Two of this summer season's tentpoles are not sequels but based on successful pre-existing properties.

Paramount's Transformers is a live-action film from director Michael Bay, based on the robot action toys first introduced in the 1980s but relaunched several times since and brought to both the small screen and big screen in animated form.

Bay's last summer action offering, 2005's The Island, grossed only $35.8m domestically but partially made up for that with a $127.1m international take. Transformers opens in the US for the July 4 Independence Day holiday weekend and goes day-and-date in around 30 international markets. The UK and France will see the film later in July, and Japan in early August for the Obon holiday.

Paramount Pictures International president Andrew Cripps says the Transformers property is well known internationally, 'largely by an older audience, though there's still widespread knowledge among kids'. He adds: 'With the combination of Michael Bay directing, Steven Spielberg producing, (plus) special effects, humour and great characters, it's made for the summer holidays.'

'It's a bigger experience than the TV series'
Fox's animated The Simpsons Movie is based, of course, on the long-running animated TV show, whose adaptation for the big screen has been anticipated by fans for years.

Series creator Matt Groening led the writing team for the movie version, which is directed by David Silverman (who has worked frequently on the series and was co-director of Monsters, Inc) and features the voices of the series' TV regulars.

Though the series is now 18 years old, it is still popular in many markets around the world. Fox executives are confident the movie - which opens in the US on July 27 and day-and-date in 11 of the top 15 international markets - will be enthusiastically received.

'People can't wait,' says Fox International co-president Tomas Jegeus. 'It's a bigger experience than the TV series.' The film will also stand out, Jegeus believes, just by virtue of being one of the season's two big non-sequels.