Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Half-Naked Angelina Jolie Ready To Heat Up Winter Box Office

Here are 10 movies, including 'The Golden Compass' and 'I Am Legend,' that could steal some of summer's blockbuster thunder.

Superheroes, pirates, dueling wizards — if the seasons were a family, summer would be the overachieving firstborn: It gets all the glory.

What it doesn’t get are all the blockbusters. We took a look at the next two months and chronicled our 10 most-anticipated movies that we think have a real shot at scoring at the box office.

(Check out photos from all these upcoming flicks, including an exclusive image from “The Golden Compass.” )

Movie: “Fred Claus”

Release Date: November 9

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why: Santa Claus’ dysfunctional, sarcastic, jailbird older brother is coming to town! After successful comedies like “Bad Santa” and “Elf,” the big guy at the North Pole gets another revisionist look with stars Paul Giamatti and Vince Vaughn as the siblings Claus, out to save Christmas from the evil clutches of Kevin Spacey. Note from the director to his stars: “Be good for goodness’ sake”?

Movie: “Beowulf”

Release Date: November 16

How do you take one of the oldest epic poems in the English language — and the bane of high school students everywhere — and make it a fresh 21st-century adventure? Putting it in the hands of Neil Gaiman, Roger Avary and Robert Zemeckis is probably a good start; and filming it using advanced motion-capture computer technology almost certainly works too. But the real genius? Using a half-naked Angelina Jolie as Grendel’s mom and offering the option of seeing the movie in 3-D.

Movie: “Enchanted”

Release Date: November 21

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, fairy tales were told straight, which is to say, without ironic detachment. A talking deer, for instance, was simply a talking deer, and there was no “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” to invite you in on the joke or to convince you, even subconsciously, that the magic wasn’t real. Then came the dark times, and the land was overrun by an evil called “Shrek.” Can a fairy tale ever be taken seriously again as postmodern entertainment? The slipper fits with “Enchanted,” the story of an animated princess (Amy Adams) who travels to the real world.

Movie: “The Mist”

Release Date: November 21

Stephen King and Frank Darabont are two great tastes. When paired (“The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile”), they’re two great tastes that taste great together. The dynamic duo’s latest follows a group led by David Drayton (Thomas Jane), which is confined to a supermarket by a freak storm full of terrible little beasties. What monsters lie deep within the unknowable mist? More important to King and Darabont, what monsters lie deep within ourselves?

Movie: “Hitman”

Release Date: November 21

Want to make a quick buck with a critically reviled film? Make one based on a video game. At least, that’s the trend recently, if movies like “Resident Evil,” “Tomb Raider” and “Doom” are any indication. But history be damned: “Hitman” has us jazzed, if only because of Timothy Olyphant as gun-for-hire Agent 47. We’d watch that guy play Pac-Man.

Movie: “The Golden Compass”

Release Date: December 7

Don’t be fooled. Warrior animals, witches, talk of souls (specifically, how you can split them), a seemingly insurmountable quest undertaken by a callow protagonist? It might sound somewhat familiar, but “Golden Compass” ain’t your grandfather’s fantasy series. “Compass” follows Lyra as she journeys to the North in search of her father (Daniel Craig), a researcher looking into the secrets of Dust. In many respects the anti-”Narnia” because of its condemnation of religion , will “Compass” also prove to be the anti-”Lord of the Rings” when it comes to box-office sales? New Line certainly hopes not.

Movie: “I Am Legend”

Release Date: December 14

Adding $100 million-grossing romantic comedies (“Hitch”) and melodramas (“The Pursuit of Happyness”) to a filmography that already included several certified blockbusters arguably makes Will Smith the world’s biggest movie star. But can the alpha male make due as the omega? Smith stars as the last man on Earth in “Legend,” spending most of his time kicking vampire butt (see “Will Smith Thrilled About Becoming The Last Man On Earth” ). Us? We’d learn how to juggle.

Movie: “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Release Date: December 21

There was a time, not so long ago, when you could talk of Johnny Depp, Tim Burton and even movie musicals as all being underappreciated. No more. Adapted from the Broadway musical about a vengeful barber who gives all his customers a, er, close shave, “Sweeney” combines all three, positioning itself not just for box-office dominance, but for Oscar glory as well. In an age of endless product placement and movie tie-ins, can the Mach Sweeney (TM Gillette) be far behind?

Movie: “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”

Release Date: December 21

Among the current crop of movie blockbusters, can you think of one that ends on a happier note than “National Treasure”? Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) not only gets the girl (Diane Kruger) and the money (billions), but solves a worldwide conspiracy in the process. So what could the man who has everything possibly want from a sequel? Turns out Ben’s great-great-grandfather might have — cough — killed Abraham Lincoln. I suppose that would make me want to solve another worldwide conspiracy — this time by kidnapping the president, breaking into Buckingham Palace and stealing 18 missing pages from the diary of John Wilkes Booth — too.

Movie: “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”

Release Date: December 21

Judd Apatow and John C. Reilly join forces to spoof musical biopics. … Need we say more?

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