Friday, March 8, 2013

Are you off to see The Wizard? Summer flicks take off with an adventure to OZ.

Welcome to the first weekend of Blockbuster Summer. This year it all starts with a trip in a hot air balloon.

Disney begins loading up a 1-2-3-4 box-office punch that starts with a trip back to Oz, then lands Iron Man 3 on May 3rd, followed by Monsters University on June 21st and Johnny Depp as Tonto in The Lone Ranger on the Fourth of July weekend. It's a formidable schedule that I'm betting includes at least two of the summer's top five hits.

Other studios are adding to the summer sizzle too. Here are the movies and their release dates that are surest to make the major studio's accountants offices crackle with box-office lightning.

Universal will be out gunning Disney, at least in shear numbers with a slate that kicks off with another trip back in time, with the first 3D release of the original Jurassic Park. Jurassic Park 3D stomps into theaters on April 5th. Universal's second April release is the Tom Cruise sic-fi thriller we've featured on these pages before, Oblivion releases on April 12th.

Universal continues the summer onslaught with Fast & Furious 6 on May 24th, Despicable Me 2 on July 3rd, an unusual action/comedy with a promising cast in R.I.P.D. on July 19th (watch for this one), Kick Ass 2 on August 16th and a late summer wrap up with Riddick on September 6th.

Paramount seems so confident about their May and June schedule, they may be taking the rest of the summer off. The big guns hit the silver screen first on March 29th with Bruce Willis energizing the return of G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

Next up, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Ed Harris muscle in for laughs with Pain & Gain on April 26th. The highly anticipated follow-up to J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot takes off with Star Trek Into Darkness on May 17th, (watch for Imax 3D screenings several days earlier.)

Paramount then drops its massive Brad Pitt zombie thriller World War Z on June 21st. If all goes according to plan at Par, the rest of the summer will be divided between counting money and summer vacations.

Sony has a mixed bag in store for summer that kicks off in just a week with Halle Barry's The Call. Then it's low budget horror with Evil Dead on April 4th, big budget Sci-Fi with M. Night Shyamalan's After Earth starring Will and Jaden Smith on June 7th, and explosive action in White House Down on June 28th.

July is about sequels with Grown Ups 2 on the 12th and The Smurfs 2 on the 31st. Then it's back to Sci-Fi and fantasy in August with Elysium on the 9th and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones on the 23rd.

20th Century Fox goes mostly small ball for its summer league starting with the much-hyped animated The Croods on March 22nd. Comedies take over screens in June with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in The Internship on the 7th and Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock in The Heat on the 28th.

An animated snail lives out a dream while racing IndyCar in Turbo on July 19th and The Wolverine puts Hugh Jackman back in claws on July 26th. Fox wraps up their summer with a return to mythology with the follow-up in the Percy Jackson series with Percy Jackson's Sea of Monsters on August 16th.

Warner Brothers Pictures gets things started next week with a little magic in the comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone on March 15th. The Jackie Robinson story unfolds in 42 on April 12, followed on May 10th by the long delayed Buz Luhrmann take on The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio. May 24th is the date to catch the likely destruction of LasVegas in The Hangover 3.

Warner's summer popcorn movies loom large in June and July. The much talked about reboot of Superman soars though theaters on June 14th with Man of Steel and Guillermo del Toro unleashes robots of steel in Pacific Rim on July 12th.

But Warner's has lots more in store before they're willing to say Summer's over. A spooky tale haunted by an impressive cast, The Conjuring releases on July 19th, 300: Rise of an Empire starts on August 2nd and Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts and Jason Sudeikis star in the comedy We're the Millers on August 9th.

And of course, like every summer, there is a full schedule of independent and limited releases that will be hunting for an audience. Have some summer fun with seeking out your own hidden gems and tell your friends about them. What could be more fun than being surprised in a cool, dark theater on a hot summer night, than finding a little bit of hidden movie magic?

Thanks to the studios for trailers and poster art.

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