Top 10 of 2013


Top 10 2014Those who read a lot of movie reviewers know that it is part of the job to rank the best movies of the year once that year is over. Not being one of those critics who gets to see all the big movies well in advance of their release date, I have to make do with getting out to see them as soon as I can, which leads to delays in publishing my top 10.

As with most things, any top 10 for any critic is a moment in time captured. This is how I feel these movies belong to be ranked at this moment, right now. I can guarantee you that I’ll look back on this next year and wonder how in the hell I ranked one movie ahead of another, or how I missed this movie or that one.

Here you’ll see plenty of movies that are already on a lot of year end lists, but there’s one you won’t see that is – Her. That’s not because I didn’t love the movie – in fact, I think that it would be near the top if not the top movie of 2013. However, while it did get released in New York and L.A. in 2013 for Academy consideration, most people in the country didn’t get a chance to see it until January of this year. That is why I decided to put the film in as part of my 2014 films. Normally I go by the release date of the movie to qualify it as a top ten film, but in all honesty these days we’re getting so many quality foreign films that were released in their own countries a year, two or even three years prior to their American release that I am going with a general “when did it get its widest release” in order to determine what year I rank the film with. You can bitch and moan if you want to but it’s my playground and my rules and I reserve the right to change them tomorrow.

I think that the quality for movies overall in 2013 was pretty high compared to recent years. Many of the honorable mentions would have made the top 10 lists in years past. This one was a bit harder to put together; there were several I had a hard time relegating to the purgatory of Honorable Mention but at the end of the day, this is my list and I’m sticking to it.

So this is the list as I see it. Feel free to leave your comments and opinions here on the site or elsewhere. I’m always happy to defend my choices. However, if you haven’t seen some of them, do seek them out; I’ll do my best to provide information as to how to go watch them right now, whether it be in your local multiplex, through an online streaming service, on your cable or satellite subscription service or at your local DVD store.

HONORABLE MENTION

There are a number of movies that didn’t quite make the cut of the top ten. I thought I’d add them here so you can get an idea of which ones came close, were considered and ultimately not chosen. Again, I will stress that all of these are quality films worth seeking out if you’re looking for entertainment, enlightenment or insight. I didn’t include links here but if you want to read my reviews of any of these, simply type in the title into the search field and have at it. So,  in no particular order;

Dallas Buyers Club, Aftermath, Saving Mr. Banks, Mud, Starbuck, A.C.O.D., Unfinished Song, Nebraska, The Book Thief, John Dies at the End, The World’s End, Stories We Tell, The Attack, Good Ol’ Freda, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, Sightseers, Captain Phillips, Pieta, Philomena, The History of Future Folk, About Time, I Declare War, Year of the Living Dead, Quartet

This Is Where We Live

10.  THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE

(Bluff City) Tobias Segal, Marc Menchaca, Barry Corbin, Frankie Shaw, C.K. McFarland, Ron Hayden, Katherine Willis, Marco Perella, Brent Smiga, Brian Orr, Christine Bruno, Carolyn Gilroy. Directed by Josh Barrett and Marc Menchaca

Released April 7, 2013 A Texas hill country family has a tough go of it, with the adult son having a severe form of cerebral palsy and the father in the beginning stages of dementia. The mother is also battling high blood pressure and the sister is bitter at the hand life has dealt her. Into this volatile mix comes a rough and tumble handyman who at first builds a wheelchair ramp for the front porch but eventually becomes the son’s caretaker and friend. However his shortcomings may tear the family apart.

WHY IT IS HERE: Beautifully photographed and written with sympathy and sensitivity, this is a movie for people who love movies about people and by people, I mean real people, the sort you might run into at the grocery store or sit next to in the bar. It could have easily been a manipulative Lifetime movie but instead chooses honesty over treacle. An amazing debut by the directing team.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: Tobias Segal as August expresses his frustration at trying to communicate with a body that doesn’t co-operate with him – ever.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: Not available.

BUDGET: Not available.

STATUS: Is trying to secure distributorship for some sort of theatrical release. Until then, look for it on the Festival circuit.

Short Term 12

9. SHORT TERM 12

(Cinedigm) Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Rami Malek, Keith Stanfield, Frantz Turner, Stephanie Beatriz, Melora Walters. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton

Released August 23, 2013 In an era of austerity where social service funding is under fire from the fiscal conservatives, this is a look at just what that wasteful spending is actually spent on. A young woman is the caretaker of at-risk youths in a care facility in Los Angeles in an eventful few days in the facility. A girl is admitted, one who reminds the caretaker strikingly of herself. A long-time resident prepares to get released to live on his own. And the caretaker discovers that she is pregnant, which triggers her own long-held emotional issues.

WHY IT IS HERE: As authentic a movie as was released in 2013. A warts-and-all portrayal of troubled kids and of the young people who care for them. Larson’s performance would certainly have been in the mix for the Best Actress Oscar had this been released by a major studio; suffice to say she has what it takes to get the gold somewhere down the line. Surrounded by a great young cast, Larson shines and elevates this film to the next level.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: Larson “rescues” Dever from the home of her abusive father and in doing so the inner pain of both women comes to the surface.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $1 million domestic (as of 1/14/14), $1 million total.

BUDGET: Not available.

STATUS: Currently available on home video. Download from iTunes/Amazon. Rent DVD/Blu-Ray from Netflix. Stream from Amazon.

The Wolf of Wall Street

8. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

(Paramount) Leonardo di Caprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin, Kenneth Choi, PJ Byrne, Jon Bernthal, Joanna Lumley. Directed by Martin Scorsese

Released December 25, 2013 It seems only fitting that Scorsese would in this day and age make a film about amoral Wall Street capitalists – after all, they are the new mob of the 21st century. Still, there is a fascination to the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort from ambitious penny stock trader to criminal on an epic scale. All the drugs, all the language, the greed and the women – it’s a morality tale like none other.

WHY IT IS HERE: Di Caprio delivers one of the defining performances of his career to date and Hill proves he’s more than a one-shot wonder with an Oscar-nominated performance. While some have complained about the indulgences and the f-bombs, nonetheless there’s authenticity about what you see onscreen. If absolute power corrupts absolutely, then money corrupts inevitably. One of the critical hits of the year and judging on the box office returns this may well being one of Scorsese’s biggest hits ever.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: Delayed-reaction Quaaludes. That’s all you need to know.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $82.8 million domestic (as of 1/17/14), $120.9M total.

BUDGET: $100M

STATUS: Still out in wide release.

The Hunt

7. THE HUNT (JAGTEN)

(Magnolia) Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkoop, Lasse Fogelstrom, Susse Wold, Anne Louise Hassing, Lars Ranthe, Alexandra Rapaport, Ole Dupont, Rikke Bergmann, Allan Wilbor Christensen. Directed by Thomas Vinterberg

Released July 12, 2013 We were one of the first in the country to see this here in Orlando at the Florida Film Festival. Recently this was announced to be one of the final nominees for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. Given it’s wrenching story about a substitute teacher who is just trying to get his life together after a bitter divorce accused of molesting a little girl, it’s hardly unsurprising but there is more to this than simply a terrific story.

WHY IT IS HERE: The storyline, as well-told as it is, is brought to life by an Oscar-worthy performance by Mikkelsen. In a year in which we’ve been treated to a wealth of fine performances, this is as good as any as you’ll witness, Only the fact that this is a mid-major distributor and a foreign film kept Mikkelsen from being in the Oscar mix. This is the kind of movie that leaves you feeling emotionally drained after seeing it.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: The Christmas eve church confrontation.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $613,308 domestic (as of 1/21/14), $16.76M total..

BUDGET: $3.45M.

STATUS: Currently available on home video. Download from iTunes/Amazon. Rent DVD/Blu-Ray from Netflix/Blockbuster. Stream from Amazon/Blockbuster/Netflix/iTunes.

Fruitvale Station

6. FRUITVALE STATION

(Weinstein) Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Ariana Neal, Ahna O’Reilly, Keenan Coogler, Trestin George, Joey Oglesby, Michael James, Marjorie Shears, Destiny Ekwueme. Directed by Ryan Coogler

Released July 12, 2013 Based on true events that happened on the last day of 2008 (and on the first day of 2009), the shooting of Oscar Grant III at an East Bay BART station galvanized the Bay Area and the nation as to the training of transit police and their use of firearms. Taking place on the last day of his life, the film shows the story of a man who’s made some terrible mistakes trying to get his life together only to lose it in a senseless confrontation

WHY IT IS HERE: Some talk about Oscar snubs to Redford and Hanks but this entire movie has gotten snubbed this entire awards season and it just isn’t right. Part of he problem was that the movie was released back in July but frankly the studio hasn’t really supported it as much as it deserves either. The movie certainly should have received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Jordan), Best Supporting Actress (Spencer) and Best Original Screenplay. Hopefully the justice will be in big boosts to the careers of Coogler and Jordan.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: When a mother is informed that her son is dead.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $16.1 million domestic (as of 1/21/14), $16.7 million total.

BUDGET: Not available.

STATUS: Currently available on home video. Download from iTunes/Amazon. Rent DVD/Blu-Ray from Netflix. Stream from Amazon/ iTunes.

20 Feet from Stardom

5. 20 FEET FROM STARDOM

(Radius) Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fisher, Judith Hill, Tata Vega, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger, Bette Midler, Chris Botti, Lynn Mabry, Claudia Lennear, Sheryl Crow, Patti Austin. Directed by Morgan Neville

Released June 14, 2013 Most of us know the stars out front belting out the hits but few of us are all that aware of the back-up singers who often sing the parts of the song we sing along to. Some of them are the most talented and powerful voices in the business bar none – including the stars, who would be the first to tell you so. These are the anti-American Idols – women content to remain in the background, who sing for the love of singing rather than in pursuit of fame.

WHY IT IS HERE: This Oscar-nominated documentary shines a light on those who have shunned the spotlight, some for nearly 50 years and still going strong. This was the opening night film for the 2013 Florida Film Festival and an auspicious kick-off to that event it was, with Merry Clayton a special guest gracing opening night filmgoers with a song.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: A deconstruction of the Rolling Stones’ classic “Gimme Shelter” with the various tracks stripped away until only Clayton’s powerful voice remains.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $4.8M domestic (as of 1/22/14), $5.2M worldwide.

BUDGET: Not available

STATUS: Currently available on home video. Download from iTunes/Amazon. Rent DVD/Blu-Ray from Netflix. Stream from Amazon/ iTunes.

Gravity

4. GRAVITY

(Warner Brothers) Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris (voice), Phaldut Sharma (voice), Orto Ignatiussen (voice), Amy Warren (voice), Basher Savage (voice). Directed by Alfonso Cuaron

Released October 3, 2013 Perhaps the worst possible fear of an astronaut is a disaster in space, crippling their spacecraft and robbing them of a ride home. For all our well-trained, cool-as-a-cucumber-under-pressure NASA heroes, there’s no doubt that each one of them are human inside and in a situation like that would be absolutely terrified. This comes as close as we can to making that situation real for a general audience.

WHY IT IS HERE: Stunning special effects that duplicate weightlessness so perfectly, and a bravura Oscar-nominated performance by Bullock (and justifiably so). This has been getting rabid kudos from critics and audiences alike since it opened and it is no surprise that it is one of the finalists for the Best Picture Oscar.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: The initial collision with the debris field that leaves Bullock’s character spinning out of control and headed for deep space – all against eerie silence.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $258.9 million domestic (as of 1/21/14), $677.7 million total.

BUDGET: $100 million.

STATUS: Still in wide release; scheduled for home video release on February 25.

The Forgotten Kingdom

3. THE FORGOTTEN KINGDOM

(Black Kettle) Zenzo Ngqobe, Nozipho Nkelemba, Jerry Mofokeng, Lebohang Ntsane, Moshoshoe Chabeli, Lillian Dube, Sam Phillips. Directed by Andrew Mudge

Released April 5, 2013 This is yet another movie on this list that I first caught at the Florida Film Festival – in this case, the best film I caught at the FFF this year. In it a South African man, living a life of drinking and womanizing, is charged with taking his father – from whom he was estranged – back to Lesotho to be buried. Along the way he rekindles an old flame, learns something about his dad and of himself – and of Africa.

WHY IT IS HERE: An amazing film that drills down father-son relationships and forces you to explore your own relationships with your parents and/or your children. Beautifully shot in gorgeous African vistas, this is a movie so compelling and beautiful that I was thinking about it for days. I’m still thinking about it now.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: Atang’s confrontation with Dineo’s father.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: Not available.

BUDGET: Not available.

STATUS: Still appearing on the festival circuit. At this time there are no concrete plans for home video release but at some point hopefully that will change.

12 Years a Slave

2.  12 YEARS A SLAVE

(Fox Searchlight) Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Lupita Nyong’o, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Alfre Woodard. Directed by Steve McQueen

Released October 18, 2013 Solomon Northup, a free American of African descent, is betrayed, kidnapped and sold into slavery. Sent to the deep South of the plantations of Louisiana, he is taken away from his wife and children and must learn to survive in the brutal world of the cotton fields, maintaining the hope that one day he will be free once again.

WHY IT IS HERE: Just a magnificently gripping film, one which can show the depths of human depravity one moment and the heights of the strength of the human spirit the next. Ejiofor comes out as a legitimate star here while McQueen who for years has been labeled as a director of enormous promise, fulfills it here.

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: Solomon Northup sobbing as he is being carted away in a wagon as he is at last set free.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $43.9M (as of 1/2913), $79.0M total.

BUDGET: $20 million.

STATUS: Still in wide release. Expected to be released on home video this spring.

The Act of Killing

1. THE ACT OF KILLING

 (Drafthouse) Anwars Congo, Herman Koto, Safit Pardede, Adi Zulkadry, Haji Anif, Jusuf Kalla, Ibrahim Sinik, Syamsul Arfin. Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer

Released July 19, 2013 During the Indonesian military takeover in the mid-1960s, thousands upon thousands of Indonesians were murdered by death squad, often led by members of organized crime. In an effort to rid the country of leftists and communists, the net was expanded to include executions of ethnic Chinese and as time went on, basically anyone they wanted. Some of the more notorious death squad leaders were interviewed here and invited to re-enact their crimes in any style they wished; being to a man big fans of Hollywood movies, they would choose some fairly inventive means.

WHY IT IS HERE: I can’t say I enjoyed this movie but the experience of it really changed my perceptions on the notions of forgiveness and humanity. Anwars Congo, one of the most blood-soaked of the death squad leaders (and one of the most revered in Indonesia), is today a grandfatherly sort whose gentle onscreen demeanor is at odds with the horrors of his vicious, cruel and bloodthirsty acts. Is there redemption for men like that? Can one feel sympathy for the devil?

HIGHLIGHT SCENE: The scene on the roof when the horror of his actions catches up with Anwar and he has a violently physical reaction.

BOX OFFICE RESULTS: $469, 214 domestic (as of 1/29/13), $469,214 total.

BUDGET: $1 million.

STATUS: Currently available on home video. Download from iTunes/Amazon. Rent DVD/Blu-Ray from Netflix. Stream from Amazon/iTunes/Netflix.

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John Dies at the End


You don't want to use the soy sauce at THIS Chinese joint.

You don’t want to use the soy sauce at THIS Chinese joint.

(2012) Horror (Magnet) Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Glynn Turman, Doug Jones, Daniel Roebuck, Fabianne Therese, Jonny Weston, Jimmy Wong, Tai Bennett, Allison Weissman, Angus Scrimm, Prandihi Varshney, Riley Rose Critchlow, Helena Mehalis, Maria Mehalis. Directed by Don Coscarelli

FFF Banner 2012

The world is divided into two kinds of people; those who get John Dies at the End and those who don’t. Those who do appreciate fun for its own sake, and don’t mind a good genre mash-up. They don’t need a conventional narrative structure and are willing to sacrifice plot coherency for a good laugh…or a fiendishly fun gross-out. They are the sorts who read webcomics religiously, are students of pop culture, think Arrested Development just might be the best television show ever made, don’t mind staying up 36 straight hours playing a good videogame or occasionally partake of a little recreational drug use. Or perhaps all of the above.

David Wong (Williamson) – who isn’t Chinese; he just changed his name to make it harder to find him – meets with reporter Arnie Blondestone (Giamatti) – who isn’t blonde – in a Chinese restaurant. David and his partner John (Mayes) are a kind of demonic Ghostbusters if you will. They’re nearly as well known in the community as Dr. Albert Marconi (Brown) and Arnie wants to get their story.

But David’s story is not the usual kind. David and John have been using a drug with the street name of soy sauce because of its appearance. However this is one of those drugs that you don’t choose, it chooses you. Some people ingest it and become…altered. For David and John however, they develop some rudimentary psychic powers like the ability to read minds, see the future, communicate with the dead and more importantly see demonic presences that the ordinary living can’t detect.

Basically, what’s going on is that there is a biological supercomputer in an alternate universe that wants to break into our universe and take over since it already reigns supreme where it lives. I guess even near-omnipotent biological supercomputers get bored too. Anyway it, and the people that it controls, have been trying to break into our dimension for decades without success but now that David and John have actually done it, the computer wants to know how they did it and is willing to do whatever it takes to get that knowledge. For David and John’s part they’d much rather be sleeping.

That’s a very rudimentary outline of the plot and doesn’t really give you too much of a sense of the real lunacy going on. Based on the book by the same name by David Wong (who is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin), the movie has all the genre-bending fun from the novel coupled with the visual sense of Coscarelli who some might remember as the man who gave us the Phantasm movies as well as the cult hit Bubba Ho-Tep. As you can tell from his resume, this kind of thing is right in his wheelhouse.

Some will find a bit of glee in trying to determine which other movies this most resembles. For example, it has the philosophical sci-fi ramblings of a Donnie Darko but also the hip quotient of a Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. There’s the roller coaster gore quotient of Army of Darkness and the trans-dimensional goof of Big Trouble in Little China. I could go on but you get the picture.

Williamson and Mayes make a good team. The chemistry is right there between them, two longtime friends who often speak in their own code (brought to ridiculous levels) but are nonetheless insanely loyal to each other. Their banter is realistic and makes the relationship and bond between them seem more natural and organic.

They get some decent support as well. Turman is good as a philosophical police detective who knows a lot more than he wants to know, while Brown plays a kind of Eurotrash self-help book author who has a beautiful entourage but doesn’t just talk the talk. I was also kind of fond of Weston as a hip-hop talking gangsta who is lily-white and looks and sounds ridiculous but doesn’t know it; you see a lot of those sorts on TV and in real life and it’s nice to see someone acknowledge that it’s moronic even though it’s probably not politically correct to do so. Le sigh.

The effects are mostly practical and a bit old school but they still work. Some of them are pretty nifty, like the police officer’s moustache that abruptly comes to life and starts fluttering about the room like a butterfly, or a freezer full of meat that assembles to become a meat monster (okay, that one was a bit cheesy I’ll grant you).

This one’s a roller coaster ride through current slacker culture and if there’s a complaint to be had, it’s that this is probably not a movie that’s going to age well and will be likely viewed as a product of its time as movies that cater to youth culture inevitably do. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed for what it is in the here and now, nor does it mean that it doesn’t excel at what it is aiming for. This isn’t exactly fun for the whole family – some people are simply not going to get it and truthfully they’re probably never going to get it – but that doesn’t mean that those who do shouldn’t get the pleasure of knowing they’re one of the club.

REASONS TO GO: One hell of a mindf*ck. Psychedelic horror that refuses to take itself seriously. Imaginative visuals and fun throughout.

REASONS TO STAY: May freak one’s freak a little too much. Some may find the story confusing and convoluted.

FAMILY VALUES:  There’s a whole lot of violence and gore, plenty of bad language,  a scene or two of nudity and plenty of drug content.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: According to the FedEx package that John sends himself at the mall, his full name is John Cheese.

CRITICAL MASS: As of 3/25/13: Rotten Tomatoes: 60% positive reviews. Metacritic: 53/100; the reviews are decidedly mixed.

COMPARISON SHOPPING: Cabin in the Woods

FINAL RATING: 8/10

NEXT: Olympus Has Fallen

2013 Preview


2013 banner - final

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

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

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

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

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

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

JANUARY

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

The Gangster Squad

DON’T MISS

GANGSTER SQUAD

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

SHOULD SEE

THE LAST STAND

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

HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS

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

MIGHT SURPRISE

JOHN DIES AT THE END

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

ALSO

January 4, 2013

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

January 11, 2013

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

January 18, 2013

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

January 25, 2013

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

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

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

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

FEBRUARY

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

A Good Day to Die Hard

CAN’T MISS

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD

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

SHOULD SEE

IDENTITY THIEF

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

BULLET TO THE HEAD

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

MIGHT SURPRISE

NO

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

ALSO

February 1, 2013

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

February 8, 2013

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

February 13, 2013

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

February 14, 2013

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

February 22, 2013

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

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

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

MARCH

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

Oz The Great and Powerful

CAN’T MISS

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

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

SHOULD SEE

THE CROODS

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

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION

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

THE HOST

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

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER

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

MIGHT SURPRISE

STOKER

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

ALSO

March 1, 2013

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

March 8, 2013

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

March 15, 2013

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

March 20, 2013

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

March 22, 2013

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

March 29, 2013

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

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

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

APRIL

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

Oblivion

CAN’T MISS

OBLIVION

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

SHOULD SEE

42

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

PAIN AND GAIN

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

MIGHT SURPRISE

THE COMPANY YOU KEEP

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

ALSO

April 5, 2013

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

April 12, 2013

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

April 24, 2013

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

April 26, 2013

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

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

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

SUMMER

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

Iron Man 3

CAN’T MISS

IRON MAN 3

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

SHOULD SEE

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

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

MAN OF STEEL

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

WORLD WAR Z

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

PACIFIC RIM

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

EPIC

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

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE

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

MIGHT SURPRISE

ELYSIUM

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

ALSO

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

FALL

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

The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug

CAN’T MISS

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

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

SHOULD SEE

ENDER’S GAME

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

JACK RYAN

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

HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE

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

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

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

THOR: THE DARK WORLD

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

MIGHT SURPRISE

THE WORLD’S END

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

ALSO

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

MOVIES CURRENTLY WITHOUT RELEASE DATES BUT LIKELY TO OPEN

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

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