It’s almost here, my favorite time of year. Summer movie season is a four month holiday for industry watchers. It’s all insanity and nervousness. There’s so much on the line—so much money, so many connotations for people’s careers. If you’re into blow-by-blow previews, I do monthly rundowns on Cinesnark that cover every single movie coming out, but for now, here’s the highlight reel for summer 2012.

Summer of the Superhero part 2

The Avengers – May 4
The Amazing Spider-Man – July 3
The Dark Knight Rises – July 20

Last summer was the “summer of the superhero” because there were four superhero movies. Well, we’ve got three this year. We start with The Avengers, the culmination of Marvel’s nine-year plan to launch a massive franchise with a nearly unlimited potential for spinoffs. Critic screenings have begun for Joss Whedon’s take on the Avengers universe. The early word has been amazing though reviews are embargoed, and even non-nerds like Lainey are into it. The projections are for a $150+ million opening weekend which is astounding. I’ve been following this project for a long time and am excited for The Avengers to live up to the hype.

I’m a little worried about The Amazing Spider-Man because the buildup for it seems a little flat. A while ago I was told that Sony was concerned about the lackluster response to early marketing for the film so they recalibrated their marketing plan but even after the re-launch it still doesn’t feel like there’s much buzz. And finally there’s The Dark Knight Rises, which is going to be one of the biggest films of the year. And very probably one of the best.

Alien invasion

– May 18
Men in Black III – May 25
Prometheus – June 8

This is also a big summer for alien invasions. First out of the gate is Battleship, which is already going gangbusters overseas. Next is Men in Black III and it will likely be a giant mess but I never want to underestimate the sell power of Will Smith. And Josh Brolin—I love him. I will see it just for his Tommy Lee Jones impression. Ridley Scott returns to the Alien universe with the prequel/not-prequel Prometheus, which is one of the most mysterious films of the summer; the trailer is solid and people are really into it.

Not your average princess

Snow White and the Huntsman – June 1
Brave – June 22

There are two revisionist princess movies this summer, the first of which is Snow White and the Huntsman. The marketing has been pretty spectacular and first-time features director Rupert Sanders looks to be a major new talent in the visuals arena. Here’s hoping the film lives up to the early hype. Then Pixar offers their take on the animated princess tale with Brave. Set in Dark Ages Scotland and “starring” Merida, a princess determined to control her own destiny, this is the hardest sell Pixar has faced since Wall-E. The animation looks gorgeous and Pixar often does its best work on these left-of-center movies. I wouldn’t bet against Brave. Pixar is very proud of it.

The Yuck Yuck Club

The Dictator – May 11
Dark Shadows – May 11
Rock of Ages – June 15
Neighborhood Watch – July 27
ParaNorman – August 17

It seems like it might be a rough summer for comedies. The Dictator looks promising but Sacha Baron Cohen’s appeal is not mass market. Going up against it is the Burton/Depp Dark Shadows, which I think looks kind of like Beetlejuice and while Depp definitely has the mass market on his side, people seem a bit over his constant parade of whackadoos. Is Rock of Ages supposed to be a comedy? I hope so, because it looks hilarious. But I’m slightly worried about Neighborhood Watch since the movie is about a group of guys who appoint themselves guardians of their neighborhood and wander around, spotting troublemakers. Errrm, maybe not the best timing. Finally, the animated ParaNorman is an intriguing proposition—it’s about a kid who can talk to the dead and tries to break a curse on his town.


Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – June 22
The Bourne Legacy – August 3
Total Recall – August 3

If you prefer your action of the non-superhero flavor, you’ve got few options. Abraham Lincoln is adapted from a really solid book which I enjoyed very much, and I’m looking forward to the movie, but it seems like people can’t get past the inherent silliness of the title. There’s a strong chance this might be the dud of summer. Jeremy Renner steps up from sidekick to chief-in-charge ass-kicker in the Bourne spin-off. I’ve heard it’s a pretty solid movie, but will audiences buy a Bourne movie with no Bourne? Coming off a huge Avengers win won’t hurt Renner’s chances. And Colin Farrell stars in Len Wiseman’s remake of Total Recall, a cheesy Schwarzenegger action flick ripe for updating. The trailer is pretty sweet. And Farrell is gorgeous, so there’s that.


Moonrise Kingdom – May 25
Safety Not Guaranteed – June 8
To Rome, With Love – June 22
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – June 22
Magic Mike – June 29
Savages – July 6

If superheroes and sh*t blowing up aren’t your thing, there are some solid counter-programming options. Wes Anderson has his first live action film in five years with Moonrise Kingdom about a small town that spirals out of control when a young couple runs away. (Lainey: it’s also set to light up the Croisette as it will open Cannes.) Saftey Not Guaranteed has gotten mixed reviews, but it’s about that legendary classified ad looking for a time travel companion, which is an awesome premise. To Rome, With Love is Woody Allen’s follow up to Midnight in Paris. It looks very…Woody Allen-y. I’m most interested in Seeking a Friend just to see how the odd couple vibe between Steve Carell and Keira Knightley plays out, and while male-stripper movie Magic Mike might as well be called Beefcake: The Movie, it is earning positive buzz in early test screenings. Matthew McConaughey in particular is getting a lot of glowy remarks and Channing Tatum’s acting is described as “almost natural”. And to cap it off is Oliver Stone’s Savages, which despite a Blake Lively voice over, looks pretty good.

So, what’ll it be this summer? Superheroes, aliens, princesses, none of the above?