News Column

Summer Movies: Predicting the Winners And Losers

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Stop me if you've heard this one before: A Norse god, a pirate and a Smurf go into a local theater.

In what's become a summer tradition, movies released between now and the beginning of September are predominantly sequels or based on comic books or other popular characters.

It's all an effort to create buzz and draw moviegoers to theaters. Because box office numbers are down this year, every movie studio is trying to hedge its bets.

Smaller films have to pick just the right day or go against the blockbusters. "Jumping the Broom," the family-friendly story of two very different families coming together for a wedding, will face off against "Thor" on purpose.

"We are opening on Mother's Day weekend because our research shows us this is the kind of movie sons will want to take their mothers to see," says Tracey Edmonds, "Jumping the Broom" producer.

Those two films go head-to-head at the start of the blockbuster season. Here's a look at some of the movies coming this summer.

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MAY

-"Something Borrowed" (May 6)

Director: Luke Greenfield

Cast: Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, John Krasinski.

The 411: A talented attorney goes from helping her friend prepare for her wedding day to sleeping with the groom.

Prediction: This wedding story has something borrowed from older movies that will leave the audience blue.

-"Thor" (May 6)

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman

The 411: Thor's kicked out of Asgard and must live with humans. It's here that the Norse god finds the humanity to be a hero.

Prediction: This god of thunder should strike lightning at the box office.

-"Jumping the Broom" (May 6)

Director: Salim Akil

Cast: Angela Bassett, Paula Patton, Laz Alonso

The 411: Worlds collide when two families get together in Martha's Vineyard for a wedding.

Prediction: Perfect film for Mother's Day weekend.

-"Priest" (May 13)

Director: Scott Stewart

Cast: Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Lily Collins, Maggie Q

The 411: A legendary warrior priest must save his niece after she's abducted by vampires.

Prediction: Will pale under the heavy box office shadow of "Thor."

-"Bridesmaids" (May 13)

Director: Paul Feig

Cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Jon Hamm

The 411: A woman agrees to be her best friend's maid of honor and the trip down the aisle becomes an expensive and strange adventure.

Prediction: No wedding bell blues here. It opens as an alternative to the big summer action films.

-"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (May 20)

Director: Rob Marshall

Cast: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane

The 411: Captain Jack Sparrow is forced on a journey to find the fabled Fountain of Youth.

Prediction: Jack will lead his crew to the top of the box office.

-"Kung Fu Panda 2" (May 26)

Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Cast: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan

The 411: Po's dream job is disrupted by an enemy who wants to destroy kung fu.

Prediction: Will have a lot of box-office kick.

-"The Hangover Part II" (May 26)

Director: Todd Phillips

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong

The 411: Four friends travel to Thailand for a wedding. Despite advance planning, things go wrong.

Prediction: Moviegoers will be married to the idea the first week, then divorce the concept.

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JUNE

-"X-Men First Class" (June 3)

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, Kevin Bacon

The 411: A look at how the X-Men saga started.

Prediction: Prequels are tough, especially when they ignore the original mythology.

-"Super 8" (June 10)

Director: J.J. Abrams

Cast: Gabriel Basso, Kyle Chandler, Joel Courtney, Ron Eldard

The 411: A group of young filmmakers captures a strange supernatural event in their small town.

Prediction: The last time Abrams was this secretive was the so-so "Cloverfield."

-"Green Lantern" (June 17)

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong

The 411: The latest comic book-based story features a hero with a super ring.

Prediction: Won't have the reach of the "Batman" or "Superman" films.

-"Mr. Popper's Penguins" (June 17)

Director: Mark Waters

Cast: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury

The 411: A driven businessman inherits six penguins.

Prediction: Carrey is at his best with light family drama.

-"Cars 2" (June 24)

Director: John Lasseter

Cast: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine.

The 411: Racecar Lightning McQueen and Mater head overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix to determine the world's fastest car.

Prediction: The franchise has plenty of gas to speed to a victory.

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JULY

-"Monte Carlo" (July 1)

Director: Tom Bezucha

Cast: Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy, Cory Monteith

The 411: Three graduates discover the true magic of friendship.

Prediction: Will find success with the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" set.

-"Larry Crowne" (July 1)

Director: Tom Hanks

Cast: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Bryan Cranston

The 411: A man heads back to college after his job is eliminated.

Prediction: Hanks and Roberts make this the big love story of the summer.

-"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (July 1)

Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson

The 411: The Autobots race the Decepticons to the moon to find a spacecraft.

Prediction: Let's be honest: A big reason for the success of the first film was Megan Fox and she's not in this film.

-"Zookeeper" (July 8)

Director: Frank Coraci

Cast: Kevin James, Rosario Dawson

The 411: Zoo animals break their code of silence to help their zookeeper get the attention of a woman.

Prediction: May be the surprise of the summer. James' "Mall Cop" caught us off guard.

-"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" (July 15)

Director: David Yates

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane

The 411: The battle between good and evil forces spins the Wizarding world into full-scale war.

Prediction: Will be the box-office champion of the summer and probably the year.

-"Winnie the Pooh" (July 15)

Directors: Stephen Anderson, Don Hall

Cast: John Cleese, Jim Cummings

The 411: Owl sends the Hundred Acre Wood gang on a quest to save Christopher Robin.

Prediction: Will do better on DVD.

-"Friends with Benefits" (July 22)

Director: Will Gluck

Cast: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman

The 411: A couple decides to see what happens if they leave emotion out of a relationship.

Prediction: This storyline has been done several times recently.

-"Captain America: The First Avenger" (July 22)

Director: Joe Johnston

Cast: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci

The 411: Steve Rogers is an ordinary soldier who's turned into a super soldier.

Prediction: "Cap" will be a champ.

-"The Smurfs" (July 29)

Director: Raja Gosnell

Cast: Hank Azaria, Katy Perry, Jonathan Winters

The 411: Gargamel chases the Smurfs into the real world.

Prediction: Nostalgia will draw in moviegoers.

-"Cowboys and Aliens" (July 29)

Director: John Favreau

Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell

The 411: A desolate city in the New Mexico territory is attacked by marauders from the sky.

Prediction: Favreau's skill with action movies will make this a wild West winner.

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AUGUST

-"The Change-Up" (Aug. 5)

Director: David Dobkin

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde

The 411: Two best friends switch bodies and lives.

Prediction: It will depend on how well Reynolds and Bateman work together.

-"Final Destination 5" (Aug. 12)

Director: Steven Quale

Cast: Emma Bell, Nicholas D'Agosto, Miles Fisher, Arlen Escarpeta

The 411: Death tries to keep order in the next installment in the series.

Prediction: Should have stopped after No. 1.

-"The Help" (Aug. 12)

Director: Tate Taylor

Cast: Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone

The 411: Three different women build an unlikely friendship in the 1960s.

Prediction: Will be powered by fans of the book.

-"Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World" (Aug. 19)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook, Antonio Banderas, Danny Trejo, Joel McHale

The 411: A retired secret agent must deal with twin stepchildren.

Prediction: Should have stopped at No. 2.

-"Fright Night" (Aug. 19)

Director: Craig Gillespie

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

The 411: A high school student believes his new neighbor is a vampire.

Prediction: Won't scare up much business.

-"Conan the Barbarian" (Aug. 19)

Director: Marcus Nispel

Cast: Jason Momoa, Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan

The 411: Conan goes on a quest to avenge the murder of his father.

Prediction: Will show the last box-office muscle of the summer.

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