1. Superman Returns
(June 30) It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…a movie that appeals to both 8-year-olds and their 80-year-old grandparents! Unless Bryan Singer’s new take on the Man of Steel is a stiff critical disappointment, this is the film to beat. Projected tally $300 million.
2. Mission: Impossible III
(May 5) Cruise burnout may keep some would-be fans away, but considering M:I-2 ($215 million) improved almost 20 percent over its predecessor, M:I-3 could be thrice as nice. Projected tally $260 million.
3. X-Men: The Last Stand
(May 26) Another franchise that’s performed better with age, this comic-book clan lost its director (Singer, who sided with Superman instead) but quickly gained another (Rush Hour‘s Brett Ratner). Despite some negative buzz, action-hungry fans will come in droves. Projected tally $240 million.
(June 9) Family films always clean up in the summertime. Pixar’s latest entry won’t top The Incredibles‘ $261 million, but it’ll still bring in as many NASCAR crazies as screaming kids. Projected tally $235 million.
5. The Da Vinci Code
(May 19) Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, and some book you may have heard of. Hey, any summer with two Ian McKellen movies in the top five is fine by us. Projected tally $225 million.
6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
(July 7) Here’s a sequel that may have a hard time topping the $305 million gross of the movie that came before it. Johnny Depp’s Keith Richards impersonation runs the risk of becoming a little stale. Projected tally $200 million.
7. Over the Hedge
(May 19) DreamWorks is pushing the ”from the creators of Shrek” thing, even though all it has in common with the popular ogre is the studio. But with a clever, high-energy trailer and stellar voice cast (Bruce Willis, Steve Carell), kids will wish for this more than a trip to the zoo. Projected tally $175 million.
(May 12) Much as The Day After Tomorrow played fourth fiddle to Shrek, Spider-Man, and Harry Potter in 2004 yet ended up a major hit, this waterlogged disaster remake will draw its own fans — plus those shut out of M:I-3. Projected tally $140 million.
9. The Break-Up
(June 2) After the early-summer action onslaught, lovebirds will be dying for some romance. Though Jennifer Aniston isn’t a proven box office star yet, her boyfriend (Vince Vaughn) is. And thanks to him, guys won’t mind being dragged. As much. Projected tally $120 million.
10. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
(Aug. 4) The last two summers, the No. 10 films were Dodgeball and The 40 Year-Old Virgin. If history is any indication, this potentially inspired Will Ferrell race-car comedy (just saying ”Ricky Bobby” makes us giggle) could end up in the winner’s circle. Projected tally $115 million.
YOU, ME AND DUPREE
(July 14) Or, How to Crash Mary’s Wedding in 10 Days. Sure, smashing up the stars of Wedding Crashers (Owen Wilson), How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (Kate Hudson), and There’s Something About Mary (Matt Dillon) might seem a bit desperate. But hey, there’s a reason those movies were huge hits. If the humor delivers, this comedy could have the best legs of the season.