LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Studio executives hope they've trained their audience well as the season of summer blockbusters arrives.
From May through mid-August, Hollywood will bank on the idea that there is at least one movie every week -- and sometimes two -- that you simply must see.
Summer features such box-office staples as Will Smith, Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Jack Black, and brings back beloved characters such as Indiana Jones, Batman, Speed Racer, Carrie and her "Sex and the City" gal pals, the "Narnia" kids, the Incredible Hulk and two very different agent couples: paranormal troupers Mulder and Scully and comic spies Maxwell Smart and Agent 99.
A look at the lineup:
MAY 2: Robert Downey Jr. takes the lead in "Iron Man," playing a wealthy inventor who lacks superpowers but does have a nifty high-tech suit of armor that really leaves an impression when he gives villains a knuckle sandwich.
MAY 9: "Speed Racer" is an adaptation of the animated show starring Emile Hirsch as the kid roaring along the roadways, Christina Ricci as his helicopter-flying girlfriend and Matthew Fox as mystery man Racer X. The film will also be released in IMAX.
MAY 16: Things sure can change in 1,300 years, as Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie learn when they go over the rainbow again in "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," the second installment in the fantasy franchise based on C.S. Lewis' books.
MAY 22: "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" reunites the dream team of Harrison Ford as the archaeologist-adventurer, director Steven Spielberg and creator-producer George Lucas. As for the big question fans have posed -- is co-star Shia LaBeouf the love child of Indy and Marion? -- neither Ford nor Lucas will say.
JUNE 6: "You Don't Mess With the Zohan" stars Adam Sandler as an Israeli commando who pretends he's been killed so he can become a New York City hairdresser.
JUNE 6: "Kung Fu Panda" is an animated action comedy that features Jack Black voicing the tubby Po, a panda stuck working at his family's noodle shop when he's tapped to train as a martial arts master and battle an evil snow leopard threatening the land. The voice cast includes Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu and Seth Rogen. The film will also be released in IMAX.
JUNE 13: The Marvel gang went back to the drawing board for "The Incredible Hulk," starring Edward Norton in a new take that the filmmakers say will channel both the comic books and the 1970s and '80s TV show starring Bill Bixby. The movie wastes no time explaining how Norton's Bruce Banner was transformed into a man who mutates into the Hulk when angered, said producer Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios' head of production. The story hints at what happened to him then jumps into the action, he said.
JUNE 20: Maxwell Smart took himself seriously, even when he was talking into his shoe phone. So the makers of "Get Smart," an update of the 1960s TV comedy, took him seriously, too.
JUNE 27: So far, the Pixar-Disney animation outfit has done no wrong! Director Andrew Stanton now offers up "Wall-E," the tale of a janitorial robot toiling away for centuries because no one remembered to turn him off after humanity trashes Earth to the point that the planet must be abandoned. Here's Stanton's short take on the story: "The last robot on Earth crosses the galaxy for love."
JULY 2: Will Smith has owned the Fourth of July weekend. He aims to dominate it again with "Hancock," which co-stars Charlize Theron in the tale of a churlish superhero with real problems like the rest of us. "It's the very authentic version of an alcoholic superhero," Smith said. "You will scream laughing, then there's some dramatic turns that just leave your jaw dropping. Huge special effects. It is all things."
JULY 11: "Journey to the Center of the Earth," starring Brendan Fraser, is a modern twist on Jules Verne's classic tale presented entirely in three-dimensional digital video that practically sets the characters and effects in the audience's lap.
JULY 11: The weekend's other big name, Eddie Murphy, gets to inhabit his own weird environment -- himself -- in the comedy "Meet Dave." Murphy stars as the leader of a group of tiny aliens scouting Earth because their own race is endangered. They blend in with humanity by tooling about in a ship that looks just like Eddie Murphy.
JULY 18: Batman is back with "The Dark Knight," reuniting star Christian Bale with director Christopher Nolan and pitting the soul-searching crimefighter against his greatest enemy, the Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger in his next-to-last role. The film will also be released in IMAX, and Nolan filmed some scenes in the large-form technology.
JULY 25: The basic story for "The X-Files: I Want to Believe" has been kicking around in writer-director Chris Carter's head since his paranormal TV series went off the air six years ago. Carter reunites with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson for the second big-screen adventure of Mulder and Scully, who spent years in the FBI chasing aliens and supernatural phenomena.
AUGUST 1: "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," is the third outing for the adventuresome family who, as Brendan Fraser puts it, "by some bizarre coincidence just always encounters the undead."
AUGUST 15: Ben Stiller's "Tropic Thunder" is a comedy that features Robert Downey Jr. as a white actor portraying a black character with insanely serious devotion and Tom Cruise as a bald, raving studio boss with hilarious dance moves. "The movie's kind of taking off on actors who obviously have to take it seriously when doing these films, and you see these interviews where they talk about the experience as if they've been in a real war," Stiller said. "I think it's very easy to see the humor in that."
Cool line-up! I'd like to go see "The Dark Knight," "Iron Man," "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," "Hancock," and "WALL E" - in that order... the rest I'll wait for DVD.