Summer Movie Preview Calendar | EW.com

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Summer Movie Preview Calendar

From Harry Potter to Capt. Jack Sparrow, here's your week-to-week guide to all the season's new movies

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THE BEAVER

Starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin
Directed by Jodie Foster
Rated PG-13
Release Date May 6

To prepare for The Beaver, a dramedy about a suicidal man who starts speaking through a beaver puppet on his left hand, Mel Gibson decided to go Method. ”I’d put the puppet on and go to the dry cleaner and stuff,” the star told EW on the set in October 2009. ”The beaver would talk to people: ‘Could you alter my suits?’ The way people would react to it — they don’t know who to look at. They’d wonder if there was a reality TV camera around.” —Benjamin Svetkey


HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN

Starring Rutger Hauer
Directed by Jason Eisener
Rated Not rated
Release Date May 6

This berserkly violent paean to low-budget ’80s actionfests began life in the spring of 2007 when Canadian director Jason Eisener entered a fake-trailer contest set up by Robert Rodriguez to promote Grindhouse. Almost three years after winning, Eisener bagged real-life low-budget ’80s action star Rutger Hauer to play the homeless vigilante in a feature-length version. Eisener hopes the film will beget more hobo Mayhem: ”I’d love to make a trilogy.” Hobo With Two Shotguns, anyone? —Clark Collis


JUMPING THE BROOM

Starring Paula Patton, Angela Bassett
Directed by Salim Akil
Rated PG-13
Release Date May 6

Two headstrong African-American families — one upper-crust, the other working-class — collide at a Martha’s Vineyard wedding in the second producing effort from popular pastor T.D. Jakes (the first was 2009’s Taraji P. Henson starrer Not Easily Broken). ”It’s a really open-minded faith movie,” says Paula Patton (Precious), who plays the cultured bride (the groom is Avatar’s Laz Alonzo). ”You don’t feel hit over the head with it.” While the couple’s battling mothers, Angela Bassett (hers) and Loretta Devine (his), provide the film’s gravitas, many of Jumping the Broom’s laughs come from Modern Family costar Julie Bowen’s silly turn as a racially clueless wedding planner. ”She killed it,” says Patton. ”We were allowed to improv, and she just went nuts. We’d all have to hold our mouths until they yelled ‘Cut.”’ —Dave Karger


SOMETHING BORROWED

Starring Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson
Directed by Luke Greenfield
Rated PG-13
Release Date May 6

A heroine doesn’t usually fall into bed — or in love — with the fiancé of her best friend. But in Something Borrowed, based on Emily Giffin’s 2004 best-seller, audiences will be rooting for the man stealer, Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin), a good-girl singleton who has played second fiddle to the dynamic yet egotistical Darcy (Kate Hudson) since childhood. ”The film poses the question, If it is true love, do all the rules and your moral code go out the window?” says Hudson, who couldn’t resist the challenge of playing prickly Darcy. ”She’s a very fun character. She’s so self-centered but still the life of the party. It lent itself to some good comedic things for me to play.”

To prepare for the shoot, director Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door) watched plenty of female-driven films, such as Beaches. His discovery? ”Women’s friendships are a lot more complicated than guys’,” he says. ”The male version of Something Borrowed would be one page long, and it would have one guy punch the other in the face and say, ‘Dude, don’t f—ing do that again.”’ Now, where’s the fun in that? —Sara Vilkomerson


THOR

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Rated PG-13
Release Date May 6

First off, he’s not really a god. At least, he’s no more of a god than, say, Superman, who also hailed from a remote celestial world populated by high-powered pseudo-humans. But he still has a lot to learn about mortals when he plummets to Earth via a wormhole that links his home planet, Asgard, with ours, after his father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), casts him out for his arrogance and belligerence. (Odin hopes his son will learn humility among the earthlings.) ”It is a kind of coming-of-age story. He has this great gift, this great strength, and pointed in the wrong direction it can be quite destructive,” says star Chris Hemsworth. ”He’s working out his relationship with the rest of the world, as well as what his responsibility is to it.”

Odin also strips Thor of his hammer, the source of his power, and sends it to Earth separately. It remains mystically locked to the ground, giving the plot an Arthurian ”sword in the stone” element. Thor can still throw a mean punch, but until he proves himself worthy of reclaiming his hammer, he remains just a man. That makes him vulnerable both to his malevolent younger brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who’s willing to wipe out Earth to become his father’s sole heir, and to the charms of a comely astrophysicist (Natalie Portman). ”It’s an origin story in a unique fashion,” says Kevin Feige, head of Marvel Studios. ”Thor is a hero who had powers his whole life, didn’t know how — or when — to use them, loses them, and because of that now needs to learn again.” —Anthony Breznican


BRIDESMAIDS

Starring Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Hamm
Directed by Paul Feig
Rated R
Release Date May 13

Though the trailer for Bridesmaids makes it look like the female equivalent of The Hangover, director Paul Feig believes his film occupies territory of its own. ”It’s a new genre that I like to call a ‘sismance,”’ says Feig, who along with Bridesmaids producer Judd Apatow is responsible for the beloved cult series Freaks and Geeks. ”I wish that it was a more elegant word. A ‘galmance’?”

Whatever the term, Bridesmaids is definitely a female-centric story. Kristen Wiig stars as a forever-single failed cake-shop owner whose bond with her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is strained when Lillian gets engaged. ”Her one friend that she had with her throughout being single is getting married,” explains Wiig, who co-wrote the script with Annie Mumolo. ”So she’s feeling not just the loss of that friendship but, What am I supposed to do now? But in a funny way! It’s about losing your friend in a really funny way!”

Luckily, the two stars were already pals from their days on SNL. ”We only overlapped for a short time, but there are those people you instantly click with,” says Wiig of Rudolph. The cast also includes Damages’ Rose Byrne as an uppity bridesmaid, Mike & Molly’s Melissa McCarthy as Lillian’s scene-stealing future sister-in-law, and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm as Wiig’s sleazy on-again, off-again boyfriend. The movie opens with a hilarious montage of Wiig and Hamm in a series of uncomfortable sex positions. ”When we got Hamm on board, we didn’t really even fully have his character fleshed out,” says Wiig. ”Then he showed up and it’s like, ‘Okay, take your clothes off…and we’re doing a sex scene!’ We had so much fun trying to think of ways he could just throw me around.” Sounds like a tough day at the office. —Tim Stack


EVERYTHING MUST GO

Starring Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall
Directed by Dan Rush
Rated R
Release Date May 13

Loosely based on a Raymond Carver short story, the bittersweet comedy Everything Must Go follows a man (Will Ferrell) who comes home one day to find that his wife (who remains unseen in the film) has locked him out of the house and put all his possessions on the front lawn. He decides to transform his predicament into a yard sale and starts to unload all the detritus of his life. ”I can kind of relate,” says Ferrell. ”I’ve got all this stuff from movies that I don’t know what to do with, just boxed in the attic. It sometimes feels like an episode of Hoarders.” —Keith Staskiewicz


PRIEST

Starring Paul Bettany, Lily Collins, Maggie Q
Directed by Scott Stewart
Rated PG-13
Release Date May 13

Set during the aftermath of a human-versus-vampire war, Priest follows a former supersoldier (Paul Bettany) who comes out of retirement to rescue his niece (Lily Collins) from blood-sucking captors. For one scene in the action thriller, Bettany had to don a harness with wires and leap from a motorbike onto a train going 50 miles per hour. ”I thought, ‘This is really cool, f—ing terrifying, and a really weird way to earn your money,”’ says the actor, who also wielded daggers and a handful of ninja throwing stars for the role. ”It was amazing to be involved with a production of that size with that many toys.” —Bryan Lufkin


MIDNIGHT IN PARIS

Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates
Directed by Woody Allen
Rated PG-13
Release Date May 20

Try as we might, we couldn’t get Woody Allen to spill much about the plot of his 42nd film. ”People think I’m being secretive, but it would be like if you bought a book and I told you, ‘Oh, I read that book, here’s what happens,’ ” he says. ”I mean, this isn’t Psycho, where no one will be seated after it starts. It’s just the less you know, the more enjoyable it is.”

Here’s what we could sleuth out: Owen Wilson stars as a writer who travels to the City of Light with his fiancée (Rachel McAdams). During an evening stroll, something enchanting, mystical, and utterly incroyable happens to him. Allen’s the first to admit that Wilson isn’t his typical alter ego. ”He seems like he’d be more natural with a surfboard in his hand,” Allen says. ”I knew I’d have to rewrite the script a bit, but it was worth it. Owen has a real comic flair.”

One thing the writer-director will discuss is his affinity for shooting movies abroad. ”They don’t have a studio system in Europe, and [producers there] don’t fancy themselves as collaborators,” he says. ”They just put up the money. Plus, these are cities that are a real joy to be in for a few months with my family. It’s not like I would make one in the Sudan.” So much for Vicky Cristina Khartoum. —Chris Nashawaty


PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES

Starring Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Geoffrey Rush, Ian McShane
Directed by Rob Marshall
Rated PG-13
Release Date May 20

Those who know the backstory of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now understand that you need to be very brave, or very foolish, to film in a jungle. And Coppola didn’t have to deal with 3-D cameras. ”I couldn’t decide if we were stupid or pioneers,” says director Rob Marshall, who kicked off the production of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in some of Hawaii’s leafier locales before moving to L.A., Puerto Rico, and London. ”But there’s nothing like doing it for real and not being on a stage with a green screen.” Marshall (Chicago) replaces Gore Verbinski, who opted to leave the franchise after directing the first three films. Other fresh faces include Ian McShane, who plays the evil Blackbeard, and Penélope Cruz, who portrays Blackbeard’s daughter, Angelica. There is also a new quest, for the Fountain of Youth — plus zombies and mermaids.

Of course, Johnny Depp returns as Capt. Jack Sparrow, and Keith Richards reprises his role as Jack’s father. ”We needed his character back,” says Depp of Richards. ”That was one of the things I felt very strongly about.” What was it like to hang out with the Rolling Stones legend again? ”It was perfection!” laughs Depp. Marshall relished the chance to work with Richards too. ”I did not expect him to be so funny,” says the director. ”After one take I said, ‘Keith, you’re such a good actor.’ He said, ‘You should see my Hamlet!”’ —Clark Collis


THE HANGOVER PART II

Starring Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong
Directed by Todd Phillips
Rated Not yet rated
Release Date May 26

Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis are accustomed to being put in uncomfortable situations. When you’re a member of the Hangover Wolfpack, a little pain just goes with the territory. During production on the 2009 blockbuster comedy about a Las Vegas bachelor party gone horribly awry, director Todd Phillips wanted to use a real Taser gun on the actors during a scene involving schoolkids in a police station — until Warner Bros. lawyers put the kibosh on the idea. Even so, nothing could have prepared the actors for the punishing experience of filming the Hangover sequel for nearly nine weeks in sweltering, chaotic Bangkok, Thailand. ”We were shooting long f—ing days, sometimes six days a week,” says Helms. ”People would ask, ‘What are you doing on your day off?’ I’d be like, ‘My friends are going to visit this temple, but I’m just going to sleep.”’

When you’re making the follow-up to the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time (worldwide total: $467.5 million), you have to raise the stakes. For Phillips, that meant finding a new locale to equal Las Vegas’ mix of danger and insanity. Hence Bangkok, where mild-mannered dentist Stu (Helms), hunky schoolteacher Phil (Cooper), and eccentric misfit Alan (Galifianakis) end up after reuniting for Stu’s wedding. This time, the epic morning after involves the missing brother (Mason Lee) of Stu’s fiancée; a drug-dealing, cigarette-smoking monkey; and the return of Ken Jeong’s criminal, Mr. Chow. ”I just pictured Stu, Alan, and Phil walking down a street in Bangkok with an elephant behind them,” Phillips says. ”That’s sort of where the whole movie came from.”

Bangkok may be one of the world’s most exotic tourist hot spots, but don’t expect a picture-postcard version of the city. ”One reason the first Hangover resonated was that, as absurd as what those guys went through was, it felt drawn in a very real world,” says Phillips. ”We really were in, like, a parking lot in Vegas — we didn’t make it look any prettier than it was. It was the same approach with the sequel.” So just how unpretty did it get in Thailand? ”We’d be on the ground, dirty, with fish blood dripping on us,” says Cooper, laughing. ”And that became normal.”

Last October, soon after shooting began, a bit of Mayhem spilled off the set when word leaked that Mel Gibson was in talks to do a cameo as a tattoo artist. With Gibson’s phone rantings to ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva having made ugly headlines that summer, some members of the cast and crew protested his casting. Within days, Gibson was out and Liam Neeson took the role. Phillips denies reports that Galifianakis was the chief instigator of the change. ”Zach is an easy target, poor guy, but it really wasn’t him,” the director says. ”It just created friction on an otherwise harmonious set. On my movies, it’s really one big family, and you don’t want to rupture that kind of family.” After all that drama, Neeson himself wound up being cut from the film due to a scheduling conflict during reshoots; he was replaced by Nick Cassavetes. (Phillips also shot down rumors of a Bill Clinton cameo — though the former president did visit the set while he was in Thailand to give a speech.)

Anticipation for The Hangover Part II certainly runs high — but Phillips, for one, welcomes the challenge of trying to top his past success. ”There’s actually more pressure on a movie like the first Hangover, when you’re standing in an alley at four in the morning in Vegas, thinking ‘God, is anybody ever going to see this movie?’ With this one, we’re making something I know people want to see. This time, the pressure is energizing.” —Josh Rottenberg


KUNG FU PANDA 2

Starring Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Rated PG
Release Date May 26

By the end of the original Kung Fu Panda, Po (Jack Black) had proved himself as the new Dragon Warrior and, ergo, the most awesome martial-arts bear the world has ever known. But what good is knowing kung fu if its very existence is eradicated? In the sequel to the 2008 animated megahit, a heinous peacock named Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) invents a weapon that could do just that. ”This ain’t no regular peacock,” says Black. ”He’s got a crazy look in his eyes, and he’s got Gary Oldman’s brain, which is terrifying in and of itself.”

To overthrow the feathery tyrant, Po and his best buds, the Furious Five, summon new allies, including the former bandit Master Croc (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and a fortune-telling goat called Soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh). Also, Po will have to unravel his own enigmatic past: Yes, we’ll finally learn how a panda came to have a goose for a father. ”That story is actually very emotional,” says director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, ”and it’ll cause some awkward moments for the two of them.” Interspecies daddy issues can be tough, even for a kung fu warrior. —John Young


THE TREE OF LIFE

Starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain
Directed by Terrence Malick
Rated PG-13
Release Date May 27

Fans of Terrence Malick are a patient bunch. Nearly three years after he completed shooting on The Tree of Life, the film is finally reaching theaters — following another one of the director’s notorious editing marathons and a few distribution snags. And no one is more pleased about its release than Jessica Chastain, who stars as a 1950s housewife opposite Brad Pitt. ”I was telling people that I was working with Terrence Malick, and Brad Pitt was my husband,” she says. ”And they would look at me like, ‘Sure, you were.’ It was a very happy day when the trailer came out, because I could say, ‘I told you guys!”’

Details on the plot are scarce, but it involves the maturation of a boy named Jack (played by Sean Penn as a grown-up) as he struggles between the twin poles of his parents. ”The mother is the embodiment of grace, of selfless love and generosity,” says Chastain, who also appears in this summer’s The Debt and The Help. ”And Brad’s character is the representation of nature, this primitive form of survival of the fittest.” As rumored, the film includes a brief sequence with dinosaurs. As for the rest, filmgoers will have to wait and see. What’s a few more weeks after all this time? —Keith Staskiewicz


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