Cowboys & Aliens

July 29
Yet another movie based on a graphic novel, but this one comes with pedigree. Starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, it’s the story of a group of settlers who must set aside their differences when their town is attacked by aliens. The director is Jon Favreau, best known for helming the Iron Man movies.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Feb. 11
The young music phenomenon will get his shot at the big screen with a 3-D documentary/concert film that tracks Bieber’s rise to fame. Paramount will have had a mere seven months to put the film together. That should put the film in theaters in plenty of time, in case Bieber only has 15 minutes of fame.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

May 20
The summer blockbuster season kicks off with Disney’s fourth installment of the Pirates franchise. The series has already earned $2.7 billion at the worldwide box office; even if reviews are bad for the latest, it’s sure to earn gobs of money as long as Johnny Depp is playing Captain Jack Sparrow.

The Hangover 2

May 26
2009’s The Hangover was a surprise hit, earning $467 million on an estimated $35 million budget, so there’s a lot of pressure on the sequel. Mel Gibson was slated to have a career-boosting cameo in the new film, but the cast reportedly rebelled at the idea. Liam Neeson stepped into the role instead.

Kung Fu Panda 2

May 27
Kung Fu Panda was a massive hit for DreamWorks Animation, earning $632 million on an estimated budget of $130 million, so a sequel was inevitable. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of pressure, especially after Megamind’s slow performance at the box office. DreamWorks is also at work on a television series based on Kung Fu Panda, which could help bring audiences into theaters.

Cars 2

June 24
The first Cars movie wasn’t one of Pixar’s biggest hits, but it’s had staying power with kids who adore Lightning McQueen. Disney has shifted the action away from tiny Radiator Springs to Europe, which should help boost the film’s international box office. The original earned only 47% of its box office overseas.

Larry Crowne

July 1
Unlike most of the movies on our list, Larry Crowne is based on an original idea. Starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, the film tells the story of a man who loses his job and tries to reinvent himself. Despite the big stars, this looks to be a small film, but it is also being directed by Hanks. Many will be watching to see if these older stars can still pull in the kind of audiences they once enjoyed.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

July 1
If there’s one franchise that is almost guaranteed to make money, it’s the Transformers series. The second film scored a terrible 20 out of 100 rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but still brought in $836 million at the global box office. The third film is being shot in 3-D, and word is it looks spectacular. The big loser in the franchise: Megan Fox. The actress was dropped, allegedly due to bad-mouthing director Michael Bay.


July 8
Usually when a movie studio moves a release date, it’s a bad sign. But in the case of Zookeeper, it’s probably a good sign. The Kevin James film was supposed to be released this October, but is now planned to hit theaters in the summer of 2011. James’ last film, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, was a surprise hit, earning $183 million on an estimated budget of $26 million.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

July 15
The first half of the final Harry Potter story earned $330 million at the global box office in its first weekend in theaters. There’s little doubt that Part 2, where Potter has his final showdown with the evil Voldemort, will do just as well, if not better. The franchise has already earned a whopping $5.7 billion in ticket sales worldwide.

Captain America: The First Avenger

July 22
Studios salivate over the possibility of a superhero franchise like Spider-Man or Iron Man. Captain America is slated to kick off a whole slew of movies, including the much-anticipated The Avengers. That film hits theaters in 2012 and will feature Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Thor, among other Marvel heroes. But the leader of the team is Captain America. If his movie flops, it could make things difficult for planned sequels.