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Your summer movie guide: ‘Ghostbusters,’ ‘Suicide Squad’ and all the other films you should see

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Summer is just around the corner and with it comes some of the most anticipated movies of the year. The comic book adventures promise to be bigger, bolder and badder than ever, but there’s more on the horizon than that. There’s sci-fi, animation, fantasy, thrillers and action and even a smattering of drama coming soon to a screen near you. And there will be enough comedy for every funny bone—comedy with ghosts, with music, with mothers and with neighbors. With gangsta cats and CIA agents, with weddings and with romance gone awry.

Here, a guide to the offerings of Summer 2016.

For ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’ think Old Testament, wrath-of-God-like stuff

One night a few years ago, director Bryan Singer was at the Saddle Ranch Chop House in Los Angeles, half-drunk, having a good time when a dark cinematic vision popped into his head.

“I was with a bunch of friends, buzzed, eating chicken wings,” Singer recalled on a recent afternoon as he sat in an edit bay on the 20th Century Fox lot. “Suddenly, I was like, ‘How about you see a boy and you don’t know what he’s doing — and then we reveal that he’s building a giant pyramid effortlessly, and nearby on a sand dune are four men on horses?’”

That first glimpse of the “X-Men” franchise’s next villain — an ultra-powerful mutant with a god complex known as Apocalypse, first introduced in the comics in 1986 — would ultimately become the post-credits tag at the end of 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which went on to gross nearly $750 million worldwide. Now the fearsome, hulking villain will get his full turn in the spotlight in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” which hits theaters May 27.

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How the ‘Captain America: Civil War’ directors went from cult creators to superhero wranglers

The Russo brothers might be nerd royalty now — having directed 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and this summer’s sequel, “Civil War,” before being entrusted with Marvel’s crown jewel, “The Avengers” — but when they shot the pilot for the cult TV series “Arrested Development,” their dailies terrified a Fox executive.

“They called us up after seeing the first day of dailies, we were on set on Day 2, and they said, ‘This is a disaster!’” Anthony Russo recalls of his early work on the 2003 comedy series created by Ron Howard and Mitch Hurwitz.

“To be fair, we were running four or five cameras at a time,” brother and directing partner Joe Russo interjects. “We knew we were going to grab two seconds here, three seconds there.”

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Upset about an all-female ‘Ghostbusters’? Screenwriter Katie Dippold makes no apologies

There was the guy who tweeted that he hoped she’d die in a fire, the one who sent her Facebook messages warning that she’d fail at her job and the online news commentator who quipped, “Never trust a writer with a head shot.”

“I did find that last one funny,” said Katie Dippold, who has written the new “Ghostbusters” movie with director Paul Feig. A reboot of Ivan Reitman’s beloved 1984 supernatural comedy, this “Ghostbusters,” which will be released July 15, stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon as a mismatched group of paranormal investigators.

Like many people associated with the new film, Dippold has been on the receiving end of some strangely personal backlash related to the gender of the movie’s stars.

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How a magician orchestrated the Lizzy Caplan decapitation scene in ‘Now You See Me 2’

Keith Barry had never chopped off anyone’s head before, but he was up for giving it a try.

Over the course of his career, the Irish mentalist, hypnotist and magician has performed all kinds of mind-bending tricks and stunts, from apparent feats of clairvoyance to driving a car at high speeds while blindfolded. But until signing on as the chief magic and mentalism consultant on the caper sequel “Now You See Me 2,” Barry had never tried to pull off the classic decapitation illusion on anyone — let alone a high-profile actress.

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One of summer’s most unexpected films: ‘Hangover’ director Todd Phillips gets dark with ‘War Dogs’

On movie screens in recent years, director Todd Phillips has had Will Ferrell starting a fraternity, offered up Huggy Bear as a key crime-solving tool and relied on Zach Galifianakis to track down missing persons (twice).

The profiteering nature of modern warfare has — thus far — not been a central concern.

Yet in one of the summer’s most unexpected filmmaker-story pairings, Phillips arrives with “War Dogs,” a category-defying look at the 2000s-era underworld of U.S. gun-running.

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Jack O’Connell wasn’t intimidated by his ‘Money Monster’ costar George Clooney

There aren’t many young actors who wouldn’t be intimidated by costarring in a film with George Clooney and Julia Roberts and directed by Jodie Foster.

Except maybe for one who’s just finished working with Angelina Jolie.

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Out-weird Kanye and Bieber? The Lonely Island trio tries in their parody ‘Popstar’

Lonely Island team Jorma Taccone, left, Akiva Schaffer and Andy Samberg.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Writing their movie, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” the members of the Lonely Island comedy trio — Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone — aimed to create a celebrity musician who’d embody the current over-sharing, entourage-loving, humble-bragging state of pop culture. Problem was, no matter how weird they made their hero, singer-rapper Conner4Real (played by Samberg), they couldn’t keep pace with the real-life antics of the likes of Kanye West and Justin Bieber.

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Summer tear-jerker ‘Me Before You’ is a different kind of love story - but you’ll still cry

“Did you cry?” Jojo Moyes asked.

The author wanted to know if the film version of her bestselling novel “Me Before You” had brought a viewer to tears. It was a reasonable question: Her book, a love story about a wheelchair-bound young man who falls for his caretaker, has emotionally devastated its 6 million readers.

So she’s hoping the movie adaptation, which stars Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin, has the same effect.

“I’ve been standing in the back of the theater during screenings, waiting to see who’s sniffing,” said the 46-year-old Brit, calling from her home in Essex. “If it’s not 70% or above, I’m not pleased.”

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Julia Roberts and Garry Marshall continue their one-movie-per-decade streak with ‘Mother’s Day’

Call it the Decade Movie Pact: Ever since first collaborating on “Pretty Woman” in 1990, Julia Roberts and Garry Marshall have made a movie together every 10 years.

When the actress was 31, she and Richard Gere re-teamed with the director for “Runaway Bride.” At 41, she had a supporting role in the star-heavy “Valentine’s Day.” And 51?

Well, she still has nearly three years to go before she hits that milestone. But at 81, Marshall thought it best to work together again sooner than later. So he stuck the screenplay for his new film, “Mother’s Day,” in Roberts’ mailbox with this note: “I know it hasn’t been 10 years, but I think we need to pick up the pace.”

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Overrated/Underrated: ‘Keanu’ and ‘Ghostbusters’ are here to save the summer

The most dynamic on-screen duo this year doesn’t involve the costumed blockbuster mills at Marvel or D.C., it’s the return of Key & Peele, two forces for good in comedy who left the TV schedule feeling a bit more empty with the end of their show last year. Couched in the K&P comic wheelhouse with a story steeped with cultural code-switching, skewered action movie cliches and an adorable kitten, “Keanu” has to hit a pretty high bar, but if it falls short we’ll need a sequel each year or so until they get it right. (Hey, it works for “Spider-Man.”)

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Debating summer’s most anticipated summer movies: Do we really need another Jason Bourne film?

The calendar may say spring, but to Hollywood, summer is in the air, which means lots of comic book movies and sequels, raunchy comedies and family fare (no bears mauling Leo, thank you). We asked some fans of these genres, Times film editor Marc Bernardin and Hero Complex editor Meredith Woerner, to chat about their hopes and fears for the long summer movie season ahead.

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