ZAMM.COM: Summer Strength

By Martin Grove,

Summer strength: Moviegoers are still picking films to see this summer, but Hollywood has already set its plans for what is shaping up to be a very strong summer of 2015.

While moviegoers are buying tickets to this weekend's wide openings of Hercules and Lucy, the studios are hard at work on next summer's films--including new episodes in franchises like The Avengers, Jurassic Park and The Terminator.

Hercules' greatest strength in tracking reports is with 25-plus males while Lucy's strongest appeal is to under-25 females. Of course, they'll both be competing against weekend three of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, one of this summer's biggest hits.

Looking ahead, here's a sneak peek at a few of the biggest titles slated to arrive next May, June and July. Release dates are always subject to change, but these are the ones turning up now on industry schedules.

It's a safe bet that the summer of 2015 will get off to a strong start with Marvel Studios and Disney's May 1 opening of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the second episode in the 3D fantasy action adventure franchise that began with the May 4, 2012 launch of The Avengers to $207.4 million. It wound up grossing $623.4 million domestically, easily topping the 2012 chart.

Ultron, from Avengers director Joss Wheedon, showcases an ensemble cast with such stars as Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth and Samuel L. Jackson.

In Ultron, Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) inadvertently creates an evil robot that the Avengers must stop somehow.

May 22 will see another 3D Disney release enter the marketplace just in time for the long Memorial Day weekend. The sci-fi action adventure Tomorrowland is directed by Brad Bird and stars Britt Robertson, Judy Greer and George Clooney. Its storyline involves a teenage girl, a genius middle-aged man, who's been kicked out of Tomorrowland, and a young girl robot, all of whom all trying to get to Tomorrowland in its alternative dimension so they can unravel what happened to it and save Earth.

June 5 will bring San Andreas, an original 3D action adventure thriller from Warner Bros., New Line Cinema and Village Roadshow Pictures. Directed by Brad Peyton (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island), it stars Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario.

The film takes place after California's San Andreas Fault triggers a devastating magnitude 9 earthquake. A rescue helicopter pilot (Johnson) and his estranged wife are making their way from Los Angeles to San Francisco to save their daughter, but their treacherous journey north is only the beginning. When they think the worst is finally over, it's really just getting started.

The 3D sci-fi action adventure Jurassic World opens June 12 from Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment and Legendary Pictures. Directed by Colin Trevorrow, it's executive produced by Steven Spielberg and stars Chris Pratt, Lauren Lapkus, Judy Greer and Bryce Dallas Howard.

No plot details for World have emerged yet, but it's a brand name franchise and moviegoers will certainly know what to expect well before its marketing campaign hits.

The original Jurassic Park, directed by Spielberg, opened June 11, 1993 to $47 million. It went on to gross $402.5 million domestically, including subsequent reissues. Jurassic spawned two sequels--The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which did $229 million in 1997, and Jurassic Park III, which grossed $181.2 million in 2001.

Fox and Marvel Entertainment's 3D reboot of The Fantastic Four hits multiplexes June 19. Directed by Josh Trank, it stars Kate Mara, Miles Teller and Toby Kebbell. Its story revolves around four astronauts who develop superpowers after they're exposed to cosmic rays while on a scientific mission in outer space.

The original Four opened July 8, 2005 to $56.1 million and ended up doing $154.7 million domestically.

Universal Pictures' comedy Ted 2 opens June 26. Directed by Seth MacFarlane, who directed the original hit, it stars Mark Whalberg, Amanda Seyfried and MacFarlane.

No plot details are known yet, but moviegoers will start out with fond memories of the first Ted, which opened June 29, 2012 to $54.4 million and ended up grossing $218.8 million domestically.

A new episode in one of Hollywood's most iconic franchises is due July 1 when Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions unveil Terminator: Genesis. Directed by Alan Taylor, the sci-fi action adventure stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke and Jai Courtney.

The Genesis storyline's still under wraps, but here, too, the film is a long established brand with moviegoers, going back to the 1984 original sleeper hit. The last episode, Terminator Salvation, opened May 21, 2009 to $42.6 million and did $125.3 million domestically.

July 10 will see Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment open their 3D animated family comedy The Minions, a spinoff of the blockbuster animated franchise Despicable Me.

Directed by Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin, its voice talents include Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm and Steve Carell.

Despicable Me 2, the franchise's most recent episode, opened July 3, 3013 to $83.5 million and did $368.1 million domestically.

This time around, Gru (Carell) is recruited by an organization to stop Scarlet Overkill (Bullock), a super-villain who, with her inventor husband Herb (Hamm), hatches a plot to take over the world.

Marvel Studios and Disney's fantasy action adventure Ant-Man surfaces in theatres July 17. Directed by Peyton Reed, it stars Evangeline Lilly, Paul Rudd and Patrick Wilson. It's based on the comic book and characters co-created by Marvel's Stan Lee.

In Ant-Man, biochemist Dr. Hank Pym (Rudd) uses his discovery of a subatomic particles group to create a size-altering formula. Though his first self-test doesn't go well, Pym develops a way of communicating with and controlling insects.

Bottom line: The summer of 2015 may be nearly a year away, but in Hollywood it's on studio executives' minds right now.

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