2016 Preview


2016 PreviewHere it is, a bit late but better late than never. 2015 was looked forward to eagerly by Hollywood accountants as potentially a banner year for box office totals and so it has been, with three films finishing in the all-time top ten, two from their summer runs (Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens which is on course as of this writing to eclipse the records set by Titanic.

However with all that success – and those weren’t the only big hit movies this year – there were some flops last year, some of them spectacular. The studios have been up and down, depending on which one you’re talking about. Universal set box office records by mid-year with Furious 7, Minions and Pitch Perfect 2 bringing in big box office dollars as did Straight Outta Compton later on in the summer. Disney also had a banner year, with Inside Out and Ant-Man enjoying box office sunshine, while 20th Century Fox brought The Martian and Kingsman: The Secret Service to the table. Columbia and Warner Brothers both had subpar years but both have some light at the end of their tunnels, with Columbia bringing Ghostbusters back from the dead next year and Warner Brothers initializing their DC Comics Cinematic Universe as well as a new trilogy of films in the Harry Potter Universe written by J.K. Rowling herself. Paramount was solid last year, with Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation heading up their box office charts. Lionsgate/Summit had a good year with their franchises in The Hunger Games and Divergent both doing good business and Sicario bringing in rave reviews.

There are a lot of big movies to look forward to with Marvel cranking out five movies for Disney and Fox while DC has two highly anticipated movies for Warners; the resurrection of the Star Wars franchise will continue with Star Wars: Rogue One being the first stand-alone film in the LucasFilm universe, and plenty of sequels, reboots, shared cinematic universes and franchise starters on the horizon but we’ll get to that in a moment.

This year Cinema365 has increased its coverage of independent and non-major films with both coverage of the Florida Film Festival as well as coverage of films from the festival circuit. That will continue this coming year as we bring you movies that you may not necessarily have heard of but may (or may not) be worthy of your attention, particularly if you’re a film buff like us here at Cinema365 headquarters. While the expansion of our beloved Enzian Theater will not take place in time for this year’s festival, plans are for the additional two screens to be added in late 2016 and hopefully as the fundraising continues for the ambitious Enzian Forever project continues they’ll be ready for the 2018 version of the FFF.

There have been changes here at Cinema365 but one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to covering the movies as best as we possibly can. That said, do remember that the release dates listed in this preview are very unlikely to remain static for every movie listed in our annual preview and in fact we can almost guarantee that there will be major changes; dates will be changed, projects will be shelved or sent direct to home video and titles will not stay the same. Our weekly preview will continue to inform you what’s opening in Orlando that week, whereas Pick of the Litter is our monthly look at the best independent movies opening in theaters across the United States. Our Coming Soon section will continue to be regularly updated with theatrical release dates. However, we will actually be taking a hiatus from coverage beginning in May for about five weeks so be aware that some films won’t get the coverage that you’re used to.

No doubt you’re ready to dive in and open up the presents for all you cinemaphiles out there that the studios and distributors have lined up for you next year. Enjoy the 2016 preview and look forward to seeing you at the multiplex next year!

JANUARY

The first month of any year is usually a quiet one after the cornucopia of holiday releases which will continue to dominate the box office in January. There are also some Oscar hopefuls that have had qualifying runs in New York and L.A. at the end of last year getting their wide release this year including much anticipated films from Quentin Tarantino and Alejandro González Iñárritu as well as a sequel to a hit buddy cop comedy, a threequel to a popular DreamWorks animated feature, a new alien invasion movie and true life dramas depicting one of the most daring Coast Guard rescues in history as well as one of the most controversial events of recent history.

The Hateful Eight

MUST- SEE

THE HATEFUL EIGHT

RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2016
STUDIO: Weinstein
STARRING: Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Channing Tatum, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, Damian Bechir, Zoë Bell.
GENRE: Western
STORY: A bounty hunter bringing in his bounty to hang in a Colorado town finds himself holed up in a mountain pass stagecoach stop to wait out a storm. There are eight strangers there doing the same thing, but as the night wears on the prospects of any of them making it to Red Rock become less and less likely.
PROSPECTS: Quentin Tarantino doesn’t make a lot of movies but when he does there’s a rabid following ready to embrace it. Weinstein seems to think that there’s some serious Oscar potential here, setting it up for an Academy qualifying run at Christmas before opening in wide release two weeks later.
OBSTACLES: Westerns aren’t exactly box office barnburners and while Tarantino brings in a fairly savvy film crowd, it’s not a large audience and this likely isn’t going to appeal to a lot of non-fans.
FACTOID: This is the first film since Khartoum (1966) to be filmed in the 70mm Ultra-Panavision process, a format that Tarantino – maybe the ultimate film nerd – is anxious to bring back.

SHOULD-SEE

THE REVENANT

RELEASE DATE: January 8, 2016
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Leonardo di Caprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Paul Anderson, Lukas Haas, Javier Botet, Brendan Fletcher, Kristoffer Joner, Dave Burchill
GENRE: Western
STORY: After a vicious bear attack, an explorer in the American West of the mid-1800s is left for dead. Betrayed by his best friend and confidante who steals from him his most precious possession, he survives a harsh winter fueled by the thirst for one thing – vengeance.
PROSPECTS: The last film directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu was Birdman and won the whole kit and kaboodle at the last Oscars. With two legitimate stars in the line-up and a whole lot of buzz behind it, some say this might be the favorite to win Best Picture at the next Academy Awards.
OBSTACLES: Again, Westerns are very nearly box office poison these days. Iñárritu has yet to direct a blockbuster although Birdman did decent business.
FACTOID: Di Caprio, Hardy and Haas all appeared in Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

RIDE ALONG 2

RELEASE DATE: January 15, 2016
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Olivia Munn, Ken Jeong, T.I., Tyrese Gibson, Nadine Velazquez, Tika Sumpter, Sherri Shepherd
GENRE: Action
STORY: This odd police partnership continues as the Brothers-in-Law head to Miami to track down the source of a drug infusion into their city and find that what got along in Atlanta won’t get along in the Big M.
PROSPECTS: The original film was a huge hit during the same time period in 2014.Hart and Cube make a compelling comedy team.
OBSTACLES: If the word of mouth isn’t good, it could be a very short ride for this sequel.
FACTOID: This is the second movie starring Ice Cube to be set in Miami; the first was All About the Benjamins.

KUNG FU PANDA 3

RELEASE DATE: January 29, 2016
STUDIO: DreamWorks Animation
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, J.K. Simmons
GENRE: Animated Feature
STORY: Po’s long-lost father arrives to take him to Panda Paradise to meet other lovable but clumsy panda pals. But when a supernatural scourge attacks all the kung fu masters in China, Po must figure out a way to train his village to become an army of Kung Fu Pandas.
PROSPECTS: One of the more successful animation franchises not from Disney.
OBSTACLES: January isn’t exactly the most fertile time for box office gold for family films.
FACTOID: Rebel Wilson was originally set to voice Mei Mei but had to drop out due to schedule conflicts and was replaced by Kate Hudson.

THE FINEST HOURS

RELEASE DATE: January 29, 2016
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Holliday Granger, Eric Bana, Casey Affleck, Kyle Gallner, Abraham Benrubi, Rachel Brosnahan, John Magaro
GENRE: True Life Drama
STORY: During one of the worst storms on record to hit the East Coast, an oil tanker breaks in half, stranding 30 sailors on board. The Coast Guard dispatches a crew aboard an inadequate wooden craft to mount a daring rescue that lives on still in the annals of American seafarers.
PROSPECTS: Has an epic quality to it plus an American pride aspect that will likely appeal to post-holiday crowds who are tiring of 2015 movies.
OBSTACLES: Being hidden in late January doesn’t auger well for the studio’s confidence in the movie’s ability to draw in big audience numbers.
FACTOID: The actual craft that was used in the rescue is still intact and maintained in perfect condition at Rock Harbor in Orleans, Massachusetts.

COULD-SEE

DIABLO

RELEASE DATE: January 8, 2016
STUDIO: Orion
STARRING: Scott Eastwood, Walton Goggins, Camilla Belle, Samuel Marty, Danny Glover, Adam Beach, Robert Franco, Diego Diablo Del Mar, Nesta Cooper
GENRE: Western
STORY: A Civil War veteran wakes up one morning to discover that his beautiful wife has been kidnapped by ruthless bandits. He goes out in search of those responsible and finds the line between being good and evil blurring. As the final showdown looms he must discover how much of himself he can lose in order to win back the woman he loves.
PROSPECTS: This has kind of been skirting the edges. Not many know about this film but judging on the trailer this could be a surprise hit.
OBSTACLES: Already too many Westerns out there..
FACTOID: Scott Eastwood’s first western despite getting 50 scripts a year to do one due to his father’s fame in the genre.

MIGHT-SEE

January 8, 2016

THE FOREST (Gramercy) stars Game of Thrones hottie Natalie Dormer as a woman who searches for her sister after she enters the mysterious Aokigahara Forest at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan and disappears. Discovering that this is a place considered dangerous by the Japanese because so many people go there to commit suicide, she nonetheless hires an ex-pat American guide and goes into the forest searching for her sister and finding that the forest’s sinister reputation is well-earned. Opening in limited release,  LAMB (The Orchard) is about a man, shaken to the core after a bitter divorce and the death of his father, tries save an eleven-year-old girl from a life of apathy and emptiness by taking her on a road trip to the Rockies..

January 15, 2016

THE 5TH WAVE (Columbia) stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a young woman trying to save her younger brother in the aftermath of a devastating alien invasion. 13 HOURS (Paramount) is based on a true story about six American security operatives who during the attack of the American embassy in Benghazi came to the rescue during the 13 hours of the attack, keeping the death toll from being much worse. This is their account of the events of that night, much of which has never been revealed before now. NORM OF THE NORTH (Lionsgate) is an animated feature with a garrulous polar bear travelling to New York trying to keep his beloved Arctic Circle from being turned into condos and vacation rentals by an unscrupulous developer.

January 22, 2016

THE BOY (STX) stars Lauren Cohan, Maggie on The Walking Dead, as a young woman hired as a nanny to a small boy only to discover that the elderly couple that hired her have presented her with a creepy doll to watch over, a way of coping with the grief of the death of their actual son twenty years prior. However when she violates a list of written rules, a series of unexplained and increasingly disturbing events leads her to believe that the doll may actually be alive. A week from marrying his boss’ controlling daughter, a young man agrees to drive his DIRTY GRANDPA (Lionsgate) to Spring Break in Daytona, putting his upcoming nuptials in jeopardy. Zac Efron and Robert De Niro co-star. EXPOSED (Lionsgate) stars Keanu Reeves as a police detective trying to discover the truth behind his partner’s death as a mysterious woman who claims to have witnessed a miracle becomes the center for some unexplainable occurrences. In MOJAVE (A24), two men meet in the desert for a deadly game that only one – and maybe neither one – will walk away from. Oscar Isaac and Garret Hedlund play the two men.

January 29, 2016

JANE GOT A GUN (Weinstein) stars Natalie Portman as a frontier wife whose past dealings with a bloodthirsty gang comes back to haunt her and her family. Desperate to save them, she enlists the help of her one-time fiancée, a gunslinger who has a past with the gang of his own. This movie has been bouncing around the schedule for more than a year; it’s anybody’s guess whether this will actually see the light of day. If it does, it will likely be 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.

TAKEN 3 (20th Century Fox) Budget: $48 Million. Domestic Gross: $89.3M Total: $326.5M Verdict: Big Hit.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK: ANGEL OF DEATH (Relativity) Budget: $1M. Domestic Gross: $26.5M Total: $26.5M Verdict: Big Hit.
MORTDECAI (Lionsgate) Budget: $60M. Domestic Gross: $7.7M Total: $47.3M Verdict: Flop.
PREDESTINATION (Vertical) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $68,372 Total: $4.3M Verdict: Probably Broke Even.
THE WEDDING RINGER (Screen Gems) Budget: $23M. Domestic Gross: $64.5M Total: $79.8M Verdict: Hit.
PADDINGTON (Dimension) Budget: $55M. Domestic Gross: $76.2M Total: $259.5M Verdict: Big Hit.
BLACK SEA (Focus) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $1.2M Total: $1.2M Verdict: Probable Flop.
BLACK OR WHITE (Relativity) Budget: $9M. Domestic Gross: $21.6M Total: $21.6 Verdict: Made Money.
PROJECT ALMANAC (Paramount) Budget: $12M. Domestic Gross: $22.4M Total: $33.2 Verdict: Made Money.
BLACKHAT (Universal) Budget: $70M. Domestic Gross: $7.9M Total: $19.5 Verdict: Major Flop.
MAX (Warner Brothers) Budget: $20M. Domestic Gross: $42.7M Total: $44.0 Verdict: Made Money.
THE BOY NEXT DOOR (Universal) Budget: $4M. Domestic Gross: $35.4M Total: $52.4 Verdict: Big Hit.
SPARE PARTS (Pantelion) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $3.6M Total: $3.6 Verdict: Probably Lost Money.

FEBRUARY

As 2016 is a leap year, there will be an extra day to enjoy some of the fruits of the year’s second month cinema offerings and as usual with most February offerings things begin to look up after the dead zone that is January. This year, we can expect to see the latest from the Coen Brothers, a sequel to a cult comedy that is 15 years in the making, a biopic of an American athlete who stood for something much more and the first of five Marvel movies to hit the multiplexes this year.

Deadpool

THE ONE TO SEE

DEADPOOL

RELEASE DATE: February 12, 2016
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Leslie Uggams, Brianna Hildebrand, Andre Tricoteux
GENRE: Superhero
STORY: A Special Forces hero turned mercenary, rogue experiments turn Wade Wilson into a hideously deformed Deadpool who is able to heal instantaneously. Now possessed of freakish accuracy and a dark, twisted, sense of humor, he’s going after the man who ruined his life.
PROSPECTS: Fans have been waiting for a Deadpool movie since his appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Deadpool, with his habitual breaking of the fourth wall, is one of Marvel’s most popular characters. The fanboy anticipation factor is through the roof with this one.
OBSTACLES: Fox stumbled big time with Fantastic Four, a film that was reportedly beset with studio interference, something Fox has become notorious for. There has been some fan backlash on the casting of Reynolds once again as Deadpool.
FACTOID: This is the first film in the X-Men franchise to receive an R rating,

NEXT IN LINE

HAIL CAESAR

RELEASE DATE: February 5, 2016
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand
GENRE: Comedy
STORY: A studio fixer in the 1950s has a day where he has plenty to fix, not the least of which is the kidnapping of the star of the studio’s biggest film of the year.
PROSPECTS: The latest from the Coen Brothers who always deliver something interesting. An all-star cast and a superb trailer are making film buffs salivate.
OBSTACLES: While the Coen Brothers deliver terrific films, that doesn’t always translate to superior box office.
FACTOID: This will be the fifth time Hill and Tatum have appeared together in the same movie although reportedly they didn’t share any scenes in this one.

ZOOLANDER 2

RELEASE DATE: February 12, 2016
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell, Benedict Cumberbatch, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Kristen Wiig
GENRE: Comedy
STORY: Derek Zoolander and Hansel, the two hottest male super models of the 90s are forgotten men 20 years later. However, when beautiful people the world over are turning up dead bearing Zoolander’s signature “Blue Steel” look, the two are back – as spies in the modern world of super modeling, which they don’t understand anymore – not that they ever understood anything.
PROSPECTS: This is one of those movies that people quote from religiously. It may not have set the box office on fire but it is certainly a cult classic.
OBSTACLES: It’s been 20 years since the last Zoolander movie and it wasn’t exactly a big hit in the theaters; it grew into a cult classic on home video. And that might happen again this time.
FACTOID: The announcement of the film was made at a fashion show by Stiller and Wilson, in character as Zoolander and Hansel.

GODS OF EGYPT

RELEASE DATE: February 26, 2016
STUDIO: Summit
STARRING: Gerard Butler, Chadwick Boseman, Brenton Thwaites, Geoffrey Rush, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Courtney Eaton, Elodie Yung
GENRE: Swords and Sandals
STORY: Dissatisfied with the way Egypt is being run, the god Set usurps the throne and turns the once-peaceful kingdom into a maelstrom of chaos and combat. A mortal, in an attempt to save the love of his life, enlists the god Horus to help him save Egypt but first must retrieve the eyes of Horus, which are guarded by Set…oh, my head aches already.
PROSPECTS: Lots and lots of eye candy will certainly get some attention.
OBSTACLES: Movies like this – Immortals anyone? – didn’t keep that attention.
FACTOID: This is director Alex Proyas’ first feature in seven years.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

THE WITCH

RELEASE DATE: February 19, 2016
STUDIO: A24
STARRING: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Lucas Dawson, Ellie Grainger, Julian Ritchings, Bathsheba Garnett
GENRE: Horror
STORY: A family in 17th century New England is beset by strange and disturbing events. Suspicion falls on the teenage daughter of witchcraft but the truth may be far more terrifying than that.
PROSPECTS: Was considered one of the most terrifying films to screen on the festival circuit in years.
OBSTACLES: No-name cast and competition from TV shows like Sleepy Hollow which has similar themes.
FACTOID: Ineson and Dickie have both appeared in Game of Thrones.

AND THE REST

February 5, 2016

THE CHOICE (Lionsgate), based on yet another Nicholas Sparks novel, is about an unlikely couple who build a wonderful life together until an unexpected turn of events forces one to make a wrenching decision on their own. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (Screen Gems) is also based on a novel (although not by Nicholas Sparks). Here the Zombie Apocalypse is brought into Jane Austin territory. Opening in limited release, REGRESSION (Dimension) looks into the investigation of an unspeakable accusation by a daughter against her father which opens the door to a further mystery with national implications. SOUTHBOUND (The Orchard) which is also opening in limited release is a horror anthology of five tales set on the open road..

February 12, 2016

HOW TO BE SINGLE (New Line) stars Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson as a couple of single gals in New York City trying to navigate the dangerous waters of modern romance using all the means at their disposal. TOUCHED WITH FIRE (Roadside Attractions), which opens in limited release, stars Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby as a pair of bipolar poets who meet at a treatment facility and forge an instant chemistry which both inspires them and drives them even deeper into the darkness of their disorder. WHERE TO INVADE NEXT (Drafthouse) is the latest documentary from gadfly Michael Moore in which Moore visits a variety of other countries to steal their ideas which might solve a lot of problems here in the United States. This will be available in limited release.

February 19, 2016

RACE (Focus) is the story of Jesse Owens, one of the greatest athletes of his time who confounded the Nazis in the 1936 Olympics but faced prejudice and privation in the United States. Stephan James stars as Owens. RISEN (TriStar) tells the story of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection through the eyes of a non-believing Roman centurion. In VIRAL (Dimension) a teen whose town has been devastated by a deadly virus must survive the chaos of quarantine and somehow protect her sister who has become infected with it.

February 26, 2016

EDDIE THE EAGLE (20th Century Fox) is the story of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, Britain’s first Olympic ski jumper in almost 50 years who conquered the odds just by getting there. Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman star. TRIPLE NINE (Open Road)’s title refers to the police broadcast code for “officer down.” A group of corrupt cops, forced by the Russian mob to pull off an impossible heist attempt to use the shooting of one of their own as a distraction to perform the robbery but things go not just sideways but incredibly sideways.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

JUPITER ASCENDING (Warner Brothers) Budget: $176 Million. Domestic Gross: $47.4M Total: $183.9M Verdict: Lost Money.
50 SHADES OF GREY (Focus) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $166.2M Total: $570.5M Verdict: Blockbuster.
KINGSMEN: THE SECRET SERVICE (20th Century Fox) Budget: $81M. Domestic Gross: $128.3M Total: $414.4M Verdict: Blockbuster.
MAPS TO THE STARS (Focus World) Budget: $13M. Domestic Gross: $350, 741.Total: $1.3M Verdict: Flop.
THE DUFF (CBS) Budget: $8.5M. Domestic Gross: $34.0M Total: $43.5M Verdict: Hit.
MCFARLAND, USA (Disney) Budget: $17M. Domestic Gross: $44.5M Total: $45.7M Verdict: Made Money.
THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER (Paramount) Budget: $74M. Domestic Gross: $163.0M Total: $323.4M Verdict: Big Hit.
THE SEVENTH SON (Universal) Budget: $95M. Domestic Gross: $17.2M Total: $114.2M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE VATICAN TAPES (Lionsgate) Budget: $13M. Domestic Gross: $1.7M Total: $9.0M Verdict: Flop.
HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 (Paramount) Budget: $14M. Domestic Gross: $12.3M Total: $13.1M Verdict: Flop.
LITTLE BOY (Open Road) Budget: $20M. Domestic Gross: $6.5M Total: $7.5M Verdict: Flop.
FOCUS (Universal) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $53.9M Total: $159.1M Verdict: Hit.
THE LAZARUS EFFECT (Relativity) Budget: $3M. Domestic Gross: $25.8M Total: $64.1M Verdict: Big Hit.

MARCH

March can be another transitional month at the box office although this year it will have one of the most anticipated films of the year – the beginning of a new shared comic book universe to compete with Marvel. We’ll also be seeing a true story about a female reporter covering the war in Afghanistan, an adaptation of a beloved children’s book, the latest Disney animation, and the sequel to one of 2014’s most successful action films.

Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice

THE ONE TO SEE

 BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

RELEASE DATE: March 25, 2016
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, Lawrence Fishburne, Michael Shannon
GENRE: Superhero
STORY: In the fallout of Man of Steel, Bruce Wayne, the vigilante of Gotham city known as Batman, goes up against Superman, the savior of Metropolis whom the Dark Knight considers to be a major threat to humanity. Engineering this conflict is a maniac billionaire who stands to gain by the end of superheroes, but in his hubris he engineers something far more dangerous.
PROSPECTS: DC fans have been salivating for this for some time; this will be the beginning of a shared cinematic universe for DC heroes for the very first time, pitting their top heroes in the same film, also for the first time.
OBSTACLES: The DC superhero films have for the most part (i.e. the ones not directed by Christopher Nolan) not been well-received even by DC fandom.
FACTOID: Hans Zimmer composed a separate theme for each hero in the film which will be used in all their solo films (with the exception of Batman, who is using a theme from a previous film).

NEXT IN LINE

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT

RELEASE DATE: March 4, 2016
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Evan Jonigkeit, Josh Charles, Sheila Vand
GENRE: True Life Dramedy
STORY: Journalist Kim Barker wanted nothing more than to be a field correspondent, covering important news stories. She manages to finagle an assignment as a war correspondent in Afghanistan, one of the few women to do so.
PROSPECTS: Fey is one of the most popular comic actresses on the planet and has remained that way by being choosey about her projects.
OBSTACLES: Films about the Afghanistan conflict are notorious for generating lousy box office.
FACTOID: The title is a radio alphabetic code allusion to the abbreviation WTF, or What the F*ck.

ZOOTOPIA

RELEASE DATE: March 4, 2016
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Jason Bateman, Ginnifer Goodwin, Idris Elba, J.K. Simmons, Bonnie Hunt, Jenny Slate, Alan Tudyk, Octavia Spencer
GENRE: Animated Feature
STORY: In a world where animals live together in a single city where anyone can make whatever they are able to out of their lives, an ambitious bunny who longs to be a great police detective pairs up with a scam artist fox to solve a tough case that might be one nut too tough to crack.
PROSPECTS: Hey, it’s Disney. Keep Calm and Rake in the Cash.
OBSTACLES: While the merchandising opportunities are virtually endless, there hasn’t been a ton of enthusiasm from Disneyphiles for this one, which may be getting overlooked in favor of Finding Dory which opens in June.
FACTOID: Tudyk has appeared in four consecutive Disney Animated Studio features.

THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT

RELEASE DATE: March 18, 2016
STUDIO: Summit
STARRING: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Naomi Watts, Miles Teller, Zoë Kravitz, Jeff Daniels, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Jonny Weston
GENRE: Science Fiction
STORY: Tris and Four lead their friends out of Chicago only to find a new menace in the wastelands beyond.
PROSPECTS: With The Hunger Games completed (at least for now), this is the pre-eminent young adult series with a strong female lead and it has been doing very strong box office for the first two movies of the four-film series.
OBSTACLES: The series has been doing moderately good business but not the sort of box office of Twilight or The Hunger Games.
FACTOID: Although the book series was a trilogy, the third book is being divided into two parts. The producers decided to avoid backlash from fans who have expressed displeasure that Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games all did the same thing with the final book in their series.

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

RELEASE DATE: March 18, 2016
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Sam Shepard, Joel Edgerton, Sean Bridgers, Jaeden Lieberher, Dana Gourrier
GENRE: Science Fiction
STORY: A father and son are forced to go on the run with the boy develops extraordinary powers.
PROSPECTS: May end up being some clever counter-programming to the DC juggernaut debuting the following week.
OBSTACLES: A little bit like too many other kid-oriented sci-fi films that may feel a bit too dated for modern family audiences.
FACTOID: The fourth film for director Jeff Nichols that Shannon has starred in.

THE LITTLE PRINCE

RELEASE DATE: March 25, 2016
STUDIO: Paramount Animation
STARRING THE VOICES OF: James Franco, Paul Rudd, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Benicio del Toro, Jeff Bridges, Paul Giamatti, Albert Brooks
GENRE: Animated Feature
STORY: An old pilot relays his story of the time he crashed in the Sahara desert and met an extraordinary young boy who claims to be the prince of an Asteroid going from world to world trying to discover what it means to be an adult.
PROSPECTS: Based on the classic children’s book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, this is the most lavish version of the book to appear on the silver screen.
OBSTACLES: The Saint-Exupéry book doesn’t have the same resonance with American children it once did which likely means the same for the animated feature based on it.
FACTOID: Although this is a French production, the original audio was recorded in English; Paramount wouldn’t allow the English version to be released in any other country before its U.S. release so the versions that have been screened in other countries are either in French or that country’s native language.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

THE BRONZE

RELEASE DATE: March 18, 2016
STUDIO: Sony Classics
STARRING: Melissa Rauch, Gary Cole, Haley Lu Richardson, Thomas Middleditch, Sebastian Stan, Cecily Strong, Dale Raoul
GENRE: Comedy
STORY: A faded Olympian gymnast, still milking what fame she has left years after the Games came to an end, must coach an up-and-coming young prospect in order to receive a sizable inheritance which might jeopardize her status as the most famous person in town.
PROSPECTS: This received a huge buzz from last year’s Sundance.
OBSTACLES: The financial problems with Relativity, which originally owned the distribution rights, led to long delays for its release and its eventual sale to Sony Classics. What buzz it had will be long gone by the time it comes out.
FACTOID: Rauch co-wrote the film with her husband.

AND THE REST

March 4, 2016

In DESIERTO (STX) Gael Garcia Bernal plays a Mexican national trying to cross the border to reunite with his children in the US. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays a psychotic anti-immigration sort who is hunting down illegals. A game of cat and mouse ensues. BLAMMO! BLAMMO! BLAMMO! But who shot who?  KNIGHT OF CUPS (Broad Green) is the latest from director Terrence Malick which means this will look sumptuous and make no sense to anybody. LONDON HAS FALLEN (Gramercy) stars Gerard Butler as a Secret Service agent once again trying to protect President Aaron Eckhart from terrorists, only this time across the pond. And they say originality is dead in Hollywood. ME BEFORE YOU (Warner Brothers), based on a best-selling novel, has a small-town girl hired by a wealthy industrialist who has been confined to a wheelchair as an attendant. The wealthy guy has given up; the plucky girl helps him find his spark of life again. But what are plucky girls for, if not for giving wealthy industrialists the will to live?

March 11, 2016

BARNEY THOMSEN (Gravitas) is a British comedy opening in limited release about a shy and ordinary barber whose life takes a change for the better when he becomes a serial killer. Robert Carlyle and Emma Thompson star. THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY (Columbia) stars Sasha Baron Cohen in this spy spoof about a superspy who in searching for his idiot brother, separated from him for 28 years, discovers that this brother may be all that’s standing between the world and a horrible terrorist plot. THE CELLAR (Paramount) is about a girl who after losing consciousness in her car wakes up in a strange cellar where a mysterious woman tells her that the rest of the world has been wiped out in a nuclear holocaust. Yeah, I wouldn’t believe her either. In EYE IN THE SKY (Bleecker Street) a British drone mission turns complicated when it becomes obvious that the terrorists are planning a massive attack that will kill many innocent civilians; however the pilot becomes aware that there are children present, putting the mission into a moral grey area. Opening in limited release, HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS (Roadside Attractions) stars Sally Field as an aging woman who falls for a man half her age. In trying to woo him, she finds herself in a world she never knew existed – and risks alienating her longtime friends who think she’s making a fool of herself. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (20th Century Fox) is a horror film about a woman whose young son dies tragically and is willing to do just about anything to bring him back but the ritual that brings him back also brings a warning, one she disregards with horrible consequences. The Walking Dead’s Sarah Wayne Callies stars. THE YOUNG MESSIAH (Focus) chronicles the largely untold story of Jesus Christ as a young boy and how he and his family eventually came to terms as to who he truly was.

March 18, 2016

KRISHA (A24) is about a Thanksgiving reunion in which a young woman’s appearance causes unaccountable tension but as the day goes on secrets are brought to light and the family is forced to face events that they thought they’d left behind. MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN (Sony) is based on the incredible story of a young girl whose life-threatening disease is miraculously cured, touching off a series of unexplainable events that leave her family, her medical doctors and the community at large baffled. Opening in limited release, TERM LIFE (Focus World) stars Vince Vaughn as a desperate man who has everybody after him to kill him. He takes out a term life insurance policy payable to his estranged daughter but it doesn’t take effect for 21 days and surviving that long may not be an option.

March 25, 2016

THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM (Relativity) stars Kate Beckinsale as a woman whose marriage is failing; she and her husband decide to move to a dilapidated old home on the Eastern Seaboard and restore it. However when she discovers a room that doesn’t appear on the blueprints, she uncovers a terrifying secret that forces beyond life and death will stop at nothing to protect. Opening in limited release, I SAW THE LIGHT (Sony Classics) stars Tom Hiddleston as the legendary country artist Hank Williams in this biopic that covers his meteoric rise to fame and his just as startling fall into a tragic end. MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (Universal) is the sequel to the surprise indie hit that launched the career of Nia Vardalos. She returns along with the rest of her wacky Greek family, this time learning that her parents’ marriage wasn’t valid because the paperwork wasn’t signed properly. So what else is there to do but have another big fat Greek wedding?

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT (Summit) Budget: $110 Million. Domestic Gross: $130.2M Total: $297.3M Verdict: Made Money.
CINDERELLA (Disney) Budget: $95M. Domestic Gross: $201.2M Total: $542.7M Verdict: Blockbuster.
HOME (DreamWorks) Budget: $135M. Domestic Gross: $177.4M Total: $386.0M Verdict: Made Money.
CHAPPIE (Columbia) Budget: $49M. Domestic Gross: $31.6M Total: $102.1M Verdict: Made Money.
THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) Budget: $10M. Domestic Gross: $33.1M Total: $86.0 Verdict: Big Hit.
GET HARD (Universal) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $94.0M Total: $111.7 Verdict: Made Money.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS (20th Century Fox) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $10.2M Total: $14.4M Verdict: Flop.
MERCHANTS OF DOUBT (Sony Classics) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $308,156 Total: $308,156 Verdict: Likely Lost Money.
WHILE WE’RE YOUNG (A24) Budget: $10M. Domestic Gross: $7.6M Total: $14.2M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE GUNMAN (Open Road) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $10.7M Total: $10.7M Verdict: Flop.

APRIL

As we swing into spring, the entries into the box office wars heat up, and this year is no exception as we can expect a sequel to a hit fairy tale-based fantasy, a new Disney live-action take on one of their iconic animated features, a new star vehicle for one of America’s favorite comic actresses and the latest nature documentary from DisneyNature.

The Jungle Book

THE ONE TO SEE

THE JUNGLE BOOK

RELEASE DATE: April 15, 2016
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING: Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley (voice), Scarlett Johansson (voice), Bill Murray (voice), Lupita Nyong’o (voice), Idris Elba (voice), Christopher Walken (voice), Saffron Burrows (voice)
GENRE: Family Adventure
STORY: A young boy, orphaned and raised by wolves, becomes the target for various jungle animals who want him eliminated because he’s human.
PROSPECTS: Director Jon Favreau’s track record as of late has been stellar, as has Disney’s been when it comes to live action remakes of their animated classics.
OBSTACLES: The Jungle Book is not as well known as Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella nor are there any princesses involved.
FACTOID: All of Bill Murray’s movies for Disney to date have been released by the more adult-oriented Touchstone label; this is his first movie for Disney proper.

NEXT IN LINE

THE BOSS

RELEASE DATE: April 8, 2016
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Melissa McCarthy, Peter Dinklage, Kristen Bell, Kristen Schaal, Kathy Bates, Cecily Strong, Margo Martindale, Tyler Labine
GENRE: Comedy
STORY: After a stint in prison, America’s wealthiest woman has to start over from scratch and determines to rebrand herself as America’s sweetheart; however, not everyone she screwed over is quite ready to forgive and forget.
PROSPECTS: McCarthy is one of the most bankable comedy actors in Hollywood; now that Mike and Molly is coming to an end, she’ll be free to focus on her big screen career.
OBSTACLES: McCarthy’s films have varied in quality and she has a tendency to play roles that are all too similar in tone.
FACTOID: The film was co-written by McCarthy, her husband Ben Falcone (who also directed) and her friend from her Groundlings improv days Steve Mallory.

CRIMINAL

RELEASE DATE: April 15, 2016
STUDIO: Summit
STARRING: Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman, Kevin Costner, Gal Gadot, Alice Eve, Tommy Lee Jones, Amaury Nolasco, Antje Traue, Scott Adkins
GENRE: Science Fiction
STORY: In a desperate attempt to stop a plot that will take the lives of millions, the memories and skills of a dead CIA operative are implanted into an unpredictable and dangerous death row convict in the hopes that he can complete the mission of the dead agent.
PROSPECTS: A truly impressive cast will bring in at least their more devoted fans into the theater.
OBSTACLES: No trailer as of yet, which tells me that this is likely to be delayed or shelved.
FACTOID: Oldman, Costner and Jones all appeared in JFK.

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR

RELEASE DATE: April 22, 2016
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Sam Claflin, Sophie Cookson, Colin Morgan, Nick Frost, Sheridan Smith
GENRE: Fantasy
STORY: The Evil Queen Ravenna is dead, but her sister Freya – the Ice Queen – has managed to get her hands on the Magic Mirror and is able to resurrect her sister from its golden depths. The Huntsman must fight his way back to the side of the woman he loves – the warrior Sara – if the vicious army the sisters has raised is to be defeated.
PROSPECTS: No Kristen Stewart this time, which has its pros and cons; the trailer promises another special effects spectacle.
OBSTACLES: The first film did good business but didn’t really get the kind of rabid fanbase that makes sequel success guaranteed.
FACTOID: Originally this was to be a sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman but it was decided to do a prequel instead and Snow White was dropped from the film.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

RATCHET AND CLANK

RELEASE DATE: April 29, 2016
STUDIO: Gramercy
STARRING THE VOICES OF: James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Jim Ward, Sylvester Stallone, Rosario Dawson, Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Armin Shimerman, Bella Thorne
GENRE: Animated Feature
STORY: Two unlikely heroes; a risk-taking last of his species and a brilliant but small robot, struggle to keep a vile alien from destroying the galaxy.
PROSPECTS: A very cool-looking trailer from the studio that has had lots of success with the equally offbeat animated features from Laika Studios.
OBSTACLES: Not exactly household name kind of stuff and videogame adaptations have tended to fail in epic fashion.
FACTOID: Based on a hit videogame series from Insomniac Games.

ALSO OPENING

April 1, 2016

In COLLIDE (Open Road) a young English couple is caught in the crossfire in a war between German criminal kingpins. Anthony Hopkins and Ben Kingsley play the gangsters, Nicholas Hoult and Felicity Jones the couple. THE DARK HORSE (Broad Green) is about a man called to leadership who must overcome his own flaws in order to become a role model for the children of his community. Cliff (Fear the Walking Dead) Curtis stars. GOD’S NOT DEAD 2 (Pure Flix) is the sequel to the surprise hit faith-based classroom drama. In KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES (20th Century Fox), a couple move into a nice, quiet new neighborhood only to discover that their neighbors are undercover secret agents. John Hamm, Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher and Gal Gadot head up the ensemble cast. Opening in limited release is MILES AHEAD (Sony Classics), written, directed by and starring Don Cheadle in this searing biopic of jazz legend Miles Davis. After a global plague wipes out most of the population in PANDEMIC (XLRator), a courageous doctor leaves New York for Los Angeles to find as many uninfected survivors as she can. This is opening in limited release as well as on VOD. In RINGS (Paramount) is a prequel to the successful J-horror remakes in which Samara’s deadly spree begins and the infamous videotape, which whoever watches it is fated to die within seven days, is created. It was bounced from the schedule from last October to April Fool’s Day; read into that what you will.

April 8, 2016

In BEFORE I WAKE (Relativity), a young couple adopts a boy who is terrified of falling asleep and they soon find out why; his nightmares manifest themselves in reality. Rescheduled after Relativity’s bankruptcy issues forced a temporary suspension of operations. Opening in limited release, DEMOLITION (Fox Searchlight) is about an investment banker (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) who is reeling after the tragic death of his wife and writes an intensely personal letter of complaint to a vending machine company. The letter attracts the attention of a customer service rep (Naomi Watts) who is undergoing personal challenges of her own; the two form a connection that help both of them re-create their lives, starting with the demolition of their old ones.

 April 15, 2016

AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING (Dimension) which will have been sitting on the shelf for more than a year by the time this has been released, sort of mashes up The Haunting in Connecticut with The Amityville Horror to form a whole separate film. BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT (New Line/MGM) is the third film in the series, taking place a decade after the last one in which Calvin’s barbershop now has a woman’s hair salon in it as well, changing the dynamic somewhat. Unfortunately, the neighborhood has changed too, for the worse and Calvin and crew are hell bent on doing something about it. EVERYBODY WANTS SOME (Paramount) is the latest from director Richard Linklater (Boyhood) in which a group of college freshman in the 80s try to navigate the changes in their lives while trying to make the baseball team. THE GREEN ROOM (A24) sees a diabolical club owner with some nasty little secrets squaring off against a resilient punk band who see something backstage they shouldn’t have. Patrick Stewart stars.

April 22, 2016

THE MEDDLER (Sony Classics) which opens in limited release stars Susan Sarandon as a recently widowed mom who moves from Jersey to L.A. to be closer to her daughter, which isn’t necessarily welcome news for her daughter.

April 29, 2016

A BEAUTIFUL PLANET (Disney) takes nature documentaries higher than ever as views from space show the beauty and fragility of our world in this IMAX presentation. MOTHER’S DAY (Open Road) comes from Garry Marshall and continues his series of holiday-themed romantic comedies. This time, Julia Roberts stars. NINE LIVES (EuropaCorp) follows the misadventures of a workaholic who through a strange set of circumstances finds himself trapped in the body of the family cat. In SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME (Paramount) an international art dealer whose marriage is falling apart has to develop a friendship with a dangerous homeless man, taking the trio on a remarkable journey.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

FURIOUS 7 (Universal) Budget: $190 Million. Domestic Gross: $353.0M Total: $1.515B Verdict: Blockbuster.
MONKEY KINGDOM (DisneyNature) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $16.4M Total: $17.1M Verdict: Likely Made Money.
THE AGE OF ADALINE (Lionsgate) Budget: $25M. Domestic Gross: $42.6M Total: $42.6M Verdict: Lost Money.
TRUE STORY (Fox Searchlight) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $4.7M Total: $5.1M Verdict: Probably Lost Money.
EX-MACHINA (A24) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $25.4M Total: $36.8M Verdict: Made Money.
RUN ALL NIGHT (Warner Brothers) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $26.5M Total: $71.6M Verdict: Lost Money.
WOMAN IN GOLD (Weinstein) Budget: $11M Domestic Gross: $33.3M Total: $61.6M Verdict: Big Hit
PAUL BLART MALL COP 2 (Columbia) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $71.1M Total: $107.6M Verdict: Hit.
THE LONGEST RIDE (20th Century Fox) Budget: $34M. Domestic Gross: $37.5M Total: $62.9M Verdict: Lost Money.
CHILD 44 (Summit) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $1.2M Total: $13.0M Verdict: Flop.
UNFRIENDED (Universal) Budget: $1M. Domestic Gross: $32.5M Total: $62.9M Verdict: Big Hit.
THE WATER DIVINER (Warner Brothers) Budget: $22.5. Domestic Gross: $4.2M Total: $15.5M Verdict: Flop.

SUMMER

As usual, Cinema365 will be bringing you our annual summer movie preview at the end of April. Until then, also as usual, we’ll present a sneak preview of what you can expect this summer. As noted earlier, there is a good chance that a good many of these will change dates, change titles and even some will head direct to home video, skipping a theatrical release entirely. There will also be other films that haven’t been scheduled as of this publication that will show up and perhaps have a whole lot of impact on your box office dollar. In any case, this is what we know so far – I’m sure that some of these entries are apt to excite your anticipation for them.

Captain America Civil War

THE ONE TO SEE

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

RELEASE DATE: May 6, 2016
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
STARRING: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Paul Rudd, Tom Holland
GENRE: Superhero
STORY: Iron Man and Cap find themselves on opposite sides as following an Avengers encounter that leaves significant collateral damage, government types want tighter oversight on superheroes and of course this becomes a political football with Shellhead siding with the government and Steve Rogers for freedom.
PROSPECTS: This is essentially the Marvel movie that many fans have been waiting for and maybe the most anticipated film in the series (until The Infinity War gets going). Bringing in characters from around the Avengers-verse and introducing a couple of new characters (including the new iteration of Spider-Man who will be part of the MCU from here on out), this is bound to be another billion dollar moneymaker for Disney.
OBSTACLES: While Avengers: Age of Ultron did big time box office, it was a little bit disappointing from both a creative and commercial standpoint. Could it be a sign of superhero overload?
FACTOID: The trailer for the film debuted on Jimmy Kimmel Live and broke a record for most views online in 24 hours set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

NEXT IN LINE

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE

RELEASE DATE: May 22, 2015
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Michael Fassbender, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Olivia Munn, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Evan Peters
GENRE: Superhero
STORY: Set in the 1980s, the X-Men take on their greatest foe as an immortal mutant, worshipped throughout time as a God, seeks to cleanse the world of humankind with only a team of young, inexperienced X-Men along with a few survivors of the first two films of the trilogy to stop him.
PROSPECTS: Brian Singer returns to the director’s chair which is welcome news for fandom; Apocalypse is one of the most popular villains in the Marvel X-Universe.
OBSTACLES: Competing with a whole lot of superhero films this summer, and the public hasn’t been exactly warmed to the X-Men franchise as much as it has the MCU.
FACTOID: The wheelchair used in the teaser trailer was the same one Patrick Stewart used in the very first X-Men movie in 2000.

WARCRAFT

RELEASE DATE: June 10, 2016
STUDIO: Universal/Legendary
STARRING: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Robert Kazinsky, Toby Kebbell, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, Ruth Negga
GENRE: Fantasy
STORY: Orcs and humans, the deadliest of enemies for generations, must now unite to face down an evil so insidious that it threatens to destroy all life.
PROSPECTS: Director Duncan Jones has been a fan favorite since Moon and this is a franchise that has been just waiting to be made. Could well be the next Lord of the Rings.
OBSTACLES: Or not. Videogame adaptations have notoriously failed in the medium of film and epic fantasies have largely done the same. A lack of bankable stars may end up hurting this.
FACTOID: It has taken ten years from the time the film was announced for it to finally make it to the screen.

FINDING DORY

RELEASE DATE: June 17, 2016
STUDIO: Disney*Pixar
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Idris Elba, Ed O’Neill, Dominic West, Diane Keaton, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Eugene Levy, Hayden Rolence
GENRE: Animated Feature
STORY: The perpetually forgetful Dory is beginning to retain memories. She and her true friends Nemo and Marlin will go on a quest to find Dory’s family, along the way experiencing an adventure like nothing they’ve ever seen.
PROSPECTS: The sequel to one of the most beloved animated features of all time with much of the same voice cast.
OBSTACLES: 13 years will have passed between the first film and this one. Few franchises can withstand that kind of gap.
FACTOID: DeGeneres campaigned for a sequel for years on her talk show; the announcement that this was greenlit came on her show.

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

RELEASE DATE: June 24, 2016
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Vivica A. Fox, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Brent Spiner, Joey King, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, Judd Hirsch
GENRE: Science Fiction
STORY: After repulsing the alien invasion 20 years ago, humankind has been adapting the technology from downed alien aircraft to upgrade their defenses. Now the aliens are coming back, bigger and badder than ever. Will it be enough?
PROSPECTS: One of the most beloved films of the 90s, a sequel had been called on by the studio right away and fans have been clamoring for it ever since.
OBSTACLES: No Will Smith this time as his salary demands were deemed too high. It’s been 20 years since the first film came out; will younger audiences embrace it the same way?
FACTOID: This is director Roland Emmerich’s first sequel.

GHOSTBUSTERS

RELEASE DATE: July 15, 2016
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Chris Hemsworth, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Andy Garcia
GENRE: Horror Comedy
STORY: A whole new generation of Ghostbusters takes on a new spectral threat to New York City.
PROSPECTS: Who ya gonna call? Director Paul Feig has had plenty of success with McCarthy and with female-led comedy in general.
OBSTACLES: There has been much fan backlash over an all-female ‘busters crew. The original came out almost 30 years ago; is that too long a gap?
FACTOID: This is the fourth film McCarthy has been directed in by Feig.

STAR TREK BEYOND

RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2016
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Deep Roy, Sofia Boutella, Melissa Roxburgh
GENRE: Science Fiction
STORY: When the U.S.S. Enterprise is viciously attacked by a swarm of ships under the command of the nefarious Krall, the crew is marooned on a deadly world and must go to extreme lengths to survive.
PROSPECTS: The franchise is back on solid footing with a new TV series on the horizon and the movies as strong as they’ve ever been.
OBSTACLES: Director J.J. Abrams has gone on to a different sci-fi franchise and new director Justin Lin, who has done well with the Fast and Furious franchise, has never done this kind of effects-driven film before. There has also been a lot of fan dissatisfaction with the trailer.
FACTOID: This is the third film of the rebooted series and the twelfth overall and is being released in the year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original series.

BOURNE 5

RELEASE DATE: July 29, 2016
STUDIO:Universal
STARRING: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Julia Stiles, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed, Neve Gachev, Ato Essandoh, Scott Shepherd
STORY: Not much is known about the story other than Bourne apparently has gotten some of his memory back and has resurfaced after 12 years of being off the grid.
PROSPECTS: For awhile it was thought that the Bourne series was going to supplant James Bond as the pre-eminent spy franchise. With Damon back as well as director Paul Greengrass this could be a return to the critical and commercial success of the first three films in the series.
OBSTACLES: This has a very good chance of being delayed until the fall or even summer 2017. Although filming has commenced, almost no marketing has been done.
FACTOID: Although Jeremy  Renner’s Aaron Cross character from The Bourne Legacy isn’t appearing in this film, a sequel will be filmed for the character following the release of this film.

SUICIDE SQUAD

RELEASE DATE: July 10, 2015
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Ben Affleck, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
GENRE: Superhero
STORY: In order to stop a threat against humanity, the U.S. Government enlists the services of convicted criminals on a mission that will probably end in their deaths – or their crimes being pardoned if they survive.
PROSPECTS: The next chapter in the DC Cinematic Universe is an offbeat choice; rather than one of their signature heroes, they’re going with a team of villains. The buzz has been high on this one; this will end up either being a brilliant move…
OBSTACLES: …or a fatal mistake. Some of the characters on the team are fairly minor lights in the comic universe and may be unknown or at least not well-known to non-fans.
FACTOID: Ben Affleck is the first actor to play Batman in two different films in the same year.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS

RELEASE DATE: August 19, 2016
STUDIO: Focus/Laika
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Matthew McConaughey, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
GENRE: Animated Feature
STORY: A kindhearted storyteller unintentionally summons demons from his past and must battle gods and monsters with his magical musical instrument in a fantasy version of Japan.
PROSPECTS: Laika has become maybe the second-most respected animation house in the world; each of their films have gotten progressively better, more acclaimed and more popular.
OBSTACLES: A bit of a departure from the usual Laika style and coming out in the doldrums of summer.
FACTOID: This is the fourth film to come out from Laika and the first without an ostensible horror theme.

AND THE REST

A BIGGER SPLASH (Fox Searchlight) which opens in limited release has a glamorous couple whose idyllic vacation is thrown into disarray by the appearance of an old friend and his daughter (May 13). THE FREE STATE OF JONES (STX) is set in the Civil War and stars Matthew McConaughey as a farmer who leads a revolt against the Confederacy where slaves are freed and are treated as equals (May 13). KIDNAP (Relativity) stars Halle Berry as a mother determined to do whatever it takes to rescue her kidnapped son (May 13). LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT (Broad Green) is about Jesus’ 40 day ordeal in the desert as he is tempted by the Devil. Ewan McGregor plays both roles. (May 13). In MONEY MONSTER (Tri-Star) a financial TV show host and his crew are taken hostage live on-air by an irate investor whose stock portfolio crashed after he followed the recommendations of the host (May 13). SNOWDEN (Open Road) is Oliver Stone’s biopic about the notorious whistleblower (May 13). THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE (Columbia) is an animated feature telling us why the stars of Rovio’s hit game are so darn mad (May 20). NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING (Universal) is the inevitable sequel to the hit comedy in which an ordinary family gets new neighbors; this time it is a college sorority house (May 20).THE NICE GUYS (Warner Brothers) stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as a hired thug and an incompetent private eye who are thrown together to find a missing girl in 1970s L.A. and find themselves sucked into a web of corruption that extends into the highest corridors of power (May 20). ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (Disney) follows Alice into new adventures in the Underworld in this sequel to the hit Tim Burton adaptation although Burton isn’t directing this time around (May 27). CONNER4REAL (Universal) is a feature film from the digital troupe Lonely Island starring Andy Samberg as a wannabe rapper (June 3). SAUSAGE PARTY (Columbia) is an animated feature about a sausage who is determined to find out the truth behind his existence. (June 3). TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (Paramount) reportedly takes a darker turn in the franchise as familiar villain makes it to the live action series for the first time (June 3). THE CONJURING 2 (New Line) returns with another case from the files of Ed and Lorraine Warren – this time taking them to North London where a single mum and her four kids live in a house where malevolent spirits are growing increasingly violent (June 10). NOW YOU SEE ME 2: THE SECOND ACT (Summit) reunites the Four Horsemen from the first end as they take on even more elaborate and dangerous illusions as they take on a billionaire tech wizard (June 10). In CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (New Line) Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart make the unlikeliest spies ever as they get involved in a case that might just be all in the head of one of them (June 17). THE BFG (Disney) sees Steven Spielberg make a live action version of the Roald Dahl classic children’s tale about a giant who takes a young girl on the adventure of a lifetime (July 1). THE LEGEND OF TARZAN (Warner Brothers) is the latest version of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic pulp hero, this time hopefully developing an all-new franchise for an audience unfamiliar with the books and serials (July 1). In THE PURGE 3 (Universal) Frank Grillo returns in this continuation of the hit franchise in which one day a year is set aside where every crime is legal (July 1). MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES (20th Century Fox) is about two brothers who place ads to find dates for a wedding, only to see the ads go viral (July 8). THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (Universal/Illumination) is an animated feature that shows us what our pets are up to while we’re away (July 8).LA LA LAND (Summit) is director Damien (Whiplash) Chazelle’s take on the movie musical in which a couple pursuing their dreams find those same dreams tearing them apart (July 15). ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE (20th Century Fox) sees Skrat’s pursuit of acorn nirvana lead to a cosmic calamity that threatens every creature on the planet (July 22). LIGHTS OUT (New Line) is a new horror film starring Teresa Palmer (July 22). Opening in limited release, GENIUS (Roadside Attractions) examines the real life relationship between author Thomas Wolfe and his editor Max Perkins (July 29). THE SPACE BETWEEN US (STX) is a sci-fi romance about a the first human born on Mars who returns to Earth to discover who his true father is with the aid of an incredibly smart girl named Tulsa (July 29). BEN-HUR (Paramount/MGM) is a remake of the classic swords and sandals film about a Roman noblemen falsely accused and sentenced to slavery, surviving all his tribulations only to come face to face with his former best friend who betrayed him and having to choose between vengeance and forgiveness (August 12). PETE’S DRAGON (Disney) is a remake of the classic live-action/animation mix about an orphan boy and his dragon (August 12). SPECTRAL (Universal/Legendary) pits a Special Ops team against a supernatural force that nobody can explain, but everyone knows must be stopped (August 12). ARMS AND THE DUDES (Warner Brothers) is based on a true story about two young men, good friends, who exploit a government program that allows small businesses to bid on military contracts. When they land a $300 million deal to arm the Afghan military, they realize they are in way over their heads (August 19). MECHANIC: RESURRECTION (Summit) returns Jason Statham as Arthur Bishop, the ice-cool contract killer who is brought out of retirement by someone from his past who forces him to assassinate a list of the most dangerous men in the world (August 26). THE INFILTRATOR (Broad Green) is the true story of Robert Mazur, an undercover agent in the shady world of drug cartel financing who brought the economics of drug dealing to its knees briefly in the 1980s (August 31).

FALL

Once again, a little taste to whet your appetite; Cinema365 will be presenting a brand new preview of all things 2016 Fall/Holiday at the end of August. Until then, this is probably the most fluid portion of the preview; as mentioned earlier, it is unlikely that the majority of these will remain in the slots that are posted here, and certainly there will be a lot of Festival favorites that will be making their debut, hungering for Awards and Box Office gold. Until then, this is what we know at the moment.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

THE ONE TO SEE

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

RELEASE DATE: November 18, 2016
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Jon Voight, Katherine Waterston, Ron Perlman, Samantha Morton, Gemma Chan, Dan Fogler
GENRE: Fantasy
STORY: Set 75 years before the first Harry Potter, the legendary Newt Scaramander – he of the essential textbook in the title – makes a brief stopover in New York while on a journey to catalog magical beasts and all chaos occurs when some of them escape.
PROSPECTS: Hello, it’s Harry Potter! We can’t get enough of the Wizarding World and with J.K. Rowling herself penning the scripts and an Oscar-winning actor leading the way, what could go wrong?
OBSTACLES: Neither Potter nor any of his companions make an appearance here. It’s an entirely new cast set in an entirely new environment.
FACTOID: Rowling wrote the book in 2001 as a spin-off from the Potter books with over 80% of the cover price of each book going to Comic Relief, helping poor and underprivileged children around the world.

NEXT IN LINE

DOCTOR STRANGE

RELEASE DATE: November 5, 2016
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
STARRING: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Amy Landecker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Scott Adkins
GENRE: Superhero/Fantasy
STORY: An arrogant neurosurgeon whose life is shattered after a car accident, finds a realm of mystery and magic existing within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
PROSPECTS: Opens up the MCU to the mystical realms, of which Strange is the most well-known character, which is a strategy that worked for the cosmic realms which Guardians of the Galaxy brought to life.  
OBSTACLES: The mystical realm is somewhat esoteric and an acquired taste – certainly not a slam dunk for superhero fans.
FACTOID: Cumberbatch initially had to decline the role due to scheduling conflicts but when the release date was pushed back and consequently the production dates pushed back as well, Cumberbatch was able to accept the role.

MOANA

RELEASE  DATE: November 23, 2016
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Dwayne Johnson, Auli’i Cravalho, Alan Tudyk
GENRE: Animated Feature
STORY: A spirited teenager living in the islands of the South Pacific determines to prove herself a master wayfarer by setting out on a daring mission of exploration and fulfilling the ancient quest of her ancestors.
PROSPECTS: The Disney animated studios has had spectacular success with their autumn releases.
OBSTACLES: Not very much is known about this film, which leads one to wonder if it might not end up being delayed.
FACTOID: Moana will become the 14th Disney princess and the fifth of non-European origin.

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

RELEASE DATE: December 16, 2016
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING: Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Jonathan Aris, Wen Jiang
GENRE: Science Fiction
STORY: A band of resistance fighters attempt to smuggle plans of the Empire’s terrifying new weapon, the Death Star, to the rebellion in this story that takes place just prior to the events of Episode IV.
PROSPECTS: Considering The Force Awakens has broken nearly every box office record imaginable and that this is the first-ever stand-alone film in the history of the franchise, I’d say this is pretty much a slam dunk that you’ll need to get your tickets early.
OBSTACLES: The demand for tickets will likely exceed the supply of seats so expect lines and sell-outs for this one.
FACTOID: It is rumored that Peter Cushing will appear via archival footage as Grand Moff Tarkin despite the fact Cushing passed away in 1994.

ASSASSIN’S CREED

RELEASE DATE: December 21, 2015
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Irons, Ariane Labed, Michael Kenneth Williams, Matias Varela
GENRE: Fantasy
STORY: Through a revolutionary technology, a 21st century man is able to access the genetic memories of his ancestor, who turns out to have been a member of a secret society of assassins, to take on a rival organization in modern times.
PROSPECTS: This project has been gestating for awhile and has been generating a lot of positive buzz. A stellar cast and unique storyline may resonate with moviegoers.
OBSTACLES: And yet there’s always that bugaboo of videogames not translating well to cinema, and the hyper-critical gamer crowd not trusting moviemakers to make their favorite franchises right.
FACTOID: This is the first release from Ubisoft Studios, a cinematic entity created by the game publishers Ubisoft in order to create movie versions of their game franchises.

PASSENGERS

RELEASE DATE: December 21, 2016
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Lawrence Fishburne, Inder Kumar, Jamie Soricelli, Vince Foster, Robert Larriviere, Barbara Jones
GENRE: Science Fiction
STORY: A passenger on an interstellar voyage to an outer colony wakes up 100 years early due to a malfunctioning hibernation pod; he decides to awaken a fellow passenger so as not to be completely alone. Both of them must face a possibly catastrophic failure in the starship itself.
PROSPECTS: Director Morten Tyldum has released a number of critically acclaimed features, and writer Jon Spaihts has written some high-profile scripts, plus of course the two leads are arguably the two biggest stars in Hollywood at the moment.
OBSTACLES: This is not the kind of sci-fi that sells in Hollywood; this is more of a thought-provoking piece.
FACTOID: At one point, Keanu Reeves and Rachel McAdams were cast in the lead roles.

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

BAD SANTA 2

RELEASE DATE: November 23, 2016
STUDIO: Broad Green/Miramax
STARRING: Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Christina Hendricks, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly
GENRE: Comedy
STORY: A mall store Santa with a despicable attitude once again faces the Yuletide season drunk and disorderly.
PROSPECTS: The 2003 original is something of a cult classic and remains one of Thornton’s most iconic characters.
OBSTACLES: Who the (f-bomb) remembers it?
FACTOID: Thornton, Cox and Kelly all return from the original film; both Bernie Mac and John Ritter, who were also in the original, have passed away since then and neither of their characters are supposedly being recast.

AND THE REST

PATIENT ZERO (Screen Gems) is the story of a global pandemic and the search for the originator of the devastating disease to find a potential cure (September 2). SOLACE (Relativity) stars Anthony Hopkins and Colin Farrell in this story of a doctor with psychic powers enlisted by the police to find a sadistic serial killer (September 2). SULLY (Warner Brothers) is the story of airline pilot “Sully” Sullenberger, the hero who safely landed his plane on the Hudson and saving the lives of all aboard, but who was the target of an investigation even as he was being lauded as a hero; Clint Eastwood directs and Tom Hanks stars (September 9). BRIDGET JONES’ BABY (Universal) brings back Renee Zellweger as the irrepressible British romantic who finds herself unexpectedly expecting (September 16). WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS (Screen Gems) is a thriller about a young urban professional couple who have tried and failed to conceive a child; when they go with a surrogate, too late they discover that she has become obsessively – and psychotically – fixated on the husband (September 16). In A CURE FOR WELLNESS (20th Century Fox), Dane DeHaan stars as a man sent to a Swiss Alpine treatment center to pick up his boss, only to find that he’s disappeared; he soon finds himself at the center of sinister events that may lead to his own disappearance as well (September 23). THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (MGM/Columbia) is a remake of the iconic Western, this time starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke, among others (September 23). STORKS (Warner Brothers) is an animated tale of the deliverers of babies who have moved on to becoming a different type of delivery service – until one of their number accidentally revives the baby-making machine (September 23). BESTIES (STX) is about a pair of best friends in high school, trying to make it through together – until one discovers the other has been dating her older brother behind her back (September 30). DEEPWATER HORIZON (Summit) is based on the events that led to one of the worst oil spills in history with catastrophic consequences for the Gulf Coast (September 30).In DELIRIUM (Blumhouse) a man recently released from a mental institution inherits the family mansion but as he takes up residence he comes to believe that the house may be haunted – but everybody already thinks he’s crazy (September 30). MASTERMINDS (Relativity) boasts an all-star cast in a tale of a boneheaded heist by the most half-witted criminals ever – all supposedly based on true events (September 30). In THE ACCOUNTANT (Warner Brothers) a mild-mannered accountant (Ben Affleck) moonlights as a lethal assassin (October 7). GAMBIT (20th Century Fox) is a solo film for one of the most popular X-Men in the franchise. Channing Tatum stars (October 7). THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (DreamWorks) is based on the best-selling thriller by Paula Hawkins (October 7). MIDDLE SCHOOL: THE WORST YEARS OF MY LIFE (CBS) is the theatrical version of a best-selling, award-winning young adult series in which a young boy battles bullies, a tyrannical principal, hormones, her mother’s boyfriend and the mysteries of the opposite sex (October 7).In A MONSTER CALLS (Focus) a bullied boy escapes the torments of his life into a world of fantasy where monsters are real (October 14). THE BYE-BYE MAN (CBS) is a horror feature about a trio of college students who move into an off-campus residence and unwittingly unleash a supernatural entity by learning his true name (October 14). KEVIN HART: WHAT NOW?  (Universal) is the latest concert film by the wildly successful comic actor and stand-up comic (October 14). UNDERWORLD 5 (Screen Gems) is the latest in the series that chronicles the hidden world of vampires and Lycans (werewolves) in their never-ending war that has humans caught in the middle (October 14). JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK (Paramount) has Tom Cruise revisit the role as the taciturn military detective who visits his old base in Virginia to have dinner with a friend – only to discover she’s been arrested for murder. Now he must clear her name and his own as he brings his own special brand of violence to the case (October 21). OUIJA 2 (Universal) is a sequel to the horror hit from 2014 in which a whole new group of friends unleashes the wrath of the spirit world through an innocuous toy (October 21). INFERNO (Columbia) is the latest in the trilogy of stories of Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon that began with The Da Vinci Code and returns star Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard (October 28). In BASTARDS (Warner Brothers) a pair of brothers who were told their father had died are surprised to discover he is very much alive; they set out to find him and in the process find out far more about their mom than they probably ever wanted. Owen Wilson and Ed Helms star (November 4). TROLLS (DreamWorks Animation) is an animated feature about the beloved toys that are far more alive than they seem (November 4). A MEYERS CHRISTMAS (Universal) is a heartwarming tale of an estranged family brought together for the first time since the passing of the family matriarch (November 11). BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK (Tri-Star) is based on the bestselling novel about a 19-year-old Army private whose company survives a harrowing battle and is brought back for a promotional tour of the States, culminating in an appearance in a halftime show of a Thanksgiving Day football day after which they’ll be sent back to the front lines (November 11). SLEEPLESS NIGHT (Open Road) stars Jamie Foxx as a seemingly corrupt Las Vegas cop whose son is kidnapped by a drug cartel as ransom for a drug shipment he stole; as he races to get his son back, he must avoid gangsters and cops alike all the while chased by an Internal Affairs officer who must ultimately determine which side of the law he’s actually on (November 11). In WHY HIM (20th Century Fox) a Midwestern dad visiting his daughter at Christmas finds that he must compete for her attention with her brash, arrogant tech billionaire boyfriend (November 11). THE GREAT WALL (Warner Brothers) is an epic adventure about a group of British soldiers who discover a hurriedly constructed wall wasn’t just to protect China against Mongol invaders but from something far more sinister – and inhuman (November 23). THE FOUNDER (Weinstein) is the story of Ray Kroc who went from a milkshake machine salesman to the CEO of McDonald’s, one of the most successful companies on the planet (November 25).  STRANGERS 2 (Relativity) is the sequel to the creepy 2008 home invasion horror tale (December 2). CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL (Warner Brothers) utilizes characters and stories from the acclaimed feel-good series of books to bring the heart-warming feel of the series to the screen (December 16). SING (Universal/Illumination) is an animated feature in which a group of animals struggle to save a fading theater by staging the world’s greatest singing competition in it (December 21). JUMANJI (Columbia) is a remake of the Chris von Allsburg children’s classic that Robin Williams headlined more than 20 years ago (December 25). MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (20th Century Fox) stars Asa Butterfield as a 16-year-old who discovers a crumbling home which once housed the titular institution whose children were more than peculiar – they may have had spectacular powers and they may still be alive. Tim Burton directs. (December 25).

*************************************************************************************

So that should get you caught up with 2016. As loaded as the schedule is with potential blockbusters, the bounty of cinematic goodness should continue into 2017 as that year will include four Marvel and two DC films, the next chapter in the Star Wars trilogy, the debut of new cinematic universes for Universal monsters and Legendary giant creatures, the first installment in an ambitious Stephen King adaptation in the Gunslinger series, sequels galore and new franchises in the offing. But before we get to those films, we still have plenty of multiplex goodness to enjoy and no doubt many of you are already making plans to buy tickets or watch at home. Thanks for reading the preview and Cinema365 is eager to review these and other movies that are on the horizon. In the meantime, we’ll catch you in the darkened theater, watching the latest miracles to hit the silver screen.

Documented 2015


documentedThe year is drawing to a close but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something new going on here at Cinema365. We have a new mini-review festival starting today.

It’s called Documented and as you can gather from the title, is all about the documentary. For a long time, documentaries were considered dry and boring and were either about topical subjects, making them instantly dated, or about nature and/or man’s role in it. Mostly it was footage with a narrator talking over it although sometimes there were interviews interspersed in.

How the documentary is presented has changed over the years, with graphics and computer re-creations, as well as animated sequences. Documentaries cover all sorts of subjects these days, from the important to the trivial to the bizarre. As a reviewer, I’ve come to enjoy documentaries far more in recent times than I did as a young person. That’s both a tribute to my own maturity but more so to the skill of modern documentary filmmakers.

With such a bounty of films to choose from, I’ve selected three that I think will be of interest to Cinema365 readers. I’m trying to avoid anything with a specific political agenda – after all Thanksgiving is right around the corner and who wants to get their blood boiling so close to the holiday – but hopefully you’ll find the subjects and the presentation as fascinating as I did.

I hope you’ll enjoy our new series as much as I did viewing the films in it. Looking ahead, we have our annual holiday movie series The Holly and the Quill coming up next month as well as our 2016 preview, which is being assembled even as we speak. The new year will bring our annual top 10 films (this time of 2015) and a return of Oscar Gold, our tribute to Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning films. February will return Cinema of the Heart, our tribute to romance films and finally March brings Our Film Library, all about movies based on books.

It’s going to be a busy new year here at Cinema365 and we look forward to bringing you reviews of the best – and some not quite the best – movies available for you to peruse. Enjoy!

Six Days of Darkness 2015


6 Days of Darkness 2015The shadows grow longer and deeper. The night comes sooner. The air grows cooler. Leaves fall and the trees grow bare. Winter whispers that it is coming but for now, it is the time of spooks and ghouls. Halloween is just around the corner and as is traditional at this time of year, Cinema365 is proud to present Six Days of Darkness, our annual six day celebration of horror films both old and new. We will be reviewing one of horror’s all-time classic films, as well as a brand new film from one of the most respected names among horror fans. There will be one film that appeared at the Florida Film Festival as well as one that is just coming out on DVD – and one that originated as a video game.

Horror is one of my favorite genres and it always makes me happy to concentrate on it somewhat. There has been a resurgence in the genre as of late as new directors are showing immense promise while veterans of the genre continue to make movies that are terrifying and push the boundaries of the genre. It’s a good time to be a horror film fan. While Cinema365 will continue to present horror films throughout the year, at this time of year we like to specifically focus on it and have the special banner above as well as changing our colors around slightly to celebrate. The first review will be published later today and the series will culminate Halloween. Enjoy!

2015 Fall/Holiday Preview


2015 Fall-Holiday Preview2015 was touted as being an eagerly anticipated year by both movie fans and studio accountants alike and the summer hasn’t disappointed. Jurassic World has been one of the biggest successes of all time worldwide, smashing box office records left and right. It likely won’t reach Avatar levels but it has already reached third place on the all-time domestic box office charts. Avengers: Age of Ultron is also top ten on the all-time charts, in the eighth position. Not bad for a single summer; two movies in the all-time domestic box office top ten. It’s also been a great year for family movies as Inside Out battled Jurassic World for box office supremacy throughout June  It is currently the third biggest Pixar film and sixth animated feature overall. However, Minions had a record breaking opening weekend and is the third movie to pass $300 million in box office this summer. There have been some other big winners as well; Pitch Perfect 2, San Andreas, Spy, Mad Max: Fury Road and Ant-Man have all been big winners and while many of the August releases have been disappointing, Straight Outta Compton has been a huge success. There have been a few genuine flops – Fantastic Four, Entourage, Aloha and Self/Less among them but fewer than last year for sure.

Although there are no blockbusters on the level of Guardians of the Galaxy to end the summer on a high note with, there are several movies on the horizon that look like sure-fire hits. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is the much-hyped conclusion to that monster hit franchise and while there are hints that there may indeed be some prequels or further sequels in the pipeline, nonetheless you can be sure that this one will dominate the holiday box office charts. That is, until Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens opens at Christmas; although generally that one will be more of a box office force in the new year, it may well be the most-anticipated film of the year in a year when there have been a lot of eagerly awaited releases.

Holiday time is Oscar time and there are several movies already generating some buzz for the biggest prize in movies. The Danish Girl touts current Oscar Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne in a part that is likely to garner him another nomination while Oliver Stone brings the story of Snowden to the screen which may attract some notice. Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea was moved to December to give it a better chance at nominations, and other films, including Suffragette, the David O. Russell film Joy, Hitchcock/Truffaut and Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight could get a look by Academy voters.

Comedies are a big part of autumn and holiday scheduling and we can expect some big ones with the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler opus Sisters, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg re-teaming in Daddy’s Home, the musical comedy Rock the Kasbah, the Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Seth Rogan Christmas Eve comedy The Night Before, and the Anne Hathaway/Robert De Niro workplace laugher The Intern. Another big part of the post-summer schedule is sequels and there are plenty of those with the aforementioned Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part II and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens but also the latest James Bond epic Spectre, the final installment of the hugely successful Paranormal Activity series as well as a reboot of another horror series in Rings, bringing back the J-horror remake The Ring back to life. There will also be sequels to Hotel Transylvania, The Maze Runner and The Transporter, sans Jason Statham.

With all the choices this summer for great family movies, the hits should keep on coming with such family fare as Peanuts, The Good Dinosaur, Pan and Hotel Transylvania 2. On the opposite end of the spectrum, horror film fans have a bumper crop this year with the eagerly anticipated Guillermo del Toro-directed ghost story Crimson Peak along with the aforementioned Rings and Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension. In addition, we can look forward to the much-delayed The Green Inferno, Krampus, Cooties, The Visit, The Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, The Last Witch Hunter, Victor Frankenstein and Tales of Halloween all in the pipeline.

Space isn’t always the final frontier when it comes to the holidays and there will be plenty of movies to quell the appetites of even the most voracious sci-fi junkies with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, The Martian, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part II and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials. For those into independent cinema there are always some choice cuts with The Danish Girl, Wolf Totem, A Walk in the Woods, Truffaut/Hitchcock, Sleeping with Other People, The Keeping Room, Suffragette, Beasts With No Nation, The Secret in Their Eyes, He Named Me Malala, Labyrinth of Lies, Brooklyn, Trumbo, The 33 and I Saw the Light in store. Drama will not be in short supply this fall with such efforts as Joy, In the Heart of the Sea, The 33, Creed, By the Sea, Bridge of Spies, The Walk and Black Mass. There is an unusual number of biographical films this fall as well, including Suffragette, Snowden, Black Mass, Steve Jobs and Concussion. Finally, action fans will have cause to rejoice with Everest, Dragon Blade, Wolf Totem, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part II, The Hateful Eight, Point Break, The Last Witch Hunter and Spectre.

The night sky in the fall and holidays always glitter with stars and in 2015 that means Matt Damon (The Martian), Brad Pitt (By the Sea), Robert Redford (A Walk in the Woods), Julia Roberts (Secret in Their Eyes), Harrison Ford (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens), Robert De Niro (The Interns), Johnny Depp (Black Mass), Leonardo di Caprio (The Revenant), Amy Poehler (Sisters), Kirsten Wiig (Masterminds), Bradley Cooper (Joy), Will Ferrell (Daddy’s Home), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl), Meryl Streep (Suffragette), Jake Gyllenhaal (Everest), Jackie Chan (Dragon Blade), Benicio del Toro (Sicario), Mel Brooks (Hotel Transylvania 2), Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies), Sylvester Stallone (Creed), Nicole Kidman (Secret in Their Eyes), Chris Hemsworth (In the Heart of the Sea), Anne Hathaway (The Interns), Adam Sandler (Hotel Transylvania 2), Hugh Jackman (Pan), Tina Fey (Sisters), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Antonio Banderas (The 33), Tom Hardy (Legend and The Revenant), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Walk, The Night Before and Snowden), Daniel Craig (Spectre), Keira Knightley (Everest), Vin Diesel (The Last Witch Hunter), Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part II and Joy), Oscar Isaac (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens), Will Smith (Concussion), Benedict Cumberbatch (Black Mass), Ryan Reynolds (Mississippi Grind), Nicolas Cage (Snowden), Bruce Willis (Rock the Kasbah), Kate Beckinsale (The Disappointments Room), Nick Nolte (A Walk in the Woods), Christoph Waltz (Spectre), John Cusack (Dragon Blade), Josh Brolin (Sicario and Everest), Kevin James (Hotel Transylvania 2), Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs), Angelina Jolie Pitt (By the Sea), Tom Hiddleston (Crimson Peak and I Saw the Light), Tobey Maguire (Pawn Sacrifice), Mark Wahlberg (Daddy’s Home), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Secret in Their Eyes), Emma Thompson (A Walk in the Woods), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) and Daniel Radcliffe (Victor Frankenstein). There are also some high-profile directors with projects big and small this season including Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Quentin Tarantino, Ron Howard, Sam Mendes, J.J. Abrams, David O. Russell, Guillermo del Toro, Angelina Jolie Pitt, Robert Zemeckis, Danny Boyle, Ridley Scott, Denis Villeneuve, Eli Roth, M. Night Shyamalan, Edward Zwick, Nancy Meyers, Jean-Jacques Arnaud and Tom Hooper

As with all previews, there are almost always changes that the studios make as the studios jockey for position or production delays cause movies to be moved to different slots, so check out your local listings to make sure that the movie you’re dying to see is indeed opening the week it says it is here. Be aware that the recent Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Relativity Media makes the release of films distributed by them somewhat dicey; some of their films will eventually be picked up by other distributors but others will be delayed for awhile, go directly to home video or disappear forever. To be on the safe side, check our weekly previews for movies opening in Central Florida, our monthly Pick of the Litter feature for previews of especially deserving films or our Coming Soon section for regular updates of the release schedule for movies with budgets big and small. Until then, you’ve got a preview to read – better get cracking!

SEPTEMBER

As summer wanes and Labor Day signals the end of the blockbuster and barbecue season and the beginning of school and football season, the studios tend to take a deep breath and program movies here that are not quite so exciting, although there are often a few gems among the rocks. This month we’ll be looking at a true-life mountain adventure, the sequel to a hit Halloween-themed animated feature, the biography of a notorious American criminal and the sequel to a surprise hit young adult sci-fi novel adaptation.

Hotel Transylvania 2

DEANS LIST

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2

RELEASE DATE: September 25, 2015
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Mel Brooks, Andy Samberg, David Spade, Fran Drescher
GENRE: Animated Feature
STORY: Dracula’s daughter Mavis has a son who is the light of Drac’s eyes but she yearns to leave the hotel for a safer place for her human husband and half-human son. With the boy not exhibiting any vampiric traits, Dracula is desperate for him to show his fangs and give Mavis no reason to leave. In order to help he’ll have to turn to the one place he didn’t want to – his father, Vlad.
PROSPECTS: Animated features, after a year off, are back and this one is the sequel to a pretty successful original. One thing that I found interesting – the director is Genndy Tartakovsky, director of the critically acclaimed Star Wars: The Clone Wars series and the writer is SNL favorite Robert Smigel so the pedigree is good.
OBSTACLES: Sandler has been on a bit of a rough patch as of late. It might be a tad early for Halloween-themed entertainment.
FACTOID: Cee-Lo Green was unable to voice Murray the Mummy due to an arrest; Keegan-Michael Key stepped in to voice the role.

GRADUATED WITH HONORS

THE MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS

RELEASE DATE: September 18, 2015
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Dylan O’Brien, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario, Giancarlo Esposito, Will Poulter, Patricia Clarkson, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper
GENRE: Science Fiction
STORY: Having conquered the maze, Thomas and the other survivors from The Glade are brought into a society of humans in an underground bunker trying to survive some sort of apocalypse. The intrigue involving the mysterious organization called WCKD forces the survivors into the wasteland called The Scorch which may do what the Maze couldn’t – kill Thomas and his friends.
PROSPECTS: The original movie’s success, which exceeded expectations, put the sequel onto a fast track so that it appeared only a year after the first movie.
OBSTACLES: Young adult novels have been, with few exceptions, box office bonanzas. The hurried manner in which the movie got made may come back to haunt the studio.
FACTOID: Brodie-Sangster along with Scorch Trials cast members Aiden Gillan and Nathalie Emmanuel all appeared in Game of Thrones.

BLACK MASS

RELEASE DATE: September 18, 2015
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Johnny Depp, Dakota Johnson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Juno Temple, Corey Stoll, Joel Edgerton, Adam Scott, Peter Sarsgaard
GENRE: Biographical Drama
STORY: Whitey Bulger, a Boston mobster, becomes one of the most powerful crime bosses in history. He becomes an FBI informant to help take down a crime family that rivaled his own and went on the lam for 11 years as one of the ten most wanted by the FBI.
PROSPECTS: Star-studded cast and a fascinating true crime story generally spell at least decent box office.
OBSTACLES: Depp has been on an extended cold streak and this movie doesn’t show signs of being any less likely to break the streak.
FACTOID: The movie was temporarily shelved when Depp walked away from the role over salary issues; when he was convinced to return, the film was greenlit once again.

EVEREST

RELEASE DATE: September 25, 2015
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Keira Knightley, Robin Wright, Sam Worthington, Josh Brolin, Emily Watson, John Hawkes
GENRE: Adventure
STORY: The true story of two different expeditions stranded on the world’s tallest mountains by one of the most vicious and harshest snowstorms ever recorded.
PROSPECTS: Epic mountain climbing-themed adventures have traditionally done pretty well during the latter portion of the year.
OBSTACLES: Although the cast is strong, none of them have displayed an ability to carry a film of this nature (although Worthington and Knightley have had success in the action genre).
FACTOID: Clarke has replaced Christian Bale in two different films; this one and in Terminator Genisys.

THE WALK

RELEASE DATE: September 30, 2015 (limited and IMAX; opens October 9 wide)
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Charlotte Le Bon, Ben Schwartz, Steve Valentine, Sergio Di Zio
GENRE: True Life Drama
STORY: In 1974 French high wire artist Phillippe Petit is inspired to attempt to cross between the World Trade Center twin towers on a wire. He assembles a clandestine team to set up the wire and to run interference. There can be no nets; one false step and he will plummet to his death.
PROSPECTS: The movie has been pushed by Universal since the spring; it’s an inspiring true story (anyone who saw the documentary on the subject Man on Wire will tell you) and with Robert Zemeckis behind the director’s chair, it should be very entertaining.
OBSTACLES: The twin towers remain a very open wound for many and while this did actually happen, what happened to the buildings 37 years afterwards is still a fresh and painful memory.
FACTOID: The movie is based on Petit’s autobiography To Reach the Clouds: My High Wire Walk Between the Twin Towers, published in 2002.

ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION

SICARIO

RELEASE DATE: September 18, 2015 (Limited; opens wide September 25, 2015)
STUDIO: Lionsgate
STARRING: Emily Blunt, Jon Bernthal, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, Jeffrey Donovan, Raoul Trujillo, Maximilliano Hernandez, Daniel Kaluuya
GENRE: Spy Action
STORY: An idealistic FBI agent is brought aboard a task force to aid in the war on drugs against the Mexican cartels. Aided by a consultant with a questionable past, the agent finds herself in a situation where nothing is as it seems and the motives of her superiors is suspect. Survival will not be easy with the vicious cartel and an untrustworthy government liaison to deal with.
PROSPECTS: Director Denis Villeneuve is highly regarded by film buffs; his movie Prisoners was a surprise success and his latest could very well advance his career a step forward.
OBSTACLES: Not a lot of star power here and the government corruption angle in regards to Mexican drug cartels may turn off some from coming.
FACTOID: Sicario means “hitman” in Spanish.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE

SEPTEMBER 2, 2015

A WALK IN THE WOODS (Broad Green) stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte as two old but estranged friends who decide to walk the Appalachian Trail from the southern terminus to the northern top despite having little or no hiking experience. Based on Bill Bryson’s bestselling account of his incredible journey.

SEPTEMBER 4, 2015

BEFORE WE GO (Radius) stars Chris Evans and Alice Eve as two strangers stuck in New York overnight whose unexpected adventures cause them to take stock of their lives – and their loves. Evans directed this film which is opening in limited release. Also opening in limited release, DRAGON BLADE (Lionsgate Premiere) is an epic action film starring Adrien Brody as a corrupt Roman emperor, Jackie Chan as a Chinese general trying to protect his people and John Cusack as a noble Roman general tired of the greed and corruption staining the honor of Rome; the three will collide on a small but significant portion of the Silk Road. THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED (EuropaCorp) resurrects the Jason Statham franchise with Ed Skrein taking over the role of Frank Martin. This time it gets personal as Frank gets caught in the middle of a feud between a quartet of femme fatales and a ruthless Russian druglord, with Frank’s father being held hostage.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2015

THE PERFECT GUY (Screen Gems) stars Sanaa Lathan as a woman reeling from a painful breakup. She gets involved with a charming stranger and seems to be picking up the pieces when her ex-boyfriend re-enters the picture and she soon finds herself in a position of trying to figure out which one of the two handsome men she can trust, and which she should fear. Opening in limited release, SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE (IFC) stars Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis as two monogamy-challenged people who reconnect by chance 12 years after a college one-night stand. They both have trouble maintaining relationships and decide to stay friends despite their attraction to one another. This proves to be much easier said than done.  THE VISIT (Universal) is the latest from M. Night Shyamalan in which two teens are sent to stay with their grandma and grandpa in rural Pennsylvania for a week. They discover the old folks are into something sinister and that their chances of getting home to Mom grow more dim the longer that they stay. In WOLF TOTEM (Columbia) a Chinese student is sent to live among the nomadic tribesman of Inner Mongolia in 1967. As civilization begins to encroach from the South and the tribesmen’s traditional enemies the wolves pressing in from the North, the student and his new friends must figure out how to survive in a changing world. This is the latest from acclaimed director Jean-Jacques Annaud.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2015

COOTIES (Lionsgate Premiere) is a horror spoof in which contaminated cafeteria food turns kids into ravenous zombies. The teachers must gather in the lounge to do more than drink coffee; they have to band together to defend themselves or die trying (much more likely). Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer and Jorge Garcia star in this limited release. PAWN SACRIFICE (Bleecker Street) stars Tobey Maguire as the mercurial but legendary American chess master Bobby Fischer as he goes from child prodigy to grand master to extremely disturbed. While this is opening in limited release, it is likely to play pretty much everywhere eventually.

SEPTEMBER 25, 2015

THE GREEN INFERNO (Blumhouse Tilt) is Eli Roth’s horror opus that has been awaiting release for awhile as it has gone through the distributor hop game. A group of American student activists head down to the Amazon to do some good; unfortunately they end up in a part of the Amazon where doing good means feeding the natives – with their own flesh. Sounds like Cannibal Holocaust to me. It doesn’t say that this is limited release but it may be. THE INTERN (Warner Brothers) is a comedy with Robert De Niro as an older man starting his life over again as an intern at a large tech company; Anne Hathaway is the young and lonely CEO. Together they will make a formidable team. MISSISSIPPI GRIND (A24) opens in limited release about a veteran gambler who is in the throes of an epic losing streak; with a younger man in tow, he sets out on a road trip through the Gulf Coast to take one last stab at changing his luck.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2015

In LABYRINTH OF LIES (Sony Classics) West Germany, 20 years after the war, is finally recovering from the economic catastrophe of rebuilding their nation. In a small town, when a teacher on is identified by a journalist as a former guard at Auschwitz, an ambitious prosecutor decides to take on the case. However, he encounters a West Germany that as a nation, wants to put the past behind them and in fact, erase the really unpleasant parts of it that reminds them of what they allowed to happen. 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. 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.

THE EQUALIZER (Columbia) Budget: $55 Million. Domestic Gross: $101.5M Total: $192.3M Verdict: Big Hit.
A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES (Universal) Budget: $28M. Domestic Gross: $26.3M Total: $53.2M Verdict: Broke Even.
THE MAZE RUNNER (20th Century Fox) Budget: $34M. Domestic Gross: $102.4M Total: $340.8M Verdict: Blockbuster.
THE BOXTROLLS (Focus) Budget: $60M. Domestic Gross: $50.8M Total: $108.3M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE SKELETON TWINS (Roadside Attractions) Budget: $1M. Domestic Gross: $5.3M Total: $5.7M Verdict: Profitable.
THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU (Warner Brothers) Budget: $19.8M. Domestic Gross: $34.3M Total: $41.04M Verdict: Broke Even.
DOLPHIN TALE 2 (Warner Brothers) Budget: $36M. Domestic Gross: $42.0M Total: $52.4M Verdict: Lost Money.
NO GOOD DEED (Screen Gems) Budget: $13.2M. Domestic Gross: $52.5M Total: $54.3M Verdict: Big Hit.
TUSK (A24) Budget: $3M. Domestic Gross: $1.8M. Total: $1.8M. Verdict: Flop.
HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS (Relativity) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $1.1M Total: $4.0M Verdict: Flop.
PRIDE (CBS) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $1.4M Total: $7.5 Verdict: Likely Made Money.

OCTOBER

It’s a time for jack o’lanterns, goblins, and trick or treating, and as the weather grows cooler the offerings at the multiplex heat up. This year, we can expect a long-awaited passion project by fan favorite director Guillermo del Toro, a sequel to a memorable action film from two summers ago, the final installment in the most profitable found footage horror franchise in history, a new Steven Spielberg film and a live action version of a beloved 80s cartoon.

Crimson Peak

DEANS LIST

CRIMSON PEAK

RELEASE DATE: October 16, 2015
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Mia Wasikowska, Charlie Hunnam, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Doug Jones, Burn Gorman, Jim Beaver, Leslie Hope
GENRE: Horror
STORY: A young newlywed enters a Gothic mansion which is full of secrets. Possessed of an affinity for seeing ghosts, she becomes the focal point for the more sinister inhabitants of her new home.
PROSPECTS: Perhaps the most anticipated horror movie of the year by fans of the genre and for those same fans director Guillermo del Toro can literally do no wrong.
OBSTACLES: It has taken a very long time to get this movie made. Gothic ghost stories are not exactly the most beloved of sub-genres of late among horror fans.
FACTOID: Hunnam, Gorman and del Toro all previously worked together on Pacific Rim.

GRADUATED WITH HONORS

THE MARTIAN

RELEASE DATE: October 2, 2015
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Matt Damon, Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kristin Wiig, Sebastian Stan, Sean Bean, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor
GENRE: Science Fiction
STORY: The first manned mission to Mars ends abruptly when a gigantic storm forces the astronauts to leave, unfortunately having to leave one of their own behind when he is presumed dead. However he is very much alive and with a meager amount of supplies and food, he must figure out a way to survive and communicate to Earth to send a rescue mission – which will still take two years to get there even if he is successful in calling home.
PROSPECTS: This is the second straight autumn in which Damon has played an astronaut; this film seems to be pretty cerebral but with a lot more action. Could be a big hit if it’s done right.
OBSTACLES: Lone survivor movies are inherently not too cinematic. Unless the filmmakers and marketers are dead on, this one might fall by the wayside.
FACTOID: In order to use NASA as part of the movie, the filmmakers had to submit the script for review and make the necessary changes to ensure the most possible accuracy; over 50 pages in the script are strictly NASA material.

PAN

RELEASE DATE: October 9, 2015
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Levi Miller, Rooney Mara, Cara Delevingne, Amanda Seyfried, Nonso Anozie, Paul Kaye
GENRE: Fantasy
STORY: An orphaned boy is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There he becomes embroiled in a war between the dread pirate Blackbeard and the denizens of Neverland, led by the fierce Princess Tiger Lily and the ne’er-do-well Jim Hook.
PROSPECTS: The family film schedule is generally crowded this time of year, but this looks to be the most lavish and kid-friendly film of the early fall. Familiarity with the beloved J.M. Barrie character Peter Pan will certainly help sell this.
OBSTACLES: Purists are going to shudder at this re-imagining of Peter Pan’s origin story.
FACTOID: As a 5-year-old, Miller played Pan in a local stage production and won an award for it. Pan is one of his favorite fictional characters.

BRIDGE OF SPIES

RELEASE DATE: October 16, 2015
STUDIO: DreamWorks
STARRING: Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda, Austin Stowell, Mark Rylance, Billy Magnussen, Eve Hewson, Sebastian Koch, Michael Gaston
GENRE: True Life Drama
STORY: At the height of the Cold War, James Donovan, a Brooklyn lawyer, is given the task of negotiating for the release of a captured American U-2 pilot from the Soviet Union while defending an accused Soviet spy in the States.
PROSPECTS: Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by the Coen Brothers, credits that are bound to get at least an eyebrow raise from the film buff community.
OBSTACLES: It’s a little bit early for Oscar bait.
FACTOID: While this is the fourth time Hanks has been in front of the cameras while Spielberg has been behind them, this is the first time in eleven years the two have collaborated.

JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS

RELEASE DATE: October 23, 2015
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Molly Ringwald, Juliette Lewis, Aubrey Peeples, Haley Kiyoko, Ryan Guzman, Stefanie Scott, Nicholas Braun, Aurora Perrineau
GENRE: Musical
STORY: When a small town teen girl’s home-made music video becomes an Internet sensation, she is signed to a deal by a high-powered record company who wants to make her into an image that can be sold. She falls prey to the seductive call, only to realize she is losing those she loves the most.
PROSPECTS: Certain demographics might well go bonkers over this; the pre-teen and young teen female audience and their moms.
OBSTACLES: While this was a hit animated series in the 80s, girls the age that this will appeal to won’t remember the show and other audiences might ignore this totally.
FACTOID: The filmmakers announced open casting auditions over the Internet; however, it was later established that this was a marketing ploy as the movie had already been cast before the audition call was sent out.

ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION

SUFFRAGETTE

RELEASE DATE: October 23, 2015
STUDIO: Focus
STARRING: Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Romola Garai, Anne-Marie Duff, Samuel West
GENRE: Drama
STORY: A working British woman at the turn of the 20th Century is recruited by outlaw feminist Emmeline Pankhurst to become part of the British suffragette movement.
PROSPECTS: An amazing cast and subject that is almost certain to attract some Oscar notice.
OBSTACLES: Unlikely to attract large audiences despite the presence of Streep unless critical notices turn out to be extravagant.
FACTOID: This is the first movie that the English Houses of Parliament have allowed to film within their hallowed halls.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE

OCTOBER 2, 2015

HE NAMED ME MALALA (Fox Searchlight) is the inspiring story of Malala Yousafzal, the teenage girl from Pakistan who stood up to the Taliban and for the education of girls and got shot. Recovering for her wounds didn’t dampen her resolve; she continues to advocate to this day and has won a Nobel Peace Prize for her courage and passion. This documentary was directed by Oscar-nominated director Davis Guggenheim and opens in limited release. Also opening in limited release is LEGEND (Universal), the story of London’s notorious Kray twins, Ronald and Reggie, who are maybe the most notorious gangsters in the history of Great Britain. Tom Hardy plays both roles in a performance that may be one of the early Oscar contenders this year.

OCTOBER 9, 2015

In THE KEEPING ROOM (Drafthouse) a trio of women – one a former slave – try to protect their farm and themselves in the waning days of the Civil War. This limited release screened at this year’s Florida Film Festival; my review can be found here. STEVE JOBS (Universal) stars Michael Fassbender in the title role as the tech visionary who turned Apple into one of the leading tech providers and innovators – twice.

OCTOBER 14, 2015

BEASTS OF NO NATION (Netflix/Bleecker Street) concerns a young boy torn from his Nigerian family and used as a child soldier in an unspecified nation’s civil war; Idris Elba stars as a warlord who takes an interest in the boy. This is the first release from the streaming giant’s feature film division; it will get a brief limited theatrical release simultaneously with its appearance on Netflix. FREEHELD (Lionsgate) is based on the true story of a New Jersey police detective, diagnosed with terminal cancer, who wants to leave her pension to her domestic partner but the county officials and townspeople stand in the way. GOOSEBUMPS (Columbia) stars Jack Black as R.L. Stine, the author of the beloved young adult horror series of the same name in a fanciful tale of the inadvertent release of the monsters he created into the real world. TRUTH (Sony Classics) which opens in limited release is based on the true story of producer Mary Mapes and journalist Dan Rather whose broadcast of a story about a sitting president’s military record turns out to be false and nearly takes down an entire network because of it.

OCTOBER 23, 2015

BURNT (Weinstein) stars Bradley Cooper as a once-rising star in French cuisine who lost everything; now he is trying to start anew – but in the cutthroat world of high end dining that can be much more dangerous than it sounds. THE LAST WITCH HUNTER (Summit) has been cursed with immortality, which comes in handy when the Queen of Witches is resurrected and threatens the world. Vin Diesel stars. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: GHOST DIMENSION (Paramount) wraps up the one of the most profitable franchises in movie history with a story that ties up all of the previous entries together.  ROCK THE KASBAH (Open Road) is about a rock road manager, stranded in Kabul during a USO tour who discovers an amazing talent that might just take him back to the big time – if he can get the both of them out of Kabul. The latest from Barry Levinson stars Bill Murray.

OCTOBER 30, 2015

In OUR BRAND IS CRISIS (Warner Brothers) American spin doctors take on the task of getting an unpopular Bolivian president re-elected. An all-star cast highlights this David Gordon Green movie based on a documentary of the same name. SCOUT’S GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE (Paramount) takes the motto of “Be Prepared” to new heights as a trio of Boy Scouts and the most badass cocktail waitress ever take on a zombie invasion of  a heretofore peaceful town.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

GONE GIRL (20th Century Fox) Budget: $61M. Domestic Gross: $167.8M Total: $368.1M Verdict: Blockbuster.
OUIJA (Universal) Budget: $5M. Domestic Gross: $50.9M Total: $102.5M Verdict: Big Hit.
THE JUDGE (Warner Brothers) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $47.1M Total: $83.7M Verdict: Lost Money.
BIRDMAN (Fox Searchlight) Budget: $18M. Domestic Gross: $42.3M Total: $103.2M Verdict: Big Hit.
DRACULA UNTOLD (Universal) Budget: $70M. Domestic Gross: $56.3M Total: $215.5 Verdict: Hit.
FURY (Columbia) Budget: $68M. Domestic Gross: $85.8M Total: $211.8 Verdict: Made Money.
THE BOOK OF LIFE (20th Century Fox) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $50.2M Total: $97.4M Verdict: Broke Even.
NIGHTCRAWLER (Open Road) Budget: $8.5M. Domestic Gross: $32.4M Total: $38.7M Verdict: Big Hit.
ANNABELLE (New Line) Budget: $6.5M. Domestic Gross: $84.3M Total: $255.3M Verdict: Blockbuster.
THE BEST OF ME (Relativity) Budget: $26M. Domestic Gross: $26.8M Total: $35.9M Verdict: Flop.
ST. VINCENT (Weinstein) Budget: $13M. Domestic Gross: $44.1M Total: $54.8M Verdict: Hit.
ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY (Disney) Budget: $28M. Domestic Gross: $67.0M Total: $100.7M Verdict: Hit.

NOVEMBER

This is the month when the studios give thanks to the first wave of Holiday hits which make their way to the theaters this month. Included among them is the final installment in a massive young adult sci-fi franchise, the return of an iconic sports character, the latest in one of the most iconic film franchises of all time and two much-anticipated animated features – one from Pixar, the other based on one of the most beloved comic strips of all time.

Spectre

DEANS LIST

SPECTRE

RELEASE DATE: November 6, 2015
STUDIO: MGM/Columbia
STARRING: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Monica Bellucci, Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris
GENRE: Spy Action
STORY: James Bond discovers some cryptic messages from his own past that lead him to discover the existence of a criminal organization, much more insidious and further reaching than Quantum. The daughter of an old nemesis is the key to finding the man behind this organization which is known only as Spectre.
PROSPECTS: Skyfall was the all-time box office champion of the Bond films, and anticipation for this installment is at a fever pitch. Director Sam Mendes returns and continues to work in elements of the classic Bond stories in a new and modern way.
OBSTACLES: With Spectre being the sixth major espionage-centered movie of 2015, audiences may be suffering a bit from spy fatigue.
FACTOID: Jesper Christensen reprises his role as Mr. White, the nemesis from the first two Daniel Craig bond films.

GRADUATED WITH HONORS

THE PEANUTS MOVIE

RELEASE DATE: November 6, 2015
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Noah Schnapp, Alexander Garfin, Bill Melendez, Hadley Belle Miller, Francesca Capaldi, Mariel Sheets, Noah Johnston
GENRE: Animated Feature
STORY: While his dog Snoopy battles the Red Baron in the skies above France and teaches him to tango as Joe Cool, good ol’ Charlie Brown tries to change his image and overcome his own shortcomings when a new red-headed girl moves into town.
PROSPECTS: The Charles Schultz comic strip remains one of the most beloved and iconic of all time. It continues to be run in syndication and every year the animated TV specials are broadcast like clockwork. This year, the Peanuts gang gets a 3D animated CGI treatment to bring them into a new, modern audience.
OBSTACLES: Purists may be put off by the CGI 3D and younger kids may not be familiar enough with the original to push their parents into taking them to see it.
FACTOID: The script was created by Schultz’ son and grandson, and the film is the first theatrically released animated feature based on Peanuts in 35 years – and the first to be released since Schultz’ death in 2000.

THE 33

RELEASE DATE: November 13, 2015
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro, Juliette Binoche, Cote de Pablo, James Brolin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Gabriel Byrne, Naomi Scott
GENRE: True Life Drama
STORY: 33 miners go to work as usual in the San Jose Copper Mine in Chile when a massive explosion and collapse of the mine traps them deep in the heart of the mountain. With world attention turning to the plight of the miners, a race against time begins to get the miners out alive.
PROSPECTS: The trailer is really moving and the story one that is a tribute to the resilience and courage of the human spirit.
OBSTACLES: It has been five years since the incident and some audiences might turn away from the film because the miners are Chilean rather than American.
FACTOID: This is composer James Horner’s final film. He died in a small plane crash less than two months after he finished work on it.

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 2

RELEASE DATE: November 20, 2015
STUDIO: Lionsgate
STARRING: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore
GENRE: Science Fiction
STORY: With Panem in full revolt, Katniss Everdeen along with a team of her closest friends makes a daring raid on the Capital to assassinate President Snow, but will have to undergo a gauntlet of fiendish traps in order to get to him.
PROSPECTS: As this is the final film in the franchise (although reportedly Lionsgate may do a prequel or all-new sequel to the series) the likelihood is that this will draw big box office numbers. North of $300 million is certainly very obtainable.
OBSTACLES: Not everyone in the fan base liked the first Mockingjay installment and that might put a dent in the numbers some.
FACTOID: There are three Oscar-winning actors in the movie; Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION

TRUMBO

RELEASE DATE: November 6, 2015
STUDIO: Bleecker Street
STARRING: Bryan Cranston, Elle Fanning, Diane Lane, Alan Tudyk, Helen Mirren, John Goodman, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Louis C.K., Michael Stuhlbarg
GENRE: Biographical Drama
STORY: Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was one of the most honored and respected writers in Hollywood during the 1940s. However, when he is accused by Senator Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee of being a Communist sympathizer, his career comes to a crashing halt. However, a man for whom words are so precious will not give his freedom of speech away so easily.
PROSPECTS: Some Oscar buzz is being generated for Cranston as best actor. One of the best casts you’re likely to see in a single movie this fall.
OBSTACLES: Distributor Bleecker Street is fairly new to the game; it’s possible the movie won’t get the push it needs to get on the radar of most moviegoers.
FACTOID: Gary Oldman was originally considered for the title role which eventually went to Cranston.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE

NOVEMBER 6, 2015

BROOKLYN (Fox Searchlight) which opens in limited release takes an Irish girl immigrating to New York City in the United States, trading the comfort of her mother’s home for a new life, and that life is beginning to become intoxicating with a new romance – until her past may be calling her back to the Emerald Isle..

NOVEMBER 13, 2015

In A MEYERS CHRISTMAS (Universal) a family that has been torn apart must find a way to reunite for the first time since the death of their beloved matriarch. BY THE SEA (Universal) is the latest film from Angeline Jolie-Pitt in the director’s chair and reunites her with her offscreen husband Brad Pitt for the first time since Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Here, a couple whose marriage is falling apart goes to a peaceful French resort by the sea, hoping to find a way out of their troubles. RINGS (Paramount) is a prequel to the previous Ring movies which explores the origins of Samara and how her reign of terror and the infamous videotape came to be.

NOVEMBER 20, 2015

SPOTLIGHT (Open Road) opens in wide release after a gradual expansion from a limited opening two weeks prior. It is about the investigation by the Boston Globe that uncovered the pedophilia scandal in the Roman Catholic church and stars Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and an all-star cast. SECRETS IN THEIR EYES (STX) is a remake of an Oscar-winning foreign film and details the stubborn determination of a cop (Julia Roberts), her partner (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and an assistant district attorney (Nicole Kidman) in bringing to justice the murderer of the cop’s daughter.

NOVEMBER 25, 2015

CREED (MGM/New Line) continues the Rocky saga with the son of his greatest opponent Apollo Creed trying to make it in the boxing world. His father’s great nemesis – and great friend – Rocky Balboa – will need to come to his aid as Adonis Creed will take on a tougher opponent than any he’s ever faced before. THE GOOD DINOSAUR (Disney*Pixar) posits an alternate world where the dinosaurs never went extinct and begin interacting with humans. THE NIGHT BEFORE (Columbia) reunites Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as two friends whose annual Christmas Eve reunions have been legendary occasions of debauchery. Now realizing that they are growing too old and too responsible for it, they determine to have one final fling – at the legendary, almost mythical, Nutcracka Ball, the pinnacle of all debauched Christmas parties. VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN (20th Century Fox) is a reimagining of the iconic horror story, with James McAvoy as the mad doctor and Daniel Radcliffe as his brilliant assistant who may be the only chance for the good doctor to stay sane – and alive.

NOVEMBER 27, 2015

Opening in limited release, THE DANISH GIRL (Focus) stars reigning Best Actor Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne as Einar Wegener, a Danish painter who realizes that he is a man trapped in a woman’s body and determines to change, despite being happily married. Early buzz says this biopic might get Redmayne another nomination and quite possibly another statuette. I SAW THE LIGHT (Sony Classics) is also a biopic, this time of legendary country singer Hank Williams with Tom Hiddleston in the role of the icon. This also opens in limited release.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

INTERSTELLAR (Paramount) Budget: $165M. Domestic Gross: $188.0Total: $675.0M Verdict: Big Hit.
BIG HERO 6 (Disney/Marvel) Budget: $165M. Domestic Gross: $222.5M Total: $657.8M. Verdict: Big Hit.
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 (Lionsgate) Budget: $125M. Domestic Gross: $337.1M Total: $752.1M Verdict: Blockbuster.
THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR (DreamWorks) Budget: $132M. Domestic Gross: $83.4M Total: $373.6M. Verdict: Made Money.
FOXCATCHER (Sony Classics) Budget: $24M. Domestic Gross: $12.1M Total: $15.9M Verdict: Flop.
HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 (New Line) Budget: $42M. Domestic Gross: $54.5M Total: $107.7M Verdict: Broke Even.
ROSEWATER (Open Road) Budget: $10M Domestic Gross: $3.1M Total: $3.2M Verdict: Flop.
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Focus) Budget: $15M Domestic Gross: $35.9M Total: $12.2M Verdict: Big Hit.
THE IMITATION GAME (Weinstein) Budget: $14M. Domestic Gross: $91.1M Total: $227.8M Verdict: Blockbuster.
DUMB AND DUMBER TO (Universal) Budget: $40M Domestic Gross: $86.2M Total: $169.8M Verdict: Big Hit.
BEYOND THE LIGHTS (Relativity) Budget: $7M Domestic Gross: $14.6M Total: $14.6M Verdict: Broke Even.

DECEMBER

All good things come to an end and 2015 is no exception. Things will come to end with a bang as we will have an opportunity to see the year’s most anticipated film – a return to a galaxy far, far away. In addition we’ll get to see a reunion between Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, a biopic of one of the most controversial figures of recent years, a remake of a beloved Patrick Swayze film and a new collaboration between the Oscar-winning quartet of David O. Russell, Jennifer Laurence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro.

Star Wars The Force Awakens

DEANS LIST

STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS

RELEASE DATE: December 18, 2015
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING: Oscar Isaac, Simon Pegg, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Domhnall Gleeson, Adam Driver, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Max von Sydow, John Boyega, Peter Mayhew, Warwick Davis, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels, Daisy Ridley
GENRE: Science Fiction
STORY: 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi the Empire, despite their losses, is still as evil and as dangerous as ever. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, C3PO and R2D2 return along with a group of new heroes to battle the latest threat.
PROSPECTS: After the prequel trilogy turned a lot of fans off, the new trilogy overseen by Disney (who have done a fine job on the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and especially by director JJ Abrams who rebooted the Star Trek cinematic franchise so well, have fans living in a state of new hope.
OBSTACLES: The taste of the last trilogy may have soured the entire franchise in a good deal of fans; bad word of mouth could really hurt them at the box office.
FACTOID: Abrams is the first director to do both a Star Wars film as well as a Star Trek film.

GRADUATED WITH HONORS

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA

RELEASE DATE: December 11, 2015
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Holland, Cillian Murphy, Charlotte Riley, Frank Dillane, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Benjamin Walker, Michelle Fairley
GENRE: True Life Drama
STORY: Before Moby Dick there was the true tale of the whaling vessel Essex whose encounter with a nearly demonic whale would inspire Herman Melville to write what many believe to be the masterpiece of American literature.
PROSPECTS: Hemsworth is a hot commodity and director Ron Howard knows how to put a true life adventure story together with Oscar connotations.
OBSTACLES: For many, Moby Dick isn’t going to inspire a whole lot of people to go to the theater; Warners will have to mount a savvy campaign to get Millennials and the less adventurous into the multiplex.
FACTOID: The movie was originally scheduled for release in March but the studio felt it to be a legitimate Oscar contender, so they moved it to the middle of prime Oscar season.

SISTERS

RELEASE DATE: December 18, 2015
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, John Cena, John Leguizamo, James Brolin, Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Dianne Wiest, Madison Davenport, Rachel Dratch
GENRE: Comedy
STORY: Two very different sisters – one an uptight career-oriented woman, the other a party hearty woman child – return to their childhood home to clean out their rooms as their parents are selling the property. They decide to throw one last party to recapture their glory days – and maybe fix the issues that are plaguing them.
PROSPECTS: Poehler and Fey have been a dynamic and successful comedy team stretching back to their Saturday Night Live days but also including their hit film Baby Mama.
OBSTACLES: It’s been seven years since the two have done a film together which is a long time in Hollywood terms.
FACTOID: Screenwriter Paula Pell (SNL, 30 Rock) wrote the script specifically with Poehler and Fey in mind for the lead roles.

CONCUSSION

RELEASE DATE: December 25, 2015
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: Will Smith, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Stephen Moyer, Eddie Marsan, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, David Morse, Albert Brooks, Bitsie Tulloch
GENRE: Sports Drama
STORY: Neuropathologist  Dr. Bennet Omalu made the discovery of football-related brain trauma in pro players and fought to make his discoveries public. Fought tooth and nail the entire way by the NFL, politicians and corporate interests, the doctor doggedly sticks by his guns and fights to protect the players who are at risk.
PROSPECTS: A compelling story that could net Smith another Oscar nomination.
OBSTACLES: Smith’s career has been on a bit of a downturn of late. Football-based films haven’t really translated to box office gold and the competition will be fierce this season. Chances are the NFL won’t give this film a whole lot of support.
FACTOID: The film is based in Pittsburgh and Baldwin, who plays an area doctor, studied and spent time with several prominent Pittsburgh doctors to prepare for his role.

JOY

RELEASE DATE: December 25, 2015
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Jennifer Laurence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Elisabeth Rohm, Isabella Rossellini, Virginia Madsen, Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd
GENRE: Dramedy
STORY: A young woman intent on founding a business dynasty faces sexism, heartache and triumph in a human comedy of capitalism and family.
PROSPECTS: The quartet of Laurence, Cooper, De Niro and director David O. Russell have done two highly acclaimed and Oscar-nominated films in the past few years.
OBSTACLES: Hasn’t generated the buzz that American Hustle or The Silver Lining Playbook did.
FACTOID: Based on the true story of Joy Mangano, the woman who developed the Miracle Mop in 1990 – the same year Laurence, who plays her, was born.

ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION

MACBETH

RELEASE DATE: December 4, 2015 (limited)
STUDIO: Weinstein
STARRING: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Sean Harris, Elizabeth Debicki, David Thewlis, Jack Reynor, Paddy Considine, David Hayman
GENRE: Shakespeare
STORY: A Scottish lord, urged on by his devious and manipulative wife, stops at nothing to gain the throne of the King of Scotland in the 11th century.
PROSPECTS: Fassbender has gotten some Best Actor Oscar buzz for his performance in the title role.
OBSTACLES: Shakespeare and big box office? Bitch, please!
FACTOID: The X-Men franchise has contributed four Macbeths to the screen; both Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy, who played Charles Xavier, as well as Ian McKellen and now Fassbender, who played Magneto, have now played the role; of the four, only Fassbender hasn’t tackled the part in a stage production.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE

DECEMBER 2, 2015

HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT (Cohen Media Group), opening in New York City, gathers a group of filmmakers ranging from Wes Anderson to Martin Scorsese and discusses the legendary French director Francois Truffaut’s book Cinema According to Hitchcock and how it influenced their filmmaking.

DECEMBER 5, 2015

KRAMPUS (Universal) resurrects an ancient Yuletide legend of a demonic presence who punishes unbelievers at Christmastime. This year on his naughty list is a fractured family whose non-believing son is the cause for the return of Krampus. In YOUTH (Fox Searchlight) Harvey Keitel and Michael Caine star as a pair of lifelong friends contemplating the end of their careers while vacationing at a beautiful lodge in the Swiss Alps. It opens in limited release.

DECEMBER 11, 2015

THE DARK HORSE (Broad Green) which opens in limited release stars Fear the Walking Dead‘s Cliff Curtis as a community leader trying to overcome his own adversities to leave a legacy for the children of his community.

DECEMBER 18, 2015

Opening in limited release, SON OF SAUL (Sony Classics) is the heart-wrenching tale of a Jewish worker in Auschwitz who discovers the body of what he believes to be his son in the crematorium. Against all odds he rescues the body from the flames and tries to find a way of giving his boy a proper Jewish burial.

DECEMBER 23, 2015

In ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: ROAD CHIP (20th Century Fox) Alvin and the Boys head to New York City to stop Dave from proposing to his girlfriend, dumping them and in the process putting them under the care of the step-brother from hell.

DECEMBER 25, 2015

DADDY’S HOME (Paramount) is the competition between a mild-mannered radio executive stepdad and the freewheeling freeloader ex-husband for the affection of the children. Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg star. THE HATEFUL EIGHT (Weinstein) is the latest from director Quentin Tarantino which stars a high-end all-star cast in a Western about a bounty hunter trying to haul a woman to her execution through mountainous terrain in a blizzard, taking refuge in a haberdashery/stagecoach stop where others are waiting for them – who have agendas of their own. Opening Christmas Day for an Oscar qualifying run, it opens in wide release January 8th. POINT BREAK (Warner Brothers) is a remake of the Patrick Swayze/Keanu Reeves thriller about an undercover FBI agent trying to nail a group of extreme athletes who have been masterminding a group of daring robberies using their skills to make nearly impossible crimes a reality. THE REVENANT (20th Century Fox), also undergoing an Oscar qualifying run before opening wide on January 8th, is the true story of explorer Hugh Glass, mauled by a bear and left for dead by his own hunting party, surviving an extraordinary chain of events to get back to his family; Leonardo di Caprio stars and noted director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu behind the camera. SNOWDEN (Open Road) is Oliver Stone’s biopic of one of the most notorious figures of our time – whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (New Line) Budget: $250M. Domestic Gross: $255.1M Total: $956.0M Verdict: Big Hit.
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (20th Century Fox) Budget: $127M. Domestic Gross: $113.8M Total: $360.4 Verdict: Made Money.
INTO THE WOODS (Disney) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $128.0M Total: $212.9M Verdict: Big Hit.
ANNIE (Columbia) Budget: $65M. Domestic Gross: $85.9M Total: $133.8M Verdict: Broke Even.
BIG EYES (Weinstein) Budget: $10M. Domestic Gross: $14.5M Total: $29.3M Verdict: Made Money.
WILD (Fox Searchlight) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $13.2M Total: $52.5M Verdict: Hit.
SELMA (Paramount) Budget: $20M. Domestic Gross: $52.1M Total: $66.8M Verdict: Hit.
PADDINGTON (Dimension) Budget: $55M. Domestic Gross: $76.2M Total: $259.5M Verdict: Big Hit.
EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS (20th Century Fox) Budget: $140M. Domestic Gross: $65.0M Total: $268.0M Verdict: Lost Money.
INHERENT VICE (Warner Brothers) Budget: $20M. Domestic Gross: $8.1M Total: $14.7M Verdict: Flop.
UNBROKEN (Universal) Budget: $65M. Domestic Gross: $115.6M Total: $161.5M Verdict: Made Money.
AMERICAN SNIPER (Warner Brothers) Budget: $59M. Domestic Gross: $350.1M Total: $547.3M Verdict: Blockbuster.
HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 (Paramount/MGM) Budget: $14M. Domestic Gross: $12.3M Total: $12.3M Verdict: Flop.

So believe it or not, that’s a wrap for the movie schedule for 2015. It’s already been a heady year and there are sure to be some more big waves made by releases in the last third of the year’s schedule. Even with the impressive list of films waiting for us during the fall and holiday seasons, some are already looking ahead to 2016 which has an impressive line-up of its own. Perhaps most anticipated of all is Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice which not only brings two of DC’s most hallowed superheroes onscreen together for the first time but also marks the first cinematic appearance of such heroes as Wonder Woman and Aquaman; but DC is also banking on Suicide Squad to help launch their own cinematic universe to compete with Marvel’s. However, Marvel isn’t resting on their laurels; they have Captain America: Civil War waiting as well as Dr. Strange ready for our consumption, as well as the much-ballyhooed X-Men: Apocalypse, Gambit and Deadpool all coming from Fox. A sequel to Independence Day and a reboot of Ghostbusters with a female lead cast are also high on the list. Videogame fans are looking to see if versions of Warcraft. Uncharted and Assassin’s Creed can finally show videogames as a viable source for big budget movies. The resurgence of the Star Wars universe continues with the first of several projected stand-alone films Rogue One and Eddie Murphy returns as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop 4. Universal is launching a shared universe line of their own based on their classic monsters with a new version of The Mummy while sequels to Finding Nemo, Now You See Me, Alice in Wonderland and Divergent will all appear sometime during the year. You can read more about it in our 2016 preview, scheduled to be published in late December. Until then, you’ve got plenty of 2015 to enjoy yet; we suggest you make your plans to catch a bunch of these in a theater near you. See you at the multiplex!

Woman Power 2015


Woman PowerIt’s no secret that I love movies and if you’re reading this, chances are that you love them too. I love all sorts of movies, from sci-fi action blockbusters to indie dramas to romances to comedies to thrillers. One thing that movies have lagged in though is to give us the female point of view. It has been a source of embarrassment for the industry that so few women have made it as directors, writers and executives in the business compared to men.

The times they are a’chaingin’ though and we are starting to see a new generation of talented directors and writers making increasingly more high profile films; it is no accident that both Marvel and DC have women directing films for them on their upcoming slate.

There are also more and better movies that are featuring women as lead subjects, dealing with issues that concern women and put women into traditional male roles. Women are appearing in such a wide variety of roles in fact that it’s getting more and more difficult to identify what we used to call “women’s movies.” In fact, as the first movie in this year’s mini-festival that we call Woman Power attests, there are a lot of movies these days that are movies for everybody that happen to have women in lead roles.

In the second edition of our annual Woman Power series of reviews, we’ll focus on three films that either have women in lead roles, are concerned with women’s issues or are written and/or directed by women. We have what we think are three pretty fine movies you’ll want to see even if you’re not a woman.

You may have noticed that in our DVD reviews we are now providing links to places where you can either stream, purchase or rent the movies that we are reviewing. Hopefully that will be of some use to you if on the spur of the moment one of our reviews entices you to see the subject of that review. We’re all about convenience here at Cinema365.

After Woman Power, our next film review “mini-festival” will be The American Experience, three films about life in America either in present or past. That’s scheduled to take place July 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Following that we’ve got Film for Foodies in August, Sci-Fi Spectacle in September and our longest-running mini-festival of all: Six Days of Darkness in October, to be followed by our newest; Documented, a three day mini-festival of documentaries starting in November. Look forward to providing you with all of those.

In the meantime enjoy these three reviews that celebrate movies made for, by and about women. Hopefully you’ll get to check a few of these out on your own as well.

Offshoring 2015


Offshoring

Every year at about this time, shortly after the Florida Film Festival has ended, we like to present a collection of reviews for films that come to us from beyond America. We call it Offshoring and it’s one of our favorite mini-festivals of the year.

The variety and quality of films that come from around the world is improving rapidly with the cost of good quality equipment also coming down in price, becoming more affordable. These days you can see films that are absolutely riveting from every continent on Earth save Antarctica.

This year we have one of the movies that played this year’s Florida Film Festival among the five that we’re presenting. The movies that we’re reviewing come from Israel, Spain, France, Australia and Japan. The diversity of viewpoints that these films give us enriches us and helps us see things with a different perspective. Things including ourselves.

A lot of people dislike foreign movies because of subtitles and, in the case of English language films from foreign countries, accents that can be hard for Americans to decipher. That being the case, you should really rethink your prejudices because you’re cheating yourself out of some of the best movies you’re likely to see in your life. One of the films we’re reviewing this time out is one of the best animated features ever made and quite frankly one of the best movies ever made period.

So if you’re in an adventurous mood, you might give these movies a try. Not all of them are instant classics; some of them may have to grow on you a little. But I think that each of these movies gives you a glimpse not only of different ways of thinking, but at all the things that unite us as well. So hope to see you right here tomorrow when our mini-festival begins.

2015 Summer Movie Preview


Summer Movie Preview 2015Hollywood loves the summer. Hollywood lives for the summer. It’s not that Hollywood looks forward to the beach and road trip vacations although I’m sure that some do; it’s that Hollywood loves to see the eager lines of people cramming their way into theaters for a new potential blockbuster week after week.

2014 was a bit of a disappointment in terms of box office as well as quality. Guardians of the Galaxy was the big winner and showed that Marvel can still make box office bliss even with lesser known characters. The Godzilla revival was a big hit for Warners and there will be more on the way with a sequel already greenlit. X-Men: Days of Future Past welcomed back Bryan Singer to the X-Men universe and paved the way for next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse. Transformers: Age of Extinction continued to make money for the giant robot franchise while How to Train Your Dragon 2 won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. The Fault in Our Stars showed that young adult adaptations didn’t need wizards or sparkling vampires to be a hit, while Dawn of the Planet of the Apes continued to show that this franchise has been completely revitalized. But there were plenty of less successful movies that wiped out in the summer 2014 pipeline as well.

The expectations are extra-high this year as several dormant franchises are either rebooted or return with long-awaited sequels. We’ll see new entries in the Jurassic Park, Mad Max and Terminator franchises, all of which have been notably absent from the big screen. Marvel, after their best year ever, will have two movies coming out this summer, including Avengers: Age of Ultron which continues the super-team saga which was their most successful film to date. Pixar also makes a return to the summer line-up after taking a year off.

There will be all sorts of sequels and reboots with the likes of Ted 2, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Poltergeist, Sinister 2, Magic Mike XXL, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, Insidious Chapter 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: The Green Legend.

Comedies are always a big part of the summer lineup and this year will be no different with Spy, Entourage, Hot Pursuit, Aloha, Pixels, The Bronze, Trainwreck and Minions on the docket. It will be an impressive year for horror buffs as they can look forward to Insidious Chapter 3, Sinister 2,The Gallows, Poltergeist, The Vatican Tapes, Before I Wake, Maggie and Regression. Other worlds await us with such sci-fi fare as Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World, Self/Less, Pixels, Terminator: Genisys, Criminal, Hitman: Agent 47 and Tomorrowland. Superhero fanboys will have Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Fantastic Four and Antman to take them up, up and away while action junkies can get their fix with Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Mad Max: Fury Road, Masterminds, The Man from UNCLE, Spy, San Andreas and Hitman: Agent 47. Families haven’t been forgotten as there will be animated features and live action family films including Inside Out, Max, Tomorrowland, Minions, and Underdogs.

Summer is a good time to view the stars and this year will be a great year for it as you’ll get a chance to catch George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Keaton, Kristen Wiig, Tom Hardy, Robert Downey Jr., Kevin Costner, Emma Watson, Tom Cruise, Melissa McCarthy, Morgan Freeman, Chris Pratt, Henry Cavill, Paul Rudd, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Reynolds, Sam Rockwell, Billy Bob Thornton, Channing Tatum, Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, Ian McKellan, Amy Schumer, Adam Sandler, Chris Evans, Zach Galifianakis, Hugh Jackman, Arnold Schwarzenegger,  Miles Teller, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Michael Douglas, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Yeoh, Emma Stone, Michael Fassbender, Samuel L. Jackson, Simon Pegg, Meryl Streep, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Kevin James, Hugh Grant, Djimon Hounsou, Kevin Kline, Seth MacFarlane, Owen Wilson, Michael B. Jordan, Zachary Quinto, Jeremy Piven, Dermot Mulroney, Ethan Hawke, Laura Linney, Evangeline Lilly, Sandra Bullock, Ben Kingsley, Carey Mulligan, Jada PInkett Smith, Scarlett Johansson, J.K. Simmons, Michael Pena, Judy Greer, Josh Gad and Amanda Seyfried.

By all accounts this should be a big summer at the multiplex and the seats are there waiting for you, the popcorn freshly popped and the soda ice cold. Why don’t you find yourself a chair, plop yourself down with your snacks and open your eyes in wonder and let this summer’s blockbusters transport you from the heat of the day to someplace completely fantastic.

MAY

The summer will kick off with a bang as a superhero team reunites to take on a robotic menace, a road warrior returns to Australia’s barren wasteland, California shakes and bakes, a courageous young girl goes to a place where the future is created and a young girl discovers that they’re hee-eeere.

Avengers Age of Ultron

SUMMER STORM

THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

RELEASE DATE: May 1, 2015
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, James Spader, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson
STORY: When Tony Stark’s attempts to create a robotic peacekeeping force go awry, a super-intelligent robot called Ultron decides that the only way to keep the peace is to exterminate the human race. Clearly the Avengers will have something to say about that, but the odds are stacked against them as new wild cards with super powers enter the picture.
PROSPECTS: Very likely to be the summer box office champion, Marvel has been unable to do any wrong and there is no reason to suspect that this sequel to their most successful movie to date is going to be any different.
OBSTACLES: Sooner or later Marvel must stumble; will this be that time?
FACTOID: Although many thought that Thanos, who made an appearance at the conclusion of the first Avengers film, would be the villain for the sequel, he is being saved for the two-part Avengers: Infinity War coming out in 2018 and 2019.

SUMMER SIZZLE

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

RELEASE DATE: May 15, 2015
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Nicholas Hoult, Riley Keough, Nathan Jones, Hugh Keays-Byrne
STORY: Haunted by a turbulent past, Max has determined the best way for him to survive the apocalypse is alone, but he gets caught up by a group escaping the Citadel with a stolen item so precious it sends the tyrant who runs the Citadel in hot pursuit with an army of maniacs.
PROSPECTS: The buzz on this has been largely positive. Hardy’s star has been growing by leaps and bounds and this could be the role that puts him over-the-top to permanent residence on the A-list.
OBSTACLES: It has been 30 years since the last Mad Max movie; most of today’s main summer audience weren’t alive when the last one was made.
FACTOID: Keays-Byrne also played the villain Toecutter in the original 1979 film Mad Max.

TOMORROWLAND

RELEASE DATE: May 22, 2015
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING: George Clooney, Judy Greer, Britt Robertson, Kathryn Hahn, Hugh Laurie, Pierce Gagnon, Keegan-Michael Key, Lochlyn Munro, Tim McGraw
STORY: A disillusioned once-boy genius grown into bitter middle age and a sparkling-eyed teen bursting with scientific curiosity find their destinies entwined with a mysterious place and time from whence the future of the human race may come – or end.
PROSPECTS: Every movie director Brad Bird has made has been a hit. Clooney has been on a bit of a screen hiatus, so his fans should flock to see his latest.
OBSTACLES: The trailer was in many ways underwhelming and Robertson’s reaction shots were overacted terribly, which doesn’t bode well for a movie in which she is prominently featured.
FACTOID: Shailene Woodley turned down the lead role in order to continue with the latest movie in the Divergent series Insurgent. Robertson eventually won the part.

SAN ANDREAS

RELEASE DATE: May 29, 2015
STUDIO: New Line
STARRING: Dwayne Johnson, Alexandra Daddario, Carla Gugino, Colton Haynes, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Paul Giamatti, Will Yun Lee
STORY: Californians have always known that the big one is inevitable and when the inevitable occurs, a search and rescue pilot  and his estranged wife travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a desperate attempt to rescue their daughter, only to realize that the worst is merely beginning.
PROSPECTS: Johnson is one of Hollywood’s most likable stars and judging on the trailer the effects are going to be absolutely breathtaking.
OBSTACLES: Those who recall the last disaster movie, Into the Storm, may well be a bit more cautious in their appraisal of this films chances.
FACTOID: This is the third time Gugino and Johnson have worked together in a film, the others being Faster and Race to Witch Mountain.

A DIFFERENT SUMMER

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD

RELEASE DATE: May 1, 2015
STUDIO: Fox Searchlight
STARRING: Carey Mulligan, Michael Sheen, Matthias Schoenaerts, Juno Temple, Tom Sturridge, Jessica Barden, Eloise Oliver, Jamie Lee-Hill
STORY: Based on the classic novel by Thomas Hardy (not the one in Mad Max: Fury Road), a headstrong and independent Victorian woman is courted by three very different men; a poor sheep farmer, a prosperous but older bachelor and a reckless soldier.
PROSPECTS: Director Thomas Vinterberg won all sorts of acclaim with his last project The Hunt; some in the know think this will be a further stepping stone on his way to being one of the top directors in Hollywood.
OBSTACLES: These sorts of period English classic dramas have fallen out of favor of late.
FACTOID: This is the second filmed version of the Hardy novel; the first was made in 1967 and starred Julie Christie and Alan Bates.

SUMMER TIME

May 1, 2015

RIDE (Screen Media) which opens in limited release is the newest film directed by Oscar winner Helen Hunt. In it she plays a helicopter mom whose son has left the nest for college. When she goes to visit him, she is shocked to discover he dropped out of school to become a surfer. She tries to understand what he sees in the sport, only to fall for a surfer bum more her age. Luke Wilson co-stars. WELCOME TO ME (Alchemy) which opened the Florida Film Festival this year. In it Kristen Wiig stars as a woman with mental challenges who wins the lotto and decides to buy herself a talk show whose subject is the same every night – herself.

May 8, 2015

HOT PURSUIT (New Line) stars Reese Witherspoon as a by-the-book Texas Ranger who tries to keep alive the widow of a drug boss whose information might cripple the entire drug trade in the Southwest. MAGGIE (Roadside Attractions) is about a devoted father who can’t protect his vivacious daughter from a zombie infection; Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin star in this limited release. SAINT LAURENT (Sony Classics) is a limited release about fashion icon Yves St. Laurent in his most creative period between 1967-1976 in which he dominated the fashion industry.

May 15, 2015

ABSOLUTION (Lionsgate) stars Steven Seagal as a contract killer torn between protecting a young girl on the run from a ruthless human trafficker and loyalty to the government agency that employs him. Opens in limited release. PITCH PERFECT 2 (Universal) is the sequel to the Glee rip-off. Imagine my enthusiasm. SLOW WEST (A24) which opens in limited release stars Michael Fassbender as the proverbial mysterious stranger who acts as protector to a 16-year-old Scottish aristocrat who is searching for the farm girl he fell in love with, a girl also on the run from a ruthless outlaw gang.

May 22, 2015

in limited release, ALOFT (Sony Classics) tells three tales of love, chaos and faith all set in the trackless wasteland of Antarctica. Jennifer Connelly stars. THE FAREWELL PARTY (Goldwyn) is opening in limited release after playing the Florida Film Festival in April and is an Israeli film about a group of elderly Israelis in a nursing home who throw a party for a terminally ill friend whose wife has implored them to help him euthanize him before his suffering grows too great. POLTERGEIST (20th Century Fox/MGM) remakes the classic Stephen Spielberg/Tobe Hooper suburban horror tale with Sam Rockwell, Jared Harris and Rosemarie DeWitt in the lead roles. SUNSHINE SUPERMAN (Magnolia) which opens in limited release is a documentary on Carl Boenish, the creator of base jumping. It also played the Florida Film Festival this year. WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (GKIDS) is the latest from Studio Ghibli and concerns a troubled young girl in a small Japanese town who makes a mysterious friend, only to begin to wonder about her friend’s true nature. Set for limited release, it is the third of three films opening this week that also played the Florida Film Festival.

May 29, 2015

ALOHA (Columbia) stars Bradley Cooper in the latest from Cameron Crowe about a military contractor whose career has imploded, returning to Hawaii where his greatest triumphs for the U.S. Space Program took place. There he works on a satellite system for a billionaire with complicated motives, while falling for both his ex-girlfriend and a Type A Air Force liaison. Bill Murray, Rachel McAdams and Emma Stone co-star. SURVIVOR (Alchemy) is a thriller starring Milla Jojovich as a Foreign Service Officer framed for a bombing who must find the real perpetrator who have a much more ambitious and deadly plan ahead. 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. The first four movies listed are the five main previewed items; I’ve also chosen a selection of other major releases that made the preview issue as well.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (20th Century Fox) Budget: $200 Million. Domestic Gross: $233.9M Total: $748.1M. Verdict: Hit.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 (Columbia) Budget: $200M. Domestic Gross: $202.9M Total: $709.0M Verdict: Hit.
GODZILLA (Warner Brothers) Budget: $160M. Domestic Gross: $200.7M Total: $528.7M Verdict: Hit.
MALEFICENT (Disney) Budget: $180M. Domestic Gross: $241.4M Total: $758.4M Verdict: Big Hit.
A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST (Universal) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $43.1M Total: $86.4M. Verdict: Broke Even.
BELLE (Fox Searchlight) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $10.7M Total: $15.5M Verdict: Likely Hit.
NEIGHBORS (Universal) Budget: $18M. Domestic Gross: $150.2M Total: $268.2M Verdict: Blockbuster.
WALK OF SHAME (Focus) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $59,209 Total: $5.6M Verdict: Flop.
MILLION DOLLAR ARM (Disney) Budget: $25M. Domestic Gross: $36.5M Total: $38.3 Verdict: Lost Money.
BLENDED (Warner Brothers) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $46.3M Total: $126.8M Verdict: Hit.
CHEF (Open Road) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $31.4M Total: $46.0M Verdict: Likely Big Hit.
MOM’S NIGHT OUT (Tri-Star) Budget: $5M. Domestic Gross: $10.4M Total: $10.4M Verdict: Broke Even.
IDA (Music Box) Budget: $2.9M. Domestic Gross: $3.8M Total: $10.7M Verdict: Hit.

JUNE

As the summer heats up and the May blockbusters make headlines, June brings in solid support with a return to a franchise begun by Steven Spielberg, a sequel to one of the biggest R-rated comedies in history, the return of Pixar to the summer multiplex and the third chapter in a blockbuster horror series that has frightened audiences worldwide.

Jurassic World

SUMMER STORM

JURASSIC WORLD

RELEASE DATE: June 12, 2015
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Judy Greer, Jake Johnson, Brian Tee, Omar Sy, BD Wong, Irfan Khan, Ty Simpkins
STORY: Despite all the issues that have plagued the dream project of John Hammond, the theme park on Isla Nublar is finally off and running and has become the worldwide hit attraction that he envisioned. However, just as things appear to be under control, an ambitious scientist’s attempts to mess with dino DNA leads to more running…and screaming.
PROSPECTS: Who doesn’t love dinosaurs, and Chris Pratt is one of the hottest commodities in Hollywood these days. One of the most beloved franchises in Hollywood history returning to the big screen? Hell yeah!
OBSTACLES: It has been 14 years since the last Jurassic Park and the buzz on this one has been steady but not scintillating.
FACTOID: The first film in the series not to feature either Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum or Laura Dern in the cast.

SUMMER SIZZLE

INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3

RELEASE DATE: June 5, 2015
STUDIO: Focus
STARRING: Dermot Mulroney, Stefanie Scott, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson, Lin Shaye, Tate Berney, Michael Reid MacKay, Steve Coulter, Hayley Kiyoko
STORY: This prequel set prior to the haunting of the Lambert family centers on the psychic Elise Rainier and how she reluctantly uses her gifts to contact the dead in order to save a teenage girl from a dangerous supernatural entity.
PROSPECTS: This is one of the more popular horror franchises currently in operation.
OBSTACLES: No Patrick Wilson and no James Wan behind the camera will test how loyal the following for this franchise truly is.
FACTOID: Wan, who directed the first two Insidious films, was unavailable to direct this one due to his involvement in Furious 7; instead he appears in a cameo role in front of the camera.

INSIDE OUT

RELEASE DATE: June 19, 2015
STUDIO: Disney*Pixar
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Diane Lane, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler, Kyle MacLachlan, Bill Hader, Richard Kind, Lewis Black, Paula Poundstone, Laraine Newman
STORY: The emotions inside an 11-year-old girl’s mind try to help her navigate a move to a new city but things don’t go very smoothly in that regard.
PROSPECTS: After an absence of a year, Pixar returns to movie theaters and that no doubt has parents breathing a sigh of relief after last year’s subpar family film offerings.
OBSTACLES: The first non-sequel in several years for Pixar; does the company still have its creative mojo?
FACTOID: This is the fifteenth feature film to be produced by Pixar.

TED 2

RELEASE DATE: June 26, 2015
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, Seth MacFarlane (voice), Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Dennis Haysbert, Jessica Barth, Patrick Warburton
STORY: The magically animated teddy bear (and thunder buddy) takes on a new challenge when he gets married and hopes to have a kid through artificial insemination; however, before he can become a dad, he must first prove that he has a soul.
PROSPECTS: The biggest-grossing R-rated film of all time returns with all the irresponsibility of the first only turned up to eleven.
OBSTACLES: MacFarlane’s last movie, A Million Ways to Die in the West, was a critical and commercial flop and may have hurt the brand name somewhat.
FACTOID: Although Mila Kunis was initially signed to reprise her role as Lori from the first film, she had to step down due to her pregnancy.

ANOTHER SUMMER

LOVE AND MERCY

RELEASE DATE: June 5, 2015
STUDIO: Roadside Attractions
STARRING: John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti, Jake Abel, Dee Wallace, Kenny Wormald, Graham Rogers, Joanna Going
STORY: The story of the mercurial genius behind the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson and his struggles not only to create some of the most seminal music of our time but to regain control over his own life.
PROSPECTS: Dano is a dead ringer for the real Brian Wilson; a terrific soundtrack and a compelling story should make this a winner on the art house circuit.
OBSTACLES: Modern audiences may not recognize the significance of the Beach Boys musically.
FACTOID: Wilson cooperated with the production and at the movie’s premiere at SXSW exclaimed that he enjoyed the intimate scenes with Cusack and Banks, reflecting happy times spent between himself and his real-life wife.

SUMMER TIME

June 5, 2015

ENTOURAGE (Warner Brothers) continues the hit HBO comedy series picking up things a few years afterwards. With most of the main cast returning and a plethora of guest stars snarking on Hollywood, should be rather entertaining. SPY (20th Century Fox) is a spoof of spy movies with Melissa McCarthy taking on the role of a CIA analyst turned field agent. Jason Statham and Jude Law co-star.

June 12, 2015

ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL (Fox Searchlight) which opens in limited release was a huge hit at Sundance; two high school boys trying to navigate the complicated social strata of their school are made to spend time with a new girl in school who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Their relationship with her will forever change their lives.

June 19, 2015

DOPE  (Open Road) is also a Sundance favorite which is set in the urban landscape of South Central Los Angeles during the 90s during the golden age of Hip-Hop as a young teen tries to navigate the complicated social strata of…oh, wait. In INFINITELY POLAR BEAR (Sony Classics), Mark Ruffalo plays a messed up dad in the late 70s trying to win back his estranged wife by taking charge of his spirited daughters. It opens in limited release. THE OVERNIGHT (The Orchard), also opening in limited release, was a Florida Film Festival selection and stars Jason Schwartzman, Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling and Judith Godreche as two couples who meet for a pizza party with their kids but it quickly goes wildly out of control once the kids are in bed. You can read our review here. Finally, THE TRIBE (Drafthouse) is yet another Florida Film Festival selection set in the world of deaf mutes in the Ukraine as a new kid tries to keep from going afoul of a criminal gang in the school. The story is told without dialogue, music, sound effects or subtitles and is told entirely through sign language and visuals. It was a Golden Globe nominee and opens in limited release.

June 26, 2015

Opening in limited release, BIG GAME (Relativity/Europa) teams President Samuel L. Jackson (oh, how lovely that sounds) and a 13-year-old Finnish bowhunter who take on a cartel of kidnappers who crashed Air Force One in the forests of Finland; the two must figure out a way to the American Special Forces team looking for the Commander-in-Chief or in this case, the Asskicker-in-Chief. MAX (Warner Brothers) is the touching story of a bomb-sniffing dog whose handler dies during the Afghanistan conflict; when he proves to be no longer effective in the field he is shipped back stateside to his handler’s family where the younger brother of the dead soldier and the traumatized dog find that they are both much more important to one another than they could have ever imagined. Not that the dog was imagining anything.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (Paramount) Budget: $210 Million. Domestic Gross: $245.4M Total: $1.1 Billion. Verdict: Blockbuster.
EDGE OF TOMORROW (Warner Brothers) Budget: $178M. Domestic Gross: $100.2M Total: $369.2M. Verdict: Made Money.
22 JUMP STREET (MGM/Columbia) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $191.7M Total: $331.3M Verdict: Blockbuster.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (DreamWorks) Budget: $145M. Domestic Gross: $177.0M Total: $618.9M Verdict: Hit.
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (20th Century Fox) Budget: $12M. Domestic Gross: $124.9M Total: $307.2M Verdict: Blockbuster.
THINK LIKE A MAN TOO (Screen Gems) Budget: $24M. Domestic Gross: $65.2M Total: $70.2M Verdict: Made Money.
JERSEY BOYS (Warner Brothers) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $47.1M Total: $67.4M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE SIGNAL (Focus) Budget: $4M. Domestic Gross: $600,896 Total: $2M Verdict: Flop.
SNOWPIERCER (Radius) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $4.6M Total: $86.8M Verdict: Made Money.
THE ROVER (A24) Budget: $12M. Domestic Gross: $1.1M Total: $2.3M Verdict: Flop.
OBVIOUS CHILD (A24) Budget: $1M. Domestic Gross: $3.1M Total: $3.1M Verdict: Hit.

JULY

After a reasonably quiet July last year, this year it returns to being a highly competitive month with the final film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase II (with Phase III set to start next year), a spin-off film to one of the most popular non-Disney animated features of recent years, the reboot to one of the most popular sci-fi franchises of all time, an invasion of earth – by video game characters, a return to the world of male strippers and a new installment to a popular franchise based on a legendary television series.

Ant Man

SUMMER STORM

ANT-MAN

RELEASE DATE: July 17, 2015
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
STARRING: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Hayley Atwell, Corey Stoll, Judy Greer, John Slattery, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Pena, T.I.
STORY: A thief is given a second chance to be a hero by a scientist who has invented an amazing suit that allows him to shrink in size and increase in strength. The new hero with the lame name is going to need every bit of it as he must pull off a heist that might just save the world.
PROSPECTS: Hello, it’s Marvel. Cinematic Phase II comes to an end with this film, leading the way into Phase III and Civil War come 2016. While this is unlikely to match Avengers: Age of Ultron in box office numbers, it should still dominate July.
OBSTACLES: Coming out only six weeks after Avengers may be a bit too soon for the movie, resulting in Marvel overload. There may also be some backlash after Edgar Wright, a huge fan favorite, exited the project citing creative differences after having spent years developing it.
FACTOID: Director Peyton Reed was considered for Fantastic Four and Guardians of the Galaxy before getting the nod for this film after Wright departed.

SUMMER SIZZLE

TERMINATOR: GENISYS

RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2015
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, J.K. Simmons, Matt Smith, Jason Clarke, Byung-hun Lee, Sandrine Holt, Courtney B. Vance
STORY: Human resistance leader John Conner sends soldier Kyle Reese into the past to save his mother Sarah from an android sent to kill her. To the soldier’s surprise, she’s already been saved – by a Terminator. With the future changed, the past is completely up for grabs as Sarah and Reese fight the most insidious foe the machines could have possibly sent back.
PROSPECTS: Schwarzenegger returns in his most beloved role while the franchise undergoes a complete reboot. With Game of Thrones’ vixen Clarke in a performance that would make Linda Hamilton gush, the series seems poised to return to greatness.
OBSTACLES: The last two Terminator films did decent box office business but got little love from the fans. They might not be willing to be burned a third time. It also looks like a major plot twist has been spoiled by the latest trailer.
FACTOID: Sarah Conner was played in the TV series The Sarah Connor Chronicles by Lena Headey who co-stars with Clarke in Game of Thrones.

MAGIC MIKE XXL

RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2015
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Channing Tatum, Amber Heard, Elizabeth Banks, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Jada Pinkett Smith, Donald Glover, Andie MacDowell, Kevin Nash
STORY: Three years after retiring from stripping for a living, so too are Mike’s former troupe the Kings of Tampa. Wanting to go out with a bang with one final show in Myrtle Beach, the gang take a road trip with Mike headlining the show for one last time.
PROSPECTS: The ladies never tire of watching Tatum put on his moves.
OBSTACLES: Matthew McConaughey has moved on and so might some of the audience.
FACTOID: Filming took place on the Warner Brothers lot where the Ellen DeGeneres Show also shots. Actor Stephen Boss was waxed up on the DeGeneres show live immediately before going to film his scenes in the neighboring sound stage.

MINIONS

RELEASE DATE: July 10, 2015
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Katy Mixon, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Laraine Newman, Hiroyuki Sanada
STORY: A species of servants to evil masters is lost and depressed without an evil master to serve; three intrepid Minions head to New York in the 1960s to find Scarlet Overkill, the world’s first female evil mastermind. But the Minions may have found a master so evil that she is willing to destroy every last Minion – but the Minions have a trick or two of their own up their sleeves. Er, do they have sleeves though?
PROSPECTS: The Despicable Me franchise has been a license to print money for Universal and this spin-off is likely to bring more of the green stuff to their coffers. The Minions are hugely popular with kids.
OBSTACLES: Spin-offs from animated features starring the loveable supporting cast have tended to be less successful.
FACTOID: This will be the first time in her career in which Bullock has portrayed a villain.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION

RELEASE DATE: July 31, 2015
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin, America Olivo, Sean Harris, Simon McBurney
STORY: The IMF takes on an organization that is their mirror image; highly trained, skilled in the deadly arts and completely focused on the destruction of the IMF.
PROSPECTS: All four of the movies in the franchise have been monster hits; there’s no reason to believe that this one won’t join them.
OBSTACLES: It’s a very crowded release calendar at this time of the year and the movie might just get lost in the shuffle.
FACTOID: Will be the third of five espionage films to be released in 2015, including Kingsman: The Secret Service, Spy, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Spectre.

A DIFFERENT SUMMER

HOLMES

RELEASE DATE: July 17, 2015
STUDIO: Miramax
STARRING: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Hiroyuki Sanada, Roger Allam, Frances de la Tour, Milo Parker, Hattie Morahan, Patrick Kennedy, Nicholas Rowe
STORY: Sherlock Holmes, now 96 and retired, revisits the unsolved case that led him to hang up his deerstalker hat and leave London for the country, aided by his housekeeper and her son.
PROSPECTS: The buzz is that McKellan is marvelous in this. A terrific concept.
OBSTACLES: Holmes fans are sniffing that this goes outside of canon.
FACTOID: Rowe played Holmes at the beginning of his career in Young Sherlock Holmes while this film depicts Holmes at the end of his career.

SUMMER TIME

July 1, 2015

JIMMY’S HALL (Sony Classics) is the newest from legendary director Ken Loach and is concerned with an Irish dance hall opened in the 1920s in a rural town. The owner leaves Ireland after the church and local politicians put pressure on him to close the hall. He returns a decade later, determined to lead a quiet life but the town, in the grip of the Depression, needs the dance hall more than ever. Opening in limited release.

July 10, 2015

In THE GALLOWS (New Line) a high school drama company resurrects a production that 20 years earlier had resulted in the accidental death of one of the student actors; they discover that some things are better left alone. SELF/LESS (Focus) is the latest from imaginative director Tarsem Singh in which an extremely wealthy man dying of cancer undergoes a procedure to transfer his consciousness into a much younger man’s healthy body only to discover that the situation is not what he thought it was. Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley star.

July 17, 2015

Opening in limited release, BOULEVARD (Starz Digital) is the final dramatic film of Robin Williams in which he plays a bank manager trapped in a loveless marriage and passionless life who finds the only hope for joy kindled when a troubled young man comes into his life. THE LOOK OF SILENCE (Drafthouse) is Josh Oppenheimer’s follow-up to his acclaimed documentary The Act of Killing which was my number one movie a couple of years ago and concerns a family which survived the Indonesian genocide of 1965-66 confronting one of the participants in it. It also opens in limited release. TRAINWRECK (Universal) is the latest from Judd Apatow in which a young woman revels in her sexual freedom but makes a lot of choices to retain it, sabotaging any potential relationships. When she finds someone that she might actually want to see more than once, she doesn’t know what to do. Amy Schumer stars.

July 24, 2015

PAPER TOWN (20th Century Fox) comes from the author of The Fault in Our Stars. A young man follows cryptic clues left behind by a mysterious girl who disappeared and with whom he’s fallen in love.  PIXELS (Columbia) stars Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Kevin James and Josh Gad as veteran arcade champions who are called to save the Earth when it is invaded by aliens who use video game characters from the 80s as weapons. In SOUTHPAW (Weinstein) a champion boxer is thrown into a downward spiral when a tragic accident leaves him a broken shell of what he was. A last opportunity at glory is literally at hand and all that stands between him and rock bottom. Jake Gyllenhaal stars in what is sure to be another Oscar-worthy role for him. THE VATICAN TAPES (Lionsgate) is a found footage film that takes us behind the scenes of the Vatican’s mythic exorcism team as they take on the Devil himself.

July 31, 2015

THE BRONZE (Relativity) comes from Sundance and tells us the tale of a bitter former Olympic Bronze medalist in gymnastics who rules her small town but is badly threatened by a talented prospect who may eclipse her own accomplishments. In THE END OF THE TOUR (A24) a writer for Rolling Stone travels with a gifted but eccentric author on the last week of his book tour. Based on a true story, the film opens in limited release. THE GIFT (STX/Universal) is the directing debut of actor Joel Edgerton in which a couple’s life and relationship is threatened when an old acquaintance of the husband unexpectedly arrives with mysterious gifts and a terrifying secret from his past. Jason Bateman stars. VACATION (New Line) reboots the popular National Lampoon movie series in which Rusty Griswold, now a grown man with a family of his own, takes them on a trip to America’s favorite family fun park Wally World with his dad riding shotgun. Of course, nothing goes completely as expected…

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (20th Century Fox) Budget: $170M. Domestic Gross: $208.6M Total: $708.8M. Verdict: Big Hit.
TAMMY (New Line) Budget: $20M. Domestic Gross: $84.5M Total: $100.4M Verdict: Big Hit.
THE PURGE: ANARCHY (Universal) Budget: $9M. Domestic Gross: $72.0M Total: $110.6M Verdict: Big Hit,
WISH I WAS HERE (Focus) Budget: $6M. Domestic Gross: $3.6M Total: $5.5M Verdict: Flop.
DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Screen Gems) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $30.6M Total: $87.9M Verdict: Made Money.
HERCULES (Paramount/MGM) Budget: $100M. Domestic Gross: $72.7M Total: $243.4M Verdict: Made Money.
SEX TAPE (Columbia) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $38.5M Total: $126.1M Verdict: Hit.
PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE (Disney) Budget: $50M Domestic Gross: $59.2M Total: $151.2M Verdict: Hit.
EARTH TO ECHO (Relativity) Budget: $13M. Domestic Gross: $38.9M Total: $45.3M Verdict: Hit.
STEP UP ALL IN (Summit) Budget: $45M. Domestic Gross: $14.9M Total: $86.2M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE FLUFFY MOVIE (Open Road) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $2.8M Total: $2.8M Verdict: Probably Broke Even
BEGIN AGAIN (Weinstein) Budget: $8M. Domestic Gross: $16.2M. Total: $63.5M Verdict: Big Hit.

AUGUST

Last year the traditional box office pattern was broken as a Marvel movie dominated the last month of the summer and into the fall. This year, another Marvel movie hopes to do the same, while a 1960s era TV espionage series hopes to get the impossible success of another TV spy series from the same era. In addition, there are animated features about Foosball players and sheep, a second entry in a franchise based on a hit computer game, a biopic about a seminal rap group and the sequel to the most successful foreign language film ever.

Fantastic Four

SUMMER STORM

FANTASTIC FOUR

RELEASE DATE: August 7, 2015
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Miles Teller, Katie Mara, Toby Kebbell, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson, Chet Hanks
STORY: Four young scientists, outsiders in the scientific community, build an inter-dimensional teleportation machine and manage to teleport themselves…elsewhere. When they return home however their physical forms have been altered in fundamental ways. Uniting as a team of heroes, they find themselves opposed by a former friend – and fighting a foe who comes from the depths of our own world as well.
PROSPECTS: The first two Fantastic Four movies met with disdain from the fan community; this reboot looks a lot more serious. Josh Trank previously did a take on superpowers called Chronicle that met with a great deal of audience acclaim.
OBSTACLES: Fantastic Four is a hero team that has never translated well to the silver screen. Trank is being met with some resistance from the fan community due to some changes from comic book canon.
FACTOID: The uniforms that the Fantastic Four wear are based on containment suits.

SUMMER SIZZLE

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

RELEASE DATE: August 14, 2015
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Hugh Grant, Alicia Vikander, Jared Harris, Elizabeth Debicki, Luca Calvani, Gabriel Farnese
STORY: Set at the height of the Cold War in the early 1960s, a shadowy criminal organization threatens the stability of peace; CIA Agent Napoleon Solo and KGB Agent Ilya Kuryakin are recruited for a new multinational operation that is set up to combat threats such as these.
PROSPECTS: Spy movies are making a comeback with the success of the James Bond and Mission: Impossible franchises. This is the fourth of five spy movies to be released in 2015.
OBSTACLES: Spy movies may be oversaturated. The audience that remembers the television show that this was based on is much older than studios tend to chase after; also most of the bulk of the modern moviegoing audience are too young to remember the Cold War.
FACTOID: Tom Cruise was originally cast to be Napoleon Solo but dropped out to film Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

SINISTER 2

RELEASE DATE: August 21, 2015
STUDIO: Focus
STARRING: Shannyn Sossamon, James Ransone, Nicholas King, Tate Ellington, Nicole Santini, Caden M. Fritz, Lucas Jade Zumann, Delphine Pontvieux
STORY: A new family with an over-protective mother of twins moves into a rural home marked for the next victims of the demon Bughuul if he can’t be stopped.
PROSPECTS: A low budget will make profitability come quickly for this movie if they can get any kind of audience.
OBSTACLES: Didn’t have the buzz nor the success of other recent horror franchises.
FACTOID: The demon and the detective that investigated the events of the first movie are the only characters to return from it.

HITMAN: AGENT 47

RELEASE DATE: August 28, 2015
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Rupert Friend, Zachary Quinto, Thomas Kretschmann, Ciaran Hinds, Hannah Ware, Dan Bakkedahl, Emilio Rivera, Michaela Caspar
STORY: A biologically engineered super-agent goes up against a corporation bent on creating an army of Agents. With the daughter of the scientist that created him, Agent 47 will confront the truth of his own past and square off in a battle against his deadliest adversary.
PROSPECTS: Will be summer’s last gasp and if it gets even decent word of mouth should be able to hang on well into September and maybe even October.
OBSTACLES: The first Hitman movie met with a lukewarm reception here and did fairly well in Europe. Friend is an unknown quantity as a lead.
FACTOID: Paul Walker was set to play the title role before his untimely death.

A DIFFERENT SUMMER

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON 2: THE GREEN LEGEND

RELEASE DATE: August 29, 2014
STUDIO: Weinstein
STARRING: Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Eugenia Yuan, Harry Shum Jr., Chris Pang, Shuya Chang, Andrew Stehlin, Roger Yuan
STORY: A grieving warrior sets out to seek a legendary sword in ancient China.
PROSPECTS: The original movie is the all-time leading box office winner for foreign language films in the United States.
OBSTACLES: It’s been 15 years since the first movie. Also, Weinstein is engaging in an unusual release format in that it’s only theatrical release will be on IMAX screens and it will be released simultaneously for streaming on Netflix which may seriously undercut its box office chances; at least two major theatrical chains have already refused to play the movie because of its Netflix release.
FACTOID: This is the first movie to have a simultaneous theatrical release and a Netflix release.

SUMMER HEAT

August 7, 2015

MASTERMINDS (Relativity) is the true story of a heist that should never have worked but did and the aftermath which took criminal bumbling to a new level. Owen Wilson stars. THE PROPHET  (GKIDS), opening in wide release, is an animated version of the beloved Khalil Gibran poem, with different directors handling each chapter and The Lion King‘s Roger Allers doing the connective narrative. In RICKI AND THE FLASH (TriStar) Meryl Streep stars as a woman who gave up everything to be a rock goddess. Now returning home to connect with her family, she finds that it’s not an easy task to win back the trust of those she turned her back on; Diablo Cody wrote this by the way. SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE (Lionsgate/Aardman) is the feature length debut of one of Aardman’s iconic characters.

August 14, 2015

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (Universal) is the musical biography of NWA, one of hip-hop’s most essential and decorated groups of all time. UNDERDOGS (Weinstein) finds the foosball players come to life from a table owned by a would-be hero. He will need their help in order to save his town from an old rival and win back the woman he loves.

August  21, 2015

BEFORE WE GO (Radius) stars Chris Evans and Alice Eve as two strangers stuck in New York for the night who embark on an unexpected adventure that will bring them together. Evans directed this limited release. In CRIMINAL (Summit) the memories of a dead CIA agent are implanted in an unpredictable Death Row inmate in a desperate attempt to forestall a catastrophe. Ryan Reynolds stars. LEARNING TO DRIVE (Broad Green) is about a woman who after being left by her husband decides to get self-sufficient and learn to drive a car. Her driving instructor however turns out to teach her a lot more than just driving – as she teaches him a few things as well. ME BEFORE YOU (MGM) is based on a best-selling novel in which a simple small town girl ends up being the caretaker for a billionaire who has become paralyzed. Opening in limited release, SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY (Clarius) is about a major Broadway producer who falls in love with a spunky ingénue which is not happy news for his wife who is also an actress.

August 28, 2015

REGRESSION (Dimension) is based on the true story of a young woman who accused her father of  an unspeakable crime – and he quickly confessed to it but upon further investigation the truth proves to be more twisted than at first thought. WAR ROOM (TriStar) examines the role of prayer on a single American family.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (Disney/Marvel) Budget: $170M. Domestic Gross: $333.2M Total: $774.2M Verdict: Blockbuster.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Paramount) Budget: $125M. Domestic Gross: $191.2M Total: $485.0M Verdict: Hit.
EXPENDABLES 3 (Lionsgate) Budget: $90M. Domestic Gross: $39.3M Total: $206.2M Verdict: Made Money.
INTO THE STORM (New Line) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $47.6M Total: $160.6M Verdict: Hit.
SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (Dimension) Budget: $65M. Domestic Gross: $13.8M Total: $39.4M Verdict: Flop.
ONE CHANCE (Weinstein) Budget: $12M. Domestic Gross: $101,196 Total: $10.9M Verdict: Flop.
THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY (Touchstone) Budget: $22M. Domestic Gross: $54.2M Total: $88.9M Verdict: Big Hit.
WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL (TriStar) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $30.1M Total: $30.1M Verdict: Broke Even.
THE GIVER (Weinstein) Budget: $25M. Domestic Gross: $45.1M Total: $67.0M Verdict: Made Money.
LET’S BE COPS (20th Century Fox) Budget: $17M. Domestic Gross: $82.4M Total:$137.6M Verdict: Big Hit.
NOVEMBER MAN (Relativity) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $25.0M Total: $32.6M Verdict: Broke Even.
IF I STAY (Warner Brothers) Budget: $11M. Domestic Gross: $50.5M Total: $78.3M Verdict: Big Hit.
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW (Universal) Budget: $5M. Domestic Gross: $21.3M Total: $40.2M Verdict: Big Hit.
LIFE AFTER BETH (A24) Budget: $2.4M. Domestic Gross: $88,273 Total: $246,804 Verdict: Flop.
LUCY (Universal) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $126.7M Total: $458.9M Verdict: Blockbuster.

So there it is, all wrapped up in a shiny bow just for you. The summer blockbuster season kicks off on Friday and from here on out it’ll be something to look forward to just about every week. Now, while I’m sure you’re already planning your moviegoing schedule for the summer, please do keep in mind as always that NO schedule is set in stone and that studios are wont to move movies to new dates without notice, particularly the farther out they are. There will be a good number of movies in this preview that will be bumped out to the fall or further and some may be removed from the schedule completely without explanation. Chances are within a week of this being posted there will already have been some changes. However, that shouldn’t stop you from making plans to see some or even many of the big summer flicks. After all, part of the ritual of summer is an air-conditioned multiplex, a big summer movie and a big tub of buttery popcorn with an ice-cold soda to wash it down with. You can get further details on films with our weekly previews and our monthly Pick of the Litter series and of course Cinema365 will be out on the front lines bringing you reviews of as many of these as we can get to. And it doesn’t end there – at the end of August look for our Fall/Holiday preview as we get set to take a look at the movies to see in the last four months of the year, which will include the very anticipated return of the Star Wars saga as J.J. Abrams presents the sequels to the original trilogy, a new James Bond film, the final installment in The Hunger Games saga, the long-awaited Guillermo del Toro horror epic Crimson Peak and much, much more. Until then, we’ll be looking for you at the multiplex!

Sayonara, Four-Warned


Some of you may have noticed that our regular monthly preview feature Four-Warned has not yet appeared for April. That’s because, effective immediately, it has been discontinued.

The reasons for it are pretty compelling. First of all, it has become an enormous amount of work and takes up an even more enormous amount of time I can no longer afford to give it. In addition, the Coming Soon section covers a lot of  that territory and while it may not be as detailed as Four-Warned, it will at least give you a heads-up on what’s out there and what’s forthcoming.

This won’t effect the weekly New Releases or the Summer, Fall/Winter and Annual Previews which will continue to appear. However, just because I’m not completely willing to give up the sweet punishment of pulling together Four-Warned, there will be a new feature starting in May which I’m going to probably not call Pix, although that is the working title at the moment. In the new feature, I will be choosing three or four indie movies of merit that you may not have heard of unless you’re a very well-informed film buff, plus one Blockbuster of the Month – a wide studio release that I think is most worthy of your attention if you only see one movie that month.

Hopefully that will be a little easier for you to choose from among a handful of picks rather than having to plow through three dozen mini-previews and of course, if you’re curious about a title in the Coming Soon list, you can always drop me a line at cinema365@live.com or leave a comment on the Coming Soon page and I’d be glad to answer your questions as best I can or at least direct you someplace where you might find more information.

I did enjoy doing Four-Warned but with more movies being released non-theatrically and more movies coming out overall, it had become a chore that I no longer loved doing. Hopefully this will allow me to continue to provide a means of recommending less well advertised films without losing my sanity in the process.

Our Film Library 2015


Our Film Library 2015For the second year, Cinema365 is presenting a mini-series of four reviews based on films with a literary background. Movies based on books have been a Hollywood staple since back in the silent era and while the types of movies that come from books can be as varied as literature itself, so too can the quality. Here, we have a classic mystery, a horror story from a master of terror, an adventure novel with an oceanic bent and the conclusion to one of the most popular book series’ of all time.

It’s a varied bunch and like most books, they may connect with you or not but all of them may well take you to places you’ve never been and in the process may teach you something about life, or about yourself. A book can do that; so can a good movie.

So as you pull our first editions off the library shelf, do indulge in a quick read of my words describing the movies based on their words. Hopefully you’ll be moved to see the movie or even read the book. Reading is essential in firing up our imagination and rounding us out as people. I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the words of William Shakespeare, Stephen King, Robert A. Heinlein, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie, J.R.R. Tolkein, James Michener and an endless list of others who have transported me to strange worlds, shown me my own world in a different light, stirred my heart, tickled my funny bone and given me insight into the human condition.

We all need a break from life once in awhile and a book can provide that for you. So whether you read on a Kindle or a dog-eared used paperback scrounged from a used bookstore, take a few moments out of your day to exercise your brain and imagination with a book. It’s good for the soul.

Four-Warned: March 2015


The Second Best Exotic Marigold HotelEvery month I’m going to look at every movie on the release schedule and try to assign them a numerical value corresponding to how anxious I am to see it. The lower the number, the more I want to see it. A one means I would walk through hell and high water to see it; a four means there’s no interest whatsoever. The numbers are not arrived at scientifically but they aren’t arbitrary either.

The numbers aren’t a reflection of the artistic merit of any of these films, but merely a reflection of my willingness to go to a movie theater and see it. The top four scores will be gathered as a means of reflecting the movies I’m anticipating the most; you may use that as a guide or not.

Most of the movies will never play theatrically where you live (unless you live in either New York or Los Angeles) but many of those that won’t will be available through Video-on-Demand; check with your local cable or satellite providers to find out if any specific movie is available through that medium.

Each entry is broken down as follows:

NAME OF FILM (Studio) Genre A brief description of the plot. Release plans: Wide = Everywhere, Limited = In selected markets. RATING A brief comment

Keep in mind that release dates are extremely subject to change, even at this late date.

FOUR TO SEE
1. CHAPPIE (1.3)
2. THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT (1.4)
3. RUN ALL NIGHT (1.5)
4. CINDERELLA (1.7)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (1.0)
2. MAN FROM RENO (1.4)
TIE. MERCHANTS OF DOUBT (1.4)
4. KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER (1.5)
TIE. WHITE GOD (1.5)

RATING SYSTEM: 1) Must-see, 2) Should-see, 3) Perhaps-see, 4) Don’t-see

MARCH 4, 2015

THE LESSON (Film Movement) Genre: Drama. A teacher whose drunken lout of a husband has mortgaged their house to repair his junkyard car and is unable to find a legitimate means of paying off the debt must seek out a loan shark whose terms may be more than she can afford to pay. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 A morality play about modern economic desperation that may hit too close to home for some.

MARCH 6, 2015

A YEAR IN CHAMPAGNE (Goldwyn/IDP) Genre: Documentary. Six Champagne houses in France from major players like Bollinger to boutique labels are examined in this look at how the magic sparkling wine is made and marketed. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Looks fascinating at the tribulations of making a wine in a region which is just on the edge of where winemaking is possible, to how it has become connected with celebrations large and small.
BAD ASSES ON THE BAYOU (Goldwyn) Genre: Action. The third installment of the franchise finds senior ass-kickers Frank Vega and Bernie Pope headed to a wedding of a friend in Louisiana, only to find that chaos can happen even in Cajun Country. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Danny Trejo is always a hoot but this franchise may have already worn out its welcome.
BUZZARD (Oscilloscope) Genre: Dramedy. Forced to flee his home town for the urban danger zone of Detroit, a paranoid small time con man is forced to rely on his wits to survive. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Kind of an indie punk rock heavy metal caper film revolution which is fine if you’re into that kind of thing.
CHAPPIE (Columbia) Genre: Science Fiction. The development of a self-aware robot brings corporate and governmental powers that be down on the developer and the being itself. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.3 From the creator of District 9 comes his take on Isaac Asimov’s favorite subject.
FAULTS (Screen Media) Genre: Thriller. The parents of a young woman who has been brainwashed by a cult consult with one of the world’s foremost experts on mind control, who finds the situation isn’t anything like what he thought it would be. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 The trailer has a quirky sheen not unlike the Coen Brothers.
HAYRIDE 2 (Freestyle) Genre: Horror. When the serial killer Pitchfork escapes from custody, a manhunt ensues with the killer taking refuge in a hospital. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Doesn’t look to have added much to the traditional unkillable slasher genre.
KIDNAPPING MR. HEINEKEN (Alchemy) Genre: Crime Thriller. The true story of the kidnapping of a beer magnate whose captors would receive the highest ransom ever paid for an individual. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.0 Anything with the great Anthony Hopkins in it is going to be worth the effort to go see it.
THE LIFE AND MIND OF MARK DEFRIEST (City Drive) Genre: Documentary. When a legendary escape artist comes up for parole after 30 years behind bars, the shock becomes palpable when his original four year sentence for a minor offense is considered. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Has anyone mentioned that our justice system is completely broken?
LIKE SUNDAY, LIKE RAIN (Monterey) Genre: Drama. A 12-year-old musical prodigy of wealthy parents but a cold existence is cared for by a 23-year-old au pair who is a sometimes musician and a full-time rebel estranged from her own family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Played the Orlando Film Festival last year.
MERCHANTS OF DOUBT (Sony Classics) Genre: Documentary. Spin merchants with no qualifications whatsoever pass themselves off as scientific experts to debunk climate change, the effects of toxic chemicals and overuse of pharmaceuticals. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.4 And here I thought this was going to be a comedy.
OCTOBER GALE (IFC) Genre: Thriller. In an isolated cabin on the Canadian coast, a recently widowed doctor finds a man suffering from gunshot wounds hiding out from two men intent on killing him. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 A different kind of role for Patricia Clarkson; color me intrigued.
ROAD HARD (FilmBuff) Genre: Comedy. With his career in a shambles, a former movie/sitcom superstar is forced to return to a standup career on the road, which is not his cup of tea at all. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Wasn’t impressed with the trailer; this sounds like a great idea for a movie too.
THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Comedy. The plucky AARP warriors are back along with their ambitious young Indian hotel manager as the success of the retirement resort necessitates the creation of a second. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.0 The first movie was one of my favorites of 2011.
STRAIGHT OUTTA TOMPKINS (Indican) Genre: Drama. A Noo Yawk street kid tries to survive in the brutal urban jungle of junkies, cops and pushers. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Based on the young director’s own experiences which at least make it an interest just for authenticity.
THESE FINAL HOURS (Amplify/Well Go) Genre: Thriller. With the world ending in just a few hours, a pair of young people fight through a city gone mad to unite with loved ones before it all goes to hell. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Really nice idea but the trailer for this Aussie apocalyptic thriller didn’t look particularly scintillating.
TWO MEN IN TOWN (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. Released from prison, a troubled man uses his newfound Islamic faith to curb his violent impulses; the sheriff of the New Mexico town he lives in however thinks he won’t win that fight and goes on a campaign to get him jailed again – this time forever. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Forest Whitaker vs. Harvey Keitel? Sounds like a winner to me!
UNFINISHED BUSINESS (20th Century Fox) Genre: Comedy. After starting up a new company, a hot shot salesman finds that he’s competing with the ruthless corporation he left for an account that his new firm needs to survive. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 For whatever reason I’ve always found Vince Vaughn to make pretty decent movies; even when they’re bad, he’s decent.
X/Y (eOne) Genre: Drama. Caught in the cracks between Generations X and Y, a group of friends try to establish relationships in an era of technology and social media Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Has a lot of potential but needs to be light on the soap opera and heavy on the social commentary.

MARCH 10, 2015

BITE SIZE (Bond/360) Genre: Documentary. Childhood obesity is at epidemic levels; four kids from diverse backgrounds wage their own battle of the bulge in an attempt to beat the scale. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 We are a society obsessed with weight and image; kids these days are caught in between a rock (bullying) and a hard place (eating compulsions).

MARCH 13, 2015

3 HEARTS (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. After missing a train home to Paris, two Parisians make a connection in a provincial town but end up going their separate ways but when one unknowingly marries the other’s sister, sparks end up flying. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Nobody knows the ways of the heart like the French and given this is a master filmmaker with a strong cast, well, you do the math.
ALONGSIDE THE ROADWAY (Indican) Genre: Comedy. Two young people from two different cultures take a road trip together to the largest music festival in California. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Has that indie vibe that can be a little bit overly precious.
ANARCHY (Lionsgate) Genre: Crime Drama. Crooked cops and an outlaw biker gang collide in all-out war over drug trade supremacy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Based on Shakespeare’s play Cymbaline.
CHAMPS (Amplify/Starz Digital Media) Genre: Sports Documentary. Follows the careers of Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins, how all three took differing roads from some of the most horrifying circumstances imaginable to become world boxing champions. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Not just a look at triumph vs. adversity but also at one of the most corrupt and vicious businesses in sport.
CINDERELLA (Disney) Genre: Fantasy. The live action version of the timeless fairy tale in which a scullery maid, horribly abused by her wicked stepmother, is transformed by a fairy godmother into a mysterious beauty who catches the eye of the Prince. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 1.7 Lushly filmed by Kenneth Branagh but the trailer didn’t really wow me.
THE COBBLER (Image) Genre: Fantasy. Working in the same shoe repair shop that has been in his family for generations, a man discovers a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 An Adam Sandler fantasy that is coming out via the indie route; an interesting concept.
EVA (Weinstein) Genre: Science Fiction. A cybernetic engineer tasked with creating a realistic robot child develops a special bond with his niece. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Sounds fascinating and I really like Daniel Bruhl but couldn’t find a trailer.
HOME SWEET HELL (Vertical) Genre: Dramedy. When a man living the perfect life embarks on an extramarital affair, he has no idea what lengths his image-obsessed wife will go to in order to maintain the facade of the perfect marriage. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Patrick Wilson and Katherine Heigl are appealing leads.
IT FOLLOWS (Radius) Genre: Horror. Following an odd sexual encounter, a teenage girl has the inescapable feeling that something is following her and that something terrifying is closing in on her; and as it turns out, she’s right. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Turns the urban legend horror convention on its ear.
THE LOVERS (IFC) Genre: Adventure. In a coma following a diving accident while trying to save his wife, a young archaeologist finds himself in 18th century India where he is an English sea captain involved in a steamy romance with an Indian warrior. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 A love story transcending time from acclaimed director Roland Joffe.
MUCK (Anchor Bay) Genre: Horror. Teenagers fleeing an ancient evil in a burial ground find refuge in a house, only to discover something even more evil lurks there. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 One of those horror movies that you can tell will either be great or just awful.
RUN ALL NIGHT (Warner Brothers) Genre: Action. When an assassin saves his estranged son from being shot by the son of a mob boss – who happens to be his closest friend – he must take his none-too-happy boy under his wing for the night to avoid teams of thugs and crooked cops out to kill them both. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 Liam Neeson is the current king of the action stars.
SEYMOUR: AN INTRODUCTION (Sundance Selects) Genre: Documentary. Piano prodigy Seymour Bernstein, who retired from performing to concentrate on teaching, is profiled by actor Ethan Hawke who met Bernstein while dealing with his own stage fright issues. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 While ostensibly about the artistic impulse, it is also about life; very inspiring.
TREADING WATER (The Orchard) Genre: Romantic Comedy. Going through life with a rare condition that leaves him smelling like a fish, a young man tries to cope with an eccentric family, loneliness and a childhood crush that might be his saving grace. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Yet another indie film that looks like it takes its own quirkiness too seriously.
WALTER (eOne) Genre: Comedy. The son of God may be a movie ticket taker who has the ultimate responsibility to judge all who come into his theater which is fine until he meets a ghost stuck in Purgatory who wants a decision – Heaven or Hell – and he wants it now! Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.7 A pretty stellar cast and I have to admit the trailer is a lot better than I thought it’d be.
THE WRECKING CREW (Magnolia) Genre: Musical Documentary. One studio band played behind the Beach Boys, Frank and Nancy Sinatra, the Monkees and Sonny and Cher; they became legends in the industry and helped create rock and roll as we know it. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Another “unsung heroes” musical documentary but all of them have been very good to outstanding in quality.

MARCH 18, 2015

AMOUR FOU (Film Movement) Genre: Drama. During the German Romantic era, a poet sorely wants to link love and death in a suicide pact but his lover, a married woman, will have no part of it – until she discovers she’s contracted a terminal illness. Release Strategy: New York City. RATING: 3.1 Seems a little morbid and more than a little pretentious.
KUMIKO: THE TREASURE HUNTER (Amplify) Genre: Drama. A Japanese office worker, condemned to a humdrum life, sees a fictional movie and becomes convinced that it is a documentary and that there is treasure buried in North Dakota and journeys to America to find it. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles March 20). RATING: 1.5 Beautifully shot, this has the quirky quality of a Coen Brothers film, appropriately enough.

MARCH 20, 2015

BACKCOUNTRY (IFC Midnight) Genre: Thriller. After agreeing to go with her outdoorsy boyfriend on a camping trip, a city girl sees everything that can go wrong go wrong – a creepy stalker guy who has eyes for her, then her boyfriend gets hopelessly lost, then they wander into a bear’s territory. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 …and then a dinosaur leaps out of a trans-dimensional portal…just seems a little bit too much to me.
CAN’T STAND LOSING YOU: SURVIVING THE POLICE (Cinema Libre) Genre: Musical Documentary. The rise, fall and reunion tour of one of the seminal New Wave bands of the 1980s.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 One of my favorite bands from that era, always good to see footage you haven’t seen of a band you love.
CUPCAKES (Strand) Genre: Musical Comedy. Accidentally entered into the Universong competition as the representatives for Israel, a group of misfits set out to take the competition by storm – in their own unique style. Release Strategy: New York City. RATING: 2.4 There’s a disco-era kind of vibe that I found oddly charming in the trailer.
DANNY COLLINS (Bleecker Street) Genre: Dramedy. An aging singer-songwriter who hasn’t written a song in decades tries to resume writing music and reconnect with his estranged son after finding a long-lost letter written to him by John Lennon in the 1970s. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 A pretty impressive cast here with Al Pacino, Annette Benning, Bobby Cannavale, Jennifer Garner and Christopher Plummer.
THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT (Summit) Genre: Science Fiction. The power-hungry Erudite group go to war with the rebels led by Tris and Four to rule over what’s left of Chicago. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.4 I have to admit I liked the first movie but the trailers I’ve seen for this one are troubling.
DO YOU BELIEVE (Pure Flix) Genre: Faith Drama. Encountering an old time street corner preacher, a suburban pastor is shaken to the core by his visible faith; twelve people whose lives have taken different courses are about to intersect at the crossroads of the titular question. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Something to get the church crowd excited.
GROWING UP AND OTHER LIES (eOne) Genre: Comedy. On his last day in New York City, an artist and three of his buddies decide to recreate their moment of glory – a walk down the length of Manhattan but of course things don’t go quite as planned. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Kind of your typical indie 30-something deal with growing up ensemble thing.
THE GUNMAN (Open Road) Genre: Action. Betrayed by the international intelligence organization he worked for, an operative must survive in a hunt across Europe to clear his name and find out who is responsible. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 Sounds like a pretty typical spy film – only this one’s with Sean Penn.
HUNTING ELEPHANTS (XLRator) Genre: Comedy. Two Israeli rest home residents, a penniless English lord and a precocious 12-year-old plan to rob a bank. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Quirky Israeli comedy with, of all people, Sir Patrick Stewart in a supporting role.
JAUJA (Cinema Guild) Genre: Drama. In 19th century Argentina a Danish engineer arrives with his daughter to work for the Argentine army which is in the midst of a genocidal action in Patagonia; when she runs away with a soldier, he goes after her despite the hostile atmosphere. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 Beautifully shot and interesting concept; all this and Viggo Mortensen too.
LA SAPIENZA (Kino-Lorber) Genre: Drama. Trying to generate some passion, a middle aged architect and his bored wife travel to Italy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Looks very pretty from the trailer but get the sense this is very slow-paced.
THE LETTERS (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: Drama. The correspondence between Mother Teresa and her spiritual adviser Father Celeste van Exern over a 50 year period gives us insight into the woman behind the saint. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 The trailer hints at a very powerful spiritual experience.
LILY AND KAT (Mance) Genre: Dramedy. The friendship of two young women in New York is tested when one of them falls in love with an artist. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Looks a little bit vacuous and the characters more than a little shallow.
LOST AND LOVE (China Lion) Genre: Drama. 15 years after his two-year-old daughter was kidnapped, a dogged Chinese father continues the search for her. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 The more I see of Andy Lau the more I want to see.
SECRET OF WATER (Paladin) Genre: Documentary. Water makes up most of the planet and most of our bodies but we seem to as a species take it for granted; this documentary points out why that’s not a smart move. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Worthy subject for a documentary but no trailer anywhere.
SHE’S LOST CONTROL (Monument) Genre: Thriller. A sexual surrogate takes on a new client and finds her line between professional and personal beginning to blur. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Illustrates the vulnerability of a surrogate; looks to be quite gripping.
SPRING (Drafthouse) Genre: Horror. While in Italy fleeing his past, an American gets involved with an Italian girl, unaware that her own past harbors a dangerous secret. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 One of those heady films that throws knockout punches when you least expect them.
TRACERS (Lionsgate) Genre: Action. Deeply in debt to a violent gang, a parkour expert joins a crew that uses the discipline to pull of increasingly daring heists that throw him from the frying pan into the fire. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Very kinetic action sequences but looks pretty generic and with Taylor Lautner starring I’m definitely hesitant on this one.
THE WALKING DECEASED (ARC) Genre: Horror Spoof. The recent craze in zombie movies get their turn to be skewered by a spoof. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.4 I have to admit I’ve never seen a horror spoof I’ve liked but hope springs eternal.
ZOMBEAVERS (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: Horror. Groupies on the prowl for a good time get lost in a swamp infested with undead beavers.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 I’m beginning to think that we’re running out of ideas.

MARCH 25, 2015

THE KIDNAPPING OF MICHEL HOULLEBECQ (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Dramedy. Accidentally abandoned by his squad in Belfast in 1971, a British soldier struggles to make it back to his barracks over the course of a deadly night. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 A soldier caught behind enemy lines always makes for compelling drama.

MARCH 27, 2015

A GIRL LIKE HER (Parkside) Genre: Drama. The victim of a school bully secretly takes video footage of her bullying which threatens to tear their community apart. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Bullying has been a serious subject as of late in movies and on television; this is a different look at it.
THE BARBER (ARC Entertainment) Genre: Horror. A man on the hunt for a serial killer – not to capture but to become his protégé – finds one in a mild-mannered barber. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 I’ve always had a soft spot for Scott Glenn.
GET HARD (Warner Brothers) Genre: Comedy. Convicted of a white collar crime, a man who has lived a pampered and sheltered existence and has 30 days to get his affairs in order turns to the only black man he knows to get him ready for prison – despite the fact his friend is as upstanding a citizen as there is. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.8 Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart is a partnership I can get behind.
HOME (DreamWorks) Genre: Animated Feature. A well-meaning but kind of klutzy alien is hunted by his own people to the place where he has taken refuge – Earth. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D). RATING: 2.0 Seems an awful lot like Lilo and Stitch to me with only some minor character differences.
MAN FROM RENO (Gravitas) Genre: Mystery. Two people – one a small town sheriff, one a best-selling mystery writer taking a breather from a brutal book tour, both encounter a mysterious Japanese man who disappears without a trace. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.4 I think I could get into the noir element that this movie seems to embrace.
NIGHTLIGHT (Lionsgate) Genre: Horror. Five teens camping in the woods for a night of flashlight games and ghost stories awaken a slumbering evil that will have them fighting for their lives. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.2 Judging from the trailer this is another found footage horror movie; hope the movie is better than the trailer.
THE RIOT CLUB (IFC) Genre: Drama. Students at Oxford are recruited for an underground society which promises wealth and luxury but descends into an orgy of violence. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 Based on an actual club at Oxford that counts current Prime Minister David Cameron among its alumni.
SALT OF THE EARTH (Sony Classics) Genre: Documentary. Photographer Sebastiao Salgado has turned the focus of his lens from great events in human history to chronicling pristine places on Earth to pay tribute to the planet’s beauty – while these places still exist. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 The Oscar-nominated doc from acclaimed filmmaker Wim Wenders.
SERENA (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. In the 1920s, a North Carolina timber baron’s marriage is threatened when his wife learns about secrets from his past. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Reunites Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence from American Hustle.
WELCOME TO NEW YORK (IFC) Genre: Drama. The business trip of a French banker to New York descends into debauchery, ending in a shocking event. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Based on an actual incident that grabbed headlines all around the world not that long ago.
WHILE WE’RE YOUNG (A24) Genre: Drama. A middle-aged couple seems to have things figured out until they are befriended by a younger couple. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles (expanding in April). RATING: 2.1 Noah Baumbach is a director to be reckoned with, particularly when he has a cast that includes Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Amanda Seyfried and Adam Driver.
WHITE GOD (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. When the State turns against dogs, dogs turn back against the State. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 Looks like a great movie, but as a soft-hearted dog lover I don’t know how well I’ll be able to handle it.
A WOLF AT THE DOOR (Outside) Genre: Thriller. The ultimate parental nightmare happens to a Brazilian couple; their daughter has been picked up by a strange woman from school and has disappeared but what makes things even worse is that it is discovered that the husband has been having an extramarital affair and his paramour may be involved. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Sounds like a compelling drama but the trailer is oddly unexciting.

MARCH 31, 2015

TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS (Sony Classics) Genre: True Life Drama. Hooked on drugs, a young Orlando teen makes a heroic effort to kick her habit and inspires others to create a foundation to help kids just like her. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Was the 2012 Florida Film Festival opening night film, finally getting a theatrical and VOD release; you can read my review of the movie, which was then entitled Renee here.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Chappie, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Unfinished Business, Cinderella, Run All Night, The Wrecking Crew, Danny Collins, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, The Gunman, Get Hard, Home