Summer at the movies has a certain enjoyable predictability about it. Godzilla, king of monsters, first stalked the screen in 1954. The giant lizard invades theaters again Friday, as he has so many times since his fire-breathing debut 60 years ago.
Also returning are those supersmart primates in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” the filmed-in-New Orleans sequel to 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”
The summer’s other sequels include the comedy “22 Jump Street” (also shot in New Orleans); the Marvel Comics-based “X-Men: Days of Future Past”; “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” another Vikings and dragons computer-animated adventure; “Transformers: Age of Extinction”; and Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jason Statham in “The Expendables 3.”
“Earth to Echo” is not a sequel, but the plot of this sci-fi adventure closely parallels Steven Spielberg’s classic lovable alien tale “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”
As for nonsequels, there’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a new Marvel Comics-based story, which opens Aug. 1. And “Maleficent,” a prequel to “Sleeping Beauty” starring a regal Angelina Jolie as the story’s wicked leading lady.
Many of the films opening this summer are listed below. Opening dates are subject to change. Some films open in platform releases, beginning with New York and Los Angeles, and gradually moving to other cities.
“GOD’S POCKET”: In one of his final films, Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a desperate man who tries to quietly dispose of his crazy son’s body following a so-called construction accident. John Turturro co-stars and John Slattery from TV’s “Mad Men” cast makes his feature film directorial debut. Christina Hendricks, another “Mad Men” cast member, co-stars.
“GODZILLA”: Godzilla returns in an epic action-adventure about human courage and reconciliation in the face of titanic forces of nature. The film’s human cast includes Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Kick-Ass”), Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai,” “Inception”), Elizabeth Olsen (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”) and Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient”).
“JOE”:Nicolas Cage leads the cast in this story of friendship, violence and redemption in the modern South. Tye Sheridan (“Mud”) co-stars.
“MILLION DOLLAR ARM”: “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm plays J.B. Bernstein during a low point in the sports agent’s career. Hoping to save himself and his independent agency, Bernstein travels to India to find baseball’s next great pitcher. Alan Arkin, Madhur Mittal (“Slumdog Millionaire”), Suraj Sharma (“Life of Pi”) and Lake Bell co-star.
“BELLE”: A historical drama and romance inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). The illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy officer, Belle is raised in rules-heavy 18th-century upper-crust society by her uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), and his wife (Emily Watson). Belle ultimately influences Mansfield, Britain’s Lord Chief Justice, in a ruling that contributes to the banishment of slavery in the British Isles.
“BLENDED”:Following “50 First Dates” and “The Wedding Singer,” Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore appear in their third romantic comedy together. After a horrible first date, Lauren (Barrymore) and Jim (Sandler) agree that they should never see each other again. But then they both win the same family vacation package and end up sharing a suite at an African safari resort.
“WORDS AND PICTURES”:A prep school English teacher and former literary star, played by Clive Owen, laments his students’ obsession with social media and grades. When a new art teacher, played by Juliette Binoche, arrives at the school, Owen sees a way to keep his job by declaring a war between words, his area of expertise, and images, of which Binoche is the master.
“X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST”: The X-Men fight a war for the survival of the species across two time periods. Characters from the original “X-Men” trilogy join forces with their younger selves from “X-Men: First Class” in an epic battle that must change the past in order to save the future.
“A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST”: Seth MacFarlane stars in, directs and co-writes this story of a cowardly sheep farmer named Albert. After Albert’s girlfriend leaves him for another man, a beautiful lady gunslinger (Charlize Theron) rides into town and helps him find his courage.
“MALEFICENT”: “Maleficent” devises a back story for the villainess in “Sleeping Beauty.” Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the land over which she presides, puts a curse on the human king’s newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Aurora (Elle Fanning) is caught in the conflict between the forest kingdom she’s grown to love and the human kingdom that is her birthright.
“THE GRAND SEDUCTION”:A small fishing village has little chance of securing a lucrative business contract that can lift the community from financial ruin. But then a town resident (Brendan Gleeson) goes courting for the doctor whose move to the village can help get the contract. Opens May 30 in limited release.
Also opening in May
“DECODING ANNIE PARKER”: Two women are both in their 15th year of fighting breast cancer. They battle the disease on scientific and emotional fronts. Helen Hunt co-stars as a geneticist who, despite the chorus of naysayers, believes there is a link between DNA and cancer.
“EDGE OF TOMORROW”: Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt co-star in a sci-fi thriller set in a not-distant future when aliens have attacked the Earth with seemingly unbeatable power. Cruise’s character, Maj. William Cage, is killed in a suicide mission but, inexplicably, is hurled into a time loop in which he fights the same battle again and again.
“THE FAULT IN OUR STARS”:Teenagers Hazel and Gus are cancer survivors who share irreverent wit and a growing love for each other. Together they take a touching, unexpected journey. Based on the best-selling novel by John Green, the film stars Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Laura Dern.
“22 JUMP STREET”: Having twice worked as undercover cops in high schools, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) go to college. But their friendship is challenged when Jenko meets a kindred spirit on the football team and Schmidt joins the bohemian art major scene.
“HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2”: Vikings and their dragons, now fully integrated and happy together, return in this sequel to the 2010 animated hit. The voice talent includes Jay Baruchel (as the Viking chief’s son), Gerard Butler, America Ferrera and Jonah Hill.
“THE SIGNAL”:Three college students driving across the Southwest are drawn to an eerie, isolated area. After everything goes dark, Nic (Brenton Thwaites) regains consciousness in a nightmare made real. Opens June 13 in limited release and wider in the following weeks.
“JERSEY BOYS”: In one of the more unusual pairings of a director and his material, Clint Eastwood helms the film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical “Jersey Boys.” It’s the story of four young men from New Jersey who form the Four Seasons, the 1960s vocal group that released the hits “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Dawn,” “Rag Doll” and more. Tony Award-winner John Lloyd Young reprises his Broadway role as lead singer Frankie Valli. Christopher Walken co-stars as mobster Gyp DeCarlo.
“THINK LIKE A MAN TOO”: The couples previously seen in “Think Like a Man” return to Las Vegas for a wedding. Plans for a romantic weekend go off track when a series of misadventures land the couples in compromising positions.
“THIRD PERSON”:Three stories of love, passion, trust and betrayal are told in a multistory fashion reminiscent of writer-director Paul Haggis’ earlier, Oscar-winning film, “Crash.” The cast includes Mila Kunis, James Franco and Olivia Wilde. Opens June 20 in New York and Los Angeles.
“TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION”: Director Michael Bay’s fourth “Transformers” film features Mark Wahlberg as an automobile mechanic who, with his daughter, Nicola Peltz, makes a discovery that brings the Autobots and Decepticons into their lives.
“DELIVER US FROM EVIL”:Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), a New York police officer who’s struggling with personal problems, begins investigating a series of disturbing crimes. Sarchie joins forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramírez) who’s experienced in the rituals of exorcism. Together they battle the demonic possessions that are terrorizing their city.
“EARTH TO ECHO”: In an “E.T.” scenario, three boys whose neighborhood is about to be destroyed by a highway destruction discover a cryptic signal on their phones. Their investigation leads them to a mysterious being who’s stranded on Earth.
“TAMMY”: Melissa McCarthy leads this comedy about a young woman whose bad luck includes losing her job and catching her husband in close company with their neighbor. Susan Sarandon co-stars as Tammy’s grandmother and last resort. Allison Janney and Dan Aykroyd co-star.
“DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES”:A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors. In this New Orleans-shot project, apes and humans make a peace agreement that doesn’t last, which means war may decide whether apes or humans will dominate the Earth.
“I ORIGINS”: Molecular biologist Dr. Ian Gray (Michael Pitt) is studying the evolution of the eye. He becomes obsessed with his work following a brief encounter with an exotic young woman (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey). Years later, Gray and his lab partner, Karen (Brit Marling), make a stunning scientific discovery.
“JUPITER ASCENDING”: Mila Kunis plays a young Chicago woman who, despite her dead-end job, is destined for greatness. Channing Tatum co-stars in this sci-fi adventure as a genetically engineered ex-military man who returns to Earth to tell Kunis that her genetic signature identifies her as next in line for an extraordinary inheritance.
“PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE”: This animated comedy-adventure about second chances features a crew of elite firefighting aircraft who are devoted to protecting the historic Piston Peak National Park from destruction. Voice talent includes Dane Cook, Ed Harris and Wes Studi.
“THE PURGE: ANARCHY”: In this sequel to “The Purge,” the 2013 vigilante-justice thriller set in the near future, the New Founders of America prepare for the annual 12 hours of deadly anarchy.
“WISH I WAS HERE”: Director Zach Braff’s follow-up to his indie hit “Garden State” is a comedy about a man in his 30s who’s forced him to examine his life, career and family. Opens July 18 in New York and Los Angeles.
“A MOST WANTED MAN”: A half-Chechen, half-Russian immigrant who’s been tortured shows up in Hamburg’s Islamic community to claim his father’s ill-gotten fortune. German and U.S. security agencies take interest. They wonder if the man is an oppressed victim or a terrorist. The cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe and Robin Wright. Directed by Anton Corbijn (“The American”) and based on a John le Carré novel.
“HERCULES”: Billed as a revisionist take on a classic “Hercules” myth, this ensemble-action film stars Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Mullan and John Hurt.
“SEX TAPE”: Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz play a couple whose sexual chemistry has cooled 10 years and two kids into their relationship. Hoping to restart the fire, they decide to shoot a video of themselves executing every position in “The Joy of Sex.” The video ends up on the Internet.
“STEP UP ALL IN”: The latest chapter of the “Step Up” dance-competition movies goes to Las Vegas.
“CALVARY”: A good and brave Irish priest played by Brendan Gleeson meets sinister and troubling circumstances following the mysterious death a parishioner.
“GET ON UP”:James Brown, the late soul star and architect of funk, gets a full-dress biopic. Advance publicity for the film promises a fearless look at the music, moves and moods of as the Godfather of the soul. Chadwick Boseman (“42”) stars.
“GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY”: The latest Marvel Comics-based action-adventure film centers upon Peter Quill, an adventurer who steals a mysterious and powerful orb. Having become the target of an epic hunt, he seeks the help of four misfits: Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon; Groot, a treelike humanoid; the dangerous and enigmatic Gamora; and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. The massive cast includes Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, David Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan.
“INTO THE STORM”: In a single day, the town of Silverton is devastated by an unprecedented series of tornadoes. The cast includes Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies and Jeremy Sumpter.
“LUCY”: French filmmaker Luc Besson (“La Femme Nikita,” “The Professional”) directs Scarlett Johansson as Lucy, a woman who turns the tables on her captors, becoming a merciless warrior in the process.
“TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES”: Those high-spirited amphibian heroes, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, return to save New York City from Shredder and his evil Foot Clan. The Turtles team up with reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and her wise-cracking cameraman, Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett).
“THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY”: Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) is a culinary ingénue with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch. The Kadam family, displaced from their native India, settles in the French village of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val. The Kadams open an Indian restaurant, the Maison Mumbai, in the charming French town. A rivalry follows when the chef proprietress of a classic French restaurant, Le Saule Pleureur (Helen Mirren), objects to the new Indian restaurant that’s just 100 feet from her establishment.
“LET’S BE COPS”:Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson play two friends who dress as police officers for a costume party and become neighborhood sensations. Dubbed heroes, the two get entangled with mobsters and bad cops.
“AS ABOVE, SO BELOW: Explorers discover a maze of uncharted bones beneath the streets of Paris. John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle (“Quarantine,” “Devil”) wrote this psychological thriller.
“THE EXPENDABLES 3”: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham and the rest of the team come face-to-face with a former member of their group who turned bad. Mel Gibson co-stars as the arms trader Stallone thought he’d killed years ago.
“WHAT IF:” Medical school dropout Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) feels repeatedly burned by bad relationships. While everyone around him, including his roommate Allan (Adam Driver), finds the perfect partner (Mackenzie Davis), Wallace decides to put his love life on hold. But then he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), an animator who lives with her longtime boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall).
“LOVE IS STRANGE”:Ben and George take advantage of New York’s new marriage laws and tie the knot after being together for 39 years. The Catholic school where George teaches objects to the union and fires him. The newlyweds are forced to split up and stay with friends while they sell their apartment and look for cheaper housing.
“WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL”: Football coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) leads New Orleans’ De La Salle High School Spartans from obscurity to a record-breaking 151-game winning streak.
“NOVEMBER MAN”:A retired CIA agent returns to the agency and finds himself battling a former protégé in a deadly game involving top CIA officials and the Russian president-elect.
“JESSABELLE”: In this Louisiana-set, North Carolina-filmed ghost story from the producer of “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious,” Jessabelle (Sarah Snook) returns to her childhood home in Louisiana to recuperate from a car accident. A long-tormented spirit has been waiting for her return.
“LIFE OF CRIME”:Jennifer Aniston stars the kidnapped wife of a corrupt real estate developer played by Tim Robbins. When Robbins decides he won’t pay the kidnappers’ ransom, double crosses and plot twists of a dark, comic nature ensue. John Hawkes and Yasiin Bey co-star as the kidnappers in a cast including Isla Fisher and Will Forte. Opens in theaters and available on video on demand Aug. 29.
“THE LOFT”: Karl Urban (“Star Trek Into Darkness”) and James Marsden (“2 Guns”) star in a psychological thriller about five married men who conspire to share a secret penthouse loft in the city.
Also opening in summer
“FOR NO GOOD REASON”:Johnny Depp visits Ralph Steadman, the radical British artist who rose to prominence in the early 1970s when his stirring images and bold commentary about world politics and human rights infringements caught the attention of the media in the U.K. and U.S.