The summer movie season is well and truly upon us, the time when the studios break out the big guns and hit us with those mega movies that (at least some of the time) expect us to leave our brains at the door. We have some pretty major films being released this summer but which of them will make the most money?

I think we have to start off with The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s third and final part of his Batman trilogy before he sails off and makes other movies. After all, he is one of the best creative forces working in Hollywood right now so it’s only fair, and probably best, that he leave the Batman universe behind and give us something a little different like he did with The Prestige which was squeezed in between the two previous Caped Crusader movies (and of course with Inception post-Dark Knight).

There’s no Joker this time around, after the sad passing of Heath Ledger, but rather the powerful Bane (being played by the sought-after Tom Hardy) and Catwoman (played by Anne Hathaway). The full trailer released for the film – in which we see Bane destroy an entire American football field – was incredible and I think it will be hard to beat in terms of both quality and success at the box office (even without the added price of 3D). $1 billion-plus last time around is nothing to ignore…

However, Batman isn’t the only hero set to appear on our screens this summer. We also have The Amazing Spider-Man, Sony’s reboot to their franchise first started just a decade ago. Many (myself included) say it’s far too soon for another cinematic Spider-Man incarnation (even if it means wiping away the stink left by Spider-Man 3) and that may lead to people being putt off – different director (the appropriately named Marc Webb of 500 Days of Summer fame), different/darker style, different villain (The Lizard instead of the Green Goblin) and most importantly a different actor playing the eponymous hero, with The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield donning the famous red and blue suit instead of Tobey Maguire. Don’t get me wrong, The Amazing Spider-Man will still make  a lot of money but will it reach the mammoth numbers of Sam Raimi’s movies? Unlikely.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Undoubtedly one of the biggies of the summer movie season is The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble for us in the UK. Groan…), Marvel’s superhero team-up movie that brings together Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow to fight off Thor’s brother Loki and his mysterious army. We’ve had five movies as build up to this mammoth project and I think that will reflect in its overall box office. Somehow even the might of all those movies doesn’t give off the notion that it will come out on top over The Dark Knight Rises but it certainly won’t bomb either. Apparently it’s excellent as well, which is always a bonus though, sadly, never the main issue when it comes to these types of movies and their box office prospects.

Even though the summer is mostly populated by superhero and action movies aimed at comic and movie geeks (I say that, as one myself, in the nicest way possible!) and teenage boys, we mustn’t forget kids make up a big portion of the movie-going audience and you better believe the studios are there to take advantage/accommodate. There are a couple of animated sequels of sequels coming out including Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, which both fit into the “Why are they still making these?” category that can be swiftly answered with “Money, that’s why.” The last Madagascar movie made $603 million, while Ice Age 3 made $886 million. So yes, they are going to make more and more of these. I think we’re looking at less financial success for both franchises with these installments, so they won’t win the battle, but will certainly still make a ton of money.

Of course there’s always Pixar to count on, who do a great job of catering both to children and adults in a way few other (if any) animation studios are able to. There latest is Brave, the studio’s first fairytale story which is set in (my native) Scotland and looks utterly fantastic. Regardless of quality, Pixar’s movies always make money but the great thing is they usually, with the exception of the Cars movies, have the highest of quality to back that up.

June brings us one of the mostly hotly anticipated movies of the year, Prometheus, the is-it-is-it-not Alien prequel which sees the legendary director Ridley Scott return to the sci-fi genre for the first time since Blade Runner 30 years ago (yes it really has been that long). It has arguably the best trailer of the year so far and you can almost feel the anticipation in the air among film fans for this one. Will that enthusiasm transfer to big bucks this summer? I think so, though I can’t see it coming out on top.

Prometheus

We mustn’t forget that we have another Bourne movie coming, entitled The Bourne Legacy. What it lacks in Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass it makes up for in man-of-the-minute Jeremy Renner (don’t worry, he’s playing another agent not replacing Damon in the tital role) and director Tony Gilroy (he co-wrote the previous three movies). The trailer is great, wiping away pretty much any fear people may have add about this franchise carrying on sans the main character, but will that lack of Damon hurt its chances at the box office? It’s entirely possible.

Other major movies that are going to see big returns this summer include GI Joe: Retaliation, the sequel to the stupid but fun film from 2009; The Expendables 2, adding Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme to the cast just when you thought it couldn’t get anymore macho;  Snow White and the Huntsman, the second of this summer’s Snow White movies which appears to be taking a far more serious route than the cheesy Mirror Mirror; Men In Black 3, the third film in the ridiculously successful sci-fi franchise which brings along with it pretty much the only truly bankable A-list actor, Will Smith; and finally Total Recall, the remake of the early 90s Arnold Schwarzenegger movie this time starring Colin Farrell. Directed by Len Wiseman (the Underworld franchise), from the trailer this looks like one of those movies with cool action but not much to back it up.

Of course there are tons more movies to hit our screens this summer (Rock of Ages, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Piranha 3DD, Dark Shadows and so on…) but those are just the major movies that are going to trouble our bank accounts the most. Of course, heavy-hitters like Battleship, The Hunger Games and Wrath of the Titans have already started to make their mark on the box office (Battleship in the UK) so those might be contenders at the end of the day. But looking at what’s to come my money, so to speak, is on The Dark Knight Rises to win the summer movie money battle.

What are you betting on?