More than any other time of the year, summer seems to be the season for legends, especially at the movies.
As usual, the Hollywood studios are rolling out their potential blockbusters as the year heats up. Building on popular movie myths is a big part of their plans, with sequels to “Iron Man,” “Star Trek” and “300” mixing it up with the Superman reboot “Man of Steel,” the “Monsters, Inc.” prequel “Monsters University” and a new incarnation of “The Lone Ranger.”
“Iron Man 3” already seems to have the summer off to a marvelous start: The superhero sequel starring Robert Downey Jr. got a jump on its domestic launch this Friday with a $195.3 million opening in 42 overseas markets last weekend.
That topped the $185.1 million start for Marvel's “The Avengers,” which opened in 39 markets over the same weekend last year a week ahead of its record-breaking domestic debut of $207.4 million.
To ensure there's a little something for all movie lovers — and perhaps to cut down on simulated explosions — the studios are even rolling out a few comedies, dramas and romances this season. Just remember to check your local listings, as release dates occasionally move around.
“Iron Man 3”
Robert Downey Jr. slips back into the heavy metal suit of Iron Man to play billionaire playboy Tony Stark for the fourth time (or fifth, counting an “Incredible Hulk” cameo). This time, Shane Black takes the director's seat to helm the superhero's battle against Marvel Comics baddie the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine also return. Jon Favreau, who directed the series' first two installments, will appear as Stark's driver, Happy Hogan.
“Aquí y allá (Here and There)”
After working in the United States for years, a family man (Pedro De los Santos) returns home to his small mountain village in Guerrero, Mexico, and finds his daughters and circumstances have changed. In Spanish and Nahuatl with English subtitles, the film plays Saturday and Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
“To the Wonder”
Filmed in and around Bartlesville, Pawhuska and Tulsa — and Mont Saint-Michel, Manche, France — by reclusive and enigmatic film director Terence Malick (“Days of Heaven,” “The Tree of Life”), this potential awards-grabber stars Olga Kurylenko as Marina and Ben Affleck as Neil, a couple who meet in France and move to Oklahoma to start a life together, but find complications when Neil renews a relationship with his childhood sweetheart Jane (Rachel McAdams). Javier Bardem co-stars as a priest struggling with his vocation. The film plays May 9-12 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
“The Great Gatsby”
The fifth attempt to adapt F. Scott Fitzgerald's most celebrated novel to film stars Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role of the enigmatic, nouveau riche playboy; Tobey Maguire as the Long Island neighbor, Nick Carraway, who is drawn into Gatsby's dangerously decadent world; and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, Carraway's cousin and Gatsby's old flame. The 1920s-period drama is directed and cowritten for the screen by “Moulin Rouge!” helmer Baz Luhrmann.
In this comedy, an average guy (Chris Robinson, “Hot Tub Time Machine”) travels to the Hamptons to meet his girlfriend's (Kerry Washington, “Django Unchained”) preppy family and tries to impress her father, a federal judge (David Alan Grier, TV's “In Living Color”).
“Star Trek into Darkness”
J.J. Abrams (“Lost”) returns to direct the second post-reboot “Trek” film, featuring Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock. Benedict Cumberbatch (“Sherlock”) is on board as a mysterious villain. In the film, the Enterprise is called back to Earth after a terrorist act, but Kirk strikes out on his own on a manhunt to capture a destructive force.
Spain's official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for 2012 centers on a 1920s female bullfighter, puts a twist on the Snow White legend and pays homage to silent films. It screens May 17-19 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
“Wagner & Me”
To mark Richard Wagner's 200th birthday on May 22, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art is showing this documentary, in which English actor and raconteur Stephen Fry delves into his passion for the music of history's most controversial composer.
Renowned Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Michel Bouquet), in deteriorating health at age 74, and his son Jean (Vincent Rottiers), recovering from injuries suffered in World War I, both become enchanted with the free-spirited Andree (Christa Theret), a young beauty who becomes the artist's last model. The period family drama, set in 1915 on the French Riviera, will show May 23-May 26 and May 30-June 2 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
“Fast & Furious 6”
Agent Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) recruits Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian (Paul Walker) to help bring down a team of high-octane thieves led by former special ops soldier Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and director Justin Lin return for the latest souped-up sequel in the long-running action series.
“The Hangover Part III”
The “Wolf Pack” reunites to console Alan (Zach Galifianakis) over a death in the family, and the party reignites in Las Vegas and accelerates in Tijuana. Todd Phillips directs and cowrites again, and Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Justin Bartha are back in their cups, as well.
Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz, Colin Farrell, Pitbull, Steven Tyler and Beyonce Knowles lend their voices to the animated fantasy tale from “Ice Age” co-director Chris Wedge.
Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and director Richard Linklater reunite for the third film in their romantic drama trilogy, which picks up in Greece nine years after the events of “Before Sunset” and almost two decades after their first meeting in “Before Sunrise.”
“At Any Price”
Writer-director Ramin Bahrani's (“Goodbye Solo”) family drama is set in the high-stakes world of modern agriculture. Dennis Quaid stars as an ambitious Iowa farmer longing to expand his family empire with the help of his reluctant and rebellious son (Zac Efron), who wants to become a professional race car driver.
“Now You See Me”
A group of renegade magicians (played by Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher and Morgan Freeman, among others) are tracked by the FBI after they stage a series of bank heists and reward their audiences with the spoils. “Now You See Me” also stars Woody Harrelson, Melanie Laurent (“Inglourious Basterds”) and Dave Franco, and is directed by Louis Leterrier (“Clash of the Titans”).
A father and son — Will Smith and his real-life progeny Jaden Smith — crash land on Earth 1,000 years after humanity has been forced to evacuate the planet in this sci-fi action-adventure from director/co-writer M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense”).
In “The Purge,” America's future leadership comes up with this bright idea to reduce crime: designate one day a year in which all bets are off and everyone can commit the horrible act of their choosing — scot-free, no repercussions. Of course, that one day would throw off the crime stats big time, but logic doesn't get in the way when scary thrill-killing nihilists wearing spooky masks descend on a locked down family (Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder). That slow, creepy version of “America the Beautiful” in the trailer? Yeah, that's supposed to make viewers pine for a simpler, more carefree time in our nation's history when the producers of last year's “Sinister” weren't coming up with harebrained dystopias to freak out the easily freaked.
“Wedding Crashers” co-stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson reunite for this timely workplace comedy about two behind-the-times salesmen who score a coveted internship at Google, where they have to compete against a gaggle of tech-savvy whiz kids for a chance at employment.
“Much Ado About Nothing”
Joss Whedon takes a break from Avenging to create this modern update of William Shakespeare's comedy. It stars a who's who of previous Whedon projects, including Amy Acker as Beatrice; Nathan Fillion as Dogberry; Alexis Denisof as Benedick; and Clark Gregg as Leonato. Using the original text, the film was shot in 12 days in Whedon's house and backyard.
“Love Is All You Need”
Oscar-winning filmmaker Susanne Bier (“In a Better World”) directs and cowrites this romantic comedy about a Danish hairdresser (Trine Dyrholm) who is recovering from breast cancer when she discovers her husband is cheating on her. While traveling to Italy for her daughter's wedding, she literally runs into the groom's widowed father (Pierce Brosnan).
“On the Road”
Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart star in director Walter Salles' (“The Motorcycle Diaries”) adaptation of Jack Kerouac's celebrated novel. The film will screen June 13-16 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
“Man of Steel”
Zack Snyder (“Watchmen”) gets his chance to define Superman for a new generation. Henry Cavill (“The Tudors”) replaces Brandon Routh in the blue tights as the hero from Krypton who can leap tall buildings and bend steel, as well as his alter ego Clark Kent. Amy Adams is scheduled for Lois Lane; Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner play Superman's Kryptonian and Earthling fathers, respectively. The film was written by David Goyer (“Batman Begins”) and is produced by Christopher Nolan, whose success on the “Batman” franchise Warner Bros. would no doubt like to replicate.
“This Is the End”
“Superbad” writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg directed a huge cast of friends and colleagues — all playing slightly exaggerated versions of themselves — in this comedy about celebrities attending a party at James Franco's house on the night of a global apocalypse. “This is the End” features Rogen, Goldberg and Franco with Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Rihanna, Emma Watson, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera and almost everyone else.
“From Up on Poppy Hill”
The Oklahoma City Museum of Art will show the latest hand-drawn animated film from celebrated Studio Ghibli, creators of “Spirited Away,” “Ponyo” and “The Secret World of Arrietty,” on June 20-23. As Japan makes preparations for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, a group of Yokohama teens tries to save its school's clubhouse from the wrecking ball.
Pixar's first prequel traces how future champion scarer James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (voice of John Goodman) and his wisecracking pal Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) became best friends back in college, years before the events of 2001's “Monsters, Inc.”
“World War Z”
Brad Pitt jumps on the overloaded zombie bandwagon as a United Nations employee struggling to stem the outbreak of a worldwide plague of undead nasties in this horror epic directed by Marc Forster (“Quantum of Solace,” “Finding Neverland”), based on Max Brooks' best-selling novel.
“Gimme the Loot”
Malcolm and Sofia (Ty Hickson and Tashiana Washington), two determined teens from the Bronx, are the ultimate graffiti-writers. When a rival gang buffs their latest masterpiece, they scheme to get revenge by tagging an iconic New York City landmark. The film is play June 27-30 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
“White House Down”
Channing Tatum plays a Secret Service agent who must save the president (Jamie Foxx) after a paramilitary group overruns 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins and Jason Clarke co-star in the latest action vehicle from director Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “2012”).
Comedic actress Melissa McCarthy reunites with “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig and teams with Oscar winner Sandra Bullock in his R-rated comedy. Bullock plays an arrogant and uptight FBI agent who is forced to partner with a McCarthy's foul-mouthed, short-tempered Boston cop.
“The Lone Ranger”
Clayton Moore will always be the “Masked Man” everyone remembers, and Klinton Spilsbury (of the misbegotten 1981 version) will always be the one everyone forgets, but with Gore Verbinski's radically reimagined version of “The Lone Ranger,” Armie Hammer gets his chance to be legendary in the saddle as trigger-happy lawman John Reid. Oklahoma City's Mason Cook appears as Will, and Johnny Depp co-stars as Tonto, who has a bird on his head.
“Despicable Me 2”
Time to break out the minion merchandising again, because the capsule-shaped yellow fellows are back in “Despicable Me 2” as former would-be super baddie Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) is recruited into the Anti-Villain League to help defeat a new evil nemesis (voiced by Al Pacino, of course). Kristen Wiig and Steve Coogan also join the cast, including returning voices Russell Brand and Miranda Cosgrove.
“Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain”
When he isn't making guest appearances on “Modern Family” or appearing in big-screen comedies (“Think Like a Man,” “This is the End”), Kevin Hart sells out basketball arenas for his frank and audaciously staged stand-up performances — he's one of the few comedians who can get away with setting off the kind of pyrotechnics favored by KISS in their prime. “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain” captures Hart's 2012 performance at Madison Square Garden, where thousands of people let him explain.
“The Way, Way Back”
Fresh off their Academy Awards for co-writing “The Descendants,” Nat Faxon and Jim Rash write and direct “The Way, Way Back,” in which 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) comes of age while working at the Water Wizz water park. Joining teenagers James and AnnaSophia Robb in the comedy is a critical mass of first-rate talent, including Steve Carell, Amanda Peet, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolph and Rob Corddry.
In the five years since “Hellboy: The Golden Army,” Guillermo Del Toro came close to directing the “Hobbit” films but instead opted for global catastrophe, alien invasion-style. In “Pacific Rim” a destructive intergalactic force is fought off by colossal robots piloted by humans. The humans include Ron Perlman and Charlie Hunnam, of “Sons of Anarchy,” Idris Elba, of “The Wire,” and Charlie Day, of “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” which is like putting all forces of cable cult hits against the ugly interplanetary horde.
“Grown Ups 2”
Feeding off the good will and critical accolades generated by last year's “That's My Boy,” Adam Sandler invited buddies Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Nick Swardson on another studio-funded vacation disguised as a wacky pratfall comedy. Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph and Steve Buscemi came along for the poop jokes, groin injuries and delicious craft services table.
Mixing tropes from “Men in Black” and “Hellboy,” “R.I.P.D.” stars Ryan Reynolds as Nick Walker, a new junior officer of the Rest in Peace Department, or R.I.P.D. Working with veteran Sheriff Roy Pulsifer (Jeff Bridges), the pair tracks destructive souls who refuse to move over to the other side. The movie is based on the Dark Horse comic by Peter M. Lenkov. The film will be available in 2-D and 3-D theaters.
Retired CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) returns in this film loosely based on the Warren Ellis comic-book series. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins and Byung Hun Lee join the cast of the sequel as Moses is on the hunt for a missing Cold War-era nuclear device. Dean Parisot directs.
“Insidious” director James Wan is done with haunted suburban houses — “The Conjuring” takes place in a farmhouse, which is different, because the ghosts have access to pitchforks, baling wire and that old favorite of horror films, scythes. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as paranormal investigators who try to help a distressed family escape the ghosts of livestock or something.
Because snails generally don't move at Danica Patrick velocity, “Turbo” is an unlikely triumph-of-the-gastropod-spirit story in which the title character (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) wants to fulfill his dream of winning the Indy 500. The characters in this DreamWorks Animation feature include slimy creatures that sound just like Paul Giamatti, Michael Pena, Tulsa's Bill Hader and Samuel L. Jackson.
Based on the classic Chris Claremont-Frank Miller comic book miniseries, “The Wolverine” finds Logan (Hugh Jackman) in Japan training to be a samurai warrior. James Mangold (“Walk the Line”) directs after a tortured preproduction that was scuttled first by the 2011 earthquake in Japan, then by the departure of director Darren Aronofsky.
Neil Patrick Harris returns for another CGI hybrid film based on the 1980s cartoons, which were themselves based on comics by Belgian cartoonist Peyo. Christina Ricci and J.B. Smoove (“Curb Your Enthusiam”) join the cast for the sequel.
“300: Rise of an Empire”
The prequel to 2007's “300” focuses on Themistocles, an Athenian politician who fought to increase the naval power of Greece; and on the rise of Xerxes of Persia. The film is based on an as-yet-unreleased Frank Miller graphic novel. Noam Murro directs.
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg star as competing federal agents who have to go on the run together when their joint undercover operation goes awry. Bill Paxton, Paula Patton and Oklahoma native James Marsden co-star in the action-packed crime drama.
“Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”
The son of Poisedon, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), must seek the Golden Fleece in the Sea of Monsters. The film is based on the second in the popular series of mythologically inspired novels by Rick Riordan.
With his first feature film, “District 9,” Neill Blomkamp used science fiction to create a moving allegory about South African apartheid, and with “Elysium,” he takes on economic class distinctions. In 2159, the “haves” live in off-world colonies while the “have-nots” deal with overcrowded, ravaged Earth, and Max (Matt Damon) takes a renegade approach to bringing equality to the disparate worlds. The film co-stars Jodie Foster, Alice Braga and Sharlto Copley.
For people who loved “Cars” and, um, saw “Cars 2,” Disney's “Planes” will make total sense, because they're anthropomorphic flying machines with eyes where their windshields should be, and they have social structures, feelings and sky-high desires. Voices are supplied by Val Kilmer, Brad Garrett, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and beloved comedian Dane Cook as Dusty Crophopper, an underdog who dreams of competing in a famous aerial race, which makes this entirely different from “Turbo.”
“We're the Millers”
A small-time marijuana dealer (Jason Sudeikis) teams up with a cynical stripper (Jennifer Aniston), a homeless teen (Emma Roberts) and a British kid (Will Poulter) to pose as a family and smuggle two tons of pot from Mexico to Colorado, which might not offer the best wholesale price after legalization.
New heroes are inspired by the example of Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), which leads to a parade of self-made superheroes, led by Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). The Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), now renamed something unprintable, decides to hunt these heroes down, leaving Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) as the heroes' best chance for survival.
Director Robert Luketic returns to drama after two wacky Katherine Heigl comedies with “Paranoia,” in which a junior executive (Liam Hemsworth of “The Hunger Games”) is asked to spy on his boss' former mentor (Harrison Ford). This drama also stars Gary Oldman, Josh Holloway, Amber Heard and not Heigl.
“The World's End”
In what could be the most hilarious global cataclysm movie of the summer, director Edgar Wright reunites with his “Hot Fuzz”/ “Sean of the Dead” stars, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, for “The World's End,” in which friends reunite for a legendary pub crawl only to learn that The fate of the world rests on how they complete their drunken stumble. Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan also star, which only improves the comedy's stellar pedigree.
“The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”
Just in time to fill the brooding vampire void, “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” stars Lily Collins (“Mirror Mirror”) as Clary Fray, who discovers that New York City is crawling with warlocks, vampires and other creatures of the night when her mother (Lena Headey, the official mother of 2013 thrillers) is kidnapped by a demon. Other stars hoping that all six of Cassandra Clare's “Mortal Instruments” novels are made into films include Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jared Harris, Jemima West and Kevin Zegers.
In “You're Next,” a family celebrating a wedding anniversary getaway is under attack by scary thrill-killing nihilists wearing spooky masks, and it's not even “Purge” day. This latest horror film by Adam Wingard (“V/H/S”) stars fellow low-budget/high yield horror director Ti West, Sharni Vinson (“Step Up 3-D”) and Amy Seimetz of “Upstream Color” in less arty territory.
“One Direction: This is Us”
Another year, another One Direction concert documentary: “One Direction: This Is Us” follows up 2012's “Up All Night: The Live Tour” but this time, 1D fans will get so much closer and learn so much more about Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne and (heh-heh) Harry Styles. “This Is Us” is an early contender for being the best One Direction concert documentary of the summer.
Brent Magna (Ethan Hawke) must follow the strict orders issued by a mysterious man (Jon Voight) to save his kidnapped wife, and it's not even “Purge” day. This is not a remake of 1973's “The Getaway” or 1994's “The Getaway,” but this one has Selena Gomez in it.
In “Closed Circuit,” Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall star as ex-lovers and current attorneys who join the defense team for an international terrorist and soon discover that representing widely despised criminals is a dangerous job.
Also for summer
Fast-rising newcomer Brit Marling (“Another Earth,” “Arbitrage”) cowrites this thriller with director Zal Batmanglij (“Sound of My Voice”) and stars as a spy for a private intelligence agency who infiltrates an anarchist group waging covert war on major corporations. Also stars Alexander Skarsgard and Jason Ritter.
“The Kings of Summer”
Three teenage boys (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias) declare their independence by running off and building their own cabin in the woods, free from parental authority in this coming-of-age comedy with elements of “Superbad” and “Stand By Me” from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and screenwriter Chris Galletta.
Writer-director Woody Allen's latest all-star ensemble opus has been designated a drama, but the plot has yet to be disclosed in much detail. Sony Pictures Classics describes it sketchily as “the story of the final stages of an acute crisis and a life of a fashionable New York housewife.” Players include Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale and Andrew Dice Clay. No kidding on that last one.
Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch play two highway road workers who spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives, in an isolated place where they become at odds with each other and the women they left at home in this comedy-drama from writer-director David Gordon Green (“Pineapple Express”).
“The To Do List”
Writer-director Maggie Carey (TV's “Funny or Die,” “The Jeannie Tate Show”) makes her feature-length helming debut with this comedy about a girl (Aubrey Plaza of “Parks and Recreation”) determined to become more sexually experienced before going off to college. Also stars Andy Samberg and Tulsa's Bill Hader (“Saturday Night Live”).
Contributing: The Associated Press