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Expect more of the same from box office hits in 2011

Flipping the calendar to 2011 doesn't mean Hollywood will change anything that worked in 2010 — or any year before that.

With the exception of Inception, last year's top moneymakers were the usual assortment of sequels, remakes and cartoons. And 3-D technology couldn't always disguise the fact that we've essentially seen this stuff before. We'll see much of it again in 2011.

Here are the upcoming year's expected highlights, at box offices if not always on the screen:

All things being sequel

One unduly extended finale ends July 15 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II) while another begins Nov. 18 (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1). Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 20) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (July 1) try making amends for what went wrong last time. The Hangover, Part II (May 26) goes to Thailand because it's the only place with a sinful reputation rivaling Las Vegas.

Comic book heroes

The summer looks Marvel-ous with Thor (May 6), the X-Men: First Class prequel (June 3) and Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22). Ryan Reynolds stars as DC Comics stalwart Green Lantern (June 17) while Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig play Cowboys and Aliens (July 29). Even though he debuted on radio, The Green Hornet (Jan. 14) is generating buzz.

'Toons keep humming

We'll get obvious encores such as Cars 2 (June 24) and Kung Fu Panda 2 (July 21) plus the new parental guilt trips Gnomeo and Juliet (Feb. 11) and The Smurfs (Aug. 3). Good luck with not confusing the talking lizard Rango (March 4) with the talking macaw Rio (April 15). And, they're puppets but The Muppets (Nov. 23) are a better fit in this category than anywhere.

Novel ideas

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Dec. 21) loses the subtitles but hopefully not the suspense of the Swedish original, based on Stieg Larsson's book. Martin Scorsese goes 3-D with the childhood fantasy Hugo Cabret (Dec. 9) while Johnny Depp stars in Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary (release date TBA). Kathryn Stockett's civil rights-era soap opera The Help (Aug. 12) should attract kindred, Kindled spirits.

1980s flashbacks

Dudley Moore and Patrick Swayze are dead. Kevin Bacon's career has a faint pulse. But we'll get remakes of Arthur (April 11), with Russell Brand taking over for Moore, Footloose (Oct. 14) and Red Dawn (release date TBA) before being stuck in the '80s runs out of retro-worth to Hollywood. Sprinkle in a reboot of Fright Night, a prequel to The Thing, and a coming-of-age-in-one-night flick (Take Me Home Tonight, March 4) and 2011 looks like 1984 all over again.

Spielberg's return

Steven Spielberg's best years in the past decade — most recently 2005 — saw the filmmaker releasing two new works. He turns the double play again with the battlefield drama War Horse (Dec. 28) and the stop-motion animated Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (Dec. 28). For good measure, he's also producing J.J. Abrams' hush-hush sci-fi project, Super 8 (June 10).

The kids will understand

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (Feb. 11).

Steve Persall can be reached at persall@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at tampabay.com/blogs/movies.

Expect more of the same from box office hits in 2011 01/05/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 10, 2011 3:59pm]

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