Captain America: Civil War


Captain America in an All-American studio apartment.

Captain America in an All-American studio apartment.

(2016) Superhero (Disney/Marvel) Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Tom Holland, Daniel Brűhl, Frank Grillo, William Hurt, Martin Freeman, Marisa Tomei, John Kani, John Slattery, Hope Davis, Alfre Woodard. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo

 

In this post-911 world, we often have to consider the importance of security versus freedom. How much power do we allow our government to have? Is it worth giving up our freedom to be protected? And when does it stop being worth it?

Following the events of The Avengers: Age of Ultron the Avengers have continued to operate without the guidance of Tony Stark (Downey) a.k.a. Iron Man but they still continue to clean out the remnants of Hydra and travel the globe to stop threats of terrorism and barbarity. They are on one such mission to stop Crossbones (Grillo) from obtaining a biological weapon. They do stop the former SHIELD agent turned supervillain but at a staggering cost.

The nations of the world can no longer stand idly by while their citizens are reduced to collateral damage. They sign a treaty known as the Sokovia Accords (named for the fictional country that was decimated by the Avengers battle with Ultron) to put the Avengers under United Nations control, only sent on missions approved by the Security Council.

Stark has put his pen to paper and signed already and expects his good friend Steve Rogers (Evans) a.k.a. Captain America to do the same but to Stark’s shock, Rogers refuses. He feels that the Avengers will not only function less effectively as the tools of bureaucrats and politicians, but that without self-autonomy, more lives will be lost than saved.

It’s not an easy question and not everyone falls on the same side. The Avengers eventually become two different teams, at war with one another. Things get worse when Bucky Barnes (Stan) – a.k.a. the Winter Soldier and Cap’s friend from pre-World War II Brooklyn has had the mind control that was implanted into him by Hydra used to send him on a rampage that ends up with a high-profile murder. T’challa (Boseman) a.k.a. The Black Panther, ruler of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, rich in minerals (including the rare vibranium that is what Cap’s shield is constructed out of) and technology, vows to take down Barnes and execute him. Cap can’t let that happen as it, strictly speaking, isn’t Bucky’s fault.

So it is friends against friends, the U.S. government against the Avengers, Iron Man against Captain America. No matter what, this won’t end well and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be changed permanently as a result.

This is in some ways the most complicated and thought-provoking film in Marvel’s history. It does tackle a subject that has real world ramifications and comes up with no easy answers – it also doesn’t cop out either, which is to the filmmaker’s credit. When those who ask why the Marvel films are so much more popular than the DC films (at least currently), the simple answer is that Marvel is making better movies. With the exception of some of the Batman films (by Messrs. Burton and Nolan) Marvel’s movies are more interesting, have more character development, and quite frankly are more fun to watch.

Civil War is a little bit darker in hue than the majority of Marvel’s films, but that doesn’t mean it’s set in Gotham. There are no real villains in it for one thing – yes, there is a character named Zemo (Brűhl) who shares a last name with old Marvel villain Baron Zemo who was a Nazi mad scientist and a Hydra operative, but this Zemo is actually in a lot of ways a sympathetic character who has reasons for his madness. And the conflict between Cap and Shellhead are between two heroes doing what they believe is right.

Downey in fact steals the film from Captain America; he is tortured by the damage he has done as a superhero and as a man. His relationship is tanking and he believes that the world would be a better place if the Avengers accepted some oversight and accountability. His anguish not only at what he has caused to occur but in the conflict with his friend Cap is palpable. Downey is an Oscar-nominated actor and this is by far his best performance as Iron Man yet.

The action sequences have to be at the core of any superhero film and they are spectacular here. There’s a fight at a German airport that may go down as one of the best in Marvel history and it utilizes the talents of many of the supporting characters and a couple of new ones, including the previously mentioned Black Panther but also the brand new Spider-Man (Holland). Holland may be the best Spider-Man yet (sorry Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield) and acquits himself well both as Spider-Man and as Peter Parker. Based on the snippet of him and Aunt May (Tomei) in this film, I am much more interested in seeing Spider-Man Homecoming next year than I already was.

All of the characters here other than a few who have little more than cameos are shown to be quite human and as humans are, imperfect. This makes the superheroes more relatable to everyone. Who hasn’t had relationship troubles, or felt like they didn’t belong, or chafed at having their autonomy taken from them, or mistrusted authority, or agonized over inventing a self-aware robot that nearly wiped out the human race? Okay, maybe not the last one.

The plot here is dense and for those not really immersed in the Marvel Universe, it may all be too much. In many ways, this is the first Marvel film I felt that it would be actually advantageous to have seen all of the ones preceding it in order to understand it better. It can still stand on its own, but I have to admit that the more you know about the MCU, the easier this will go down. There are also a whole lot of characters here and their relationships and motivations may not be clear to everyone. I suppose that’s just a byproduct of having so many films in the MCU now.

The Russos have shown themselves very capable directors. While I don’t think this film quite measures up to Captain America: The Winter Soldier in terms of quality, it’s damn close. The brothers have been handed the reins to the next to Avengers films and this one shows that the franchise is in safe hands.

REASONS TO GO: Great battle sequences. Excellent debate starter (security vs. freedom). Portrays the heroes as fallible and human.
REASONS TO STAY: A little too much plot and character. Occasionally confusing, particularly to casual viewers.
FAMILY VALUES: All sorts of superhero violence, action and mayhem, more than you can shake a stick at.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: At 2 hours and 27 minutes long, this is the longest Marvel movie to date.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 6/16/16: Rotten Tomatoes: 90% positive reviews. Metacritic: 75/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Marvel’s The Avengers
FINAL RATING: 7.5/10
NEXT: My Love, Don’t Cross That River

Advertisements

Pick of the Litter – May 2016


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Captain America Civil War

Captain America: Civil War

(Disney/Marvel) Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen. Phase III of the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicks off here and it’s off with a bang. Team Cap and Team Iron Man face off, as it’s Avenger vs. Avenger, friend vs. friend and in the aftermath the Marvel Universe will never be the same! When Captain America balks at government restrictions placed on the Avengers in order to ostensibly minimize collateral damage but also limiting the team’s effectiveness, he and Iron Man square off with Cap taking the unlikely role as renegade. May 6

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Mothers and Daughters

Mothers and Daughters

(Screen Media) Susan Sarandon, Mira Sorvino, Christina Ricci, Courtney Cox. The relationships between mother and daughter can often be rocky. This anthology piece examines those relationships as a group of women try to carve out their own lives and become their own person while defining their relationships with their mom. An all-star cast takes a close and often heartbreaking look at this very basic of relationships. May 6

A Beast with a Thousand Heads

A Monster with a Thousand Heads

(Music Box) Jana Raluy, Sebastián Aguirre, Hugo Albores, Emilio Echevarria. This timely Mexican thriller takes on the health insurance industry as a woman, frustrated at her insurance company’s denial of the treatment that would alleviate her terminally ill husband’s pain, snaps and gun in hand, goes up the chain of command to find answers and some kind of resolution. With a powerful performance by Jana Raluy, this film is based on the novel written by director Rodrigo Pla’s wife. May 11

Love and Friendship

Love and Friendship

(Roadside Attractions) Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Stephen Fry, Xavier Samuel. Director Whit Stillman, an Oscar-nominated director for such films as Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco takes on Jane Austen and her novella Lady Susan in this comedy of manners set in the Regency era. When a widow, known for her scandalous behavior, takes up residence at the home of her husband’s family, she turns the household upside down with her attempts to find a rich husband for her daughter – and herself. This played at the most recent Florida Film Festival.  May 13

Sunset Song

Sunset Song

(Magnolia) Agyness Deyn, Peter Mullan, Mark Bonnar, Kevin Guthrie. Based on a novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, a young farmer’s daughter in turn of the 20th century Scotland suffers hardship and heartache, as well as triumph and vindication. The circumstances of her life changes much over the course of the six years covered here but one thing doesn’t – her strong bond with the land itself. This comes to us from Terrence Davies, director of such films as Distant Voices, Still Lives and The Deep Blue Sea.  May 13

Weiner

Weiner

(Sundance Selects) Anthony Weiner. An inside look at the ill-fated mayoral campaign of Anthony Weiner, whose personal life scandal overshadowed his political message. However, more than being a salacious look at a sexting scandal, it is also a chilling look at modern politics; the insatiable appetite of the media for scandal fueled by the public’s unwillingness to accept issues rather than soundbites. May 20

Unlocking the Cage

Unlocking the Cage

(First Run) Steven Wise. From Oscar-nominated documentary filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker comes this extraordinary feature following animal rights activist and trial lawyer Steven Wise, who goes on a campaign to extend limited human rights – to animals. At first met with derision and dismay, he perseveres and as society’s attitudes begin to slowly change, files motions in court to give rights to certain animals to protect them from inhumane treatment and abuse.. May 25

2016 Summer Movie Preview


2016 Summer PreviewAfter a record-breaking summer blockbuster season last year, most pundits agree that this year will be a little bit less dramatic, although there will be plenty of movies that will likely earn north of $200M and a few that have a good shot to go better than $300M. With alternative viewing methods – online streaming, video-on-demand and other services competing with the traditional multiplex for audiences, things will continue to change as Hollywood goes kicking and screaming into the next decade.

Likely studio accountants are going to remember with some nostalgia big budget winners like Jurassic World which dominated the summer box office in 2015; Mad Max: Fury Road which not only did bang-up business but also ended up with several Oscar nominations (and wins, albeit for the technical end). Avengers: Age of Ultron was slightly disappointing from a critical standpoint but also from the box office, while Inside Out won the family film box office derby this past summer.

Superhero movies will continue to be the 900 lb gorilla of the box office, with Captain America: Civil War opening to great hype (and the introduction of new heroes not to mention the first appearance of fan favorite Spider-Man in the MCU) and the final installation in the most recent trilogy of mutant mania X-Men: Apocalypse representing the House of Ideas, while Suicide Squad continues the rolling out of the DC Cinematic Universe.

Sequels tend to play a major role in the summer line-up and things are no different this year with the aforementioned Captain America: Civil War, Star Trek Beyond, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, X-Men: Apocalypse, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Darkness, The Conjuring 2, Now You See Me 2, Finding Dory, Independence Day: Resurgence, The Purge: Election Year, Ice Age: Collision Course, Jason Bourne and Mechanic Resurrection. There will also be a fair share of reboots and remakes including Ghostbusters, Absolutely Fabulous, The Legend of Tarzan, Ben-Hur and Pete’s Dragon.

There are always films decked to tickle your funny bone and 2016 has a few in store for us, including  Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Central Intelligence, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Ghostbusters, Bad Moms, Sausage Party and War Dogs. If its scares you’re after, look no further than The Conjuring 2, Don’t Breathe, The Darkness, Ghostbusters, Lights Out and Spectral. There will be plenty of sci-fi and fantasy goodness on the summer schedule including Star Trek Beyond, Independence Day: Resurgence, Warcraft, Equals and The Space Between Us while the action quotient will be amped up with such fare as The Nice Guys, Captain America: Civil War, Kidnap, Central Intelligence, The Legend of Tarzan, The Purge: Election Year, Jason Bourne, Suicide Squad, Ben-Hur and Mechanic: Resurrection. Last year was a good year for family films and this year has an impressive slate including Finding Dory, Alice Through the Looking Glass, The BFG, Kubo and the Two Strings, Ice Age: Collision Course, The Angry Birds Movie, Pete’s Dragon and The Secret Life of Pets. There will also be enough drama for everyone as you can check out Money Monster, Free State of Jones, Me Before You, Equity and The Founder.

There’s no better time for star-gazing than the summer and the stars will truly be out again in force this year with Kevin Hart, Melissa McCarthy, Johnny Depp, Will Smith, Robert Redford, Woody Harrelson, Robert Downey Jr., Michael Caine, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Patrick Wilson, Chris Hemsworth, Ellen de Generes, Benedict Cumberbatch, Seth Rogen, Chris Pine, Anne Hathaway, Margot Robbie, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Sudeikis, Ray Romano, Matthew McConaughey, Jeff Goldblum, Oscar Isaac, Blake Lively, Christoph Waltz, Teresa Palmer, George Clooney, Jason Statham, Russell Crowe, Chris Evans, Kevin Bacon, Samuel L. Jackson, Daniel Radcliffe, Keanu Reeves, Bill Hader, Louis C.K., Zac Efron, Mark Rylance, Kristen Wiig, Simon Pegg, Ryan Gosling, Jennifer Lopez, Aubrey Plaza, Vera Farmiga, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, Bill Murray, Mila Kunis, Anthony Mackey, Michael Keaton, Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia Wasikowska, Andy Samberg, Sam Claflin, Megan Fox , Jesse Eisenberg, Vivica A. Fox, Kristen Stewart, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick, Alicia Vikander, Jeremy Renner, Jared Leto, Michelle Yeoh, Bryce Dallas Howard, Asa Butterfield, Nicholas Hoult and James McAvoy

While this probably won’t be the record-setting year that Hollywood enjoyed in 2015, there are still plenty of movies on that list that are bound to fill the cool air-conditioned multiplex on a hot summer day. So why not get to the meat and potatoes of this she-bang – let’s get to previewing!

MAY

As always, the summer movie season goes big to start off the year as not one but two Marvel superhero movies bookend the month. Also, we can expect a return to a classic magical land, a massively possible video game turned animated feature and a comedy in which a suburban couple finds that the people next door go from bad to worse.

Captain America Civil War

FIRST CHOICE

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

RELEASE DATE: May 6, 2016
STUDIO: Disney/Marvel
GENRE: Superhero
STARRING: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, William Hurt, Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan, Jeremy Renner
STORY: Given the collateral damage that results in the Avengers efforts to save humanity from aliens and robots, it was inevitable that there’d be some push back. With government oversight proposed for all superheroes, the new hero registration laws fracture the Avengers into two camps; one led by Captain America preferring the Avengers be free to protect humanity as needed, the other led by Iron Man welcoming regulations and restrictions. Something has to give.
PROSPECTS: Phase III of the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicks off with a bang and it couldn’t be in better hands. The Russo Brothers last time up directed what many consider to be the best film in the franchise so far: Captain America: The Winter Soldier and their experiences here will allow them to take over the Avengers series more effectively from Joss Wheden.
OBSTACLES: The Avengers: Age of Ultron was disappointing albeit successful, both from a critical and box office standpoint. Could it be that Mighty Marvel has oversaturated the market?
FACTOID: This is the thirteenth official film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

SECOND CHOICE

THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE

RELEASE DATE: May 20, 2016
STUDIO: Columbia
GENRE: Animated Feature
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Kate McKinnon, Keegan-Michael Key, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph, Danny McBride
STORY: An island of flightless but happy birds is visited by mysterious green pigs. It is up to a trio of outsiders to find out what the porcine invaders are up to.
PROSPECTS: One of the most popular mobile games of all time, the characters seem ready made for animated franchise-dom.
OBSTACLES: Features based on video games have traditionally not fared well.
FACTOID: The Angry Birds game has been downloaded more than a billion times since 2009.

NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING

RELEASE DATE: May 20, 2016
STUDIO: Universal
GENRE: Comedy
STARRING: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Rose Byrne, Selena Gomez, Dave Franco, Lisa Kudrow, Ike Bairnholz
STORY: Having weathered the fraternity next door, the Radners are getting ready to grow their family by one more, which will require a move to the suburbs. However, now they have a new neighbor that will make that impossible – a sorority full of girls out to prove they can be just as raunchy and badass as the boys.
PROSPECTS: The first Neighbors was a surprise hit and big comedies make excellent counterprogramming to big budget blockbusters that usually lead off the summer.
OBSTACLES: Might not have the star power to hang with other movies in the highly competitive May line-up.
FACTOID: Rogen’s first live-action sequel.

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS

RELEASE DATE: May 27, 2016
STUDIO: Disney
GENRE: Fantasy
STARRING: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Rhys Ifans, Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman (voice), Michael Sheen
STORY: Alice discovers a magic mirror that allows her to return to Underland, only to discover that things have changed drastically since her last visit. The Mad Hatter is not himself any longer, his Muchness having disappeared. Alice goes on a desperate quest to save her friend, involving the use of a Chronsphere which will allow her to see her friends – and enemies – at different points of their lives.
PROSPECTS: Back in 2010 this was a huge hit for Disney and given the eye candy in the trailer and that much of the original cast has returned, there’s no reason to believe this won’t be too.
OBSTACLES: Tim Burton is only on board as a producer this time around and the competition might be a little too much to overcome.
FACTOID: Alan Rickman’s final film although he doesn’t appear onscreen; he passed away four months after shooting was completed.

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE

RELEASE DATE: May 27, 2016
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Rose Byrne, Olivia Munn
STORY: The most powerful mutant in history has awakened and he doesn’t like what he sees. Determined to re-make the world in his own image he stirs up a war between mutants with only Professor Xavier’s X-Men standing in the way of a massacre of global proportions.
PROSPECTS: The latest X-Men trilogy has been both a critical and commercial success. The comic book Apocalypse storyline is one of the most successful in the history of that storied franchise.
OBSTACLES: As always, oversaturation of comic book movies.
FACTOID: The movie will take place in 1983, making this the third straight X-Men film that takes place in a different decade.

ALTERNATE CHOICE

MAGGIE’S PLAN

RELEASE DATE: May 20, 2016
STUDIO: Sony Classics
GENRE: Dramedy
STARRING: Greta Gerwig, Travis Fimmel, Julianne Moore, Ethan Hawke, Bill Hader, Wallace Shawn, Maya Rudolph, Kathleen Hanna
STORY: A young girl’s determination to have a baby on her own changed drastically when she falls in love with a married man, compromising his marriage.
PROSPECTS: Stellar cast including indie darling Gerwig should make this an indie standout.
OBSTACLES: Sounds like another typical Gerwig role, which her audiences may be tiring of.
FACTOID: This is director Rebecca Miller’s first film since 2009’s The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.

OTHER CHOICES

May 6, 2016

A BIGGER SPLASH (Fox Searchlight) stars Tilda Swinton as an international rock star recuperating on a Mediterranean island with her partner when their reverie is interrupted by the arrival than a larger-than-life producer (who happens to be an ex-lover of the rock star) and his daughter as nostalgia and desire threaten the relationship of the rock star and her man. This is opening up in limited release. Also opening in limited release is DARK HORSE (Sony Classics), a documentary about a group a group of working class blokes who decide to buy themselves a racehorse, entering a realm which has almost exclusively belonged to the very wealthy up until now.

May 13, 2016

THE DARKNESS (High Top/Blumhouse) stars Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell as the parents in a family just returning home from a family vacation to the Grand Canyon with an unwanted souvenir – a mysterious demonic force that preys on their darkest fears. HIGH-RISE (A24) is the first of three Florida Film Festival features debuting this week; this limited release, based on a J.G. Ballard novel, the residents of a luxury high rise find their social order breaking down as flaws in the building’s design and numerous power outages show that their high end dwelling may not be so high end after all. KIDNAP (Relativity) features Halle Berry as a mother whose son is kidnapped. As the situation grows more desperate, she mounts a rescue operation that proves that the worst possible thing you can do is come between a mother and her child. LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT (Broad Green) is a reimagined version of the encounter between Jesus and the Devil in the desert; Ewan McGregor plays both roles in this limited release. THE LOBSTER (A24) which was the opening night film at this year’s FFF, stars Colin Farrell as a man recently dumped by his wife who must now find a true love within 45 days or be turned into an animal and be released into the wild; this has been a hit on the festival circuit having won several prestigious awards. LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP (Roadside Attractions) which opens in limited release (and was also featured at this year’s Florida Film Festival) has a beautiful young widow of the titled class trying to find a husband for herself to ensure her daughter’s future, but runs into complications when she attracts the attention of several young men whose eligibility varies greatly.

May 20, 2016

Opening in limited release, HARD SELL (Momentum) is a teen dramedy about a high school student, struggling to help his ailing dog and his long-suffering mother who forms an unexpected friendship with a runaway. THE NICE GUYS (Warner Brothers) is a Shane Black-directed mystery/comedy set in the ‘70s starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as an enforcer and a detective respectively teaming up to find a missing girl who may have witnessed a mob hit.

May 27, 2016

PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW (Magnolia), another entry at this year’s Florida Film Festival, is a documentary opening in limited release about a YouTube wanna-be sensation whose secret admirer all the way from Israel may turn her story into a happy ending after all.

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: AGE OF ULTRON (Disney/Marvel) Budget: $250 Million. Domestic Gross: $459.0M Total: $1.405B. Verdict: Blockbuster.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (Warner Brothers) Budget: $150M. Domestic Gross: $153.6M Total: $378.4M Verdict: Made Money.
TOMORROWLAND (Disney) Budget: $190M. Domestic Gross: $93.4M Total: $209.0M Verdict: Lost Money.
SAN ANDREAS (New Line) Budget: $110M. Domestic Gross: $155.2M Total: $473.8M Verdict: Big Hit.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (Fox Searchlight) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $12.2M Total: $30.2M. Verdict: Likely Hit
PITCH PERFECT 2 (Universal) Budget: $29M. Domestic Gross: $184.3M Total: $287.5M Verdict: Blockbuster
ALOHA (Columbia) Budget: $37M. Domestic Gross: $21.1M Total: $26.3M Verdict: Flop.
POLTERGEIST (MGM/Fox) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $47.4M Total: $95.4M Verdict: Made Money.
HOT PURSUIT (New Line) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $34.6M Total: $51.7 Verdict: Lost Money.
SLOW WEST (A24) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $229,094 Total: $229,094. Verdict: Likely Lost Money.

JUNE

Now that school is out and the May blockbusters are dominating the box office, in come the June contenders to make their own golden impressions. A new Pixar film bringing one of their beloved characters back, one of the most successful videogame franchises gets a live action cinematic go, the return of one of the most iconic alien invasion films of all time in a sequel three decades after the fact, an spy comedy teaming one of the hottest comedians in the world with one of the most popular action stars and the sequel to a hit supernatural horror film..

Finding Dory

FIRST CHOICE

FINDING DORY

RELEASE DATE: June 17, 2016
STUDIO: Disney*Pixar
GENRE: Animated Feature
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Diane Keaton, Idris Elba, Bill Hader, Michael Sheen, Dominic West, Ed O’Neill, Eugene Levy, Ty Burrell
STORY: Dory, the forgetful Angelfish who aided Marlin in his quest to find his son Nemo, suddenly has remembered something – that she has a family. Nemo and Marlin are determined to help her find her family again, but a long and dangerous journey awaits them if Dory is to reunite with her family.
PROSPECTS: One of Pixar’s all-time most popular films is finally getting a sequel, particularly since DeGeneres has been publicly lobbying for one for years. With DeGeneres pimping the movie on her insanely popular daytime talk show, plus the built-in audience any Pixar film has with families anyway this should be the runaway family film box office champ this summer.
OBSTACLES: Many of the target audience for the movie were not even born when Finding Nemo was released and those that loved it may have grown out of animated features by now.
FACTOID: This is the third Disney film this year to have Idris Elba supplying his voice without appearing onscreen.

SECOND CHOICE

THE CONJURING 2

RELEASE DATE: June 10, 2016
STUDIO: New Line
GENRE: Horror
STARRING: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Franka Potente, Frances O’Connor, David Thewlis, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Javier Botet, Sterling Jerins, Simon McBurney
STORY: The sequel to the blockbuster horror hit finds Ed and Lorraine Warren traveling to England to take on a supernatural threat that has put a single mum and her four children at risk.
PROSPECTS: The Conjuring was one of the most critically acclaimed horror hits of recent years, having already spawned a spin-off franchise. .
OBSTACLES: Horror films seem to do better at the end of the summer rather than at its beginning. The original was also released in October, a time more conducive to scary movies.
FACTOID: Director James Wan turned down a ton of money to direct Furious 8 in order to return to his horror roots.

WARCRAFT

RELEASE DATE: June 10, 2016
STUDIO: Universal/Legendary
GENRE: Fantasy
STARRING: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Clancy Brown, Ben Foster, Dominic Cooper, Toby Kebbell, Ruth Negga, Callum Keith Rennie
STORY: An ancient evil threatens the peace of a world filled with magic and monsters. In order to save their race, the Orcs must seek the help of their hated enemy the humans. But will it be enough?
PROSPECTS: One of the most popular videogames of all time hits the big screen in all its glory. Worlds of Warcraft has millions of players around the world addicted to their game. Director Duncan Jones is a genuine talent who might make that big splash everyone has been expecting here.
OBSTACLES: Videogames have, with rare exceptions, tanked both critically and commercially. The trailer didn’t make me any more hopeful that this would be one of those exceptions.
FACTOID: The movie was originally set to be released this past December but was moved to avoid competition with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE

RELEASE DATE: June 17, 2016
STUDIO: New Line
GENRE: Action Comedy
STARRING: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Aaron Paul, Amy Ryan, Megan Park, Danielle Nicolet, Slaine, Ryan Hansen, Brett Azar
STORY: A mild-mannered accountant, missing the glory years of his “BMOC” days in high school, meets up with the most bullied boy in school – who is now a hunk who claims to be a spy. Quite against his will, the accountant gets drawn into the dangerous world of espionage by a man who may or may not be completely insane.
PROSPECTS: This is the kind of movie that tends to do well in the summer. Hart is the hottest comic actor on in Hollywood and Johnson one of the hottest action stars. The trailer got a ton of laughs.
OBSTACLES: Buddy cop movies have been on the downswing and the spy market has been oversaturated lately.
FACTOID: Johnson is exactly a foot taller than Hart.

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

RELEASE DATE: June 24, 2016
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
GENRE: Science Fiction
STARRING: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, Sela Ward, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Maika Monroe, Joey King
STORY: The war of 1996 was won and while heroes have fallen, the technology that was looted from the alien invaders was supposed to protect the planet. Now 20 years later, they’ve come back and if we’ve had 20 years to prepare, so have they…
PROSPECTS: One of the most beloved films of the 90s, this sci-fi action epic really set the bar for alien invasion films for the 20 intervening years.
OBSTACLES: 20 years is a long time between films and since this originally came out, alien invasion movies have fallen out of favor.
FACTOID: This is the first sequel that director Roland Emmerich has made.

ALTERNATE CHOICE

FREE STATE OF JONES

RELEASE DATE: June 24, 2016
STUDIO: STX Entertainment
GENRE: Historical Drama
STARRING: Matthew McConaughey, Keri Russell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, Sean Bridgers, Jacob Lofland, Christopher Berry
STORY: During the Civil War, Confederate deserters, no longer wishing to fight so that slave owners could remain wealthy, returned to Jones County in Mississippi to create a slavery-free state, seceding from the Confederacy. And yes, this actually happened.
PROSPECTS: McConaughey is one of the biggest stars extant, having been on a roll lately.
OBSTACLES: This isn’t what you’d call a high-profile project and Civil War films as of late haven’t been very popular..
FACTOID: One of the extras in the film is a descendant of the main character in the story.

OTHER CHOICES

June 3, 2016

In ME BEFORE YOU (Warner Brothers) a plucky young English woman takes a job as caregiver to a wealthy man who has given up on life; her infectious attitude changes his mind – and his heart. POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING (Universal) comes to us from the maniacs at The Lonely Island, the acclaimed Internet comedy source. A humongously popular rapper sees his sophomore album tank, leaving everyone around him wondering what they’re going to do now that they’ve hitched their wagon to a man who is no longer the Dopest Star in Rap. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS (Paramount) is the sequel to the Michael Bay-produced reboot of the seminal comic book adaptation and brings to the screen villains and characters from the book that have never had live action versions before.

June 10, 2016

GENIUS (Roadside Attractions) which opens is set during one of the most exciting periods in the history of literature. It details the relationship between Editor Max Perkins and his mercurial but undoubted genius client Thomas Wolfe. Colin Firth and Jude Law play the two protagonists, respectively. NOW YOU SEE ME 2 (Summit) reunites Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Dave Franco (with Lizzy Caplan subbing for Isla Fisher) as the Four Horsemen, magicians and con-men who are facing a tech magnate who is holding one of their most dangerous secrets over their heads; it is up to them to turn the tables and find out who is really behind their dilemma.

June 17, 2016

CLOWN (Dimension) is a horror film about a devoted father who puts on a clown costume to entertain his son when the clown they hired for his birthday party is a no-show. But when the father is unable to remove the costume, he realizes that what he has donned is demonic…and it is changing him slowly into a creature that threatens the lives of those he loves most. SWISS ARMY MAN (A24) is a strange and magical film starring Paul Dano as a man marooned on an island who finds the body of Daniel Radcliffe washed up to shore. The corpse proves to be more lively than most and takes the castaway on a fantastic journey that looks like it could well be the most imaginative movie of the summer.

June 24, 2016

Opening in limited release, EAT THAT QUESTION: FRANK ZAPPA IN HIS OWN WORDS (Sony Classics) utilizes archival footage, rare performance video and rarely seen interviews to allow one of the most eclectic and influential musicians of his time tell his own story. THE SHALLOWS (Columbia) stars Blake Lively as a surfer who gets stranded on a shallow sandbar 200 yards from shore by a great white shark.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

JURASSIC WORLD (Universal) Budget: $150 Million. Domestic Gross: $652.3M Total: $1.7 Billion. Verdict: Blockbuster.
INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 (Focus) Budget: $10M. Domestic Gross: $52.2M Total: $113.0M. Verdict: Big Hit.
INSIDE OUT (Disney*Pixar) Budget: $175M. Domestic Gross: $356.5M Total: $856.8M Verdict: Big Hit.
TED 2 (Universal) Budget: $68M. Domestic Gross: $81.5M Total: $216.7M Verdict: Made Money.
LOVE AND MERCY (Roadside Attractions) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $12.6M Total: $28.6M Verdict: Likely Hit.
DOPE (Open Road) Budget: $7M. Domestic Gross: $17.5M Total: $18.0M Verdict: Made Money.
ENTOURAGE (Warner Brothers) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $32.4M Total: $49.3M Verdict: Lost Money.
SPY (20th Century Fox) Budget: $65M. Domestic Gross: $110.8M Total: $235.7M Verdict: Hit.
MAX (Warner Brothers) Budget: $20M. Domestic Gross: $42.7M Total: $44.0M Verdict: Made Money.
ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL (Fox Searchlight) Budget: $8M. Domestic Gross: $6.8M Total: $9.1M Verdict: Lost Money.
INFINITELY POLAR BEAR (Sony Classics) Budget: $6.7M. Domestic Gross: $1.4M Total: $1.4M Verdict: Flop.

JULY

The summer continues to heat up as one of the most iconic movies of the 80s is rebooted, popular sci-fi and spy film franchises are continued, a beloved children’s book is brought to life by Steven Spielberg, one of the most iconic pulp fiction characters returns to the big screen and a recent franchise with political overtones adds another installment to its thus-far successful run.

Ghostbusters

FIRST CHOICE

GHOSTBUSTERS

RELEASE DATE: July 15, 2016
STUDIO: Columbia
GENRE: Horror Comedy
STARRING: Melissa McCarthy, Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Wiig, Bill Murray, Kate McKinnon, Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Perkins, Andy Garcia, Charles Dance
STORY: A trio of paranormal scientists is investigating an upsurge in paranormal activity in New York City. They discover that someone has developed a machine that amplifies paranormal energy. So who ya gonna call?
PROSPECTS: Some of the most popular comic actors in the business are involved, as well as the director of some of McCarthy’s biggest hits (including last summer’s Spy). This is one of the most beloved movies of its era and resonates with a very large segment of the public.
OBSTACLES: Going with an all-female Ghostbusters team has outraged some of the fanboys, which might be counted as a good thing. Also, the original is over 32 years old, which is a very long time for a continuation.
FACTOID: In Ghostbusters II a psychic predicted the world would end on February 14, 2016. Fortunately, it didn’t, allowing the sequel (although it is being pitched as a reboot) to be released five months and a day afterwards.

SECOND CHOICE

THE LEGEND OF TARZAN

RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2016
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
GENRE: Adventure
STARRING: Margot Robbie, Alexander Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Ella Purnell, John Hurt, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent
STORY: Years after ruling the jungle as Tarzan, he has returned to England to live as Lord John Greystoke with his wife Jane. However, the machinations of an enemy bring him back to Africa, and when the murderous plot is revealed, those behind it don’t realize they’ve unleashed the Lord of the Jungle.
PROSPECTS: Tarzan is a timeless hero, known to virtually everyone. His exploits bring back a much simpler time to mind.
OBSTACLES: This kind of pulp hero has largely fallen out of favor. A big budget movie might not necessarily be the way to kickstart the genre.
FACTOID: This is the last film produced by Jerry Weintraub who passed away last July.

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2016
STUDIO: Universal
GENRE: Animated Feature
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Eric Stonestreet, Hannibal Buress, Dana Carvey, Steve Coogan
STORY: Max, a terrier certain that he is the apple of his owner’s eye, is disconcerted when she brings home Duke, a big sloppy mess of a dog. The two don’t get along well but when they find themselves alone on the streets of New York and the only two able to thwart the plans of a mad rabbit to unite ex-pets against humanity, they’ll have to work together…or miss supper.
PROSPECTS: From the same humans who made Despicable Me, Universal has been pimping the heck out of this as the summer’s potential biggest non-Pixar hit.
OBSTACLES: Comes out only three weeks after Finding Dory so there may be some overlap. Also this doesn’t have any familiar characters in it which makes it a tougher sell to the kiddies.
FACTOID: The song played on the stereo by the white poodle in the trailer is “Bounce” by System of a Down.

STAR TREK BEYOND

RELEASE DATE: July 22, 2016
STUDIO: Paramount
GENRE: Science Fiction
STARRING: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Idris Elba, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Sofia Boutella, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Deep Roy
STORY: Kirk and the U.S.S. Enterprise are attacked by a strange swarm of fighter ships, destroying their starship and marooning them on a desolate world. At least, that’s what the trailer hints at – for the moment there has been no plot details released.
PROSPECTS: The reboot of the series has been one of the most successful ever and the powers-that-be at Paramount have made sure not to oversaturate the market with TV shows and other Trek product (although a TV show is on the way this fall).
OBSTACLES: Director J.J. Abrams has moved on to that “other” science fiction franchise, leaving the franchise in the hands of someone more known for earthbound action films. There has been some whispers that Paramount isn’t entirely happy with the film and gave it no push whatsoever at the recent CinemaCon for theater owners.
FACTOID: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the franchise.

JASON BOURNE

RELEASE DATE: July 29, 2016
STUDIO: Universal
GENRE: Spy Action
STARRING: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Riz Ahmed, Ato Essandoh
STORY: The worst possible thing has happened; Jason Bourne has begun to remember his past. Fearing the worst, the powers that be want to take him out but as we all know that’s no easy task.
PROSPECTS: The Bourne franchise has redefined the espionage genre for the 21st century. With Paul Greengrass and Damon back aboard, there should be plenty of firepower for box office gold.
OBSTACLES: It has been almost ten years since the last Bourne movie with Damon and the younger audience may not be as excited for him to come back.
FACTOID: It was assumed that the title was going to be The Bourne Betrayal following the books in the John Le Carre series but when the teaser trailer was released the title had been changed.

ALTERNATE CHOICE

EQUITY

RELEASE DATE: July 29, 2016
STUDIO: Sony Classics
GENRE: Drama
STARRING: Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas, Alysia Reiner, Craig Bierko, Margaret Colin, Nate Corddry, Nick Gehlfuss, Carrie Preston
STORY: A woman in the very male world of investment banking gets caught up in a controversial IPO in which ethical violations may have occurred. As betrayal and deception begin to cause her world to unravel, she begins to question her ambitions in this taut drama.
PROSPECTS: A very rare view of women in high finance, a viewpoint rarely seen in the movies.
OBSTACLES: Traditionally, movies depicting finance rarely do well (with a few exceptions) at the box office.
FACTOID: This is the first ever female-driven Wall Street film.

OTHER CHOICES

July 1, 2016

BUDDYMOON (Gravitas), opening in limited release, stars Grimm’s David Giuntoli as a man left at the altar. His German friend Flula Borg convinces him to take the honeymoon/camping trip he’d already paid for and as both of them are thoroughly unsuited for the wilderness, makes for an interesting week. This played at the 2016 Florida Film Festival. THE BFG (Disney) is a live action version of a beloved children’s book directed by none other than Steven Spielberg. In the classic Roald Dahl tale, a young English girl is befriended by a gentle giant and taken to the Land of Giants. EQUALS (A24) is a sci-fi film starring Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult as a couple, in a dystopian future in which emotion has been genetically engineered out of the human race, suddenly falls in love. OUR KIND OF TRAITOR (Roadside Attractions) which opens in limited release, is an adaptation of a John Le Carre novel about an English couple, vacationing in Antigua, who get involved with a Russian mobster looking to defect. THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR (Universal) is the third installment in the franchise, with this time a Senator and her bodyguard forced onto the streets on Purge night trying to survive not only the usual array of unholy terrors but also being the targets of a government that wants to stop her from convincing the public and Congress to bring the Purge itself to an end.

July 8, 2016

Opening in limited release, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (Bleecker Street) stars Viggo Mortensen as a father who has raised his six kids in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, but is forced to bring them into the “real world,” with not always predictable consequences. In MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES (20th Century Fox), Zac Efron and Adam DeVine play a couple of brothers who always, in their exuberance, ruin every family get-together. With their sister about to get married, their father orders them to bring dates who will calm down their outrageous tendencies; however, the girls they do bring (Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick) are, unbeknownst to themselves, every bit as wild as themselves. OUR LITTLE SISTER (Sony Classics) which opens in limited release is a Japanese film about three sisters who, traveling to their estranged father’s funeral in the countryside, meet their shy half-sister and impulsively invite her to live with them.

July 15, 2016

THE INFILTRATOR (Broad Green) stars Bryan Cranston in the true story of the undercover drug enforcement agent who went deep undercover in Pablo Escobar’s cartel and facilitated the largest drug bust in U.S. history. PHANTOM BOY (GKIDS), which played at the Florida Film Festival, is about a young boy with powers who helps a skeptical detective solve a big case. This animated feature is opening in limited release.

July 22, 2016

ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE (Fox Searchlight) brings the cast of the hit British sitcom to the silver screen in limited release. Just remember: no smoking in the theater. In ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE (20th Century Fox) Skrat’s obsessive quest for the elusive acorn sends a large chunk of space rock headed directly for Earth, which means that Manny and his friends will have to find a new home. INTO THE FOREST (A24) is the story of two sisters struggling to survive after the collapse of society. Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood both star. LIGHTS OUT (New Line) is about a woman whose visions after dark threatened her sanity as a girl, but she returns home when her younger brother starts seeing the same things – which may not be hallucinations.

July 29, 2016

In BAD MOMS (STX) a mom who is all about her family gets pushed beyond the breaking point and decides to teach the Alpha moms, her high-maintenance kids, her milquetoast husband and his idiot of a boss a lesson. INDIGNATION (Roadside Attractions), opening in limited release, stars Logan Lerman as a young man in 1951 who goes to a conservative college in Ohio and encounters Antisemitism and sexual repression.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

ANT-MAN (Disney/Marvel) Budget: $130M. Domestic Gross: $180.2M Total: $519.5M. Verdict: Big Hit.
TERMINATOR: GENISYS (Paramount) Budget: $155M. Domestic Gross: $89.8M Total: $440.6M Verdict: Hit.
MAGIC MIKE XXL (Warner Brothers) Budget: $14.8M. Domestic Gross: $66.0M Total: $122.5M Verdict: Big Hit,
MINIONS (Universal) Budget: $74M. Domestic Gross: $336.1M Total: $1.2B Verdict: Blockbuster.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION (Paramount) Budget: $150M. Domestic Gross: $195.0M Total: $682.3M Verdict: Big Hit
MR. HOLMES (Roadside Attractions) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $17.7M Total: $29.4M Verdict: Likely Made Money.
TRAINWRECK (Universal) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $110.2M Total: $140.8M Verdict: Big Hit.
PIXELS (Columbia) Budget: $88M Domestic Gross: $78.8M Total: $243.6M Verdict: Made Money.
THE GALLOWS (New Line) Budget: $100K. Domestic Gross: $22.7M Total: $43.0M Verdict: Big Hit.
PAPER TOWN (Fox Searchlight) Budget: $12M. Domestic Gross: $32.0M Total: $85.5M Verdict: Big Hit.
THE GIFT (STX) Budget: $5M. Domestic Gross: $43.8M Total: $59.0M Verdict: Big Hit.
SELF/LESS (Focus) Budget: $26M. Domestic Gross: $12.3M. Total: $30.5M Verdict: Lost Money.
SOUTHPAW (Weinstein) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $52.4M. Total: $91.7M Verdict: Hit.
VACATION (New Line) Budget: $31M. Domestic Gross: $58.9M. Total: $104.9M Verdict: Hit.
THE END OF THE TOUR (A24) Budget: $8M. Domestic Gross: $16.2M. Total: $63.5M Verdict: Big Hit.

AUGUST

As summer winds down to an end there are usually one or two blockbusters left up Hollywood’s sleeve. Smart money is on the irreverent superhero tale about a team of villains, a reboot of a less familiar children’s movie from a bygone age, an anime about a Japanese folk tale and a remake of a classic swords and sandals epic.

Suicide Squad

FIRST CHOICE

SUICIDE SQUAD

RELEASE DATE: August 5, 2016
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
GENRE: Superhero
STARRING: Will Smith, Margo Robbie, Jared Leto, Ben Affleck, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis, Adam Beach, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
STORY: Facing an insurmountable threat, a secret government agency proposes to send super-powered criminals up against it, a group of expendables who are promised freedom if they survive and death if they run. It might be another day at the office for the Justice League but for these guys it’s suicide.
PROSPECTS: Deadpool was an enormous success and this one seems to have a similar tone and irreverence. It could turn out to be one of the summer’s left field hits.
OBSTACLES: DC still continues to struggle with their cinematic universe, despite big numbers for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It needs an unqualified success that doesn’t revolve around Batman (although the Dark Knight does appear here).
FACTOID: Affleck is the first actor to play a cinematic Batman under two different directors. He is also the first to appear as Batman in two different films to be released in the same year.

SECOND CHOICE

PETE’S DRAGON

RELEASE DATE: August 12, 2016
STUDIO: Disney
GENRE: Family
STARRING: Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Karl Urban, Wes Bentley, Oakes Fegley, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Oona Laurence, Craig Hall
STORY: An orphaned boy is found in the forest; he had survived there, alone, for six years. Except he wasn’t alone; he had the help of his best friend – a living, breathing dragon. Now he is back in civilization, a different kind of wilderness. But his dragon is not about to let him tackle that forest alone.
PROSPECTS: Disney has been on a roll lately, with their animation division continuing to do gangbusters but also their live action films based on theme park attractions, animated classics and children’s books.
OBSTACLES: Pete’s Dragon isn’t exactly the most beloved or well-known of Disney properties and it likely isn’t going to resonate with kids or their parents in the same way that, say, Maleficent did.
FACTOID: Michael C. Hall (Dexter) was originally cast in the role now filled by Karl Urban.

SAUSAGE PARTY

RELEASE DATE: August 12, 2016
STUDIO: Columbia
GENRE: Animated Feature
STARRING THE VOICES OF: James Franco, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Salma Hayek, Jonah Hill, Edward Norton, Bill Hader
STORY: After falling out of a shopping cart, a sausage and his friends make a dangerous journey to get back to their aisles before the 4th of July sale begins; but when they discover the truth of their existence, will they want to get there?
PROSPECTS: A truly all-star cast of comic actors, SNL veterans and comedians make this one to keep an eye out for if you’re a comedy fan.
OBSTACLES: This raunchy animated feature is definitely not for kids, so the question is will adults want to go see a cartoon?
FACTOID: This is the first animated film to be written by Seth Rogen.

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS

RELEASE DATE: August 19, 2016
STUDIO: Focus
GENRE: Animated Feature
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, Ralph Fiennes, Art Parkinson, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, George Takei
STORY: A young boy named Kubo in a fantasy feudal Japan accidentally unleashes an ancient spirit with a vendetta against his family. On the run with only his magical music instrument and two friends to guide him, he must battle Gods and monsters if he is to save his family.
PROSPECTS: The LAIKA animation studio has consistently put out quality product that has progressively gotten more popular.
OBSTACLES: LAIKA still hasn’t had an out of the box hit yet, and this anime-style feature will have a tough time being the first.
FACTOID: The song that Kubo plays in the trailer is the Beatles’ classic “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

ALTERNATE CHOICE

THE FOUNDER

RELEASE DATE: August 5, 2016
STUDIO: Weinstein
GENRE: Biographical Drama
STARRING: Michael Keaton, Patrick Wilson, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Laura Dern, Linda Cardellini, B.J. Novak, Kimberly Battista
STORY: Salesman Ray Kroc sees potential in a restaurant that serves burgers at a phenomenal rate. He sees potential and maneuvers himself to steal the company from the men who started it – the McDonald brothers.
PROSPECTS: Keaton has been nominated for an Oscar the last two years in a row; this might make it three straight, if the buzz is correct.
OBSTACLES: Does anyone really want to see a movie about how McDonald’s came to be?
FACTOID: The Coen Brothers initially expressed interest in directing the film but were unable to make it work due to conflicts with the filming of Hail, Caesar.

OTHER CHOICES

August 5, 2016

In NINE LIVES (EuropaCorp/Relativity) a workaholic dad becomes trapped in the body of a cat and is adopted by his own family, learning to see them in a new and unexpected light.

August 12, 2016

CAFE SOCIETY (Amazon) is the latest from Woody Allen and stars Jesse Eisenberg as a young starry-eyed man who comes to Hollywood in the 1930s to make it in the film industry, but finds love, heartache and some really good cafes instead. FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (Paramount) is the true story of the woman whose life was fictionalized in Marguerite – a society matron who was convinced she was an opera diva but truly couldn’t sing a note. THE HOLLARS (Sony Classics) which opens in limited release is the directorial debut of star John Krasinski as a New York City artist forced to go home to his Midwestern small town when his mother falls ill and finds himself sucked in to the same small town drama that sent him scurrying away to the big city in the first place. SPECTRAL (Universal/Legendary) follows a special Ops team trying to take down an unknown enemy – who may not be of this world.

August 19, 2016

BEN-HUR (MGM/Paramount) is a remake of a classic movie that follows the tale of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish noble who is betrayed by his Roman friend and sentenced to be a galley slave. Bent on revenge, he finds redemption through a gentle Nazarene and vindication in a chariot race. SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU (Miramax) is the story of our current First Lady and how she met an idealistic young man who persistently wooed her during the summer of 1989 – a young man named Barack Obama. This is opening in limited release. THE SPACE BETWEEN US (STX) is a young adult sci-fi story about a 16-year-old boy who was the first human born on Mars, coming back to Earth to try and piece together who is father was. WAR DOGS (Warner Brothers) stars Miles Teller and Jonah Hill as a pair of businessmen who exploit a loophole that allows small businesses to supply the U.S. Military and end up wait over their heads. This is based on a true story.

August 26, 2016

In DON’T BREATHE (Screen Gems/Ghost House) a group of young kids break into a blind man’s house, thinking it will be easy to take his stuff and get away with it. They’re dead wrong. HANDS OF STONE (Weinstein) is the story of boxer Roberto Duran, one of the most lethal punchers in the history of the sport who was on top of his career when he suddenly and mysteriously stopped boxing in mid-match against Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980, famously saying “No mas.” In MECHANIC: RESURRECTION (Summit) Arthur Bishop thought he’d left the assassination game forever, but is reluctantly brought back in to do a virtually impossible task; to take out some of the most dangerous men in the world.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

FANTASTIC FOUR (20th Century Fox) Budget: $120M. Domestic Gross: $56.1M Total: $168.0M Verdict: Lost Money.
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (Warner Brothers) Budget: $75M. Domestic Gross: $45.4M Total: $109.8M Verdict: Lost Money.
SINISTER 2 (Focus) Budget: $10M. Domestic Gross: $27.7M Total: $52.9M Verdict: Big Hit.
HITMAN: AGENT 47 (20th Century Fox) Budget: $35M. Domestic Gross: $22.5M Total: $82.4M Verdict: Broke Even.
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (Universal) Budget: $28M. Domestic Gross: $161.2M Total: $201.6M Verdict: Blockbuster.
RICKI AND THE FLASH (TriStar) Budget: $18M. Domestic Gross: $26.8M Total: $40.5M Verdict: Broke Even.
SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE (Lionsgate) Budget: $25M. Domestic Gross: $19.4M Total: $83.5M Verdict: Hit.

That brings us to the end of this year’s summer preview. Hope you enjoyed it and found a few new movies to look forward to once school lets out. As usual, the caveat here is that the scheduled release dates are always subject to change, and it is likely that within a week or two of this being published there will be date changes, schedule shuffling or the outright removal of some films to be quietly released direct to home video months or even years from now. Until then, you can find out more about the movies in question and when they’ll be out near you by reading our Weekly Previews and monthly Pick of the Litter series for independent film picks. But the year isn’t over at summer’s end; there’s still a whole bunch of movies coming this fall and Cinema365 will be on it with our Fall/Holiday preview at the end of August. You can expect to see previews of films like the first stand-alone Star Wars film, the first in a new trilogy of films set in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a Marvel film exploring the mystical side of the MCU, the cinematic returns of Bridget Jones, Jack Reacher and Robert Langdon, and much more. So until then, the multiplex awaits; grab your popcorn and ice cold soda, and settle down in the dark, air-conditioned movie palace of your desire. We’ll save a seat for you.

2016 Preview


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

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

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

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

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

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

JANUARY

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

The Hateful Eight

MUST- SEE

THE HATEFUL EIGHT

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

SHOULD-SEE

THE REVENANT

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

RIDE ALONG 2

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

KUNG FU PANDA 3

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

THE FINEST HOURS

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

COULD-SEE

DIABLO

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

MIGHT-SEE

January 8, 2016

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

January 15, 2016

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

January 22, 2016

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

January 29, 2016

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

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

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

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

FEBRUARY

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

Deadpool

THE ONE TO SEE

DEADPOOL

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

NEXT IN LINE

HAIL CAESAR

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

ZOOLANDER 2

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

GODS OF EGYPT

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

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

THE WITCH

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

AND THE REST

February 5, 2016

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

February 12, 2016

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

February 19, 2016

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

February 26, 2016

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

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

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

MARCH

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

Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice

THE ONE TO SEE

 BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

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

NEXT IN LINE

WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT

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

ZOOTOPIA

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

THE DIVERGENT SERIES: ALLEGIANT

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

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

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

THE LITTLE PRINCE

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

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

THE BRONZE

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

AND THE REST

March 4, 2016

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

March 11, 2016

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

March 18, 2016

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

March 25, 2016

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

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

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

APRIL

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

The Jungle Book

THE ONE TO SEE

THE JUNGLE BOOK

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

NEXT IN LINE

THE BOSS

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

CRIMINAL

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

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR

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

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

RATCHET AND CLANK

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

ALSO OPENING

April 1, 2016

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

April 8, 2016

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

 April 15, 2016

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

April 22, 2016

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

April 29, 2016

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

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

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

SUMMER

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

Captain America Civil War

THE ONE TO SEE

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

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

NEXT IN LINE

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE

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

WARCRAFT

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

FINDING DORY

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

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

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

GHOSTBUSTERS

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

STAR TREK BEYOND

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

BOURNE 5

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

SUICIDE SQUAD

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

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS

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

AND THE REST

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

FALL

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

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

THE ONE TO SEE

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

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

NEXT IN LINE

DOCTOR STRANGE

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

MOANA

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

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

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

ASSASSIN’S CREED

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

PASSENGERS

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

SOMETHING DIFFERENT

BAD SANTA 2

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

AND THE REST

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

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

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