From Star Trek to The Great Gatsby: Summer 2013 film blockbusters

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The sun won't shine every day – but don't worry, there's plenty to look forward to at the cinema, says Francesca Steele

Star Trek Into Darkness (9 May)

The crew from JJ Abrams's hit 2009 reboot – Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg – are all back on the Starship Enterprise and are joined by several others, including a scantily clad Alice Eve. The special effects are stunning, according to the viewers of some preview footage, and Benedict Cumberbatch shows his dark side as a deliciously depraved baddie.

Box-office buzz Officially, Cumberbatch is playing a character called John Harrison, a Starship special agent who goes rogue. However, it is thought that his real identity might be Khan, a super- villain from the original series.

The Great Gatsby (16 May)

Romeo + Juliet duo Baz Luhrmann and Leonardo DiCaprio reunite for what looks to be a dazzling 3D adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's seminal novel about the Roaring Twenties. Starring DiCaprio as the enigmatic millionaire Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as his lost love Daisy and Tobey Maguire as confidante Nick Carraway, the film is "timely" in its criticism of wealth, says Luhrmann. It will open the Cannes Film festival on 15 May.

Box-office buzz Luhrmann has a knack for kooky soundtracks and this is no exception. The score was executive produced by Jay-Z and includes a Lana Del Rey track written exclusively for the film.

Fast and Furious 6 (17 May)

Following a lukewarm critical reception to the first four films, Universal finally gave critics a film they could get on board when they cast Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson alongside regular lead Vin Diesel in 2011's Fast Five. Both are back in this sixth installment (and have also signed on for a seventh), as special agent Hobbs and savvy ex-mechanic Toretto, as the series abandons its old street-racing format in favour of high-octane heists.

Box-office buzz Is the franchise trying to be the next Expendables? Rumour has it that Jason Statham will play the baddie in the next film.

The Hangover Part III (24 May)

The Wolfpack is back… again. Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is mourning the death of his father and Stu, Doug and Bradley Cooper's Phil arrive to take him to a recovery centre. Plot details are scarce but what we do know is that John Goodman and Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy join the shenanigans, and that somehow, after an ill-fated trip to Tijuana, the gang end up back in Las Vegas. What we don't know is whether this so-called "epic finale" will end up a cult hit like the first installment – or an uninspired flop like the second.

Box-office buzz Director Todd Phillips has said Part III will be "a lot darker".

After Earth (7 June)

Will Smith takes real life progeny Jaden under his wing in this sci-fi disaster epic. One thousand years after the evacuation of earth, legendary general Cypher and his son Kitai crash-land on the old home of the human race to find it overrun with creatures intent on wiping them out. The two have never really got along, but will they bond as they fight to survive? You bet they will.

Box-office buzz Smith usually churns out pretty reliable box-office successes but with unpredictable director M Night Shyamalan (The Last Airbender) at the helm, anything could happen.

Man of Steel (14 June)

Our favourite Kryptonian was due a reboot after the limp 2006 film Superman Returns – and boy, have its backers pulled out all the stops. Christopher Nolan is executive producing and created the story with Dark Knight collaborator David S Goyer. As if that weren't enough superhero royalty, Watchmen director Zack Snyder is also on board. Henry Cavill will star as a much more subdued hero dealing with his past. Amy Adams is Lois Lane, Michael Shannon is the villain General Zod, Kevin Costner plays Clark's adoptive dad and Russell Crowe plays his biological dad. Phew!

Box-office buzz Cavill was in the running for the 2006 reboot, but lost out to Brandon Routh.

World War Z (21 June)

It's had a bumpy start, with a complete script rewrite and extensive third-act reshoot. Still, this horror flick about a zombie pandemic looks intriguing, with Brad Pitt starring as a United Nations employee trying to stop the infection. One of the reasons for the rewrite was allegedly that the film got bogged down in heavy socio-political messages, so it will be interesting to see whether it ends up as a frothy summer thriller or something a bit meatier.

Box-office buzz The film is based on the book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks, son of film-maker and actor Mel Brooks.

Before Midnight (21 June)

Céline (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke), the couple who shared one magical night together in Before Sunrise and then reunited almost a decade later in Before Sunset, have now been together for nine years. They are parents to twin girls and as they summer on an idyllic Greek island we see that the frustrations of domesticity and middle age have set in. Delpy and Hawke again share writing credits with director Richard Linklater.

Box-office buzz Many fans of the series said a third couldn't successfully be done, but festival reports say this may even be the best of the three.

Despicable Me 2 (28 June)

Steve Carrell is back as supervillain Gru with his adorable adopted kids, and this time he has been recruited by the Anti-Villain League to stop the rise of a new supervillain. Once again though it's Gru's yellow miniature minions who are likely to steal the show, in this sequel to the popular 2010 animation. Al Pacino and Steve Coogan join the cast as the villain Eduardo and head of the Anti-Villain League respectively.

Box-office buzz The minions have proven so popular that a spin-off film, Minions, is scheduled for release in 2014.

Pacific Rim (12 July)

"We're cancelling the apocalypse," bellows Idris Elba in the eye-catching trailer for this monstrous epic about human-piloted giant robots keeping an underwater menace at bay. Forget overblown apocalypse flicks such as last year's Battleship. If Guillermo del Toro's past efforts are anything to go by – Oscar-winning Pan's Labyrinth for instance – this will be an arty as well as action-packed affair.

Box-office buzz The monsters are known as kaiju, a Japanese word that means "strange beast". The most famous cinematic kaiju is Godzilla.

Monsters University (12 July)

It has been a long time coming but hopes are high for this prequel to the 2001 film Monsters, Inc., with much of the original cast in place, including Billy Crystal as the small, green Mike Wazowski, and John Goodman as cuddly monster Sulley. In the later film Mike and Sulley are best friends as well as professional "scarers". But when they first met as college room-mates, it turns out they didn't get along at all.

Box-office buzz A strong viral campaign has including a rather lovely fake Tumblr account, in which a student at "MU" recounts his daily gripes (http://mugrumblr.tumblr.com) and an online video message "from the Dean".

The Wolverine (25 July)

Hugh Jackman's hilarious two-second cameo in X-Men: First Class has upped the character's street cred following his appearance in the unpopular 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Now Jackman is back as reluctant mutant Logan, this time travelling to Japan where he meets an enemy from his past. Expect to see lots of Samurai steel.

Box-office buzz The muscles are back. After losing weight to play starving ex-convict Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, Jackman bulked up by eating 4,000 calories a day. And it shows.

300: Rise of an Empire (2 August)

Man of Steel director Zack Snyder has also been busy writing this follow-up to the 2007 film 300, based on Frank Miller's graphic novel. The sequel, starring Bond girl Eva Green, focuses on another Greek-Persian stand-off, the Battle of Artemisium, which took place at the same time as the events of the previous film. Gerard Butler is gone, but there look to be just as many rippling abs.

Box-office buzz The first film was defined by its graphic-novel aesthetics and extensive battlegrounds but new director Noam Murro says this will have a "whole different choreography of fighting."

Red 2 (2 August)

What a cast. The stars of the 2010 film – Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker and Karl Urban – return and are joined by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins for another outing of retired assassins. It's rather clever to stick such well-respected older actors in a pretty silly action flick. The first film was not exactly Shakespeare but it was perfectly decent summer fun. Let's hope this is more of the same.

Box-office buzz The original Red made a stupendous amount of money – $200m (£131m) off a $58m budget – so a sequel seemed inevitable.

The Lone Ranger (9 August)

The producer and director team behind box-office treasure chest Pirates of the Caribbean reunite here to tell the tale of how a Texas Ranger was transformed into one of television's most legendary crime fighters. Armie Hammer (The Social Network) takes the lead role, with Johnny Depp as his Native American companion, Tonto.

Box-office buzz It's the most expensive Western in history, costing a reported $250m to make.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (9 August)

The fact that our favourite north Norfolk DJ has not had a glamorous Hollywood makeover suggests that producers are less interested in a global box-office hit than satisfying loyal fans – and thank goodness. They haven't totally dismissed a blockbuster premise though. The plot will involve Partridge and Sidekick Simon in some kind of radio-station siege. Back of the net, as Alan would say.

Box-office buzz At the helm is Father Ted director Declan Lowney.

Kick-Ass 2 (14 August)

Hit-girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) is back, at high school this time, and she's as foul-mouthed as ever. The well-publicised events of the previous film have also inspired a slew of copycat homegrown heroes known as Justice Forever, led by Jim Carrey's Colonel Stars and Stripes. They join forces with Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) when old enemy Chris returns, with a new costume and an alias too rude to print.

Box-office buzz Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman (aka Mrs Jonathan Ross) passed on the sequel so writing and director duties have been handed over to Jeff Wadlow. As his first high-profile film, it's a bit of a risk.

One Direction – This Is Us (29 August)

Music documentaries are all the rage – Katy Perry released one last year, as did the Rolling Stones – so it seemed just a matter of time before wholesome boy-band One Direction made one too. The big surprise though was the film's director: Morgan Spurlock, the politicised film-maker behind Super Size Me, for which he ate nothing but McDonald's for 30 days. He promises to show us the "normal" side of the boys on tour. As well, he has said, as lots of topless shots.

Box-office buzz The boys reportedly tormented Spurlock by eating McDonald's in front of him on set.

Elysium (20 September)

The multiplexes will be filled with apocalyptic films this summer but this second feature from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp looks to be made of more intelligent stuff than your average sci-fi flick. Set in the year 2154, the wealthy have decamped to an elite space station colony known as Elysium, while the poor remain on dirty, overcrowded Earth. Matt Damon's Max is an ex-con desperate to crash the party; Jodie Foster is his nemesis.

Box-office buzz Blomkamp and Sharlto Copley, who stars in Elysium and District 9, went to the same high school in Johannesburg.

Only God Forgives (UK release date TBC)

Speedy getaways? Check. Stylistic violence? Check. Ryan Gosling? You bet. Director Nicolas Winding Refn reunites with his Drive star for what could be the darkest hit of the summer. Gosling stars as Julian, an ex-boxer-turned-gangster, who takes on a Bangkok police lieutenant in a bid to get revenge for his brother's murder. Kristin Scott Thomas plays his mafia mum. The film will compete for the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Box-office buzz Luke Evans was originally cast as the lead but withdrew to play Bard the Bowman in The Hobbit.

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