Summer movie season is kicking off, with Hollywood hoping for another record-breaking season at the box office.
This summer probably won't beat last year's box office, however. The lineup is missing a Pixar film and other big earning franchises of recent years such as "Avengers/Iron Man" and "Batman," says Cowen analyst Doug Creutz. There are also fewer "tentpole" films—movies with a budget of $100 million or more.
But worry not, moviegoers. There will still be a plenty of options, thanks to a greater variety of films in the lineup.
"Last year, there really wasn't a ton of way in counter-programming," Creutz says. "There's a better balance this year between tentpoles and non-tentpole films."
Here are the top 12 films of the summer from Creutz, who compiles a forecast every year, in order of release date.
—By Jaewon Kang, special to CNBC.
"Amazing Spider-Man 2" kicked off the summer movie season on May 2. In this sequel to "Amazing Spider-Man," Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is, once again, protecting New Yorkers from the bad guys including Electro (Jamie Foxx). The release date bodes well for the film, Creutz notes, as action movies that hit the screens in May's first weekend have historically delivered solid performances.
"Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston is joining Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen for this reboot of 1998 sci-fi monster franchise. "Godzilla" is out May 16. Creutz points to two factors that will boost the film: Cranston's name recognition and the film's loyal interpretation of the original series by Japan's Toho Studio.
X-Men is back. Previous "X-Men" releases have done well at the box office, and the series has played a significant role in the superhero genre's comeback. The film, coming to theaters May 23, brings together older cast members that include Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart from the previous "X-Men" films and younger faces such as Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender.
The proven rom-com duo, Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, is reuniting after almost a decade. The two starred in "50 First Dates" and "Wedding Singer," both of which were big successes. The film, about a blind date turning into a bad family trip, is also out May 23.
Seth MacFarlane, the mind behind 2012 smash "Ted," is back at it again with this Western cowboy comedy. MacFarlane has set himself apart with "Ted," and the film is an early favorite among critics and industry analysts alike. This R-rated comedy will be released May 30.
Will evil be beautiful in the theaters this summer? Angelina Jolie is playing an iconic villain from a Disney classic, "Sleeping Beauty." The movie, hitting the screens May 30, comes as Disney rides the wave of its huge success from last year, "Frozen."
This thriller, which is based on a Japanese novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, features Tom Cruise. Cruise plays Major Bill Cage who fights to save earth from an alien race called Mimics. According to Creutz, its June 6 release date, which comes before "Transformers," will provide a lift.
Officers have relocated to 22 Jump Street from 21 Jump Street. This time, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are taking down a drug ring as college students. The film's predecessor, "21 Jump Street" surprised the movie scene in 2012 with commercial and critical success. It's hitting the screens June 13.
"How to Train Your Dragon 2," also out June 13, is the only big-budgeted animation film in the lineup this summer. This contrasts with last year's animation pipeline featuring "Despicable Me 2" and "Monster University." Hiccup and Toothless from "How to Train Your Dragon" are once again trying to preserve the peace between dragons and vikings in their island.
This remake of a popular Broadway musical about an iconic pop group, The Four Seasons, is out June 20. "Jersey Boys" may be the next "Mamma Mia!"—a 2008 screen adaptation of a musical that was among the top 12 grossing films—according to Creutz.
Michael Bey has a fourth "Transformers" movie, but this time with Mark Wahlberg and without Shia LaBeouf. Creutz says it is hitting the theaters at a good time, June 27, when there is no genre competition for a couple weeks. The "Transformers" franchise has also been building a strong momentum, they noted, adding that Wahlberg will also help the film.
The tale of apes versus humans may seem outdated, but this reboot of "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is already receiving attention. Creutz points to two elements that are boding well for the film: motion capture expert Andy Serkis and a thoughtful plot. The film hits theaters July 11.