This summer, nine sequels will open over twelve weekends, including a second Hangover, a third Transformers, a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean, an eighth Harry Potter, and so on. That's a new record for summer franchise domination.* However, there's something very different about this banner year: Only one of these follow-ups — Johnny Depp's Pirates — features a real live, major movie star. A-listers have been losing leverage over the years, but nowhere is this becoming more clear than in the world of sequels. Familiar titles are more important than ever to studios, but they've decided that they can do them without being weighed down by enormous, gross-gobbling paychecks and profit-participation deals. "In the eighties and early nineties, the movie star was the brand," explains Simon Kinberg, producer of X-Men: First Class. "Then in the nineties, visual effects became the brand. Now, the brand is the brand."