2015 Preview

2015 PreviewAfter record setting years in 2012 and 2013, 2014 was more of a leveling out year but that was pretty much expected. VOD is becoming a larger presence in the delivery system for feature films as major studios began to join the independents who have been premiering their films on VOD at the same time and sometimes in advance of the theatrical release for a few years now. Universal sent Joe Carnahan’s Stretch directly to VOD after dithering about marketing strategy. I think you’ll start to see a lot more of that as people seem to be leaving theaters in droves, preferring to watch films on their home video setup or computer screen.

Still, people DID go out into the theaters for the right products. Marvel cemented their place as the most potent box office force in Hollywood, releasing two of their better movies and proving they could make winners of their lesser known characters. Guardians of the Galaxy is the biggest hit of the year so far although it seems likely that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 will surpass it when all is said and done. Captain America: The Winter Soldier worked closely with the Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD TV show and showed that the House of Ideas could integrate big screen and small to cross promote their products. This trend will not end anytime soon; Marvel and DC both have movies scheduled into the next decade as they both work on their cinematic universes. Other Hollywood studios are taking note as Universal has announced a shared universe for their monster franchises and Columbia is working on a Robin Hood shared universe idea.

However, not every hit movie came from shared universes as Transformers: Age of Extinction continued to chug along with an entirely new cast, and while it was a bleak year for family films, The LEGO Movie was a big hit early on in the year. Marvel was making also making hits for other studios, particularly with X-Men: Days of Future Past and while The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a critical and commercial disappointment it has sequels and spin-offs lined up to keep that franchise humming for years to come. Not all the big hits this year were superhero related either; Gone Girl made a fall killing (literally) while Disney’s Maleficent re-imagined one of their signature villains. The remake of Godzilla was a critical and commercial success while 22 Jump Street is the highest-grossing comedy of the year thus far.

For a long time 2015 was being anticipated by fanboys and studio executives alike as old franchises are being rebooted, resurrected or resumed and new or continuing franchises are dropping new installments. While a number of anticipated releases have since been moved to 2016 in order to work on complicated special effects or simply to move out of a crowded release schedule, there are still plenty of movies coming our way this year, enough so that there is hope for the box office records to be in serious jeopardy this year. More on those in a moment.

Cinema365 has always been a big supporter of the Florida Film Festival and in 2015 that will remain true as we prepare for another edition of this emerging festival in April. Movies that we reviewed for the festival have been dotting independent release schedules throughout the year and a couple have even gotten general releases. Given the track record of the festival, don’t be surprised if you see some Oscar nominations going to movies that played this year’s festival; a number of them are already on Oscar shortlists and have begun to garner some of the early year-end awards. Keep your eye out for that and for further coverage of independent and non-traditionally released films as Cinema365 looks to expand our coverage of non-Hollywood films.

As always, take this preview with a grain of salt when it comes to release dates. Hollywood has a tendency to shuffle release schedules like a Vegas blackjack dealer and many movies you see previewed here may not see the light of day until much later in the year or even into 2016, while other movies not on the schedule get added including some that may well have serious box office success. The further out in the preview you go, the more likely it is that the release dates will be changed. Check back here every Thursday for our weekend preview of releases here in the Central Florida area (including all the wide releases) as well as our monthly Four-Warned feature which details all of the major and many of the independent releases for that month.

So here it is – the moment you’ve been waiting for. Dive right into the preview. No doubt you’ll find more than a few movies to whet your appetite for what’s going on at the multiplex in 2015.

JANUARY

Generally in January most of the screens are dominated by Holiday holdovers and the release of Oscar hopefuls that got qualifying runs in New York and Los Angeles and are only just getting wide releases now. However, while the quality of the releases during the first month of the year tend to be as bleak as the weather, there are always a few that are intriguing including a beloved children’s book favorite getting a live action/CGI hybrid feature film, a sequel to a recent horror film that turned out to be a sleeper hit, an animated feature based on a Shakespeare play produced by LucasFilm and the third installment in an action franchise feature a protagonist with a particular set of skills.

Taken 3

CAN’T MISS

TAKEN 3
RELEASE DATE: January 9, 2015
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Dougray Scott, Leland Orser, Sam Spruell, Jon Gries.
STORY: Things are looking up for ex-covert operative Bryan Mills. He is reconciling with his ex-wife, his relationship with his daughter has never been better and he is enjoying his retirement. However, things come crumbling apart when his wife is murdered and Mills is framed for it. He must utilize his particular set of skills to find those that did this, bring them to his own idea of justice and protect his daughter while being chased by the CIA, the FBI and more chilling, the LAPD. Those guys are just brutal.
PROSPECTS: The Taken movies have been very profitable for Fox, having made over $600M on the first two in the series on a combined $70M production budget. Not only that, they have helped to reinvent Neeson as an action hero. Although there has been no official announcement, this is being marketed as possibly the last in the series.
OBSTACLES: The second weekend of January is not the ideal time to release a movie, even though it currently has no competition among new movies (although Inherent Vice and Selma will both be getting their wide expansions then).
FACTOID: In the first movie, the kidnapper says to Bryan “Good luck” when the ex-operative tells him what he plans to do. In the trailer of this movie, the Forest Whitaker character tells Bryan that the FBI, CIA and LAPD will be after him, find him and stop him to which Bryan replies “Good luck,” indicating that the franchise has come full circle.

LIKELY HITS

THE WOMAN IN BLACK: ANGEL OF DEATH
RELEASE DATE: January 2, 2015
STUDIO: Relativity
STARRING: Helen McCrory, Jeremy Irvine, Phoebe Fox, Leilah de Meza, Ned Donnehy, Oaklee Pendergast, Adrian Rawlins, Hayley Joanne Bacon, Leanne Best
STORY: As London suffers under the bombings of World War II, a pair of courageous teachers evacuate a group of children to a small village far from the bombs and into Eel Marsh House, once investigated by a lawyer who discovered the place haunted. Once they arrive, the teachers realize the lawyer was right. Aided by a dashing pilot, the two must discover the secret of the Woman in Black if they and their charges are to survive.
PROSPECTS: The first film was a surprise hit in 2012 and given the popularity of low-budget supernatural horror films, there’s no reason to believe this can’t match or even exceed the first film’s success.
OBSTACLES: No Daniel Radcliffe this time.
FACTOID: This is the first sequel that Hammer Films, the British studio that produced the film, has done since 1974.

MORTDECAI
RELEASE DATE: January 23, 2015
STUDIO: Lionsgate
STARRING: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum, Paul Bettany, Oliver Platt, Ulrich Thomsen
STORY: An art dealer with old world charm and a propensity for trouble goes in search of a stolen painting that may contain the code to a bank account filled with Nazi gold.
PROSPECTS: Has an odd kind of quirky charm which might attract those who are tired of the holiday blockbusters.
OBSTACLES: Depp has been on something of a cold streak as of late. May be too quirky for mainstream success.
FACTOID: This is the second time director David Koepp has worked with Depp, the first being the 2004 Stephen King adaptation Secret Window.

CRITIC’S CHOICE

PREDESTINATION
RELEASE DATE: January 9, 2015
STUDIO: Stage 6/Sony
STARRING: Ethan Hawke, Noah Taylor, Sarah Snook, Elise Jansen, Christopher Kirby, Cate Wolfe, Madeleine West, Freya Stafford, Jim Knobeloch, Lucinda Armstrong Hall
STORY: Temporal agents go back in time and prevent murders from taking place before they happen. Now one seeks out the most notorious and deadly killer who has eluded the agency throughout time. Thousands of lives hang in the balance.
PROSPECTS: Hawke has had a really good 2014 and is moving into A-list status.
OBSTACLES: Sounds a little bit too much like Timecop.
FACTOID: First release from a new Sony-distributed imprint.

ALSO OPENING

January 16, 2015

BLACKHAT (Universal/Legendary) stars Chris Hemsworth as a computer genius jailed for his digital misdeeds but is released when an even greater threat of cyber-terrorists begin to wreak havoc and he is their only hope to stop them. ESCOBAR: PARADISE LOST (Radius) is the story of a young surfer who falls for the niece of ruthless drug cartel leader Pablo Escobar. This is opening in limited release. In PADDINGTON (Dimension) the children’s book classic comes to life as an unusual bear is left at a British railway station with a label around his neck reading “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” When a kindly family offers to take him in, he changes their lives in often chaotic but generally unforeseen ways. Opening in limited release. SPARE PARTS (Lionsgate/Pantelion) is based on a true story about a group of Latino kids from an impoverished high school with no money and no experience going up in a robotics competition against the likes of MIT. George Lopez stars. THE WEDDING RINGER (Screen Gems) is the latest starring vehicle for Kevin Hart in which he plays the entrepreneur of a service that provides Best Men for grooms who can’t find one. His client is played by Josh Gad. VICE (Lionsgate) is a sci-fi thriller in the vein of Westworld in which an ultimate resort is created staffed by androids who provide all manners of fantasies for those that can afford them. When one of the androids becomes self-aware, it leads to a power struggle between a ruthless tycoon and a cop hell-bent on shutting down the facility.

January 23, 2015

Opening in limited release, BLACK SEA (Focus) stars Jude Law as a maverick submarine captain who brings together a cutthroat crew to salvage a Nazi submarine laden with gold but as they successfully loot the ship, greed begins to rear its ugly head. THE BOY NEXT DOOR (Universal) isn’t always what he seems to be; this particular boy develops a very unhealthy attraction for his friend’s mom, who just happens to be Jennifer Lopez. This is what they call a psychosexual thriller. MOMMY (Roadside Attractions) which opens in limited release is the latest from master French director Xavier Dolan and concerns a feisty but highly stressed single mom with an ADHD son who turns to a mysterious neighbor for help. STRANGE MAGIC (Touchstone) is an animated feature version based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream from George Lucas and the animation arm of Industrial Light and Magic. Looks like a hoot.

January 30, 2015

BLACK OR WHITE (Relativity) stars Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer as rival grandparents of a young girl who battle for custody after her parents die, bringing to the forefront attitudes towards race in a powerful way. COMING HOME (Sony Classics) which opens in limited release is the latest from acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou chronicling the life of a Chinese dissident during a 70-year time span.  In PROJECT ALMANAC (Paramount) a group of teens discover blueprints for a time machine which they proceed to build. When they decide to take it for a test drive, they unleash forces that can eradicate them from existence – and perhaps cause worse catastrophes still. WILD CARD (Lionsgate) stars Jason Statham as a Las Vegas bodyguard who beats up a thug who beat up his friend. The thug turns out to be the son of a violent mobster. Ouch. Opens in limited release.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

A look back at how last year’s previewed movies did at the box office. The budgets and box office numbers are courtesy of Box Office Mojo. My verdicts are based on the typical studio formula that for a movie to break even it must make twice its production budget; any movie that achieves that will be labeled as profitable. I define hit movies as those that make three times the production budget and blockbusters as anything that makes $200 million in domestic box office or more, or made five times the production budget with a minimum of $100 million in domestic box office. These totals don’t include ancillary merchandising, home video sales or broadcast/cable sales, all of which are sure to push the bottom line beyond profitability. When production budgets aren’t available, I’ll be making a guess based on production values and star power. The first four movies listed are the four main previewed items; I’ve also chosen a selection of other major releases that made the preview issue as well.

I, FRANKENSTEIN (Lionsgate) Budget: $65 Million. Domestic Gross: $19.1M Total: $71.2M Verdict: Lost Money.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES (Paramount) Budget: $5M. Domestic Gross: $32.5M Total: $90.9M Verdict: Big Hit.
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (Paramount) Budget: $60M. Domestic Gross: $50.8M Total: $135.5M Verdict: Broke Even.
GIMME SHELTER (Roadside Attractions) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $1.4M Total: $1.4M Verdict: Probably Made Money.
RIDE ALONG (Universal) Budget: $25M. Domestic Gross: $134.9M Total: $154.0M Verdict: Blockbuster.
HER (Warner Brothers) Budget: $23M. Domestic Gross: $25.6M Total: $47.4M Verdict: Broke Even.
DEVIL’S DUE (20th Century Fox) Budget: $7M. Domestic Gross: $15.8M Total: $36.4M Verdict: Big Hit.
NUT JOB (Relativity) Budget: $42M. Domestic Gross: $64.3M Total: $113.0 Verdict: Made Money.
THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (Summit) Budget: $70M. Domestic Gross: $18.9M Total: $61.3 Verdict: Flop.
LONE SURVIVOR (Universal) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $125.1M Total: $149.3 Verdict: Hit.
THE RAILWAY MAN (Weinstein) Budget: $14.8M. Domestic Gross: $4.4M Total: $22.3 Verdict: Lost Money.
THAT AWKWARD MOMENT (Focus) Budget: $8M. Domestic Gross: $26.1M Total: $40.5 Verdict: Big Hit.
LABOR DAY (Paramount) Budget: $18M. Domestic Gross: $13.4M Total: $19.3 Verdict: Lost Money.

FEBRUARY

After the lull that is January, we begin to see some life stirring in the multiplex in February. While things are still generally slow and the bulk of the offerings are not thought to be by the studios to be surefire hits, there are usually a few things that will at least pique some interest, like the latest from the creators of The Matrix trilogy, a new animated feature starring one of the biggest stars on kid’s television today, the big screen version of one of the most controversial and bestselling books of the past decade and a new Disney true sports underdog movie.

Jupiter Ascending

CAN’T MISS

JUPITER ASCENDING
RELEASE DATE: February 6, 2015
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean, James D’Arcy, Tim Pigott-Smith, Doona Bae, Tuppence Middleton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
STORY: A house cleaner from the Midwest who has dreams of the stars discovers that she is much more than she seems. Jupiter Jones is in fact the heiress to a galactic fortune whose destiny is to re-shape the galaxy – if she isn’t wiped out of existence by those who want things just as they are.
PROSPECTS: The Wachowskis are some of the most visionary directors in Hollywood. With the very hot Tatum and Kunis leading the way, this is sure to be eye candy of the highest order.
OBSTACLES: The Wachowskis don’t have a true hit since the Matrix trilogy ended. Audiences have been somewhat ambivalent when it comes to high concept science fiction that isn’t at least somewhat familiar i.e. Star Trek, Star Wars, Marvel and so on.
FACTOID: The release was delayed more than nine months in order to give the filmmakers time to get the complicated effects shots right.

LIKELY HITS

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
RELEASE DATE: February 13, 2015
STUDIO: Focus
STARRING: Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson, Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Luke Grimes, Rachel Skarsten, Callum Keith Rennie, Victor Rasuk
STORY: A 27-year-old billionaire with a penchant for kinky sex introduces a naive but sensual college student to a whole new world of sexuality.
PROSPECTS: Some call this mom porn but there is no doubt that it has become a worldwide phenomenon.
OBSTACLES: May be too tame for some and way too hot for others. The book started out life as Twilight fan fiction and has become somewhat controversial which might hurt its box office. Some women may prefer the fantasy to remain just that.
FACTOID: When the first trailer was released online, it received over 100 million views in just over a week.

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE
RELEASE DATE: February 13, 2015
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Hamill, Mark Strong, Jack Davenport, Tom Prior
STORY: A street kid with intense promise is recruited into a super secret espionage agency just as a global threat emerges from a megalomaniacal tech genius.
PROSPECTS: Matthew Vaughn has a history of turning obscure comic series into hit movies. Firth is a compelling lead actor.
OBSTACLES: The movie was moved back in the release schedule, never a good sign of the studio’s confidence in the project. Spy films that don’t have James Bond or Jason Bourne in them haven’t done very well lately.
FACTOID: Mark Hamill and Samuel L. Jackson have both played Jedi Knights in the Star Wars saga.

CRITIC’S CHOICE

MAPS TO THE STARS
RELEASE DATE: February 27, 2015
STUDIO: Focus World
STARRING : John Cusack, Robert Pattinson, Julianne Moore, Olivia Williams, Sarah Gadon, Mia Wasikowska, Evan Bird
STORY: An L.A. psychotherapist and life coach tries to usher his celebrity clients through the minefields of fame while helping them cope with the ghosts of their ambitions. All of this while his own family seems to be rapidly falling apart.
PROSPECTS: Having David Cronenberg in the director’s chair is bound to get the film buffs out in force. A big film festival favorite.
OBSTACLES: Cronenberg has never been the most accessible of auteurs nor has he many legitimate box office successes in his filmography.
FACTOID: This is the first time Canadian director Cronenberg has filmed in the United States.

ALSO OPENING

February 6, 2015

Opening in limited release is LAMBERT AND STAMP (Sony Classics) the story of two aspiring filmmakers in the 1960s who after discovering a band worthy of their talents decide instead of making of film to manage the group instead. That group would become The Who and celebrate 50 years of essential rock and roll this year. SEVENTH SON (Universal/Legendary), based on the Joseph Delany book The Spook’s Apprentice, has the last remaining member of a mystical brotherhood of knights seeking out a prophesied warrior who will have the powers needed to vanquish a powerful sorceress. THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER (Paramount/Nickelodeon) brings the undersea stars ashore in a live action/animated hybrid.

February 13, 2015

Based on the musical, THE LAST FIVE YEARS (Radius) stars Anna Kendrick in a song-filled chronicle of a love affair and marriage that takes place over a five year period. Opens in limited release.

February 20, 2015

THE DUFF (CBS) is a teen comedy about a high school senior who’s world comes crashing down about her head when she discovers that she’s been labeled a DUFF – a Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Determined not to let this shape who she is, she decides to reinvent herself. HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 (Paramount/MGM) brings back most of the crew sans John Cusack for a trip back to the future with predictable results. In THE LAZARUS PROJECT (Lionsgate) when a research team mapping the human brain accidentally kills one of their own and then they successfully reanimate her, far from solving the mystery of death they instead unleash a malevolent force that threatens to kill all of them along with the rest of mankind if it gets loose. MCFARLAND, USA (Disney) stars Kevin Costner as a high school cross country coach who in a true story takes a primarily Latino group of boys from an economically depressed town in Central California and turns them into champions. WILD TALES (Sony Classics) is an Argentinean anthology drama about the nature of love, tragedy and loss in everyday lives. Opens in limited release.

February 27, 2015

In FOCUS (Universal) a veteran con artist takes a beautiful young girl under his wing and when she gets too close, breaks things up. When she shows up three years later during the most dangerous con he’s ever undertaken, he finds his concentration thrown for a loop. Will Smith stars. KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER (Amplify!) is about a Japanese office assistant who becomes convinced that she knows where a buried treasure is located – because she watched in an American movie. Convinced she alone can find it, she heads to Minnesota in the dead of winter. Opens in limited release. LITTLE BOY (Open Road) stars Kevin James in the story of a young boy who wishes for the impossible – to bring his father back home from World War II. Opening in limited release, OUTCAST (Arclight) is set in medieval China. When a royal princess must flee her vicious elder brother after he murders their father the Emperor and assumes the throne, she enlists an English crusader who has fled the Crusades. A romance blooms between the unlikely pair. Nicolas Cage stars. THE VATICAN TAPES (Lionsgate) comes from over-the-top director Mark Neveldine and is about an exorcism team from Rome that discovers a more powerful possession than they – or anyone else – has ever encountered.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

POMPEII (TriStar) Budget: $100 Million. Domestic Gross: $23.2M Total: $117.8M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE MONUMENTS MEN (Columbia) Budget: $70M. Domestic Gross: $78.0M Total: $155.0M Verdict: Broke Even.
ROBOCOP (Columbia/MGM) Budget: $100M. Domestic Gross: $58.6M Total: $242.7M Verdict: Made Money.
THE WIND RISES (Touchstone) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $5.2M Total: $117.3M Verdict: Hit.
THE LEGO MOVIE (Warner Brothers) Budget: $60M. Domestic Gross: $257.8M Total: $468.1M Verdict: Blockbuster.
VAMPIRE ACADEMY (Weinstein) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $7.8M Total: $15.4M Verdict: Flop.
NON-STOP (Universal) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $92.2M Total: $222.8M Verdict: Big Hit.
SON OF GOD (20th Century Fox) Budget: $22M. Domestic Gross: $59.7M Total: $67.8M Verdict: Hit.
3 DAYS TO KILL (Relativity) Budget: $28M. Domestic Gross: $30.7M Total: $52.3M Verdict: Lost Money.
WINTER’S TALE (Warner Brothers) Budget: $60M. Domestic Gross: $12.6M Total: $30.8M Verdict: Flop.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT (Screen Gems) Budget: $12.5M. Domestic Gross: $48.6M Total: $49.0M Verdict: Hit.
ENDLESS LOVE (Universal) Budget: $20M. Domestic Gross: $23.4M Total: $34.1M Verdict: Lost Money.

MARCH

Winter turns to spring and so to do the multiplexes begin to turn from the less impressive fare of the first two months of the year to more solid films. This year we can expect a new animated feature from DreamWorks, another live action fairy tale from Disney, a horror franchise film that normally appears at Halloween, the second installment in the newest hit young adult sci-fi franchise and a new science fiction film from the makers of District 9.

The Divergent Series Insurgent

CAN’T MISS

THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT
RELEASE DATE: March 20, 2015
STUDIO: Summit
STARRING: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Jai Courtney, Maggie Q, Miles Teller, Ray Stevenson, Ansel Elgort
STORY: Tris and Four, having foiled the plans of the Erudite faction, now find themselves on the run as fugitives from society. They must discover the secret Tris’ family died to protect and which Erudite seeks to keep secret no matter what the cost and bring it to light so that they can change things for the better.
PROSPECTS: With The Hunger Games ending this November, this seems poised to be the big young adult franchise for the next few years. Woodley has the makings of a big star and if she can continue to make good choices in roles can be the next Jennifer Lawrence.
OBSTACLES: Hasn’t shown the kind of box office numbers of either The Hunger Games or Twilight nor has it received the kind of fanatical devotion those franchises have received.
FACTOID: This is the first sequel that Winslet has ever appeared in.

LIKELY HITS

CINDERELLA
RELEASE DATE: March 13, 2015
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Hayley Atwell, Richard Madden, Stellan Skarsgard, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Nonso Anozie
STORY: After the sudden death of her father, a young woman discovers her stepmother and stepsisters are cruel and rotten, relegating her to essentially a servant. The girl’s kindness and optimism lead her to an opportunity to improve her situation.
PROSPECTS: The second live action version of a Disney animation based on a fairy tale seems to have all the magic of the original. Princess-mad young girls are going to force their moms to take them to see this.
OBSTACLES: Doesn’t have the buzz that Maleficent had last year. Might not pull in the same kind of numbers.
FACTOID: Lily James and Sophie McShera play servant and noble in this film. In Downton Abbey their roles are reversed.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE GHOST DIMENSION
RELEASE DATE: March 13, 2015
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Billy Shepard, Tyler Craig, Katie Featherston (unconfirmed)
STORY: A continuation of the series picking up directly where Paranormal Activity 4 left off.
PROSPECTS: The most profitable horror series of all time and the biggest box office draw since the Saw series ceased.
OBSTACLES: Has been three years since Paranormal Activity 4. The success of the series was for Halloween release dates; this will be the first of the series (not counting spinoff Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones) to open in a different month.
FACTOID: Director Gregory Plotkin acted as editor on the last three films of the series.

HOME
RELEASE DATE: March 27, 2015
STUDIO: DreamWorks Animation
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Steve Martin, Matt Jones
STORY: Following the takeover of Earth by the alien Boov, a plucky young girl and a banished Boov join forces to avoid capture and to try and save the Earth – and a lot more than that .
PROSPECTS: Based on the bestselling children’s book The Meaning of Smekday. Rihanna contributes a song to the soundtrack.
OBSTACLES: Looks a bit like Lilo and Stitch, perhaps a bit too much like.
FACTOID: Tip is the first African-American protagonist in a DreamWorks Animation film.

CHAPPIE
RELEASE DATE: March 6, 2015
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Miranda Frigon, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Yo-Landi Visser, Graeme Duffy
STORY: After a brilliant scientist builds the first robot with the ability to feel and think for himself, he is caught between those who want to see him grow and those who want to see him destroyed.
PROSPECTS: Director Neil Blomkamp has become something of a science fiction film expert and his movies have generally done well at the box office.
OBSTACLES: Robot movies that haven’t involved giant robots or cute sidekick robots haven’t done particularly well at the box office.
FACTOID: Blomkamp and Copley attended high school together.

CRITIC’S CHOICE

THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
RELEASE DATE: March 6, 2015
STUDIO: Fox Searchlight
STARRING: Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Richard Gere, Judi Dench, Dev Patel, David Strathairn, Penelope Wilton, Celia Imrie, Tamsin Greig
STORY: With the hotel for the elderly in Jaipur turning out to be a great success, manager Sonny has his eye on a new property but the demands on his time from the hotel, the expansion and his impending wedding may prove to be too much for him to juggle.
PROSPECTS: John Madden returns as director with much of the original cast and some notable additions. The original movie was a solid success.
OBSTACLES: The market for movies about the elderly tends to be rather limited.
FACTOID: At one time, Colin Firth and Helen Mirren were rumored to be joining the cast.

ALSO OPENING

March 6, 2015

In THE COUP (Weinstein) an American family moves to a Southeast Asian city following a military coup and get caught in the crossfire between the brutal new dictatorship and the rebels besieging the city. Pierce Brosnan and Owen Wilson star in this limited release. Also in limited release, MERCHANTS OF DOUBT (Sony Classics) is a satire about a group of self-proclaimed scientific authorities whose aim is instead of to share their expertise to instead instill confusion about public health issues for the benefit of large corporate interests. UNFINISHED BUSINESS (20th Century Fox) stars Vince Vaughn as a businessman who is tired of being screwed over by his corporate employer and quits to start his own business. On the eve of securing a deal that will not only stave off bankruptcy but put his business in the black for years to come, he finds that he must now compete with the very people who forced him to leave.

March 13, 2015

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (Warner Brothers) is the latest from Oscar-winning director Ron Howard and tells the true story of the Nantucket whaler Essex which inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. In MUCK (Anchor Bay) a group of young people escape a horror in the Cape Cod marsh only to come face-to-face with a different evil in the house they take refuge in. Opening in limited release.

March 20, 2015

THE GUNMAN (Open Road) may bring to mind Luc Besson but is actually an American remake of a French action thriller. Sean Penn stars as an international spy betrayed by the organization he works for and forced to take his family on the run to Europe. Big mistake, pissing Sean Penn off. Ask any paparazzi. SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY (Clarius) stars Jennifer Aniston as a hooker turned actress who is the object of desire for a married Broadway director. Peter Bogdanovich directs.

March 27, 2015

In GET HARD (Universal) a crooked hedge fund manager is finally caught and sentenced to prison. He is given 30 days to get his affairs in order and decides to hire someone to help him prepare for prison. However, the guy he hires just because he’s black is in reality a hard-working small business owner who has never gotten so much as a parking ticket. Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart team up. Opening in limited release, SERENA (Magnolia) reunites Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper as a newlywed couple who builds up a timber empire in North Carolina in the 1920s. However secrets from their past threaten to tear the marriage and their lives asunder. WHILE WE’RE YOUNG (A24) is the latest from director Noah Baumbach regarding an older couple whose lives are changed when a younger couple enters their lives. Naomi Watts, Ben Stiller, Amanda Seyfried, Charles Grodin and an all-star cast headline this limited release. WHITE GOD (Magnolia) is a powerful metaphor about unwanted dogs, deemed unfit for human companionship by the state, who rise up in protest even as the leader’s companion desperately searches for him.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

DIVERGENT (Summit) Budget: $85 Million. Domestic Gross: $151.0M Total: $288.8M Verdict: Hit.
NOAH (Paramount) Budget: $125M. Domestic Gross: $101.2M Total: $362.6M Verdict: Hit.
MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN (DreamWorks) Budget: $145M. Domestic Gross: $111.5M Total: $272.9M Verdict: Lost Money.
300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (Warner Brothers) Budget: $110M. Domestic Gross: $106.6M Total: $331.1M Verdict: Hit.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) Budget: $31M. Domestic Gross: $59.1M Total: $172.7 Verdict: Big Hit.
NEED FOR SPEED (DreamWorks) Budget: $66M. Domestic Gross: $43.6M Total: $203.3 Verdict: Hit.
TYLER PERRY’S SINGLE MOM’S CLUB (Lionsgate) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $16.0M Total: $16.3M Verdict: Likely Lost Money.
MUPPET’S MOST WANTED (Disney) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $51.2M Total: $78.2M Verdict: Lost Money.
VERONICA MARS (Warner Brothers) Budget: $6M. Domestic Gross: $3.3M Total: $3.5M Verdict: Flop.
A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 (Open Road) Budget: $4M. Domestic Gross: $17.3M Total: $24.0M Verdict: Big Hit.
CESAR CHAVEZ (Pantelion) Budget: $10M. Domestic Gross: $5.6M Total: $5.6M Verdict: Flop.
THE RAID 2 (Stage 6) Budget: $4.5M. Domestic Gross: $2.6M Total: $6.5M. Verdict: Lost Money.

APRIL

Now that spring is swinging, the blockbusters are starting to peek out from the winter doldrums. This year there are some exciting movies paving the way for summer including the last film of a beloved star taken from us too soon, the sequel to an unexpected comedy hit, the latest DisneyNature documentary and an interesting tale about an immortal woman who never ages.

Furious 7

CAN’T MISS

FAST & FURIOUS 7
RELEASE DATE: April 3, 2015
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tony Jaa, Djimon Hounsou
STORY: Dominic and his crew face a villain the likes of which they’ve never seen – one hell-bent on vengeance for the death of his brother. .
PROSPECTS: Paul Walker’s untimely passing in the middle of filming for this gives the movie additional poignance. The last two installments of the series have been the best thus far.
OBSTACLES: New director James Wan isn’t known for his action movies so much as for his horror films.
FACTOID: Walker’s brothers Caleb and Cody provided voice work and body doubles for their brother Paul who passed away. The studio had considered scrapping the film and starting over with new cast members but Diesel and others wanted Walker’s final performance to be seen.

LIKELY HITS

MONKEY KINGDOM
RELEASE DATE: April 17, 2015
STUDIO: DisneyNature
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Cast not announced yet.
STORY: A group of monkeys living in a ruined South Asian temple have a definite hierarchy. This is an examination of some of that group on the lower rungs on the social ladder.
PROSPECTS: Disney’s nature documentaries aren’t exactly door-busters at the multiplex but they do decent business for the genre.
OBSTACLES: Lacks the marketing support found for Disney and DreamWorks animated films.
FACTOID: Director Alastair Fothergill also directed the highly acclaimed TV series Earth for the BBC.

THE AGE OF ADALINE
RELEASE DATE: April 24, 2015
STUDIO: Lionsgate
STARRING: Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, Michiel Huisman, Amanda Crew, Richard Harmon, Kathy Baker, Anjali Jay
STORY: After a miraculous recovery from a gruesome accident, a woman finds herself remaining at age 29 for eighty years. Living a solitary existence for most of that time, she meets a charismatic philanthropist who ignites her passion but a meeting with his parents threatens to uncover the truth.
PROSPECTS: A little bit of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and a bit of Highlander.
OBSTACLES: Hasn’t really generated much if any buzz whatsoever and Lively isn’t yet a proven box office star.
FACTOID: Both Katherine Heigl and Natalie Portman were at one time considered for Adaline but both dropped out for various reasons.

CRITIC’S CHOICE

TRUE STORY
RELEASE DATE: April 10, 2015
STUDIO: Fox Searchlight
STARRING: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Felicity Jones, Ethan Suplee, Gretchen Mol, Betty Gilpin, Rebecca Henderson, Maria Dizzia, Robert John Burke, Dana Eskelon
STORY: A serial killer steals the identity of a disgraced New York Times reporter. The reporter’s investigation into the situation becomes a deadly game of cat and mouse and is – wait for it – based on a true story.
PROSPECTS: Franco has been red hot and Hill has become a very good dramatic actor with two Oscar nominations under his belt.
OBSTACLES: Sounds a bit low key which may not resonate as much with audiences who like their thrillers big and loud.
FACTOID: Plan B, Brad Pitt’s production company, is producing the film.

ALSO OPENING

April 3, 2015

WOMAN IN GOLD (Weinstein) opens in limited release and stars Helen Mirren as the descendants of Austrian Jews whose crusade to retrieve her Gustave Klimt artwork stolen from her family by the Nazis from the Austrian government made international headlines.

April 10, 2015

In EX-MACHINA (A24) a computer programmer invited to the private mountain estate of the reclusive CEO that he works for to evaluate the capabilities of an artificial intelligence that the CEO has developed finds that the emotional intelligence of the robot is much more seductive and dangerous than anyone has expected. THE LONGEST RUN (20th Century Fox) is the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation about a student who falls in love with a bull rider. THE MOON AND THE SUN (Paramount) stars William Hurt, Pierce Brosnan and Rachel Griffiths as an obsessed king steals the lifeforce of a mermaid to prolong his own life. UNDERDOGS (Weinstein) is an animated feature in which the Foosball players of a champion’s Foosball table come to life to help the hero save his town from destruction and rescue his girl from the villain.

April 17, 2015

CHILD 44 (Summit) stars Tom Hardy as a member of the Soviet secret police banished to a remote village where he finds a monstrous serial killer preying on the children. He investigates despite official resistance and pressure from above for him to stop. PAUL BLART, MALL COP 2 (Columbia) takes the mall security hero to Las Vegas where he must foil a brazen casino heist. Kevin James returns. In RUN ALL NIGHT (Warner Brothers) a hitman who has sunk into the bottom of a bottle must raise himself back out to save his son who is in the crosshairs of unfriendly fire. Liam Neeson stars. In UNFRIENDED (Universal) a teenage girl and her friends are stalked by a mysterious figure over a shaming video that led a classmate who was bullying them to kill herself.

April 24, 2015

Opening in limited release, BEYOND THE BRICK: A LEGO BRICKUMENTARY (Radius) explores the history and impact of the building block toy that has become an international cultural phenomenon complete with theme parks, movies and adult building competitions. ROCK THE KASBAH (Open Road) finds a broke and abandoned American rock manager who discovers a young girl with the voice of an angel in a Kabul slum and guides her to winning fame and fortune in Afghan Star, a competition along the lines of American Idol. THE WATER DIVINER (Warner Brothers) is Russell Crowe’s directing debut and stars Crowe as a bereaved father during the First World War who journeys to Gallipoli to recover the bodies of his sons, only to discover a faint hope that they might still be alive.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (Disney/Marvel) Budget: $170 Million. Domestic Gross: $259.8M Total: $714.1M Verdict: Big Hit.
RIO 2 (20th Century Fox) Budget: $103M. Domestic Gross: $131.5M Total: $498.8M Verdict: Big Hit.
TRANSCENDENCE (Warner Brothers) Budget: $100M. Domestic Gross: $23.0M Total: $103.0M Verdict: Lost Money.
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (Sony Classics) Budget: $7M. Domestic Gross: $1.9M Total: $19.4M Verdict: Probably Broke Even.
THE OTHER WOMAN (20th Century Fox) Budget: $43M. Domestic Gross: $159.6M Total: $1.9M Verdict: Flop.
SABOTAGE (Open Road) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $10.5M Total: $17.5M Verdict: Flop.
DRAFT DAY (Lionsgate) Budget: $25M Domestic Gross: $28.8M Total: $29.5M Verdict: Lost Money.
HEAVEN IS FOR REAL (TriStar) Budget: $12M. Domestic Gross: $91.4M Total: $101.3M Verdict: Big Hit.
BEARS (DisneyNature) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $17.7M Total: $18.1M Verdict: Probably Made Money.
EARTH TO ECHO (Relativity) Budget: $13M. Domestic Gross: $38.9M Total: $45.3M Verdict: Hit.
THE QUIET ONES (Lionsgate) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $8.5M Total: $17.8M Verdict: Probably Made Money.
DOM HEMINGWAY (Fox Searchlight) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $523,511 Total: $1.3M Verdict: Probably Lost Money.

Avengers Age of Ultron

SUMMER

While Cinema365 will have out annual Summer Movie Preview out at the end of April, we couldn’t resist giving you a sneak preview here. With this being one of the most anticipated summer seasons in years, the pickings will be plenty. One Marvel Superhero team returns as does Pixar, one of the most beloved film franchises of the 90s receives a long-awaited sequel while others get rebooted. Marvel will bring one of their seminal superheroes to the screen for the first time, Disney creates a sci-fi film around one of their theme park attractions, a different Marvel Superhero team gets rebooted and finally a spin-off from a new classic family film sees some of the most popular characters in recent animated history get their own movie.

CAN’T MISS

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
RELEASE DATE: May 1, 2015
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
STARRING: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, James Spader, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Paul Bettany, Thomas Kretschmann
STORY: When Tony Stark tries to resurrect a dormant peacekeeping project, things go dreadfully wrong and Ultron, a super-sentient robot, emerges to threaten the human race.
PROSPECTS: Although this isn’t the final entry in Phase II as many thought it was, it does seem to set up the upcoming Civil War and Infinity War storylines. In addition to the original Avengers, we’ll be introduced to the Scarlet Witch, the Vision and the Marvel Universe version of Quicksilver (the X-Men version of this character debuted to great acclaim in last summer’s X-Movie) and this will almost certainly be the box office champion this summer.
OBSTACLES: Has overkill started on the superhero genre? Probably not yet.
FACTOID: Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen play brother and sister after playing husband and wife in Godzilla last summer.

LIKELY HITS

TOMORROWLAND
RELEASE DATE: May 22, 2015
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING: George Clooney, Judy Greer, Tim McGraw, Hugh Laurie, Kathryn Hahn, Britt Robertson, Keegan-Michael Key, Pierce Gagnon
STORY: A disillusioned former boy genius and an upbeat trouble-attracting teen find themselves in a trans-dimensional scientific paradise known as Tomorrowland. There they’ll undertake a perilous mission that if they’re successful will change the world – and themselves.
PROSPECTS: Disney has had a great deal of success reinventing their existing properties, from movie characters to theme park attractions. Sci-fi addicts and Disney-philes alike should make this a big summer hit.
OBSTACLES: Up against much more familiar and successful franchises. Looks like they’re trying to appeal to sci-fi fanboys and Disney Channel devotees alike, which may not be two compatible audiences.
FACTOID: Director Brad Bird turned down Star Wars: The Force Awakens to do this, stating that original (non-sequel) films like this come along rarely in Hollywood and those opportunities to direct them should be seized.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
RELEASE DATE: May 15, 2015
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Nathan Jones, Megan Gale
STORY: In the post-Apocalyptic Australian wasteland, two unlikely allies may be the key to restoring civilization in a world of lawlessness and death.
PROSPECTS: Not so much a rebooting of the series as a continuation with a new cast. An action-packed trailer has many fanboys salivating for a movie that they’d long given up on ever seeing.
OBSTACLES: Thirty years have passed since the last installment in the franchise. Say what you want about Mel Gibson, it’s hard to tell if fans are going to want to see anyone else in the title role.
FACTOID: The movie was originally going to be filmed in Broken Hill, New South Wales (where the second movie in the series was filmed) but due to climate change the location was no longer suitable as a desert location so the decision was made to film in Namibia instead, which would lead to delays in filming due to travel restrictions to that country.

JURASSIC WORLD
RELEASE DATE: June 12, 2015
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Judy Greer, Ty Simpkins, Jake Johnson, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, BD Wong, Omar Sy
STORY: 22 years after the events of the original movie, John Hammond’s theme park is up and functioning the way he intended. However with declining attendance, the corporate owners demand a new attraction to bring the crowds back. Predictably, it backfires with horrifying consequences.
PROSPECTS: One of the most beloved franchises in movie history is back. The fascination with Dinosaurs continues unabated within the young and young at heart. Improvements in CGI technology should make the dinos even cooler than before,
OBSTACLES: 14 years will have passed between the last film in the franchise and this one; few franchises can withstand that kind of gap.
FACTOID: This will be the first film not to feature at least one of the characters from the original.

INSIDE OUT
RELEASE DATE: June 19, 2015
STUDIO: Disney*Pixar
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Diane Lane, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling, Kyle MacLachlan, Lewis Black, Paris Van Dyke
STORY: Having moved from the Midwest to San Francisco, an 11-year-old girl struggles with her emotions about the move. Meanwhile, those emotions – who have literal avatars and take residence in Headquarters, conflict about how to handle the situation which threatens to get out of hand – and head..
PROSPECTS: Pixar is back after taking a year off. The brand name however should be enough to attract families into the theaters big time.
OBSTACLES: Kind of an off-beat idea which can be risky with kids. The shape/color combinations seem to lend themselves to tiny tots more than the normal Pixar audience.
FACTOID: This will be only the second non-sequel that Pixar has done since 2009.

TED 2
RELEASE DATE: June 26, 2015
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Mila Kunis, Dennis Haysbert, Amanda Seyfried, Seth MacFarlane (voice), Patrick Warburton, Michael Dorn
STORY: The further adventures of Ted the talking teddy bear and his Thunder Buddy.
PROSPECTS: The original Ted remains the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time and has become something of a cultural phenomenon.
OBSTACLES: MacFarlane’s last film not only tanked at the box office but also took a critical shellacking, leading many to wonder if he’s not a flash in the pan.
FACTOID: Stephen Collins was originally cast in the movie but following his confession to child sexual abuse he was replaced.

TERMINATOR GENISYS
RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2015
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Matt Smith, Jason Clarke, J.K. Simmons, Byung-hun Lee, Sandrine Holt, Courtney B. Vance
STORY: Resistance leader John Conner sends soldier Kyle Reese back in time to save his mother from a Terminator robot that has been sent to kill her so that he won’t exist; however when Reese gets there he finds a shocker waiting for him.
PROSPECTS: Looks from the trailer like a clever way to renew the series which has been faltering of late.
OBSTACLES: That part about faltering of late is no joke. The last two movies in the series have barely recouped their investment.
FACTOID: While leads Emilia Clarke and Jason Clarke share the same last name and play mother and son, they are in fact not related.

ANT-MAN
RELEASE DATE: July 17, 2015
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
STARRING: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Judy Greer, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Pena, T.I., John Slattery, Hayley Atwell
STORY: A master thief gets his hands on a suit that enables him to shrink to near-microscopic size but increase his strength. Along with his mentor, he must foil the plans of a vicious criminal and pull off a perilous heist that may result in destruction of the world if they’re not successful.
PROSPECTS: Hello, it’s Marvel. Nothing seems to derail their bullet train of success and there’s no reason to believe that this will be any different. This is the movie that ends Phase II and leads into the next Phase, Civil War.
OBSTACLES: The controversy of director Edgar Wright’s departure from this project has left a sour taste in the mouths of some fans. Others are objecting to his replacement Peyton Reed as someone who doesn’t have a grasp of the superhero genre and may take this in too comedic a direction.
FACTOID: Cannavale replaced Patrick Wilson in the cast after scheduling conflicts forced the actor to drop out of the film.

MINIONS
RELEASE DATE: July 10, 2015
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Sandra Bullock, Michael Keaton, Jon Hamm, Katy Mixon, Jennifer Saunders, Hiroyuki Sanada, Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
STORY: In a prequel to Despicable Me, a race of strange creatures try to find a villain worthy of their service.
PROSPECTS: These little guys are even more popular than the lead characters of the movies they sprang from. If Inside Out falters, this is most likely going to be the animated feature winner this summer. It might just be anyway.
OBSTACLES: Another movie based on supporting characters from a franchise, Penguins of Madagascar, was fairly disappointing at the box office earlier this year.
FACTOID: Director Pierre Coffin voices all 899 minions in the film.

PIXELS
RELEASE DATE: July 24, 2015
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Michelle Monaghan, Ashley Benson, Sean Bean, Jane Krakowski, Brian Cox, Lainie Kazan
STORY: After aliens misinterpret classic videogame feeds as a declaration of war against them, it is up to a group of 80s arcade champions to save the day against the alien invasion.
PROSPECTS: Wreck-It Ralph was a runaway success and the short film that this is based on was an internet sensation.
OBSTACLES: Sandler and James haven’t exactly been lighting the box office on fire as of late.
FACTOID: This is the eighth occasion James and Sandler have worked together in the same film.

THE FANTASTIC FOUR
RELEASE DATE: August 7, 2015
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Tim Blake Nelson, Reg E. Cathey, Chet Hanks, Mary-Pat Green
STORY: A team of four outsiders get teleported to an alternate dimension, which begins to alter their physical bodies in amazing ways. They must learn to control their abilities and save the world from a former friend turned enemy who means to rule the world with powers of his own.
PROSPECTS: Again this is a superhero team from Marvel comics and while this isn’t being produced by Marvel studios, it still has the magic brand name and director Josh Trank who made the compelling Chronicle.
OBSTACLES: This is a reboot of a previous duo of Fantastic Four movies which were disappointing commercially and critically and the early buzz is that fans may be in store for more of the same.
FACTOID: The CEO of Marvel Comics was so incensed with negotiations with 20th Century Fox over the characters that he canceled the comic and refuses to promote the movie in any way.

CRITIC’S CHOICE

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON: THE GREEN LEGEND
RELEASE DATE: August 28, 2015
STUDIO: Weinstein
STARRING: Donnie Yen, Michelle Yeoh, Jason Scott Lee, Harry Shum Jr., Juju Chan, Daryl Quon, Eugenia Yuan, Shuya Chang, Roger Yuan
STORY: Lost love and young love coalesce and through a legendary sword, a great warrior gets one final chance at redemption.
PROSPECTS: This is the sequel to one of the biggest international hits of all time, directed by the stunt coordinator of that film.
OBSTACLES: Originally was to be released only in IMAX with simultaneous Netflix and VOD releases, the move appears to be backfiring as the major chains have stated that they will refuse to book the movie.
FACTOID: This is the first movie that Netflix at the same time as theaters, or will be if current plans go through as planned.

ALSO OPENING

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (Fox Searchlight) which opens in limited release is a new version of the Thomas Hardy novel by Swedish director Thomas (The Hunt) Vinterberg (May 1). DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS (New Line) stars Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara as a by-the-book cop trying to protect the wife of a drug lord as they race across Texas pursued by corrupt cops and the drug lord’s thugs (May 8). PITCH PERFECT 2 (Universal) brings the Barden Bellas and the behind-the-camera team to put the girls through a world A Capella championship (May 15). SUSAN COOPER (20th Century Fox) stars Melissa McCarthy as an offbeat superspy (May 22). MONSTER TRUCKS (Paramount) is an animated feature about, well, you can guess. I’m assuming this is for all the little boys who can’t get enough of Disney/Pixar’s Cars franchise (May 29). SAN ANDREAS (New Line) follows the aftermath of a massive earthquake that levels California. Dwayne Johnson stars as a search and rescue pilot who sets off with his estranged wife to save their only daughter (May 29). UNTITLED CAMERON CROWE PROJECT (Columbia) stars Bradley Cooper as a satellite engineer working for NASA whose return to Honolulu reconnects him with an old flame while he falls for an Air Force watchdog who’s keeping an eye on him (May 29). ENTOURAGE (Warner Brothers) is the continuing adventures of movie star Vincent Chase and his buddies, moving from the highly successful HBO series to the big screen (June 5).INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 (Focus) is a prequel to the highly successful horror franchise in which psychic Elise Rainier’s abilities are first put to the test (June 5). B.O.O.: BUREAU OF OTHERWORLDLY OPERATIONS (DreamWorks Animation) is the story of two bumbling spooks who join the Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, the world’s most elite counter-haunting unit and immediately are forced to take on one of the most dastardly haunters in the world (June 5). PAPER TOWNS (20th Century Fox) follows a young man completely smitten by a mysterious and adventurous young woman. He soon discovers that even the little he knows about her may not be what he thinks (June 5). THE TRANSPORTER LEGACY (Relativity) picks up the saga of driver Frank Martin with Ed Skrein (Game of Thrones) taking over for Jason Statham. (June 20). In MAGIC MIKE XXL (Warner Brothers) reunites most of the cast as the Kings of Tampa, ready to hang up their leather jock straps for good, decide to travel to Myrtle Beach for one last blow-out performance (July 1). GALLOWS (New Line) is a new horror movie whose plot line has been kept under wraps for now (July 10). TRAINWRECK (Universal) is the latest comedy from Judd Apatow and stars Bill Hader and Brie Larson (July 17). PAN (Warner Brothers) is a new take on the Peter Pan story, something of a prequel with Pan first arriving in Neverland and taking on the dreaded Blackbeard and teaming up with a young adventurer named James Hook (July 24). POLTERGEIST (20th Century Fox) is a remake of one of the scariest movies ever made. Sam Rockwell stars (July 24). GRIMSBY (Columbia) is a spy comedy as seen by the somewhat out there mind of Sacha Baron Cohen (July 31). POINT BREAK (Warner Brothers) is an updated version of the 1991 surfer heist thriller, this time set in the world of extreme sports (July 31). SELFLESS (Focus) is a sci-fi thriller about a billionaire who cheats death by having his consciousness transferred into the corpse of a young man only to suffer disturbing flashbacks that might reveal the truth behind how the corpse became a corpse (July 31). RICKI AND THE FLASH (TriStar) teams up writer Diablo Cody and director Jonathan Demme in a story about a rock and roll obsessed woman whose passion has torn her family apart but is given one last shot at making things right (August 7). THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (Warner Brothers) is director Guy Ritchie’s take on the Cold War-era TV spy show with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer as Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin respectively (August 14). MASTERMINDS (Relativity) is the true story of one of the biggest armored car robberies in history and stars Owen Wilson (August 14). STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (Universal) is the story of pioneering rap group N.W.A. who changed the face of music as well as the culture of African-Americans (August 14). MAX (Warner Brothers) is the true story of a military dog whose handler dies in the field, traumatizing the dog. The dog is eventually sent home to the handler’s family and together man and beast help to heal one another (August 21). In ME BEFORE YOU (New Line) a small town girl is hired to act as caretaker for a billionaire confined to a wheelchair after an accident (August 21). CRIMINAL (Summit) stars Ryan Reynolds as a death row inmate who is implanted with the memories of a dead CIA operative in a desperate attempt to stop a dire plot (August 21). SINISTER 2 (Focus) follows the next family marked for death by a demonic curse (August 21). HITMAN: AGENT 47 (20th Century Fox) is the reboot of the videogame-based film franchise in hopes that it will actually become a franchise this time (August 28). REGRESSION (Dimension) concerns the accusations of a young woman of an unspeakable crime – against her father. When regression hypnotherapy is attempted on the father who has unexpectedly confessed, something far more disturbing is uncovered (August 28).

Star Wars The Force Awakens

FALL

As the year comes to an end, the excitement will continue despite Hollywood moving away from big blockbusters and more to Oscar hopefuls. Keep in mind that while this is the part of this preview that is most subject to change, we can be reasonably sure that at least some of the movies that will be hitting the multiplex next Fall will include the introduction of a new trilogy of films from a beloved science fiction franchise, the conclusion of another science fiction franchise based on a young adult novel aimed at young women, an animated feature based on one of the most loved comic strips of all time, and the latest from a treasured superspy.

CAN’T MISS

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
RELEASE DATE: December 18, 2015
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Max von Sydow, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson, Lupita Nyong’o, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
STORY: 30 years after the fall of the Emperor, the rebellion faces new challenges as the dark side of the force stirs.
PROSPECTS: J.J. Abrams successfully rebooted the moribund Star Trek franchise and there’s no reason to think that he won’t accomplish the same thing here. Arguably has the most buzz of any movie being released in 2015.
OBSTACLES: The previous George Lucas-helmed trilogy was disappointing by every standard.
FACTOID: This is the first live action Star Wars film not to be released during the month of May in the United States (there was an animated film that was released in August).

LIKELY HITS

THE PEANUTS MOVIE
RELEASE DATE: November 6, 2015
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Noah Schnapp, Hadley Belle Miller, Bill Melendez, Alexander Garfin, Mariel Sheets, Venus Schultheis, Noah Johnston, Francesca Capaldi
STORY: Good ol’ Charley Brown goes on an epic quest as his dog Snoopy seeks to rid the skies above France of the evil Red Baron.
PROSPECTS: Based on the Charles Schultz comic strip that is a beloved American institution for over half a century.
OBSTACLES: May be less relevant to modern kids.
FACTOID: This will be the fifth theatrically released film of the Peanuts comic strip, the first in 3D, the first to be computer animated and the first to be released in 35 years.

SPECTRE
RELEASE DATE: November 6, 2015
STUDIO: Columbia/MGM
STARRING: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris, Christoph Waltz, Monica Bellucci, Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux, Rory Kinnear, Dave Bautista
STORY: With M fighting a political fight to keep MI6 alive, Bond discovers the existence of a secret organization with designs on world domination – and the wherewithal to actually do it.
PROSPECTS: Skyfall, the most recent Bond film, was the most successful box office in the franchise’s long distinguished history. With many of the same personnel behind the camera and in front of it, it doesn’t appear that there should be any reason to worry about the success of this picture.
OBSTACLES: Some might see the re-appearance of SPECTRE as a step backwards in the series.
FACTOID: Bellucci at fifty years old will be the oldest main Bond girl in the series.

HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART TWO
RELEASE DATE: November 20, 2015
STUDIO: Lionsgate
STARRING: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Stanly Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman
STORY: With Panem in full-blown Civil War, Katniss Everdeen realizes that there is only one way to win the war and insure the future for everyone she loves – she must assassinate President Snow.
PROSPECTS: This has been one of the major cinematic success stories of the last five years and with this being the last film in the series, we can expect the producers to let loose with everything but the kitchen sink.
OBSTACLES: Part One didn’t perform to expectations, raising the question of whether the franchise has overstayed its welcome.
FACTOID: This will be the final film with Philip Seymour Hoffman in it to be theatrically released.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR
RELEASE DATE: November 25, 2015
STUDIO: Disney*Pixar
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Greer, John Lithgow, Bill Hader, Frances McDormand, Lucas Neff
STORY: What would have happened if the dinosaurs hadn’t died out? This movie examines the friendship between a dinosaur and a little boy in that alternate reality
PROSPECTS: It’s Pixar, so that means that it will at least garner some interest from families.
OBSTACLES: The production has been unusually troubled, with the director being replaced midstream.
FACTOID: This will be the first time that Pixar has released two films in the same calendar year.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 5
RELEASE DATE: December 25, 2015
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Alec Baldwin, Jeremy Renner, Ving Rhames, Simon McBurney, Rebecca Ferguson
STORY: Ethan Hunt leads the IMF team into another hopeless situation.
PROSPECTS: This has been a license to print money for Paramount ever since Cruise resurrected the old TV spy series.
OBSTACLES: Virtually no buzz on this puppy.
FACTOID: Rhames and Cruise are the only two actors to appear in all five of the Mission: Impossible films.

CRITIC’S CHOICE

CRIMSON PEAK
RELEASE DATE: October 16, 2015
STUDIO: Universal/Legendary
STARRING: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hiddleston, Burn Gorman, Doug Jones, Jim Beaver
STORY: An aspiring writer is torn between a childhood friend and a mysterious stranger, all the while being swept up in a house that lives, breathes, bleeds…and remembers.
PROSPECTS: Buzz is ultra-high on this one, which fan favorite director Guillermo del Toro has been trying to get made for eons. Could be the scariest movie in decades.
OBSTACLES: One of the main studio objections was the script, and the cost it would take to make it as written. The rumor is that a lot of corners were cut here.
FACTOID: Benedict Cumberbatch was originally cast in the role now occupied by Hiddleston. The two are close friends in real life and Hiddleston first asked Cumberbatch for his blessing to take the role before agreeing to it.

ALSO OPENING

JANE GOT A GUN (Relativity/Weinstein) is the oft-delayed Western (thanks Weinstein) about a woman who pleads with an ex-lover to save her husband from an outlaw gang out to kill him (September 4). KITCHEN SINK (Columbia) finds a human, a zombie and a vampire teaming up to save the world from an alien invasion (September 4). In THE VISIT (Universal) a pair of children are sent to their grandparents for the summer, only to discover that the elderly couple is into something sinister. Forewarned is forearmed; this is the latest from M. Night Shyamalan (September 11). TRIPLE NINE (Open Road) which references police codes for a dead cop (code 999) is about a group of thieves who intend to murder a police officer to divert attention from their own heist taking place across town at the same time (September 11). BLACK MASS (Warner Brothers) stars Johnny Depp as James “Whitey” Bulger, a notorious Boston criminal who informed for the FBI while taking over the businesses of those he informed upon (September 18). EVEREST (Universal) follows two separate expeditions to the world’s tallest mountain as one of the worst snowstorms in human history hits. Based on a true story (September 18). THE MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS (20th Century Fox) is the sequel to the surprise young adult science fiction thriller that was a hit last September as the survivors from that film discover that there are things even more dangerous than the Maze (September 18). In THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM (Relativity) a young couple move into an old New England home only to find that the house hides a terrifying secret and there are forces that mean to keep them from discovering what that secret is (September 25). HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 (Columbia) returns to the hotel owned by Dracula and his angst-ridden teenage daughter that caters only to the monster community (September 25). THE INTERN (Warner Brothers) features Anne Hathaway as a CEO of a successful company who initiates a program to bring in a senior citizen intern – who happens to look an awful lot like Robert De Niro (September 25). VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN (20th Century Fox) tells the classic tale from his assistant Igor’s perspective. Daniel Radcliffe stars as Igor and James McAvoy as the mad doctor Victor von Frankenstein (October 2). LONDON HAS FALLEN (Focus) is the sequel to the big hit Olympus Has Fallen and concerns a plot to kill all of the leaders of the world’s major powers and devastate the English capitol in a plot that will shock the world; only the American president and Gerard Butler as his formidable Secret Service chief can stop the terrorists (October 2). THE WALK (TriStar) tells the true story of a tightrope walker who undertakes one of the most dangerous walks ever attempted – to walk on a wire strung between the twin towers of the World Trade Center (October 2). THE JUNGLE BOOK (Disney) is a live action version of the Rudyard Kipling classic adventure; Jon Favreau directs the first of two different versions of the book to be released in the future (the second will be coming out in 2016) (October 9). KIDNAP (Relativity) stars Halle Berry as a desperate mother who’ll stop at nothing to rescue her kidnapped son (October 9). VACATION (New Line) reboots the National Lampoon franchise with Ed Helms starring as Rusty Griswold, prodigal son of Clark who surprises his wife and two sons with a road trip to America’s favorite family fun park, Wally World (October 9). UNTITLED U-2 SPY PLANE FILM (DreamWorks) is the true story of an American lawyer sent to the Soviet Union to negotiate for the release of a captured U-2 spy plane pilot. Steven Spielberg directs from a script from the Coen Brothers (October 16). WATCHERS OF THE SKY (Music Box) which opens in limited release is a documentary about courageous humanitarian activists who take on mass murderers and genocides and brings the perpetrators to justice (October 16). In JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS (Universal) a shy young girl utilizes a computerized holographic generator which allows her to perform concerts around the world with her friends. Based on the popular animated series from the 80s, although this is a live action version (October 23). In THE LAST WITCH HUNTER (Summit) stars Vin Diesel in the titular role, an immortal hunter who can only die when every last witch has been eradicated tracking down powerful witches in modern New York (October 23). UNTITLED HORROR FILM (New Line) about which the studio hasn’t released any details other than that a horror film will be released by them on this date (October 23). SCOUTS VS. ZOMBIES (Paramount) is exactly what the title says it is as three Boy Scouts on a camping trip must defend their town from a zombie attack (October 30). In FRIDAY THE 13TH (Paramount) Jason Voorhees makes a return visit to Camp Crystal Lake, although whether this is a sequel or a reboot is not yet known (November 13). THE MARTIAN (20th Century Fox) stars Matt Damon in the latest Ridley Scott film as an astronaut accidentally stranded on Mars with dwindling supplies, failing machinery and no hope of getting home (November 25). MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (Warner Brothers) puts a father and son on the run when the boy develops some extraordinary powers (November 25). UNTITLED GORDON-LEVITT/ROGEN HOLIDAY COMEDY (Columbia) stars Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as two childhood buds who attempt to find the “Holy Grail of all Christmas parties.” James Franco guest stars as the psychotic pedophile twin brother of Kim Jong Un (j/k) (November 25). KRAMPUS (Universal/Legendary) features a Yuletide ghoul who is sort of the anti-Santa – he punishes the wicked turning Ho Ho Ho into No No No (December 4)! SISTERS (Universal) reunites Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as a couple of estranged sisters who are summoned home to clean out their bedrooms before the family home is sold. Taking a big spin down Memory Lane, they decide to throw one last high school-style party to bid the old homestead a fair adieu (December 18). ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS 4 (20th Century Fox) They’re baaa-aaack! The only thing to do is ask….WHY (December 23).?!?!? JOY (20th Century Fox) is the latest from Oscar-winning director David O. Russell that tells the story of Joy Mangano, an inventor who sold her inventions on the Home Shopping Network amid great personal obstacles (December 25).THE REVENANT (20th Century Fox) which opens in limited release stars Leonardo di Caprio as a 19th Century fur trader who is mauled by a grizzly, robbed and left for dead. Surviving against all odds, he sets out on a journey of vengeance. (December 25).

That’s it for our preview. 2015 may be the most promising year for blockbusters in recent memory and there should be plenty of reasons above to make anyone but the most anti-movie theater curmudgeon excited about going to the multiplex this year. In the meantime, With all that in mind, there’s also 2016 to look forward to and it may well be remembered as the year that comic book movies truly exploded. With the Batman/Superman team-up relocated to this summer, we’ll also be seeing another DC property Suicide Squad. Marvel will continue to make licenses to print money as the new Captain America: Civil War ushers in Phase III with Dr. Strange right on it’s heels. The X-Men will also return with X-Men: Apocalypse while the Spider-Man universe breaks out another villainous team, the Sinister Six.  Besides comic books, we can also look forward to the first Star Wars spinoff film, a return to J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World with a new film trilogy, videogame franchises Warcraft and Uncharted. There are also promises of a Ben-Hur remake, a new entry in the Planet of the Apes, Bourne and Divergent franchises and a lot more. Clearly the next couple of years will be bonanzas for those who love big budget blockbusters. Cinema365 will continue to cover as many of them as we can get to as well as a goodly amount of indie and foreign releases and with our Four-Warned and New Releases features keep you up to date as to what’s coming out here in Orlando and around the country. A hearty Happy New Year to all Cinema365 readers and as usual, see you at the multiplex!

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