Geriatric men and young ladies prove their mettle, the undead romance the living, and the end of the world unfolds — at least four times. There aren't too many twists to 2013's big-screen trends, although there will definitely be many titles worth watching. Amidst the dramas — and comedies and end-of-days thrillers — Hollywood will be seeking a successor (or three) to the "Twilight" franchise and pushing out some long-gestating films (lessons from "John Carter" and "Battleship" learned?). Start planning for date night with these movies.
[Related: 25 most anticipated movies of 2013]
The New Twilights
Ah youth — or more importantly young adult. Now that the "Twilight" franchise has been sucked dry of its box-office life blood and "The Hunger Games" series is well underway, producers are voraciously scanning for the next big young-adult attraction. They've found at least three for 2013: "Warm Bodies" (Feb. 1) "Beautiful Creatures" (Feb. 15), and "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" (Aug. 23), respectively, boy zombie meets girl, wizard girl meets boy, and angel warrior comes of age to rescue kidnapped mom. The Guardian places its cynical bets on Cassandra Clare's "Mortal" series, Moviefone thinks South Carolina goth will play better than "Twilight," and Entertainment Weekly appreciates the sight gags already evident in the undead-teen romantic comedy. And you can't count out "The Host" (March 29), which has a young woman whose mind gets invaded by an alien presence. That's based on the book by none other than Stephenie Meyer, the creator of the "Twilight" series.
Old Guys in Action
Turns out, "The Expendables" was just the beginning. OK, technically, the roots lay in the testosterone-soaked action bombast of the 1980s. So what happens to action heroes when they age? They come back for more, naturally — haven't you been watching? Although January is usually a dumping ground for new films, "The Last Stand" (Jan. 18) has two things going for it: Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first leading role post-politics (and divorce) and Korean director Kim Jee-woon in his English-language debut. Schwarzenegger — who nears his full retirement age — stars as a border town sheriff fending off a drug cartel. Next up is 66-year-old Sylvester Stallone as a hitman (they never retire) in the assassin-cop buddy movie "Bullet to the Head" (Feb. 1), based on the French graphic novel (and not to be confused with John Woo's Hong Kong classic "Bullet in the Head).
If that weren't enough, Stallone and Sylvester team up for "The Tomb" (Sept. 27), which is not about them picking their burial plots but about a wrongly accused man's prison escape. But when it comes to stamina, you gotta hand it to Bruce Willis: He has three films lined up for 2013 in "A Good Day to Die Hard" (Feb. 14) with the second generation of McClanes, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" (March 29, although to be fair it was postponed from 2012), and "RED 2" with -- wait for it -- Anthony Hopkins. But you want to know the real truth? These guys probably just want to do comedy.
Young Ladies Kicking Patootie
If there were justice in this world, or at least in Hollywood, then femmes fatales like Michelle Yeoh, Geena Davis, Pam Grier, Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton, Jodie Foster, and Cynthia Rothrock would get their own over-50 action slate (and frankly, they're aging far better than their counterparts). But, at least American cinema has reached a critical mass of hard-hitting women (and many, literally, under-aged girls). 26-year-old Gemma Arterton, who just shrieked a lot in "Prince of Persia," is making amends in "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" (Jan. 25) as a compound-bow-carrying bounty hunter with her bro, played by Jeremy Renner. 15-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz, who also plans to scare the bejesus out of a new generation with her "Carrie" remake (October 18), returns as Hit-Girl in "Kick-Ass 2" (June 28). Of course, the queen of killer girls is 22-year-old Jennifer Lawrence, who returns as Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (Nov. 22).
With the way Hollywood packs in its superheroes, the town might as well return to its early days of adventure serials. The slate of mighty men begins with "Iron Man 3" (May 3), which pits Robert Downey Jr. against the dream villain team of Guy Pearce (alas only fleetingly, despite great muscle-flexing in "Lockout") and Ben Kingsley. Thereafter the supply of superheroes is parceled out, with Henry Cavill's debut in "Man of Steel" (June 14), the return of Hugh Jackman (no singing though) in "The Wolverine," (July 26), and Chris Hemsworth out to save the universe in "Thor: The Dark World" (Nov. 8).
The End of the World, Again and Again...
We've survived the Mayan apocalypse. Can any scorched-earth doomsday proposition possibly scare us? Well, the best fear-mongering men will try: Morgan Freeman and Tom Cruise represent mankind's last hopes in "Oblivion" (April 12); Brad Pitt tracks down a zombie epidemic in "World War Z" (June 21); and "After Earth" stars father-son duo Will and Jaden Smith crash-landing on a devastated Earth, under the suspect direction of M. Night Shyamalan. That one comes out June 7 — a day of reckoning if we've ever seen one.
But why be so glum about Judgment Day? Bromancers Seth Rogen and James Franco imagine a annihilation as a celebrity roast in "This Is the End" (June 14), not to be confused with Nick Frost and Simon Pegg in "The World’s End" (Oct. 25), in which the British take of the end involves a pub crawl. Cheers.
Delayed from 2012
A movie can be delayed for many reasons: better release period, finishing touches, high standards — oh, whom are we kidding? It's a toss-up of whether a movie ages better with time or stinks with decay thanks to too much meddling. Still, the fan hope runs deep for many of the tardy. OK, maybe not so much for "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" (March 29), but rumors were that this action figure-inspired thriller needed serious reshoots and more Channing Tatum alongside Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis — a smart move given Tatum's 2012 box-office success and Sexiest Man Alive title.
"Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" (Jan. 25) was reportedly punted from last March to take advantage of Renner's emerging international stardom. Both "Jack the Giant Slayer" (March 1) and "The Great Gatsby" (May 10) got delayed in for 3D sprucing (and because "Gatsby" director Baz Luhrmann wants to make a killer soundtrack). The delays for "World War Z" (June 21) have been described as a creative and logistic nightmare.
Some returns are no-brainers. The "Fast & Furious" franchise got a second wind with "Fast Five," and "Fast & Furious Six" (May 24) is one of two lined up. Follow-ups like "Star Trek Into Darkness" (May 17), "The Hangover 3" (May 24), "Despicable Me 2" (July 5), "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (Nov. 22). and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (Dec. 13) were inescapable.
Not all sequels are inevitable, though: The originals for "Kick-Ass 2" (June 28), "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" (Aug. 16), and "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" (Oct. 4) were risky propositions aimed at a specific audience. They paid off. But who knew there would be demand for "Grown Ups 2" (July 12) or "Scary Movie 5" (April 12) -- featuring Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan, no less. Other familiar titles making a return in 2013: "300: Rise of an Empire" (Aug. 2), "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" (Sept. 27), "Paranormal Activity" (Oct. 25), and a project under the working title "Untitled Sequel to The Best Man" (Nov. 15)
[Related: 25 most anticipated movies of 2013]