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Summer movie sequel season kicks into high gear

May 30, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Johnny Depp's fourth turn as Captain Jack Sparrow kicked it off the summer season in a big way. This holiday weekend we've got a double dose of "sequel-itis," with new versions of both "The Hangover" and "Kung Fu Panda." Three summer movie sequels, and it's not even June yet.

"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" has already earned more than $100 million.

And it looks like it's helped set the stage for a big box-office summer.

The gang from "The Hangover Part II" is not monkeying around and has started off strong this opening weekend.

And the animated animals of "Kung Fu Panda 2" are kicking some box-office butt of their own over Memorial Day.

This coming Friday, the familiar characters from the "X-Men" series return with the prequel, "X-Men: First Class." This time the focus is on Professor X and how the mutants initially came together. James McAvoy plays the young Charles Xavier. Michael Fassbender is the young man who will one day be known as Magneto. And the actors think die-hard fans will "Marvel" at the finished product.

"I think their expectations are high. I think they generally are in terms of the X-Men fans, and from my experience, comic book fans, in general, they're very passionate about the material, very loyal and very vocal, and so it's nice to have that bit of pressure," said Fassbender. "I think both of us enjoy a little fear element in terms of keeping you on your toes."

"X-Men: First Class" also features Jennifer Lawrence and January Jones as part of the ensemble cast.

Later in June, we have another animated sequel parking itself on the big screen. Lightning McQueen revs up his engine for "Cars 2," with Owen Wilson returning to voice the souped-up race car, along with his tow-truck pal, Mater, and the voice of Larry the Cable Guy.

They head to Europe to compete in the Grand Prix. Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer are new voices to the franchise.

The Fourth of July holiday kicks off with the third in the "Transformers" series. This time, we head to the "Dark of the Moon." Shia LaBeouf is back, rescuing his hot new girlfriend, played by newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whitely.

The film also features returning cast members Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and various Decepticons and Autobots.

And what is arguably the most anticipated sequel of the summer hits theaters on July 15.

In "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," the boy wizard must save Hogwarts and his friends, once and for all, from the evil Voldemort.

The film picks up right where Part 1 left off, with Voldemort in possession of one of the Deathly Hallows, a wand that will guarantee him immortality. Are Harry and the gang going to let that happen? What do you think?

At the end of the summer we'll also have "Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World," and "Final Destination 5."

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