As hard as it is to believe, there are only four months left in the year and the studios are now beginning to focus on the "big ones" planned for next year. Many are anticipating a record-shattering year. The studios are already expecting next year to pull in record numbers at the box office, as well as in overall ticket sales (despite another year of increasing ticket prices). I know it's early, but here are the five movies that the studios are expecting to pull in mega-blockbuster-type numbers... -"King Kong" (Universal) Fresh from the triumph of 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy, Oscar-winner Peter Jackson returns with the highly anticipated remake of the 1933 classic. At this point, this is the film that is expected to be the top grossing movie of the year. The movie hits theaters a year from December and already has "must-see" buzz going for it. There are rumors swirling that the first teaser of the movie will be attached to the April release of Universal's sci-fi flick "Serenity". I also think it's safe to assume that a trailer will be released with Universal's summer action flick "Spy-Hunter". Whenever we get our first glimpse of the movie, 'Kong' will no doubt attempt to out-size Universal's own "Jurassic Park". -"The War of the Worlds" (DreamWorks/Paramount) Mega-director Steven Spielberg re-teams with megastar Tom Cruise in the updated retelling of H.G. Wells' classic 1898 novel of the same name, which focuses on Martians invading Earth. There is already talk that this will join "Spider-Man 2" ($250 million) and "Titanic" ($225 million) as one of the most expensive movies ever made. Spielberg is going to spare no expense in bringing this tale to life. While it probably won't make a summer 2005 release (filming is slated to begin in November), this one should be the biggest threat to 'Kong' dominating the fall season, as well as pitting both movies against one another in the technical categories at the Oscars. -"Batman Begins" (WB) WB execs are expecting (hoping really) that this latest 'Batman' flick pulls in numbers similar to the two 'Spider-Man' adventures. Judging by the cast and the script they've got, who can blame the execs for having such high expectations? The movie returns the Dark Knight to his dark roots and promises to re-launch the franchise in grand style. The movie focuses on the events which led to Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. This is the early favorite to be the top grossing film of next summer. -"Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith" (Lucasfilm/Fox) It'll probably be the darkest SW adventure yet, it'll feature the return of Darth Vader, the fall of the Republic, the Jedi Purge and a few killer lightsaber duels. While it's not expected to be the year's biggest hit (or the summer's biggest grosser either), it should still end up being one of the year's big hits. The doom and gloom may leave family audiences cold, but the final film of George Lucas' six-film saga should resonate a lot better with the die-hard fans than either Episodes I and II did (despite both films being huge hits). -"Cars" (Disney/Pixar) The final film of the Disney/Pixar marriage should continue the standards set by "Finding Nemo", "Monsters, Inc." and the two "Toy Story" adventures. Expect pretty big numbers. Ten other highly anticipated releases... "Bewitched" (Sony) Summer 2005 "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (WB) Summer 2005 "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (Disney) December 2005 "Constantine" (WB) February 2005 "Fantastic Four" (Fox) Summer 2005 "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (WB) November 2005 "Iron Man" (New Line) November 2005 "Madagascar" (DreamWorks) May 2005 "Pirates of the Caribbean: Treasures of the Lost Abyss" (Disney) December 2005 "Robots" (Fox) March 2005 HIGH PROFILE OSCAR HOPEFULS "Cinderella Man" (Universal) March 2005 "Kingdom of Heaven" (Fox) May 2005 "The New World" (New Line) Fall 2005 "American Gangster" (Universal) November 2005 "The Great Raid" (Miramax) December 2005 "The Producers" (Universal) December 2005 "Elizabethtown" (Paramount) TBA 2005 "Memoirs of a Geisha" (Sony) TBA 2005 "Winter Passing" (Focus Features) TBA 2005 Again, I know it's a little early, but the studios are already predicting that 2005 will be the biggest year ever at the box office (talk about pressure). In four months, it begins. Still, who could've predicted the major successes of either "Shrek 2" and "The Passion of the Christ"? Going into this year, most of Hollywood thought the battle for #1 would come down between 'Harry Potter' and Spidey. 'Shrek' was expected to be one of the summer's top five hits by most box office watchers, while 'The Passion' would've been considered "lucky" to earn more than $50 million. "Shrek 2" is now the third biggest domestic performer in history and 'The Passion' is the most successful R rated film ever made. In light of that, 2005 should end up being a very interesting year at the box office as a few of the "sure things" could end up under-performing, while a few of the lesser hyped flicks pull major upsets.