Highlights of springtime's box office: 'Thor,' 'Pirates,' 'Rango'

With the excitement of award season over and the slow box office period ended, March delivers a pack of fascinating films to theaters, with stars including Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman.

From sci-fi and fantasy to animated adventures in 3D, comedies and hit sequels, all the fun unspools before the superhero action and blockbusters of the summer.

The Adjustment Bureau
Releases March 4 in North America, UK, Singapore, rolls out in Europe in March

A sci-fi romantic thriller, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt ( Young Victoria), follows a politician on the rise who meets a beautiful ballet dancer and soon discovers strange and immovable circumstances keep them apart. Directed by George Nolfi (writer of Oceans Twelve and The Bourne Ultimatum).


Releases March 4 in the US and select countries, worldwide through March and April

Johnny Depp gives voice to an animated pet chameleon in this comedy-adventure set in an Old West town called Dirt where the lizard finds his true self as sheriff. Also features the voices of Abigail Breslin ( Little Miss Sunshine), Alfred Molina ( The Sorcerer's Apprentice), and Bill Nighy ( Harry Potter). Directed by Gore Verbinski ( Pirates of the Caribbean).

Sucker Punch!

Releases March 25 in Australia, Singapore and North America, worldwide through April

This action-fantasy features an ensemble female cast headed by Emily Browning ( Ned Kelly) as Babydoll along with Carla Gugino ( Night at the Museum) and Abbie Cornish ( Elizabeth: The Golden Age). Directed and written by Zack Snyder ( Watchmen, 300, Legend of the Guardians), the story follows a teenage girl confined to a mental institution who conjures an alternative reality of dragons, samurai and bomber jets to escape.

Source Code

Releases April 1 in the US; April 22 in the UK; Sweden, Malaysia, and Germany through May

A sci-fi thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal ( Prince of Persia) as a soldier involved in an experiment in which he awakens in the body of unknown people, forced to live and relive a train bombing until he discovers who is responsible. Costarring Vera Farmiga ( Up in the Air) and Michelle Monaghan ( Mission Impossible III) and directed by Duncan Jones ( Moon).

Scream 4

Releases week of April 15 in North America, France, UK, Australia, Russia, Malaysia, Brazil, and more

Master of horror Wes Craven returns with his slasher franchise a decade later with Neve Campbell's Sidney returning to her hometown, only to find the brutal Ghostface killer on the rampage again. As expected there's a twist in the plot with some new young victims, like Emma Roberts ( Valentine's Day). Courteney Cox and David Arquette are back, too.

Water for Elephants
Releases April 22 in North America and parts of Europe, rolling out worldwide through May

A romantic drama, set in the 1930s, follows a young veterinary student played by Twilight's Robert Pattinson who leaves his studies when his parents suddenly die and joins a traveling circus, falling in love. Co-stars Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz and Tai, a 9,000-pound elephant. Directed by Francis Lawrence ( I Am Legend).


Releases April 28 in Europe, UK, Hong Kong, India and Brazil; opens May 6 in North America and rolls out through June

The first of the year's slew of comic superhero fantasies will be released in converted 3D. The anticipated blockbuster stars Anthony Hopkins ( The Wolfman), Natalie Portman ( Black Swan), Samuel L. Jackson ( Iron Man 2), and Chris Hemsworth ( Star Trek) in the title role. Directed by Kenneth Branagh ( The Magic Flute), this story from Marvel Comics follows a powerful and arrogant Norse warrior who is cast from Asgard to Earth, where he learns about heroism when faced with villainous forces.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Releases worldwide on May 20

Johnny Depp is back for the fourth installment of the fantasy adventure - and in 3D. Captain Jack Sparrow sets off with Barbossa, played by Geoffrey Rush ( The King's Speech), on a quest for the elusive fountain of youth. They discover that Blackbeard and his feisty daughter, portrayed by Penelope Cruz ( Broken Embraces), are seeking it, too. This rousing sequel is directed by Rob Marshall ( Nine). http://disney.go.com/pirates

The Hangover: Part II

Releases on May 26 in North America, the UK, Australia, and Thailand

In this sequel to the high-grossing comedy, four friends travel to Bangkok (instead of Las Vegas) for their pal's wedding. Like the original, mayhem follows. The funny cast returns - Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha and Ken Jeong - and so does the director Todd Phillips ( Due Date). Liam Neeson and Juliette Lewis come aboard and cameos include former boxer Mike Tyson (again) and former US President Bill Clinton.

Kung Fu Panda 2

Releases on May 27 in North America, Malaysia and Singapore, and in June in Europe

Jack Black plays Po the Panda with a stellar cast who lend their voices to this animated family comedy in 3D. Costars include Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, and Gary Oldman. In this story, Po joins forces with a group of new kung-fu masters to defeat the evil peacock Lord Shen in possession of a deadly new weapon.


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