Summertime usually means trashy reads at the beach, singalong anthems on the radio and franchise films in the theaters. But this season won't have quite as much familiarity as summers past. "The Avengers," opening this weekend, does bring together Marvel's biggest stars together in one action-packed flick. But Spider-Man and Jason Bourne have been replaced, while one of the two iconic Men in Black looks very different -- about 20 years different.
Last year's "Bridesmaids" proved a film geared toward women can still make bonzo box office. This summer, "Brave" features Pixar's first lead heroine in the studio's history. But "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and "Magic Mike" don't have the same crossover appeal that made "Bridesmaids" a hit with more than just the fairer sex.
The date: May 11
The stars: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer
The story: Depp reteams with frequent collaborator Tim Burton to play a vampire who wakes up from two centuries of sleep -- in 1972.
The backstory: Based on the over-the-top vampire soap of the same name that ran in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The bottom line: Expect this one to be weird -- and not just because it has Tim Burton's name on it.
The date: May 16
The stars: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley
The story: The latest creation from the man who brought us Borat is a Middle Eastern dictator modeled on Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi.
The backstory: Cohen's dictator might be a fish out of water in New York City, much like Borat was -- but this film features a less improvised script and more screen time for the other players.
The bottom line: We already got a taste of the film to come after Oscar producers insist Cohen not walk the red carpet in character -- and he responded with a deliciously funny video.
'What to Expect When You're Expecting'
The date: May 18
The stars: Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Rock
The story: Five women, in very different ways, learn to become parents.
The backstory: The classic pregnancy manual isn't the first advice book to become a movie, but it might be the strangest.
The bottom line: Not even Chris Rock's name in the cast will bring men to this movie.
The date: May 18
The stars: Taylor Kitsch, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna
The story: From the toy company that brought you Transformers ...
The backstory: That's not a joke, but actually part of the movie's marketing.
The bottom line: I don't remember any aliens in the simple two-player board game I played as a kid.
'Men in Black 3'
The date: May 25
The stars: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson
The story: It's been a decade since the second film in the franchise. But Will Smith still draws big box office.
The backstory: Executives apparently thought the decade hadn't been kind to the duo: Josh Brolin was brought on to play a younger version of Jones who teams up with a time-traveling Smith.
The bottom line: The movie began production without a completed script -- and had to stop when it became clear improvisation wasn't working. So the buzz is mixed on this one.
The date: June 1
The stars: Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton
The story: Those names aren't the ones that will really tell you what this film will be like: Director Wes Anderson's should give you a good idea.
The backstory: Anderson has often used the music of the 1960s to set scenes in his films. Here, it sets the film itself in the decade, with Willis playing a small-town sheriff looking for the daughter of Murray and McDormand, who's run off with her boyfriend.
The bottom line: Aside from Murray, Anderson plays with an interesting group of faces new to his quirky work. This could be his most adult film yet.
'Rock of Ages'
The date: June 15
The stars: Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand
The story: Yet another Broadway musical comes to the big screen.
The backstory: It features the music of the '80s, especially its big-haired bands.
The bottom line: Tom Cruise belting out Bon Jovi? Director Adam Shankman said of his star, "It's this brilliant mash-up, it seems, of Axl Rose, Keith Richards and Jim Morrison." Sold.
The date: June 22
The stars: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters
The story: Pixar goes all the way to Scotland for its latest sure-to-please animated flick.
The backstory: Fans of the tough-as-nails heroine of "The Hunger Games" will be impressed by the warrior princess voiced by Macdonald.
The bottom line: Anything with the Pixar label becomes a blockbuster. But will young boys cosy up to a tough-talking, fiery redheaded lass?
'To Rome With Love'
The date: June 22
The stars: Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page
The story: Woody Allen appears in one of his annual films for the first time in six years.
The backstory: Nothing says romance like Italy -- and Allen's brought together an eclectic cast to fall in love.
The bottom line: Last year's "Midnight in Paris" was Woody's biggest success. Is putting himself on screen again such a good idea?
'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter'
The date: June 22
The stars: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
The story: One of the most successful of the recent monster mash-up novels comes to life.
The backstory: What if the Civil War had really been provoked by vampires worried about losing the slaves on whose blood they fed?
The bottom line: Daniel Day Lewis' Abraham Lincoln will get more acclaim -- and viewers -- when it arrives this fall.
The date: June 29
The stars: Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer
The story: The movie Hollywood hasn't been waiting for: Tatum as the star of a male revue.
The backstory: The film is actually based on a true story: Tatum's own pre-stardom stint as a stripper.
The bottom line: It's not clear which movie will draw fewer men: "What to Expect" or "Magic Mike."
'The Amazing Spider-Man'
The date: July 3
The stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans
The story: Tobey Maguire played Spider-Man just five years ago -- and the franchise is already being rebooted with Andrew Garfield buffing up for the role.
The backstory: It's not just the man with the spidey sense who's different: The previous love interest and villains have been replaced with new characters.
The bottom line: Focus-grouped footage got a wildly positive reaction. Will Maguire be wishing he were the one in tights planting kisses on the angelic Emma Stone?
The date: July 13
The stars: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis
The story: A heartwarming story about a teddy bear who comes to life.
The backstory: OK, it's not that heartwarming: It's the feature film debut of "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane.
The bottom line: This cuddly bear has a real potty mouth, making its owner, Wahlberg, wish his toy had never grown up.
'The Dark Knight Rises'
The date: July 20
The stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard
The story: Four years after "The Dark Knight" brought us an utterly unforgettable performance by the late Heath Ledger, Christopher Nolan takes us to back to Gotham.
The backstory: Catwoman Anne Hathaway can't possibly top Ledger's Joker. But Tom Hardy's Bane certainly has the potential.
The bottom line: This time around, there's no talk of an unprecedented performance by a young actor. But as the last in the trilogy, it'll be a blockbuster anyway.
The date: July 27
The stars: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade
The story: This summer's "Attack the Block"? But with a far higher profile: Besides the big names starring in it, the film was co-written by Seth Rogen.
The backstory: A group of suburban oddballs create a neighborhood watch group as an excuse to get out of the house -- and they find they must save their community from an alien invasion.
The bottom line: The title's unfortunate, given the high-profile Trayvon Martin case. But the movie sounds spot-on otherwise.
'The Bourne Legacy'
The date: Aug. 3
The stars: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton
The story: Matt Damon got tired of the franchise half a decade ago -- but Hollywood executives looking to make money never did.
The backstory: Renner plays a renegade CIA agent much like Damon's character -- but doesn't replace him, leaving the door open for Damon to return at any time.
The bottom line: Renner already looks ready to take over the "Mission: Impossible" franchise from Tom Cruise when Cruise gets bored with it. If this "Bourne" succeeds, Renner will be a busy (and very rich) man.
The date: Aug. 3
The stars: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, Jessica Biel
The story: Paul Verhoeven's science-fiction/political/action film is barely over two decades old. But "Underworld" director Len Wiseman apparently thought he could do the Dutch director one better.
The backstory: Can his wife, Kate Beckinsale, possibly be as seductively evil as Sharon Stone was in the original?
The bottom line: And more important: There's no trip to Mars in this version. But will a three-breasted character still make an appearance?
The date: Aug. 10
The stars: Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell
The story: A chick flick for the crowd who can no longer be called chicks.
The backstory: Carell plays a marriage therapist with a tougher-than-usual case when Streep and Jones seek his help over a weekend retreat.
The bottom line: Tommy Lee Jones in a romcom: Who could have guessed?