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Indiana Jones and the box office slump

It's been a rough start for the movie industry this year. And despite some big sequels (Indy's back!) there are concerns that this could be a cruel summer for Hollywood.

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Iron Man
Release date: May 2
Studio: Marvel Entertainment Inc. MVL

Evildoers beware! This summer's lineup of potential blockbusters features a parade of larger-than-life heroes, including Iron Man, Speed Racer, Batman, Indian Jones and my own personal hero, Kung Fu Panda.

Hollywood is hoping they will jump-start what has been a lackluster year at the box-office so far. But last summer's perfect storm of sequels--led by the third installment of the Spider-Man franchise, which brought in a whopping $890 million worldwide--will be difficult to beat.

"Iron Man" kicks off the season on May 2 and could bring in as much as $77 million when it opens in 3,800 theaters, according to industry research firm

Comic book publisher Marvel took on more of the production cost for the film as the company has expanded its movie business following the success of other movies based on its comic book characters, such as Spider-Man and the X-Men.

"Marvel has grown bigger and is now strong enough to hold on to new films," said's Gitesh Pandya. And with its new clout, the publisher could see an enormous profit if "Iron Man" is a hit.

The movie stars Robert Downey Jr. as cynical weapons maker Tony Stark who, after being taken prisoner in Afghanistan, decides to use his technological powers for good instead of evil.

The decision to cast Downey, whose resume does not fit the typical action star stereotype, surprised some industry experts and could give the movie an unconventional edge.

NEXT: Speed Racer
Last updated May 02 2008: 5:59 PM ET

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