The global economy may be in dire straits, but movie studios are releasing a flood of new movies for the summer season. The summer movie season begins earlier and earlier each year. This year, it’s an April start:
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE – Hugh Jackman reprises the title role for a prequel charting the character’s formative experiences.
GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST – Matthew McConaughey plays a committed bachelor haunted by memories of past affairs in this romantic comedy with Jennifer Garner and Michael Douglas.
HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE – As Hannah’s popularity soars, her alter ego Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) gets a perspective from her father (Billy Ray Cyrus) on what’s really important in life.
HELEN – In Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy’s psychological thriller, a young loner (Annie Townsend) participates in a police reconstruction to help find a missing student.
IS ANYBODY THERE? – Irish director John Crowley’s drama set in the 1980s features Michael Caine as a magician reluctantly moving into a residence for the elderly.
BLUE EYELIDS/PARPADOS AZULES – Award-winning Mexican movie in which a shy, lonely woman (Cecilia Suárez) has to find a companion when she wins the raffle prize of a trip for two to a beach resort.
CHÉRI – A vain young man (Rupert Friend) falls for an older woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) in this Colette story set in 1920s Paris and directed by Stephen Frears.
CORALINE – In Henry Selick’s animated 3D movie of Neil Gaiman’s novel, a bored 11-year-old girl (Dakota Fanning) discovers an exciting alternative universe.
O’HORTEN – A retired train engineer gets a new lease of life in Bent Hamer’s quirky Norwegian comedy.
STAR TREK – JJ Abrams directs the prequel following the young crew of the USS Enterprise on its maiden voyage. With Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg and Eric Bana.
ANGELS & DEMONS – The Da Vinci Code was such a commercial success that Tom Hanks returns as symbologist Robert Langdon and reunites with director Ron Howard for another Dan Brown adaptation.
FIGHTING – Channing Tatum gets his fists up as a petty criminal recruited for underground bare-knuckle brawls by a con man (Terrence Howard).
SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK – Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a theatre director with ever-increasing intimations of his own mortality in the first feature directed by Being John Malkovich screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 2 – The security guard played by Ben Stiller encounters various historical characters at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
AWAYDAYS – A chance encounter at an Echo and the Bunnyman gig in late 1970s Liverpool draws a bored young man (Nigel Bell) into a gang of violent football hooligans.
EVERLASTING MOMENTS – Jan Troell’s compelling Swedish marital drama is set among a struggling family in early 20th century Malmo.
THE MARK OF AN ANGEL/L’EMPREINTE DE L’ANGE – In this factually-based French psychological thriller, a divorced woman (Catherine Frot) suspects the daughter of a neighbour (Sandrine Bonnaire) is her own child.
TORMENTED – A bullied, asthmatic English schoolboy (Calvin Dean) returns from the dead to wreak vengeance on his oppressors.
DRAG ME TO HELL – In Sam Raimi’s horror-thriller, a bank official (Alison Lohman) is cursed when she refuses a loan to an elderly woman facing eviction. With Justin Long.
12 ROUNDS – Wrestler John Cena plays a detective whose girlfriend (Ashley Scott) is kidnapped by a criminal (Irish actor Aidan Gillen) in Renny Harlin’s thriller.
LA FILLE COUPÉE EN DEUX/A GIRL CUT IN TWO – Veteran director Claude Chabrol’s black-humoured drama is set in Lyon where an impetuous heir (Benoît Magimel) and a much older author (François Berléand) vie for a young TV weather forecaster (Ludivine Sagnier).
FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN – ulia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds, Emily Watson, Carrie-Anne Moss and Willem Dafoe feature in a drama hinged on the gathering of a family who happen to be dysfunctional.
FUGITIVE PIECES – A university lecturer (Stephen Dillane) struggles to come to terms with traumatic childhood experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland. Jeremy Podeswa directs.
JONAS BROTHERS: THE 3D CONCERT EXPERIENCE – Sibling stars Kevin, Joe and Nick are followed on and off the stage during their 2008 Burning Up tour.
MANAGEMENT – Jennifer Aniston plays an art dealer trying to shake off an amorous motel manager (Steve Zahn) and tempted to return to her yoghurt mogul ex-lover (Woody Harrelson).
OBSESSED – Life seems idyllic for a successful businessman (Idris Alba from The Wire ) and his wife (Beyoncé Knowles) until he hires a temp (Ali Larter from Heroes ) who stalks him.
SLEEP FURIOUSLY – Gideon Kopple’s documentary observes life in the Welsh hill-farming community where his refugee parents made their home.
TERMINATOR: SALVATION – Christian Bale became notorious for his on-set tantrums when he took on the role of John Connor for the fourth film in the franchise, which is set in post-apocalypse 2018. Director McG ladles on the CGI effects.
ANYTHING FOR HER/POUR ELLE – French drama featuring Diane Kruger as a woman jailed for a brutal murder and Vincent Lindon as her teacher husband who tries to free her.
LAST CHANCE HARVEY – In London for his daughter’s wedding, a jingles composer (Dustin Hoffman) falls for a prickly but lonely Englishwoman (Emma Thompson) in what has been described as "the Before Sunrise for the over-45 set".
LION’S DEN – Pablo Trapero’s Argentine drama features Martina Gusman as a pregnant student sent to a prison housing mothers and expectant mothers.
SUGAR – Writer-directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden follow Half Nelson with a film of a Dominican Republic pitcher (Algenis Pérez Soto) signed by an Iowa baseball team.
BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE – A plucky teen vampire (Gianna Jun) goes undercover at a US military base in Tokyo to seek out and destroy a demon in disguise.
DOGHOUSE – "The battle of the sexes just got bloody …" is the tagline for this British picture of seven men spending a weekend at a country village that happens to be populated by homicidal women.
FIRED UP! – Comedy yarn in which two high school footballers (Nicholas D’Agosto from Heroes and Eric Christian Olsen from Brothers and Sisters) hatch a plan to spend the summer at a camp for cheerleaders.
THE HANGOVER – The groom goes missing on a Las Vegas stag weekend in this comedy with Bradley Cooper and Heather Graham. A sequel is planned.
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT – The remake of Wes Craven’s 1972 debut movie features Tony Goldwyn and Monica Potter as a couple wreaking revenge on thugs who raped and shot their daughter.
LOOKING FOR ERIC – Ken Loach’s film, which originated in conversations with Eric Cantona, observes a football-loving Manchester postman (Steve Evets) dealing with his chaotic family and a broken heart.
THE DEAD – John Huston’s superb 1987 film is based on a story in James Joyce’s Dubliners and reissued to coincide with Bloomsday. Anjelica Huston and Donal McCann head an outstanding cast.
GIGANTIC – A quirky picture of a mattress salesman (Paul Dano) who longs to adopt a Chinese baby and falls for the insecure daughter (Zooey Deschanel) of a bombastic customer (John Goodman).
KATYN – Veteran Polish director Andrzej Wajda addresses the Soviet slaughter of thousands of Poles in the Katyn forest in 1940.
MISS MARCH – Comedy with Zach Creggar as a student coming out of a four-year coma and finding that his school sweetheart is a Playboy model.
TELSTAR – Actor Nick Moran turns writer-director with a biopic featuring Con O’Neill as pioneering but emotionally troubled 1960s UK record producer Joe Meek. The cast includes Kevin Spacey, Ralf Little, James Corden and former Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins.
RED CLIFF – John Woo’s Chinese war epic is set in 208 AD. The second half follows later this year.
YEAR ONE – Harold Ramis ( Groundhog Day ) directs an Old Testament comedy pairing Jack Black and Michael Cera as hunters encountering Biblical figures.
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN – Shia LaBoeuf is back as Sam Witwicky, heroically battling to save humankind from the wicked forces of Decepticon.
MY SISTER’S KEEPER – Cameron Diaz plays a lawyer defending herself when her teen daughter (Abigail Breslin) sues for emancipation from her parents.
THE PRIVATE LIVES OF PIPPA LEE – Robin Wright Penn portrays a woman facing upheaval in her life after she turns 50 in Rebecca Miller’s film. With Keanu Reeves, Julianne Moore, Winona Ryder, Alan Arkin and Monica Bellucci.
RUDO Y CURSI – Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna are reunited eight years after Y Tu Mamá También as Mexican half-brothers working as banana pickers when they get a shot at realising their dreams of becoming professional footballers.
ICE AGE 3: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS – The hit computer-animated adventure series continues.
HORSEMEN – A widower forensics expert (Dennis Quaid) investigates perverse serial killings with a Biblical link to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
PUBLIC ENEMIES – Michael Mann’s gangster drama features Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, who was killed outside a Chicago cinema in 1934, with Marion Cotillard as his lover and Christian Bale as a dogged FBI agent.
BRUNO – The full title of the irreverent comedy starring Sacha Baron Cohen as a gay Austrian fashion journalist is Bruno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt .
FROZEN RIVER – Courtney Hunt’s drama received Oscar nominations this year for best actress (Melissa Leo) and best original screenplay. Leo and Misty Upham play impoverished single mothers who smuggle illegal immigrants into the US.
35 SHOTS OF RUM – French director Claire Denis is on mellow form with her tender, low-key picture observing the relationships between disparate neighbours in a suburban Paris apartment building.
ADVENTURELAND – In Superbad director Greg Mottola’s 1987-set serious comedy, family finance problems force a college graduate (Jesse Eisenberg) to take a lowly job at an amusement park.
COCO BEFORE CHANEL/COCO AVANT CHANEL – Anne Fontaine’s film follows the early life of Coco Chanel (played by Amélie star Audrey Tautou).
DOGGING: A LOVE STORY – A young Englishman (Luke Treadaway) goes looking for love in "an outrageous comic tale".
HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE – Back to school at Hogwarts with the regular cast for the movie of the sixth and penultimate novel in JK Rowling’s series.
JOHNNY MAD DOG – Set in an unnamed African country (it was shot in Liberia), Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s contemporary war movie deals with child soldiers on a murderous rampage to overthrow the government.
WIDE OPEN SPACES – Ardal O’Hanlon and Ewan Bremner co-star as thirtysomething slackers working on a Famine theme park in a comedy shot on Kildare locations, written by Arthur Matthews ( Father Ted ) and directed by Tom Hall ( Bachelors Walk ).
THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123 – Tony Scott is at the helm for the remake of the cracking 1974 thriller which pits a New York subway dispatcher (Denzel Washington in the Walter Matthau role) against a train hijacker (John Travolta taking over from Robert Shaw).
BIRDWATCHERS/LA TERRA DEGLI UOMINI ROSSI – Director Marco Behis explores the plight of present-day Guarani Indians in an area of Brazil’s Amazonian jungle.
G-FORCE – Jerry Bruckheimer’s 3D production blends live action and animation as talking animal commandos prevent a billionaire megalomaniac (Bill Nighy) from taking over the world.
IMAGINE THAT – Eddie Murphy plays a financial executive whose career is going downhill until he enters his daughter’s imaginary world and finds solutions to his problems.
LAND OF THE LOST – This spin-off from a 1970s TV comedy-adventure series stars Will Ferrell as a has-been scientist sent back to a prehistoric era with his assistant (Anna Friel) and a survivalist (Danny McBride).
PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE: PART ONE – Jean-François Richet’s riveting French thriller is based on the autobiography of reckless gangster Jacques Mesrine, portrayed with chilling conviction by Vincent Cassel. Part two follows on August 14.
GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA – Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Dennis Quaid and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in a hi-tech adventure of an elite military unit taking on the evil Cobra organisation led by a corrupt arms dealer (Christopher Eccleston).
THE PROPOSAL – Romantic comedy with Sandra Bullock as a publishing editor threatened with deportation to Canada and coercing her much out-upon assistant (Ryan Reynolds) into posing as her fiancé. Surely they won’t fall in love?
THEY CAME FROM UPSTAIRS – Young Americans courageously defend their holiday home from aliens.
BANDSLAM – A teen introvert (Gaelan Connell) moves to a new school where he befriends another outsider ( High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens) and is recruited for a battle of the bands competition.
PONYO ON THE CLIFF BY THE SEA – In the new fable from Japanese animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki ( Spirited Away ), a goldfish is drawn to the young boy who finds her. The voice cast includes Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and Liam Neeson.
PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE: PART TWO – The concluding episode arrives two weeks after the first half.
SHORTS – Robert Rodriguez directs a fantasy set in a town of identical houses when a rainbow-coloured rock falls from the sky and grants wishes to anyone who uses it.
THE TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE – The movie of Audrey Niffenegger’s best-seller features Rachel McAdams as the woman in love with a librarian (Eric Bana) whose rare gene anomaly causes him to live on a shifting timeline.
TULPAN – A prize winner at Cannes 2008, Sergei Dvortsevoy’s critically acclaimed Kazakh coming-of-age comedy charts a young nomadic shepherd’s eager attempts to woo a woman who rejects him because of his large ears.
THE UGLY TRUTH – Guess what happens when a TV reporter (Gerard Butler) tries to help his producer (Katherine Heigl) to find true love?
DANCE FLICK – Damon Wayans steps up to spoof the recent cycle of college dance-and-romance movies.
I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER – A geeky student (Paul Rust) publicly declares his love for a popular cheerleader (Hayden Panetierre). She unexpectedly responds.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS – Quentin Tarantino’s wartime adventure set in Nazi-occupied France features Brad Pitt, Mike Myers, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth, BJ Novak and Michael Fassbender.
BROKEN EMBRACES – Pedro Almodóvar reunites with his Volver star Penélope Cruz for a movie he says "touches on many genres", as a thriller and a "four-person love story" shot in film noir style.
FINAL DESTINATION: DEATH TRIP 3D – A teen’s premonition of a multiple racing car crash apparently saves the lives of his friends. Or does it?
FUNNY PEOPLE – Judd Apatow’s dark comedy stars Adam Sandler as a famous comedian who has a near-death experience. With Seth Rogen, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill and Leslie Mann.
A PERFECT GETAWAY – Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn play a couple whose Hawaiian honeymoon is disrupted when they are stalked by killers.