The only thing stopping this summer’s box office from shattering records is the plague. Theaters should sell more tickets in three months than the entire year, with some unexpected breakouts creating even more revenue and backlog. You want lines? Expect them. Are you one of those who rely on a backup movie when something is sold out? Expect your second and possibly third choice to be sold out as well. There are only so many seats and hours in a day.

MAY 18

SHREK THE THIRD

Who: Voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Rupert Everett, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Justin Timberlake.

What: The battle over who will rule the land of Far, Far Away brews when King Harold falls ill and hands over the keys to the castle to son-in-law Shrek.

Why: Like Spider-Man and Pirates of the Caribbean, the Shrek films get better with each new entry. This big green ogre equals big green dollars.

MAY 25

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END

Who: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Stellan Skarsgard, Geoffrey Rush, Jack Davenport.

What: Pirates Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann join forces with former nemesis Captain Barbossa to rescue Captain Jack Sparrow from Davey Jones’ Locker.

Why: At World’s End should take the Pirates series to the edge before closing up shop.

JUNE 1

KNOCKED-UP

Who: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann.

What: Eight weeks after slob Ben and career girl Alison hook up for a drunken night of sex, Alison returns with news: She’s pregnant.

Why: As the writer-director of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Judd Apatow has a track record as someone capable of mixing low-brow comedy with genuine heart.

MR. BROOKS

Who: Kevin Costner, William Hurt, Demi Moore, Dane Cook.

What: Mr. Brooks has it all: good looks, a great family, money, respect. His only flaw: He’s a serial killer.

Why: Costner stretches his wings to play a dark, disturbed individual. Having Hurt play his evil side is a stroke of genius.

JUNE 8

OCEAN’S 13

Who: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Ellen Barkin, Al Pacino.

What: After new casino owner Willie Banks muscles his partner out of the action, Danny Ocean and his crew decide to break his bank.

Why: With most of the original cast returning and director Steven Soderbergh once again behind the camera, expect this romp to be just as fun and engaging as the first two.

HOSTEL 2

Who: Jay Hernandez, Lauren German, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips.

What: Three American art students studying in Rome accept an invitation from a model to party at a youth hostel, unaware they are being led to slaughter.

Why: Same movie, different sex. Still, writer-director Eli Roth has proven to be a master of the sick and depraved.

SURF’S UP

Who: Voices of Jeff Bridges, Shia LaBeouf, Zooey Deschanel, James Woods, Jane Krakowski, Jon Heder, Michael McKean.

What: Tag along with a documentary film crew as they cover the Penguin World Surfing Championships.

Why: We’ve had marching penguins, dancing penguins, singing penguins, and now we have surfing penguins. Will America’s love affair with the cuddly little creatures continue to ride a wave of success?

JUNE 15

FANTASTIC 4: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER

Who: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington.

What: Scientists-turned-superheroes the Fantastic Four spring back into action when Earth is attacked by the Silver Surfer.

Why: An unexpected blockbuster, the first film was just the right blend of superhero action, wink-wink comedy and dazzling special effects. Expect more of the same.

NANCY DREW

Who: Emma Roberts, Josh Flitter, Max Thieriot, Rachael Leigh Cook, Tate Donovan.

What: While traveling with her father to Los Angeles, teen sleuth Nancy Drew uncovers a murder plot.

Why: While their dates are rooting for superheroes, women can engage in girl power as Drew constantly outwits adults and saves the day.

JUNE 22

EVAN ALMIGHTY

Who: Steve Carell, Morgan Freeman, Lauren Graham, John Goodman, Wanda Sykes, John Michael Higgins.

What: Former anchorman-turned-Congressman Evan Baxter is called upon by God to build an ark and risk losing his family, job and respect.

Why: At last count, the budget for this sequel to Bruce Almighty is $225 million and rising. Carell is funny, but even former lead Jim Carrey couldn’t muster up that much hay to make this a hit.

A MIGHTY HEART

Who: Angelina Jolie, Dan Futterman, Irfan Khan, Will Patton.

What: After her journalist husband is kidnapped by terrorists while on assignment in Pakistan, Mariane Pearl begins an intense search to find and free him.

Why: Based on the true story of Daniel Pearl, A Mighty Heart has Oscar written all over it.

DOA: DEAD OR ALIVE

Who: Jaime Pressly, Devon Aoki, Sarah Carter, Holly Valance.

What: The best of the best are summoned to an island for a fighting championship.

Why: This video game adaptation has enough action and babes to keep the janitor mopping for weeks.

BLACK SHEEP

Who: Oliver Driver, Nathan Meister, Tammy Davis.

What: Shear madness! A top secret experiment infects a flock of sheep and turns them into blood thirsty killers.

Why: Low-budget chiller from New Zealand received a show of support from director Peter Jackson, who provided the film’s amazing visual effects.

JUNE 29

RATATOUILLE

Who: Voices of Patton Oswalt, Brian Dennehy, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, Ian Holm.

What: Against the wishes of his family, Remy, a rat with gourmet tastes living with his father and brother within the walls of a famous French Bistro, dreams of becoming a world famous chef.

Why: Even though audiences didn’t warm to Flushed Away, this post-Cars comedy from Pixar looks like a winner.

LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD

Who: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Maggie Q, Timothy Olyphant, Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

What: Terrorists plot to destroy the Internet and bring global commerce to a halt, forcing New York Detective John McClane to team up with a tech-savvy kid to stop them dead in their tracks.

Why: If Sylvester Stallone can revisit Rocky Balboa and Harrison Ford can dust off Indiana Jones, then there’s no reason why Willis can’t step into the shoes of reluctant but determined McClane.

MAMA’S BOY

Who: Diane Keaton, Jon Heder, Jeff Daniels, Anna Faris, Sarah Chalke.

What: When 29-year-old live-at-home mama’s boy Jeffrey learns his doting mother has been swept off her feet by a motivational speaker, he sets into motion a plan to win back his kingdom.

Why: With more children living at home these days, Mama’s Boy should strike a chord with the twenty-something crowd.

MARTIAN CHILD

Who: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Bobby Coleman, Joan Cusack, Oliver Platt.

What: A father is perplexed when his newly adopted 6-year-old son claims to be from Mars.

Why: Interesting idea, good cast, might get lost in the summer shuffle.

JULY 6

TRANSFORMERS

Who: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Rachael Taylor, Tyrese Gibson, Jon Voight.

What: When two alien races arrive on Earth for one final battle, it’s up to a group of courageous humans to beat them at their own game.

Why: Director Michael Bay transforms a toy franchise into an awesome display of razzle-dazzle visual and physical effects which should have children of all ages standing on their feet.

LICENSE TO WED

Who: Mandy Moore, John Krasinski, Robin Williams.

What: After a young couple become engaged, the local preacher forces them through a series of tests before they are allowed to exchange vows in his church.

Why: Should do extremely well with women looking for something to see while their man-child is watching the world get destroyed across the hall.

JULY 13

HARRY POTTER & THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX

Who: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Gary Oldman.

What: Harry Potter’s disturbing dreams signal the return of the evil Voldemort, but with the Ministry of Magic taking control of the school, Potter’s warnings fall on deaf ears. It’s up to Potter’s friends and the fellow teachers to learn the truth.

Why: Phoenix is the set-up for the final showdown of the Potter series, due in two more movies. As the characters age, so do their emotions and desires, all addressed in this film.

1408

Who: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack.

What: Scoffing at urban legends about guests who check in but do not check out, paranormal debunker-author Mike Enslin offers to spend the night in a supposedly haunted New York hotel room, much to the chagrin of hotel manager Mr. Olin.

Why: Stephen King makes a grand return to film with this post-Shining ghost story.

JULY 20

HAIRSPRAY

Who: John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, Amanda Bynes, Nicole Blonsky, Christopher Walken.

What: After pleasantly plump Tracy Turnblad and friend Penny Pingleton land a spot on a popular television dance show, socialite rival Amber Von Tussle and her mother plot to ruin Tracy and her dreams.

Why: Even though creator John Waters isn’t behind the camera, his inspiration is in every frame.

I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY

Who: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Jessica Biel, Steve Buscemi, Ving Rhames, Dan Aykroyd.

What: In this comedy of convenience, Adam Sandler and Kevin James play Philadelphia firefighters pretending to be gay to receive domestic partner benefits.

Why: With a platoon of writers, Sandler-friendly director Dennis Dugan seems to have come up with a premise which should please both stars and audiences alike.

JULY 27

THE SIMPSONS MOVIE

Who: Voices of Dan Castellaneta, Julia Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer.

What: Sources claim it’s about a nuclear mishap in Springfield which changes the lives of the Simpsons, their friends and family.

Why: Television’s longest-running comedy and animated show finally makes the leap to the big screen, and based on test screenings and previews, it was worth the wait.

SKINWALKERS

Who: Jason Behr, Elias Koteas, Rhona Mitra, Matthew Knight.

What: On his 13th birthday, Timothy inherits the family curse. Half-man, half-werewolf, Timothy holds the key to the survival of his pack.

Why: Horror sells. Hopefully the fan base won’t shed interest before this one rips across screens.

STARDUST

Who: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Robert De Niro, Sienna Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer, Peter O’Toole.

What: Dashing young Tristan promises to retrieve a falling star for his beloved, entering a magical world inhabited by a trio of ancient witches intent of robbing the star of her power to regain their youth.

Why: This variation of The Princess Bride mixes romance, action, adventure, comedy and amazing visual effects to create a film defying time and tradition.

NO RESERVATIONS

Who: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin.

What: Zeta-Jones trades in her cell phone for an apron in this romantic drama finding single chef Kate attempting to juggle her job and personal life.

Why: Based on the German hit Mostly Martha, No Reservations marks Zeta-Jones’ return to big-screen romantic comedies. The film has all the ingredients to be a hit.

AUGUST 3

THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

Who: Matt Damon, Edgar Ramirez, Joan Allen, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Paddy Considine.

What: Still searching for his true identity, amnesiac spy Jason Bourne stumbles across a training program which might hold the key to his past.

Why: The original stars and writer return for more, under the direction of Paul Greengrass (United 93), whose documentary-style filmmaking transformed the last film into a breakneck, in-your-face thriller.

UNDERDOG

Who: Alex Neuberger, Amy Adams, Patrick Warburton, James Belushi, Peter Dinklage, voice of Jason Lee.

What: After being exposed to a lab accident, Shoeshine Boy is transformed into a superhero pooch with amazing powers.

Why: This mix of live action and a computer-generated leading man could be a lot of fun.

CHARLIE BARTLETT

Who: Anton Yelchin, Robert Downey Jr., Hope Davis.

What: After rich kid Charlie Bartlett fails to assimilate with the student body of his new school, he decides to take on the honorary role of resident shrink and pharmacist.

Why: Dark comedy about privileged students coping with real life as they head off to college? The timing couldn’t be better.

BECOMING JANE

Who: Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy, Julie Walters, James Cromwell, Maggie Smith.

What: Before putting pen to paper, young Jane Austen falls in love with a young Irishman.

Why: Miramax made its name with glossy period pieces like Becoming Jane. Looks like Oscar bait to me.

HOT ROD

Who: Andy Samberg, Sissy Spacek, Ian McShane, Isla Fisher, Will Arnett.

What: Rod Kimble, the worst daredevil to walk the Earth, attempts a death-defying stunt to raise money to save his ailing father.

Why: Samberg, the latest Saturday Night Live flavor of the month, is a funny guy, but this film sounds awfully familiar.

RESURRECTING THE CHAMP

Who: Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Hartnett.

What: An ambitious sportswriter saves a homeless man, then discovers he’s a boxing legend thought to be dead.

Why: Critic-turned-director Rod Lurie (The Contender) is always careful to avoid maudlin, so expect this life-affirming tale of fathers and sons to have plenty of honest emotion.

AUGUST 10 RUSH HOUR 3

Who: Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Vinnie Jones, Hiroyuki Sanada, Noemie Lenoir, Max Von Sydow.

What: While in Paris, Chief Inspector Lee and Detective James Carter become involved with the Chinese Triad.

Why: Protracted contract negotiations, numerous scripts and the availability of director Brett Ratner all seem to have taken their toll on this third (and probably last) chapter in the popular buddy cop series.

DADDY DAY CAMP

Who: Cuba Gooding Jr., Paul Rae, Lochlyn Munro, Richard Gant, Tamala Jones, Spencir Bridges, Brian Doyle-Murray.

What: Stay-at-home daddy Charlie Hinton expands his horizons by opening a summer day camp.

Why: Low budget summer camp films have done well before, but with Gooding Jr. replacing Eddie Murphy, will audiences feel betrayed?

AUGUST 17

THE INVASION

Who: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Jeremy Northam, Jeffrey Wright, Veronica Cartwright, Jackson Bond.

What: A Washington psychiatrist (Kidman) suspects that a recent epidemic may be alien in origin.

Why: Hot German director Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) and current James Bond Daniel Craig just might give this variation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers the edge it needs.

SUPER BAD

Who: Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Bill Hadler.

What: Two high school seniors attempt to throw the ultimate keg party.

Why: Late summer, hot weather, slob comedy.

FANBOYS

Who: Sam Huntington, Chris Marquette, Dan Fogler, Jay Baruchel, Kristen Bell.

What: Five friends travel cross country to break into George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch to steal a copy of The Phantom Menace before its premiere.

Why: South Park has covered the same territory. Whether this geek comedy will produce the same amount of laughs remains to be seen.

WEDDING DAZE

Who: Jason Biggs, Isla Fisher, Michael Weston, Ron Corddry, Joanna Gleason.

What: After losing the girl of his dreams, Anderson throws in the towel. When his friends convince him to give romance one more round, his spontaneous proposal to a waitress blossoms into real love.

Why: Biggs and Fisher are both likeable, funny people, so hopefully their chemistry will carry this late summer comedy across the threshold.

AUGUST 24

GOOD LUCK CHUCK

Who: Dane Cook, Jessica Alba, Dan Fogler.

What: After unlucky-in-love Chuck learns his ex has become engaged, he decides to turn his fortune around.

Why: Cook is the hottest comic on tour and can make flat material pop.

VIRGIN TERRITORY

Who: Hayden Christensen, Mischa Barton, Christopher Egan, Tim Roth.

What: When plague threatens their city, a group of Florentines escape to the countryside villa, where they pass the time entertaining each other with stories.

Why: Black plague, a handsome young cast, debauchery — who could ask for anything more?

THE COMEBACKS

Who: David Koechner, Robert Ri’chard, DJ Qualls.

What: After being labeled the worst college football coach in history, Coach Fields attempts to revive his career by coaching a group of losers.

Why: Movies like this don’t have to be smart, they just have to be smartly positioned.

THE LAST LEGION

Who: Thomas Sangster, Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, Aishwarya Rai, Peter Mullan, John Hannah.

What: With the city under siege, young Roman soldier Romulus Augustus travels to Britain to gather support and troops.

Why: With 300 priming audiences for brutal violence and hot, chiseled men, The Last Legion could wage war at the box office.

AUGUST 31

MR. BEAN’S HOLIDAY

Who: Rowan Atkinson, Willem Dafoe.

What: While vacationing in Paris, the bumbling Mr. Bean loses his video diary, which inadvertently becomes a sensation at the Cannes Film Festival.

Why: With his sad-sack rubber face and good intentions, it is impossible not to fall under Atkinson’s spell. Count me in.

THE BROTHERS SOLOMON

Who: Will Arnett, Will Forte, Jenna Fischer, Kristen Wiig, David Koechner, Chi McBride.

What: In order to fulfill their father’s dying wish, brothers Arnett and Forte race against time to sire an offspring.

Why: Haven’t we seen this film before?