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Summer’s Hottest Flicks
From the moment the first frame of celluloid began rolling more than 100 years ago in Los Angeles, Hollywood became known as the illusion factory.
Five years ago Hollywood decided to work magic on the seasons, turning spring into summer.
Five years ago, Universal took a gamble when it decided to release its $120-million US special effects adventure The Mummy in the first week of May, a full month before the other potential summer blockbusters were scheduled to unspool.
The plan worked with The Mummy grossing a whopping $426 million worldwide.
The summer of 2004 began with the release of Universal’s Van Helsing the $200-million special effects romp from Stephen Sommers, the man who exhumed the mummy.
This weekend, Brad Pitt and hordes of Greek and Trojan soldiers are poised to end Van Helsing’s short reign as box-office king and begin a summer domino effect.
Each week a new potential blockbuster backed by a massive advertising campaign will most likely dethrone the ruling champ.
Troy will have to stave off that jolliest of green giants in Shrek 2 which, in turn, will do battle with Harry Potter and his wizard friends in their third adventure Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a stranded Tom Hanks in Terminal, a leather-clad Halle Berry in Catwoman and Tom Cruise as a villain in the thriller Collateral.
MAY 19
* SHREK 2: If the hired assassin Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) has his way, marriage won’t be bliss for Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz). Julie Andrews and John Cleese make cameo appearances as Fiona’s parents and Rupert Everett is a scheming Prince Charming.
MAY 28
* THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW: Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal battle to save Earth from the effects of global warming when a tidal wave hits New York, tornados ravage Los Angeles and hail pummels Tokyo.
* SOUL PLANE: Rapper Snoop Dogg is in the pilot’s seat.
* RAISING HELEN: Socialite Kate Hudson gets a rude awakening when her sister dies leaving her to raise three kids.
* SAVED!: Jenna Malone discovers that her classmates at a Christian high school are not about to forgive her when she becomes pregnant.
* HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN: Gary Oldman as infamous murderer Sirius Black is the latest villain that aspiring wizards Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) must do battle with.
* GARFIELD: Bill Murray gives voice to that sly, overweight, comic strip feline for his big-screen adventure.
* THE STEPFORD WIVES: Nicole Kidman discovers that her hubby Matthew Broderick is planning to have her programmed into a perfect subservient wife.
* THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK: Thandie Newton and Judi Dench join Vin Diesel in this galactic battle between the Necromongers and the Elementals.
* AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS: Jules Verne’s intrepid duo inventor Phileas Fogg tries to circumnavigate the world in 80 days.
* THE TERMINAL: Tom Hanks plays an immigrant who finds himself stranded in an airport when his country ceases to exist. Catherine Zeta-Jones is the stewardess who becomes the love of his life whenever she touches down.
* DODGEBALL: A TRUE UNDERDOG STORY: Vince Vaughn and his dodgeball team defend their turf when the evil Ben Stiller’s gang tries to muscle in.
* WHITE CHICKS: Shawn and Marlon Wayans are a pair of FBI agents who must disguise themselves as white women to protect a pair of hotel heiresses.
* THE DOOR IN THE FLOOR: Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger try to cope with the death of their teenage sons in a freak car accident.
* TWO BROTHERS: A live-action adventure from Jean-Jacques Annaud who directed The Bear follows a pair of tiger cubs separated as infants who find each other a year later.
* THE NOTEBOOK: James Garner plays a retired salesman who visits a woman suffering from Alzheimer and reads to her from her diary bringing those memories to life for the audience.
* DE-LOVELY: Kevin Kline plays American composer Cole Porter and Ashley Judd is his wife in this musical.
* SPIDER-MAN 2: The action picks up two years after Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) vanquished the Green Goblin and already he has to protect lady love Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) from the villainous Doc Ock (Alfred Molina).
* THE CLEARING: A businessman (Robert Redford) is kidnapped by one of his disgruntled employees (Willem Dafoe) and must wait for his wife (Helen Mirren) to follow clues to rescue him.
* KING ARTHUR: Clive Owen is King Arthur, Keira Knightly is Queen Guinevere and Ioan Gruffudd is Lancelot in Jerry Bruckheimer’s re-telling of the famous Arthurian legend of a king who unites a kingdom but loses his lady love.
* ANCHORMAN: Will Ferrell is a popular anchorman who will do anything to thwart the career of his arch-rival Christina Applegate.
* SLEEPOVER: Four teen girls challenge their school’s most popular quartet to an all-night scavenger hunt.
JULY 16:
* I, ROBOT: Call this one Planet of the Machines as futuristic policeman Will Smith is out to prove robots are plotting to take over the world.
* A CINDERELLA STORY: Jennifer Coolidge is the evil stepmother who tries to prevent Hilary Duff from getting a date with a princely guy at her California high school.
* THE BOURNE SUPREMACY: Matt Damon returns as the spy whose bouts of amnesia make him prey to all his former enemies.
* CATWOMAN: By day Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) works as a graphic artist in a cosmetic factory. By night she’s the leather-clad crime-fighter Catwoman.
JULY 30:
* THE VILLAGE: Joaquin Phoenix and Sigourney Weaver star in the thriller from M. Night Shyamalan about a village in 19th century Pennsylvania whose adjacent forest is home to a race of creatures.
* THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: Denzel Washington takes over the Frank Sinatra role about soldiers who unwittingly have become programmed assassins.
AUG. 6:
* COLLATERAL: In this Michael Mann thriller, Tom Cruise plays an assassin sent to New York to kill five witnesses of a major drug deal.
* THUNDERBIRDS: Bill Paxton and Ben Kingsley give life to the heroes and villains of the animated 1960s British TV series come to life.
* AT HOME AT THE END OF THE WORLD: Colin Ferrell and Dallas Roberts are childhood friends who reunite in New York when they are both attracted to the free-spirited Robin Wright Penn.
AUG. 11:
* THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT: In this sequel to the 2002 hit, Anne Hathaway, now a queen, has two prince charmings to choose from.
AUG. 13:
* ALIEN VS PREDATOR: Earth becomes the battleground for two galactic monsters who are long-time foes.
AUG. 20:
* WITHOUT A PADDLE: A comic spin on Deliverance as buddies Seth Green and Matthew Lliard meet mountain man Burt Reynolds as they all search for buried treasure.
* EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING: In this much-delayed, much-revamped sequel to the 1973 horror classic, Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgaard) unleashes Satan while doing missionary work in Africa.
AUG. 27:
* ANACONDA: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD RED ORCHID: A group of scientists in the jungles of Borneo encounter a very hungry giant snake.