2012 went out with a bang at the movies.
Box office was up, reaching an estimated $10.8 billion over 2011's $10.2 billion, and attendance was up, too. Approximately 1.36 billion viewers trooped through the megaplexes last year, according to Hollywood.com, a rise from 1.28 billion the previous year.
From The Avengers to Lincoln, there seemed to be a lot to attract moviegoers in 2012. But will the magic carry over to 2013? Here are 16 of the movies we're looking forward to this year. As always, release dates are subject to change.
The Last Stand
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Director: Jee-woon Kim
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville, Harry Dean Stanton, Eduardo Noriega
Plot: An aging sheriff is all that stands between a Mexican drug cartel and the American side of the border.
Buzz: This is Schwarzenegger's return to a serious action film. (No, we're not counting The Expendables 2.) He's paired with a terrific cast and an acclaimed South Korean director making his leap to Hollywood.
Buzz kill: Seeing Schwarzenegger try to reclaim past glories could just end up being sad.
Director: Chan-wook Park
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Dermot Mulroney, Matthew Goode
Plot: A woman's uncle comes to live with her, and he may turn out not to be what he claims.
Buzz: There's such an intriguing assortment of people associated with this that it may appeal to both fanboys and art-house partisans. South Korean director Park made the cult classic Oldboy (which has been remade by Spike Lee for release this year), co-writer Wentworth Miller was the star of the TV show Prison Break, and the cast is full of cool names.
Buzz kill: It may prove a tough sell to a broader mainstream audience.
Oz: The Great and Powerful
Director: Sam Raimi
Stars: James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis
Plot: A magician has to outsmart three women and their magic.
Buzz: Based on a novel by Wizard of Oz creator L. Frank Baum and directed by Raimi (the Spider-Man movies), this should be a spectacle.
Buzz kill: Raimi's last effort, the cheeky horror film Drag Me to Hell, didn't exactly burn up the box office.
Iron Man 3
Director: Shane Black
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Gwyneth Paltrow
Plot: Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, has a new enemy: the Mandarin (Kingsley).
Buzz: Iron Man and Iron Man 2 raked in more than $310 million each.
Buzz kill: Iron Man 2 paled in comparison to the original.
The Great Gatsby
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan
Plot: A young man (Maguire) becomes enthralled by his rich neighbor, Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio).
Buzz: The classic novel gets a revamp from the director who gave us the smart and visually vibrant Romeo + Juliet.
Buzz kill: Luhrmann's last film was the generally not well-received Australia.
Star Trek Into Darkness
Director: J.J. Abrams
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Peter Weller
Plot: The Enterprise has to capture the universe's most dangerous man.
Buzz: Abrams' reboot of the franchise in 2009 was an across-the-board hit.
Buzz kill: With what sounds like a darker plot, STID may not have that tongue-in-cheek lightness that made the last one such a blast.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Stars: Will Smith, Jaden Smith
Plot: A father and son find themselves marooned on a planet that humans had abandoned.
Buzz: Many will want to see how the real-life father and son interact onscreen.
Buzz kill: Shyamalan hasn't made a movie anyone cares about since Signs 11 years ago.
Man of Steel
Director: Zack Snyder
Stars: Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner
Plot: Snyder retells the story of how Clark Kent/Superman came to be Earth's savior.
Buzz: The Superman franchise returns for the first time since 2006.
Buzz kill: Ever since his Dawn of the Dead remake and 300, it has been the law of diminishing returns for Snyder ( Watchmen, Sucker Punch).
Director: Dan Scanlon
Stars: The voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi
Plot: This is a prequel of sorts to the animated hit Monsters, Inc. in which viewers learn how monsters Mike (Crystal) and Sulley (Goodman) became pals.
Buzz: It's from Pixar, and Monsters, Inc. recently found new fans when it was re-released in 3-D at the end of 2012.
Buzz kill: What was fresh 12 years ago may seem stale today.
World War Z
Director: Marc Forster
Stars: Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox, Mireille Enos
Plot: The zombie apocalypse takes over Earth, and humanity seems helpless to stop it.
Buzz: Based on a bestseller, directed by the guy who did Monster's Ball and Quantum of Solace, and it's about zombies. What more could moviegoers want?
Buzz kill: Unless, of course, everyone is sick of zombies by now.
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley
Plot: In this dystopian future, the 1 percent live in a space station, the remainder struggle on Earth, and one man seeks equality.
Buzz: Blomkamp directed one of the best films of 2009, District 9, which also was his feature debut.
Buzz kill: It remains to be seen if Blomkamp is more than a one-trick director.
Director: Paul Greengrass
Stars: Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, John Magaro
Plot: The 2009 hijacking of an American ship by Somali pirates is the subject of this drama.
Buzz: Greengrass is known for both explosive action ( The Bourne Ultimatum) and thoughtful re-creations of recent history ( United 93, Bloody Sunday).
Buzz kill: Greengrass' last film was the preachy and unexciting Green Zone.
Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, Michael Imperioli
Plot: A man has five days to find out why he was locked in a room for 15 years.
Buzz: The South Korean original is a word-of-mouth underground classic. This remake, with a stellar cast, could be the thing to revive interest in Lee's career.
Buzz kill: If this version is as brutal as the original, the audience might be limited.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Director: Francis Lawrence
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth
Plot: Heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) preps for the Quarter Quell.
Buzz: It's the sequel to a film that raked in more than $400 million.
Buzz kill: It's a new director for this one, and Francis Lawrence has a mixed record ( Constantine, I Am Legend, Water for Elephants), so it remains to be seen if he can handle a movie this big.
Anchorman: The Legend Continues
Director: Adam McKay
Stars: Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Kristen Wiig, Steve Carell
Plot: Everyone's favorite San Diego anchor, Ron Burgundy (Ferrell), returns to haunt our newsrooms.
Buzz: At this point, Ferrell, Wiig, Carell and Rudd could just film themselves sitting around watching TV and lots of people would show up.
Buzz kill: Be very afraid. It is a sequel, after all. Four words: The Hangover Part II.
Director: Wayne Blair
Stars: Chris O'Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy
Plot: A group of Aboriginal girls in late-'60s Australia form a Supremes-like pop group. Based on a true story.
Buzz: A big hit in Australia, it's the prototypical feel-good musical with songs everyone knows. It has been well-received on the festival circuit, including at last year's Lone Star Film Festival in Fort Worth.
Buzz kill: Except for O'Dowd ( Bridesmaids), none of the cast is well-known in the U.S., even though the underrated Mailman has appeared in many Australian films and Mauboy is an Australian Idol runner-up.
Cary Darling, 817-390-7571