300: Rise of an Empire


Eva Green sends a message to those critics who didn't like her latest movie.

Eva Green sends a message to those critics who didn’t like her latest movie.

(2014) Swords and Sandals (Warner Brothers) Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro, Jack O’Connell, Andrew Tiernan, Igal Naor, Andrew Pleavin, Ben Turner, Ashraf Barhom, Christopher Sciueref, Steven Cree, Caitlin Carmichael, Jade Cynoweth, Kevin Fry, Nancy McCrumb. Directed by Noam Munro

The original 300 depicted the historic Battle of Thermopylae (albeit taking some fairly liberal factual liberties) and in doing so, made a huge star out of Gerard Butler and director Zack Snyder, helped resurrect the Swords and Sandals genre (along with the Oscar-winning Gladiator) and showed how a movie made nearly entirely of CGI could be not only technologically possible but economically viable as well.

While Snyder is around for this sequel as a producer and writer only, this tells more or less a parallel story of the Athenian general Themistocles who was victorious at the Battle of Marathon at which the Persian emperor Darius (Naor) was killed by an arrow fired by Themistocles himself. His son and heir, Xerxes (Santoro) was manipulated by his most talented and vicious general Artemesia (Green) – who is of herself Greek descent – into ascending into a role as God-Emperor, which apparently makes you ten feet tall in the process.

While Xerxes is attacking King Leonidas (Butler, in flashback) at Thermopylae, Artemesia has engaged a small and ragtag Greek fleet made up mainly of fast, maneuverable Athenian ships along with a few motley vessels supplied by the other city-states of Greece who despite the peril represented by the vast army of the Persian empire are suspicious and quarrelsome among themselves. While Themistocles has some success at sea, the wily Artemesia lures his fleet into a trap and decimates it, leaving it with a handful of ships. As Xerxes gloats over his defeat of Leonidas and his burning of Athens, Artemesia brings her fleet in to finish off the Greeks once and for all – and after failing to move the grieving Queen Gorgo (Headey) of Sparta to help her fellow Greeks, Themistocles knows that Artemesia might well do just that.

This is made in the same style as the original 300 with lots of green screen, lots of digital effects, plenty of CGI blood splatters, bare-chested Spartans with six-pack abs and enough testosterone flowing to drown Australia. It’s the kind of movie that is meant to make it’s young male gamer/fanboy target audience beat their chests and grunt, a knuckle-dragging epic in which the only major female character has a bare-breasted wild sex scene with her supposed enemy that was more violent than sexy but less violent than it was improbable (yes Lena Headey is also in the movie but only for a few scenes).

What differentiates this from 300 is that for all its macho posturing, the original film had at least some semblance of humanity, actual characters who the audience could latch onto and even care about. Here, mostly the players are cannon fodder, hurled into a meat grinder of sharp blades, battle axes, spears, flaming arrows and sinking ships, gobbets of flesh dripping gore arcing in a graceful parabola through the air after being carved from shrieking soldiers. I can’t deny that there is a certain gratification in it, a primitive caveman reaction that is both visceral and appalling, but it must be dutifully cataloged if one is to be honest.

While the dialogue tends more towards jingoism, I also will be the first to admit that the visuals are impressive. You’d swear that you were watching titanic battles being fought in rolling storm-driven seas but the reality was that the actors had not a drop of real water on them – the ocean and the ships are all CGI. About the only thing that wasn’t CGI in the movie was Eva Green’s breasts and I have my doubts about those too.

Green does acquit herself the best and that is the only kindness I can spare the acting which is for the most part over-the-top and melodramatic. Green seems to be having a good time as a badass and it shows. She utters the most cringe-worthy dialogue with a straight face and her smiles drip venom as you would expect from an excellent villain. Stapleton doesn’t have the charisma that Butler has, at least not yet. His Themistocles did a lot of shouting but didn’t really inspire me to want to follow him into battle so his abilities as a leader of men were sharply called into question at least from my vantage point.

I have to mark this down as one of the year’s first disappointments – every year provides several such in the movie calendar. Unfortunately, Snyder was a bit too busy resurrecting the Superman franchise to put in the time and effort to direct this and while his hand is evident in the production end, certainly this didn’t have the wow factor that would make me want to see the third movie in the franchise (one is reportedly in the pipeline should the box office warrant it). In the end, this is a feast for the eyes but does little for the soul beyond providing some instantly forgettable entertainment.

REASONS TO GO: Impressive CGI.

REASONS TO STAY: Lacks a Gerard Butler to keep the audience’s attention. A little too mannered and over-the-top. Hardly any human element to the story.

FAMILY VALUES:  If the fake blood hadn’t been CGI there would have been enough to fill one of the Great Lakes with it. There’s also a ton of hack/slash violence, a good bit of nudity and sexuality, and a bit of foul language.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: While the titles say that the film is based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel series Xerxes, the screenplay was written concurrently with the graphic novel which has yet to be published and has said to have changed massively since the film was made.

CRITICAL MASS: As of 3/19/14: Rotten Tomatoes: 33% positive reviews. Metacritic: 40/100.

COMPARISON SHOPPING: Pompeii

FINAL RATING: 5/10

NEXT: The Bridge to Terabithia

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New Releases for the Week of March 7, 2014


300:  Rise of an Empire

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

(Warner Brothers) Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Hans Matheson, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro, Jack O’Connell. Directed by Noam Murro

Following the defeat of the 300 Spartans by the Persian army at Thermopylae, the massive invasion force has Athens in its sights and will attack by land and by sea. The Greek general Themistokles will face the same long odds as Leonidas but losing to Xerxes and his vengeful general Artemesia will mean losing all of Greece to the Persian scourge.

See the trailer, clips, interviews, featurettes, B-roll video and a promo here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard, 3D, IMAX (opens Thursday)

Genre: Swords and Sandals

Rating: R (for strong sustained sequences of stylized bloody violence throughout, a sex scene, nudity and some language)

The Great Beauty

(Janus) Toni Servillo, Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilli, Carlo Buccirosso. A wealthy novelist in Rome contemplates the missed opportunities of his past, the empty existence of his present and the squalor, corruption and beauty that is the Eternal City. Some have called this Fellini-esque but one thing is for certain – this won the Best Foreign Film Golden Globe and Oscar.

See the trailer and a clip here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Dramedy

Rating: NR

Mr. Peabody and Sherman

(DreamWorks) Starring the voices of Ty Burrell, Allison Janney, Patrick Warburton, Stephen Colbert. The world’s smartest dog lives with his talking boy. However when Sherman (said talking boy) in an attempt to impress his friend Penny takes Mr. Peabody’s time machine out for a spin, he creates an instability in the space-time continuum that will take all of Mr. Peabody’s intellect and courage to fix – not to mention some parenting skills. It must be said however that if my boy created an instability in the space-time continuum, he’d be in time-out until he was forty.

See the trailer, a clip and a promo here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Animated Feature

Rating: PG (for some mild action and brief rude humor)

Total Siyapaa

(Reliance) Ali Zafar, Yami Gautam, Anupam Kher, Kiron Kher. A young man has fallen in love with an Indian girl living in London. He goes to her parents home for a weekend with the intention of asking for their blessing of the union. They seem to be taking well to him until they find out his dirty little secret – he’s Pakistani. Total chaos ensues as he tries to overcome their prejudices – and his own – in winning back the love of his life.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Bollywood

Rating: NR

War of the Worlds: Goliath

(Anderson Digital) Starring the voices of Adrian Paul, Adam Baldwin, Peter Wingfield, Mark Sheppard. Following the unsuccessful Martian invasion of the Victorian era, the human race has attempted to rebuild their shattered world using the captured technology of the defeated Martians. As is the nature of the human nature, a return to “civilization” has meant that we are all at each other’s throats and a war on a global scale – the war to end all wars – is about to erupt after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. All that must be put aside when the Martians return with even more advanced technology and inoculation against the bacteria that killed them the first time. Can we survive another invasion – and more importantly, can we survive ourselves?

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Animated Feature

Rating: PG-13 (for fantasy war violence including some disturbing images)

Four-Warned: March 2014


The Grand Budapest 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. 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (1.3)
2. NOAH (1.5)
3. DIVERGENT (1.6)
4. SABOTAGE (1.9)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (1.0)
2. THE MISSING PICTURE (1.2)
3. ENEMY (1.4)
TIE. JOURNEY TO THE WEST (1.4)
TIE. CHEAP THRILLS (1.4)
TIE. THE RAID 2 (1.4)

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

MARCH 5, 2014

PARTICLE FEVER (BOND360/Abramorama) Genre: Documentary. Scientists embark on the most expensive and ambitious experiment in human history to find the Higgs boson – the so-called God particle, responsible for the creation of matter after the Big Bang. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 The science geek in me is absolutely fascinated.

MARCH 7, 2014

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (Warner Brothers) Genre: Swords and Sandals. The Persians, fresh from their victory at Thermopylae, launch a massive invasion of Greece by the sea. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D, IMAX). RATING: 1.3 Not sure how this will fare without Zack Snyder at the helm but looking forward to it anyway.
A FAREWELL TO FOOLS (Monterey Media) Genre: Dramedy. In a small Romanian village during World War II, a German soldier is murdered and the villagers scramble to give them a culprit before the morning comes and random villagers are shot. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 A dark farce about human nature starring Gerard Depardieu and Harvey Keitel – should be pretty good.
BETHLEHEM (Adopt) Genre: Drama. The complex relationship between an Israeli secret service agent and his teenage Palestinian informant grows strained. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Looks extremely tense and gritty; could be another great film coming out of Israel.
THE FACE OF LOVE (IFC) Genre: Romance. Several years after the loss of her husband, a widow meets a man who is the exact double of her deceased husband. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 An amazing cast includes Annette Bening, Ed Harris and Robin Williams.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Comedy. In between the wars, a legendary concierge at a grand European hotel becomes the focus of an investigation of a priceless stolen painting and a vast family fortune. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.0 The latest from Wes Anderson looks to be his best yet.
GRAND PIANO (Magnet) Genre: Thriller. A one-time classical piano prodigy whose career has been derailed by stage fright finds himself as a target at his triumphant return concert. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Reminds me a little bit of Phone Booth but with John Cusack and Elijah Wood heading it up, I’m willing to give it a shot.
HAUNT (IFC Midnight) Genre: Horror. When a pair of teens explore their budding sexuality, they inadvertently trigger the opening of an alternate and thoroughly frightening dimension in the house. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Looks like a pretty good haunted house flick.
IN FEAR (Anchor Bay) Genre: Horror. A young couple get lost in a maze of country roads and are stalked by an unseen tormentor. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.9 A gripping psychological horror film from the UK that looks to be one of the most nightmare-inducing films of the year.
JOURNEY TO THE WEST (Magnolia) Genre: Martial Arts. In a world plagued by demons, a young demon hunter must atone for his sins and find the meaning of Greater Love to save the people of the world. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Stephen Chow, the director of Kung Fu Hustle, directs an ode to the martial arts fantasies of Tsui Hark.
MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN (DreamWorks) Genre: Animated Feature. The world’s smartest dog must set things right when his boy and an out-of-control friend accidentally rip a hole in time. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.6 Based on the beloved Jay Ward cartoons of the 60s, must walk a tightrope between pleasing modern audiences and retaining the elements that its original audience loved.
SPECIAL I.D. (Well Go USA) Genre: Martial Arts. An undercover cop placed deep in a ruthless crimelord’s organization must risk everything to protect his own family and secret identity. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Star Donnie Yen is considered to be the heir to the throne of Jackie Chan and Jet Li as Asia’s leading action star.
TOTAL SIYAPAA (Reliance) Genre: Bollywood. A young man’s attempts to impress a well-to-do Indian family living in London whose daughter he is eager to marry begin to unravel when they discover that he is Pakistani. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Light, fluffy and entertaining – like most Bollywood productions.
WAR OF THE WORLDS GOLIATH (Anderson Digital) Genre: Animated Feature. After the events of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, the Martians attack again and the surviving humans use their leftover technology to defend themselves.. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 A great idea but the animation looks like a cross between mediocre anime and ten year old videogame.

MARCH 14, 2014

THE ART OF THE STEAL (Radius) Genre: Crime Comedy. An art thief agrees to pull one last job but gets double crossed by his untrustworthy brother. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 The kind of movie I grew up watching Kurt Russell rock; It’s really good to see him back in the saddle again.
BAD WORDS (Focus) Genre: Comedy. The National Spelling Bee is up in arms over a ruthless 40-year-old who uses a loophole to enter and a take-no-prisoners approach to crush his competition. Release Strategy: Limited (expanding March 21, opening wide March 28). RATING: 2.0 Jason Bateman makes his directing debut with a smart move – casting Jason Bateman in the lead.
BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY (Goldwyn) Genre: Dark Comedy. The drug-fueled extramarital affair of a small town pharmacist turns his life upside down. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 I’ll see Sam Rockwell in just about anything.
BEWAKOOFIYAAN (Yash Raj) Genre: Bollywood. The father-in-law of a financial whiz kid doesn’t think he’s good enough for his spendthrift daughter. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.9 Bollywood films are beginning to make a box office impact in the US and this might be the year they truly break out.
BIG MEN (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. A documentary filmmaker follows an oil exploration crew as they negotiate with warlords in Ghana and make a remarkable discovery. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.5 Sounds fascinating but couldn’t find a trailer online.
THE COLD LANDS (Cinereach) Genre: Drama. After his fiercely self-reliant mom dies unexpectedly, an eleven-year-old boy is forced to make an unlikely alliance with a pot-smoking drifter. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.5 Sounds like an interesting premise but I couldn’t find a viable trailer anywhere online for it.
DARK HOUSE (Paladin) Genre: Horror. A house with a sinister presence calls to a man with a terrifying gift – and at stake is the life of his unborn son. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.5 Once again, couldn’t find a trailer for this film online.
THE DEN (IFC Midnight) Genre: Thriller. While researching underground internet chat sites, a grad student witnesses a vicious murder. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 I like the premise an awful lot; I hope they do something with it.
ENEMY (A24) Genre: Thriller. After discovering a minor actor in a film is his exact double, a university lecturer engages him in a dangerous struggle for identity. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 I like Jake Gyllenhaal a lot and Denis Villeneuve, director of Prisoners, is one of the most promising talents out there.
ERNEST & CELESTINE (GKIDS) Genre: Animated Feature. The unlikely friendship between a bear and a mouse. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.8 This Oscar-nominated feature from the makers of The Triplets of Belleville is absolutely gorgeous animation.
EXPOSED (Self-Released) Genre: Documentary. Performance art and burlesque meld as artists use their own nude bodies as a canvas. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 Controversial filmmaker Beth B. takes on a subject of the sometimes blurry line between art and pornography.
GUILTY OF ROMANCE (Olive) Genre: True Life Drama. A disturbing murder links three Japanese women – a faithful wife, a police detective and a college professor – in a tale of scandal and sex that shocked Japan in the 1990s. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.0 Acclaimed Japanese director Shion Sono uses an over-saturated color palate and a willingness to “go there” to provoke and disturb.
HIMIZU (Olive) Genre: Drama. Abandoned and abused by his parents, a teenage boy and his girlfriend embark on a spree of killing of those who cause harm to society. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.6 Loosely based on a best-selling manga, this one has all the earmarks of a great Yakuza film.
LE WEEK-END (Music Box) Genre: Drama. An older couple revisits Paris for the first time since their honeymoon in an effort to rekindle their marriage. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Jim Broadbent and Jeff Goldblum are among my favorite actors.
NEED FOR SPEED (Screen Gems) Genre: Action. An ex-con imprisoned for a . Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 2.9 I’m wondering if this will turn out to be an action version of Cannonball Run.
ON MY WAY (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Drama. An aging beauty queen facing the pitfalls of life turns a short drive to clear her mind into a road trip. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 1.7 Catherine Deneuve proves that not only is she still beautiful but she is still one of the best actresses ever.
PATRICK: EVIL AWAKENS (Phase 4) Genre: Horror. A new nurse in a psych ward becomes fascinated by a brain dead patient who is the subject of some cruel experiments, but finds herself embroiled in a horror beyond imagining. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Looks like it could be a taut little scarefest.
THE RIGHT KIND OF WRONG (Magnolia) Genre: Romance. A man famous for the flaws his ex-wife blogs about falls madly in love with a woman on her way to her own wedding. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 Actually looks kind of amusing and any movie with Catherine O’Hara in it is bound to at least be worth a look.
SHIRIN IN LOVE (Sideshow) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A young Iranian-American woman betrothed to a wealthy Beverly Hills plastic surgeon falls for an enigmatic lighthouse keeper in Northern California instead. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 For some reason the trailer didn’t exactly reel me in.
TEENAGE (Oscilloscope Labs) Genre: Documentary. A look at the inner thoughts and secret dreams of teenagers of the first half of the 20th century as told through diary and journal entries. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 A paean to adolescent outrage – and teenage arrogance.
TYLER PERRY’S SINGLE MOM’S CLUB (Lionsgate) Genre: Dramedy. Five single moms struggling to make it form an impromptu support group and their new-found sisterhood helps them overcome their personal obstacles to happiness. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.5 Tyler Perry strikes again!
U WANT ME 2 KILL HIM? (Weinstein) Genre: Thriller. Two 16-year-old boys trying to get vengeance for the death of a friend attract the attention of MI5. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Based on a true story, this looks like another amazing British thriller.
VERONICA MARS (Warner Brothers) Genre: Mystery. Having moved on from her amateur sleuth days in high school, Veronica is drawn in to that life again when a friend is suspected of murder. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 You have to admire the persistence of the creative crew and their loyal fan base for even getting this made.

MARCH 19, 2014

THE MISSING PICTURE (Strand) Genre: Documentary. A courageous filmmaker attempts to fill in the blanks using archival footage and intricately carved figurines to depict the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.2 An Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language film, this looks to rival this year’s The Act of Killing.

MARCH 21, 2014

50 TO 1 (Self-Released) Genre: Sports Drama. A group of New Mexico cowboys take on horse racing’s elite when their horse qualifies against all odds for the Kentucky Derby. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.1 Looks like a fairly typical sports underdog movie with faith-based overtones.
A BIRDER’S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING (Screen Media) Genre: Comedy. When a teenage birding fanatic thinks he’s made the discovery of a lifetime, he risks everything on a road trip to secure his place in birding history. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.1 A coming of age film that could be either illuminating or another “kids-are-smarter-than-adults” hack job.
ANITA (Goldwyn) Genre: Documentary. The story of Anita Hill whose testimony against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas ignited a firestorm of controversy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 That victims of sexual harassment are still often the ones put on trial is absolutely shameful.
BLOOD TIES (Roadside Attractions) Genre: Thriller. Two brothers – one a cop, one a criminal – find their lives inevitably entwined in 1970s New York City. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.2 Looks gripping and with a cast that includes Clive Owens, Zoe Saldana, James Caan and Billy Crudup this could be one of those sleeper must-sees.
CHEAP THRILLS (Drafthouse) Genre: Thriller. A down-on-his-luck family man and an old friend are roped into performing increasingly twisted dares in order to make some cash. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 A delightfully twisted black comedy that appeals to my inner jackass.
DIVERGENT (Summit) Genre: Science Fiction. In a dystopian future when people are segregated by their dominant personality type, a young woman who is unclassifiable – divergent – falls in with a revolutionary underground. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.6 One gets the sense that these folks want to be the next Hunger Games franchise.
THE FRENCH MINISTER (Self-Released) Genre: Comedy. A frenetic French minister hires a young writer to do his speech writing in the midst of a global crisis. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.0 Based on a French graphic novel and with the incredible Bernard Tavernier at the helm and Niels Arestrup in a supporting role this one piques my interest.
IT FELT LIKE LOVE (Variance) Genre: Drama. A young 14-year-old girl spending her summer in Brooklyn determines to emulate the sexual exploration of her best friend and ends up in a dangerous situation with the wrong people. Release Strategy: New York City (opening in Los Angeles March 28). RATING: 1.8 Appears to be a very gritty and raw portrait of the realities of teen sexuality; could be very intense.
JODOROWSKY’S DUNE (Sony Classics) Genre: Documentary. The legendary but doomed attempt to film the Frank Herbert novel Dune in the mid-70s by cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo) is documented with some never-before-seen concept artwork. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.5 One of the greatest unmade movies of all time; seeing what might have been is absolutely mind-blowing.
JOHN DOE: VIGILANTE (Main Street) Genre: Thriller. As a man accused of being a vigilante killer of unconvicted murderers awaits the verdict of his trial, a reporter seeks to find out the real truth about John Doe. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 The question of justice vs. vengeance remains a germane topic in these times of Stand Your Ground.
JUST A SIGH (Distrib) Genre: Romance. On the way to an audition in Paris, an actress becomes intensely drawn to a mysterious man she meets on a train. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles April 28). RATING: 2.3 Beautifully romantic, indubitably French.
MALADIES (Tribeca) Genre: Dramedy. After his career as a soap opera star has stalled, an actor tries to resurrect himself in 1960s New York City. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Decent cast that includes James Franco, David Strathairn, Catherine Keener and Alan Cummings makes this worth a look.
MC CANICK (Well Go USA) Genre: Crime Drama. Following his release from prison, a seemingly harmless petty criminal is hunted down by a ruthless police detective whose past indiscretions the ex-con can expose. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 A taut thriller in which nobody is as he seems – and with David Morse, one of my favorite character actors, in the lead.
MUPPETS MOST WANTED (Disney) Genre: Family. Kermit the Frog is mistaken for the world’s most dangerous criminal. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.1 Looks like it lacks the charm and humor of the last movie.
NYMPHOMANIAC VOLUME 1 (Magnolia) Genre: Drama. An aging bachelor discovers a badly beaten girl in an alleyway; while he tends to her wounds she tells him her story Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 The films of Lars van Trier do absolutely nothing for me; I’ll be giving this and it’s companion a miss.
ROB THE MOB (Millennium) Genre: Thriller. Brazen lovers rob mob businesses where guns are forbidden and inadvertently discover a secret that puts their lives at risk from the FBI AND the mob. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 With a cast that includes Ray Romano, Andy Garcia and Michael Pitt, could be worth taking a gander.

MARCH 28, 2014

BOYS OF ABU GHARIB (Vertical) Genre: Thriller. After being assigned guard duty at the notorious Abu Gharib prison, a small town soldier finds himself in a bewildering miasma where right and wrong begin to blur. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 Looks awfully intense; if done right could be a landmark film.
BREATHE IN (Cohen Media Group) Genre: Romantic Dramedy. The arrival of a beautiful and musical British exchange student adds chaos to the home of a staid upstate New York family. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.8 Has the poignancy and bittersweet beauty of a late summer rainstorm.
CESAR CHAVEZ (Pantelion) Genre: Biographical Drama. Chronicles the life and times of one of the most polarizing figures in agriculture and one of organized labor’s leading lights. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.3 Directed by the actor Diego Luna with Michael Pena in the title role.
FINDING VIVIAN MAIER (IFC) Genre: Documentary. A historian who discovered thousands of negatives of a photographer with rare insight and an amazing eye tries to discover the woman behind the camera. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 One of the great mysterious of modern photography is why this woman chose to hide herself and her art away.
MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS (Abramorama) Genre: Documentary. An aspiring horror director makes a documentary about his brother, lead singer for the indie rock sensations The National. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.7 Not so much about rock and roll as it is about living in the shadow of a brother who seems destined to leave you behind.
NOAH (Paramount) Genre: Biblical Drama. A pious man is warned by God that the world is about to end and that only his family and two of each animal species will be spared to repopulate the world; he sets about building an ark and is thought mad. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.5 From visionary director Darren Aronofsky, stars Russell Crowe in the title role.
THE RAID 2 (Sony Classics) Genre: Action. After fighting his way out of a building full of gangsters, a rookie Jakarta cop must go deep undercover in those very same gangs in order to protect his family from revenge by the bigger fish in the underworld pond. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 1.4 Same director, same lead actor, same amazing martial arts action.
REFUGE (Strand) Genre: Drama. Abandoned by their parents, a young woman tries to raise her younger siblings while working a crap job but after meeting a young man with a harrowing past realizes that he might hold the key to building a real family again. Release Strategy: New York City (opens in Los Angeles April 4). RATING: 2.5 Sounds very interesting but couldn’t find a trailer.
SABOTAGE (Open Road) Genre: Action. After a successful bust of a major Mexican drug cartel, a DEA team begins to get picked off one by one after some of the money seized turns up missing. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 1.9 Arnold Schwarzenegger could use a hit that isn’t an Expendablesmovie.

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
300: Rise of an Empire, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, Bad Words, Need for Speed, Divergent, Muppet’s Most Wanted, Noah, Sabotage

2014 Preview


2014 PreviewOnce again the box office pulled in record numbers for the second consecutive year as 2013 rolled in with a bang and out with one as well. While the quality of the summer blockbusters was disappointing, there were enough good movies out there to keep the ticket takers busy. This year was also the end of an era as Blockbuster shut the doors on the last of their video stores, confirming that streaming had become the home video delivery method of choice. While cable and satellite continued to do strong numbers, that was mainly due to original programming and less to Hollywood blockbusters.

This year Marvel continued to dominate with big numbers for Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. DC also finally got a non-Batman hit as Man of Steel did big enough numbers to warrant a sequel. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire looks to surpass the original’s box office frenzy and has become the newest major franchise for Hollywood to plant their flag in. Despicable Me 2 surprisingly became the highest grossing animated feature of the year, although Frozen may well surpass its total eventually but probably not until we’re into 2014 if it does at all. Alphonso Cuaron’s Gravity was also a surprise hit, although those who saw it were not surprised at all.

While most fanboys and studio execs are rubbing their hands in anticipation of 2015, that doesn’t mean that 2014 will be without some movies to look forward to. As always, Cinema365 will do our level best to see as many of the films that come to Orlando as our schedule will permit. We’ll also be reconfirming our commitment to cover the Florida Film Festival as completely as we’re able – the 2013 edition provided movies that were on independent release schedules for much of the rest of the year and popped up theatrically throughout 2013. We’ll also try to catch movies we’ve missed in the theaters on DVD, although our stated goal of one review every day falls under the category of best intentions.

Before we get to the good stuff, the usual words of warning. While we do our best to give you the most accurate information regarding release dates, Hollywood – like any good woman – frequently changes their mind. Literally within a few weeks of this being posted there will have already been several changes and the farther out in the preview the film appears, the more likely it is to have had its release date changed. Look back at the end of 2014 at the calendar here and you’re not likely to recognize it. Check our weekly preview for more accurate information about what is coming out in the Orlando area (which includes all wide releases) and our monthly Four-Warned feature for more detailed information about independent releases.

So let’s fire up the Delorean and take a trip into 2014. Buckle your seat belts – it’s likely to be an amazing ride!

JANUARY

The year begins with the holiday holdovers dominating the box office and the multiplex screens, although some films that have had Oscar-qualifying runs in December see wide release in January. Most of the rest are cast-offs and low-budget horror movies that the studios generally have low expectations for. However, there are generally a few movies (particularly towards the end of the month) that are known to be a cut above, either in quality or box office appeal. This year we’ll see an offshoot of a popular found footage horror franchise and a graphic novel interpretation of a classic literary character.

I, FrankensteinDON’T MISS

I, FRANKENSTEIN
RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2013
STUDIO: Lionsgate
STARRING: Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovsky, Miranda Otto, Jai Courtney, Socratis Otto, Caitlin Stasey, Mahesh Jadu.
STORY: A war has erupted between the demonic and the stone gargoyles who are vigilant over the affairs of men. Caught in the middle is a creature whose immortality is at the crux of the struggle and could tip the balance either one way or the other. The monster in question: none other than the legendary creation of Frankenstein.
PROSPECTS: The Underworld movies have done pretty well in the January slot and the involvement of the producers and creators of that franchise are likely to show stylistically in the movie. Fans of big effects-driven franchises will also likely be casting their eyes about for something new as the latest installments of The Hobbit and The Hunger Games will have about run their course by the time this comes out.
OBSTACLES: Eckhart really hasn’t had a breakout hit movie of his own yet to establish that he can shoulder a franchise on his shoulders, although he did well in The Dark Knight. The Frankenstein monster hasn’t really been the subject of a box office hit in nearly 70 years.
FACTOID: The movie was originally scheduled for release in August but Lionsgate moved it out to January to allow work on the extensive CGI to be completed properly.

SHOULD SEE

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES
RELEASE DATE: January 3, 2014
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Andrew Jacobs, Molly Ephraim, Richard Cabral, Carlos Pratts, Eddie J. Fernandez, Jorge Diaz, David Fernandez Jr., Kimberly Ables Jindra
STORY: A Latino family faces a demonic incursion with videocameras as they attempt to document the strange events happening to them.
PROSPECTS: The name recognition of the franchise should bring people into the theaters, enough to recoup the modest production costs quickly. That there wasn’t an installment of the main franchise this past Halloween may whet the appetites of devotees even further.
OBSTACLES: A complete offshoot of the original mythology of the series may be off-putting to some fans.
FACTOID: The lost tapes from Paranormal Activity 3 act as a linking device with this film.

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT
RELEASE DATE: January 17, 2014
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh, Peter Andersson, David Paymer, Colm Feore, Nonso Anozie, Gemma Chan
STORY: A young CIA analyst named Jack Ryan discovers a monstrous plot by a Russian terrorist to subvert the Western financial markets and throw the economies of the West into chaos.
PROSPECTS: The Tom Clancy series has enjoyed a great deal of success over the years and is popular with older audiences who tend to stay away from the multiplex in the summer.
OBSTACLES: This is a complete reboot of the film series with all-new actors in every role. This is the first Jack Ryan film in 11 years.
FACTOID: This is the first film in the franchise not to be based on a specific book written by Tom Clancy.

MIGHT SURPRISE

GIMME SHELTER
RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2014
STUDIO: Roadside Attractions
STARRING: Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser, James Earl Jones, Ann Dowd, Dascha Polanco, Stephanie Szostak
STORY: A young homeless pregnant teen finds her way into a suburban shelter where she finds comfort, empowerment and a connection with her fellow residents. This enables her to find leadership capabilities and maturity that she never knew she had in her.
PROSPECTS: A strong cast and a fair amount of buzz make this a possible indie breakout hit in a month where there are few prospects for such.
OBSTACLES: May appeal more to the female filmgoer than the male. Has the star power but the subject matter may keep audiences away.
FACTOID: Has nothing to do with the Rolling Stones song or concert film of the same name.

ALSO

January 1, 2014

THE RAILWAY MAN (Weinstein) is based on a true story of a British Army officer who is tormented in a prisoner of war camp during World War II by a Japanese soldier. Decades after the war he discovers that soldier is still alive and sets out to confront him, but that confrontation doesn’t go the way he imagined it would.

January 3, 2014

OPEN GRAVE (Tribeca) stars Sharlto Copley as a man who wakes up in a pit full of dead bodies with no memory of how he got there. Fleeing to a nearby farmhouse, he discovers it is inhabited by others who have had exactly the same experience. As they try to discover what has happened to them, they find that there is an even greater threat that is hungrier than they could possibly imagine. Opening in limited release.

January 10, 2014

THE LEGEND OF HERCULES (Summit) is the first of two films on the mythological Greek hero. This one stars Kellan Lutz and is directed by Renny Harlin and is more of an origin story of the iconic legend.. HER (Warner Brothers) features Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely socially awkward man in the near future who develops a passion for his personalized operating system. Directed by Spike Jonze so you know it’s off-beat. LONE SURVIVOR (Universal) is based on a true story of four Navy SEALs who go on a mission to Afghanistan and wind up ambushed. Their mutual sacrifice for one another and their bravery under fire show how truly amazing our men and women in uniform are. Mark Wahlberg stars.

January 15, 2014

GENERATION WAR (Music Box) opens in limited release and explores five different people in Nazi Germany at the height of the Second World War. There are those full of patriotic fervor, those living in terror as Jews, those who have ambitions of stardom and those who are swept up in the tides of history.

January 17, 2014

In DEVIL’S DUE (20th Century Fox), a new husband obsessively documents his wife’s pregnancy but as the days count down to her due date, her actions become more and more disturbing and he soon realizes that sinister forces may well be at work. NUT JOB (Open Road) is an animated feature about an ambitious squirrel who after inadvertently destroying the winter food supply of his fellow squirrels seizes upon an idea to rob a nut store. In RIDE ALONG (Universal) a man who wants to marry the sister of a cop and aspires to be one himself must go on a ride along with his prospective brother-in-law to prove his worth – in the most dangerous neighborhoods of Atlanta. Kevin Hart and Ice Cube star in this comedy. JAMESY BOY (Phase 4/XLRator) which opens in limited release concerns a young street kid who ends up in jail. There he meets a convicted murderer who becomes his protector and mentor, turning his life around in the most unexpected way.

January 31, 2014

LABOR DAY (Paramount) is about a reclusive mother and her son, reeling from tragedy. Into their lives comes an escaped convict who turns out to be not what he seems. Originally coerced into harboring him, they find that in the brief span of a holiday weekend he is changing their lives forever. In THAT AWKWARD MOMENT (Focus) three friends in a show of support for one who’s been heartbroken determine to give up dating. However that turns out to be far more easier said than done.

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.

THE GANGSTER SQUAD (Warner Brothers) Budget: $60 Million. Domestic Gross: $46.0M Total: $105.2M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE LAST STAND (Lionsgate) Budget: $45M. Domestic Gross: $12.1M Total: $48.3M Verdict: Lost Money.
HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (Paramount/MGM) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $55.7M Total: $225.7M Verdict: Hit.
JOHN DIES AT THE END (Magnolia) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $141,951 Total: $141,951 Verdict: Probably Lost Money.
MAMA (Universal) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $71.6M Total: $146.4M Verdict: Big Hit.
TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (Lionsgate) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $34.3M Total: $39.1M Verdict: Likely Broke Even.
BROKEN CITY (20th Century Fox) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $19.7M Total: $19.7M Verdict: Flop.
MOVIE 43 (Relativity) Budget: $6M. Domestic Gross: $8.8M Total: $29.9 Verdict: Hit.
PARKER (FilmDistrict) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $17.6M Total: $42.2 Verdict: Lost Money.
A HAUNTED HOUSE (Open Road) Budget: $2.5M. Domestic Gross: $40.0M Total: $59.9 Verdict: Hit.

FEBRUARY

After a first month of the year that is generally quiet, a few loud noises begin to emerge as a long weekend and the prospect of Valentine’s Day (this year falling on a Friday) make the studios start to put out some of their better releases. This year we can expect a reboot of an 80s classic, a Liam Neeson action movie, a franchise wanna-be on a hit young adult book series (where have we heard that before?), an epic disaster movie and a delayed but anticipated movie that was thought to be a leading Oscar contender this past year.

PompeiiCAN’T MISS

POMPEII
RELEASE DATE: February 21, 2014
STUDIO: TriStar
STARRING: Kit Harrington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Paz Vega, Jessica Lewis, Jared Harris, Kiefer Sutherland
STORY: A slave turned gladiator falls in love with the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant who is betrothed to a corrupt senator of Rome in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius whose eruption will wipe Pompeii from the map.
PROSPECTS: Harrington is an up-and-comer who impressed on Game of Thrones. Disaster movies always tend to pique the movie-going audience’s interest and swords and sandals movies are hot this year.
OBSTACLES: In addition to this there are two Hercules movies and a 300 sequel so some may wait for the two upcoming S&S entries to come out. Harrington is an unproven box office commodity.
FACTOID: The teaser trailer for the movie was released six months before the release date and on co-star Carrie-Anne Moss’ birthday.

SHOULD SEE

THE MONUMENTS MEN
RELEASE DATE: February 7, 2014
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville
STORY: Near the end of World War II a small group of art historians, architects and artists attempt to save Europe’s great works of art from being destroyed by the Nazis. Based on a true story.
PROSPECTS: Definitely has the star power to bring in some decent box office numbers. Damon has already done a successful movie set during the war in Saving Private Ryan.
OBSTACLES: Sad to say that general audiences might not care about saving art. Was originally scheduled for a Holiday release but pushed out to February which might lead one to wonder whether the studio has any confidence in it.
FACTOID: Daniel Craig was originally cast in the Matt Damon role but had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts.

ROBOCOP
RELEASE DATE: February 12, 2014
STUDIO: MGM/Columbia
STARRING: Joel Kinnaman, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Jackie Earle Haley, Jay Baruchel, Jennifer Ehle
STORY: When a Detroit cop is critically injured in the line of duty, a robotics corporation seizes the opportunity to save his life and add some modifications. With new abilities, he has the ability to sweep crime from the streets but is he more machine than man?
PROSPECTS: A remake of a popular 1987 movie, the premise is even more timely given the drone technology that has become a recent controversy. Robot movies tend to do well these days.
OBSTACLES: What worked in 1987 may not necessarily work in 2014. Kinnaman is an unknown quantity as a lead actor.
FACTOID: Miguel Ferrer appears in both movies although in different roles.

MIGHT SURPRISE

THE WIND RISES
RELEASE DATE: February 28, 2014
STUDIO: Touchstone
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Martin Short, Mandy Patinkin, Stanley Tucci, William H. Macy
STORY: Jiro dreams of flying but his nearsightedness rules out being a pilot. Instead he becomes an engineer and designs incredible planes.
PROSPECTS: The latest and last film from the legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki. Considered a favorite to win an animated feature Oscar at the next Oscar ceremony.
OBSTACLES: Anime has not yet found a large general audience in America.
FACTOID: Most of the sound effects were created with human voices.

ALSO

February 7, 2014

THE LEGO MOVIE (Warner Brothers) brings the play toy, long a staple of direct-to-video animation, to the big screen with classic characters from the playset, ONE CHANCE (Weinstein) which opens in limited release is the unlikely story of opera singer Paul Potts who went from being an unknown shop assistant to a national sensation in the UK after winning the TV show Britain’s Got Talent.

February 14, 2014

ABOUT LAST NIGHT (Screen Gems) is an updated version of the classic 80s romantic comedy. Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy and Regina Hall star. ENDLESS LOVE (Universal) is not an updated version of the classic 70s romantic adventure. Instead, it’s the story of a beautiful young woman from a wealthy family who falls in love with a working stiff against the wishes of her father who tries everything in his power to keep the two separated. Good luck with that. VAMPIRE ACADEMY (Weinstein) is based on the bestselling young adult book series about a vampire princess and her human protector in an exclusive private school for bloodsuckers. Shouldn’t this be on the CW? WINTER’S TALE (Warner Brothers) stars Colin Farrell and Jennifer Connelly in a story of an ageless man who spans generations in New York City and the star-crossed love he holds for a desperately sick young woman.

February 21, 2014

3 DAYS TO KILL (Relativity) features Kevin Costner as a brilliant spy and assassin who yearns to spend more time with his family but must complete one last assignment before retiring – which unfortunately coincides with his promise to watch his teenage daughter while his wife is out of town. IN SECRET (Roadside Attractions) is the latest version of the Emile Zola novel Therese Raquin to hit movie theaters. A sexually repressed housewife embarks on an illicit affair that has far-reaching and tragic consequences. An all star cast headlines this limited release.

February 28, 2014

In NON-STOP (Universal) an Air Marshal tries to foil an extortionist’s plot on board a Transatlantic flight only to discover that he himself is being framed for the crime. Liam Neeson stars. SON OF GOD (20th Century Fox) comes from The Bible producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett and covers the life of Jesus Christ. WELCOME TO YESTERDAY (Paramount) is a found footage thriller about some teens who discover a time machine. Their innocent messing around will lead to catastrophic consequences. Damn kids!

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (20th Century Fox) Budget: $92 Million. Domestic Gross: $67.4M Total: $304.7M Verdict: Hit.
IDENTITY THIEF (Universal) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $134.5M Total: $174.0M Verdict: Blockbuster.
BULLET TO THE HEAD (Warner Brothers) Budget: $55M. Domestic Gross: $9.5M Total: $9.5M Verdict: Major Flop.
NO (Sony Classics) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $2.3M Total: $2.3M Verdict: Probably Made Money.
WARM BODIES (Summit) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $66.4M Total: $117.0M Verdict: Hit.
ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH (Weinstein) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $57.9M Total: $71.0M Verdict: Lost Money.
SNITCH (Summit) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $42.9M Total: $42.9M Verdict: Broke Even.
DARK SKIES (Dimension) Budget: $3,5M. Domestic Gross: $17.4M Total: $26.4M Verdict: Hit.
SAFE HAVEN (Relativity) Budget: $28M. Domestic Gross: $71.4M Total: $71.4M Verdict: Lost Money.
BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (Warner Brothers) Budget: $60M. Domestic Gross: $19.5M Total: $60.1M Verdict: Lost Money.
SIDE EFFECTS (Open Road) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $32.2M Total: $32.2M Verdict: Lost Money.

MARCH

As we hop into spring the studios hope that audiences will find films worth hopping into theaters over. There are some impressive offerings this year including the big screen debut of a beloved small screen cartoon, a big budget videogame adaptation, the sequel to a Frank Miller classic graphic novel, a Biblical epic and a young adult science fiction franchise kicking off.

DivergentCAN’T MISS

DIVERGENT
RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2014
STUDIO: Summit
STARRING: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ray Stevenson, Mekhi Phifer, Maggie Q, Zoe Kravitz, Ashley Judd, Miles Teller, Jai Courtney
STORY: In a future where people are divided into factions by their personality traits, a courageous young woman who doesn’t fit into any single faction threatens the entire order of things. She meets up with an underground movement and starts up a revolution against insurmountable odds.
PROSPECTS: Has many of the elements that made the Hunger Games series a major success – a popular book series, an up-and-coming young actress, a plucky heroine and a dystopian future. Could well be the next big film franchise.
OBSTACLES: So many young adult book series don’t translate into box office numbers. Last year’s The Host should be a warning to filmmakers who don’t believe that.
FACTOID: Woodley and Ansel Elgort played sister and brother here. In The Fault in Our Stars scheduled to come out later in 2014 they’ll play girlfriend and boyfriend.

SHOULD SEE

NOAH
RELEASE DATE: March 28, 2014
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Marton Csokas
STORY: A devout man is chosen by God to build an ark that will save his family and the animals on the Earth before an apocalyptic flood destroys everything.
PROSPECTS: Biblical epics are coming back into style as Christian audiences are exerting more clout at the box office.
OBSTACLES: Not sure how much director Darren Aronofsky will play to religious audiences.
FACTOID: Crowe and Connelly played husband and wife previously in A Beautiful Mind.

MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN
RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2014
STUDIO: DreamWorks Animation
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Ty Burrell, Ariel Winter, Allison Janney, Max Charles, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Stanley Tucci, Patrick Warburton, Lake Bell
STORY: A precocious talking dog invents a time machine which his boy promptly takes out on a joyride to impress his friend, causing a hole to rip in time. Mr. Peabody will have to fix the damage or risk the entire universe vanishing into the hole.
PROSPECTS: Parents will remember fondly the Jay Ward cartoon from the ’60s. Their kids will only see the talking dog.
OBSTACLES: Kids who are less familiar with the classic cartoon may be less excited to see this. The 3D animation might put off purists.
FACTOID: Robert Downey Jr. was considered for the voice of Mr. Peabody.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE
RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2014
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING : Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, David Wenham, Rodrigo Santoro, Hans Matheson, Jack O’Connell, Callan Mulvey
STORY: After his victory at Thermopylae, King-turned-God Xerxes turns loose his vengeance-crazed admiral Artemesia on the Athenians. The odds overwhelming against the Greeks, General Themistocles devises a bold plan.
PROSPECTS: 300 was a game-changer and a box office blockbuster. Although Zach Snyder isn’t directing he is producing and Frank Miller will be involved again as well.
OBSTACLES: Eight years have passed since 300 was released and there’s no telling if audiences are all that eager to see the sequel at this point.
FACTOID: Gym Jones who trained the actors who played Spartans in the first film had the same function for the sequel.

NEED FOR SPEED
RELEASE DATE: March 14, 2014
STUDIO: DreamWorks
STARRING: Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper, Ramon Rodriguez, Rami Malek, Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, Michael Keaton, Dakota Johnson
STORY: An underground race driver set up and jailed for manslaughter is released from prison, intent on clearing his name but more importantly getting revenge.
PROSPECTS: Based on a hit videogame franchise.
OBSTACLES: Based on a hit videogame franchise.
FACTOID: The drive-in theater depicted in the film is a real working drive-in movie theater in Georgia, one of only four left in the state.

MIGHT SURPRISE

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
RELEASE DATE: March 7, 2014
STUDIO: Fox Searchlight
STARRING: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Matthieu Almaric, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray
STORY: The world’s best concierge takes a mere lobby boy under his wing amidst the scandal of a stolen painting in pre-War central Europe.
PROSPECTS: Wes Anderson’s last film, Moonrise Kingdom, was a critical and commercial hit.
OBSTACLES: Wes Anderson is also a very acquired taste.
FACTOID: This marks the seventh occasion Bill Murray has been cast in a Wes Anderson film.

ALSO

March 7, 2014

In GRAND PIANO (Magnet) Elijah Wood plays a concert pianist who hasn’t performed for years due to acute stage fright. Making his first concert appearance since the onset of his illness, he finds himself literally in the sights of a crazed sniper who will kill him at the first wrong note. Talk about a critic! HAUNT (IFC Midnight) is a haunted house movie with a twist; the sexual awakening of the teenage son of the family living there triggers the opening of an alternate dimension. Pretty much how it works in real life, right? Both of these horror flicks are opening in limited release and VOD.

March 14, 2014

TYLER PERRY’S SINGLE MOMS CLUB (Lionsgate) finds a group of single moms from all walks of life uniting after a disturbing incident at their children’s school. Perry headlines a star-studded cast. GRACE OF MONACO (Weinstein) features Nicole Kidman in the title role of the beautiful actress who became the fairy tale princess of a dashing young heir to the throne of Monaco, but behind the scenes all is not necessarily a happily ever after. VERONICA MARS (Warner Brothers) brings the cult hit TV show to the big screen in limited release. Famously the recipient of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, the new film finds Veronica in law school and still up to her detective tricks. Kristen Bell and most of the rest of the original cast returns.

March 21, 2014

NYMPHOMANIAC PART ONE (Magnolia) is the first part of Lars von Trier’s latest film (opening in limited release) about a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac discovered by a bachelor badly beaten on his doorstep. As he nurses her back to health she recounts her erotic escapades. Part Two opens on April 18th. MUPPETS MOST WANTED (Disney) finds Kermit the Frog mistaken for a world famous criminal and only his fellow Muppets will be able to clear his name. He’s clearly in big trouble. In STRETCH (Universal) a limo driver trying to pay off a big debt gets a stroke of luck – a reclusive billionaire in the back of his car. However the rich man’s somewhat bizarre tastes may turn this savior fare into a final nightmare. A BIRDER’S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING (Screen Media) stars Kodi Smit-McPhee as an obsessive 15-year-old birdwatcher who believes he’s found the discovery of a lifetime. Eager to cement his place in birding history, he runs away on the eve of his father’s remarriage to seal the deal. Opens in limited release.

March 28, 2014

A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 (Open Road) is the second round of the Marlon Wayans-pended horror spoof. CESAR CHAVEZ (Pantelion) chronicles the early years of the legendary labor leader’s career organizing the largely Latino farm workers of California. Michael Pena stars in the title role. In limited release is THE RAID 2 (Sony Classics) which picks up where the hit Indonesian action film left off with supercop Rama going undercover in one of Jakarta’s most notorious criminal gangs.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL (Disney) Budget: $215 Million. Domestic Gross: $234.9M Total: $493.3M Verdict: Made Money.
THE CROODS (20th Century Fox) Budget: $135M. Domestic Gross: $187.2M Total: $587.2M Verdict: Big Hit.
G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (Paramount) Budget: $130M. Domestic Gross: $122.5M Total: $375.7M Verdict: Hit.
JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (New Line) Budget: $195M. Domestic Gross: $65.2M Total: $197.7M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE HOST (Open Road) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $26.6M Total: $48.2 Verdict: Lost Money.
STOKER (Fox Searchlight) Budget: $12M. Domestic Gross: $1.7M Total: $12.1 Verdict: Lost Money.
TYLER PERRY’S TEMPTATION: CONFESSIONS OF A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR (Lionsgate) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $52.0M Total: $53.1M Verdict: Likely Made Money.
OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (FilmDistrict) Budget: $70M. Domestic Gross: $98.9M Total: $161.0M Verdict: Made Money.
THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE (Warner Brothers) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $22.5M Total: $22.5M Verdict: Flop.
ADMISSION (Focus) Budget: $13M. Domestic Gross: $18.0M Total: $18.0M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (Focus) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $21.4M Total: $35.5M Verdict: Made Money.
21 AND OVER (Relativity) Budget: $13M. Domestic Gross: $25.7M Total: $45.6M Verdict: Hit.
DEAD MAN DOWN (FilmDistrict) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $11.0M Total: $18.1M Verdict: Flop.
THE LAST EXORCISM PART II (CBS) Budget: $5M. Domestic Gross: $15.2M Total: $15.2M Verdict: Hit.

APRIL

As the weather warms up and the rebirth of spring paves the way for the advent of summer, Hollywood begins to allow some early blockbusters to lead the charge. Marvel starts out early this year with the third film in their Phase II film slate and Johnny Depp stars in a thriller about artificial intelligence. Also look for the latest DisneyNature film and the sequel to a hit animated feature.

Captain America: The Winter SoldierCAN’T MISS

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
RELEASE DATE: April 4, 2014
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
STARRING: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Hayley Atwell, Toby Jones
STORY: Trying to adjust to life in the modern world, Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America finds himself facing a shadowy enemy in Washington DC who has set out to destroy SHIELD and with it, the United States and discovers that a familiar face is now a foe.
PROSPECTS: The Marvel cinematic universe train shows no signs of slowing down. Captain America: The First Avenger was one of the best movies of the franchise thus far.
OBSTACLES: The Russo Brothers have replaced Joe Johnston as director. Part of the appeal of the first movie was how well it got the period right; now we’ll see Cap in an entirely modern venue.
FACTOID: A deleted scene from The Avengers in which Cap finds out the fates of Peggy Carter and his commando team has been included here.

SHOULD SEE

RIO 2
RELEASE DATE: April 11, 2014
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, will.i.am, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Jamie Foxx, Kristin Chenoweth, Andy Garcia
STORY: Blu, Jewel and their three kids are torn from their beloved Rio de Janeiro into the wilds of the Amazon rainforest and must learn to cope with the most terrifying life form of all – the father-in-law.
PROSPECTS: The original Rio was one of Fox’s most popular animated films, particularly among Latinos which is recently proving to be a moviegoing force. Not a lot of competition in theaters for family films.
OBSTACLES: Lacks the marketing support found for Disney and DreamWorks animated films.
FACTOID: The species of Blu and Jewel is based on the Spix’s Macaw which is believed to be extinct in the wild and of which less than 100 are known to exist in captivity, although Brazilian authorities have initiated an aggressive breeding program in hopes of bringing the species back from the brink of extinction.

TRANSCENDENCE
RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2014
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, Cole Hauser, Cillian Murphy, Clifton Collins Jr.
STORY: A scientist eager to take the next leap forward in artificial intelligence is forced by circumstances to have his own personality placed in a computer with potentially devastating results.
PROSPECTS: Depp provides star power and there are some parallels to the first Iron Man film which might resonate with fans.
OBSTACLES: These sorts of “thinking person” science fiction films have not tended to do well at the box office and there is an unusual amount of competition this month.
FACTOID: This is the directing debut of Wally Pfister, cinematographer for (among others) most of Christopher Nolan’s films.

SABOTAGE
RELEASE DATE: April 11, 2014
STUDIO: Open Road
STARRING: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Williams, Mireille Enos, Sam Worthington, Harold Perrineau, Terrance Howard, Joe Manganiello, Max Martini
STORY: An elite DEA task force begins to get picked off and murdered on by one. After it is discovered that there is a substantial amount of money missing from their last bust, the survivors are being chased by their own government as well as the bad guys – or might be the same people.
PROSPECTS: It’s Arnold, after all. A pretty decent supporting cast and some good action moments in the trailer.
OBSTACLES: Arnold doesn’t have the box office pull he once had. In fact, he’s desperately in need of a hit.
FACTOID: Enos’ role was originally given to Malin Akerman who had to drop out due to pregnancy and Enos was given the part.

MIGHT SURPRISE

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
RELEASE DATE: April 11, 2014
STUDIO: Sony Classics
STARRING: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright, Carter Logan
STORY: An underground musician reunites with his lover amid a world spiraling down into chaos in a story that has taken centuries to write.
PROSPECTS: Director Jim Jarmusch is one of the original independent directors and has a fairly passionate cult following.
OBSTACLES: A passionate cult following doesn’t necessarily translate to box office numbers. Also this is one of Jarmusch’ most mainstream offerings which might alienate some of his fan base.
FACTOID: The house next door to the bar where much of the action was filmed was torched for the insurance money shortly after filming ended.

ALSO

April 5, 2014

ISLAND OF LEMURS: MADAGASCAR (Warner Brothers) takes us to one of the largest islands in the world and to the indigenous lemur colony that lives there. This one is coming to us in IMAX. DOM HEMINGWAY (Fox Searchlight) is an English crime caper about a safecracker who after a stint in prison looks to even the score after he gets out. Jude Law stars in this limited release.

April 11, 2014

It’s DRAFT DAY (Summit) for the hapless Cleveland Browns (art imitates life) and the GM of the club, which possesses the top draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft is under enormous pressure to make a splash. Kevin Costner stars. ST. VINCENT (Weinstein) stars Bill Murray as a hedonistic war veteran who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young boy suffering through his parents’ divorce.

April 14, 2014

ALAN PARTRIDGE (Magnolia) opens in limited release and features Steve Coogan in his signature role from English television as an opinionated DJ who finds himself held hostage when a fellow DJ takes over the station after learning he’s being let go.

April 16, 2014

HEAVEN IS FOR REAL (Tri-Star) is based on the incredible true story about the toddler who had a near death experience and came back claiming he went to heaven and knowing things that he couldn’t possibly know. His father, a small town pastor and volunteer firefighter, is tested in ways he never could have predicted by his son’s notoriety.

April 18, 2014

BEARS (DisneyNature) is the fifth in the annual Earth Day series of nature films, this time concerning itself with a family of grizzlies in Alaska. In OCULUS (Relativity) a woman attempts to exonerate her brother who was convicted of murder by proving that the crime was actually committed by a supernatural power. Good luck with that.

April 25, 2014

In EARTH TO ECHO (Relativity) three young boys start receiving strange messages on their cell phones. Further investigation leads them to discover an alien being who needs their help. E.T., phone home!!! THE OTHER WOMAN (20th Century Fox) stars Cameron Diaz as a woman who discovers her boyfriend is married to another woman. When she meets the wife, she finds out to her surprise that they have a lot more in common than the two-timer – he’s cheating on the both of them with yet another woman. The three of them decide to get their revenge and no guys, it won’t be pretty. THE QUIET ONES (Lionsgate) is loosely based on actual events in which an unorthodox professor of physics sets his students the task of creating a poltergeist – and they do. WALK OF SHAME(Focus) has a beautiful young reporter who has aspirations for the big time left stranded in L.A. after a one-night stand with a handsome stranger with no car, no cash, no wallet and just eight hours to make it to the interview for her dream job.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

OBLIVION (Universal) Budget: $120 Million. Domestic Gross: $89.1M Total: $286.2M Verdict: Broke Even.
42 (Warner Brothers) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $95.0M Total: $95.0M Verdict: Made Money.
PAIN AND GAIN (Paramount) Budget: $26M. Domestic Gross: $49.9M Total: $86.2M Verdict: Hit.
THE COMPANY YOU KEEP (Sony Classics) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $5.1M Total: $19.4M Verdict: Probably Broke Even.
THE HEAT (20th Century Fox) Budget: $43M. Domestic Gross: $159.6M Total: $229.9M Verdict: Blockbuster.
THE BIG WEDDING (Lionsgate) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $21.8M Total: $21.8M Verdict: Flop.
SCARY MOVIE 5 (Dimension) Budget: $20M Domestic Gross: $32.0M Total: $78.4M Verdict: Hit.
EVIL DEAD (TriStar) Budget: $17M. Domestic Gross: $54.2M Total: $97.5M Verdict: Big Hit.
THE LORDS OF SALEM (Anchor Bay) Budget: $1.5M. Domestic Gross: $1.2M Total: $1.2M Verdict: Lost Money.

SUMMER

It might not seem like it now as we head into the dead of winter but on the horizon is the hot weather and hotter blockbusters of summer. This will be the first year in quite a while that there will be no Pixar movies in the multiplexes but there will be three different movies from Marvel, several big budget sci-fi epics, a legendary movie monster and movie villain both getting reboots, action films and comedies galore and of course family movies to keep the kids excited and their parents losing their minds to get the new merchandise and movie tickets all summer long. We’ll have a more detailed preview in April for the summer but here’s a taste.

Edge of TomorrowCAN’T MISS

EDGE OF TOMORROW
RELEASE DATE: June 6, 2014
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton, Jeremy Piven, Ciaran Hinds, Noah Taylor, Lara Pulver, Charlotte Riley, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Kick Gurry, Tony Way
STORY: An inexperienced soldier, killed within minutes in a suicide mission against a superior alien invading force, is caught in a time loop, improving his skills with each replay until he is within grasp of the key to winning the war.
PROSPECTS: Cruise still has plenty of box office magic. Science fiction remains a box office force.
OBSTACLES: Alien invasion movies have typically been of shoddy quality of late. The general public will be unfamiliar with the source material, a Japanese novel.
FACTOID: The Jeremy Piven character wasn’t added until re-shoots.

SHOULD SEE

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2013
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Campbell Scott, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field, Embeth Davidtz, Colm Feore, Chris Cooper
STORY: The emergence of Spider-Man has brought new villains to New York City and at last the inevitable happens; Peter Parker must fight a villain that is far more powerful than he is.
PROSPECTS: The Spider-Man franchise has been successful throughout all its incarnations and it shows no sign of slowing down now. With the main Marvel movies (how do you like that alliteration Stan Lee?) opening in April and August, ASM2 has the first week of the summer blockbuster season all to itself.
OBSTACLES: With no less than five Marvel movies (including the animated Big Hero 6) coming out this year there may be some burnout.
FACTOID: Shailene Woodley was cast as Mary-Jane Watson and filmed scenes but it was decided to make Gwen Stacy the main love interest and hold out Mary-Jane until Amazing Spider-Man 3 currently scheduled for 2016.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
RELEASE DATE: May 23, 2014
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult
STORY: The X-Men of two generations fight for the survival of their species across time as Wolverine must travel into the past to stop an apocalyptic future from transpiring.
PROSPECTS: Brian Singer is back at the helm of the X-Men and has one of the most popular storylines from the comic book to work with and two sets of X-Men from the original trilogy and from X-Men: First Class to play with. The trailer looked absolutely fantastic.
OBSTACLES: See The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
FACTOID: Hugh Jackman as Wolverine has appeared in every X-Men movie, the only actor to have done so. This, his seventh appearance as the character is the most that the same actor has played a single character from a comic book in movie history.

MALEFICENT
RELEASE DATE: May 30, 2014
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING: Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Kenneth Cranham
STORY: A pure-hearted and beautiful young enchantress is ruthlessly betrayed in her fierce protection of the forest kingdom and swears vengeance on the King who betrayed her and his descendants.
PROSPECTS: Maleficent is one of Disney’s most iconic villains and Jolie is a perfect fit for the role. Again, the trailer looked compelling.
OBSTACLES: Storybook fantasy has been somewhat overexposed lately with ABC-TV’s Once upon a Time and Wonderland.
FACTOID: The actress playing Princess Aurora as a young girl is Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, the daughter of Jolie and Brad Pitt.

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
RELEASE DATE: June 27, 2014
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, Jack Reynor, Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, Li Bingbing, Kelsey Grammer, Sophia Myles, T.J. Miller, Titus Welliver, Peter Cullen
STORY: Following the final battle in Chicago in which it seemed the Decepticons were defeated for good, Optimus Prime is faced with a new Decepticon threat.
PROSPECTS: There is still a lot of love out there for the Transformers. Mark Wahlberg is a step up from Shia LaBeouf.
OBSTACLES: An entirely new cast but Michael Bay is still the director which might make for some continuity problems for some fans.
FACTOID: The Dinobots will make their first appearance in the film series.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
RELEASE DATE: June 13, 2014
STUDIO: DreamWorks
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, Djimon Honsou, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrara, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig
STORY: Hiccup the Viking and his dragon Toothless take on the power-hungry Drago who means to end the human-dragon cooperation that began in the first movie.
PROSPECTS: With Pixar not having a release this summer, this sequel to the hugely popular How to Train Your Dragon essentially has Pixar’s early summer spot all to itself.
OBSTACLES: The popular cartoon series based on the original movie may make this sequel a little bit less of an event than it might have been.
FACTOID: The first DreamWorks movie to use their proprietary software “Primo” and “Torch” for an entire production. These programs allow for more realistic movement and more subtlety in facial movement as well as better consistency in lighting.

JUPITER ASCENDING
RELEASE DATE: July 18, 2014
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Tuppence Middleton, Doona Bae, James D’Arcy, Tim Pigott-Smith
STORY: A young woman with a larger destiny is tracked down by a genetically-enhanced hunter and brought out to a larger existence among the stars.
PROSPECTS: The Wachowskis are some of the most inventive directors out there and their vision is always interesting.
OBSTACLES: Their last two movies have been less compelling and successful than the Matrix trilogy.
FACTOID: This will be the first film directed by the Wachowskis to be released in 3D.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2014
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
STARRING: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Benicio del Toro, Djimon Honsou, Karen Gillan
STORY: An unlikely group of heroes band together to face a cosmic force of epic proportions – and epic evil.
PROSPECTS: As the lead-in to Avengers: Age of Ultron and the final film of Marvel: Phase II this will certainly have the attention of Marvel fans. Has a definite Star Wars look to it.
OBSTACLES: This is based on one of Marvel’s less successful books and may not have the name recognition other characters have.
FACTOID: Tyler Bates wrote some of the score before filming began so that director James Gunn could set the pacing of the scenes to music.

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR
RELEASE DATE: August 22, 2014
STUDIO: Dimension
STARRING: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Jaimie King, Jamie Chung, Dennis Haysbert, Clive Owen, Alexa Vega, Michael Madsen
STORY: Marv and Dwight team up to help out an old flame of Dwight’s get out of a sticky situation, only to discover they’ve been set up as patsy’s for the murder of her rich husband.
PROSPECTS: The first film was a fan favorite and the sequel has been eagerly awaited for more than a decade now.
OBSTACLES: Movies that wait this long to get made rarely generate the same interest.
FACTOID: Three characters from the first film had to be recast; Devin Aoki due to her pregnancy and Brittany Murphy and Michael Clark Duncan due to their untimely deaths.

MIGHT SURPRISE

TAMMY
RELEASE DATE: July 2, 2014
STUDIO: New Line
STARRING: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd, Allison Janney, Kathy Bates, Toni Collette, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass
STORY: A woman going through a very tough time goes on a road trip to Niagara Falls – with her grandmother.
PROSPECTS: Melissa McCarthy is ridiculously hot right now. Her last two movies were among the highest-grossing comedies of the year.
OBSTACLES: McCarthy is essentially carrying the movie herself; in her past two movies she had Jason Bateman and Sandra Bullock to assist although Sarandon is a formidable actress she’s not really well-known for her comedy.
FACTOID: Sarandon has gone off on a road trip with another woman before – in Thelma and Louise.

ALSO

CHEF (Open Road) stars Jon Favreau as a highly regarded who loses his job and starts a food truck business to recalibrate his career and open the doors to reconnecting with his estranged family (May 9). LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY’S RETURN (Summertime) is an animated feature that has Dorothy…well, returning to Oz. Shocker. When she gets there her friends the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion are all missing so it is up to her and her new friends to find them (May 9). NEIGHBORS (Universal) has a newlywed couple moving in next door to a frat house which starts a war of nerves between the two homes (May 9). GODZILLA (Warner Brothers) reboots the legendary Japanese lizard and brings him to the West Coast of the United States (May 16). MILLION DOLLAR ARM (Disney) is based on a true story about a sports agent, desperate to save his business, who hits upon the idea of bringing Indian cricketers to play Major League baseball (May 16). BLENDED (Warner Brothers) reunites Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore as two single parents who don’t like each other with kids who don’t like each other forced to bring both of their broods on the same African safari of a lifetime (May 23). A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST (Universal) is the latest from Seth MacFarlane, here a comedy set in the old west about a cowardly sheep farmer forced to find his courage to save his love (May 30). In THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (20th Century Fox) two extraordinary teens meet in a cancer support group and fall deeply in love (June 6).22 JUMP STREET (Columbia) sends Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill to college (June 13). JERSEY BOYS (Warner Brothers) is the film version of the Tony Award-winning Broadway music of the story of the Four Seasons pop group; Clint Eastwood of all people directs (June 20). THE PURGE 2 (Universal) takes place a year after the first film as America gears up for the next Purge (June 20). THINK LIKE A MAN TOO (Screen Gems) brings back the couples from the acclaimed film inspired by Steve Harvey’s best-seller for a wedding in Las Vegas where further romantic shenanigans threaten to derail the event (June 20). In DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Screen Gems) a New York Cop joins forces with a renegade priest to battle supernatural forces terrorizing the city (July 2). DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (20th Century Fox) picks up the story of the intelligence-enhanced ape Caesar after a devastating war between men and apes (July 11). PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE (Disney) follows the further adventures of Dusty Crophopper as he joins the aerial firefighting crew (July 18). HERCULES (Paramount/MGM) stars Dwayne Johnson as the titular Greek demigod in the second of two movies about him this year (July 25). SEX TAPE (Columbia) is a comedy about a suburban PTA couple who frantically try to recover a sex tape they made of themselves to reinvigorate their marriage when it gets accidentally lost (July 25). STEP UP ALL IN (Summit) is the newest installment in the inexplicably popular dance series (July 25). GET ON UP (Universal) is the biopic about the great R&B pioneer James Brown (August 1). THE HUNDRED FOOT JOURNEY (DreamWorks) stars Helen Mirren in a charming tale against an upstart Indian restaurant at war against a snooty traditional French restaurant in a quaint village in the south of France (August 8). INTO THE STORM (New Line) tells the remarkable story of a plucky town Midwestern town in the maw of an unprecedented run of tornadoes (August 8). LUCY (Universal) is the latest from French action film maestro Luc Besson and stars Scarlett Johansson as a woman held captive who turns into a merciless unstoppable killer (August 8).TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (Paramount) is a live action reboot of the hugely popular comic book/animated TV show from the 80s (August 8). THE EXPENDABLES 3 (Lionsgate) brings back the all-star action team with some new additions and subtractions facing their most vicious foe yet (August 15). THE GIVER (Weinstein) is set on a distant world where history isn’t written down but held by a single Receiver of Memory which is passed down to an adolescent boy; based on the Newberry Award-winning young adult novel (August 15). In WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL (TriStar) stars Jim Caviezel as legendary high school football coach Bob Ladouceur who took an obscure Northern California high school and took it to heights unparalleled in the annals of high school football (August 22). In JANE GOT A GUN (Relativity/Weinstein) a woman must ask a gunslinger, her ex-lover, to help save her outlaw husband from a brutal criminal gang who wants to kill him (August 29). JESSABELLE (Lionsgate) is a horror movie about a young woman following a horrible accident in which her fiancée was killed recuperates in her father’s crumbling Louisiana mansion discovers a gift from her long-dead mother but also that there is a strange and sinister presence in the mansion that wants to destroy her (August 29). In THE LOFT (Universal) five married men who secretly own a loft where they can carry out their illicit affairs are shocked to discover the body of a dead woman there – and one of them is almost certainly the killer (August 29).

FALL

As the weather turns colder, Hollywood moves from big noisy blockbusters to Oscar contenders and smaller, more intimate films. While this is the portion of the preview that is most subject to change, we can still reasonably expect the conclusion of Peter Jackson’s second MIddle Earth trilogy, a sci-fi epic from Christopher Nolan, the penultimate chapter of a smash hit sci-fi franchise, the first Marvel animated feature and plenty of adaptation of children’s and young adult books.

InterstellarCAN’T MISS

INTERSTELLAR
RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2014
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Ellen Burstyn, John Lithgow, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace
STORY: A group of intrepid explorers make use of a newly discovered stable wormhole to visit the furthest reaches of space.
PROSPECTS: Nolan is box office gold. McConaughey is fresh off of a likely Oscar-nominated performance and is in maybe the best stretch of his career. The buzz on this film is already extraordinary.
OBSTACLES: The glut of sci-fi films might have the general moviegoing population weary of space travel by the time November rolls around.
FACTOID: The movie was originally to have been directed by Stephen Spielberg but when he moved on to other projects, the film’s writer Jonathan Nolan suggested the project to his brother Christopher.

SHOULD SEE

THE HOBBIT: THERE AND BACK AGAIN
RELEASE DATE: November 1, 2013
STUDIO: New Line
STARRING: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Lee Pace, Sylvester McCoy, Jed Brophy, Graham McTavish, Benedict Cumberbatch
STORY: The conclusion of the epic trilogy as Bilbo Baggins assists Thorin and his band of dwarves in their final confrontation with the dragon Smaug.
PROSPECTS: The second film was considerably better than the first and leaves a ton of hope that this one will be the best of the three.
OBSTACLES: The Hobbit trilogy just hasn’t generated the same enthusiasm as The Lord of the Rings trilogy did.
FACTOID: Lee Pace kept his Elven sword from the film which he keeps in his umbrella stand.

HORRIBLE BOSSES 2
RELEASE DATE: November 26, 2013
STUDIO: New Line
STARRING: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz
STORY: The three mistreated cubicle cowboys from the first film decide to set out on their own and start their own business but a slick investor with no scruples throws a monkey wrench in their plans.
PROSPECTS: The first film not only did strong box office but got a very high score from critics and audiences alike.
OBSTACLES: Sequels don’t always live up to the originals.
FACTOID: The Jason Sudeikis character lauded Applebee’s in the first film; Sudeikis later became a spokesman for the restaurant.

HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART ONE
RELEASE DATE: November 21, 2014
STUDIO: Lionsgate
STARRING: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman
STORY: The series moves into its final confrontation as Katness Everdeen leads the people in revolt against the corrupt Panem regime of President Snow.
PROSPECTS: The series has taken off and become a huge hit across the board. There’s no reason to expect that the next to last film in the series won’t do the same.
OBSTACLES: Once again, heavy competition might hurt it’s box office chances….yeah, right.
FACTOID: To keep security on the set tight the production filmed under the alternate title “Seashore.”

EXODUS
RELEASE DATE: December 12, 2014
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley. Hiam Abbass
STORY: The Biblical story of Moses the Lawgiver who would lead his people from Egypt to the Promised Land and establish the laws of Yahweh in Israel.
PROSPECTS: Ridley Scott knows spectacle and while this may not be Cecil B. DeMille it certainly looks epic.
OBSTACLES: Christian Bale…as Moses?!?
FACTOID: Joel Edgerton found out he got his role as Ramses from friends who’d seen it leaked online before he was officially notified.

NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3
RELEASE DATE: December 25, 2014
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, Dan Stevens, Brennan Elliott, Skyler Gisondo, Anjali Jay, Patrick Gallagher, Matthew Harrison
STORY: The third installment takes the story to London.
PROSPECTS: A very popular series for families.
OBSTACLES: It’s been a while since the last one.
FACTOID: Writer Robert Ben Garant used to be on Reno 911! as an actor.

MIGHT SURPRISE

BIG HERO 6
RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2014
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Not yet announced.
STORY: A genius in robotics and a team of reluctant first-time crimefighters must save the megalopolis of San Fransokyo from a criminal plot.
PROSPECTS: The Marvel name goes a long way to bringing in crowds and so does the Disney name. Could bring in younger and older audiences alike much like The Incredibles did.
OBSTACLES: The comic book the film is based on isn’t very well-known. Anime/manga which Marvel tried to emulate here hasn’t really risen above cult status here in the States.
FACTOID: The first Marvel film to be theatrically released through Walt Disney Animation Studios.

ALSO

ADDICTED (Lionsgate) is the true story of a successful author who nearly lost everything due to her sex addiction (September 5).THE GREEN INFERNO (Open Road) follows a group of activists trying to save a dying tribe in the Amazon who end up being taken hostage by the very tribe they were sent to save (September 5). In NO GOOD DEED (Screen Gems) a charming stranger enters the home of a mom and her kids and terrorizes them (September 12). RESIDENT EVIL 6 (Screen Gems) may be the violent conclusion to the successful horror videogame adaptation series but as almost nothing is known about the plot, it wouldn’t surprise me if this got pushed out a year (September 12). SEARCH PARTY (Universal) is a comedy about a groom lost in the Mexican jungle who must rely on his bumbling friends to rescue him (September 12). THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU (Warner Brothers) has four grown siblings forced to share the same house after their father passes away; also in the dwelling is their over-sharing mother, assorted spouses, exes and the potential for chaos (September 12). DOLPHIN TALE 2 (Warner Brothers) follows the amazing story of Winter and of her new companion Hope (September 19). In THE MAZE RUNNER (20th Century Fox) a young boy must discover the secrets locked deep in his own mind if he is to ever escape the mysterious enclosure known by his fellow memory-challenged inhabitants as the Glade (September 19). THE BOXTROLLS (Focus) is the latest animated feature from stop-motion experts Laika, set in the world of trolls who live in boxes and dwell in the shadows (September 26). THE EQUALIZER (Columbia) is the new big screen version of the classic 80s TV hit with Denzel Washington taking the lead role (September 26). GONE GIRL (20th Century Fox) is the latest from director David Fincher and stars Vince Vaughn in a thriller about a seemingly distraught husband whose wife has disappeared but may know more about the disappearance than he is letting on (October 3). ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY (Disney) stars Steve Carell in a big screen version of the illustrated children’s classic (October 10). In THE INTERVIEW (Columbia) a talk show host and his producer get sucked into a plot to assassinate the leader of North Korea; Seth Rogen stars (October 10). THE JUDGE (Warner Brothers) stars Robert Downey Jr. as a hotshot lawyer returning home for his mother’s funeral and to discover the truth behind the fact that his estranged father, the town judge, is the prime suspect in her murder (October 10). THE BEST OF ME (Relativity) is the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation(October 17). BOOK OF LIFE (20th Century Fox), produced by Guillermo del Toro, is an animated feature set against a Mexican Day of the Dead backdrop (October 17). DRACULA UNTOLD (Universal) tells the story of Vlad Tepes, the man who would become Dracula (October 17). BUSINESS OR PLEASURE (20th Century Fox) features Vince Vaughn as a workaholic small business owner whose business trip to close an extremely important deal in Europe goes sideways (October 24). In PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 5 (Paramount) the paranormal activities continue after a year off (October 25). In BLACKBIRD (Relativity) a promising singer is saved from committing suicide by a cop and the two fall in love, earning the disapproval of her parents who are more concerned about their daughter’s career than her happiness (November 14). DUMB AND DUMBER TO (Universal) brings back Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels as Harry and Lloyd, possibly the dumbest people who ever lived (November 14). FURY (Columbia) stars Brad Pitt as the leader of a tank crew caught behind enemy lines in the waning days of World War II (November 14). In MCFARLAND (Disney) Kevin Costner stars as a track coach who transforms a group of athletes in a small California town into championship contenders (November 21). HOME (DreamWorks) is an animated feature about the most annoyingly optimistic alien in the galaxy forced to go on the run from his own race (November 26). PADDINGTON (Dimension) brings the beloved children’s books of Paddington Bear to life (December 12). ANNIE (Columbia) takes one of the beloved Broadway musicals of the last 30 years and turns it urban (December 19). INTO THE WOODS (Disney) turns Grimm’s Fairy Tales into a modern story; based on the Stephen Sondheim-penned Broadway musical (December 25). UNBROKEN (Universal) is the true story of an Olympic athlete who survived a World War II plane crash and a 47 ordeal in a raft only to be captured by the Japanese as a prisoner of war (December 25).

And with that, our preview comes to an end. 2014 promises to have its fair share of memorable times at the multiplex and we haven’t even scratched the surface; there will be hundreds of foreign and independent movies making their way onto VOD or local art houses as well as major studio releases that haven’t yet been assigned a date. Keep an eye on this space for further details. In the meantime, 2015 promises to be perhaps the biggest year at the movies of all time as near-slam dunk blockbusters are already filling up that schedule, including the first installment in the new Star Wars trilogy, the sequel to The Avengers as well as the first film in Marvel’s Phase III. We’ll also be seeing among other movies the long-awaited Superman/Batman team-up which promises to kick DC comics filmed franchise into overdrive, new movies or reboots in the Mad Max, Fantastic Four, Fast and Furious, Terminator, Jurassic Park, Insidious, Paranormal Activity, James Bond, Bourne, Hunger Games, and Kung Fu Panda franchises while the Minions of Despicable Me and the Penguins of Madagascar get movies of their own. There will also be live action versions of Disney classics Cinderella and the Jungle Book as well as the Assassins Creed videogame and the wildly popular erotic novel 50 Shades of Grey while the Peanuts comic strip gets its first full length movie in 44 years and that’s just scratching the surface. So if you can keep your appetites whet that long, you’ll have to make do with the many offerings of 2014 which should tide you over nicely. Cinema365 will continue to cover the big major releases as well as a goodly amount of indie and foreign releases and with our Four-Warned and New Releases features keep you up to date as to what’s coming out here in Orlando and around the country. Happy New Year and see you at the multiplex!

2013 Summer Movie Preview


Summer Movie Preview 2013

Last year, the word was “optimism.” With a box office on the upswing and some heavy hitters waiting and eager to get a share of the summer box office, Hollywood looked for a record year – and they got one.

Led by The Avengers, Hollywood reeled off some big earners – like The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man and Brave – as well as establishing some pretty fair hits in Ted, Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus. While there were a few misfires, there was enough business in the multiplexes to carry Hollywood on to a record box office year.

The line-up this year is frankly less gaudy than 2012 – or even 2011 for that matter and the lead-in is less strong – to date there really haven’t been any major blockbusters leading in to the summer of 2013 and that is becoming of increasing importance on the modern Hollywood landscape as traditional thinking as to how to approach summer movies – indeed, of how to approach marketing ALL movies – is changing with the advent of more readily available product through on-demand video, streaming and made-for-internet videos.

There are no movies as anticipated as the two big money-makers from last year, although Iron Man 3 is expected to do well and the sequel to the Star Trek reboot – Star Trek Into Darkness – looks to continue JJ Abrams’ hot streak at the box office.

Speaking of reboots, Man of Steel will take a darker tone with the Superman franchise as DC Comics tries to somehow find some hits that don’t involve the Caped Crusader. There will be plenty of sequels as The Wolverine takes the X-Men’s popular mutant and puts him into one of his most iconic locations – Japan, where some of the character’s most memorable comic book adventures took place. Kick-Ass 2 will follow up the underground hit and RED 2 will bring the geriatric superspies to the big screen.

Families will get plenty to do this summer with Epic, Planes, Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University. For those looking for a sci-fi fix, in addition to the new Star Trek there’s After Earth, Pacific Rim, Europa Report, The Colony and Elysium. Horror fans can expect plenty of scares from Aftershock, Byzantium, World War Z, V/H/S 2, You’re Next, Satanic, The Conjuring and R.I.P.D. Those looking for a laugh will undoubtedly find them in The Hangover Part III, The Internship, The Heat, Grown-Ups 2 and This is the End. Action junkies will get all they crave with The Lone Ranger, Now You See Me, Fast and Furious 6, White House Down, 300: Rise of an Empire and 2 Guns. If you are of a literary bent, you can see your books on screen with The Great Gatsby, Much Ado About Nothing, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.

The stars will be out as you can catch films with such stars as Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Don Cheadle, Billy Crystal, Sandra Bullock, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Farrell, Dwayne Johnson, Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper, Melissa McCarthy, Seth Rogen, Adam Sandler, Kevin Costner, Robert Downey Jr., Vince Vaughn, Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis, Leonardo di Caprio, Kevin James, Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, Channing Tatum, Vin Diesel, James Franco, Tobey Maguire, Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, Ben Kingsley, Helen Mirren, Jason Sudeikis, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp, Neil Patrick Harris, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, Simon Pegg, Ethan Hawk, Emma Roberts, Andy Samberg, Eric Bana, John Leguizamo, Cedric the Entertainer, Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, Armie Hammer, Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Salma Hayek, Kevin Bacon, Christoph Waltz, Pierce Brosnan, Paul Giamatti, Al Pacino, Maya Rudolph, Will Smith, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Woody Harrelson and Gwynneth Paltrow.

In addition, a good number of independent and mid-major distributors will be making their movies available on VOD for those people who don’t have access to art houses, or live in cities where smaller distributors can’t get the screens to show their films. This is a bit of a double-edge sword; on the one hand, it does make a wider range of movies available so films that might not otherwise be seen can get at least some sort of audience. However, it does continue the trend away from theaters and more towards home viewing. While I suspect there will always be big blockbuster movies in theaters (which the summers are made for), it does seem to point at people seeing films more and more through other sources. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion – it’s just something older generations such as mine will have to get used to as time goes on.

You don’t have to be a Man of Steel to be one of The Kings of Summer. You don’t have to be a Lone Ranger to beat The Heat either; just Getaway into an air-conditioned multiplex and Purge your cares away. This is the End of your worries if you do. Put this on your To-Do List and you’ll be a Grown-Ups 2. Now You See Me doing the same thing so you know You’re Next. Just sit down, relax and enjoy your movie – it’s better than a Closed Circuit prizefight or even a One Direction concert. Especially that.

MAY

Phase Two of the Marvel Universe kicks off this year as May once again has a Marvel hero headlining. In addition we’ll see the latest in a beloved sci-fi franchise while one of the most successful comedy film franchises comes to a close and an action franchise turns six and director Baz Luhrmann weighs in with a new screen version of a literary classic.

Iron Man 3

 

SUMMER LOVE

IRON MAN 3
RELEASE DATE: May 2, 2013
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley, Gwynneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Jon Favreau, James Badge Dale, Rebecca Hall, Wang Xuequi
STORY: Tony Stark is having trouble adjusting after the events of The Avengers. He is worried that he’s losing his identity as Tony Stark in favor of Iron Man. It’s probably not a good time therefore that his greatest comic book enemy – the Mandarin – makes an appearance.
PROSPECTS: Anticipation is very high for the first post-Avengers Marvel movie as fans are eager to see the direction the franchise is going in. Downey is a big fan favorite and the buzz on this movie is that the franchise hasn’t lost any steam whatsoever.
OBSTACLES: Jon Favreau has exited the director’s chair and while Shane Black is a capable writer and director, his ability to handle a big effects-driven film like this is unknown. One wonders as well if there will be any post-Avengers backlash.
FACTOID: Following the success of The Avengers Disney approved a budget increase from $140M to $200M to allow Black to make the best movie he could to maintain Marvel’s momentum.

SUMMER ROMANCE

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS
RELEASE DATE: May 17, 2013 (opening on IMAX screens two days earlier)
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Bruce Greenwood, Anton Yelchin, Alice Eve, Peter Weller
STORY: The crew of the Enterprise is stunned by a shocking act of terrorism that was perpetrated from within Starfleet. Now Captain Kirk must lead a manhunt to capture a nearly unstoppable force and bring those responsible to justice – but that chase may cost him his ship and his crew.
PROSPECTS: JJ Abrams’ reboot of the Star Trek franchise was wildly successful back in 2009. There’s no reason to believe given the amount of buzz and judging from the footage that has been shown so far in the trailers that this will be any less successful.
OBSTACLES: Some are whispering that this has some parallels to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that may be too steep to ignore.
FACTOID: Benicio del Toro was initially cast in the role of the villain but eventually declined due to monetary issues; Cumberbatch (who was recommended to Abrams by Steven Spielberg) was eventually given the part.

THE GREAT GATSBY
RELEASE DATE: May 10, 2013
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Leonardo di Caprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Amitabh Bachchan, Adelaide Clemens
STORY: A war veteran from the Midwest aspiring to be a writer moves to New York and ends up living next door to Jay Gatsby, a pampered rich man whose lavish parties and epic lifestyle mask demons and dark deeds, ultimately leading to tragedy.
PROSPECTS: Baz Luhrmann knows how to make eye-popping visuals and looks to have recreated Jazz Age New York City to a near-perfect extent. With di Caprio in the lead, there is enough star power here to attract at least some interest from the moviegoing public.
OBSTACLES: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s source material isn’t necessarily going to connect with di Caprio’s fan base. The movie was delayed from December due to production delays which might cause some negative buzz.
FACTOID: As is typical with Luhrmann’s films, the period-set movie will use modern artists and music on the soundtrack.

EPIC
RELEASE DATE: May 24, 2013
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Beyonce Knowles, Colin Farrell, Christoph Waltz, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Aziz Ansari, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler
STORY: A teenage girl finds herself caught in the middle of a battle between good and evil raging in the depths of a nearby forest at a tiny level. She must find a way to save both that world and our own and return to her original size or risk losing her family forever.
PROSPECTS: The first big family movie of the summer and the only one between The Croods and Monsters University which means it will have the first part of summer essentially to itself.
OBSTACLES: Lacks star power in the voice cast. Forest battle animated features have not done well at the box office.
FACTOID: This is based on William Joyce’s book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. Joyce and director Chris Wedge previously worked together on Robots which Wedge directed and Joyce produced.

SUMMER FLING

WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS
RELEASE DATE: May 24, 2013
STUDIO: Focus
STARRING: Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Adrian Lamo, Nick Davies, James Ball, Smari McCarthy, Iain Overton, J. William Leonard
STORY: The story of the controversial website which exposes governmental and business secrets and shenanigans to the light of day.
PROSPECTS: Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney knows how to put together a compelling documentary. The story is kind of a sexy one which got lots of media attention with little context.
OBSTACLES: Assange is a polarizing figure who some consider irresponsible. He also declined any involvement in the film.
FACTOID: The film’s title is not meant to characterize WikiLeaks’ method of operation but rather is a quote from former CIA director Michael Hayden who was trying to explain the function of his agency.

SUMMER CAMP

May 3, 2013

LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED (Sony Classics), opening in limited release, stars Pierce Brosnan in Oscar-winning director Suzanne Bier’s new romantic comedy about a group of people who are seeking love in Sorrento, Italy who find it in surprising ways. This recently played the Florida Film Festival, although I was unable to get to the screening for it.

May 10, 2013

In AFTERSHOCK (Radius) an American tourist is caught in an underground nightclub in Chile during a major earthquake. Getting through to the surface is only the beginning of the horror. This is playing in limited release only. PEEPLES (Lionsgate) has an working man crashing the family reunion of a wealthy family in the Hamptons to ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage. Of course, things don’t go exactly as expected. Isn’t this more or less a Fokker thing?

May 17, 2013

Opening in limited release FRANCES HA (IFC) is the latest from acclaimed director Noah Baumbach (Greenberg) starring indie darling Greta Gerwig (Lola Versus) as a free spirited young girl in New York who doesn’t mind dreaming dreams no matter how impossible they might be to achieve.

May 24, 2013

FAST & FURIOUS 6 (Universal) brings back Dwayne Johnson into the revitalized Vin Diesel/Paul Walker underground car racing series; this time the feds need Dom’s crew to help stop an international criminal who uses cars like military weapons; and the person running the show is one of their own. THE HANGOVER PART III (Warner Brothers) returns the Wolf Pack to Las Vegas for one final showdown – and supposedly this will bring the film franchise to a conclusion.

May 31, 2013

AFTER EARTH (Columbia) stars Will and Jaden Smith as a father and son whose space ship crashes on a hostile planet. With the father injured the son must retrieve a beacon from a different part of the ship whose wreckage is miles away but is he ready to face an environment that has evolved to kill humans? NOW YOU SEE ME (Summit) has a trio of stage magicians (Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Isla Fisher) being chased by the authorities after pulling off a string of daring bank robberies; but is this the real thing or is it just an illusion? Morgan Freeman co-stars. THE KINGS OF SUMMER (CBS) has a trio of high school buddies who decide to give their parents the ultimate f you by building their own home in the woods and living off the land. Kind of. This is opening in limited release but it should be playing more or less nationwide.

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.

THE AVENGERS (Disney/Marvel) Budget: $220 Million. Domestic Gross: $623.4M Total: $1.5 Billion. Verdict: Blockbuster.
MEN IN BLACK III (Columbia) Budget: $225M. Domestic Gross: $179.0M Total: $624.0M Verdict: Hit.
BATTLESHIP (Universal) Budget: $209M. Domestic Gross: $65.4M Total: $303.5M Verdict: Lost Money.
DARK SHADOWS (Warner Brothers) Budget: $150M. Domestic Gross: $79.7M Total: $239.1M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (Fox Searchlight) Budget: $10M. Domestic Gross: $46.4M Total: $136.8M Verdict: Blockbuster.
THE DICTATOR (Paramount) Budget: $65M. Domestic Gross: $59.7M Total: $177.6M Verdict: Hit.
CHERNOBYL DIARIES (Warner Brothers) Budget: $1M. Domestic Gross: $18.1M Total: $37.2M Verdict: Hit.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING (Lionsgate) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $41.2M Total: $84.4M Verdict: Broke Even.
THE INTOUCHABLES (Weinstein) Budget: $12.4M. Domestic Gross: $10.2M Total: $426.6 Verdict: Blockbuster.

JUNE

June tends to be a bit calm after the summer blockbuster kickoff in May. While there are always some big budget hits on the schedule, there tends to be less anticipation for the movies that are released between Memorial Day and Independence Day. Still, Pixar always releases a movie in June and this year is no different as they bring in a long-awaited prequel to one of their most beloved films ever, Superman gets a new look from respected fan favorite director Zach Snider, Brad Pitt takes on the zombie apocalypse, Will Smith and his son Jaden crash land on a hostile planet and Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson team up for the first time since The Wedding Crashers.

Man of Steel

SUMMER LOVE

MAN OF STEEL
RELEASE DATE: June 14, 2013
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni
STORY: A young boy discovers that he has amazing powers and that he isn’t of this Earth. Concerned that if he’s discovered that he’ll be feared and mistrusted, he hides from sight until evil from his home planet threatens his new home, forcing him to reveal himself to be the hero he was always meant to be.
PROSPECTS: The buzz is that this is the Superman movie that will revive the franchise in the way The Dark Knight revived Batman. DC, needing a franchise now that Christopher Nolan has exited Batman have utilized Nolan as a consultant here and that alone has been enough to get fans excited.
OBSTACLES: Director Zach Snyder’s last, Sucker Punch was an artistic and commercial failure. Superman hasn’t had the cache that Batman has for more than 40 years.
FACTOID: Brandon Routh who played Superman in Superman Returns was contracted to return in the role and was willing to do it but Snyder chose to do a clean break from every other previous cinematic incarnation of the character and create his own vision for the story.

SUMMER ROMANCE

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY
RELEASE DATE: June 21, 2013
STUDIO: Disney*Pixar
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Dave Foley, Helen Mirren, Julia Sweeney, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, John Krasinski, Alfred Molina
STORY: Before they became the best of friends Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan went to college and couldn’t stand the sight of one another. This is how they learned to overcome their differences, work together and become better for it.
PROSPECTS: Like all Pixar movies this one is being shrewdly marketed and Monsters, Inc. is one of their stronger films.
OBSTACLES: While Brave did gangbusters, there hasn’t been as much cache for the studio of late. This doesn’t appear to be the kind of movie that will carry mega-success with it, and the competition on both ends will be fierce with Epic and Despicable Me 2 bookending the movie.
FACTOID: This is Pixar’s first prequel.

WORLD WAR Z
RELEASE DATE: June 21, 2013
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, David Morse, Eric West, Elyes Gabel
STORY: When a pandemic turns humans into flesh-eating ghouls, a United Nations employee must traverse the world in order to stop the disease that has already toppled governments before it wipes out the human race.
PROSPECTS: The Max Brooks novel on which this is based has become one of the more acclaimed and beloved books of the last ten years. Pitt is one of the most dependable stars in Hollywood right now. Zombies are also super hot as the success of Warm Bodies and The Walking Dead attest.
OBSTACLES: There might be some zombie apocalypse oversaturation going on. Most zombie films have been low-budget affairs; it is yet to be proven that there is an audience to justify the budget that World War Z carries.
FACTOID: The original novel was in fact a sequel to the satirical The Zombie Survival Guide.

THIS IS THE END
RELEASE DATE: June 12, 2013
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mindy Kaling, Kevin Hart
STORY: A group of Hollywood stars are trapped in a house as strange apocalyptic events befall Los Angeles. As cabin fever and dwindling supplies begin to create conflict within the group, they realize that in leaving their safe haven may be the key to their redemption.
PROSPECTS: The prospect of Hollywood stars playing themselves in an impossible situation is appealing and the trailer was funny as hell.
OBSTACLES: Could be all concept and no substance. None of these guys with the exception of Segel and Rogen have a history of carrying major studio films up until now.
FACTOID: There were rumors that Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe had been cast but they were only half-right – his co-star Emma Watson actually has a cameo.

SUMMER FLING

UNFINISHED SONG
RELEASE DATE: June 21, 2013
STUDIO: Weinstein
STARRING: Terrance Stamp, Gemma Arterton, Christopher Eccleston, Vanessa Redgrave, Anne Reid, Elizabeth Counsell, Ram John Holder, Calita Reinford
STORY: A curmudgeonly old man is transformed by joining the seniors choir his wife belonged to as he and the choir director develop a friendship that lifts them both up.
PROSPECTS: Saw this at the Florida Film Festival and the performances in the film elevate it right up there with some of the year’s best.
OBSTACLES: Some will look askance at a film about the elderly especially one which tugs on the heartstrings as this one does.
FACTOID: Among the songs the choir performs are Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and Salt-n-Pepa’s “Let’s Talk About Sex.”

SUMMER CAMP

June 7, 2013

In THE INTERNSHIP (20th Century Fox) The Wedding Crashers’ Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are reunited as a couple of hard-sell salesmen who, after their employers go belly-up, wind up working for an internship at Google. Knowing nothing about technology, they do know that this might be their last chance – and if they know one thing, it’s selling themselves. THE PURGE (Universe) is set in a near future where for 12 hours every year crime goes unpunished and uninvestigated. A family settling in for the night behind the fortress-like walls of their home find that their impregnable fortress isn’t so safe when they take in a stranger who has a vicious group of thugs after him. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (Roadside Attractions), opening in limited release, is a modern re-telling of the Bard’s classic romance as interpreted by ultrahot Joss Wheden and to make it further unmarketable, shot in glorious black and white.

June 14, 2013

THE BLING RING (A24) is the latest from Oscar-winning director Sofia Coppola and is based on the true story of a group of teenagers who targeted celebrities in a series of burglaries. This is also opening in limited release.

June 21, 2013

A HIJACKING (Magnolia) is also opening in limited release and displays the deadly game being played between a shipping magnate and the Somali pirates who have taken his ship. Another movie opening in limited release, MANIAC (IFC Midnight) is a remake of the 1980 horror classic about a serial killer who stalks random women in New York City with ex-hobbit Elijah Wood playing the title role.

June 28, 2013

THE HEAT (20th Century Fox) teams up Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as an uptight FBI agent and an out-of-control Boston cop who are forced to team up in pursuit of a vicious drug cartel. WHITE HOUSE DOWN (Columbia) stars Channing Tatum as a cop taking his daughter on a tour of the White House when it is overrun by terrorists. Now he must not only protect his daughter but also the President, played by Jamie Foxx. Now that’s a candidate I can get behind! BYZANTIUM (IFC) is about a mysterious pair of women who seek shelter at a rundown resort and confess their secret – they’re vampires. Veteran director Neil Jordan was behind the camera for this one, which is also scheduled for limited release.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

PROMETHEUS (20th Century Fox) Budget: $130 Million. Domestic Gross: $126.5M Total: $403.4 Verdict: Hit.
BRAVE (Disney*Pixar) Budget: $185M. Domestic Gross: $237.3M Total: $538.8M Verdict: Hit.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER (20th Century Fox) Budget: $60M. Domestic Gross: $37.5M Total: $116.5M Verdict: Broke Even.
ROCK OF AGES (New Line) Budget: $75M. Domestic Gross: $38.5M Total: $56.4M Verdict: Flop.
SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (Focus) Budget: $10M. Domestic Gross: $7.1M Total: $9.6M Verdict: Flop.
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (Universal) Budget: $170M. Domestic Gross: $155.3M Total: $396.6 Verdict: Made Money.
THAT’S MY BOY (Columbia) Budget: $70M. Domestic Gross: $36.9M Total: $57.7M Verdict: Flop.
MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED (DreamWorks) Budget: $145M. Domestic Gross: $216.4M Total: $742.1M Verdict: Blockbuster.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (Fox Searchlight) Budget: $1.8M. Domestic Gross: $12.8M Total: $19.7M Verdict: Hit.
TYLER PERRY’S MADEA’S WITNESS PROTECTION (Lionsgate) Budget: $20M. Domestic Gross: $65.7M Total: $65.7M Verdict: Hit.
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (FilmDistrict) Budget: $750K. Domestic Gross: $4.0M Total: $4.0M Verdict: Hit.

JULY

Usually July is like a firecracker in the middle of summer with the Independence Day weekend kicking off some of the more anticipated movies of the season. This year, Guillermo del Toro brings a long-awaited giant robot alien invasion movie to the screen, a beloved hero whose pedigree goes back to the days of radio gets a cinematic reboot, Belgium’s bluest return in a sequel to their hit kid’s movie, one of Marvel’s darkest superheroes gets a new solo film that may finally adequately reflect that darkness, the police force of the dead leap from the pages of the comic books onto the summer screens and one of the biggest animated hits of the past few years gets a sequel.

Pacific Rim

 

SUMMER LOVE

PACIFIC RIM
RELEASE DATE: July 12, 2013
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, Robert Kazinski, Max Martini, Clifton Collins Jr., Burn Gorman, Brad William Henke
STORY: Gigantic alien invaders from the deep are fought with giant robots. However the aliens are winning and mankind’s only hope comes from an obsolete robot, an untested rookie and a burned out former pilot.
PROSPECTS: Guillermo del Toro is a big favorite among the fans and has enough cache to get butts into seats. Not a lot of footage has come out but what has looks striking.
OBSTACLES: Giant robots are more of a Japanese thing than an American thing and it could come out looking a bit ridiculous to the general American public.
FACTOID: Hunnam and Perlman also star in the biker TV drama Sons of Anarchy.

SUMMER ROMANCE

THE WOLVERINE
RELEASE DATE: July 26, 2013
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal Yamanouchi, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Brian Tee
STORY: Logan, given an opportunity to become somewhat normal has his healing ability stripped fro him only to find himself in the middle of a war involving the Yakuza.
PROSPECTS: The Wolverine’s Japanese-set adventures are among the most popular in his comic book history. Fans are still pretty down with Jackman as Logan.
OBSTACLES: The origins story didn’t garner much love among the fans although it generated enough revenue to warrant further Wolverine solo adventures.
FACTOID: The movie is a sequel to X-Men: The Last Stand. Jackman consulted with Dwayne Johnson on how to bulk up for the movie.

DESPICABLE ME 2
RELEASE DATE: July 3, 2013
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Al Pacino, Steve Coogan, Ken Jeong, Moises Arias
STORY: Gru is recruited by a anti-supervillain league to help them take on the baddest and most diabolical supervillain since…Gru.
PROSPECTS: The Minions are some of the most beloved animated characters of the past ten years and each time they came onscreen during the previews, kids cheered.
OBSTACLES: Well, if it isn’t that good parents won’t be as willing to bring their kids to see it two and three times.
FACTOID: Wiig is playing a different character than she did in the original Despicable Me.

GROWN UPS 2
RELEASE DATE: July 12, 2013
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, Dennis Spade, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Nick Swardson, Steve Buscemi, Jon Lovitz
STORY: After the first Grown Ups, Lenny has moved his family back to the small town he and his friends grew up in. On the last day of school, he and his friends are taught a lesson by their kids.
PROSPECTS: A big hit, the first film was only waiting for the schedules of all the stars to free up simultaneously to get made.
OBSTACLES: Adam Sandler could certainly use a hit. The first movie was critically pounded; most of the buzz surrounding the sequel is pretty negative.
FACTOID: Rob Schneider had to bow out of the sequel due to scheduling conflicts.

SUMMER FLING

BLUE JASMINE
RELEASE DATE: July 26, 2013
STUDIO: Sony Classics
STARRING: Alec Baldwin, Cate Blanchett, Bobby Cannavale, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg
STORY: A fashionable New York City housewife is in a crisis and things are boiling to a head in this the latest comedy from Woody Allen.
PROSPECTS: Allen returns to New York City after having set most of his films in Europe recently. His last two films were among the best of his career.
OBSTACLES: Allen is one of those love him or hate him directors and while he’s had success of late, he still remains very much an acquired taste.
FACTOID: Louis C.K. originally auditioned for the role that Andrew Dice Clay got; Allen liked the audition but felt Louis was too nice for the part so he assigned him another role.

SUMMER CAMP

July 3, 2013

THE LONE RANGER (Disney) is a re-imagining of the classic adventure series with Armie Hammer in the title role and Johnny Depp as Tonto – yes, the focus of the movie will most likely be on the latter although the trailer suggests that there might be more on the Ranger than at first thought – the stunts look pretty incredible on the trailer though.

July 5, 2013

In THE WAY, WAY BACK (Fox Searchlight), a young teen having a miserable summer due to his mom’s overbearing boyfriend and her daughter finds solace in an unexpected friendship with the owner of a small waterpark. With a cast like Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Sam Rockwell on board, how can you go wrong?

July 12, 2013

THE HUNT (Magnolia) is opening in limited release but is one to keep an eye out for. Having played at the Florida Film Festival, it concerns a schoolteacher who is accused of the most heinous act imaginable and despite his protestations to the contrary, becomes an outcast in his small town. Read my review here for more details.

July 17, 2013

TURBO (DreamWorks) is an animated feature about a snail that dreams of being a NASCAR racer. If I find out this one is about coming out of your shell, I swear I’ll get violent.

July 19, 2013

THE CONJURING (New Line) is bound to send chills up more than a few spines. Based on a case by actual paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, a family calls for help when they discover the farmhouse they live in is inhabited by a malevolent force. R.I.P.D. (Universal), based on the comic book series of the same name, stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges as a pair of dead lawmen who continue to ply their trade hunting down dead souls that violate the rules and threaten the living. RED 2 (Summit) brings back retired superspies Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich as a portable nuclear device goes missing and the retirees are blamed for it. Not only do they need to find the dang thing to clear their names but they must avert a catastrophe in order to do so. ONLY GOD FORGIVES (Radius) stars Ryan Gosling as a former gangster and kickboxer living in Thailand whose brother is murdered by a corrupt police officer. Knowing that he’ll receive no justice under the law he goes out to get vengeance the old-fashioned way. This new film by Nicholas Winding Refn is opening in limited release.

July 26, 2013

FRUITVALE STATION (Weinstein) was a big hit at Sundance and is based on actual events. A young African-American trying to better his life becomes the victim of a transit cop shooting at an Oakland BART station that turns his community upside-down. This will likewise be opening in limited release.

July 31, 2013

THE SMURFS 2 (Columbia) brings back the little blue buggers back to our world as the evil wizard Gargamel creates copycat creatures called the Naughties. Neil Patrick Harris is in this so it can’t be all bad, can it? It can..

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (Warner Brothers) Budget: $250 M. Domestic Gross: $448.1M Total: $1.084 B. Verdict: Blockbuster.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (Columbia) Budget: $230M. Domestic Gross: $262.0M Total: $752.2M Verdict: Big Hit.
THE WATCH (NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH) (20th Century Fox) Budget: $68M. Domestic Gross: $35.4M Total: $68.3M Verdict: Flop.
ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT (20th Century Fox) Budget: $95M. Domestic Gross: $161.3M Total: $877.2M Verdict: Blockbuster.
TED (Universal) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $218.8M Total: $549.4M Verdict: Blockbuster.
SAVAGES (Universal) Budget: $45M. Domestic Gross: $47.4M Total: $83.0M Verdict: Lost Money.
STEP UP REVOLUTION (Summit) Budget: $33M. Domestic Gross: $35.1M Total: $140.5M Verdict: Hit.
KATY PERRY: PART OF ME (InSurge) Budget: $12M Domestic Gross: $25.3M Total: $32.4M Verdict: Made Money.
RUBY SPARKS (Fox Searchlight) Budget: N/A Domestic Gross: $2.5M Total: $9.1M Verdict: A Likely Hit.

AUGUST

The last month of the summer season tapers off as the heat keeps people at the beach or indoors, but there is almost one or two last gasp blockbusters. Horror movies seem to do really well this month, as the final days of summer are replete with leftover blockbusters from the month’s before and less hyped movies hoping to sneak up on audiences and win the reward of box office gold.

Elysium

 

SUMMER LOVE

ELYSIUM
RELEASE DATE: August 9, 2013
STUDIO: Tri-Star
STARRING: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, William Fichtner, Wagner Moura, Talisa Soto, Michael Shanks, Carly Pope
STORY: With humanity divided between the Haves on the heavenly space station Elysium and the Have-Nots on an overpopulated, depleted and dangerous planet Earth, one man must penetrate Elysium’s stringent security in order not only to save himself but those dwelling in misery below.
PROSPECTS: From the director of District 9 comes a much more ambitious sci-fi epic. Damon is a good box office draw and has opened eyes as an action star in the Bourne trilogy.
OBSTACLES: This is the last of a lot of similarly-themed movies coming out this summer and the public maybe burned out on them by August.
FACTOID: Was originally scheduled for March but moved to August so as not to compete with Oz the Great and Powerful.

SUMMER ROMANCE

KICK-ASS 2
RELEASE DATE: August 16, 2013
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey, Morris Chestnut, John Leguizamo, Donald Faison
STORY: Kick-Ass and Hit Girl find themselves joining a new “superhero” team who are opposed by the Red Mist, now reborn as the Mother F*cker who has a team of his own – and it’s going to be a smackdown to end all smackdowns.
PROSPECTS: The first Kick-Ass was successful and the producers are going with the more is better philosophy. An August release seems about perfect – still in the summer but not up against bigger budgeted bullies.
OBSTACLES: Director Matthew Vaughn is gone replaced by Jeff Wadlow. The first film made money but not sure if it was enough to warrant a bigger-budgeted sequel.
FACTOID: It was rumored that Mark Millar, who wrote the original comic book would write the screenplay for the sequel but director Wadlow wound up doing that.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE
RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2013
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro, David Wenham, Mark Killeen, Hans Matheson, Jack O’Connell
STORY: The invading Persian force, fresh off of decimating the Spartans in 300 approach Athens and their commander Themistocles must find a way to unite the disparate Greek forces in order to save their culture and their lives.
PROSPECTS: Zach Snyder’s 300 changed the epic forever, and this – based on the sequel to the original graphic novel also by Frank Miller – continues the story.
OBSTACLES: Snyder is involved only as a producer and a writer of one of the versions of the script. Other movies as similarly dependent on green screen CGI haven’t fared as well.
FACTOID: Snyder was originally set to direct but had to bow out due to his commitment to Man of Steel.

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES
RELEASE DATE: August 23, 2013
STUDIO: Screen Gems
STARRING: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Zegers, Lena Headey, CCH Pounder, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jared Harris, Kevin Durand
STORY: A teenage girl discovers she is the descendant of a half-angel, half-human race crucial to a war against evil demons.
PROSPECTS: Based on one of the biggest selling young adult fantasy series since Harry Potter, the studio is marketing this carefully.
OBSTACLES: There are a slew of young adult fantasy series carcasses that have thought of being franchise material that have become cinematic roadkill.
FACTOID: Alex Pettyfer was proffered the male lead but turned it down after his experiences on I Am Number Four.

THE WORLD’S END
RELEASE DATE: August 23, 2013
STUDIO: Focus
STARRING: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, David Bradley, Julian Seager
STORY: A group of childhood chums re-create a failed epic pub crawl, hoping to reach The World’s End pub, slowly figuring out that reaching their goal may be the only way to save the world from total annihilation.
PROSPECTS: The third in the trilogy from Pegg, Frost and director Edgar Wright that includes Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz which should get fans of those two cult faves into theaters even in August.
OBSTACLES: Cult favorite is the key phrase here. The above-mentioned films have done well but not super well and in a summer where the apocalypse is upon us (or beyond us) several times over, it may get lost in the shuffle.
FACTOID: Mainly filmed in and around Letchworth Garden City in Hertfordshire, England in actual pubs (renamed for the film).

PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS
RELEASE DATE: August 7, 2013
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Missi Pyle, Nathan Fillion, Stanley Tucci, Anthony Head, Yvette Nicole Brown, Douglas Smith, Mary Birdsong
STORY: The half-God, half-human kids of Percy Jackson’s world must journey into the Bermuda Triangle and retrieve the legendary Golden Fleece.
PROSPECTS: Yet another young adult book series that has sold impressive numbers.
OBSTACLES: The first Percy Jackson film didn’t exactly set the world on fire, box office-wise.
FACTOID: Daddario dyed her hair blonde for the movie even though she was a brunette in the first film; in the books her character is a blonde.

SUMMER FLING

ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US
RELEASE DATE: August 30, 2013
STUDIO: Tri-Star
STARRING: Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson
STORY: The British pop sensation, discovered on the X-Factor TV program, embark on their sophomore album concert tour and lucky us, we get backstage passes.
PROSPECTS: This is the modern equivalent of Hansen and NKOTB. Screaming adolescent girls will pack the auditoriums.
OBSTACLES: The rest of us will likely stay away.
FACTOID: The band became the first UK band whose debut album entered the Billboard album charts at number one.

SUMMER CAMP

August 2, 2013

2 GUNS (Universal) stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as a couple of operatives from competing bureaus who are forced to go on the run together despite a healthy distrust and a healthier dislike for one another. Based on a graphic novel. EUROPA REPORT (Magnet) is a thought-provoking account of a mission to the Jovian moon to discover the possibility of extraterrestrial life there. Developed with the co-operation and collaboration with NASA, JPL, Space-X and other leaders in the scientific community, this is opening in limited release.

August 9, 2013

DISNEY’S PLANES (Disney) is an off-shoot of the Pixar Cars movies, only set up in the clouds – and not from Pixar but from Disney’s animation arm. Make of that what you will. In WE’RE THE MILLERS (New Line) a small-time pot dealer must put together a fake family in order to smuggle a big score out of Mexico without raising suspicion. Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston and Ed Helms star. LOVELACE (Radius) is the harrowing biography of the iconic porn star who went from a wannabe actress to an anti-porn activist. This opens in limited release.

August 16, 2013

PARANOIA (Relativity) is set in the shadowy world of corporate espionage as a ruthless CEO sends an entry-level drone to spy on a rival which turns into much more than anyone bargained for. Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman and Liam Hemsworth headline. THE TO-DO LIST (CBS) stars Aubrey Plaza as an update high school valedictorian who decides to do all the things she missed out on doing in high school before she arrives at the prestigious university she will be attending in the fall. Loosely based on the actual experiences of first-time writer-director Maggie Carey. AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS (IFC), opening in limited release, tells the story of a couple of young outlaws who are hunted down in the desolate hill country of Texas. Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara star. AUSTENLAND (Sony Classics) stars Keri Russell as a Jane Austen-obsessed New York who goes to a resort that caters to women who have similar fantasies and finds that the reality is a lot different than the fantasy. This comedy is also opening in limited release. HAUTE CUISINE (Weinstein) is loosely based on the true story of French Prime Minister Francois Mitterand’s personal chef and chronicles her struggles to establish herself in a kitchen whose politics are as vicious as France’s own. Again, this will be opening in limited theatrical release.

August 23, 2013

YOU’RE NEXT (Lionsgate) turns the conventions of the home invasion horror film on its ear as ruthless masked killers invading a family reunion didn’t count on one of the guests being an even more ruthless and creative killer than they. THE COLONY (RLJ), opening in limited release, is a post-apocalyptic thriller in which one of the last human outposts remaining on a planet overrun by ice and cold loses contact with the others.

August 28, 2013

CLOSED CIRCUIT (Focus) stars Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall as two ex-lovers who parted on an acrimonious note who are forced to work together as defense attorneys on a high-profile terrorism trial.

August 30, 2013

In GETAWAY (Warner Brothers) a race car driver is forced to use his skills to fulfill a series of tasks given to him by an unseen voice monitoring his every move through a dash-mounted camera – or else his kidnapped wife may die. SATANIC (Weinstein) stars Haley Bennett as a college student staying on campus during the Thanksgiving holidays becoming the target for a vicious and sadistic gang.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

TOTAL RECALL (Columbia) Budget: $125M. Domestic Gross: $58.9M Total: $198.5M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE EXPENDABLES 2 (Lionsgate) Budget: $100M. Domestic Gross: $85.0M Total: $300.4M Verdict: Hit.
FRIGHT NIGHT 3D (DreamWorks) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $18.3M Total: $41.0M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE BOURNE LEGACY (Universal) Budget: $125M. Domestic Gross: $113.2M Total: $276.1M Verdict: Made Money.
THE APPARITION (Warner Brothers) Budget: $17M. Domestic Gross: $4.9M Total: $9.6M Verdict: Flop.
PARANORMAN (Focus) Budget: $60M. Domestic Gross: $56.0M Total: $107.1M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE CAMPAIGN (Warner Brothers) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $86.9M Total: $104.9M Verdict: Probably Profitable.
PREMIUM RUSH (Columbia) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $20.3M Total: $31.1M Verdict: Flop.
SPARKLE (Tri-Star) Budget: $14M. Domestic Gross: $24.4M Total: $24.4M Verdict: Broke Even.
LAWLESS (Weinstein) Budget: $45M. Domestic Gross: $37.4M Total: $53.7M Verdict: Lost Money.
HIT AND RUN (Open Road) Budget: $2M. Domestic Gross: $13.8M Total: $14.5M Verdict: Hit.
DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS (20th Century Fox) Budget: $22M. Domestic Gross: $49.0M Total: $77.1M Verdict: Hit.
HOPE SPRINGS (Columbia) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $63.5M Total: $114.3M Verdict: Hit.
THE POSSESSION (Lionsgate) Budget: $14M. Domestic Gross: $49.1M Total: $85.5M Verdict: Big Hit.
THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN (Disney) Budget: $25M. Domestic Gross: $51.9M Total: $51.9M Verdict: Broke Even.

While this year doesn’t look to be the same kind of slam dunk that last summer was, there is still a lot of summer blockbuster goodness to look forward to. For some film buffs, it is their favorite time of year as one big potential hit comes out after another. Still, when the dog days of August herald the rapid approach of September, school and fall, that doesn’t mean the end of movies to look forward to. We’ve still got another visit to Middle Earth in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the girl power sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the unexpected and welcome return of Ron Burgundy in Anchorman: The Legend Continues. The Marvel cinematic universe Phase 2 continues with Thor: The Dark World while Tom Clancy’s most memorable character returns in Jack Ryan. We’ll also see Vin Diesel get serious in Riddick, the return of comics noir in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and a reimagining of an American classic in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. 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 (anyone ever find out what happened to 7500?) 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, few things are more fun than sitting in a cool air-conditioned movie theater on a hot summer day, popcorn and ice cold soda in hand, being amazed by eye-popping special effects, unbelievably crazy stunts or amused by big summer comedy laughs. It’s all there waiting for you – you just have to get out and go. I know I will be, and will continue to review the big films, write up weekly previews and of course the monthly Four-Warned series that will give you a better idea of what’s opening across the land. See you at the multiplex!

2013 Preview


2013 banner - final

Theater owners were buoyed by a year that set a new box office record, reversing the decline begun in 2010. However, much of the revenue is coming from upcharges for IMAX and 3D tickets; the actual number of tickets sold is still down. That said there were a fair share of box office bonanzas to be had and while on-demand streaming through services like Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, Blockbuster and SnagFilms seems to be the wave of the future, there are still plenty of reasons to go and see movies in a theater.

Picking up a new trend, several chains are following the lead of Alamo Drafthouse and our own Enzian by offering table service for food in the theater, giving moviegoers a one-stop shopping option for nights out. Expect to see more options in that direction as theater owners try to attract more bodies out of their homes and into the multiplex. However some major studios, led by Weinstein, are hedging their bets and joining the major indies (such as IFC and Magnolia who have been doing this for years) by releasing their movies in limited theatrical release and on Video On-Demand simultaneously.

The box office charge was led by The Avengers which rocketed to the number three box office champion of all time, behind only two James Cameron films. Not far behind was The Dark Knight Rises which closed out Christopher Nolan’s and in all likelihood Christian Bale’s involvement with the franchise and rose to number seven on the domestic box office list. Also in the top 20 was The Hunger Games which claimed the number 13 spot and established a brand new franchise to capture the hearts and minds of pre-pubescent girls everywhere, replacing the last of the Twilight series that also came out in 2012.

As with every year, we here at Cinema365 have high hopes for what’s in store for 2013. We will be out there on the front lines, checking out  the major new releases as well as as many independent films as we can see in the Orlando area as we can get to. To that end we will continue to cover the Florida Film Festival as best we can, with reviews of as many films as we can get to see without our brains exploding. DVD releases will continue to play an important part of our coverage as we strive to maintain our stated goal of one review every day, although being human we do falter some days.

In the meantime, we have a preview to get to so just a few words of business before we get started; as always, release dates are extremely subject to change. Plenty of the movies that show up in the preview will wind up coming out on a date other than the one listed here and maybe some may not be released at all. Others may change their titles and come out as something else entirely. The farther out the movie is scheduled for, the more likelihood for change there is. The information we present here is as accurate as we can make it when it was written but don’t be surprised if within a few days of publication there will already be changes. For more accurate release dates, consult our weekly previews which contain the movies being released nationwide, as well as those that are coming out in limited release here in Orlando. Also keep an eye out for Four-Warned, our monthly series that details all the movies getting theatrical releases somewhere in the country – at least, those that we are aware of. By all means, consult your local theater listings to make sure the movie you’re interested in seeing is playing in your area before heading out to the multiplex. If you’re looking for further information about a movie that grabs your fancy, you can find it at either iMDB or ComingSoon.net; the links to both of those sites are available on the front page of Cinema365.

So what are you waiting for? There’s a whole year of previews for you to get through and you won’t do it by reading all this fluff. Enjoy your glimpse into 2013!

JANUARY

Usually the first month of any new year is mostly the province of the Holiday movies, remaining strong in the theaters, plus the debuts of a one or two Oscar hopefuls that opened in New York and Los Angeles before the end of the year to qualify for an Academy Award nomination. Generally the rest are those films exiled to the gulag that is January, movies that have shifted release dates and that the studios have little confidence in. Once in awhile, there are movies that come out that are critically acclaimed or box office winners or both. This year, we can look forward to the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger to a leading role in an action movie and a gangster movie that was set to be a summer fixture that was delayed due to a tragedy.

The Gangster Squad

DON’T MISS

GANGSTER SQUAD

RELEASE DATE: January 11, 2013
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Robert Patrick, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi
STORY: Loosely based on actual events, Los Angeles in the ’30s is in the complete control of mobster Mickey Cohen. Realizing conventional methods won’t work in dealing with the crime boss, a small cadre of cops puts aside the rule books and takes the law into their own hands in an all-out war against Cohen.
PROSPECTS: The movie gained notoriety when its release date was pushed out from last summer and its trailer pulled from theaters after the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre (a scene from the trailer showed mobsters opening fire with Tommy guns in a crowded movie theater). With an all-star cast and a certain amount of infamy the movie will have theater goers curious.
OBSTACLES: Gangster movies haven’t exactly been burning up the box office receipts over the past 25 years.
FACTOID: Amy Adams and Kate Winslet were considered for a role that eventually went to newcomer Mireille Enos.

SHOULD SEE

THE LAST STAND

RELEASE DATE: January 18, 2013
STUDIO: Lionsgate
STARRING: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Eduardo Noriega, Jaime Alexander, Rodrigo Santoro, Peter Stormare, Zach Gilford, Genesis Rodriguez, Harry Dean Stanton, Johnny Knoxville
STORY: The sheriff of a small border town faces catastrophe when a drug lord from the Mexican cartel is broken out from an American prison and is headed back to Mexico with the firepower of a small army – and this one town in his way.
PROSPECTS: This is the Governator’s first lead role since entering the political arena. Having retired from office, this is the first of several films coming out in the next year that Schwarzenegger will headline and there will be a curiosity factor that should make for a pretty decent draw.
OBSTACLES: It’s a mystery whether Schwarzenegger has the same appeal that he did before his political career. The trailer doesn’t do him any favors as the movie looks little better than a direct-to-home video action thriller although how good it is remains to be seen.
FACTOID: Most of the action was filmed in and around New Mexico.

HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS

RELEASE DATE: January 25, 2013
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Derek Mears, Thomas Mann, Zoe Bell, Robin Atkin Downs
STORY: Fifteen years after the incident in the Gingerbread House, the siblings Hansel and Gretel have become deadly hunters of witches and warlocks. They are contracted to take down a powerful witch who intends to sacrifice many children during a blood moon ritual two days hence; they not only have to contend with her coven but with a brutal sheriff who is conducting a witch hunt of his own.
PROSPECTS: Renner is superhot after stints in the Bourne and Avengers franchises. Looks like there are some jaw-dropping eye candy in this one as well.
OBSTACLES: I am reminded inescapably of Van Helsing, a similarly-themed movie that looked marvelous but left critics and audiences flat, failing to become the expected franchise film that Universal hoped it to be and as Paramount clearly hopes this will be.
FACTOID: In interviews, Janssen stated she did the film for financial reasons alone; troubles with Bringing Up Bobby, a film she directed and produced, forced her to raise cash in order to pay her mortgage off and keep her own film above water.

MIGHT SURPRISE

JOHN DIES AT THE END

RELEASE DATE: January 25, 2013
STUDIO: Magnolia
STARRING: Paul Giamatti, Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Clancy Brown, Glynn Turman, Doug Jones, Daniel Roebuck, Angus Scrimm, Fabianne Therese, Jimmy Wong, Allison Weissman
STORY: Users who take a designer drug that gives them an out-of-body experience don’t come back as human and soon it becomes apparent that an alien invasion is underway. Mankind’s only hope comes down to a couple of college dropout slackers. In other words, we’re screwed.
PROSPECTS: A festival favorite (including an appearance at the Florida Film Festival last year), this is the latest from legendary horror auteur Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep) who has a rabid underground following.
OBSTACLES: More likely destined for cult status, the parasitical alien invasion is getting a bigger budget big studio treatment later in the year with The Host.
FACTOID: Based on a comic horror novel by David Wong which originally was serialized on the Internet back in 2001.

ALSO

January 4, 2013

ALL SUPERHEROES MUST DIE (Image) puts a trio of superheroes in a position where their super powers are no longer working. An evil mastermind puts them through challenges that are virtually impossible to overcome; in order to survive they’ll have to work together – as humans – or die powerless. You will find this in limited release. TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (Lionsgate) is the second reboot of the iconic Tobe Hooper horror classic. While a whole new generation of nubile young teen sorts queue up to get eviscerated, veterans from original Gunnar Hansen, Bill Moseley and Marilyn Burns all put in an appearance in this new one. And you can watch the chainsaw coming through the screen in senses-shattering 3D! Wheee!

January 11, 2013

A HAUNTED HOUSE (Open Road) is a spoof of the Paranormal Activity films courtesy of Marlon Wayans and his wacky crew. QUARTET (Weinstein) is Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut and stars Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connelly and Michael Gambon as residents of a retirement home for British opera singers whose lives are thrown into turmoil by the arrival of a diva on the eve of a crucial fund raising concert in which she refuses to sing. This is opening in limited release.

January 18, 2013

BROKEN CITY (20th Century Fox) stars Mark Wahlberg as an honest cop trapped and framed by the corrupt mayor (Russell Crowe) of an even more corrupt city. To get his life back, he’ll have to use all his street smarts and toughness to overcome the most ruthless of foes. In MAMA (Universal), a pair of young girls are found in a decrepit cabin five years after they disappeared from their suburban neighborhood. Their uncle and his girlfriend take the girls into their home, unaware they have also invited a malevolent spirit in as well. Jessica Chastain and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau from the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones” star.

January 25, 2013

MOVIE 43 (Relativity) takes 12 directors including some pretty well-known names and lets ’em loose on some of the most raunchy, debauched and disturbing vignettes and challenges them to make the stories intertwine. Good luck. PARKER (FilmDistrict) stars Jason Statham in the title role as a thief double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. He aims to even the score and recruits Jennifer Lopez to help him do it. Again, good luck.

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.

RED TAILS (20th Century Fox) Budget: $58 Million. Domestic Gross: $49.9M Total: $49.9M Verdict: Flop.
CONTRABAND (Universal) Budget: $25M. Domestic Gross: $66.5M Total: $96.3M Verdict: Hit.
UNDERWORLD AWAKENING (Screen Gems) Budget: $70M. Domestic Gross: $62.3M Total: $160.1M Verdict: Profitable.
THE DIVIDE (Anchor Bay) Budget: $3M. Domestic Gross: $130,839 Total: $130,839 Verdict: Flop.
THE DEVIL INSIDE (Paramount InSurge) Budget: $1M. Domestic Gross: $53.3M Total: $101.4M Verdict: Blockbuster.
THE GREY (Open Road) Budget: $25M. Domestic Gross: $51.6M Total: $77.3M Verdict: Hit.
HAYWIRE (Relativity) Budget: $23M. Domestic Gross: $18.9M Total: $33.4M Verdict: Lost Money.
ONE FOR THE MONEY (Lionsgate) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $26.4M Total: $36.9 Verdict: Flop.
MAN ON THE EDGE (Summit) Budget: $42M. Domestic Gross: $18.6M Total: $46.2 Verdict: Lost Money.

FEBRUARY

Some of the year’s anticipated releases begin to trickle out as Valentine’s Day and the President’s Day long weekend give Hollywood a wake-up call from winter doldrums. 2013 brings us the return of Bruce Willis into his signature role, a comic book-based action film starring Stallone, a comedy with Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman and a medical industry thriller from director Stephen Soderbergh.

A Good Day to Die Hard

CAN’T MISS

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD

RELEASE DATE: February 14, 2013
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Cole Hauser, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Yulia Snigir, Amaury Nolasco, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Anne Vyalitsyna
STORY: When a rogue Russian general is broken out of prison, John McClane finds himself in the middle of it, this time protecting his son who has been caught up in the event. Father and son, long estranged, will have to learn to fight together to survive.
PROSPECTS: The preceding four films in the franchise have all done big box office. There’s no reason to believe this one won’t follow along, considering that it has almost zero competition and most of the holiday movies will have made their way out of the theaters by now.
OBSTACLES: Willis is getting a little long in the tooth for the character. It’s not certain that these sorts of movies still can carry the kind of numbers they have in the past.
FACTOID: This is the first script to be written specifically for a Die Hard film; the first was originally meant to be a sequel to a Frank Sinatra movie; the second was originally meant to be a sequel to Commando; the last two were both original scripts that the character of John McClane was written into. This script was always meant to be a part of the Die Hard franchise.

SHOULD SEE

IDENTITY THIEF

RELEASE DATE: February 8, 2013
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Genesis Rodriguez, Morris Chestnut, John Cho, Robert Patrick, Eric Stonestreet
STORY: A mild mannered Coloradan discovers that his credit cards have been racking up charges in Florida, a state he’s never been in. Realizing his identity has been stolen, he treks out to the Sunshine State to get his name and credit back, not realizing this will be a whole lot tougher than he thinks.
PROSPECTS: A real all-star comedy which should pull people into the theaters on its own. Might get a Bridesmaids-like push.
OBSTACLES: The overall theme of identity theft might hit a little too close to home; it’s a subject a lot of people are paranoid about and a comedy with this premise might leave people cold.
FACTOID: Gordon’s directorial debut was King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, an excellent documentary which will soon be reviewed here.

BULLET TO THE HEAD

RELEASE DATE: February 1, 2013
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Christian Slater, Holt McCallany, Jason Momoa, Sarah Shahi, Jon Seda
STORY: A DC cop and a New Orleans-based hitman must form an uneasy alliance to take out the killers of their respective partners.
PROSPECTS: Based on an acclaimed graphic novel, Stallone is hot these days thanks to the Expendables films. Looks awfully gritty from the trailer.
OBSTACLES: May be too gritty for mainstream audiences. Comic book adaptations haven’t tended to do well if they don’t have superheroes in them.
FACTOID: Director Walter Hill, best known for the cult classic The Warriors is making his first film in ten years.

MIGHT SURPRISE

NO

RELEASE DATE: February 15, 2013
STUDIO: Sony Classics
STARRING: Gael Garcia Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers, Marcial Tagle, Nestor Cantillana, Jaime Vadell, Pascal Montero, Diego Munoz, Luis Gnecco
STORY: The incredible but true story of an advertising executive tasked to run a campaign for a referendum election that may either legitimize Chilean dictator Agustin Pinochet’s regime or end it. Under constant scrutiny from Pinochet’s thugs, he devises a bold plan to win the election.
PROSPECTS: Was one of the most acclaimed films to come out of last year’s Sundance Festival.
OBSTACLES: America rarely embraces subtitled foreign films.
FACTOID: Is Chile’s official entry into the 2013 Foreign Language Film Oscar competition.

ALSO

February 1, 2013

WARM BODIES (Summit) is set during the coming zombie apocalypse and finds a young zombie boy developing feelings for a human teenage girl. This sets off a chain reaction amongst the zombies and pisses off her dad to no end. Opening in limited release, THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 2: GHOSTS OF GEORGIA (Lionsgate) continues the big screen versions of the TV show which re-creates actual hauntings, in this case a Southern gothic mansion in the Peachtree State.

February 8, 2013

SIDE EFFECTS (Open Road) is the latest from director Steven Soderbergh. In it the lives of a New York couple are turned upside down when the wife’s psychiatrist prescribes her a brand new drug which has some unanticipated complications. Jude Law, Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum star. A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN III (A24) stars Charlie Sheen as the titular character whose perfect life goes careening into despair when his girlfriend dumps him. Using his inner circle of friends and family as sounding boards, he tries to resolve his feelings for her while attempting to move on in a kind of oddball version of Los Angeles. TOP GUN 3D (Paramount) gives us this live action video game in glorious 3D. Permission to lose that loving feeling again SIR!!! THE PLAYROOM (Roadside Attractions) has a teenage girl who becomes the surrogate parent to her three younger siblings in the 1970s as her parents drink themselves into oblivion. This limited release was one of the most talked-about films from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival and stars the extremely hot John Hawkes. THE SORCEROR AND THE WHITE SNAKE (Magnet) is based on an ancient Chinese legend about an herbalist who falls in love with a thousand-year-old white snake disguised as a woman. A wizard discovers her ruse and battles her potent magic to save the soul of the good herbalist. Jet Li stars in this limited release.

February 13, 2013

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (Warner Brothers) is a Romeo and Juliet-esque teen love story with a twist; the families have some extremely dark secrets that threaten to tear their small Southern town apart. Definitely one for the Twi-hards.

February 14, 2013

In SAFE HAVEN (Relativity), a mysterious young woman arrives in a small Carolina town. Despite her initial resistance, she starts to fall in love with the hunky widower who has plainly got goo-goo eyes for her. Then her mysterious past catches up with her. Could this have been written by anyone other than Nicholas Sparks? Of course it could have! Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough star. ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH (Weinstein) is a 3D animated feature in which a heroic astronaut travels to a dangerous planet in response to an SOS signal. This turns out to be a fiendish trap. His nerdy by-the-book brother must travel to this planet of hideous creatures and break his brother out but this will be no easy feat – Area 51 is, after all, one of the most closely guarded military installations on Earth.

February 22, 2013

DARK SKIES (Dimension) is an alien abduction thriller from the producer of such horror hits as the Paranormal Activity series, Insidious and Sinister. SNITCH (Summit) is loosely based on actual events and stars Dwayne Johnson as a father whose teenage son is wrongly accused of being a drug dealer and is looking at a heavy prison sentence. In order to get his son off the hook, the dad agrees to go undercover in a notorious drug ring.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE (Columbia) Budget: $57 Million. Domestic Gross: $51.8M Total: $132.6M Verdict: Broke Even.
THE VOW (Screen Gems) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $125.0M Total: $196.1M Verdict: Blockbuster.
THIS MEANS WAR (20th Century Fox) Budget: $65M. Domestic Gross: $54.8M Total: $156.5M Verdict: Made Money.
ACT OF VALOR (Relativity) Budget: $12M. Domestic Gross: $70.0M Total: $81.3M Verdict: Big Hit.
CHRONICLE (20th Century Fox) Budget: $12M. Domestic Gross: $64.6M Total: $126.6M Verdict: Blockbuster.
JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (New Line) Budget: $85M. Domestic Gross: $126.2M Total: $325.9M Verdict: Big Hit.
SAFE HOUSE (Universal) Budget: $85M. Domestic Gross: $126.2M Total: $207.9M Verdict: Made Money.
WANDERLUST (Universal) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $17.3M Total: $21.5M Verdict: Lost Money.
BIG MIRACLE (Universal) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $20.2M Total: $24.7M Verdict: Flop.
THE WOMAN IN BLACK (CBS) Budget: $N/A. Domestic Gross: $54.3M Total: $127.7M Verdict: Big Hit.

MARCH

Studios hope March and St. Paddy’s Day will bring them the luck of the Irish. The year really heats up this year as we return to one of the most beloved places in the annals of fantasy, we see a Stephen King classic remade, we see a re-imagining of one of the world’s most well-known fairy tales and DreamWorks animation takes us back to the Stone Age.

Oz The Great and Powerful

CAN’T MISS

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

RELEASE DATE: March 8, 2013
STUDIO: Disney
STARRING: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Joey King, Bruce Campbell, Abigail Spencer, Bill Cobbs
STORY: A magician and charlatan performing for the rubes in Kansas is swept away by a twister into the magical land of Oz where he gets caught in a struggle between good and easy. At first mistaken for a wizard, he needs to identify who is good, who is evil and which side he will fall on.
PROSPECTS: Director Sam Raimi has moved on from the Spider-Man trilogy and takes on a different kind of franchise. The trailers for the CGI-heavy production look like a new take on the beloved fantasy series that is different yet strangely familiar.
OBSTACLES: There’s always the specter of The Wizard of Oz hanging over films about Oz. Nothing can compare to it and if this movie attempts to it will fail.
FACTOID: This is Disney’s second Oz-related film, the first being Return to Oz in 1985.

SHOULD SEE

THE CROODS

RELEASE DATE: March 22, 2013
STUDIO: DreamWorks
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, Cloris Leachman
STORY: A Stone Age family which has survived by staying in their cave is forced into the world and discovers it a more wonderful – and dangerous – place than they could have possibly imagined.
PROSPECTS: Really the first major full-length animation feature of 2013 (OK, there’s the Escape From Planet Earth thing but nobody’s really expecting big numbers rom that) and Fox is getting some serious promo going for this. The kids are going to be frantic to see this.
OBSTACLES: It looks pretty good thus far but kids have more entertainment choices these days and a bad movie will not get the kind of box office they have in the past.
FACTOID: This will be the first DreamWorks Animation film to be distributed by Fox after years of being distributed by Paramount.

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION

RELEASE DATE: March 29, 2013
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, Byung-hun Lee, Adrianne Palicki, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Park, Channing Tatum, D.J. Cotrona, Ray Stevenson
STORY: When the Joes are ambushed and massacred, they realize that they were betrayed at a very high level within the government. To make matters worse they have been set up to take the fall for actions they didn’t commit and the surviving members are now fugitives. While they know Cobra is the source of their troubles, extricating themselves from this mess may be more than even the Joes can handle.
PROSPECTS: Johnson and Willis are big stars who can put a lot of butts in seats. The toy franchise has a great deal of name recognition and the first film in the franchise was a big hit.
OBSTACLES: The first movie took a critical bashing and audiences didn’t regard it too highly either. Nearly the entire cast and creative team has been replaced and the movie was delayed from last summer to the spring to convert to 3D which might worry some about the quality of the movie.
FACTOID: Johnson plays Roadblock who in the comics was once a chef. One of Johnson’s trademark lines for the WWE is “Can you smell what the Rock is cooking!”

THE HOST

RELEASE DATE: March 29, 2013
STUDIO: Open Road
STARRING : Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Diane Kruger, William Hurt, Frances Fisher, Bokeem Woodbine, Chandler Canterbury
STORY: In a future when the Earth has been conquered by parasitical aliens that inhabit our bodies, the parasite inside one human body falls in love with a young man who carries no parasite. .
PROSPECTS: This is the newest potential film franchise from Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight books. From what I understand, it takes a lot of the traits from that series and transfers it to a sci-fi setting.
OBSTACLES: Can they capture lightning in a bottle again? Part of the reason the film franchise succeeded was the attraction of the pre-teen audience (and their mums) to Robert Pattinson and Tyler Lautner, as well as their identification with Kristen Stewart. Without leads who connect with their audience in the same way, this franchise will be dead in the water.
FACTOID: The movie was primarily filmed in Louisiana and New Mexico.

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER

RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2013
STUDIO: New Line
STARRING: Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane, Bill Nighy, Ewan McGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson, Eddie Marsan, Warwick Davis, Ewen Bremner, Ralph Brown
STORY: When a young farmboy unwittingly opens a gateway into a dimension inhabited by a race of fearsome, ruthless giants bent on the destruction of humanity, he must find his inner hero to help stop the coming armageddon. Inspired by a feisty princess, he just might do it.
PROSPECTS: The latest from Bryan Singer whose work on the X-Men franchise has been stellar.
OBSTACLES: The movie was delayed nearly a full year; that kind of thing tends to send out the wrong kind of buzz.
FACTOID: Hoult played Dr. Hank “The Beast” McCoy in X-Men First Class. Singer directed the first two movies in the franchise and is gearing up to direct the sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Passed.

MIGHT SURPRISE

STOKER

RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2013
STUDIO: Fox Searchlight
STARRING: Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Lucas Till, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Brown
STORY: After her father dies in an auto accident, his orphaned daughter goes to live with her uncle and her emotionally unstable aunt. Soon it appears that his motives might not be altruistic and that she might not be altogether unfavorable to the idea..
PROSPECTS: The English language debut of acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-Woo which is going to get a lot of film geeks salivating at the prospect.
OBSTACLES: The undercurrent of incest might just drive audiences away.
FACTOID: The original cast was Carey Mulligan, Jodie Foster and Colin Firth in the roles that eventually were re-cast with Wasikowska, Kidman and Goode respectively.

ALSO

March 1, 2013

In 21 AND OVER (Relativity) a young man celebrating his 21st birthday the night before a critical med school interview turns debauchery into an art form. Drunken orgy, here we come! THE LAST EXORCISM PART II (CBS) picks up where the last one left off where the only surviving member of the Sweetzer family is found wandering the woods with entire chunks of her memory of the last few months missing. Soon it becomes apparent that her previous exorcism would not be her last. PHANTOM (Magnet) stars David Duchovny and Ed Harris as crew members on a Soviet submarine which may be the key to World War III but the strange goings on in the sub suggest it might be haunted. Opening in limited release and VOD only.

March 8, 2013

ADMISSION (Focus) stars Tina Fey as an uptight admissions officer for an Ivy League school who discovers that the brilliant but unconventional applicant may actually be the son she gave up for adoption years ago. DEAD MAN DOWN (FilmDistrict) has a heartless assassin and the right hand man of a vicious crime boss seduced and eventually blackmailed by a crime victim seeking revenge. Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace star. Opening in limited release, THE ABC’S OF DEATH (Magnet) is an anthology film by 26 of the world’s most acclaimed horror directors tasked with creating a chapter of the movie about death each of which starts with a different letter of the alphabet..

March 15, 2013

CARRIE (Screen Gems) is a remake of the classic Brian DePalma interpretation of one of Stephen King’s most chilling novels. Chloe Grace Moretz stars in the title role as a teenage girl heavily sheltered by her religious fanatic mom but as the girl reaches puberty, starts to develop incredible telekinetic powers. THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE (New Line) stars Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi as a pair of Las Vegas magicians whose long-time partnership disguises the fact they can’t stand each other. They are forced to close ranks when an arrogant street magician threatens their livelihood on as Kings of the Strip. K-11 (Breaking Glass) comes out in limited release and is about a high-powered record executive who wakes up from a drug-induced blackout in a maximum security prison wing for gay and transgendered prisoners without any idea how he got there or how he can regain his freedom.

March 20, 2013

EDEN (Phase 4) is based on a true story of a Korean-American teenager who is kidnapped from a New Mexico bar and put to work as a sex slave in Las Vegas. Jamie Chung stars in this limited release thriller.

March 22, 2013

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (FilmDistrict) stars Gerard Butler as a former Secret Service agent who was forced to leave in disgrace who is called back to active duty when the White House is taken over by terrorists. In limited release is LOVE AND HONOR (IFC) which is set during the Vietnam War. Liam Hemsworth stars as a soldier who tries to help his best friend reclaim his girlfriend’s heart during while AWOL during a time of social upheaval and protest.

March 29, 2013

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (Focus) follows the footsteps of Crime and Punishment and Les Miserables as a police officer and a motorcycle rider are entwined in a years-long struggle when the cyclist commits a crime in order to support his child. TYLER PERRY’S TEMPTATION: CONFESSIONS OF A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR (Lionsgate) is about a woman whose decision to leave an existing relationship for another man has unforeseen consequences for her life.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

THE HUNGER GAMES (Lionsgate) Budget: $78 Million. Domestic Gross: $408.0M Total: $686.5M Verdict: Blockbuster.
JOHN CARTER (Disney) Budget: $250M. Domestic Gross: $73.1M Total: $282.8M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE RAVEN (Relativity) Budget: $26M. Domestic Gross: $16.0M Total: $26.1M Verdict: Lost Money.
DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX (Universal) Budget: $70M. Domestic Gross: $214.0M Total: $348.8M Verdict: Blockbuster.
WRATH OF THE TITANS (Warner Brothers) Budget: $150M. Domestic Gross: $83.7M Total: $302.0 Verdict: Broke Even.
SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (CBS) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $9.1M Total: $34.6 Verdict: Probably Made Money.
21 JUMP STREET (Columbia) Budget: $42M. Domestic Gross: $138.5M Total: $201.6M Verdict: Blockbuster.
MIRROR MIRROR (Relativity) Budget: $85M. Domestic Gross: $64.9M Total: $166.2M Verdict: Broke Even.
PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS (Columbia) Budget: $55M. Domestic Gross: $31.1M Total: $121.6M Verdict: Made Money.
A THOUSAND WORDS (DreamWorks) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $18.5M Total: $20.6M Verdict: Flop.
THINK LIKE A MAN (Screen Gems) Budget: $12M. Domestic Gross: $91.6M Total: $96.1M Verdict: Big Hit.
PROJECT X (Warner Brothers) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $54.7M Total: $100.9M Verdict: Probable Hit.
BULLY (Weinstein) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $3.5M Total: $3.7M Verdict: Probably Made Money.

APRIL

Spring break presages the summer and normally there are almost always at least a hint of the upcoming summer blockbuster season and this year is no exception. Director Sam Raimi remakes one of his iconic horror films, one of America’s greatest sports heroes gets a biopic, Tom Cruise stars in a groundbreaking sci-fi film and Michael Bay takes time out from the Transformers franchise with a somewhat smaller-in-scope crime action film.

Oblivion

CAN’T MISS

OBLIVION

RELEASE DATE: April 12, 2013 on IMAX; April 19 as a Wide release
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Zoe Bell
STORY: Mankind has won their war against an alien invader. However the surface of the planet is rendered nearly uninhabitable. Drones are removing the last of the resources for human habitations in the sky. However when one of the last drone repairmen finds a beautiful stranger in a downed spacecraft, he sets in motion events that will call into question everything he thought was true.
PROSPECTS: This has gotten enormous Internet buzz for a few years. It is director Joseph Kosinski’s follow-up to TRON: Legacy and when he couldn’t get it made quickly enough, fashioned it as an illustrated novella which got enough interest to secure financing and get Cruise involved.
OBSTACLES: Sci-fi can be rather dicey without a lot of space battles and a convincing universe to play in.
FACTOID: While the illustrated novella that Kosinski and artist partner Andree Wallin has been completed, Radical Publishing (which owns the rights) delayed the publishing of it in order to coincide with the release of the movie.

SHOULD SEE

42

RELEASE DATE: April 12, 2013
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Harrison Ford, Chadwick Boseman, Christopher Meloni, Ryan Merriman, Brad Beyer, Alan Tudyk, Lucas Black, John C. McGinley
STORY: A visionary baseball executive recognizes that in order for his club to be competitive, he’ll have to go outside the box to get the best players available. Billy Bean? No, Branch Rickey and the player he’s after will change baseball – and American society – forever. The player’s name; Jack Roosevelt Robinson, better known as Jackie.
PROSPECTS: One of the greatest stories in sports. While some might remember Robinson starring in his biopic The Jackie Robinson Story it’s high time he got his story done right. He remains one of the most iconic figures not only in sports but in civil rights as well.
OBSTACLES: Baseball movies, reflecting the status of the sport as the no-longer-national pastime, haven’t done particularly well lately. Boseman, who’ll play Robinson, is an unknown and the movie will largely stand or fall based on how well he handles being the lead.
FACTOID: Rickey was initially meant to be played by Robert Redford but he had to turn down the part due to scheduling issues.

PAIN AND GAIN

RELEASE DATE: April 26, 2013
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Tony Shalhoub, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong
STORY: Based on an actual incident, a group of bodybuilders get involved in kidnapping, extortion and murder in the Miami of the late 80s.
PROSPECTS: Director Michael Bay has a pretty good track record although you’d have to go back to Bad Boys to find a movie of this sort on his résumé. Wahlberg and Johnson are both poised to have extremely good years with some high profile projects for each on the horizon.
OBSTACLES: I’m not sure whether the movie means to be a comedy, a crime drama or a mix of both. If the latter, it’s going to take some delicate tightrope walking to pull it off.
FACTOID: This is the lowest budget Bay has had to work with since Bad Boys – which was his feature debut.

MIGHT SURPRISE

THE COMPANY YOU KEEP

RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2013
STUDIO: Sony Classics
STARRING: Shia LaBeouf, Robert Redford, Julie Christie, Richard Jenkins, Susan Sarandon, Stephen Root, Sam Elliott, Brendan Gleeson, Terrence Howard, Anna Kendrick
STORY: A young reporter encounters a man with a hidden secret; he’s been a fugitive from the law for over 30 years and is one of the last members of the Weather Underground still free.
PROSPECTS: An amazing cast with Redford – who may well be as good a director as he is a star – behind the lens.
OBSTACLES: Redford is a national treasure but I suspect the politics of this may keep older, conservative audiences out of theaters.
FACTOID: This is the seventh film to be directed by Redford.

ALSO

April 5, 2013

THE HEAT (20th Century Fox) is a buddy cop flick with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy as a straight-laced by-the-book FBI agent and a boorish street-smart Boston cop respectively chasing down a Beantown drug ring. JURASSIC PARK 3D (Universal) seeks to add a bit more to Steven Spielberg’s bank account as his blockbuster is given the 3D conversion treatment.

April 12, 2013

EVIL DEAD (Tri-Star) is a remake of Sam Raimi’s legendary horror film as a group of vacationing young people find the Book of the Dead in a remote mountain cabin and in doing so unleash hell on Earth. SCARY MOVIE 5 (Dimension) takes on Black Swan but this time without Anna Farris. This time Ashley Tisdale stars. DISCONNECT (LD Entertainment) interweaves three different tales of people searching for human connection in a digital age that discourages it. Opening in limited release.

April 24, 2013

THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST (IFC) is about a young man of Pakistani descent who at a crucial time in his career finds himself contending with the demands of his chase for the American dream, a hostage crisis and his own cultural identity. Opening in limited release.

April 26, 2013

THE BIG WEDDING (Lionsgate) commands a high-powered ensemble cast (including Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Robin Williams, Katherine Heigl and Amanda Seyfried. Here the divorced adoptive parents of the groom must pretend to be still together when the ultra-conservative biological mother decides to attend unexpectedly. In AT ANY PRICE (Sony Classics) a father and son clash over the son’s future; dad wants him to rule the family farming empire while junior wants to race cars. Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron star in this limited release. Also in limited release, THE LORDS OF SALEM (Anchor Bay) is Rob Zombie’s latest epic horror extravaganza as a comely DJ gets involved with a new rock band only to discover that they are not what they seem.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT (Universal) Budget: $30 Million. Domestic Gross: $28.7M Total: $53.8M Verdict: Lost Money.
AMERICAN REUNION (Universal) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $56.8M Total: $234.7M Verdict: Big Hit.
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (Lionsgate) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $42.1M Total: $66.5M Verdict: Likely a Hit.
THE THREE STOOGES (20th Century Fox) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $44.3M Total: $53.0M Verdict: Lost Money..
SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD(Focus) Budget: $10M. Domestic Gross: $7.1M Total: $9.6M Verdict: Flop.
SAFE (Lionsgate) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $17.1M Total: $40.4M Verdict: Likely a Hit.
THE LUCKY ONE (Warner Brothers) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $60.5M Total: $92.5M Verdict: Likely a Hit.
LOCKOUT (PREVIEWED AS MS-ONE: MAXIMUM SECURITY) (FilmDistrict) Budget: $20M. Domestic Gross: $14.3M Total: $28.7M Verdict: Lost Money.
CHIMPANZEE (DisneyNature) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $29.0M Total: $29.0M Verdict: Likely a Hit.
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (Relativity) Budget: $10M. Domestic Gross: $31.6M Total: $36.4M Verdict: Hit.

SUMMER

Summer is the movie fan’s Nirvana as the big blockbusters muscle their way into theaters. There is much to look forward to here as the first film in the post-Avengers Marvel filmed universe makes its appearance, DC tries to reboot an iconic superhero, JJ Abrams returns to where no man has gone before and Guillermo del Toro attempts to take on the alien invasion genre with giant robots. Cinema365 will present our annual summer preview at the end of April but for now here’s a quick look at some of the movies anticipated for the upcoming summer.

Iron Man 3

CAN’T MISS

IRON MAN 3

RELEASE DATE: May 3, 2013
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Gwynneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Ben Kingsley, Jon Favreau, Wang Xuequi, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale
STORY: Phase 2 of the Marvel filmed universe begins as an unknown enemy attacks and destroys Tony Stark’s personal life. His suit is of little or no help as he tries to find out who is behind the attack and whether or not he is more than the suit he designed.
PROSPECTS: The first Marvel movie post-Avengers is bound to get plenty of box office love.
OBSTACLES: This is the first film in the series not to be directed by Jon Favreau and while Shane Black is an esteemed screenwriter, his skills as a director have never been tested.
FACTOID: One of the scenes was filmed inside Epic Games, a videogame development company responsible for The Gears of War franchise among others.

SHOULD SEE

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

RELEASE DATE: May 17, 2013
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, Peter Weller
STORY: After a terrorist act from within Starfleet forces the Enterprise to return home, Captain Kirk is faced with an unstoppable weapon that he must capture at any cost – even the lives of his own crew.
PROSPECTS: The franchise is back big time and is teasing elements of the biggest Star Trek movie of the first incarnation.
OBSTACLES: There is always backlash after a successful franchise re-launch. The same fanboys who were singing the praises of JJ Abrams after the first movie will be trashing him before the second.
FACTOID: Weller previously appeared in the TV series “Star Trek: Enterprise” as John Frederick Paxton.

MAN OF STEEL

RELEASE DATE: June 14, 2013
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Russell Crowe, Christopher Meloni, Ayelet Zurer
STORY: The Superman story gets rebooted with a new Man of Steel, a new origin and familiar villains – General Zod for one.
PROSPECTS: Zack Snider is at the helm, the same fella who did the acclaimed Watchmen adaptation. The trailers have looked much darker than previous films in the franchise, which has in the past translated to box office gold.
OBSTACLES: Superman is not nearly as hot as Batman among comic book fans. Snider’s last movie, Sucker Punch, tanked.
FACTOID: The character of Whitey Fordman was not in the comics but was created for the “Smallville” TV series.

WORLD WAR Z

RELEASE DATE: June 21, 2013
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale, Matthew Fox, David Morse, Eric West, Abigail Hargrove, Mustafa Harris
STORY: An employee of the UN races around the world to try and stop the zombie apocalypse as a pandemic topples governments and threatens the survival of the human race.
PROSPECTS: Brad Pitt is always a plus. The book this is based on is a bestseller and one of the most talked-about books of the last ten years. Zombies are hot thanks to “Walking Dead.”
OBSTACLES: Too many zombies spoil the broth? A definite potential for overkill here.
FACTOID: Scenes were filmed on the flight deck of the British Royal Navy helicopter carrier RFA Argus.

PACIFIC RIM

RELEASE DATE: July 12, 2013
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Ron Perlman, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Robert Kazinsky, Max Martini, Brad William Henke
STORY: When Earth is invaded by gigantic creatures emerging from the ocean, giant robots are created to battle the monsters but even so the human race is losing the war. Everything will hinge on a single, outdated robot and the unlikely pilots driving it.
PROSPECTS: Guillermo del Toro is much loved among the fanbase and this has been on an awful lot of radars since it was first announced. Early pictures and the trailer have done nothing to dispel the buzz, which is a good sign.
OBSTACLES: Giant robots have been much more of a box office winner in other parts of the globe than they have here.
FACTOID: Tom Cruise was once considered for the role Idris Elba was eventually cast in.

EPIC

RELEASE DATE: May 24, 2013
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Beyonce Knowles, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Knoxville, Aziz Ansari, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler
STORY: A young girl is accidentally transported into a hidden world within the forest outside her own home, one in which good and evil battle in the guise of fantastic creatures and where she becomes the turning point in the war that may destroy this world – and our own.
PROSPECTS: A very compelling trailer has even non-animated feature fans frothing at the mouth for this one. The voice cast is kinda quirky but there is enough star power to put butts in seats.
OBSTACLES: Very heavy competition for family movies this summer; will this one stand out?
FACTOID: The second Blue Skies Studios animated feature to be based on a William Joyce story (the first was Robots; this one was based on his book Leaf Men).

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2013
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro, Hans Matheson, Callan Mulvey, Jack O’Connell, Igal Naor
STORY: While the Persians were winning a costly battle at Thermopylae, they were also simultaneously meeting an army led by the Athenian general Themistocles.
PROSPECTS: 300 is still a big favorite among both movie buffs and fanboys alike. It changed the look of movies forever.
OBSTACLES: A completely different creative team could make this a second-rate summer film and a box office dud if it gets bad word of mouth.
FACTOID: Joel Edgerton was offered the role of Themistocles but he turned it down. Relative unknown Stapleton was then given the part.

MIGHT SURPRISE

ELYSIUM

RELEASE DATE: August 9, 2013
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner, Michael Shanks, Carly Pope
STORY: In the future the haves live on a luxurious space station while the have-nots live on a ruined, broken Earth barely able to subsist. A man with his back against the wall undertakes a daring mission that might bring equality at last to the human race.
PROSPECTS: Director Neil Blomkamp was, with Copley, responsible for the success of District 9 He gets Damon and Foster, not to mention a budget, this time around.
OBSTACLES: Science Fiction with a social conscience hasn’t traditionally done well at the box office.
FACTOID: Was originally scheduled for release in April but was pushed out to October following some necessary reshoots.

ALSO

ABOUT TIME (Universal) is a romantic comedy with elements of time travel from director Richard Curtis (Love Actually) and stars Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy (May 10). THE GREAT GATSBY (Warner Brothers), originally supposed to be released this past Christmas was bumped up to the summer. Directed by Baz Luhrmann, it has been converted to 3D and stars Leonardo Di Caprio in the title role of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic (May 10). TYLER PERRY PRESENTS WE THE PEOPLES (Lionsgate) is an urban romantic comedy in which a hapless working class fella attempts to propose to his upper crust girlfriend only to fall afoul of her snooty family (May 10). BLACK ROCK (LD Entertainment) has three childhood friends taking a girls weekend on an island off the Maine coast which turns into a grueling fight for survival (May 17). FAST AND FURIOUS 6 (Universal) is the latest in the franchise and returns most of the cast and behind the camera talent from the fifth film (May 24). THE HANGOVER PART III (Warner Brothers) puts the Wolf pack on a road trip to Vegas. No bachelor party, no wedding to go to, just three guys spending some time in Sin City together. What could go wrong, right? Plenty (May 24). THE PURGE (Universal) posits a society in which any sort of crime including murder is legal for 12 hours once a year, and what one family will do to survive those 12 hours (May 31). AFTER EARTH (Columbia) stars Will and Jaden Smith as a father and son who crash land on Earth a thousand years from now to find it an even more dangerous place than it is now, and time ticking down on their chances of survival (June 7).THE INTERNSHIP (20th Century Fox) reunites The Wedding Crashers‘ Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as a couple of salesmen who try to reinvent themselves as a couple of interns at a tech company (June 7). NOW YOU SEE ME (Summit) combines four of the world’s greatest illusionists as they rob from corrupt corporate vaults and give back to those who were most hurt by those corporate shenanigans, all while being chased by the FBI’s best and brightest (June 7). THIS IS THE END (Columbia) has five actors, all playing themselves, dealing with a post-Apocalyptic L.A. Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and James Franco star (June 14). MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (Disney*Pixar) is a prequel to the animated hit Monsters, Inc. (June 21). KICK-ASS 2 (Universal) ups the stakes from the original as Kick-Ass assembles a “super-team” to deal with the Red Mist, who plots revenge against Kick-Ass and Hit Girl for the death of his father (June 28). WHITE HOUSE DOWN (Columbia) tells what happens when a paramilitary group takes over the White House. Channing Tatum stars (June 28). DESPICABLE ME 2 (Universal) has Gru and his minions taking on something even more terrifying than evil geniuses – little girls (July 3). THE LONE RANGER (Disney) is a re-imagining of the classic western tale by the producers of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with Armie Hammer in the title role and Johnny Depp as Tonto, his faithful companion (July 3). GROWN-UPS 2 (Columbia) is the continued mis-adventures of childhood friends turn grown children Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider, this time taking on a group of frat boys (July 12). THE CONJURING (Warner Brothers) is based on the true stories of Ed and Lorraine Warren, considered the leading experts on possession and hauntings (July 19). R.I.P.D. (Universal) is based on the Dark Horse comic book series and has zombie cops policing the undead. Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Bacon lead the all-star cast (July 19). TURBO (DreamWorks) is an animated feature about a snail who longs to be an Indie 500 champion (July 19). THE WOLVERINE (20th Century Fox) returns Hugh Jackman into his best-known role, this time taking on the Yakuza in Japan in one of the best-known story arcs from the comic series (July 26). In THE SMURFS 2 (Columbia) the evil wizard Gargamel creates some creatures called the Naughties meant to lead Smurfette astray, forcing her fellow Smurfs to Smurf off to Paris where they can Smurf the day…oh this is so Smurfed (July 31).In RED 2 (Summit) reunited the retired CIA operatives as they battle a group of vicious killers across Europe and possibly into the AARP (August 2). PLANES (Disney) is a 2D airborne spin-off of the Cars film which was originally intended for direct-to-video but is getting a theatrical release instead. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad (August 9). WE’RE THE MILLERS (New Line) stars Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston as a couple of people forced by circumstances to masquerade as a family in order to bring in a pot shipment from Mexico (August 9). In 2 GUNS (Universal) a DEA agent and a US Navy Intelligence officer who despise each other are forced to rely on each other when their undercover operation in a vicious Mexican drug cartel goes south and their superiors leave them dangling in the wind. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg star (August 16). PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS (20th Century Fox) continues the young adult fantasy series as the son of Poseidon is forced to seek out the Golden Fleece in order to save his home and training ground (August 16). THE TO-DO LIST (CBS) stars Aubrey Plaza as an over-achieving high school graduate who wants to achieve a wish list of all the fun stuff she missed out in high school before embarking on her college career (August 16). THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES (Screen Gems) comes from another young adult fantasy series looking to hit it big in Hollywood, this time staring Lily Collins as a young girl who discovers she is of half-angel descent caught up in a battle between good and evil (August 23). In YOU’RE NEXT (Lionsgate) family members at a reunion celebrating the wedding anniversary of the parents turns deadly when those attending start getting picked off one by one (August 23). CLOSED CIRCUIT (Focus) is a courtroom drama in which two ex-lovers who parted on less than friendly terms forced to co-operate as members of the defense team in a terrorism trial which turns out to be far more dangerous than they could have possibly imagined (August 28). In GETAWAY (Warner Brothers) a former race car driver is forced to get back behind the wheel of a car by a mysterious kidnapper who has his wife. If the driver doesn’t complete the increasingly dangerous mission he’s been given, his wife will die – and his every move is being watched by dashboard-mounted cameras (August 30). In ONE DIRECTION CONCERT MOVIE 3D (TriStar) the popular British pop group play songs from their first two albums (August 30). SATANIC (Weinstein) is about a college student remaining on campus over Thanksgiving break only to be stalked by a vicious gang (August 30). INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 (FilmDistrict) continues the story of the surprise hit as the demons possessing a young boy are not quite done with his family yet (August 30).

FALL

This is the portion of the 2013 schedule that is the most likely to change quite a bit, although there are a few movies we can pretty much expect to see barring unexpected delays. We’ll be looking for a big-budget version of Orson Scott Card’s space warfare classic, Peter Jackson continuing his Hobbit trilogy, new installments in the Hunger Games and Sin City franchises and a reboot of Tom Clancy’s bestselling (and box office champion) spy series. At the end of August, the annual Cinema365 Fall Preview should hit the site with more a more detailed look at all things Fall/Holiday cinematic.

The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug

CAN’T MISS

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

RELEASE DATE: December 13, 2013
STUDIO: New Line
STARRING: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Lee Pace, Sylvester McCoy, Jed Brophy, Graham McTavish, Benedict Cumberbatch
STORY: The second film in the trilogy has the band of heroes navigating the dangerous Desolation of Smaug on their way to Erebor. Here the band will find that their foe no longer slumbers – and that the dangers on the way to their goal may be more than even they can overcome.
PROSPECTS: Tolkien fans turned out in huge numbers as The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey set a December opening weekend record.
OBSTACLES: The reviews were less than spectacular and word of mouth was that the movie was a bit of a disappointment which may hinder the chances of the second installment in the trilogy to build on that momentum.
FACTOID: Both Ian Holm and Christopher Lee for reasons of health were unable to fly out to New Zealand so all their scenes were filmed at Pinewood Studios in London.

SHOULD SEE

ENDER’S GAME

RELEASE DATE: November 1, 2013
STUDIO: Summit
STARRING: Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Viola Davis, Nenso Anozie, Andrea Powell, Brendan Meyer
STORY: During a war with a vicious enemy alien race, humanity’s hope may rest with a young boy who shows extraordinary abilities in battle school.
PROSPECTS: The series of books on Ender Wiggin by Orson Scott Card are considered by many to be a modern sci-fi classic. Having Ford and Kingsley with up-and-coming young stars like Steinfeld, Breslin and Butterfield can only be a good thing.
OBSTACLES: Not a slam dunk and a fairly large budget will make it a rough go to make a profit on this one.
FACTOID: The movie originated as a short story published in the August 1977 issue of Analog Magazine, which was then expanded into a novel which then was turned into a comic book which then turned into a series of novels and then a film.

JACK RYAN

RELEASE DATE: December 25, 2013
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Peter Anderson, Kenneth Brannagh, David Paymer, Colm Feore, Gemma Chan
STORY: A young CIA analyst uncovers a plot to destabilize the American economy from within.
PROSPECTS: Clancy’s Ryan has always done well at the box office and with the all-star cast in front of the camera and Brannagh behind it, there’s no reason to believe this one won’t as well.
OBSTACLES: The character of Jack Ryan no longer has the box office cache he once had. It’s been eleven years since the last Jack Ryan film and that’s an eternity by Hollywood standards.
FACTOID: This is the first film in the series not to be directly based on the plots of one of the books.

HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

RELEASE DATE: November 22, 2013
STUDIO: Lionsgate
STARRING: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanly Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman
STORY: After Katness wins the 74th Hunger Games, she embarks on a Victory Tour of the provinces as PanEm gears up for the 75th edition, which will change the nation – and Katness – forever..
PROSPECTS: The first movie exceeded even the most wildest expectations and the void left by the end of the Twilight series will no doubt be filled by this one.
OBSTACLES: Moving the release date from March to November will give the film more competition to go up against and who knows how that will affect the box office receipts.
FACTOID: Director Gary Ross was asked to return but declined; after considering a short list of A-list directors, Francis Lawrence was given the nod.

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

RELEASE DATE: October 4, 2013
STUDIO: Dimension
STARRING: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Rosario Dawson, Jaimie King, Jamie Chung, Dennis Haysbert, Clive Owen, Alexa Vega, Michael Madsen
STORY: Marv and Dwight team up to help out an old flame of Dwight’s get out of a sticky situation, only to discover they’ve been set up as patsy’s for the murder of her rich husband.
PROSPECTS: The first film was a fan favorite and the sequel has been eagerly awaited for more than a decade now.
OBSTACLES: Movies that wait this long to get made rarely generate the same interest.
FACTOID: Three characters from the first film had to be recast; Devin Aoki due to her pregnancy and Brittany Murphy and Michael Clark Duncan due to their untimely deaths.

THOR: THE DARK WORLD

RELEASE DATE: November 8, 2013
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
STARRING: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgard, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Kat Dennings, Rene Russo, Anthony Hopkins
STORY: When the Dark Elves return to the realm of Asgard, not even the might of Odin and the Asgardian knights can withstand their foe. To save his realm and ours Thor may be called upon to sacrifice everything.
PROSPECTS: The second film in Marvel Phase 2 shows no signs of slowing down the machine-like success of the studio.
OBSTACLES: Is the mighty Marvel movie machine overdue for a flop? While director Alan Taylor did a great job with the HBO series “Game of Thrones” he has almost no feature film experience, having helmed only Palookaville in 1995.
FACTOID: Josh Dallas played Fandral in the first film but was unable to appear in this one due to his schedule on the TV show “Once Upon a Time.” His place was taken by Zachary Levi who originally was supposed to get the part for the first film but whose schedule on the TV show “Chuck” prevented him from taking the role.

MIGHT SURPRISE

THE WORLD’S END

RELEASE DATE: October 25, 2013
STUDIO: Focus
STARRING: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Julian Seager, Paul Kennington, Mark Fox
STORY: A group of friends who failed an epic pub crawl 20 years previously reunite to attempt it once again, ending at the legendary World’s End pub. However what they fail to realize is that the world really is ending and they may very well have the fate of the world in their own incapable hands.
PROSPECTS: The third in the so-called “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy” has been having fans salivating for a year since the film was first announced.
OBSTACLES: None of the first two films in the series have risen above cult film status.
FACTOID: Pegg, Frost and director Edgar Wright first worked together on the British sci-fi TV series “Spaced.”

ALSO

RIDDICK (Universal) takes the mercenary to the deadliest planet he’s been to yet, pursued by bounty hunters who are his ticket off-world – assuming he can survive (September 6). BATTLE OF THE YEAR (Screen Gems) takes us to the Break Dancing Olympics, an event the United States hasn’t won in 15 years but a b-boy wants to put a change to all that (September 13). I, FRANKENSTEIN (Lionsgate) is the first of several major studio re-imaginings of the Mary Shelley masterpiece although this one is based on an acclaimed comic series (September 13). THE LITTLE MERMAID 3D (Disney) gives yet another Disney classic the 3D treatment. Sigh (September 13). PRISONERS (Warner Brothers) stars Hugh Jackman as a carpenter whose daughter has been kidnapped. When local cops are unable to help, he takes the law into his own hands, running him up against an arrogant big city detective (September 20). RUSH (Universal) is the much-anticipated Ron Howard-directed true story about the Grand Prix rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda (September 20). STAR WARS: EPISODE II ATTACK OF THE CLONES 3D (20th Century Fox) continues the 3D enhancement treatment of the George Lucas epic space opera (September 20). In CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 (Columbia) Flint Lockwood discovers that his invention that converts rainwater into food is still operating but turning the rain into mutant food-animal hybrids that are threatening the Earth once again (September 27). RUNNER RUNNER (20th Century Fox) is set in the world of online gambling as the owner of a gaming site and his protégé clash (September 27). In THE TOMB (Summit) Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone team up to break out of the most fortified prison in the world (September 27). DELIVERY MAN (DreamWorks) stars Vince Vaughn as a man in debt to the mob who discovers that his sperm donations have fathered 533 children (October 4). PARANOIA (Relativity) stars Liam Hemsworth as an intern ordered by a ruthless CEO to spy on a rival within the company. He soon realizes that he is a pawn in a much larger game (October 4). STAR WARS: EPISODE III REVENGE OF THE SITH 3D (20th Century Fox) completes the prequel 3D conversion treatment (October 4). CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Columbia) is the story of the courageous sea captain who offered himself up as a hostage to Somali pirates in exchange for his crew. Tom Hanks stars in the title role (October 11). HAUNTS (20th Century Fox) is a supernatural thriller that Fox is hoping will be a Halloween franchise starter (October 11). OLDBOY (FilmDistrict) is based on an acclaimed Korean thriller re-imagined by Spike Lee. In it Josh Brolin is released from captivity for 20 years and is given just three days to discover why he was imprisoned (October 11). MALAVITA (Relativity) is the latest action film from Luc Besson and stars Robert De Niro as the patriarch of a mob family who is relocated to Normandy under the Witness Protection Program, but old habits die hard (October 18). NO GOOD DEED (Screen Gems) tells what happens when a stay-at-home mom and former D.A. allows a handsome man to come into her home to wait for help after his car is run off the road and it turns out he has less than good intentions (October 18). In SEVENTH SON (Warner Brothers) an unspeakable evil is about to be unleashed on the world and only the seventh son of a seventh son may stop it. Jeff Bridges and Ben Barnes star (October 18). PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 5 (Paramount) continues the found video franchise where it left off (October 25). MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN (DreamWorks) is based on the classic Jay Ward cartoon in which the world’s smartest person – a dog named Peabody – invents a time machine which his pet boy Sherman uses to cause havoc and hilarity (November 1). In FROZEN (Disney) a courageous young girl teams up with a mountain man and his reindeer to free a kingdom trapped in eternal winter; yes it’s an animated feature (November 25). ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (Paramount) looks to stay classy in San Diego one more time – depending on what your definition of classy is (December 20). LAST VEGAS (CBS) has a group of friends throwing a big Vegas-style bachelor party for the only one in the group who’s remained single. The all-star cast includes Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro and Kevin Cline (December 20). MONUMENTS MEN (Columbia) is the amazing true story of a group of art historians and museum directors who attempt to save some of Europe’s most precious art from the Nazis (December 20). SAVING MR. BANKS (Disney) tells how Walt Disney managed to convince curmudgeonly author E.L. Travers to let him make a film based on her book Mary Poppins (December 20). WALKING WITH DINOSAURS (20th Century Fox) takes over where the Discovery Channel series left off, creating an immersive 3D atmosphere for audiences to see and feel what the world was like in the age of the dinosaur (December 20). In 47 RONIN (Universal) a group of outcast samurai seek revenge on the merciless overlord who slew their lord. Keanu Reeves stars (December 25). THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (20th Century Fox) has Ben Stiller re-imagine the James Thurber classic about a man who daydreams about amazing adventures while his own life drifts into the mundane (December 25).

MOVIES CURRENTLY WITHOUT RELEASE DATES BUT LIKELY TO OPEN

TRANCE (Fox Searchlight) is the latest from Oscar-winning (and Olympic opening ceremonies) director Danny Boyle returning to his crime drama roots as an art auctioneer double crosses a gang of art thieves he’d been working for and is badly injured. When he revives, his memory is gone – and the gang forces a beautiful hypnotherapist to retrieve it so they can find their stolen loot…or else. LABOR DAY (Paramount) stars Kate Winslet as a single mom who while driving her son home gives a wounded, desperate man a ride which quickly becomes a nightmare. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (Warner Brothers) resurrects the massively popular post-apocalyptic series with Tom Hardy in the title role. AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (Weinstein) has a family torn apart when their alcoholic patriarch disappears. HIDDEN (Warner Brothers) is about a family that takes refuge in a fallout shelter during an epidemic only to discover that their safety might be an illusion. MOCKINGBIRD (Universal) is a horror flick about a family given a camera with explicit instructions they must follow or someone will die. WINTER’S TALE (Warner Brothers) is a fantasy set in a both the 19th century and present-day Manhattan involving a thief, a dying girl and a flying white horse and no, they don’t walk into a bar. EMPIRE STATE (Lionsgate) is about a pair of childhood friends intent on robbing an armored truck and the cop who might thwart their plans. NOT SAFE FOR WORK (Universal) has a man trapped in an office building while a killer is loose inside. BLACK SKY (Warner Brothers) is about a group of high school students documenting the aftermath of a devastating tornado. FOXCATCHER (Columbia) is about the murder of Olympian David Schultz by wealthy patron John DuPont. MACHETE KILLS (Open Road) is the sequel to the cult hit and has the former Federale taking on a maniacal arms dealer at the behest of the U.S. government. GRAVITY (Warner Brothers) is a sci-fi thriller from director Alfonso Cuaron starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as a pair of astronauts stranded in space when their spacecraft is destroyed. HUNTER KILLER (Relativity) stars Gerard Butler and Sam Worthington, as an untested sub captain must team up with a team of Navy SEALs to rescue the kidnapped Russian President.

As you can see, there is plenty to look forward to in 2013 for movie fans and this doesn’t even count the hundreds of indie and foreign films yet to be scheduled from the smaller distributors, or the many major projects that have yet to set a release date but will be appearing sometime during 2013. And if that wasn’t enough, 2014 has plenty of goodies in store with the conclusion of the Hobbit trilogy, sequels to the Transformers, X-Men, Hunger Games and Spider-Man franchises, remakes of Godzilla and Robocop, a new take on the Disney villain Maleficent and the Marvel Phase Two films continuing with the Captain America sequel and a surprising heroic team known as the Guardians of the Galaxy setting the stage for the next Avengers film in 2015. But those are for another preview on another day. Until then, keep an eye out for our weekly, monthly and seasonal previews and our daily reviews right here on Cinema365 and we’ll keep an eye out for you at the multiplex.