Summer means a lot of things. For us, it’s a time when Hollywood studios crank out some of the best stuff they’ve got. This summer is shaping up to be one of the best and biggest on record; predictions are strong that theater owners will break the existing 2011 summer box-office record of $4.4 billion.

Get ready to put the hammer down with Vin Diesel in Fast & Furious 6.

The math sure seems to support it. Industry analysts have predicted that more than 20 films being released this summer could earn $100 million or more apiece, and many of those films will easily make much more than that. Iron Man 3, for example, has already earned more than $1 billion globally…after only four weeks of release. If each of those other 19 films makes just $179 million, Summer 2013 will officially become the biggest summer movie season ever.

Here are our picks for this summer’s 10 hottest coming attractions:

1. Fast & Furious 6
Release Date: May 24
Why it Should be a Blockbuster: Director Justin Lin (who directed four of the F&F films) returns with stars like Paul Walker and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in tow. The Superbowl teaser gave us exactly what we expect from this Hollywood Hot Wheels hit—over-the-top F&F action sequences (like a car being driven out of the back of a crashing plane)—and Vin Diesel behind the wheel of a muscle car. ‘Nuff said.

2. Monsters University
Release Date: June 21
Why it Should be a Blockbuster: Pixar takes the “Monsters Inc.” franchise and dusts it off for a long-awaited sequel, or should we say prequel? The film tells the story of how Mike and Sulley met—at college. Think Animal House meets Revenge of the Nerds, but only as a cartoon.

Johnny Depp is Tonto in The Lone Ranger. The white mare is played by master actor Daniel Day Lewis (Lincoln).

 
3. The Lone Ranger
Release Date: July 3
Why it Should be a Blockbuster: Johnny Depp is Tonto. Armie Hammer (The Social Network) is the Lone Ranger. Both are riding high in the saddle on Disney’s summer flagship, a big-budget (north of $250 million) licensing bonanza (including action figures and more). However, westerns—in particular, action-adventure westerns (cough, Cowboys & Aliens)—are notoriously expensive and hard to market. So are pirate movies. That said, this is the same team (producer Jerry Bruckheimer & director Gore Verbinski) that brought us the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise—and as we recall, that turned out pretty well for them.

4. Pacific Rim
Release Date: July 12
Why it Should be a Blockbuster: This is Guillermo del Toro’s (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) labor of love and with it del Toro claims he will do things on the screen that have never been done in an action movie. Genius director del Toro grew up on Godzilla movies and this movie features giant monsters battling giant robots. Ticket, please!

Now this is what a summer blockbuster is supposed to look like! It’s monsters versus robots in Pacific Rim.

5. The Wolverine
Release Date: July 26
Why it Should be a Blockbuster: The Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan to find himself. While there he gets on the bad side of ninjas and the yakuza. James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) helms the film and promises some amazing action.

6. R.I.P.D.
Release Date: July 19
Why it Should be a Blockbuster: Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds play dead lawmen, who in the afterlife don’t find themselves retired but instead back at work in the Rest in Peace Department. It’s their job to make sure the living don’t come into contact with the unsavory spectres from the underworld. This is the movie Men in Black would have been if Agents J and K were dead and chasing ghosts, instead of out catching aliens.

Bald is beautiful, baby! Matt Damon’s head shines in Elysium.

7. Elysium
Release Date: August 9
Why it Should be a Blockbuster: Neill Blomkamp, who co-wrote and directed 2009′s District 9, returns with another thought-provoking sci-fi flick. In this one, Earth’s been ruined and the only lucky humans are the wealthy elite who inhabit a near-perfect space habitat called Elysium. Hopefully the film’s moved release date isn’t a bad omen. Engineered for iMax and featuring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.

8. Man of Steel
Release Date:June 14
Why it Should be a Blockbuster: Superman gets the boot—the reboot that is! Henry Cavill takes to the skies in the title role, as the Superman story gets told again, from the very beginning. Produced by Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight” trilogy, Inception) and also starring Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner and Laurence Fishburne.

9. World War Z
Release Date: June 21
Why it Should be a Blockbuster: Brad Pitt’s personally taken an interest in the success of this movie, considering he’s both the star and one of the producers of this undead nightmare. (His production company outbid Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company for the rights to Max Brooks’ book.) And oh yeah, the guy that directed Quantum of Solace is behind the camera. Get ready for the zombie apocalypse to play out on the big screen.

The USS Enterprise needs a serious tune-up in Star Trek Into Darkness.

10. Star Trek Into Darkness
Release Date: May 17
Why it Should be a Blockbuster: The previous film in this fabled series (2009′s Star Trek) successfully rebooted the franchise with a new crew for a younger audience. This time out, the crew of the USS Enterprise takes on an adventure that sees the return of Khan and the near destruction of their iconic space cruiser.

Have a Blockbuster Summer
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