A full six weeks before the calendar says so, Hollywood begins its highly anticipated and lucrative summer season today with “Iron Man 3” and like in previous years, it is chock full of popcorn fare designed to thrill the masses beyond repair. With close to 60 titles scheduled for release between now and Labor Day, the roster is bigger than in recent past years but there are also relatively fewer sequels and knock-offs, which is good news for those of us looking for original material.
As usual, the release dates of all titles are subject to change on a whim and without reason at a moments’ notice.
— Compiled by Movie Critic Michael Clark
• May 10
THE GREAT GATSBY -- Pushed back from last fall, this latest adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel from hyper-stylized Australian director Baz Luhrmann looks a lot like a nonmusical version of his "Moulin Rouge." Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan play the leads.
• May 17
AT ANY PRICE -- Zac Efron plays the rebel demolition derby driver son to Dennis Quaid's pushy farmer father whose already rocky relationship gets tested because of an unforeseen crisis.
THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST -- Liev Schreiber and Kate Hudson head the mostly unknown cast in this political thriller about an Americanized Pakistani man who is torn between financial gain and his religious homeland roots.
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS -- The first reboot was arguably the best of the entire Star Trek cinematic franchise and with all involved from it back on board, there's no reason to think this one won't be another major thrill ride.
• May 24
EPIC -- This generically titled animated adventure appears to be a catch-all/grab-bag of every Disney fable ever released. Amanda Seyfried, Beyonce and Josh Hutcherson head the voice cast.
FAST AND FURIOUS 6 -- Part 6?! Seriously?! Regardless of the content, this gear-head action flick is Hollywood at its most desperate, shallow, money-grubbing and unoriginal, and that's not the worst of it -- installment No. 7 is currently in production.
THE HANGOVER PART III -- If the first sequel was any kind of indicator, this third (and hopefully final) installment in the bad boy franchise will be another lackluster carbon copy.
LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED -- Pierce Brosnan plays the widower father of a groom getting married to a European girl and when he arrives to the wedding in Italy, he falls for the bride's cancer-survivor mother.
WHAT MAISIE KNEW -- This adaptation of the Henry James novella sounds a lot like "Kramer vs. Kramer." The title character, a 7-year-old girl, becomes the unwitting pawn in her artsy parents' divorce.
• May 31
THE EAST -- Brit Marling ("Another Earth") stars as a corporate private eye who infiltrates an underground environmental terrorist organization and has a philosophical change of heart.
FRANCES HA -- This latest from director Noah Baumbach stars current indie "It-girl" Greta Gerwig as a New York City girl posing as someone she's not and maybe getting away with it.
NOW YOU SEE ME -- Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo star in this skewed thriller about the FBI trying to catch a group of illusionists that rob banks during their shows and turn over their take to the audiences.
THE PURGE -- This horror thriller featuring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey has a novel concept: if on one day of the year you could commit any crime and not get caught, what would you do?
• June 7
AFTER EARTH -- Has-been/one-trick-pony director M. Night Shyamalan attempts to come back from the dead again and might just do it with this post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller starring Will Smith and his son Jaden.
THE INTERNSHIP -- Co-writer/producer Vince Vaughn shares the screen yet again with Owen Wilson in this comedy about two 40-something man-boys trying to start over at the bottom working for Google.
THE KINGS OF SUMMER -- This coming-of-age comedy/drama with a no-name cast recalls the golden era of '90s indie cinema where teenagers rebelled just because they could.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING -- Director Joss Whedon went straight from "The Avengers" to this modern day, low-budget adaptation of the Shakespeare play shot in 11 days at his home.
• June 12
THIS IS THE END -- Seth Rogen co-wrote, co-directed and stars alongside a bunch of his Hollywood cronies (all playing themselves) who attend a party at James Franco's house and become witness to a catastrophic landslide.
• June 14
BEFORE MIDNIGHT -- The presumed last installment in Richard Linklater's romantic comedy franchise about two would-be lovers (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy) 20 years after their first chance encounter.
THE BLING RING -- This is the fact-based story about a group of celebrity-obsessed teenagers who search out the homes of famous people online and then rob them.
MAN OF STEEL -- With an all-star cast (well, except for the lead), this second reboot of the Superman franchise appears to stick close to the original comic book plot but could also be an overblown fiasco.
• June 21
MONSTERS UNIVERSITY -- This long-in-the-works animated prequel to "Monsters, Inc" gives us younger versions of Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) when they were not friends.
WORLD WAR Z -- Due to multiple post-production reshoots and release date changes, this zombie disaster adventure starring Brad Pitt could be a quirky triumph or a box-office dud.
• June 28
BYZANTIUM -- A bookend of sorts to director Neil Jordan's "Interview with the Vampire" starring Gemma Arterton and Saorise Ronan as 200-year-old mother and daughter vampires.
FILL THE VOID -- Set in Israel with a devout 18-year-old girl who is pressured into marrying the Hasidic widower of her late sister.
THE HEAT -- An FBI agent played by Sandra Bullock reluctantly becomes the partner of a Boston detective played by Melissa McCarthy in an estrogen-powered action-comedy.
WHITE HOUSE DOWN -- The second lets-take-the-president-hostage movie of 2013 ("Olympus Has Fallen" being the other) stars Jamie Foxx as the commander in chief with what looks to be pretty much the same plot.
• July 3
DESPICABLE ME 2 -- If the sequel is even close to as good as the first, this animated follow-up will be a big winner for the entire family.
THE LONE RANGER -- Here's something new: the sidekick (Johnny Depp as Tonto) of the lead title character (Armie Hammer, "The Social Network") gets top billing and (probably) all of the good (broken English) lines.July 5THE WAY WAY BACK -- Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Liam James and AnnaSophia Robb star in a family comedy about young love blossoming over the summer at an amusement/water park.
• July 12
GROWN-UPS 2 -- Adam Sandler and his band of on- and off-screen arrested development buddies partake in more mouth-breathing, mindless mayhem. [Insert shudder here]
PACIFIC RIM -- Stepping far outside of his usual thoughtful, but visceral art-house comfort zone, director Guillermo del Toro pulls a Michael Bay in this "Transformers" like disaster adventure.
• July 17
TURBO -- It's "Cars" by way of "Microcosmos" in this animated adventure about a snail that survives a freak accident and emerges with enough super-speed to make him think he can win the Indy 500.July 19THE CONJURING -- James Wan (the first "Saw") directs another horror-thriller about a husband and wife team (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) of paranormal investigators.
THE GIRL MOST LIKELY -- Kristen Wiig is paired with Matt Dillon in this comedy about a promising playwright whose 15 minutes of fame comes and goes in a flash.
I'M SO EXCITED! -- Art-house legend Pedro Almodovar's latest is about the pilots, crew and passengers who start taking stock of their lives when they learn their plane will likely crash. It's a comedy.
R.I.P.D. -- This will either be brilliant or a total bust. Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds are co-leads in this action-comedy about a recently murdered cop who joins forces with zombies in an effort to find his killer.
RED 2 -- It's not a surprise there's a sequel; the ending in the near-perfect first outing all but promised it. Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary Louise Parker, the sublime Helen Mirren (and new addition Anthony Hopkins) do it again in this action comedy that hopefully won't suck.
• July 26
THE WOLVERINE -- Didn't they kind of already make this movie back in 2009? Hugh Jackman (for the sixth time) plays the mutant with razor claws and anger management issues, this time while in Japan.
• July 31
SMURFS 2 -- Let's see ... an animated sequel coming out in late July featuring characters that were barely popular on TV three decades ago. Given that the first one did more than $500 million worldwide, this was inevitable and probably a wise commercial move.
• Aug. 22
GUNS -- The dog days of August begins with a mismatched cop/buddy movie that would be very easy to dismiss if it didn't star Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. Keep your fingers crossed.
300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE -- What does it say when even the desperate-for-work Gerard Butler passed on this? The first was a supreme guilty pleasure. Don't expect the same thing this time.
• Aug. 7
PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS -- This makes zero sense. The first effort totally tanked and the studio decided it would be a good idea to release a sequel in the wasteland of August?
• Aug. 9
ELYSIUM -- Matt Damon and Jodie Foster are leads in this sci-fi thriller set in the year 2154 when the well-to-do live on a utopian space station while the rest of their fellow humans must scratch and claw for scraps on Earth. Someone with power and resources tries to change that situation.
PLANES -- The last major animated feature of the summer might have been scheduled on this date for good reason. A crop-dusting plane with a fear of heights tries to summon the courage to compete in an aerial race.
WE'RE THE MILLERS -- Here's one just begging to tank. A U.S. marijuana grower hires strangers to pretend they're his family in order to transport some weed into Mexico. Only in an alternative universe would this plot be plausible.
• Aug. 16
BLUE JASMINE -- True to form, director Woody Allen has let little of the plot leak out in his latest set somewhere in Europe starring Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin and has-been stand-up comic Andrew Dice Clay.
KICK-ASS 2 -- The first one was just O.K. and the sequel might end up being just that as well as it comes a day late and a dollar short. The good news: original leads Chloe Moritz and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are back.
PARANOIA -- Smacking of "Wall Street" -- "Paranoia" is about an up-and-coming mover-and-shaker type who is given a posh position in a big firm in exchange for spying on the head honcho for the guy that got him the gig. Harrison Ford, Liam Hemsworth and Amber Heard lead the cast.
THE TO-DO LIST -- Aubrey Plaza ("Safety Not Guaranteed") and Rachel Bilson are paired together in this risque comedy about a sexually naive girl who wants to "learn some stuff" before entering college.
• Aug. 23
THE WORLD'S END -- British comedy writers Edgar Wright (also the director) and Simon Pegg (also the leading man) have come up with another great concept. Twenty years after a pub crawl that nearly killed them as youths, the same group of older, not-as-bulletproof oldsters try it again.
• Aug. 30
CLOSED CIRCUIT -- Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall play ex-lover lawyers who join forces in order to defend an international terrorist.
GETAWAY -- In his third summer outing, Ethan Hawke plays a retired race car driver who must rescue his kidnapped wife with only the help of a teen computer hacker (Selena Gomez) for help.