Hollywood's summer of superheroes and sequels, again

Tue May 1, 2012 1:44pm EDT
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - If the summer 2012 movie season were a film in its own right, there can be little doubt it would be a sequel - or a reboot - and in either case, it would likely feature a superhero.

Hollywood's summer season kicks off on Friday with the release of "The Avengers" and as with recent years, the four-month period is dominated by superheroes, sequels and franchise reboots featuring epic battles between good and evil.

Sound like something audiences have seen before? It is, and for good reason in the minds of major studio executives.

With the summer season generating as much as 40 percent of the annual domestic box office, the pressure is on to lure core audiences of mostly young men to theaters, and superhero films, sequels and reboots most often do exactly that.

Movies based on characters and stories that are well-known, such as those in comic books ("The Avengers" and "The Amazing Spider-Man"), or games ("Battleship"), film sequels ("Men in Black 3"), remakes ("Total Recall") and best-selling books ("What To Expect When You're Expecting") reach audiences of built-in fans that typically turn out in droves.

Book-to-film titles like "The Hunger Games" and "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" already have helped push movie ticket sales up 14 percent this year to $3.3 billion. Theater attendance is up 17 percent giving box office watchers reason to think the summer will top last year's $4.4 billion in seasonal revenues.

"With the attendance increase, more moviegoers have been exposed to the trailers of the upcoming summer movies so there is more awareness," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office division of Hollywood.com.

"Then to have the gold standard of the superhero world on top of a new 'Men in Black,' 'Battleship' and a new Pixar movie among other things, we could be looking at the first $4.5 billion summer," he added.   Continued...

Actresses Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston are shown in a scene from the film "Sparkle" in this publicity photo released to Reuters May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Alicia Gbur/TriStar Pictures/Handout