The first weekend of May kicks off the 2012 summer movie season. Here are the headliners that will have crowds fighting for seats, as well as a couple of smaller films likely to interest Christian movie lovers. WORLD has not reviewed these films, and some are not yet rated.
May 4: The Avengers (not yet rated)
Perhaps no other movie on this list is as qualified to call itself a summer blockbuster. So chock-full of superhero fun, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man 1 and 2 were merely preludes to it.
May 4: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG-13)
Already earning glowing reviews in the U.K., this British indie focuses on a group of retirees who discover that a life of luxury in India isn't all it's cracked up to be. Starring Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench along with Bill Nighy and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), it may offer a smart, witty antidote to all the Avenger explosives.
June 1: For Greater Glory (R)
Starring Andy Garcia and Eva Longoria, here's the true story of a group of 1920s Mexican rebels fighting against religious persecution and those who would secularize their nation. An industry insider tells me it fits squarely into the current debate over religious freedom and predicts it will be of particular interest to believers.
June 8: Prometheus (not yet rated)
Though not a straight prequel to Ridley Scott's groundbreaking sci-fi horror, Alien, word is it is related to it. Guy Pearce, Charlize Theron, and Noomi Rapace (who starred in the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) play a group of space explorers who travel to the darkest corners of the universe and encounter a terrifying threat to the future of the human race.
June 11: Rock of Ages (not yet rated)
Based on the hit Broadway musical, Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, Alec Baldwin, and Julianne Hough are just a few of the marquee names that make up its star-studded cast. If Rock of Ages even comes close to capturing the brainless energy of the hair bands that inspired it, it will be a guilty pleasure for anyone who grew up in the '80s.
June 22: Brave (not yet rated)
While plenty of animated family fare will fill the screens this summer, Brave is one of only two that isn't a sequel. A host of British and Scottish actors voice the roles in a story about a Pictish princess whose talent for archery leads to chaos in her father's kingdom. But really, only one recognizable name in this production is needed to draw audiences-Pixar.
July 3: The Amazing Spider-Man (not yet rated)
For those who can't get enough of the webbed wonder, Sony is going back to the beginning with a high-school-age Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) trying to unravel the mystery of his parents' disappearance. The studio has been citing Christopher Nolan's reinvention of Batman in promising this outing will be grittier and more contemporary than its predecessors.
July 20: The Dark Knight Rises (PG-13)
The final film about the caped crusader (or at least the final one directed by Christopher Nolan) is arguably the most anticipated film of the summer. The Academy sparked national outrage in 2009 when it snubbed The Dark Knight for Best Picture, meaning all industry eyes will be turned to see if the franchise's conclusion stands a chance of overcoming Oscar's snobbishness toward superheroes.
August 3: The Bourne Legacy (not yet rated)
Though the fourth film in the Bourne franchise, it includes neither Matt Damon nor the titular character he played. Instead, it picks up in the aftermath of The Bourne Ultimatum with Jeremy Renner (who also stars in The Avengers) as a spy grappling with the consequences of Jason Bourne's action.
August 10: Hope Springs (not yet rated)
It's rare for a romantic comedy to focus on married people, and even rarer for it to focus on married people in the later years of their relationship. With the towering talents of Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones filling the lead roles as a couple struggling to save their union, this one looks like a winner for a notoriously under-served demographic.