Hollywood banks on sequels, in the billions. No question that the top grossers of 2007 will include franchise titles like Pirates, Potter and Shrek. But what's the fun in listing them? Here are five "original" movies that look to make the big bucks later this year and maybe generate their own sequels.
RATATOUILLE Rats in a restaurant? That's the stuff of scare headlines and YouTube horror videos. But if anyone can make an adorable CGI comedy about a gourmet rodent in a five-star Paris eatery, it's flop-proof Pixar. Opens June 29.
BEE MOVIE Jerry Seinfeld emerges from nine years of kind-of retirement with an animated feature about a bee (him) and a friendly florist (Renée Zellweger). Love and lawsuits ensue. Nov. 2.
FRED CLAUS Not Elf. Not Bad Santa. This is good Santa's grouchy brother. Vince Vaughn is Fred, and David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) is directing, so the producers can start their ho-ho-hos. Nov. 9.
HIS DARK MATERIALS: THE GOLDEN COMPASS Philip Pullman's magical trilogy gets a plush treatment from New Line, the Lord of the Rings studio. Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig star. Dec. 7.
I AM LEGEND In a world of vampires, the one uninfected man is the monster to be destroyed. Will Smith lends his box-office brawn to Richard Matheson's horror classic. Dec. 14.