I'll do my actual predictions in April but here's an early look at some sure hits this summer.
$200 million+ guaranteed.
1. IRON MAN 2 (May 7) - Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark is probably the only superhero who's more interesting when he's not in his suit. Mickey Rourke's Whiplash looks like a worthy opponent, and we can count on more banter between Downey and Gwyneth Paltrow.
2. ECLIPSE (June 30) - The third Twilight movie looks to surely make as much money as the first and could challenge the second one. Although I'm sure some Twihards will be upset that Bryce Dallas Howard replaced Rachelle LeFevre as Veronica.
3. TOY STORY 3-D (June 18) - Been a while since a Pixar title did not earn at least $200 million domestic.
4. INCEPTION (July 16) - The fact that it's Christopher Nolan I think will be enough to propel a huge opening, and then I'd wager word-of-mouth will keep it afloat.
5. SHREK FOREVER AFTER (May 21) - The third one was terrible but that didn't stop it from grossing a ton.
$100 million+ guaranteed
6. ROBIN HOOD (May 14) - Russell Crowe isn't the most reliable opener, but this period actioner made to look just like a Gladiator sequel ought to do the trick.
7. PRINCE OF PERSIA: SANDS OF TIME (May 28) - Jake Gyllenhaal doesn't scream to me "Action Hero" but Jerry Bruckheimer really seems to know what he's doing. The special effects look through the roof.
8. SEX & THE CITY 2 (May 28) - Chick flick for women 35 and older to tide them over until Eclipse arrives so they can lust over the now-legal Taylor Lautner.
9. KNIGHT & DAY (July 2) - Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz might be able to have the on-screen chemistry to make a project like this float. I still believe in Cruise.
10. DESPICABLE ME (July 9) - Animation still brings in the big bucks. Looks like this summer's Kung Fu Panda.
11. THE OTHER GUYS (August 6) - Will Ferrell's hit-or-miss, but this just seems like a hit permise to me, with him and Mark Wahlberg as two mediocre cops at a precinct tired of getting outshined by the two star detectives (Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson).
* THE A-TEAM (June 11) - I think the trailer looks cool, it seems primed for at least a $30 million opening, but could quickly sink if it isn't at least halfway fun. Liam Neeson (Taken), Bradley Cooper (The Hangover), and Sharlto Copley (District 9) have all earned good enough karma to share a hit here. This is one where I really hope it's good.
* THE EXPENDABLES (August 13) - Sylvester Stallone brings back a dirty dozen of action icons in one mish-mash of a movie. Could be fun. Should be fun. But has Dolph Lundgren's actually improved his acting skills?
* THE SORCEROR'S APPRENTICE (July 16) - Nicolas Cage and Jerry Bruckheimer united to make National Treasure a billion-dollar franchise, so why couldn't they strike gold with something else?
Other big titles coming this summer:
GROWN UPS - Adam Sandler, Kevin James, and Chris Rock get together for a more conventional-looking comedy than Sandler's cancer misfire last year. I thought the preview was kinda lame. But if Kevin James can make Paul Blart a big hit, well...
KILLERS - A Katherine Heigl flick, and she's had pretty good luck with the box-office. Here she marries a guy who turns out to be an assassin. The downside is her husband is Ashton Kutcher, who doesn't really strike me as a box-office draw, but then, Heigl doesn't really need an A-list male co-star.
MORNING GLORY - What if Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira secretly hated each other but had underlying sexual tension? This comedy is about a morning news team (Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton) who charm in front of cameras but can't stand each other when they're off camera, and they're driving their producer (Rachel McAdams) crazy. I'm hoping this is a Working Girl-esque comedy.
THE LAST AIRBENDER (July 2) - There hasn't been too many good live-action translations of Japanese manga (Dragonball Evolution, anyone?) but M. Night Shaymalan still has some goodwill, and maybe by getting of the thriller genre he can revitalize his career.
THE KARATE KID (June 11) - This is one remake I did not want to happen. Jaden Smith is Daniel-san and Jackie Chan is Mr. Miyagi. But what else is Chan going to do? Rush Hour 4?
MARMADUKE (June 4) - Does anyone read newspaper comic strips anymore? I don't think Baby Blues, Zits and Sherman's Lagoon have the same cultural significance today that Bloom County, Calvin & Hobbes and The Far Side did twenty years ago. Anyways, I'm about as excited for this as I would be for a live-action Heathcliff or Family Circus.
MacGRUBER (May 21) - Couter-programming with Will Forte trying to turn his 15-second sketch character into a 90-minute action icon. Been a while since an SNL character made a successful big-screen translation. For every Wayne's World, there's an It's Pat!
PREDATORS (July 9) - Robert Rodriguez produces this attempt to reboot the Predator now that he's no longer versus the Alien. The off-beat casting (Adrien Brody, Topher Grace) is what mostly intrigues me about this sequel.
JONAH HEX (June 18) - Josh Brolin slings his guns.
SALT (July 23) - Angelina Jolie slings her guns.
RAMONA & BEEZUS (July 23) - Beverly Cleary's creations finally hit the big-screen.
LETTER FROM JULIET (May 14) - I'm not going to underestimate Amanda Seyfried at this point, with her in this Nicolas Sparks-looking weepie.
Also, JUST WRIGHT (May 14), DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS (July 9), GET HIM TO THE GREEK (June 4), THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (July 30), BEASTLY (July 30), STEP UP 3 (August 6), EAT PRAY LOVE (August 13), SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (August 13), GOING THE DISTANCE (August 20), NANNY MCPHEE 2 (August 20) and PIRANHA 3-D (August 27.