It's still spring, but film studios and moviegoers are already gearing up for summer -- summer movie season, that is.
This year's slate begins Friday with "Iron Man 3" and includes other superhero blockbusters like "Man of Steel," the zombie-apocalypse drama "World War Z," a "Star Trek" sequel and the final film in "The Hangover" franchise.
And if many of these names sound familiar to film fans, it's not by accident.
"As usual, it seems like a lot of summer movies have numbers at the end of their titles," said Fandango chief correspondent Dave Karger. "But I guess that makes sense, because in the summer when it costs the most to make and market these movies, all of the studios want a safe bet -- and the safest bets usually are the sequels and remakes and reboots and prequels."
Karger told CBSNews.com his "must-see" movies of the summer include "Iron Man 3," "The Great Gatsby," "World War Z" and the new Superman film "Man of Steel," which he called "the one that has the best buzz right now."
"I'm hearing that it's a kind of rare superhero film that's really grounded in the real world, and that Henry Cavill gives a terrific performance and that the supporting cast is also apparently fantastic -- Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Russell Crowe. There's a lot of terrific people in that one," he said.
Film franchises with built-in fan bases will also have plenty to look forward to this summer, like "Star Trek Into Darkness" and "The Hangover Part III." And while Baz Luhrmann's "Gatsby" might not feel like a summer movie, Karger points out this isn't uncharted territory for director Baz Luhrmann -- his "Moulin Rouge!" bowed in the summer of 2001.
"I think it's very cool and risky to do a 3-D movie that's not action-based or sci-fi based, and if there's any filmmaker who can pull that off I think it is Baz Luhrmann," he added.
There are also a few "sleeper" films that Karger says should not be overlooked, like "The Way, Way Back," Joss Whedon's adaptation of "Much Ado About Nothing," and "Fruitvale Station" which won the top prize at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a young man who was shot to death by a police officer in Oakland, Calif.
"I think that could be kind of the 'Precious' or 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' of this year," he said. "That is going to end up being a must-see as far as awards are concerned."
But don't expect any of these to come close to what "The Avengers" achieved at the box office last summer.
"There are a lot of promising things on the summer slate here, but I don't see anything that stands to break into the top three moneymakers of all time like 'The Avengers' did," Karger predicted. "That really was a one-in-a-decade kind of thing. Having said that, I think there's going to be more of a spreading of the wealth, between 'The Wolverine,' 'Man of Steel,' 'Iron Man' and 'Star Trek'...I think there's going to be a lot of movies that all make in that $300 [million] range, but I don't think you're going to see an 'Avengers'-type smash."
Tell us: What movies are you most excited to see this summer?