Cinema: If It Worked Before, Do It Again

The summer's movies go for a knockout but settle for a TKO

Every year when Americans celebrate Memorial Day, Hollywood launches its summer star wars. The big studios trot out their big names -- tough guys with flinty stares and handsome hair -- to swagger through apocalyptic fantasies. See cars blow up! See Mars blow up! See budgets and salaries go up! See the movies do anything but grow up, as long as moviegoers pay for the ride. Summer's here, and the time is right for filling up the seats.

Last year for the first time the summer box-office revenue topped $2 billion. The surge was led by Batman, which cost $50 million...