Summer sneak preview: Superheroes and returning franchises enliven 2012 slate

Spider-Man, Batman and an army of Marvel superheroes head the summer 2012 pack, alongside reboots of the Bourne and Alien franchises, animation favorites like Ice Age and Madagascar, a new Pixar heroine, Expendables and Men in Black, a rockin’ Tom Cruise and an axe-wielding Abe Lincoln. It’s another hot movie season!


Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow all in one film? In The Avengers, only a team of superheroes can stop a fearsome new enemy. An epic lineup of stars reprises their roles, big or small, from previous Marvel films. The cast includes Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston and Stellan Skarsgård. Joss Whedon (Serenity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), a fanboy favorite, directs the 3D film from his script. (Disney; May 4)

English pensioners are swayed by advertisements about a luxurious retirement community in India in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The accommodations turn out to be less than lavish, but the seven people staying there end up finding strength in one another. Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Dev Patel star in the romance-comedy-drama hybrid. John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) directs. (Fox Searchlight; May 4)

Johnny Depp again dons heavy makeup to play the vampire Barnabas in director Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows. Based on a cult ’60s television series, the blend of comedy and gothic feels reminiscent of The Addams Family or “The Munsters.” Cursed by a spurned witch (Eva Green), Barnabas sits in a coffin for 200 years before being unearthed in the 1970s. He returns home to his castle, which is populated by his dysfunctional descendants (Michelle Pfeiffer and Chloe Moretz) and their live-in shrink (Helena Bonham Carter). (Warner Bros.; May 11)

The pregnancy bible, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, is transformed into a series of interlocking stories in this light-hearted, comedic adaptation. A fitness guru and author struggle with balancing their expectations of pregnancy versus its sometimes unpleasant reality. Another woman adopts and yet another discovers she is unexpectedly pregnant. Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Anna Kendrick, Brooklyn Decker and Elizabeth Banks lead the cast, with support from Chris Rock, Dennis Quaid and Ben Falcone. (Lionsgate; May 11)

A group of women try to ease tensions between Christian and Muslim men in their village…by sending in a busload of Ukrainian strippers? That’s just one of the plans hatched by the peace-seekers in Where Do We Go Now? The Lebanese film won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival and marries light and dark subject matter. Nadine Labaki (Caramel) directs from her script. (Sony Pictures Classics; May 11)

Sacha Baron Cohen goes from Borat to Bruno to The Dictator, the malevolent, extravagant leader of the Republic of Wadiya. Compelled to attend a meeting at the United Nations, he ends up working incognito at a natural-foods store after a series of mishaps. With jokes about terrorism, misogyny and human-rights abuses, this project could be an inheritor to the daring Nazi-themed comedies To Be or Not to Be and Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. Anna Faris co-stars, and Baron Cohen cohort Larry Charles directs. (Paramount; May 16)

“A-2!” “D-7!” “Hit!” Hasbro’s classic game, Battleship, has set its coordinates for the big screen. Part war movie, part alien-invasion picture, the story centers on naval war ships’ attempts to deflect an attack from UFOs. Taylor Kitsch (John Carter) and Alexander Skarsgård play brothers stationed on two different ships, and pop star Rihanna plays one of the few female members of the crew. America’s current wars overseas play into the plot: One character is a double amputee, while another rehabilitates soldiers who have been in Iraq. But don’t let that fool you, there are still plenty of intergalactic battles. (Universal; May 18)

The 1880-set Hysteria centers on one of the most unlikely inventions to come out of the Victorian era—the vibrator. A young doctor (Hugh Dancy) joins a successful practice that specializes in treating women for hysteria. He falls in love with the doctor’s daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal), an early advocate for women’s rights. Jonathan Pryce, Felicity Jones and Rupert Everett round out the cast of the romantic comedy. (Sony Pictures Classics; May 18)

Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) must have seen the VICE Guide to Travel’s jaw-dropping, disturbing visit to Chernobyl before he crafted the script to The Chernobyl Diaries. The story follows six “extreme tourists” who hire a guide to take them around the radioactive remains in Russia. They end up stranded in a city abandoned after the nuclear meltdown, which turns out to be quite the opposite of vacant. (Warner Bros.; May 25)

The story of an unlikely friendship, The Intouchables broke numerous box-office records in France to become its second most successful film of all time. François Cluzet (Tell No One) stars as a paraplegic millionaire who develops a unique friendship with his Senegalese caretaker (Omar Sy). Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano co-direct from their screenplay, which is based on a true story. (Weinstein Co.; May 25)

Has it really been a decade since Men in Black 2? Or did our memory just get erased? Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return to star in Men in Black 3, with Barry Sonnenfeld reprising his role as director of the sci-fi/buddy comedy. In order to save the life of his partner and the planet, Agent J (Smith) goes back in time and teams up with a young Agent K (Josh Brolin). Just like in the first film, Agent J is bombarded with mysteries and secrets about the past he never knew. (Columbia; May 25)

Wes Anderson returns to live-action with Moonrise Kingdom, as a young girl and a Boy Scout run away together, leading their town on a wild goose chase. Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand lend their acting talents to the comedy-drama, which has a vintage ’70s vibe and reflects Anderson’s hipster style. (Focus; May 25)

Also in May

A teenager suffering through rounds of chemotherapy turns to an imaginary world to cope in Death of a Superhero. (Tribeca Film; May 4)

Young ballet dancers compete for elite scholarships and contracts in the documentary First Position. Director Bess Kargman follows six aspirants as they bet on a future in dance. (Sundance Selects; May 4)

When people think of scarce resources, they think of oil, not water. The documentary Last Call at the Oasis calls attention to the world’s current water problems, and how they will become worse if no action is taken. (ATO Pictures; May 4)

Rom-com queen Kate Hudson turns a bit more serious in A Little Bit of Heaven, playing a New Orleans woman who falls in love with her doctor (Gael Garcia Bernal) after receiving a grim diagnosis. Kathy Bates, Whoopi Goldberg and Rosemarie DeWitt round out the cast. (Millennium Entertainment; May 4)

In The Perfect Family, Kathleen Turner plays a woman vying for her parish’s “Catholic Mother of the Year” award who must bring her unconventional family before the board for approval. (Variance; May 4)

Critics and colleagues reflect on the complex, cerebral work of German writer W. G. Sebald in the documentary Patience (After Sebald). (Cinema Guild; May 9)

Jason Ritter and Jake Sandvig co-star as young car thieves whose lives are changed by a neglected 12-year-old boy in A Bag of Hammers. (MPI Media Group; May 11)

The daughter of a busy single mom tries to jump-start her adulthood in Girl in Progress, and things don’t exactly go according to plan. Cierra Ramirez and Eva Mendes co-star. (Lionsgate/Pantelion; May 11)

The dark comedy God Bless America centers on a man (Joel Murray) who, along with a high-school student (Tar Lynne Barr), goes on a shooting rampage in order to cleanse the world of its most annoying celebrities. Bobcat Goldthwait (Shakes the Clown) directs. (Magnet; May 11)

I Wish centers on a boy’s childlike hope that a miracle will reunite his divorced parents. Twelve-year-old (Koki Maeda) believes that when a bullet train connects the two towns his parents live in, they will renew their relationship. Hirokazu Kore-eda (Nobody Knows) directs. (Magnolia; May 11)

Convinced they’ve turned yuppie, a couple ventures to their old hipster neighborhood in Nesting. They squat in their old apartment, throw a party, and experience some grown-up consequences. (Steele Films; May 11)

In the French import Nobody Else But You, a Paris crime novelist with writer’s block gets immersed in the case of a dead beauty queen who imagined herself the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe. (First Run; May 11)

When three teenagers go missing, The Road where they disappeared is revealed to have a gruesome history. Yam Laranas directs. (Freestyle Releasing; May 11)

A drug heist goes wrong in Sleepless Night, leading to a stab wounds, a kidnapping, and a frantic rush to return a stolen bag of coke. (Tribeca Film; May 11)

The winner of the Cannes Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize, Elena is a modern Russian noir. When an illness and a family reunion get in the way of a woman’s expected inheritance from her husband, she resorts to desperate measures in order to keep what she thinks is hers. (Zeitgeist; May 16)

Samuel L. Jackson stars as an ex-convict seeking a fresh start in The Samaritan. Things look up until the son of a former partner (Luke Kirby) tries to recruit him for a job—using secrets from his past to blackmail him. (IFC Films; May 16)

In American Animal, an ambitious young man and his slacker roommate spend one last night partying together before their lives diverge. Matt D’Elia stars and directs. (Screen Media; May 18)

With striking, surreal visuals, Beyond the Black Rainbow follows a girl as she escapes the isolation of her futuristic commune. (Magnet; May 18)

Never Stand Still: Dancing at Jacob’s Pillow offers an intimate look at the Berkshires dance workshop and festival founded by Ted Shawn in 1933. (First Run; May 18)

The French hit Polisse examines the staff of Paris’ Child Protection Unit, whose emotionally draining jobs create drama in their personal lives and threaten to destroy their ability to work together. (Sundance Selects; May 18)

A businessman restores an old sailboat as way to refocus his life in Hide Away. Chris Eyre (Smoke Signals) directs and Josh Lucas stars. (MMC Joule Films; May 25)

In the 1970s-era drama Mighty Fine, a man moves his family to New Orleans and lives a life well beyond their means, leading to disastrous consequences. Writer-director Debbie Goodstein based the movie on events in her own childhood. (Adopt Films; May 25)

A thirty-something man receives a pass from his drug rehab center to go on a job interview in Oslo, August 31st. Instead, he visits long-lost friends and old hangouts, darkly reflecting on what he’s missed in his life. (Strand; May 25)

5 Broken Cameras focuses on the turmoil facing a Palestinian farmer and his family in the central West Bank. (Kino Lorber; May 30)

A newlywed’s return to her family home, the site of painful memories, causes her to escalate into either psychosis or possession in Lovely Molly, which comes from the writer-director of The Blair Witch Project, Eduardo Sanchez. (Haxan Films and Amber Entertainment; May TBD)

Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) tackles an unlikely subject with Mansome: male grooming. He interviews barbers, sociologists, comedians and everyday people who weigh in on trends in hair and body care and what they mean for male identity. (Paladin; May TBD)

The lead singer of a pop group is accidentally handcuffed to a member of a riot-girl band during a music festival in Tonight You’re Mine. Yet another movie variation of the “meet-cute.” (Roadside Attractions; May TBD)

As a single mom in a southern town, Virginia, played by Jennifer Connelly, has enough trouble raising her son (Harrison Gilbertson). Things get more complicated when the man she is having an affair with (Ed Harris) decides to run for public office and her son starts dating his daughter (Emma Roberts). Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black directs from his own script. (Entertainment One; May TBD)

The evil queen (Charlize Theron) will need more than an apple to knock out Snow White (Kristen Stewart, a specialist in playing pale, dark-haired beauties) in Snow White and the Huntsman, a battle-driven adaptation of the classic fairy tale. With the help of a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) who switches sides, Snow White helps show the queen who is the fairest of them all. Rupert Sanders directs his first feature, and Joe Roth (Alice in Wonderland) produces. (Universal; June 1)

Filmmaking team Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones got tons of press for their little indie that could, Breaking Upwards. Their new film, Lola Versus, stars Greta Gerwig as a 29-year-old woman dumped right before her wedding. Her friends (Lister-Jones and Hamish Linklater) try to help as she faces being single at 30. Wein directs from a screenplay he co-wrote with Lister-Jones. (Fox Searchlight; June 8)

The four zoo animals from the Big Apple add a third continent to their travels in Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. After becoming the target of animal control in Monaco, Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo and Melman the Giraffe join a traveling circus in order to escape becoming taxidermy. What they really want, though, is to go back home. Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Frances McDormand, Bryan Cranston and Martin Short lead the all-star voice cast. (Paramount/DreamWorks; June 8)

Not quite a prequel to director Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise, Prometheus is still set in the same universe. An archaeologist’s discovery prompts a space voyage to find life on another planet, but what the explorers encounter could jeopardize Earth’s future. Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba play members of the crew in the 3D sci-fi adventure. (20th Century Fox; June 8)

The hit Broadway musical Rock of Ages comes to the big screen—with Tom Cruise playing the role of famed rocker Stacee Jaxx. Set during the 1980s and featuring many of the decade’s biggest songs, the story centers on “small-town girl” Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and her love, Drew (Diego Boneta). And, yes, they croon Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.’” Adam Shankman (Hairspray), who started out as a choreographer, directs the big-hair song-and-dance fest. (Warner Bros.; June 15)

Adam Sandler and current “SNL” regular Andy Samberg play father and son in That’s My Boy. The successful, buttoned-up Todd (Samberg) is ready to marry and shed his chaotic past forever when his father shows up to reconnect—and ask for money. Sean Anders (Sex Drive) directs the comedy, which mines Sandler’s natural predilection for all things juvenile. (Columbia; June 15)

What if our nation’s 16th president had something in common with Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter imagines that in between his role as an emancipator and the nation’s leader, Lincoln hunted vampires. Based on the popular novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, this 3D spectacle is the latest addition to our culture’s craze for vampires. Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) directs. (20th Century Fox; June 22)

Pixar tackles princesses for the first time with Brave, the story of a Scottish royal, Merida (voiced by “Boardwalk Empire”’s Kelly Macdonald), who defies tradition and accidentally unleashes a terrible curse. With the help of her triplet brothers, and her bow and arrow, she fights to save her realm. (Disney; June 22)

Joining the trend of apocalyptic movies, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World stars Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley as neighbors who befriend each other on the eve of the world’s destruction. In what must have been a tonal and genre challenge, the film becomes a road trip-comedy-drama-apocalypse hybrid when Carrell’s character decides to track down a long-lost love after his wife abandons him. Lorene Scafaria, who wrote Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, directs from her script. (Focus; June 22)

Woody Allen’s cinematic tour of Europe continues with To Rome with Love, a tale of romance and adventure among a group of residents and tourists in Italy’s capital. Alec Baldwin, Greta Gerwig, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page star alongside Allen in one of his signature ensembles. This follow-up to the writer-director’s worldwide $150 million hit last summer, Midnight in Paris, comes with high expectations. (Sony Pictures Classics; June 22)

A sensation when it premiered at Sundance this year, Beasts of the Southern Wild was also the object of a bidding war. The fantastical film centers on a six-year-old girl living in the Louisiana bayou. With no mother and a drunken father, she copes with floods, calamity and all manner of creatures. Benh Zeitlin directs his first feature, which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. (Fox Searchlight; June 27)

In the sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the group of soldiers from the first film has two enemies: the evil COBRA, and the government itself. Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis and Channing Tatum star in the high-octane military action movie, which was originally inspired by Hasbro’s plastic action figures. Adrianne Palicki rounds out the cast as Lady Jaye, a covert-ops specialist. (Paramount; June 29)

Based on Channing Tatum’s real-life experiences as a male stripper, Steven Soderbergh directs Magic Mike. The story follows a young dancer (Alex Pettyfer) learning the ropes, and the mentor who helps him (Tatum). Along with stripping, Tatum’s character schools his apprentice in partying, getting attention from ladies, and making money. (Warner Bros.; June 29)

Chris Pine tracks down Elizabeth Banks, the sister he never knew he had, in People Like Us. He’s been instructed to give her $150,000 in cash, left to her and her son in his father’s will, but he decides to get to know her first. There’s been plenty of buzz about the script by Alex Kurtzman, who deviates from the action flicks (Star Trek, Transformers) he’s known for and makes his directing debut with the heartfelt drama. (Disney; June 29)

Also in June
After coming to Nashville as a teen, Chely Wright beat all odds and became a successful country singer. But she was hiding something. Chely Wright: Wish Me Away documents her decision to come out as gay and the reaction from the music community. (First Run; June 1)

Set during Mexico’s Cristero War in the 1920s, For Greater Glory centers on General Gorostieta, a retired military man who joins the cause, and his wife (Eva Longoria). (ARC Entertainment; June 1)

William Friedkin (The Exorcist) directs Killer Joe, adapted from the play by Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts. The black comedy centers on a man who hires a contract killer to off his mother for her life-insurance money. Emile Hirsch, Matthew McConaughey, Gina Gershon and Juno Temple star. (LD Distribution; June 1)

If all the corporations touting pink products or sporting a pink ribbon have left you feeling jaded, check out Pink Ribbons, Inc. The documentary examines how a worthy cause, a cure for breast cancer, has been distorted by organizations and corporations with other agendas. (First Run; June 1)

The schlocky tribute to B-movies gets even cheesier with Piranha 3DD. This time, the flesh-eating fish are unleashed in a water park. (Radius/Weinstein Co.; June 1)

Robert Pattinson, who made women swoon in Twilight, plays a man who takes advantage of his charm in Bel Ami, based on the tale by Guy de Maupassant. Set in 19th-century Paris, the romantic drama also features Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci. (Magnolia; June 8)

Patagonia Rising
explores the controversy surrounding plans to build five huge dams in the Patagonia region of Chile. (First Run; June 8)

A lawyer on the outs with her husband takes her teenage kids to their hippie grandma’s house in Woodstock, New York, in Peace, Love & Misunderstanding. The laid-back surroundings give the family a chance to fight, work things out, and find love. Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Elizabeth Olsen Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chace Crawford head the cast. Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) directs the comedy-drama. (IFC Films; June 8)

The humor in the quirky sci-fi comedy Safety Not Guaranteed comes approved by the Sundance Film Festival. Aubrey Plaza (“Parks & Recreation”) stars as an intern who answers a classified ad for a time-travel partner. What starts as a potential story for a magazine turns into something more. Mark Duplass co-stars. (FilmDistrict; June 8)

The death of a child is the most awful thing most parents can imagine. In The Tortured, Erika Christensen and Jesse Metcalfe play a couple who devise a plan to take revenge on the man who killed their son. (IFC Films; June 15)

A woman offers her grieving friend a key to her family’s cabin in Your Sister’s Sister. When he arrives, his friend’s sister is also there nursing a broken heart—leading to some unexpected sexual hanky-panky. Emily Blunt, Rosemarie Blunt and Mark Duplass star for writer-director Lynn Shelton (Humpday). (IFC Films; June 15)

The 1950s-era Stella Days stars Martin Sheen as a priest whose plan to open a movie theatre in a small Irish village raises a ruckus. We’re rooting for the priest. (Tribeca Film; June 22)

In Madea’s Witness Protection, Tyler Perry returns as the sassy matriarch who made him a movie mogul. This time, American Pie favorite Eugene Levy plays a Connecticut investment banker hiding out in Madea’s madcap home. (Lionsgate; June 29)

A concert documentary fused with a personal interview, Neil Young Journeys is the third film about the musician directed by Jonathan Demme. Footage of Young talking about his life on a long car trip is intercut with numbers from his solo tour’s stop in Massey Hall, Toronto. (Sony Pictures Classics; June 29)

A married woman (Michelle Williams) falls for her neighbor (Luke Kirby) in Take This Waltz. Sarah Polley (Away from Her) wrote and directed the romantic drama, which co-stars Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman. (Magnolia; June 29)

A writer of crime novels hires an ex-convict to spy on his new wife, a real-estate agent, in Unforgivable. Both men become fixated on the woman’s sexual secrets, which only raise more questions about her mysterious past. André Téchiné (The Girl on the Train) directs the French-language picture. (Strand; June 29)

A documentary filmmaker, Stephen Kessler, tracks down his ’70s music idol in the nonfiction film Paul Williams Still Alive. (Abramorama; June TBD)

Peter Parker’s vertiginous flights between skyscrapers are captured in 3D and IMAX in the reboot of The Amazing Spider-Man. Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) is the new Parker, a boy who is trying to find out the truth about what happened to his parents. Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) directs the origin story, which co-stars Emma Stone as Parker’s love interest Gwen Stacy and Rhys Ifans as the villainous Lizard. (Columbia; July 3)

The latest Oliver Stone drama, Savages, has levels of intrigue that approach a daytime soap opera. Two pot dealers (Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson) share one woman (Blake Lively) and enjoy the benefits of pushing marijuana in Laguna Beach, California. When representatives from the Baja Cartel (Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro) encroach on their turf, things get messy, and the duo turn to a dirty DEA agent (John Travolta). (Universal; July 6)

All Scrat wanted was an acorn. But the nutty squirrel ends up single-handedly cracking up Pangea into today’s seven continents in Ice Age: Continental Drift, the fourth Ice Age film. Stranded on another continent, Manny, Diego and Sid must navigate oceans and battle pirates in order to make their way home. Steve Martino and Michael Thurmeier, veterans of Blue Sky Animation, direct the 3D, computer-animated animal adventure. (20th Century Fox; July 13)

“Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane writes, directs and voices the title role of the comedy Ted. Mark Wahlberg plays a grown man who is grappling with the fallout from a childhood wish that came true. His teddy bear Ted can talk, and he never plans to leave his lifelong companion. Mila Kunis and Joel McHale round out the cast of this live-action/CG hybrid, which brings to mind the cult classic Drop Dead Fred. (Universal; July 13)

The end of the Batman trilogy is nigh. The Dark Knight Rises, the third film directed by Christopher Nolan, claims to conclude the story of Bruce Wayne, but it’s hard to imagine the bat cape will ever be hung up permanently. In the latest version, Wayne’s enemies brand him a member of the One Percent, and the protests taking over Gotham have an eerie similarity to Occupy Wall Street. Christian Bale returns as the title character, Anne Hathaway plays Catwoman, and Tom Hardy is Batman’s enemy, Bane. The all-star cast also includes Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. (Warner Bros., July 20)

A writer’s description of his dream girl comes to life in Ruby Sparks. Zoe Kazan, who wrote the script, also stars as the dream girl in the first film from directing duo Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton since Little Miss Sunshine. Her real-life boyfriend, Paul Dano, co-stars as the writer in what appears to be Weird Science mixed with an indie sensibility. (Fox Searchlight; July 25)

From the depths of a man cave, the idea was forged. A Neighborhood Watch would protect their suburban community, thanks to the selfless actions of four men (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade) who don motorcycle jackets and cruise the streets in a minivan. “Saturday Night Live” writer Akiva Schaffer directs the comedy, which takes a wild turn when the squad discovers aliens are planning to take over the Earth. (20th Century Fox; July 27)

A recent study showed that spectators of ballet had responses in their brain that signified they actually felt like they were dancing. That could explain the success of the Step Up franchise. The fourth film, Step Up: Revolution, uses Miami as a backdrop to its infectious, energetic dance numbers. Young love between a professional dancer (Kathryn McCormick) and the leader of a dance crew that specializes in flash mobs (Ryan Guzman) makes for some promising showdowns. (Summit; July 27)

Also in July
The documentary Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present centers on the performance artist’s retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art—one of the art world’s highest honors. (Music Box Films; July 2)

Actor Martin Donovan (“Weeds”) makes his feature directing debut and stars in Collaborator, the tale of a playwright who returns to his childhood home and is held hostage by a deranged neighbor (David Morse). (Tribeca Film; July 6)

A typical Hollywood boy with money to spend and a list of potential conquests in his cell-phone gets a reality check in Crazy Eyes. Lukas Haas and Madeline Zima (“Californication”) co-star. (Strand; July 6)

Two brothers compete in an improvised Olympics to prove who is best in Do-Deca Pentathlon. Mumblecore founders (and brothers) Jay and Mark Duplass direct the sibling showdown. (Red Flag Releasing; July 6)

Morgan Freeman reunites with his Bucket List director Rob Reiner for The Magic of Belle Isle, a comedy about a wheelchair-bound novelist who is reinvigorated by his relationship with the single mother next-door, played by Sideways’ Virginia Madsen. (Magnolia, July 6)

In The Pact, two sisters return to their child home after the death of their mother and sense a mysterious presence. Agnes Bruckner, Caity Lotz and Casper Van Dien head the cast. (IFC Films; July 6)

If the “Real Housewives” series spawned a documentary, it might be Queen of Versailles. The film centers on a real-estate scion’s wife and her plan to build the biggest house in America—right before the recession hits. Lauren Greenfield directed the Sundance hit and award winner. (Magnolia; July 6)

In Red Lights, two investigators of paranormal hoaxes cross paths with a celebrated blind psychic. Cillian Murphy, Sigourney Weaver, Robert De Niro, Toby Jones and Elisabeth Olsen star in Rodrigo Cortes’ thriller. (Millennium Entertainment; July 13)

Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) stars in Trishna, inspired by the Victorian-era British novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Pinto plays a poor Indian girl working at a resort who catches the eye of the wealthy son of a property developer. Michael Winterbottom (The Trip, A Mighty Heart) directs. (Sundance Selects; July 13)

A woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown (Mira Sorvino) seeks refuge with her sister (Tammy Blanchard) in director Nancy Savoca’s Union Square. (Dada Films; July 20)

The 2010 Swedish action hit Snabba Cash will reach theatres in the U.S. as Easy Money. Starring Joel Kinnaman (“The Killing”) as a taxi driver/cocaine runner, the slick, super-charged picture features three interlocking stories about drugs and organized crime. An English-language remake is already in the works, so catch the original while you can. (Weinstein Co.; July 21)

Planet of Snail focuses on the loving relationship between a South Korean poet who can neither see nor hear and his wife, who communicates with him via a touch-based sign language. (Cinema Guild; July 25)

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
documents the life of the Chinese artist and dissident. Director Alison Klayman received inside access to the activist, who harnesses social media in order to bypass censorship and combat his oppressors. (Sundance Selects; July 27)

Two people meet at a rave and become lovers in Nuit #1. Instead of departing after their encounter, the duo stays up all night, telling their deepest secrets to each other. Catherine de Léan and Dimitri Strorage star in the French-language film. (Adopt Films; July 27)

In the 1960s, an American singer lands a contract, tours, but never makes it big. Then, a bootleg copy of his music becomes a runaway hit in South Africa. The documentary Searching for Sugar Man follows two South African fans who try to track down the whereabouts of this unlikely star. (Sony Pictures Classics; July 27)

The chilling Compliance received a highly polarized reaction at Sundance. The psychodrama centers on a fast-food restaurant employee who complies with a caller’s demands to brutally punish one of her employees for an alleged theft. Craig Zobel (Great World of Sound) directs. (Magnolia; July TBD)

The last days of Marie Antoinette’s reign come to life in Farewell, My Queen. Diane Kruger stars as the profligate queen, and Léa Seydoux plays one of her ambitious ladies-in-waiting in the French-language historical drama, directed by Benoît Jacquot. (Cohen Media Group; July TBD)


The Bourne Legacy reboots the franchise with a new action star. Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) plays a man with a past who agrees to join the “program.” Tony Gilroy, the screenwriter of the series, directs. Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton also join the spy intrigue. (Universal; Aug. 3)

Zachary Gordon reprises the title role in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, the third big-screen outing for the popular children’s book series. During summer break, our young hero pretends to have a cool job at the local country club but discovers that the daily humiliations of being a middle-schooler do not stop once school is out. David Bowers returns as director. (20th Century Fox; Aug. 3)

The 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger film Total Recall, which was based on a Philip K. Dick short story, gets a reboot with Colin Farrell in the lead role. Farrell plays a man who participates in an experiment to implant memories of a lovely vacation. But it goes terribly wrong, turning him into a hunted man with memories of life as a spy. Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) plays a police officer and Jessica Biel and Bill Nighy members of an underground resistance. Len Wiseman (the Underworld series) directs. (Columbia; Aug. 3)

As we approach another national election, the comedy The Campaign will do its best to make fun of the process. Will Ferrell stars as a longtime North Carolina congressman who makes a major gaffe. A pair of ambitious CEOs finds a puppet to run against him: Zach Galifianakis, a local tourism manager. Jay Roach (Meet the Parents) directs. (Warner Bros.; Aug. 10)

How would you like Steve Carell as your sex and marriage counselor? In Hope Springs, a long-married couple (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones) with intimacy issues attend a therapy retreat hosted by a big-name guru (Carell). David Frankel (Marley & Me) directs the relationship comedy. (Columbia; Aug. 10)

In The Odd Life of Timothy Green, a couple (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) who long for a child finally get their wish when a youngster magically appears on their doorstep. As they raise Timothy (CJ Adams) as their son, he reveals truths about them and the people in their small town. Peter Hedges (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape) directs from his script. (Disney; Aug. 15)

In the action-hero mash-up The Expendables 2, the cast is everything. Classic action stars like Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jet Li, ex-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris (who’s become an Internet in-joke) are joined by some fresh blood, in the form of Jason Statham and Liam Hemsworth. This time around, it’s all about seeking revenge after one of their own is taken out. (Lionsgate; Aug. 17)

Animation company LAIKA specializes in bringing dark content to kids (and adults). Their follow-up to Coraline, ParaNorman, centers on a kid who can speak to the undead. He’s just the boy to help solve his town’s zombie/witch/ghost infestation, the result of a centuries-old curse. Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In) provides the voice of young Norman for this 3D stop-motion animated movie. (Focus; Aug. 17)

The final film of pop idol Whitney Houston, Sparkle stars Jordin Sparks (winner of “American Idol”) as a musical prodigy whose dreams of success are put into jeopardy by drama within her family. Houston plays her mother, a failed singer. Salim Akil (Jumping the Broom) directs the remake of the 1976 film, which is set in the Motown era. (TriStar; Aug. 17)

In The Apparition, Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan play a young couple who participate in a university parapsychology experiment and begin to feel they are being haunted by something malevolent. Harry Potter’s Tom Felton is the expert they turn to as a last resort. (Warner Bros.; Aug. 24)

Forget car chases. Premium Rush showcases bicycle messengers weaving through traffic, their unprotected bodies totally outmatched by the hulking trucks in the next lane. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a messenger whose last delivery of the day becomes an object of interest for some bad guys. Michael Shannon co-stars in the picture, directed by veteran screenwriter David Koepp (Spider-Man, Mission: Impossible). (Columbia; Aug. 24)

Fans of “Boardwalk Empire” and Ken Burns’ doc “Prohibition” should cheer Lawless, the tale of a bootlegging business in 1920s Virginia. Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy play brothers who fight to keep their moonshine business running by staying one step ahead of the law. Jessica Chastain and Gary Oldman co-star in the historical drama, which is based on a book written by the grandson of those involved. (Weinstein Co.; Aug. 31)

The passengers on a flight across the Pacific Ocean may have expected hot towels and in-flight movies, but instead they encounter a terrifying supernatural force in 7500. Could this chilling tale inspire the same fears as the gremlin on the plane wing in “Twilight Zone”? Takashi Shimizu of the Grudge Japanese horror series directs. (CBS Films; Aug. 31)

Also in August
A loose, modern update of La Ronde, 360 features interlocking romantic narratives that circle the globe. Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Ben Foster lead the ensemble cast. Fernando Meirelles (City of God) directs from a script by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon). (Magnolia; Aug. 3)

In The Awakening, Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) plays a ghost-hunter investigating sightings at a British boarding school in 1921. Dominic West (“The Wire”) co-stars. (Cohen Media Group; August 10)

A divorcée (Melanie Lynskey) moves back home with her parents and starts a relationship with a teenager in Hello I Must Be Going. (Oscilloscope; Aug. 10)

Writer-director-star Julie Delpy follows her romantic comedy 2 Days in Paris with 2 Days in New York, this time pairing up with Chris Rock and watching the sparks fly when her French father and sister come for a visit. (Magnolia; Aug. 10)

Predisposed pairs Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg and Oscar winner Melissa Leo as a piano prodigy and his drug-addict mother. Tracy Morgan plays the dealer who becomes their unlikely ally. (IFC Films; August 17)

Mads Matthiesen’s Teddy Bear looks at the romantic yearnings of a shy, 300-pound Danish bodybuilder who lives with his domineering mother, and what happens when he travels to Thailand. (Film Movement; Aug. 22)

A getaway driver (writer-director Dax Shepard) in the witness-protection program decides to risk it all to take his girlfriend (Kristen Bell) to a job interview in Hit and Run. (Open Road; Aug. 24)

An engaged couple (Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg) taking a guided trip through the Caucasus Mountains find themselves in serious trouble in The Loneliest Planet. Their response to the crisis reveals unwelcome truths about their relationship. (Sundance Selects; Aug. 24)

The wordless Samsara weaves together images shot on five continents and 25 countries, set to the background of transcendent music. (Oscilloscope; Aug. 24)

Adapting his one-man show, Mike Birbiglia stars in and directs Sleepwalk with Me, the semi-autobiographical tale of a standup comic struggling with career and relationship problems. Lauren Ambrose (“Six Feet Under”) co-stars. (IFC Films; Aug. 24)

A young doctor (Orlando Bloom) gets himself into dangerous territory when he develops feelings for a patient (Riley Keough) in The Good Doctor. Taraji P. Henson and Michael Peña round out the cast. (Magnolia; Aug. 31)

In Celeste and Jesse Forever, Rashida Jones (“Parks and Recreation”) and Andy Samberg play a couple who married young and vow to stay friends after their divorce. Jones co-wrote the comedy, which also features Emma Roberts and Elijah Wood. (Sony Pictures Classics; August TBD)

After his instrument is broken, a musician loses his will to live in Chicken with Plums. The violinist, Nasser Ali Khan, retires to bed where he dreams about his past and sees his children’s future. Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud wrote and directed the French-language picture, which is set in 1958. (Sony Pictures Classics; August TBD)

Also This Summer

In Americano, a man journeys from France to Los Angeles to settle his mother’s estate, then absconds to Mexico to track down a woman who helped his mom in her final days. Mathieu Demy, son of directors Agnès Varda and Jacques Demy, wrote, directed and stars in the drama, which also features Salma Hayek and Geraldine Chaplin. (MPI; Summer TBD)

In Bonsái, a struggling writer finds inspiration in his memories of an old romance and yearns for what he left in the past. Christián Jiménez directs. (Strand; Summer TBD)

A 13-year-old girl is transported from Siberia to Tokyo in the documentary Girl Model. The film juxtaposes the young model’s desire to earn money and make a better life with the more jaded views of the industry scout who discovered her. (First Run; Summer TBD)

Katy Perry is the latest artist to star in a 3D concert/behind-the-scenes documentary with Katy Perry: Part of Me, which includes footage of her colorful, Candyland-themed tour. (Paramount; Summer TBD)

How many bands plan their grand finale? Interweaving concert and behind-the-scenes footage, Shut Up and Play the Hits documents LCD Soundsystem’s final show at Madison Square Garden. (Oscilloscope; Summer TBD)

All release dates are subject to change.