CNHI News Service
Sure, it's only February, but we're already planning out our trips to the multiplex over the next 10 months.
While 2011 was fairly lackluster in terms of Hollywood output, there is enough adventure and excitement ahead to keep our popcorn buckets full throughout the year.
The Hunger Games (March 23)
In a dystopian future, young "tributes" from each of the districts of Panem are pitted against one another in a fight to the death.
Why we can't wait: It’s the first of Suzanne Collins' best-selling trilogy to hit the big screen, and the book was a perfect balance of action and heart. Plus, Jennifer Lawrence seems perfectly suited to the role of heroine Katniss Everdeen.
The Avengers (May 4)
With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, the top-secret agency known as SHIELD assembles Earth’s mightiest heroes to fight back.
Why we can't wait: Iron Man + The Hulk + Thor + Captain America + Director Joss Whedon = Geek heaven. The seeds for this Marvel tag team were planted with the first “Iron Man” in 2008, so it has four years of built-up anticipation behind it.
Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1)
An evil queen, scared by the threat of Snow White becoming the fairest one of all, recruits a huntsman to track her into the forest and kill her.
Why we can't wait: Even if you're not a big Kristen Stewart fan, the trailers make it clear that this is Charlize Theron’s film. As the queen, Theron looks like she's cornered the market on chilly scene chewing (which leaves poor Julia Roberts -- starring as the queen in "Mirror Mirror," out on March 30 -- on the losing end of this year's Snow White showdown).
Prometheus (June 8)
While investigating an advanced alien race, the crew of the Prometheus make a discovery that could provide the answers to humanity's origins.
Why we can't wait: Ridley Scott returns to sci-fi with a film that, while not technically a prequel to his 1979 "Alien," is set in the same universe and has some direct ties to that movie.
The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3)
Peter Parker tries to solve the mystery of his parents’ disappearance, setting him on the path to becoming Spider-Man.
Why we can't wait: Yes, we question the need for a reboot of the character so soon after Tobey Maguire’s run as Spidey. But, with Marc Webb ("500 Days of Summer") behind the camera and an introspective take on the character by Andrew Garfield ("The Social Network"), we're interested.
The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)
Set eight years after "The Dark Knight," Bruce Wayne must once again become Batman when Gotham is threatened by a mysterious villain named Bane who is intent on destroying the city.
Why we can't wait: Director Christopher Nolan redefined the comic-book movie with the first two entries in the series, and expectations are sky-high for this trilogy capper. The casting of Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt doesn't hurt, either.
The Bourne Legacy (Aug. 3)
Set after the events of "The Bourne Ultimatum," repercussions from those events send another covert operative on the run.
Why we can't wait: It's a Matt Damon-less entry in the series, but it has a cast to die for: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen, Albert Finney and Scott Glenn.
Looper (Sept. 28)
A hitman who takes out victims sent into the past by the mob hesitates when his latest target is the future version of himself.
Why we can't wait: Rian Johnson’s first two films -- "Brick" and "The Brothers Bloom" -- were excellent, and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis headline this mind-bending time-travel thriller.
Skyfall (Nov. 9)
James Bond returns to theaters for his 23rd adventure.
Why we can't wait: Daniel Craig makes his third appearance as Bond, with Javier Bardem as the villain. The plot is being kept close to the vest for the film, which is being directed by Sam Mendes.
World War Z (Dec. 12)
Based on one of the quintessential zombie novels, a U.N. representative travels the world to document the zombie apocalypse that is unfolding on a global scale.
Why we can't wait: Hello? Zombies! Oh, and Brad Pitt.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec. 14)
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is caught up in a quest by a band of dwarves to reclaim their lost kingdom. There’s adventure, a dragon and the discovery of a magical ring.
Why we can't wait: Director Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth, along with cast members Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom and Elijah Wood.
Django Unchained (Dec. 25)
A slave is freed by a bounty hunter, and the duo begin a cross-country journey to save his wife from a sadistic plantation owner.
Why we can't wait: Quentin Tarantino directs a Western! The cast features Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson.
And if that’s not enough ...
~ John Carter (March 9)
~ Wrath of the Titans (March 30)
~ Titanic 3-D (April 6)
~ Men in Black 3 (May 25)
~ Rock of Ages (June 15)
~ Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22)
~ Total Recall (Aug. 3)
~ The Expendables 2 (Aug. 17)
~ The Gangster Squad (Oct. 9)
~ Breaking Dawn: Part II (Nov. 16)
~ Les Miserables (Dec. 7)
~ The Great Gatsby (Dec. 25)