LOS ANGELES – Hollywood boldly goes where we've all been before in 2009, with dozens of sequels, prequels, remakes, updates and adaptations based on books, video games and toys.
Despite the recession, blockbuster franchise flicks have rung up killer box-office returns. Studios hope that continues this year with such familiar names as "Harry Potter," "Hannah Montana," "Star Trek," "Transformers," "X-Men," "Alvin and the Chipmunks," "Ice Age," "The Terminator" and "Sherlock Holmes."
Fans of the world's favorite teen wizard have a particular reason to be itching for the next installment. It's been two years since a "Harry Potter" movie hit theaters, the longest interval since Warner Bros. began churning them out in 2001.
Part six, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," arrives this summer after a surprise delay, when the studio bumped it from its original slot last November.
"Half-Blood Prince" has Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) charged with unlocking secrets from the noggin of a new teacher (Jim Broadbent), information vital to the young wizard's ongoing battle with the evil Voldemoort.
Meantime, Harry struggles to get on with the usual teenage pressures of school, social activities and budding romance.
"We've got some really playful sequences and some material that obviously dips into the darker world of `Potter,'" director David Yates said. "As the series matures, it tonally does get darker overall. It's sort of inevitable as you follow the material. The kids are getting older, more mature and complex."
Getting younger are the heroes of another otherworldly summer franchise. James Kirk, Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew return in "Star Trek," a relaunch of the series featuring an all-new cast (though Leonard Nimoy is on hand to play the older Spock).
Director J.J. Abrams takes the sci-fi series back to its roots, explaining how the gang of interstellar explorers came together in the first place.
"For Kirk and Spock, it's charting their lives to a small extent from boyhood and their first encounter, which is a bit contentious, to kind of the beginning of the relationship we all know," said Chris Pine, who plays Kirk, the dashing Starfleet officer originated by William Shatner, opposite Zachary Quinto as the younger Spock.
"They are at odds at first. The conflict of the relationship actually gives Zachary a couple moments where he's not as controlled and rational as Mr. Nimoy's character was. He has a couple of outbursts that aren't exactly the classic Spock."
Other highlights of Hollywood's upcoming schedule:
Winter and spring:
ALL ABOUT STEVE: Sandra Bullock's a crossword-puzzle creator on a road trip in pursuit of her soul mate.
CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC: A journalist (Isla Fisher) finds romance as she pursues her retail addiction.
DUPLICITY: Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are spies carrying on an affair amid a dangerous assignment.
FAST AND FURIOUS: Vin Diesel and Paul Walker lead the original cast of "The Fast and the Furious" into a new racing thriller.
FRIDAY THE 13TH: The slasher franchise goes back to its beginning with an update of the horror tale about killer Jason Voorhees.
HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE: Miley Cyrus brings her dual life as an ordinary school girl and pop star from TV to the big-screen.
HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson lead the cast of this ensemble romance.
THE INTERNATIONAL: Clive Owen and Naomi Watts lead a probe into banks that finance terrorism.
JONAS BROTHERS: THE 3-D CONCERT EXPERIENCE: The Disney stars follow the hit "Hannah Montana" flick with their own concert movie.
MONSTERS VS. ALIENS: Reese Witherspoon leads the voice cast in an animated comedy about mutants battling an alien robot.
OBSERVE AND REPORT: Seth Rogen stars in the tale of an overzealous mall cop aiming to get into the police academy.
THE PINK PANTHER 2: Steve Martin's Inspector Clouseau bumbles through an investigation of stolen treasures.
RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN: Dwayne Johnson's a cabbie aiding fugitive teens with special powers in a remake of "Escape to Witch Mountain."
17 AGAIN: Zac Efron and Matthew Perry star in a comedy about a middle-aged loser transformed back to his teen years.
THE SOLOIST: Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. star in a drama about a music prodigy living on the streets.
STATE OF PLAY: Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck star in a murder mystery set among the elite of Washington, D.C.
STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI: The video-game sensation is adapted into an action tale of warriors in Bangkok.
THE UGLY TRUTH: Romance is in the air for a lovelorn TV producer (Katherine Heigl) and a tough on-air personality (Gerard Butler).
UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS: The roots of an ancient feud between vampires and werewolves are explored in this prequel.
WATCHMEN: A superhero's murder casts his old associates into the investigation of a global conspiracy against their kind.
ANGELS & DEMONS: Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard follow up "The Da Vinci Code" with this showdown between the Vatican and a secret brotherhood.
BRUNO: "Borat" star Sacha Baron Cohen takes another of his alter egos, Austrian fashionista Bruno, on the road.
DRAG ME TO HELL: "Spider-Man" and "Evil Dead" director Sam Raimi returns to his horror roots with this tale of a cursed woman.
FUNNY PEOPLE: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and director Judd Apatow aim for laughs with a serious story about a dying comedian.
G-FORCE: Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz are among the voice cast of an action comedy about guinea pigs trained as covert operatives.
GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST: Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner star in the tale of a womanizer visited by the spirits of his jilted exes.
G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA: The Hasbro toys go into action in this tale of military operatives hunting an arms dealer.
ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS: Ray Romano and his prehistoric pals return in part three of the animated franchise.
I LOVE YOU BETH COOPER: Hayden Panettiere stars in a romance about a teen geek who gets his shot with the school hottie.
IMAGINE THAT: Eddie Murphy's a dad whose daughter's imaginary world holds the key to solving his personal crises.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS: Brad Pitt stars in Quentin Tarantino's World War II epic that's a throwback to "Dirty Dozen"-style war action.
LAND OF THE LOST: Will Ferrell's a scientist hurled into a world of dinosaurs in this update of the TV show.
MY SISTER'S KEEPER: Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin star in a drama about a girl conceived as a donor for her ailing sister.
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN: The national museum comes alive in Ben Stiller's comedy sequel.
THE PROPOSAL: Sandra Bullock's a book editor trying to avoid deportation by marrying her harried assistant (Ryan Reynolds).
PUBLIC ENEMIES: Johnny Depp and Christian Bale star in Michael Mann's saga of Depression-era gangster John Dillinger.
THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3: Denzel Washington and John Travolta star in the remake about crooks who hijack a subway train for ransom.
TERMINATOR: SALVATION: Christian Bale leads humanity's remnants against machine enemies in the franchise's first flick without Arnold Schwarzenegger.
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN: Shia LaBeouf and his giant Autobot buddies team up for a rematch against the tyrannical Decepticons.
2012: John Cusack stars in an action epic about the end of the world and what comes after.
UP: The latest from Pixar Animation ("WALL-E") follows the balloon adventure of an old man and a boy stowaway.
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE: Hugh Jackman goes solo in a prequel to the "X-Men" movies spelling out the back-story of his mysterious superhero.
YEAR ONE: Jack Black and Michael Cera are primitive outcasts on an epic romp through ancient history.
Fall and holidays:
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE SQUEAKUEL: The talking chipmunks return for part two of their big-screen adventures.
AVATAR: "Titanic" director James Cameron spins a sci-fi epic about a human-alien hybrid fighting for his people's survival.
DISNEY'S A CHRISTMAS CAROL: Jim Carrey does multiple roles as Scrooge and the holiday ghosts in Robert Zemeckis' animated Dickens adaptation.
FAME: Students sing, dance and dream of stardom in a new take on the hit film and TV show about a school for performing arts.
THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX: George Clooney's the mouthpiece for a sly fox stealing chickens from dopey farmers in this animated comedy.
THE INFORMANT: Matt Damon stars in Steven Soderbergh's tale of a corporate whistle-blower with secrets of his own.
THE LOVELY BONES: Peter Jackson ("The Lord of the Rings") directs Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz in a drama about a slain girl playing guardian angel for her family.
NEW MOON: Young love between an awkward teenager and an ageless vampire continues in the "Twilight" sequel starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.
OLD DOGS: A bachelor and a divorced man (John Travolta and Robin Williams) become the unexpected caretakers of 6-year-old twins.
THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG: Disney returns to old-school hand-drawn animation with an update of the classic frog prince fairy tale.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: Robert Downey Jr. has the lead in this latest take on literature's most-famous detective.
SHUTTER ISLAND: Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese pair up again for a story of U.S. marshals on a case at an insane asylum.
TOOTH FAIRY: It's tutu time for Dwayne Johnson, who plays a hockey player magically sentenced to serving a week as the mythical Tooth Fairy.
UP IN THE AIR: George Clooney's a corporate hatchet man whose job is in jeopardy due to corporate downsizing.
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE: Director Spike Jonze adapts the children's classic about a boy with a fantastical world as his personal playground.
THE WOLFMAN: Benicio Del Toro turns werewolf in this new take on the horror classic that co-stars Anthony Hopkins.
8 months ago