For the year, revenue is about 8.5 percent ahead of 2011's, down from the double-digit lead before summer arrived. "Amazing Spider-Man" and "Dark Knight Rises" on their own may ensure that Hollywood breaks its summer record and continues on to top the all-time annual high of $10.6 billion domestically set in 2009.
July and August also have a solid lineup of potential second-tier hits, among them "Ice Age: Continental Drift," ''The Bourne Legacy," ''The Expendables 2" and "Total Recall."
There's usually a breakout on the comedy front, too, films such as "The Hangover" and "Bridesmaids" that open well then linger on to become unexpected smashes in subsequent weeks. With good reviews and a clever premise, "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane's talking teddy bear comedy "Ted" has a shot at becoming a sleeper hit if audiences talk it up after its debut Friday.
The out-of-nowhere hit helps keep franchise-driven Hollywood honest and earnest to mix in fresh ideas with the familiar sequels and remakes, and this summer is due for something new.
"It's so much better than having the hype and the expectation of being great and then not delivering," said "Ted" star Mark Wahlberg, who plays a grown man whose stuffed bear magically came alive when he was a boy and now is his raunchy, party-hearty roommate. "It's always better to surprise people."
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