Deadpool


Deadpool is knocking the movie industry sideways.

Deadpool is knocking the movie industry sideways.

(2016) Superhero (20th Century Fox) Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapicic (voice), Michael Benyaer, Karan Soni, Leslie Uggams, Rob Hayter, Greg LaSalle, Hugh Scott, Donna Yamamoto, Kyle Cassie, Taylor Hickson, Randal Reeder, Jed Rees, Style Dayne, Aatash Amir, Chad Riley, Emily Haine. Directed by Tim Miller

We’re all used to the ponderous superhero movies with tons of special effects as we see how the hero went from a young nobody to being a powerful and charismatic hero, saving the world (or at least New York) from threats that even Schwarzenegger at his best couldn’t overcome.

Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is an ex Special Forces vet with 41 kills to his credit. These days he makes a living by being a bad guy taking out worse guys, as he puts it. He hangs out in the St. Agnes School, which is really a bar where mercenaries hang out awaiting assignments and the bartender Weasel (Miller) is Wilson’s best friend.

Then Wilson meets Vanessa (Baccarin), a cocktail waitress and hooker who agrees to go out on a date with him and eventually, the two become a couple. But when things are going good, fate has a way of laying the smack down on us. Wilson is diagnosed with terminal cancer. While drinking away his troubles, he is met in the bar by a recruiter (Rees) for an experimental medical program that can cure Wade’s cancer but also give him superpowers. With nothing to lose, he leaves Vanessa’s bed in the middle of the night and heads for the clinic (which is more like a warehouse) overseen by psychotic scientist/super villain Ajax (Skrein) who hates his given name of Francis. The process which it takes to cure Wade is a brutal one and an excruciating one.

When he escapes the compound after Ajax and his super-strong minion Angel Dust (Carano) – whom Wilson describes as a less angry Rosie O’Donnell – torture him with a modified hyperbaric chamber, Wade is disfigured and pissed off. Donning a costume with a mask so nobody can see his face, he adopts the name Deadpool after a pastime at the bar, and goes on the hunt for his nemesis.

In the meantime, the X-Men in the form of Colossus (Kapicic/LaSalle) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Hildebrand) are trying to recruit Deadpool for their team although ‘pool is far too focused on getting revenge to bother with saving the world. Not that he’s against saving the world, as long as he gets the girl, puts the bad guys into the ground and has plenty of chimichangas afterwards.

Reynolds has been trying to get this made for six years, ever since the unsatisfying appearance of the Merc with a Mouth in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Fox has been resistant to the idea of doing an R-rated superhero movie and for once, the filmmakers got their way and I’m sure the executives at Fox are happy that they did. The movie has been a phenomenal success; already some pundits are talking that it will force the industry to rethink the entire release concept of tentpole blockbusters.

I don’t know if this will eventually be that kind of game-changer but it is excessively entertaining. As has been noted basically everywhere, the tone is irreverent (the opening credits proclaim the movie was directed by “An Overpaid Tool” and has similar credits for most of the cartoonish opening) and the main character often addresses the audience directly, or makes references to the fact that he’s in the movie as when he tells Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus that they are the only two X-Men he ever sees despite living in a huge mansion: “I guess the producers couldn’t afford any more X-Men” he says snidely.

Reynolds was born to play this role. He has the right amount of attitude and the right amount of physicality and somewhat importantly, the right amount of looks. He’s also willing to take a bit of a right cross to the career jaw and make fun of his own image even as his movie is lampooning the genre and Marvel in one fell swoop. Reynolds is engaging and even though his character is violent, annoying and a little bit psychotic, he ends up carrying the audience’s interest throughout.

The rest of the cast is for the most part pretty much unknown although Baccarin, best known for her stint in Firefly, makes for a fine love interest, Carano (a former MMA fighter) a mostly line-less henchwoman and Skrein a suave villain who gets annoyed whenever his real name is used. While Skrein isn’t the most charismatic man to hit Hollywood ever, he nonetheless fulfills the role of an urbane British villain nicely.

I think overall the movie captures the spirit of the comic book pretty well, which is good news for fans. If there are any sticking points it’s that the movie slows down a little near the end when it should be building momentum, and the excessive gore and profanity may be a little much for those sensitive for such things. And parents, please do NOT bring your kids to this. Unless you feel comfortable dropping the F-bomb in front of them regularly and exposing them to scenes of heads being sliced off of their necks, this isn’t meant for kids. I don’t know how many people have to say this however many different ways – and I still see idiot parents bringing their six and seven year old kids to the movie. Get a flippin’ babysitter if you want to see it that badly.

In any case, this is the movie we asked for, it’s the movie we deserve. It’s fun and while I get the sense that Fox kind of hedged their bets with the budget, it’s clear that there will be lots more Deadpool goodness in our futures. And that suits me just fine.

REASONS TO GO: A fun romp throughout. Stays true to the spirit of the comic book.
REASONS TO STAY: The gore and profanity may upset the sensitive.
FAMILY VALUES: Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod ohmygawd! Do not take your children to this movie. If they’re under ten chances are it will be too much for them. There’s a TON of f-bombs, gratuitous violence (always the best kind), and some graphic nudity.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Became the first R-rated film to open with more than $100 million at the box office.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 2/21/16: Rotten Tomatoes: 83% positive reviews. Metacritic: 65/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Super
FINAL RATING: 7/10
NEXT: Kung Fu Panda 3

New Releases for the Week of February 12, 2016


DeadpoolDEADPOOL

(20th Century Fox) Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Gina Carano, Ed Skrein, Lesley Uggams, Greg LaSalle, Taylor Hickson. Directed by Tim Miller

This is not your daddy’s superhero movie – although it might just end up being your daddy. Wade Wilson is a mercenary with a particular set of skills…oh, not that tired old movie again. But Wade has a big problem – it’s cancer and it’s everywhere in his body. Things don’t look good for our good ol’ buddy Wade – until a mysterious man recruiting for a mysterious agency makes a proposal that Wade might not be able to turn down. One of the hotly anticipated movies of the year.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and promos here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard (3D, IMAX 3D)
Genre: Superhero
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: R (for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity)

Fitoor

(UTV) Katrina Kaif, Tabu, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Aditi Rao Hydari. A Bollywood take on the Charles Dickens classic Great Expectations. A young street boy in Kashmir falls in love with an upper class girl but the girl’s mother conspires to keep the young lovebirds apart.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Romance
Now Playing: AMC Loew’s Universal Cineplex, AMC West Oaks, Touchstar Southchase

Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content and some thematic issues)

How to Be Single

(New Line/MGM) Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Damon Wayans Jr., Leslie Mann. A group of young unmarrieds in the Big Apple cope with the vagaries of the dating scene in a digital world as well as the sometimes confusing rules of behavior between the sexes.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and B-roll video here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Comedy
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: R (for sexual content and strong language throughout)

The Lady in the Van

(TriStar) Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Jim Broadbent, Roger Allam. Playwright and television presenter Alan Bennett is annoyed to discover an elderly woman living in her van in his driveway. Grudgingly, he allows her to stay, a decision that will change both their lives.

See the trailer and clips here.
For more on the movie this is the website.
Release Formats: Standard, 3D, IMAX 3D
Genre: True Life Drama
Now Playing: Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: PG-13 (for a brief unsettling image)

Tumbledown

(Starz Digital Media) Jason Sudeikis, Rebecca Hall, Dianna Agron, Blythe Danner. The widow of an iconic folksinger finds it hard to move on and retreats to the woods of Maine. When a brash New York writer approaches her with the proposal of writing his biography, she is at first cool to the idea but the more she allows him to write his story, the more she heals.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Now Playing: AMC Loew’s Universal Cineplex

Rating: R (for a sex scene)

Where to Invade Next

(Drafthouse) Michael Moore, Tim Walker, Kirsta Kiuru. Professional gadfly and documentarian Moore turns his eye to the American dream and how it seems to be alive and well – and living in other places around the globe. He comes up with ways that dream is being pursued, and how the ideas that other countries have used can work here.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Documentary
Now Playing: Enzian Theater

Rating: R (for language, some violent images, drug use and brief graphic nudity)

Zoolander 2

(Paramount) Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell. Down on his heels and irrelevant, supermodel Derek Zoolander gets back in the game in more way than one when a mysterious Interpol agent discloses that the world’s most beautiful celebrities are turning up dead – with Zoolander’s famous “blue steel” look on their faces. Lucky bastards

See the trailer and a clip here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Comedy
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: PG-13 (for crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong language)

Pick of the Litter – February 2016


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Deadpool

Deadpool

(20th Century Fox) Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Ed Skrein. So there’s this guy, see? He’s got a mouth on him. Got these here superpowers from one of them mysterious gov’mint agencies injected him with this serum stuff. Now he just about can’t be killed. It drives him kinda nuts. He also has a face that looks like a melted pizza. For real. Anyway, some clowns are after his girl so he goes after them. Did I mention he’s a world class assassin? He’s the Merc with a Mouth. He’s Deadpool and fans have been anticipating this with barely contained glee ever since the project was announced. February 12

INDEPENDENT PICKS

The Club

The Club

(Music Box) Marcelo Alonso, Antonia Zegers, Alfredo Castro, Alejandro Sieveking. An incident at a seaside house which houses Catholic clergy accused of terrible crimes leads an investigator from the Church to discover whether or not those living there understand why they have been sent to the house. The more he discovers, the more he begins to comprehend that the evil he thinks resides in these people may not at all be what he thought it was. From the director of the acclaimed Chilean film No comes his latest examination of life in that South American country. February 5

A War

A War

(Magnolia) Pilou Asbæk, Tuva Novotny, Dar Salim, Søren Malling. While stationed in Afghanistan as part of the coalition forces, a Danish company commander and his troops come under heavy fire. He is forced to make a decision in order to save his men that will have severe consequences not just for him and his career but also for his wife and children back home. From the acclaimed director of A Hijacking, this is Denmark’s official submission for this year’s Foreign Language Oscar and one of the five nominees for the award. February 12

Remember

Remember

(A24) Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Dean Norris, Henry Czerny. Two survivors of a notorious concentration camp made a pact; that if one of them finds the one who killed their families, he would exact revenge of an eye-for-an-eye fashion. Now elderly, one is confined to a wheelchair and on oxygen, the other in the throes of increasingly difficult dementia, but now a lead has been found and with little time left, the two resolve to fulfill their promise made so long ago. This is the latest from acclaimed and Oscar-nominated Canadian director Atom Egoyan. February 12

Embrace of the Serpent

Embrace of the Serpent

(Oscilloscope Laboratories) Nilbio Torres, Jan Bijvoet, Antonio Bolivar, Brionne Davis. A shaman for an Amazonian tribe in the rain forests of Brazil could be the key to finding a plant that could heal millions. Two scientists undergo a 40-year relationship with him, the last of his people as the encroachments of modern society on the rain forest threaten their research – and the lives of the indigenous people. Filmed in black and white, this is a nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars and judging from the trailer, looks absolutely transcendent. . February 17

Only Yesterday

Only Yesterday

(GKIDS) Starring the voices of Dev Patel, Daisy Ridley, Tara Sands, Tara Strong. A young woman remembers back to 1966 when she was in the fifth grade, and hopes the girl she was then can save the woman she is now. This 1991 anime masterpiece, one of the earliest films from Studio Ghibli, was never released in the United States; it is now, with a brand new voice track and a dazzling digital upgrade. February 26

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.

The Transporter Refueled


A handgun romance.

A handgun romance.

(2015) Action (EuropaCorp) Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Loan Chabanol, Gabriella Wright, Tatiana Pajkovic, Wenxia Yu, Radivoje Bukvic, Noémie Lenoir, Yuri Kolokonikov, Lenn Kudrjawizki, Samir Guesmi, Anatole Taubman, Robbie Nock, Michael Morris, Nash Novcic, Jochen Hägele, Cédric Chevalme, Jerome Zybala, Stephanie Moreno-Carpio. Directed by Camille Delamarre

Getting from point A to point B is no easy thing. Sometimes it requires someone who knows what they’re doing; a transporter, if you will. And in the cases of some cargo, only the best in the business will do.

The best in the business happens to be Frank Martin (Skrein). He is a former Special Ops mercenary sort who got out of that game and now makes a living as an expensive transporter of packages, both living and otherwise. He has made it a policy to ask no questions, to make no excuses and to never, ever be caught. He drives a luxury Audi with a few minor modifications.

He is spending some time with his recently retired Dad, Frank Sr. (Stevenson) who is an Evian salesman nudge nudge wink wink. In reality, Frank Sr. is something of a spy but not a James Bond sort – more like a fixer of things that need fixing, be it a government that needs toppling, a dictator who needs killing, that sort of thing.  Junior gets some of his fastidiousness from dad, who is a stickler for being on time.

While entertaining his Pater, Frank gets a job from a mysterious femme fatale named Anna (Chabanol). She wears a bleached blonde wig and the package turns out to be three other women wearing identical wigs – Gina (Wright), Maria (Pajkovic) and Qiao (Yu). It turns out they’ve robbed a bank and not just any bank – the one that holds a safety deposit box belonging to vicious Russian mobster Arkady Karasov (Bukvic). It turns out that Arkady and Frank have a history, having been mercenaries in the same company prior. It also turns out that Arkady and the girls have a history; they were all sold into prostitution to him by their families.

Normally Frank wouldn’t care one way or the other but the girls have kidnapped his father and given him poison; Frank has 24 hours to finish the job which is to get to the mobster’s partners and set them against their boss or else dear old Dad will expire. And when Arkady finds out what’s going on, it is going to be certain that all Hell will break loose.

This is a reboot of the Transporter franchise which starred Jason Statham, who passed on reprising his role mainly because he was too expensive for the producers at this stage in his career. Instead, they got Game of Thrones cast member Skrein who is also playing Ajax in the upcoming Deadpool movie which is likely to enhance his profile further. In all honesty, Statham was much better suited to the urbane, taciturn Martin than Skrein who is a bit stiffer than Statham; Statham’s martial arts expertise was also more fluid than Skrein’s. However, the film retains producer Luc Besson who had a hand in writing and producing the film.

A movie like this needs spectacular action sequences to pull in an audience and while the action sequences are all right, they aren’t anything particularly to write home about. Delamarre is competent at filming them at least and we don’t see the jerky quick cuts that some action directors have resorted to of late. Delamarre also has a good eye for the South of France scenery as well as the eye candy that are the girls. The testosterone will definitely be flowing for male moviegoers.

Where the film truly succeeds is in the banter between Stevenson and Skrein which are the movie’s highlights. Stevenson, who most people know as the Punisher in Punisher: War Zone, looks to be having more fun than anyone. He’s delightful and has a few butt-kicking moments of his own here. I am sure I’m not the only one who wished they had recast Stevenson in the lead role but he may be a bit too rumpled for the part. In any case, his work with Skrein is what is best about The Transporter Refueled.

This is supposed to be the first movie in a proposed trilogy and quite frankly while the movie is mindless entertainment (which isn’t a bad thing), it’s a bit too mindless. There’s nothing here that is really memorable enough that you’ll remember it an hour or two after you’ve left the theater (or more likely, switched off the TV) but in all honesty, will suffice to kill some time if you’re of an action bent.

REASONS TO GO: Beautiful women, beautiful scenery. Banter between Skrein and Stevenson.
REASONS TO STAY: The action sequences aren’t anything special. Skrein a bit too low key to be interesting here. Misses Statham’s presence.
FAMILY VALUES: Plenty of violence and action sequences, some foul language, a bit of sexuality, drug references and adult thematic material.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Originally Relatively Media was set to distribute this as producers EuropaCorp and Relativity had a distribution contract. However when Relativity went bankrupt, EuropaCorp retained distribution rights to all their properties set to be distributed by Relativity. The Transporter Refueled is the first film to be distributed by EuropaCorp in the United States.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 9/22/15: Rotten Tomatoes: 16% positive reviews. Metacritic: 32/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: The Getaway
FINAL RATING: 5/10
NEXT: The Visit

X-Men Origins: Wolverine


Two guys I'd think twice before shaking hands with.

Two guys I'd think twice before shaking hands with.

(20th Century Fox) Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Ryan Reynolds, Dominic Monaghan, Lynn Collins, Taylor Kitsch, Will.i.am, Kevin Durand, Daniel Henney, Scott Adkins, Tim Pocock, Stephen Leeder, Peter O’Brien. Directed by Gavin Hood.

One of the truisms of storytelling is “begin at the beginning.” That’s not always possible, but sometimes once we become involved in a story, we want to know more about what preceded it.

James Logan (Jackman) is a mutant. Born in the mid-19th century, he and his brother Victor Creed (Schreiber) are virtually indestructible, their wounds healing literally before our very eyes. Born with the mutant gene of instant regeneration, they are virtually immortal. In addition, they have the weapons to defend themselves; Creed has sharp claws that retract into his fingernails, Logan bony spikes that retract into his knuckles when he’s not using them.

They are born literally to battle, and they move from war to war, starting with the Civil War and all the way to Vietnam, fighting alongside each other but as time goes by, Victor becomes more bloodthirsty, less civilized. After he melts down and decapitates a senior officer, they are sentenced to death by firing squad. That has the same effect as all the other bullets that have passed into them over the decades.

While rotting in their cell, they are visited by Major William Stryker (Huston), an ambitious black ops sort who is putting together a team of specialized individuals, each with their own unique talents; Blob (Durand), a superstrong Southerner with an eating disorder; Wraith (Will.i.am), who can become invisible at will and can seemingly teleport from place to place; Bolt (Monaghan) who can influence electrical devices with his mind, as well as communicate telepathically; Agent Zero (Henney), who can make astonishing leaps that would do any gymnast proud, and also is absolutely deadly with any firearm – and Deadpool (Reynolds), who is awfully talented with a sword and also has the same regenerative ability the brothers have (he also can’t stop talking, which annoys the heck out of his teammates especially Stryker).

Logan is becoming increasingly appalled with the methods the team will go to, and when they massacre an African village, he walks out on them. Victor, on the other hand, revels in the carnage and has found a home and a purpose at long last.

Logan flees to a small town in the Canadian Rockies, where he takes a job as a lumberjack and moves in with a beautiful schoolteacher (Collins) who tells him native stories of the moon and her lover, banished to the Earth for leaving the spirit world, never able to touch again. The lover is the wolverine, howling in despair at the sight of his lost love. Logan is at last at peace, or as at peace as he gets – he is haunted by nightmares of horrible deeds, some of which he’s participated but some, disturbingly, seem to be being committed by his brother.

Logan’s peace is short-lived and the past comes calling, leaving him to cradle his lover’s body in his blood-soaked hands. The animal is awakened in him and he sets out on his path to become Wolverine – Weapon X, one of the most dangerous men on the planet. God help those who stand in between Logan and his revenge.

Director Gavin Hood actually has some pretty good films on his resume (including Tsotsi) and this is his first real major effect-laden blockbuster. There are definitely signs that Hood isn’t as comfortable yet with that kind of film. Granted, he’s also hampered by a very weak script that doesn’t really do the story justice.

There are two main problems here. The story is the first; there is a profusion of characters, some which exist only to give X-fans an a-ha moment. Fanboys are screaming that this isn’t anywhere near canon (and for those familiar with the backstory of Wolverine in the comics, that’s a legitimate gripe) but in all honesty, I’m less interested in slavish adherence to graphic novel continuity than I am with telling a good story, and this ends up not being a very good one. It’s maddening all the more because there are some elements that really work here and it’s a shame that the writers couldn’t maintain that level of quality throughout the two hours; it feels a little padded to be honest.

Second and more egregious are the special effects. Quite frankly, they’re horrible in places and it distracts from the movie. I expect major summer tentpole releases to have at the very least adequate special effects, but the CGI here ranges from ludicrous to downright astonishing (in a bad way). Wolverine’s claws often look fake, which considering this is his fourth appearance in the movies should never happen. There’s a shot near the end of a group of young mutants walking towards a helicopter that is so very obviously green screened, but done so poorly that you wonder if the shot wasn’t done thirty years ago and then shoehorned into this movie. I get the distinct impression that the effects work was assigned out to the various subcontractors far too late in the post-production process and that they were rushed to get them completed in time to make the release date. That’s inexcusable in this day and age.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some plusses in this movie. Jackman has got Wolverine down pat, and Schreiber is a truly menacing Sabretooth (that’s Victor Creed’s supervillain name for all you non-fanboys) who is much more of a threat than the Sabretooth played by Tyler Mane in X-Men. Reynolds makes a really fine Deadpool in his few brief moments in the movie, and I look forward to seeing him in his own movie, said to be getting much attention at Fox. And while the special effects were below par, the same can’t be said for the physical stunts and action sequences which are nicely done.

Overall, the movie is a bit on the disappointing side. I might have hoped for it to be a bit better written and definitely I would have hoped for better effects. Still, it is not without merit. It certainly hits many of the marks that you would expect a big summer action movie to hit, and if you’re looking for mindless entertainment you can certainly do worse. Overall, I’d rate it as sufficiently entertaining to go and see, but I don’t think it got the kind of repeat customer box office it might have gotten with some tweaking. This isn’t Iron Man by any stretch of the imagination, but at least it isn’t Elektra either.

WHY RENT THIS: Jackman makes a compelling Wolverine, and he and Schreiber have some great scenes together. Lots of great action sequences with fight scenes to satisfy the cravings of all summer action movie junkies jonesing for their first fix of the season.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: The writing is uneven whose good moments are outweighed by cliches and shortcuts. The special effects are surprisingly bad, and one gets the impression they were hurried and not planned out properly.

FAMILY VALUES: Plenty of comic book violence and scenes of human experimentation can be fairly intense for more impressionable sorts.

TRIVIAL PURSUITS: Jackman and Patrick Stewart are the only actors to appear in all four X-Men films (Stewart has a cameo near the end of Wolverine). Also, there were two post-credit scenes shown during the movie’s theatrical release; one showing Wolverine drinking in a bar, the other set at the rubble of the film’s final battle. Which ending audiences saw depended on what showing they went to.

NOTABLE DVD FEATURES: A fascinating conversation with former Marvel Comics head Stan Lee and Wolverine creator Len Wein.

FINAL RATING: 6/10

TOMORROW: Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days