentary tracking six young dancers from the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the world's most prestigious ballet competitions where hundreds compete for a handful of elite scholarships and contracts. (June)
"Hysteria": Hugh Dancy, Felicity Jones, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Pryce and Rupert Everett enliven a comedy about the birth of the electro-mechanical vibrator and spirit of change at the peak of Victorian prudishness. (June)
"The Intouchables": France's highest grossing picture of 2011, inspired by a true story, pairs a quadriplegic aristocrat injured in a paragliding accident with a young man from the projects with life-affirming results. An American remake is reportedly in the works. (June)
"To Rome With Love": Nothing like a new Woody Allen to make the summer sing. This time he appears on screen alongside a cast that includes Judy Davis, Alec Baldwin, Jesse Eisenberg, Roberto Benigni and Penelope Cruz. Among the Rubik's cube of comedy and romance, Allen plays a retired American opera director whose daughter's future father-in-law (played by tenor Fabio Parenti) warbles like a pro. (June)
"Easy Money": Swedish crime thriller based on "Snabba Cash," first installment in Jens Lapidus' Stockholm noir trilogy. (July)
"Beasts of the Southern Wild": A 6-year-old girl, living in a forgotten but defiant bayou community, is desperate to save her ailing father and sinking home and survive catastrophes of epic proportions. (July)
"Your Sister's Sister": From filmmaker Lynn Shelton, a tale of grief, romance and sibling rivalry starring Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and Mark Duplass. (July)
"This Is Not a Film": Iranian director Jafar Panahi received a six-year prison sentence and 20-year ban on filmmaking and conducting interviews with foreign press due to his open support of the opposition party in Iran's 2009 election. In this documentary, secretly shot on an iPhone and modest DV camera and smuggled into France in a cake, Panahi shares his day-to-day life as he waits for a decision on his appeal. (July)
"Neil Young Journeys": In May 2011, the singer drove a 1956 Crown Victoria from his hometown in Ontario to Toronto where he finished his solo world tour. Along the way, he shared stories with director Jonathan Demme who pairs them with music in this documentary. (July)
"Ruby Sparks": "Little Miss Sunshine" directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris reunite with actor Paul Dano in the story of a young novelist who achieved phenomenal early success but struggles until he creates a character named Ruby who inspires him. A week later, Ruby (Zoe Kazan) appears as a living, breathing person. (August)
"Searching for Sugar Man": Rodriguez was the greatest '70s rock icon who never was. Hailed as the premier recording artist of his generation, he disappeared into oblivion, rising again from the ashes in a completely different context many miles away. (August)
"Celeste and Jesse Forever": Rashida Jones co-wrote and co-stars, with Andy Samberg, in this story about a couple who met in high school, married young and seem to have the perfect relationship until they decide to divorce. (August)
First Published May 3, 2012 4:39 pm