Screen previews 30 studio tentpole pictures that hope to dominate screen space across the world in 2012.

Release details given are US dates, some preliminary.

The Dark Knight Rises


Warner Bros; July 20

Christopher Nolan delivers the finale of his Batman trilogy which he is shooting using Imax cameras more extensively than he did on The Dark Knight. Trilogy regulars Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman return, joined by Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Tom Hardy as Bane, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The Dark Knight grossed more than $1bn. The bets are on this movie will top that.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Warner Bros/New Line, MGM; Dec 14

Peter Jackson is back with his eagerly awaited first part of JRR Tolkien’s Hobbit saga which takes place about 60 years before The Lord Of The Rings. Martin Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins, recruited by Gandalf the Grey to join 13 dwarves on a quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. The spectacular epic brings back LOTR stalwarts Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood and Andy Serkis as well as newcomers Stephen Fry, Mikael Persbrandt, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly and Lee Pace.

The Avengers

Disney/Marvel Studios; May 4

Having built up a celluloid universe with two Iron Man films, an Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Thor, Marvel Studios brings all the characters together for a gigantic Joss Whedon-directed superhero opus budgeted in the $250m range. Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) are the heroes alongside Samuel L Jackson (Nick Fury), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), who work for peacekeeping organisation SHIELD. The first five Avengers movies have grossed $2.3bn worldwide.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2

Summit Entertainment; Nov 16

Part 1 has so far grossed more than $650m worldwide, still $60m short of the series’ biggest grosser New Moon, but still in theatres. Part 2, which concludes the five-film series, should comfortably equal that and move the total worldwide gross for the series past the $3bn mark. Stewart, Pattinson, Lautner et al return for the finale in which Bella gets used to vampire life with her new baby.


Sony Pictures/MGM; Nov 9

With MGM’s financial woes resolved for now, the 23rd James Bond film finally went into production this year and is set for a 2012 holiday release. Sam Mendes makes his debut as action director with Daniel Craig back for his third outing as 007 and a glittery supporting cast including Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Albert Finney and Bérénice Marlohe. Bearing in mind Quantum Of Solace grossed $586m, expectations for Skyfall are sky-high.

The Hunger Games

Lionsgate; March 23

Lionsgate’s attempt to replicate Summit’s success with The Twilight Saga is a potential three-film arc based on the bestselling young adult books by Suzanne Collins. Gary Ross directs the first film and Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen, a girl in the future who volunteers to take part in the annual Hunger Games in which teenagers battle to the death on live TV. The cast includes Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Wes Bentley and Lenny Kravitz.

Ice Age: Continental Drift

20th Century Fox; July 13

In box-office terms, the three Ice Age films are among the most profitable films of all time. The first one took $383m in 2002, the second one took $655m in 2006 and the third one took a mind-blowing $866m in 2009. The fourth one sees Manny, Diego and Sid set adrift on their continent after a cataclysmic flood. To be released in 3D, it cannot fail to be one of the year’s biggest films.

Men In Black 3

Sony Pictures; May 25

Ten years after Men In Black 2, the three principals — director Barry Levinson and stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones — return for the third instalment of the sci-fi comedy in which Smith travels back in time to confront young Agent K (Josh Brolin plays the younger Jones). Sony is tapping into the network of all its companies to keep the film in the public eye for the next five months.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Sony Pictures; July 3

Six weeks after Men In Black 3, Sony’s second reboot of the summer arrives, just 10 years after the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire Spider-Man was released, spawning two sequels. This edgier version starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone and directed by Marc Webb has gone down so well with the studio that a sequel has already been dated for May 2, 2014.

John Carter

Disney; March 9

With a budget estimated in the $250m range, Disney has a lot riding on the success of Oscar winner Andrew Stanton’s first live-action film, a lavish science-fiction adventure starring Taylor Kitsch as the Edgar Rice Burroughs character John Carter, a former Confederate captain transported to Mars. There he gets involved in wars between the peoples of the planet who include Willem Dafoe, Lynn Collins, Bryan Cranston, Mark Strong, Thomas Haden Church, Dominic West and Samantha Morton.


20th Century Fox; June 8

Ridley Scott returns to the Alien universe which made him a superstar director with Prometheus, a prequel of sorts to the blockbusting quadrilogy about a team of explorers who discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth. Eagerly awaited by fanboys and with Fox shrouding the entire project in secrecy, it is one of the buzziest films of the summer — and its cast is sexy as hell as well: Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Patrick Wilson, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce.

Dark Shadows

Warner Bros; May 11

The supernatural soap opera which ran on ABC from 1966-71 gets a lavish movie make-over courtesy of Tim Burton. Set in the early 1970s, it features Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, a vampire who wakes up from a sleep of two centuries to find his family as dysfunctional as ever. Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jonny Lee Miller and Chloe Grace Moretz round out the cast of another Burton and Depp collaboration which is bound to set alight the box office.

World War Z

Paramount Pictures; Dec 21

A gigantic film of Max Brooks’ apocalyptic horror novel about the great war between zombies and humans, directed by Marc Forster and starring Brad Pitt as the United Nations representative Gerry Lane who interviews survivors and hears their tales of the war. Shot in the UK, Malta and Hungary, the movie co-stars Eric West, Mireille Enos and Matthew Fox.


Universal Pictures; May 18

Universal attempts to repeat the success Paramount had with its Hasbro spinoff Transformers with this movie based on the naval combat game in which the planet fights for survival against an alien force. Two spectacular trailers have already generated plenty of buzz. Peter Berg directs the large cast, which includes Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna and Liam Neeson.

Jack The Giant Killer

Warner Bros; June 15

Young farmhand Jack (Nicholas Hoult) opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants in Bryan Singer’s lavish reimagining of the fairy tale. Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Stanley Tucci, Warwick Davis and Ewen Bremner round out the cast.

Wrath Of The Titans

Warner Bros; March 30

Perseus is caught up in another battle between the Gods, as this time he must rescue Zeus from Ares and Hades, who have kidnapped and imprisoned him in the underworld. An inevitable sequel to the critically mauled 2010 blockbuster which grossed $493m worldwide. This time Jonathan Liebesman (Battle Los Angeles) directs. Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes return, with new cast members including Edgar Ramirez, Bill Nighy and Rosamund Pike.

The Bourne Legacy

Universal Pictures; Aug 3

Universal has been keeping the story of its fourth Bourne movie under wraps. Jason Bourne will not appear in the film, which picks up a new story emerging from the Treadstone conspiracy of the first three films. Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton play the leads in the film, with Joan Allen and Scott Glenn reprising their roles from the previous films. Tony Gilroy directs (Michael Clayton, Duplicity).

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

DreamWorks Animation/Paramount Pictures; June 8

The third in DreamWorks Animation’s blockbusting franchise sees the animals from the first two films stranded in Europe and joining a circus to get home to New York. Evolving into one of the biggest animated franchises in box-office history, the first two films grossed $1.1bn between them.


Pixar/Disney; June 22

The first original from Pixar Animation Studios since Up in 2009, Brave is directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and is set in Scotland. Kelly Macdonald voices the young heroine Merida, a princess who has to reverse a deadly curse she has inadvertently unleashed in the kingdom. The voice cast includes Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Emma Thompson and Robbie Coltrane.

47 Ronin

Universal Pictures, Nov 21

Acclaimed commercials director Carl Erik Rinsch makes his feature directorial debut with Universal’s massive 3D remake of the Japanese action classic reported to have a budget in the $200m range. Keanu Reeves leads a cast of Japanese stalwarts including Hiroyuki Sanada, Asano Tadanobu and Rinko Kikuchi.

Gangster Squad

Warner Bros; Oct 19

Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer directs this crime saga set in 1949 Los Angeles in which Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling play two LAPD cops facing off against mob king Mickey Cohen, played by Sean Penn. Red-hot Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi and Nick Nolte co-star.


Warner Bros; Nov 21

It has been seven years since Alfonso Cuaron unleashed Children Of Men, so anticipation is high for his big-budget sci-fi epic, which his friend Guillermo del Toro has said will be “mindblowing”. Sandra Bullock plays “a brilliant medical engineer” on her first space mission who ends up tethered to a veteran astronaut (George Clooney) and free-floating in space when the shuttle explodes.

Snow White And The Huntsman

Universal Pictures; June 21

Commercials director and visual-design artist Rupert Sanders directs this action fantasy based around the Snow White legend. It may come out after the campy Relativity version starring Julia Roberts and Nathan Lane, but this film is a different proposition with Chris Hemsworth as the huntsman who trains Snow White (Kristen Stewart) in the art of war. Charlize Theron is the evil queen, Sam Claflin the young prince.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

20th Century Fox; June 22

Russian visionary Timur Bekmambetov follows Wanted with a large-scale adaptation of Seth Grahame Smith’s 2010 novel which re-imagines American history as a battle between the forces of good led by Lincoln and a secret army of vampires and their slave-owning friends. Benjamin Walker plays Lincoln, with Dominic Cooper, Rufus Sewell and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in support.

Rock Of Ages

Warner Bros/New Line; June 1

The film adaptation of the Broadway musical smash featuring Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough as two kids pursuing their dreams in Hollywood who meet and fall in love. Adam Shankman — whose hits include Hairspray, Bringing Down The House and Bedtime Stories, —directs the rock ’n roll romance with a cast including Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, Mary J Blige, Bryan Cranston and, as rocker Stacee Jaxx, Tom Cruise.

Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters

Paramount Pictures/MGM; March 2

With Red Riding Hood out last year and two Snow Whites this year, it was just a matter of time before Hansel And Gretel got a new screen treatment, only this time it is an action comedy in which they have grown into bounty hunters dedicated to exterminating witches. Directed by Norway’s Tommy Wirkola, who made the memorable Nazi zombie movie Dead Snow, the film was shot in Germany and stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton in the title roles, with Famke Janssen as the inevitable evil witch.


20th Century Fox; Feb 3

Scripted by Max Landis, the son of John Landis, Chronicle is a no-star effects movie in the found-footage vein of (and with a similar release date to) Cloverfield. Definitely possessing the potential to take off at the box office, the movie follows three high school students in documentary style as they develop and harness superpowers.

Dr Seuss’ The Lorax

Universal Pictures; March 2

The second fully animated CG feature for Universal from Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me), The Lorax follows a young boy and his adventures with the grumpy forest creature of the title. Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron and Taylor Swift head the voice cast; directors are Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda.


Universal Pictures; July 13

Seth MacFarlane, the genius behind TV hit Family Guy, comes to the big screen with this live-action/CGI blend in which he voices the teddy bear that came alive as the result of a childhood wish. Mark Wahlberg plays the adult man who cannot shake off Ted, with Mila Kunis and Patrick Warburton also in the cast.

The Five-Year Engagement

Universal Pictures; April 27

Nicholas Stoller reunites with his Forgetting Sarah Marshall star Jason Segel in another Judd Apatow-produced comedy in which Segel and Emily Blunt play an engaged couple forever tripped up on the way to the altar. Stoller and Segel co-wrote.

Star vehicles

Sylvester Stallone Bullet To The Head (April 13)

Jason Statham Safe (April 27); Parker (Oct 12)

Eddie Murphy A Thousand Words (March 23)

Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds Safe House (Feb 10)

Adam Sandler I Hate You, Dad (June 15)

Sacha Baron Cohen The Dictator (May 11)

Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn Neighbourhood Watch (July 27)

Tyler Perry Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds (Feb 24); Tyler Perry’s The Marriage Counselor (July 27)

Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis Dog Fight (Aug 10)

Kevin James Here Comes The Boom (Oct 12)

Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston Wanderlust (Feb 24)

Gerard Butler Playing The Field (March 9); Of Men And Mavericks (Oct 26); Hunter Killer (Dec 21)

10 more sequels

Underworld Awakening (Screen Gems, Jan 20)

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Warner Bros, Feb 10)

Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance (Sony, Feb 17)

American Reunion (Universal, April 6)

Step Up 4 (Summit, July 27)

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (20th Century Fox, Aug 3)

The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate, Aug 17)

Resident Evil 5 (Screen Gems, Sept 14)

Taken 2 (20th Century Fox, Oct 5)

Piranha 3DD (Dimension, TBD)


Total Recall (Sony, Aug 3)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D (Lionsgate, Oct 5)

Halloween 3D (Dimension, Oct 26)

Red Dawn (FilmDistrict, Nov 2)

The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes (Dimension, TBD)

10 more tentpoles

21 Jump Street Sony Pictures; March 16

Hotel Transylvania (animated) Sony Pictures; Sept 21

Frankenweenie (animated) Disney; Oct 5

GI Joe: Retaliation Paramount; June 29

Mirror Mirror Relativity Media, March 16

Ouija Universal; Nov 9

The Pirates! Band Of Misfits (animated) Sony Pictures/Aardman; March 30

Rise Of The Guardians (animated) DreamWorks Animation/Paramount; Nov 21

This Means War 20th Century Fox, Feb 17

Wreck-It Ralph (animated) Disney; Nov 2


Beauty And The Beast 3D (Disney, Jan 13)

Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace 3D (20th Century Fox, Feb 10)

Titanic 3D (Paramount, April 6)

Finding Nemo 3D (Disney, Sept 14)