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Walt Disney Motion Pictures
Robert Downey Jr. stars in “Iron Man 3,” which debuts on May 3.
2013 movie preview

Everything new is old, again

Familiar names dominate lineup

“Monsters University” premieres June 21.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Knoxville star in “The Last Stand,” which opened Friday.

It’s not really news that Arnold Schwarzenegger is back this year. Everybody else in Hollywood is, too, so why not the former California governor?

Schwarzenegger’s back with this month’s action tale “The Last Stand,” while fellow aging action star Bruce Willis returns in February’s “A Good Day to Die Hard,” the fifth installment in his “Die Hard” series.

Superheroes return throughout the year with “Iron Man 3,” “The Wolverine,” “Thor: The Dark World” and a new take on Superman with “Man of Steel.” Animated pals revisit with follow-ups to “Despicable Me,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” “The Smurfs” and “Monsters, Inc.” Horror is resurrected with fresh stabs at “Carrie” and “The Evil Dead.” Action crews re-enlist for more on the “G.I. Joe,” “The Fast and the Furious” and “Star Trek” fronts. Comedy crews go for more laughs with “The Hangover Part III” and “Grown Ups 2.” Even old favorites such as “Jurassic Park,” “The Little Mermaid” and a couple more “Star Wars” prequels come back in 3-D reissues.

And the next chapters quickly follow for two of 2012’s biggest hits with “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

Winter and spring

This used to be the dead zone, when studios dumped stinkers into theaters and counted the days until summer blockbuster season. Yet recently, the first few months of the year have yielded big hits, including “The Hunger Games” and “Dr. Seuss’ the Lorax” last March.

In “The Last Stand,” which opened Friday, Schwarzenegger is back for his first starring role since leaving the governor’s office, playing an LA-cop-turned-small-town-sheriff taking on an escaped drug kingpin.

His “Expendables 2” co-star Willis is back in “A Good Day to Die Hard,” opening Feb. 15, as the cop who won’t quit teams with his son to stop a nuclear heist in Moscow.

And rounding out the still-in-action ’80s heroes, their “Expendables” buddy Sylvester Stallone stars in February’s “Bullet to the Head” as a hitman working with a cop to get the bad guys that killed their partners.

Summer season

In Hollywood, summer starts the first weekend in May, and this year that means Robert Downey Jr. suits up again as rich, flaky genius Tony Stark in “Iron Man 3,” back in leading-man form after 2012’s superhero ensemble smash “The Avengers.” This time, Tony’s forced to fall back on his own survival skills after an enemy up-ends his universe.

“Tony definitely is brought out of his comfort zone, so there’s a lot of travel in this,” Downey said.

Two weeks later comes “Star Trek Into Darkness,” with headstrong Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine) still feeling the growing pains as he struggles to protect his crew from peril while realizing that he doesn’t have all the answers. Not quite the brassy Kirk we remember from William Shatner’s days on the bridge.

“He’s not the Capt. Kirk that we knew before. He’s not the mature leader of men yet,” Pine said. “It brings all of his kind of brash, all-knowing sense of himself up against the reality of, “Well, do you really know what you’re doing?’ ”

Fall and holidays

Part 2 of “The Hobbit” may own next Christmas, but Thanksgiving will be all about “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Jennifer Lawrence is back as reluctant hero Katniss, hurled back into competition against fellow past winners of the life-or-death games.

The usual worry after a critical and commercial smash is whether the sequel can match up. Lawrence isn’t sweating that, though.

“I didn’t think, we’ve got to do as good or better, which is probably a very basic thing to think about. It’s probably a good idea to think that way,” Lawrence said. “But I didn’t. Then when I read the script and started seeing everything developing, I really did think it could be better. And I’m definitely not worrying about it being worse or disappointing. I don’t even consider that.”