The carefree days of summer are just ahead, which means warm weekends, light traffic and vacation plans. And yet, filmmakers seem to have something darker in mind: doomsday. Movie releases promise a zombie apocolyse and massive monsters, humans moving to another planet and others relocating to a space station. There are even a couple of catastrophe comedies. Of course, if armageddon isn’t your thing, there will be other options. Read on for a look at upcoming theater releases, including some lighter, less cataclysmic entertainment. Opening dates and film ratings may change. The release dates listed below are for Washington-area theaters; some movies may open earlier in other cities. Check for updates. Click on the movie title for ticket information and trailers.

May 10

The Great Gatsby (PG-13)

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton

Scoop: A star-studded cast will bring F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel to the big screen in 3-D with a soundtrack that includes Jay-Z and Lana Del Rey. This would sound preposterous if writer-director Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge,” “Romeo + Juliet”) hadn’t helmed the fireworks display of a movie.

Tyler Perry Presents Peeples (PG-13)

Stars: Craig Robinson, David Alan Grier and Kerry Washington

Scoop: Despite the title, Perry merely produced this comedy, which can only be good news after the mess that was “Tyler Perry’s Temptation.” Tina Gordon Chism, who penned “Drumline,” wrote and directed this “Meet the Parents”-like circus of discomfort.

My Brother the Devil (unrated)

Stars: James Floyd, Fady Elsayed and Saïd Taghmaoui

Scoop: Sally El Hosaini’s first feature, which is making a splash on the festival circuit, focuses on two young British-Arab brothers navigating a gritty section of London that’s rife with gang activity.

Kiss of the Damned (R)

Stars: Josephine de La Baume, Roxane Mesquida and Milo Ventimiglia

Scoop: Part romance, part horror, Xan Cassavetes’s vampire movie follows an undead woman at war with her sister.

In the House (R)

Stars: Fabrice Luchini, Ernst Umhauer and Kristin Scott Thomas

Scoop: The mysterious French film looks at the relationship between a jaded literature teacher and his pupil, a talented writer who insinuates himself into a classmate’s home and secretly chronicles the family’s day-to-day activities.

Venus and Serena (PG-13)

Scoop: The documentary reflects on the rise of the tennis-playing Williams sisters from Compton, Calif., as they fight injuries and obstacles during the 2011 season.

May 15

Star Trek Into Darkness (PG-13)

Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana

Scoop: With a total of 12 films, this franchise has definitely lived long and prospered. And after J.J. Abrams’s 2009 reboot struck box-office gold, a sequel couldn’t be far behind.

Why to see it: The most recent “Star Trek” was that rare action movie that pleased both filmgoers and critics, not to mention the franchise’s legion of fanatics. Abrams has reassembled almost all of the same players, adding rising star Benedict Cumberbatch to the mix to play the mysterious John Harrison.

May 17

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s (PG-13)

Scoop: The documentary about the New York fashion mecca includes interviews with Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Candice Bergen, Joan Rivers and other designers, tastemakers and critics.

Something In the Air (unrated)

Stars: Clément Métayer, Lola Créton and Felix Armand

Scoop: The semi-autobiographical drama from French writer-director Olivier Assayas follows young radicals during the late 1960s and early ’70s.

Stories We Tell (PG-13)

Scoop: Child actress-turned-filmmaker Sarah Polley turns the camera on her family for this documentary. The non-linear accumulation of story fragments and interviews ultimately releases a skeleton from the Polley family closet.

The Iceman (R)

Stars: Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta and Winona Ryder

Scoop: Shannon portrays Richard Kuklinski, a contract killer responsible for more than 100 murders who led a double life as a suburban family man.

May 24

Fast and Furious 6 (PG-13)

Stars: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker and Jason Statham

Scoop: The ride continues, and it may never end, given that Diesel recently announced “Fast and Furious 7” will drop next year. But back to our current reality: The gang reunites for some engine revving, including one character who looked pretty dead the last time we saw her.

The Hangover Part III (R)

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Melissa McCarthy

Scoop: For the supposed final installment of lost-and-found, the wolf pack returns to Las Vegas where they bump into old favorites, including Heather Graham’s hooker with a heart of gold and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong, likely making some kind of full frontal cameo).

Epic (PG)

Stars: The voices of Amanda Seyfried, Beyoncé Knowles and Josh Hutcherson

Scoop: A teenage girl goes looking for her father in the forest and is transformed into an itty-bitty version of herself in this animated adventure.

Frances Ha (R)

Stars: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner and Adam Driver

Scoop: Writer-director Noah Baumbach turns awkward situations into watchable entertainment, but his new film adds an element of surprise: Indie darling Gerwig, who also worked with Baumbach on “Greenberg,” co-wrote the script. She also stars in this black-and-white tale of an offbeat protagonist adrift in society.

What Maisie Knew (R)

Stars: Alexander Skarsgard, Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan

Scoop: The modern and loose adaptation of Henry James’s novel tells the story of a little girl as she witnesses her parents viciously part ways and re-couple with new partners.

Bert Stern: Original Mad Man (unrated)

Scoop: The documentary recounts the turbulent life and meteoric career of a visionary photographer, who captured Marilyn Monroe and Twiggy, among other iconic figures.

May 31

After Earth (PG-13)

Stars: Will Smith, Jaden Smith and
Isabelle Fuhrman

Scoop: Centuries after humans emigrated from Earth to a new planet, a father and son crash land in mankind’s unruly former home. M. Night Shyamalan directs the real-life father and son pairing of Will and Jaden Smith.

Now You See Me (PG-13)

Stars: Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo and Isla Fisher

Scoop: In this mind-bending heist movie, a group of illusionists have some stellar and crowd-pleasing tricks up their sleeves. Their shows feature bank robberies, and the audience members enjoy the spoils. One FBI agent (Ruffalo) is determined to find out how they do it.

Before Midnight (R)

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick

Scoop: Nearly two decades after “Before Sunrise,” writer-director Richard Linklater concludes his trilogy about the on-again, off-again relationship between an American man and the French woman he met on a train.

The East (PG-13)

Stars: Brit Marling, Alexander
Skarsgard, Ellen Page and Jason Ritter

Scoop: Marling’s star launched at Sundance a couple of years ago with a one-two punch of films she wrote and starred in. She teams once again with writer-director Zal Batmanglij for this thriller about a spy embedded among a group of anarchists that wages war on companies that have nefarious aims.

Pieta (unrated)

Stars: Min-soo Jo, Eunjin Kang and Jae-rok Kim

Scoop: Kim Ki-Duk wrote and directed this Korean crime drama about a draconian debt collector who tries to turn his life around when his estranged mother resurfaces.

Why to see it: Moviegoers unable to stomach bloody violence should bypass this film. Those who can handle gore (and lots of it) might discover why the brutal story with a surprise ending took home the coveted Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (R)

Scoop: Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (“Taxi to the Dark Side”) looks at Julian Assange’s divisive Web site that gave whistleblowers a megaphone.

Fill the Void (PG)

Stars: Hila Feldman, Razia Israeli and Yiftach Klein

Scoop: A Hasidic woman dies during childbirth, and her family pressures her sister to marry the widower in this Israeli film.

June 7

The Kings of Summer (R)

Stars: Nick Offerman, Moises Arias, Nick Robinson and Alison Brie

Scoop: Two best friends and one oddball interloper decide to escape their stifling parents and live in the woods for the summer in director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’s feel-good feature debut.

Why to see it: Chris Galletta’s hilarious, heartfelt script could turn this little dramedy into the breakout indie hit of the summer. A cast filled with established comedians, such as Offerman and Megan Mullally, plus fresh talent, including Arias (looking like the next Zach Galifianakis), provides plenty of laughs.

The Internship (not yet rated)

Stars: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson and Rose Byrne

Scoop: Vaughn and Wilson, playing their customary characters (the motormouth and the straight man), are dropped into another fish-out-of-water scenario. After the salesmen lose their jobs, they somehow snag internships at Google, despite their lack of tech knowledge.

The Purge (R)

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey and Tony Oller

Scoop: One night a year, the police let murder and mayhem ensue while turning a blind eye. The one-percenters bolt their doors and turn on their security systems, but the 12-hour period is going to prove especially harrowing for one family when their daughter lets in an outsider.

Dirty Wars (unrated)

Scoop: The Sundance-selected documentary tracks “Blackwater” author and investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill as he travels the globe to research the U.S. government’s “kill list” and uncovers mysteries surrounding the secretive Joint Special Operations Command.

Wish You Were Here (R)

Stars: Felicity Price, Joel Edgerton and Teresa Palmer

Scoop: The non-linear feature debut for Australian writer-director Kieran Darcy-Smith is about four friends who go on vacation together. But when only three return home to Sydney, the group tries to piece together the events of a drug-fueled night in Cambodia.

Shadow Dancer (R)

Stars: Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough and Gillian Anderson

Scoop: Documentary director James Marsh tries his hand at fiction with an adaptation of Tom Bradby’s novel. Set in the 1990s, the drama follows an Irish woman and IRA member who is forced to supply information to British intelligence.

Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie (R)

Scoop: The documentary looks at the 1980s talk show host who chain-smoked on camera and berated his guests, ushering in an era where talking heads could be screaming banshees.

Syrup (R)

Stars: Brittany Snow, Shiloh Fernandez, Amber Heard and Kellan Lutz

Scoop: The adaptation of Max Barry’s cult novel satirizes the gleaming deception of marketing by looking at a slacker with a get-rich-quick scheme.

June 12

This is the End (not yet rated)

Stars: James Franco, Craig Robinson, Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill

Scoop: Members of the cast play themselves, watching Los Angeles collapse around them and facing doomsday with as much urgency as a stoner can muster.

Why to see it: Writers Rogen and Evan Goldberg also penned “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express,” which should give some indication of the idiocy, but also the laughter, audiences can expect. The movie marks the pair’s directorial debut.

June 14

M an of Steel (PG-13)

Stars: Russell Crowe, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams

Scoop: It seems like yesterday that Superman was getting a reboot with Brandon Routh as Krypton’s most famous export. But that was seven years ago, which is long enough (in Hollywood years) to warrant another creation story, this time with “The Tudors” star Cavill in the cape.

Why to see it: In addition to Crowe and Adams, the big-name cast boasts Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and the seemingly ubiquitous Michael Shannon. And Zack Snyder, who also directed “300” and “Watchmen,” knows his way around special effects.

Stuck in Love (R)

Stars: Greg Kinnear, Logan Lerman, Kristen Bell and Jennifer Connelly

Scoop: This might be the “Crazy Stupid Love” of 2013, starring Kinnear as a recently divorced writer struggling with his single status, just as his kids and ex-wife grapple with their own relationships, both within and outside the family.

The Painting (unrated)

Stars: The voices of Jean Barney, Chloe Berthier and Julien Bouanich

Scoop: In this fantastical animated French film, fighting breaks out among the characters in an unfinished painting, leading some of the figures to search for the artist to restore order.

Molly’s Theory of Relativity

Stars: Reed Birney, Cady Huffman and Nicholas Lampiasi

Scoop: A woman who recently has lost her job consults friends, family and imaginary acquaintances on making a big life change.

June 21

World War Z (PG-13)

Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos and David Morse

Scoop: If you thought the zombie takeover had run its course, think again. Seven years after writer Max Brooks’s post-apocalyptic thriller, director Marc Forster is bringing the adaptation to life. Pitt plays a United Nations worker who might save humanity if he can figure out how to stop the proliferation of the undead.

Why to see it: Although rewrites and delays are often the harbingers of disappointing films, it’s hard not to be intrigued by this adaptation. Yes, it’s a zombie movie, but it’s one that seeks to be more of a thoughtful thriller than a campy confection filled with face-eaters.

Much Ado About Nothing (PG-13)

Stars: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg

Scoop: The cast may look familiar to Joss Whedon’s army of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans. Despite populating the film with his usual collaborators, the writer-director defies predictability with a black-and-white adaptation of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy.

Why to see it: Whedon reportedly shot the film in just 12 days, using his own house as the set. And yet, the homemade creation received fairly glowing reviews at its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, proving great things can come from little budgets.

The Bling Ring (R)

Stars: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard and Emma Watson

Scoop: Director Sofia Coppola’s latest was inspired by the true story of a group of California teens who robbed the houses of famous tabloid fixtures.

Why to see it: Coppola, who directed “Lost in Translation” and “The Virgin Suicides,” has her detractors. But she undoubtedly has a talent for creating mood and establishing a specific time and place, all of which could come in handy here. Plus, the film was chosen to open the Cannes Film Festival’s “Un Certain Regard” series, which spotlights innovative approaches to making movies.

Monsters University (not yet rated)

Stars: The voices of John Goodman, Billy Crystal and Steve Buscemi

Scoop: The prequel to Pixar’s “Monsters Inc.” chronicles how the odd couple of animation met.

Why to see it: It turns out Mike (Crystal) and Sulley (Goodman) were college roommates and rivals before becoming best friends and colleagues. That opens up all kinds of possibilities for Pixar, which got a little inspiration from “Animal House” and “Revenge of the Nerds.” The result worked for enthusiastic early audiences at CinemaCon.

Augustine (unrated)

Stars: Vincent Lindon, Soko and Chiara Mastroianni

Scoop: Yet another recent work about the diagnosis of “hysteria” in women during the 19th century, this French film focuses on neurologist Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot and his unorthodox relationship with a young seizure-suffering patient.

June 28

White House Down (not yet rated)

Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx and Maggie Gyllenhaal

Scoop: It’s the second coming of “Olympus Has Fallen.” The other terrorists-take-Washington film of 2013 comes to the screen courtesy of the prince of the apocalypse, director Roland Emmerich (“2012,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Independence Day”).

The Heat (R)

Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Bullock and Marlon Wayans

Scoop:Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig oversees this comedy about an FBI agent (Bullock, doing her perfected persnickety thing) forced to work with a disheveled Boston police officer (McCarthy, looking especially unkempt) on a big drug case.

Byzantium (unrated)

Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton and Caleb Landry Jones

Scoop: There’s nothing campy about this vampire movie. The British drama about a cursed mother and daughter is more for gothic thriller fans than swooning tweens.

A Hijacking (R)

Stars: Pilou Asbæk, Søren Malling and Dar Salim

Scoop: The suspenseful Danish drama looks at what happens after Somali pirates take control of a cargo ship in the Indian Ocean. The film is the first of two movies from buzzy writer-director Tobias Lindholm getting a stateside release this summer.

Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries And Mentors of Ricky Jay (unrated)

Scoop: The documentary looks at the life of magician, author and actor Ricky Jay, as well as his inspirational illusionist predecessors.

The Attack (R)

Stars: Ali Suliman, Evgenia Dodena and Reymond Amsalem

Scoop: The horror of a suicide bombing hits close to home for an Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv.

July 3

The Lone Ranger (not yet rated)

Stars: Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp, William Fichtner and Helena Bonham Carter

Scoop: After countless setbacks and budget concerns, audiences finally can confirm that director Gore Verbinski (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) did in fact cast Depp as the Lone Ranger’s Native American sidekick, Tonto.

Despicable Me 2 (PG)

Stars: The voices of Al Pacino, Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig

Scoop: The sequel to the 2010 animated hit finds the reformed bad guy, Gru, recruited by an anti-villain league.

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

Scoop: The documentary spotlights 1970s Memphis band Big Star, which missed mainstream success but influenced a long list of hit-makers.

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (R)

Scoop: The concert film trend gets a comedic twist with this chronicle of the “Real Husbands of Hollywood” star’s sold-out stand-up show at Madison Square Garden.

July 5

Hammer of the Gods (R)

Stars: Charlie Bewley, Clive Standen and James Cosmo

Scoop: Expect lots of blood as a Viking warrior heads on a quest to find his estranged brother.

I’m So Excited (R)

Stars: Javier Camara, Pepa Charro and Lola Duenas

Scoop: The always outlandish Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar returns to comedy after 2011’s uber-creepy “The Skin I Live In.” The farce centers on a plane full of zany flight attendants and passengers who try to enjoy themselves despite believing they may soon crash.

Hannah Arendt (unrated)

Stars: Barbara Sukowa, Axel Milberg and Janet McTeer

Scoop: The film dramatizes the life of Arendt, a Jewish German writer who created a controversy when she reported on the war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann, regarding the Nazi as a pawn of totalitarianism rather than the purely evil villain many believed him to be.

The Way, Way Back (PG-13)

Stars: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Liam James and Sam Rockwell

Scoop: Occasional actors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, who collaborated with Alexander Payne on the Oscar-winning screenplay for “The Descendants,” wrote and directed this coming-of-age tale about a boy’s unlikely friendship with the manager of a water park.

July 12

Grown Ups 2 (PG-13)

Stars: Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Chris Rock

Scoop: Sandler and his production company, Happy Madison, seem poised to continue their streak of critical bombs and Razzie contenders, which included the first “Grown Ups” installment.

Pacific Rim (PG-13)

Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and Charlie Day

Scoop: Humans build robots to defend the Earth after massive monsters emerge from the ocean and threaten to conquer the planet.

Why to see it:Pan’s Labyrinth” director Guillermo del Toro brought this big-budget action movie to life, which explains why there’s as much early chatter about mood and atmospherics as there is about special effects.

V/H/S/2 (unrated)

Stars: Kelsy Abbott, Hannah Al Rashid and Devon Brookshire

Scoop: In the horror sequel, a cache of VHS tapes offers clues in a missing-person case.

Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story (not yet rated)

Scoop: The documentary follows the life and work of the children’s book illustrator and satirist behind “Moon Man” and the original Flat Stanley illustrations.

July 17

Turbo (not yet rated)

Stars: The voices of Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti and Maya Rudolph

Scoop: The protagonist of the kid-friendly animated comedy is a snail with dreams of racing in the Indy 500.

July 19

Girl Most Likely (PG-13)

Stars: Kristen Wiig, Matt Dillon and Annette Bening

Scoop:Bridesmaids” proved Wiig’s talent for portraying rock bottom-bound characters with just the right mix of comedy and emotion. This time around, she’s a failed playwright forced to move in with her mother and younger brother.

Red 2 (not yet rated)

Stars: Bruce Willis, Anthony Hopkins and John Malkovich

Scoop: The sequel to the 2010 sleeper hit finds Willis reassembling a group of over-the-hill assassins.

The Conjuring (not yet rated)

Stars: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson and Ron Livingston

Scoop:Saw” mastermind James Wan penned this horror movie about a couple of paranormal activity investigators who take on a case that shocks even them.

R.I.P.D. (PG-13)

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Jeff Bridges and Mary-Louise Parker

Scoop: Reynolds plays a recently killed cop recruited by the Rest In Peace Department, which apprehends deceased souls lingering on Earth. The comedy co-stars Bridges as his grizzled, grumpy partner.

The Hunt (R)

Stars: Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen and Susse Wold

Scoop: Mikkelsen won an acting award in Cannes for his role in this Danish film, the other upcoming release from “A Hijacking” director Vinterberg, about a kindergarten teacher who is wrongly accused of sexual abuse.


Scoop: Markus Imhoof traveled the globe to shoot this documentary that investigates the collapse of the honeybee population, as well as the ramifications it could have for humans.

July 26

The Wolverine (not yet rated)

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen and Will Yun Lee

Scoop: The never-ending saga of the clawed, hirsute Canadian continues, this time in Japan.

Blackfish (unrated)

Scoop: The documentary examines the sometimes dangerous business of keeping wild animals in captivity through the story of Tilikum, a killer whale responsible for the deaths of three trainers.

July 31

The Smurfs 2 (not yet rated)

Stars: Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria and Jayma Mays

Scoop: In this cerulean twist on the damsel-in-distress routine, the little blue creatures try to save Smurfette from Gargamel’s clutches.

July TBD

Fruitvale Station (not yet rated)

Stars: Kevin Durand, Octavia Spencer and Michael B. Jordan

Scoop: Writer-director Ryan Coogler is off to a promising start with his first feature, which won the grand jury prize and the audience award at Sundance. The drama recounts the events of the last day of 2008, leading to the moment that East Bay-native Oscar Grant was shot and killed by a police officer.

Passion (R)

Stars: Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace and Karoline Herfurth

Scoop: Veteran filmmaker Brian De Palma directs this remake of the French film “Love Crime,” a steamy thriller about a rising star at an advertising agency who gets double-crossed by her boss.

Aug. 2

Europa Report (PG-13)

Stars: Sharlto Copley, Michael Nyqvist and Christian Camargo

Scoop: A crew of astronauts head to one of Jupiter’s moons searching for signs of life.

Blue Jasmine (PG-13)

Stars: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin and Peter Sarsgaard

Scoop: Woody Allen has been cagey about the details of his next film. What we do know: The cast is stellar, and after a handful of European-set films, the auteur is back on American soil.

300: Rise of an Empire (not yet rated)

Stars: Eva Green, Rodrigo Santoro, Sullivan Stapleton and Lena Headey

Scoop: The violent CGI-filled action flick is a prequel to the 2007 hit.

2 Guns (not yet rated)

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Denzel Washington and Paula Patton

Scoop: Baltasar Kormakur, who directed Wahlberg in the well-received “Contraband,” once again collaborates with the actor in this convoluted story about two undercover agents who start out investigating each other and end up allies when they wind up on the wrong side of both the mob and the law.

Aug. 7

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (not yet rated)

Stars: Logan Lerman, Nathan Fillion and Alexandra Daddario

Scoop: The sequel to the kid-friendly 2010 fantasy follows Percy on his quest to find the golden fleece and save his home.

Aug. 9

Elysium (not yet rated)

Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley

Scoop: In the futuristic sci-fi film, the wealthy live on a state-of-the-art space station, while the prols are stuck on Earth with no hope of gaining access to the Shangri-la above. Damon plays a man capable of bringing the two groups together, but only if he succeeds on a dangerous mission.

Why to see it: This is the second feature from writer-director Neill Blomkamp, the man behind 2009’s “District 9,” which artfully inserted political undertones into sci-fi action.

We’re the Millers (not yet rated)

Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts and Ed Helms

Scoop: A small-time drug dealer assembles a faux family — including a stripper, played by Aniston, posing as his fake wife — in order to smuggle two tons of weed out of Mexico.

Computer Chess (not yet rated)

Stars: Kriss Schludermann, Tom Fletcher, Wiley Wiggins

Scoop: The 1980s-set fuzzy black-and-white faux-documentary looks at a crew of nerds who meet up for a weekend of fun — which means comparing their computer-based chess programs.

Why to see it: Mumblecore aficionado Andrew Bujalski (“Funny Ha Ha”) wrote and directed the understated dramedy that took home the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, awarded to movies that focus on science or technology, at Sundance.

Prince Avalanche (not yet rated)

Stars: Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch and Lance LeGault

Scoop: Rudd and Hirsch play road workers who become friends — mostly because there’s no one else around in David Gordon Green’s understated 1980s-set dramedy.

In a World . . . (not yet rated)

Stars: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed and Demetri Martin

Scoop: A Los Angeles voice coach toils away in the shadow of her egotistical father, who happens to be the king of movie trailers.

Why to see it: The comedy is Bell’s writing and directing debut, and she snagged a screenwriting award, plus positive reviews, after the film showed at Sundance.

Planes (not yet rated)

Stars: The voices of Dane Cook, Val Kilmer, Gabriel Iglesias and Brad Garrett

Scoop: Think of Disney’s animated feature as “Cars” but in the sky.

The Spectacular Now (not yet rated)

Stars: Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller and Jennifer Jason Leigh

Scoop: After a drunk high school senior (Teller) passes out on the lawn of his classmate (Woodley), the pair become friends, despite his live-in-the-moment mantra and her hopes for a bright future.

Why to see it: In addition to two impressive up-and-comers in lead roles, the film joins James Ponsoldt, the director of “Smashed,” and Scott Neustadter, who co-wrote “(500) Days of Summer,” for a movie that reportedly spans a gulf, speaking to both teen and adult audiences.

Aug. 16

Kick-Ass 2 (not yet rated)

Stars: Chloe Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey and Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Scoop: Carrey joins the crew for this
sequel to the comic book adaptation
featuring a girl with a foul mouth and some serious martial arts skills.

I Give it a Year (not yet rated)

Stars: Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall and Minnie Driver

Scoop: Frequent Ali G collaborator Dan Mazer wrote and directed this British comedy about a mismatched husband and wife trying to make it to their first anniversary.

Aug. 23

The World’s End (not yet rated)

Stars: Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman and Simon Pegg

Scoop: The British team behind the much-loved “Hot Fuzz” and “Shaun of the Dead,” including actor-writer Pegg and writer-director Edgar Wright, team up for this black comedy about a group of hard-partying friends that may be mankind’s last glimmer of hope.

Mortal Instruments:
City of Bones
(not yet rated)

Stars: Lily Collins, Lena Headey, Jamie Campbell Bower and Robert Sheehan

Scoop: After her mother is kidnapped by a demon, a teenage girl finds out she may not, in fact, be human.

You’re Next (not yet rated)

Stars: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg and AJ Bowen

Scoop: A family’s celebration at a remote vacation house takes a turn when a band of killers with axes interrupts the festivities.

Aug. 28

Closed Circuit (R)

Stars: Rebecca Hall, Eric Bana and Ciaran Hinds

Scoop: Bana and Hall star as lawyers and exes forced to work together on a case defending a terrorist in this thriller.

Aug. 30

One Direction: This Is Us
(not yet rated)

Scoop: Something seems wrong here, and yet it’s true: “Super Size Me” director Morgan Spurlock directed this 3-D documentary about British boy band One Direction.

Getaway (not yet rated)

Stars: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez and Jon Voight

Scoop: Hawke plays a retired racecar driver trying to save his kidnapped wife with the help of a young hacker (Gomez).

Drinking Buddies (not yet rated)

Stars: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson and Anna Kendrick

Scoop: Wilde and Johnson work at a brewery, where they banter all day with amazing chemistry. If only they weren’t dating other people . . .

Aug. TBD

The To Do List (R)

Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Alia Shawkat and Bill Hader

Scoop: Plaza plays a studious high school grad who feels she squandered opportunities for debaucherous fun during long hours of studying. Before hitting college, she prepares to experience the Cliffs Notes version of all she missed.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that “Saw” mastermind James Wan dreamed up the storyline for “The Conjuring.” He wrote the screenplay, which is based on true events.