The summer is a time, according to film studio market planners, that the film-going public most like to sit in the dark for a few hours, turn off their brain and watch several hundred millions of pounds of computer generated fireworks. It's a peculiar rationalisation and a suspicious business model, but for decades it has been the one to which producers, studios and cinemas have returned.
Regrettably, Michael Bay, James Cameron and Roland Emmerich have no films due for release this year, and so fans of the full cinematic lobotomy may be disappointed. Fear not, however, as Hollywood has once again provided a wide assortment of superheroes, reboots, re-makes and explosions to drown out the sounds of your fellow patrons slurping cola and grazing upon popcorn - here are five likely to dominate the box office:
Men In Black 3
Some ten years since its disappointing sequel, the film's original stars, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, come back along with Josh Brolin playing Jones' younger self in terminatoresque plot point. Barry Sonnenfield returns as director along with a new writing team headed by the near legendary David Koepp in a film which is hotly tipped to emulate the humour and fun of the original. Regrettably and predictably, it has been shot in 3D.
Ridley Scott is now a director known for his considerable style rather than his substance, but this was not always so, and two of his first films - 'Alien' and 'Blade Runner'- remain by far the best he has ever made. Now Scott returns to the material that brought him to the world's attention with big budget 'Alien' prequel 'Prometheus'. Featuring an all-star cast which includes Noomi Rapace in her first lead role in a major English language film, the film will be shot in 3D, suggesting it will not try to recapture the tone and themes of Scott's former glories. The trailer, however, has been the subject of positive press feedback.
The Amazing Spiderman
A franchise cynically rebooted, a mere five years after Toby Maguire last donned the lycra in the last of Sam Raimi's admirable trilogy. This time Andrew Garfield plays Peter Parker in a retelling of how a young man acquires spider-like abilities and uses them to fight crime. Marc Webb is the director with the unenviable task of taking over from Raimi in his first film since '500 Days of Summer'.
The Dark Night Rises
The third in the series of revered 'Batman' films by Christopher Nolan. This time, Batman will face off against the muscular muffled foe of Bane, played by Tom Hardy. Anne Hathaway joins a team of acting heavyweights as a somewhat improbable Catwoman. It is likely to be another meticulously crafted, sprawling comic book adaptation in the manner of its predecessors, and Hathaway's ability to emulate the spectacular interpretation of the role by Michelle Pfieffer could well be vital to its success.
The Expendables 2
Sylvester Stallone is a man who believes, if you're going to make a big dumb action film, make it bigger, dumber and more active than anyone else's. Certainly the first film went straight for the jugular, and you can expect more of the same from the sequel. Many of the highly self-referential cast return- including Arnold Schwarzenegger out of acting retirement- and will also feature ultra-right-wing karate legend, Chuck Norris. With Simon West now directing, expect every scene turned up to eleven.