Hollywood is counting on 13 being a lucky number. After a record-breaking 2012, which saw $10.8 billion in ticket sales, studios will cross their fingers over the 2013 slate of films. USA TODAY’s Scott Bowles takes a look at 13 of the entries, as well as the lucky charms that studio execs will be rubbing when their flicks hit theaters. (Opening dates are subject to change.)
‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’
Story: James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, aka Oz, a small-time circus magician whisked to the land of yellow brick roads.
Good-luck charm: That wonderful wizard. Never mind that the original is an all-time great. As seen with the popular musical Wicked, Oz seems to be home to tantalizing origins stories.
Story: The film is set in a dystopian future, where Tom Cruise plays a drone repairman who makes a discovery that could alter the war with an alien race and mankind’s future.
Good-luck charm: Cruise. Though he’s become a box-office wild card of late — his Rock of Ages did $39 million, while Jack Reacher has collected a middling $52 so far — he remains a potent draw, particularly overseas. Remember: He powered the fourth Mission: Impossible installment to $209 million domestically and $695 million worldwide.
‘The Great Gatsby’
Story: Baz Luhrmann is the latest director to adapt F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story about the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby.
Good-luck charm: Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. While he’s known more for late-year and Oscar-geared fare, DiCaprio is one of Hollywood’s biggest draws, averaging $90 million a movie.
‘Star Trek Into Darkness’
Story: On its way back to Earth, the crew of the Enterprise discovers a one-man weapon of mass destruction and begins a hunt for him.
Good-luck charm: Trekkies! Sure, the series took a couple knocks when William Shatner got too creaky for the captain’s chair. Still, the previous 11 installments have done more than $1 billion domestically — including $258 million in 2009, when director J.J. Abrams rebooted the franchise.
Story: A teenager (Amanda Seyfried) finds herself transported to a deep-woods setting where there’s a battle raging between those who want to keep the natural world alive and evil forces who wish to destroy it.
Good-luck charm: An all-star animated/CGI team. Directed by Chris Wedge, Epic reunites the creators of Ice Age and Rio, both big hits with the kids.
Story: After a crash landing, a father and son explore a planet apparently evacuated by mankind 1,000 years ago.
Good-luck charm: Will Smith, one of the planet’s biggest box-office draws. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Earth teams Smith with his real-life son Jaden, who worked with his dad in 2006′s The Pursuit of Happyness.
‘Man of Steel’
Story: The famous tale of an extraterrestrial infant who is raised on Earth, a home he’s come to love and guard, is retold by director Zack Snyder.
Good-luck charm: That big red S. Though the Superman franchise has seen multiple stars and directors through its five incarnations, the last son of Krypton still has America’s heart and averages $104 million a movie.
Story: This animated look back at the friendship of Mike (voiced by Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) starts when they meet at the University of Fear and occasionally butt oversized heads.
Good-luck charm: Pixar. The studio has never opened a movie that didn’t make its debut at No. 1. And though it’s been a while since we met Mike and Sulley, in 2001′s Monsters, Inc. ($278 million), they’ve stayed current as popular videos, games and theme-park rides.
‘World War Z’
Story: The United Nations dispatches Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) to stop a pandemic that’s toppling armies and governments and threatens humanity.
Good-luck charm: Pitt. The guy’s pretty unstoppable when he’s given a little stunt work. Witness Mr. & Mrs. Smith ($186 million) and Inglourious Basterds ($121 million).
‘Despicable Me 2′
Story: The criminal mastermind Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) reunites with a trio of orphan girls. And this time, the yellow, jabbering minions may be in peril.
Good-luck charm: Carell, who has become one of the few TV stars to make a successful leap into films, particularly as a voice actor. He anchored the original 2010 cartoon ($252 million), as well as Horton Hears a Who! ($154 million) and Over the Hedge ($155 million).
Story: Our X-Men comic-book superhero (Hugh Jackman), who has anger and alloy issues, travels to Japan to train with a samurai warrior.
Good-luck charm: Fanboys. X-Men marked one of the first comic-book adaptations to take a dark tone, and it’s been a canny move: None of the five previous films has earned less than $146 million.
Story: In 2159, where the rich live on space stations and the poor stay on a decimated Earth, Max (Matt Damon) takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.
Good-luck charm: Director Neill Blomkamp. This will be his first film since 2009′s District 9, which did $116 million, earned a best-picture Oscar nomination — and left finicky sci-fi die-hards impatient for his next project.
‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’
Story: In the continuing adventures of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), the skilled archer fights to represent the impoverished in a glum future world.
Good luck charm: Suzanne Collins. The author of the best-selling novels has a near-Twilight following. Games collected $408 million last year, the second-highest grossing film of 2012. That ensures a fan frenzy with this installment.
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