2012 Preview


The box office slide that began in 2010 continued in 2011, much to the chagrin of exhibitors and studios alike. With increasing home viewing options coming from Video On-Demand, streaming from services such as Netflix, Hulu and Epix as well as Blu-Ray and DVD viewing (although that market is shrinking as well as movies follow the lead of the music industry and move to an increasingly digital format), theaters were unable to compete with home viewing in a strained economic environment. High ticket prices and upcharges for 3D and IMAX viewing kept audiences away towards more economical formats; it costs less for one month of unlimited streaming on Netflix than it does for a single non-matinee ticket at the average first-run theater. When your audience is pinching pennies, it doesn’t make sense to make your product less affordable.

There are no signs that this particular downturn is going to be changing anytime soon. 2011 had been a very anticipated year for blockbusters, but for the most part the numbers were down all around. While Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 sent the franchise out with a bang (and with arguably the best film in the series), The Help made a bundle unexpectedly while Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger continued Marvel’s winning ways at the box office. While there are some movies that are very much on everyone’s radar (The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises come to mind), the schedule once again looks crowded as would-be franchise-starters jockey for position with established names.

Don’t weep too much for the studios however; they’ll be fine as licensing agreements, cable and broadcast television rights, DVD and Blu-Ray sales and fees from streaming services and video on-demand will continue to augment their box office receipts. If things were that bad for the studios, you wouldn’t see nearly as many nine figure budgets being approved.

Once again Cinema365 will be in the thick of the fray, reviewing as many new releases as we can get to (that make it to the Orlando market anyway) and as many DVD reviews that we can fit in between. We’ll continue to be a presence at the Florida Film Festival this year, as well as a voice for independent films and non-major releases while at the same time reviewing major films without stooping to leveling zingers at the expense of fair and impartial information for readers to make informed decisions about what movies they want to spend two hours of their lives seeing, either at home or at the multiplex.

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 enough of the sizzle; it’s time for some steak. Dig in to our 2012 Preview and we at Cinema365 sincerely hope you find it a satisfying meal. Enjoy!

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. While there is a new war film from George Lucas on the schedule as well as what looks to be an Oscar contender for Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, the rest don’t inspire a whole lot of confidence.

GOLD MEDAL

RED TAILS

RELEASE DATE: January 20, 2012
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Bryan Cranston, Nate Parker, David Oyelowo, Tristan Wilds, Cliff Smith, Lee Tergesen, Ne-Yo
STORY: Based on the inspirational true story of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American pilots, take on the most dangerous missions in the European theater of World War II as well as the prejudices of their own commanders.
PROSPECTS: Some of the action sequences look astonishing and with George Lucas producing you know that this is going to look good if nothing else.
OBSTACLES: Produced by George Lucas. That alone would be enough to have audiences show up in droves a decade ago, but after the debacle of his last three Star Wars films, Lucas doesn’t have the cachet he once had.
FACTOID: Cuba Gooding Jr. also had a role in the acclaimed TV movie The Tuskegee Airmen.

ON THE MEDAL STAND

CONTRABAND

RELEASE DATE: January 13, 2012
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Caleb Landry Jones, Lukas Haas, Diego Luna, J.K. Simmons
STORY: Once a smuggler, a family man is forced back into the life when his brother-in-law botches a delivery and now in order to save the life of his brother-in-law and of his own family, the contraband runner must rely on his old crew and his best instincts to get him through the ordeal or else his family may wind up paying the price.
PROSPECTS: A good-looking little action adventure film that benefits from a good trailer, positive buzz and little competition in its Friday the 13th slot.
OBSTACLES: Wahlberg has blown hot and cold as a lead in terms of box office; still waiting for that break-out role to take him to the next level and this likely isn’t it.
FACTOID: Director Baltasar Kormakur, although raised in Iceland (and has directed such films as 101 Reykjavik) is the son of the Spanish painter Baltasar Samper.

UNDERWORLD AWAKENING

RELEASE DATE: January 20, 2012
STUDIO: Screen Gems
STARRING: Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy, Theo James, India Eisley, Charles Dance, Sandrine Holt, Kris Holden-Ried, Marvin Duerkholz
STORY: Selene, the vampire-warrior heroine of the first three Underworld films, has been captured and placed into suspended animation by humans who have discovered the existence of both vampire and Lycan. When she is awakened, she finds the world has changed almost completely – and a new creature menaces human, vampire and Lycan alike.
PROSPECTS: Beckinsale in skin-tight leather is still a sight that makes fanboys drool. While the series hasn’t been the most spectacularly successful vampire series ever, it’s lack of competition and name recognition should be enough to keep it profitable..
OBSTACLES: Since the first movie, the series hasn’t had a blockbuster hit and given the economic situation and the fact that theater attendance is in a severe decline, this isn’t likely to break out either.
FACTOID: The first film in the series to be filmed in 3D.

UNDERDOG

THE DIVIDE

RELEASE DATE: January 13, 2012
STUDIO: Anchor Bay
STARRING: Michael Biehn, Milo Ventimiglia, Courtney B. Vance, Lauren German, Ivan Gonzalez, Michael Eklund, Abbey Thickson, Ashton Holmes
STORY: Nine residents of a New York highrise escape the effects of a nuclear holocaust by hiding out in the bunker-like basement of their building but as the food and water supply dwindles, their most dangerous foes might be each other.
PROSPECTS: An awesome trailer, terrific premise and good word-of-mouth make this a possible breakout hit.
OBSTACLES: Only receiving limited release by Relativity’s direct-to-video arm.
FACTOID: Filming was delayed by the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano which prevented some of the cast from travelling to the United States from Europe.

ALSO RUNNING

January 6, 2012

THE DEVIL INSIDE (Paramount) is about the daughter of a mother who murdered three people. The daughter goes to visit her mother in an Italian insane asylum to discover whether her mom is insane or demonically possessed. Of course, the answer should be obvious…but the exorcism that is to be performed leads to some shocking revelations.

January 13, 2012

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 3D (Disney) follows in the footsteps of Disney’s 3D re-release of The Lion King earlier this year which was one of the more successful releases of any studio film in terms of profit. You know that the hits are going to just keep on coming. JOYFUL NOISE (Warner Brothers) stars Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton as rival songbirds in church choir whose daughter and grandson respectively fall in love, further fanning the flames of a rivalry which threatens to derail their choir’s shot at winning the Joyful Noise Gospel Competition.

January 20, 2012

In HAYWIRE (Relativity) when a covert ops specialist is betrayed during a routine mission, she will stop at nothing to find out why she was set up – and who stabbed her in the back. MMA superstar Gina Carano makes her film debut alongside Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton and Michael Douglas.

January 27, 2012

THE GREY (Open Road) stars Liam Neeson as the survivor of a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness who must lead fellow oil roughnecks to safety. This is complicated by a snowstorm as well as a pack of hungry rogue wolves. MAN ON THE LEDGE (Summit) begins with a man standing out on the ledge of a New York highrise. Is he suicidal, or a diversion for a crime? Chances are, it’s neither one; Sam Worthington headlines. ONE FOR THE MONEY (Lionsgate) is potentially a new franchise, this one starring Katherine Heigl as Janet Evanovich’s heroine Stephanie Plum. In it, she is a Jersey girl driven by desperation to take a job at her cousin’s bail bond business. Her first job is to bring a louse who dumped her in high school which ordinarily would bring her great pleasure, but the case isn’t as cut and dried as it looks – and there’s a lot or complications of the life-threatening kind involved.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

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

THE GREEN HORNET (Columbia) Budget: $120 Million. Domestic Gross: $98.8M Total: $227.8M Verdict: Broke Even.
THE DILEMMA (Universal) Budget: $70M. Domestic Gross: $48.5M Total: $69.7M Verdict: Flop.
THE RITE (New Line) Budget: $37M. Domestic Gross: $33.1M Total: $96.1M Verdict: Broke Even.
RABBIT HOLE (Lionsgate) Budget: $3M. Domestic Gross: $2.1M Total: $3.4M Verdict: Flop.
SEASON OF THE WITCH (Relativity) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $24.8M Total: $91.6M Verdict: Profitable.
NO STRINGS ATTACHED (Paramount) Budget: $25M. Domestic Gross: $70.7M Total: $147.8M Verdict: Blockbuster.
THE COMPANY MEN (Weinstein) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $4.4M Total: $4.9M Verdict: Flop.
THE MECHANIC (CBS) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $29.1M Total: $51.1 Verdict: Flop.

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. This year there is a theme of second chances; a supernatural comic book hero makes a big budget return, Daniel Radcliffe goes Victorian in a spooky English movie, a couple get a second chance at love and the makers of Journey to the Center of the Earth take another crack at a Jules Verne classic, among other releases.

GOLD MEDAL

GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE

RELEASE DATE: February 17, 2012
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: Nicolas Cage, Ciaran Hinds, Fergus Riordan, Violante Placido, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Christopher Lambert
STORY: Stunt cyclist Johnny Blaze is hiding out in Eastern Europe, trying to deal with the curse of the Ghost Rider by avoiding it. However when a secret sect of the Church approaches him to save a young boy from the clutches of the devil, Blaze must put everything on the line to save the boy – including his immortal soul.
PROSPECTS: The competition is pretty weak this month and if the story is halfway decent the movie’s got a chance. Also, fan favorites Neveldine and Taylor are directing, so that’s definitely a step in the right direction.
OBSTACLES: The first Ghost Rider did decent business but got a critical whacking and fan expectation has been pretty low, although Columbia is doing its best to create a buzz.
FACTOID: Eva Mendes declined to reprise her role for the film.

ON THE MEDAL STAND

THE VOW

RELEASE DATE: February 10, 2012
STUDIO: Screen Gems
STARRING: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, Sam Neill, Scott Speedman, Jessica Lange, Dillon Casey, Lucas Bryant, Kristina Pesic
STORY: A newlywed couple is involved in a serious car accident, sending the wife into a coma. When she awakens, her short-term memory is gone to the time when she was with an ex-boyfriend and she doesn’t recognize her husband at all. He will have to get her to fall in love with him all over again or else he’ll lose her forever
PROSPECTS: Definitely a tearjerker and like many of the best tearjerkers is based on a true story. This will be one a lot of women are going to want their men to take them to on Valentine’s Day and men, be prepared to be compared unfavorably to this guy.
OBSTACLES: Neither Tatum nor McAdams has hit a box office home run yet. This is definitely a big time date movie and will not bring in a lot of single men or teens into the theater.
FACTOID: Many of the handbags in the movie were designed by Imperfect Impudence, a Canadian custom handbag designer.

THIS MEANS WAR

RELEASE DATE: February 17, 2012
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Angela Bassett, Til Schweiger, Abigail Spencer, David Koechner, Jenny Slate
STORY: Two deadly spies for the CIA who are partners and also best friends pull out all the stops when they discover that they are both in love with the same woman, who is stringing the both of them along. Fur is gonna fly, people!
PROSPECTS: The trailer reminded me a little bit of the old Sergio Aragones Spy vs. Spy cartoons in Mad magazine. A very attractive cast of up-and-coming young hunks as well as the ever-gorgeous Witherspoon equals some good reason to go to the theater if you’re into ogling beautiful people.
OBSTACLES: Sounds a bit like Salt, Knight and Day and Mr. and Mrs. Jones and the track record for these films is uneven, so it’s definitely a crap shoot.
FACTOID: Both Pine and Hardy have appeared in Star Trek films; Hardy was Shinzon in the last Next Generation film Star Trek: Nemesis and Pine played the young Captain Kirk in the reboot.

UNDERDOG

ACT OF VALOR

RELEASE DATE: February 24, 2012
STUDIO: Relativity
STARRING: Active Duty Navy SEALs, Roselyn Sanchez, Alex Veadov, Jason Cottle, Nestor Serrano, Timothy Gibbs, Carla Jimenez
STORY: A team of Navy SEALs rescues a kidnapped CIA operative which leads to the uncovering of a massive global terrorist plot. With each mission the SEALs uncover more intelligence that leads them to realize that a deadly attack on the United States is imminent.
PROSPECTS: The conceit here is that the movie uses actual active duty SEALs performing tasks with equipment they use daily. Much of the script is taken from actual SEAL missions.
OBSTACLES: Could be more gimmick than entertainment, or a gigantic recruiting video for the Navy.
FACTOID: Because they are on active duty, none of the names of the actual SEALs could be used in the end credits.

ALSO RUNNING

February 3, 2012

BIG MIRACLE (Universal) is based on the true story of three whales trapped by ice in Alaska, while a small town works feverishly to free them; they eventually enlist the aid of the U.S. Navy and when that proves ineffective, the Soviet Navy. Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski star. CHRONICLE (20th Century Fox) is a found footage film chronicling three high school students who develop super powers. Being teenagers, they also run amuck and not in a good way. Sounds like a good movie but the found footage thing should have been ditched. In THE WOMAN IN BLACK (CBS) a 19th century lawyer goes to an isolated home to sort out a deceased client’s affairs. Instead, he runs into a supernatural experience that is far more sinister than he could have imagined. Daniel Radcliffe plays the lawyer. W.E. (Weinstein) has a modern woman obsessed with the romance between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VII of England, which led to the King’s abdication. The further research she does leads her to discover that their love wasn’t necessarily as idyllic as she always believed. Pop star Madonna directed, taking a page from her ex-husband Guy Ritchie.

February 10, 2012

JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (New Line) continues the 3D adventures of the family which went to the center of the earth but now is off to plunder another one of Jules Verne’s books – Mysterious Island. Brendan Fraser is gone and in his place is Dwayne Johnson as Josh Hutcherson’s new stepdad, and Michael Caine as his grandfather. SAFE HOUSE (Universal) stars Ryan Reynolds as a safe house “housekeeper” who yearns to be a field agent for the CIA whose world turns upside down when the top of the CIA’s most wanted list – an former agent gone rogue played by Denzel Washington – is brought to the safe house and promptly attacked; now on the run, the two must figure out who wants them dead and more importantly, how to stay alive long enough to take the bad guys down. STAR WARS: EPISODE I THE PHANTOM MENACE 3D (20th Century Fox) leads me to ask the question nobody has the guts to ask – do we really need to see Jar Jar Binks in 3D? UNDEFEATED (Weinstein) is a documentary that follows the 2009 Manassas High School football team as they go from perennial losers to poised on the brink of winning the school’s first playoff game in their 110 year history. Chances are this will end up getting a limited release.

February 17, 2012

THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY (Disney) is the latest from the Oscar winning animation company Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away) and is based on the beloved children’s book series The Borrowers. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first Studio Ghibli film to get a wide release in this country.

February 24, 2012

GONE (Summit) is a thriller starring Amanda Seyfried as a young woman who had escaped from a kidnapper the year before. She comes home to find her sister missing and becomes convinced that the same guy that took her now has her sister and means to kill her. When the police prove to be unsympathetic and worse still, unbelieving, she heads out to rescue her sister herself. TYLER PERRY’S GOOD DEEDS (Lionsgate) stars Perry as a businessman who has always lived the life that’s been expected of him. When he encounters a single mom who works as a cleaning lady in his building, he is moved to do something to help her which ignites a different kind of passion in him – to lead the life he chooses to. In WANDERLUST (Universal) a materialistic New York City couple are forced to move to the South when the husband loses his job. The two wind up on a commune which jolts them out of their complacency, perhaps too far from their complacency. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston star.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

SANCTUM (Universal) Budget: $30 Million. Domestic Gross: $23.2M Total: $108.6M Verdict: Hit.
DRIVE ANGRY 3D (Summit) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $10.7M Total: $28.9M Verdict: Probably lost money.
I AM NUMBER FOUR (DreamWorks) Budget: $60M. Domestic Gross: $55.1M Total: $144.5M Verdict: Made Money.
GNOMEO AND JULIET (Disney) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $100.0M Total: $194.0M Verdict: Potentially a Hit.
JUST GO WITH IT (Columbia) Budget: $80M. Domestic Gross: $103.0M Total: $215.0M Verdict: Profitable.
THE EAGLE (Focus) Budget: $25M. Domestic Gross: $19.5M Total: $27.1M Verdict: Flop.
HALL PASS (New Line) Budget: $36M. Domestic Gross: $45.1M Total: $83.2M Verdict: Profitable.
THE ROOMMATE (Screen Gems) Budget: $16M. Domestic Gross: $37.3M Total: $40.5M Verdict: Profitable.

MARCH

Studios hope March and St. Paddy’s Day will bring them the luck of the Irish. Lionsgate hopes to raise their flagging fortune with a potential blockbuster franchise, while Disney is hoping Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars series will yield big money as Pixar goes live action. A sequel to the Clash of the Titans reboot, a new Dr. Seuss animated feature and an animated film from Aardman round out the months box office hopefuls.

GOLD MEDAL

THE HUNGER GAMES

RELEASE DATE: March 23, 2012
STUDIO: Lionsgate
STARRING: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland
STORY: In a dystopian corporate-controlled future, “tributes” from each of the twelve districts of the shattered United States fight one another until only one is left standing. Most of the “tributes” train all their lives for the Games but Katniss must rely on her instincts and the training of a former winner who is now a hopeless drunk to help her make it through, only to leave her faced with impossible choices.
PROSPECTS: This young adult series by author Suzanne Collins has a rabid Twilight-like following that may propel this film to those types of numbers. The anticipation for this movie is among the highest for any film in 2012, and that includes the fanboy favorites The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.
OBSTACLES: You have to wonder why a movie like this isn’t opening in the fall or the summer where it might get a much bigger box office; does the studio want to hedge its bets on a movie it doesn’t have faith in?
FACTOID: Hemsworth and Lawrence, natural blondes both, dyed their hair brown for the movie; Hutcherson, normally a brunette, dyed his hair blonde.

ON THE MEDAL STAND

JOHN CARTER

RELEASE DATE: March 9, 2012
STUDIO: Disney*Pixar
STARRING: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Haden Church, Willem Dafoe
STORY: A Civil War officer is inexplicably transported to the dying planet Barsoom where he becomes embroiled in a conflict there as well – and the survival of the planet rests in his hands alone.
PROSPECTS: Pixar’s first foray into live action has the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs novel A Princess of Mars as it’s starting point. The trailer hints at some stunning visuals and polls for Most Anticipated Movies of 2012 list this among the top five.
OBSTACLES: Hopefully the writers left some of the dated hokum of the novel behind. Will audiences get behind 12-foot-tall blue-skinned Martians?
FACTOID: The property has been in development for 79 years, starting when the original rights were purchased by Looney Tunes director Bob Clampett with the intention of making an animated feature. Since then the rights have passed through nearly every studio in Hollywood, some more than once.

THE RAVEN

RELEASE DATE: March 9, 2012
STUDIO: Relativity
STARRING: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Pam Ferris, Brendan Coyle, Kevin McNally, Dave Legeno
STORY: A string of murders in 19th Century Baltimore bear more than a passing resemblance to the works of struggling writer and pariah Edgar Allen Poe. A young detective joins forces with the writer to discover who is behind the bloody deeds.
PROSPECTS: A great concept and casting Cusack as Poe is absolutely inspired.
OBSTACLES: The movie has yet to really generate any kind of buzz which doesn’t bode well; Relativity’s track record to date is checkered.
FACTOID: Noomi Rapace and Jeremy Renner at one time both had offers to do this movie, but they declined to do other projects instead; Alice Eve and Luke Evans were eventually cast in the roles that had been offered.

DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX

RELEASE DATE: March 2, 2012
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING THE VOICES OF: Zac Efron, Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Taylor Swift, Rob Riggle, Betty White, Jenny Slate, Sherry Lynn
STORY: A young boy out to win the heart of a girl he’s sweet on hears the story of the Lorax, a strange woodland creature who alone can grant him the very thing that he needs to get the girl.
PROSPECTS: From the studio that brought Despicable Me to life comes this mighty fine-looking version of a beloved Dr. Seuss tale.
OBSTACLES: As a whole the animated feature market has become saturated and the numbers have as a result dipped a bit. The competition for family films is pretty stiff at this point and modern kids are less savvy about Dr. Seuss than they might be about, say, SpongeBob.
FACTOID: The characters of Ted and Audrey are named for Dr. Seuss and his widow Audrey.

WRATH OF THE TITANS

RELEASE DATE: March 30, 2012
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Ralph Fiennes, Edgar Ramirez, Toby Kebbell, Danny Huston, Lily James
STORY: Perseus gets caught in the middle of a war between the Gods and the Titans that is being engineered by Hades. The mortal must rescue Zeus from Hades’ underworld for the Gods to survive the onslaught.
PROSPECTS: The trailer looks much better than the first movie; Worthington is rapidly becoming a bona fide star.
OBSTACLES: The first movie was slammed for its inferior 3D look and rumor has it that the producers are once again using a post-conversion process rather than going the more expensive rote of filming in 3D.
FACTOID: Alexa Davalos was unable to return to the role of Andromeda due to scheduling conflicts; Rosamund Pike took over the part instead.

UNDERDOG

SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN

RELEASE DATE: March 9, 2012
STUDIO: CBS
STARRING: Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas, Amr Waked, Rachael Sterling, Catherine Steadman, Tom Mison, Pippa Andre
STORY: A zealous Yemeni sheikh wants to bring fly-fishing to the desert and enlists the help of a skeptical British fisheries expert who doesn’t think it can be done. When an ambitious press secretary latches onto the story and brings pressure to bear on the expert to take a crack at it, he will soon discover a world of possibilities in the impossible.
PROSPECTS: Director Lasse Hallstrom is one of the most consistently excellent directors of our time. The movie got buzz at the Toronto Film Festival and the trailer shows a quirky, gentle sense of humor, a nice antidote to the loud over-the-top comedies that dominate the screen these days.
OBSTACLES: Hallstrom has never been much of a box office bonanza and the studio has yet to deliver a hit.
FACTOID: This is based on a novel of the same name by Paul Torday.

ALSO RUNNING

March 2, 2012

HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (Paramount) stars hot up-and-comers Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the titular siblings, 15 years after the gingerbread house incident having now become heavily armed badass assassins of all things witchy. PROJECT X (Warner Brothers) is about a group of kids who take one last stab at high school immortality by throwing an epic party. The movie looks like it’s taking the “found footage” route, sort of like Porky’s on digital video. Yipes. TIM AND ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE (Magnet) is the latest project from Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, auteurs of the Adult Swim series “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”. Here they are given a billion bucks to make a movie and squander every last penny. Desperate to pay the money back to the pissed-off corporate thugs who invested it, the two hatch a scheme that is as irreverent as it is unlikely. Coming out in limited release only.

March 9, 2012

THE BULLY PROJECT (Weinstein) is a documentary that follows five families for an entire school year. The families range from those who have had children driven to suicide over bullying to those who have children in the family who have bullied other children. While it is listed as being scheduled for Wide release, Weinstein is notorious for changing their release plans and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this wind up coming out in limited release. PLAYING THE FIELD (FilmDistrict) stars Gerard Butler as a former professional soccer player who couldn’t resist temptation which prematurely ended his career. Now he is stuck coaching his son’s soccer team, but is sorely tempted by the restless and sometimes aggressively needy soccer moms of his players. JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME (Paramount) is the latest comedy from the Duplass brothers, this time starring Jason Segel as a man drifting through life looking for signs from the universe to help him find his path. Boy is he surprised when the universe actually answers. SILENT HOUSE (Open Road) is a remake of a Spanish horror film in which a young woman is locked in a lake house she and her father are renovating. She begins to panic as she experiences unexplainable events that drive her further and further past the brink of terror. THINK LIKE A MAN (Screen Gems) references the Steve Harvey bestselling book in which he instructs women how to figure out what men are thinking. Four women buy the book and use it against the men who are pursuing them. Feeling betrayed by one of their own, the men get together to conspire to use the insider information against the women and teach them a lesson of their own.

March 16, 2012

21 JUMP STREET (Columbia) reboots the old Fox TV show as a comedy with new cops going back to school and one of them looks suspiciously like Jonah Hill. Those who want their 80s teen cop show fix on can look no further. BUTTER (Weinstein) covers one of the most competitive sports ever, one in which cutthroat tactics are the norm and whose history is littered with the carcasses of those who weren’t good enough. I’m referring of course to butter carving. Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Garner are among those going for the gold. CASA DE MI PADRE (Pantelion) is Will Ferrell’s Spanish-language film which depicts how an honest Mexican rancher gets sucked into a war with a drug lord. The movie is coming out in limited release. Also in limited release is DETACHMENT (Tribeca) which stars Adrien Brody as a substitute teacher who goes from school to school, rarely staying long enough to form any attachments. However, he comes to one school where he might truly make a difference. MIRROR MIRROR (Relativity) is the first of two Snow White films this year; this one is directed by Tarsem Singh and stars Julia Roberts as the evil Queen and Lily Collins as Snow. From the way the trailer looks, they’re playing it for laughs.

March 23, 2012

A THOUSAND WORDS (Paramount) is about a fast-talking literary agent who pisses off a New Age guru and, perhaps, the universe as well and finds a bodhi tree growing in his back yard. Each word he speaks causes a leaf to fall. When the last leaf falls, so will the agent. Eddie Murphy stars.

March 30, 2012

THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS (Columbia) is the latest animated feature from Aardman Studios (the mad geniuses behind Wallace and Gromit) about a group of bumbling pirates vying for the Pirate of the Year award. Looks rather droll. GOON (Magnet) is opening in limited release and stars Seann William Scott as a bartender plucked out of obscurity to be an enforcer with a minor league hockey team. Slap Shot much?.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

SUCKER PUNCH (Warner Brothers) Budget: $82 Million. Domestic Gross: $36.4M Total: $89.8M Verdict: Flop.
BATTLE: LOS ANGELES (Columbia) Budget: $70M. Domestic Gross: $83.6M Total: $211.8M Verdict: Hit.
RANGO (Paramount) Budget: $135M. Domestic Gross: $123.3M Total: $245.2M Verdict: Lost Money.
JANE EYRE (Focus) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $11.2M Total: $31.5M Verdict: Probably Made Money.
THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (Universal) Budget: $50.2M. Domestic Gross: $62.5M Total: $127.9 Verdict: Made Money.
MARS NEEDS MOMS (Disney) Budget: $150M. Domestic Gross: $21.4M Total: $39.0 Verdict: Major Flop.
LIMITLESS (Relativity) Budget: $27M. Domestic Gross: $79.3M Total: $161.9M Verdict: Blockbuster.
THE LINCOLN LAWYER (Lionsgate) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $58.0M Total: $75.0M Verdict: Lost Money.

APRIL

Spring break presages the summer and normally there are a few teases for the summer blockbuster season but this April looks unusually quiet. The American Pie franchise gets one last hurrah (unless it does big box office, then you can expect a whole lot of hurrahs), a horror spoof series gets a new installment, an oft-delayed Josh Whedon horror flick finds a home and yet another Nicholas Sparks novel gets a screen treatment.

GOLD MEDAL

THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT

RELEASE DATE: April 27, 2012
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Rhys Ifans, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, Mimi Kennedy, David Paymer, Brian Posehn, Dakota Johnson
STORY: A newly engaged couple is forced to put off their wedding when the bride gets a job she always wanted out of town. As she becomes more successful in her career, the wedding continues to get postponed for one reason and another.
PROSPECTS: Yes, it’s Judd Apatow and Jason Segel together again. The trailer looks hysterical and this could very well be the funniest Apatow film of the past few years.
OBSTACLES: Apatow’s kind of fallen off of his pedestal of late. Comedies in general have taken a bit of a bump at the box office.
FACTOID: Director Nicholas Stoller previously worked with Segel and Apatow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

ON THE MEDAL STAND

AMERICAN REUNION

RELEASE DATE: April 6, 2012
STUDIO: Universal
STARRING: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jennifer Coolidge, Eugene Levy
STORY: The group from East Great Falls High returns for a high school reunion, giving them a chance to reconnect, reminisce and perhaps right the things in their lives that have gone wrong as the kids from American Pie have all grown up. But is the universe ready for…Stiffler’s mom and Jim’s dad together?
PROSPECTS: This is how they used to do sex comedies and the nostalgia market is bigger than ever. Reuniting the original cast will certainly rekindle the old magic.
OBSTACLES: The original is more than a decade removed and the franchise has been direct-to-video for quite awhile.
FACTOID: The movie filmed in the Atlanta area, standing in for Michigan.

SCARY MOVIE 5

RELEASE DATE: April 20, 2012
STUDIO: Dimension
STARRING: Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson (all rumored)
STORY: Well, ummm…
PROSPECTS: It’s been a very successful series thus far.
OBSTACLES: The movie’s cast hasn’t even been announced yet. It’s a good bet that the movie will be delayed if it comes out at all.
FACTOID: This is the fifth movie in the horror spoof franchise. Hey, there really isn’t much out there about it…

UNDERDOG

THE CABIN IN THE WOODS

RELEASE DATE: April 13, 2012
STUDIO: Lionsgate
STARRING: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Amy Acker, Jodelle Ferland
STORY: A group of friends go for a weekend at a remote cabin in an old forest, but get far more than they bargained for.
PROSPECTS: This is a Joss Whedon film and that’s enough to get my butt into a seat.
OBSTACLES: It’s been sitting on a shelf for quite awhile due to the bankruptcy issues at MGM. The premise seems awfully familiar.
FACTOID: This is one of the last movies developed by MGM as an independent studio; since the movie was completed MGM filed for bankruptcy and was consequently bought by Spyglass Entertainment.

ALSO RUNNING

April 6, 2012

THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY (Summit) stars future Superman Henry Cavill and Bruce Willis; Cavill is a young man whose family is kidnapped in Spain. He has only a few short hours to discover what their disappearance has to do with his father’s secrets. TITANIC 3D (Paramount) seeks to add a bit more to James Cameron’s bank account as his blockbuster is given the 3D conversion treatment.

April 13, 2012

BULLET TO THE HEAD (Warner Brothers), based on a graphic novel, stars Sylvester Stallone in a gritty story of a professional assassin and a New York City cop who make a pact to bring down the killers of their respective partners. MOVIE 43 (Relativity) is a series of short films on a variety of subjects with an all-star cast. We’ll try to be a little more vague next time. THE THREE STOOGES (20th Century Fox) stars Chris Diamantopoulos, Will Sasso and Sean Hayes as the titular trio in a new updated adventure set in modern times and directed by the Farrelly Brothers. This could be a big mistake, folks. What’s next, Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter as Laurel and Hardy?

April 20, 2012

CHIMPANZEE (DisneyNature) is this year’s Earth Day Disney nature film. I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET (Relativity) stars Jennifer Lawrence who moves into a new house with her mom only to discover that the house next door was the site of a double murder; and that the only survivor of the bloody night is her new friend. THE LUCKY ONE (Warner Brothers) is the newest screen version of a Nicholas Sparks novel and stars Zac Efron as a soldier on his third tour of Iraq whose life is saved when he wanders away from his platoon to pick up a photo of a woman he’s never seen before. When his tour is over, he determines to find out who the woman is. MS ONE: MAXIMUM SECURITY (FilmDistrict) is a sci-fi tale about a wrongly convicted prisoner who is offered a pardon if he can rescue the president’s daughter from a high-tech space prison that has been taken over by the violent inmates. Escape from New York much? SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (Focus) is a comedy about two people who find each other just as the world is about to end. Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley star in what could probably not be the feel-good comedy of the year. THE WETTEST COUNTY (Weinstein) is the true story of the Bondurant brothers, bootleggers who made it big during prohibition. The cast is pretty respectable, including Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hardy and Mia Wasikowska.

April 27, 2012

SAFE (Lionsgate) stars Jason Statham as a broken man who witnesses members of the Russian mafia, who were responsible for the murder of his family, chasing a young Chinese girl and decides that he will protect her as he couldn’t protect his family. Being a mixed martial arts champion doesn’t hurt either. HEADHUNTERS (Magnolia), opening in limited release, is a Swedish film about a corporate headhunter who determines to obtain a painting owned by a former mercenary.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

SCREAM 4 (Dimension) Budget: $40 Million. Domestic Gross: $38.2M Total: $97.1M Verdict: Made Money.
RIO (20th Century Fox) Budget: $90M. Domestic Gross: $143.6M Total: $484.6M Verdict: Blockbuster.
SOURCE CODE (Summit) Budget: $32M. Domestic Gross: $54.7M Total: $123.3M Verdict: Hit.
MEEK’S CUTOFF (Oscilloscope) Budget: $2M. Domestic Gross: $977,772 Total: $977,772 Verdict: Flop.
FAST FIVE (Universal) Budget: $125M. Domestic Gross: $209.8M Total: $626.1M Verdict: Blockbuster.
HOP (Universal) Budget: $63M. Domestic Gross: $108.1M Total: $184.0M Verdict: Hit.
ARTHUR (Warner Brothers) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $33.0M Total: $45.7M Verdict: Flop.
HANNA (Focus) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $40.3M Total: $63.8M Verdict: Made Money.
WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER? (20th Century Fox) Budget: $20M. Domestic Gross: $14.0M Total: $30.4M Verdict: Flop.
YOUR HIGHNESS (Universal) Budget: $50M. Domestic Gross: $21.6M Total: $24.9M Verdict: Flop.

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 final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy hits theaters, the reboot of the Spider-Man franchise makes the grade, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones make a long-awaited return as the agents of MIB, Ridley Scott brings up an epic sci-fi classic (and when the maker of Alien and Blade Runner does sci-fi, we pay attention), Marvel’s superheroes team up and much, much more. 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 this Olympic summer.

GOLD MEDAL

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

RELEASE DATE: July 20, 2012
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Juno Temple
STORY: After the events of The Dark Knight Batman is an outlaw but must once again take the mantle of a hero on as Gotham City is threatened by the Catwoman and the most lethal villain yet – Bane.
PROSPECTS: This is quite likely to be the biggest movie of 2012. It is already slated to be the last Christopher Nolan-helmed Batman movie, and the studio is pulling out all the stops.
OBSTACLES: Overexposure might cause some backlash and should the movie get poor reviews it might not get the repeat business the last two movies in the trilogy have received.
FACTOID: This is the fifth film in a row that Caine and Nolan have worked together in; the three Batman movies, Inception and The Prestige.

ON THE MEDAL STAND

THE AVENGERS

RELEASE DATE: May 4, 2012
STUDIO: Marvel/Disney
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgard
STORY: The greatest heroes of the Marvel Movie Universe must unite to save the Earth from a dire threat, but uniting these heroes and getting them to work as a team may not be as easy as it sounds.
PROSPECTS: This is the big one. Marvel’s movies usually are among the summer’s biggest moneymakers and there’s no reason to believe that won’t be the case here. If director Josh Whedon does his job right, this might be the biggest moneymaker in Marvel history.
OBSTACLES: This is a big budget movie that both Marvel and Disney have a lot riding on. Over-promotion might sour audiences before the show even opens.
FACTOID: This is the first Marvel movie to be distributed by Disney who bought Marvel Comics a couple of years ago. Paramount, who had an agreement with Marvel Studios, retains a share of the profits in exchange for an early termination of their agreement; the Paramount logo also appears on the movie’s poster.

MEN IN BLACK III

RELEASE DATE: May 25, 2012
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson, Jermaine Clement, Alice Eve, Michael Stuhlbarg, Nicole Scherzinger
STORY: Agent J must travel back in time when he discovers that time has been altered, with his partner Agent K dead for forty years.
PROSPECTS: The first two movies are among Columbia’s most profitable ever. Even though it’s been awhile since the last movie, the interest in it seems to remain high.
OBSTACLES: It has been teen years since the last movie which is an awfully long time between sequels and it will have some pretty fierce competition this summer.
FACTOID: This is the first Will Smith film in three and a half years, the longest he’s gone in his career without making a film.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

RELEASE DATE: July 3, 2012
STUDIO: Columbia
STARRING: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, Embeth Davidtz, C. Thomas Howell
STORY: A young teenager is bitten by a radioactive spider and develops incredible powers. He is matched up against a brilliant scientist who in order to regenerate a missing arm injects himself with the concentrated DNA of a lizard and ends up becoming one.
PROSPECTS: The Spider-Man franchise has made literally billions of dollars for Sony. Adding fresh faces to the mix should serve to reinvigorate the franchise which some hits after the third movie.
OBSTACLES: This is a reboot of the series and appears to be going the origin route again, putting it in direct competition with Spider-Man which it will be compared to inevitably.
FACTOID: Martin Sheen is playing Uncle Ben Parker, which was played by Cliff Robertson in the first three films. Both men also played the late President Kennedy, Sheen in “Kennedy” and Robertson in P.T. 109.

PROMETHEUS

RELEASE DATE: June 8, 2012
STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
STARRING: Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Patrick Wilson, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Logan Marshall-Green, Guy Pearce, Rafe Spall
STORY: A team of scientists travels to the farthest reaches of space to find out the answers to some of the deepest questions mankind has ever asked. The answers turn out to be quite dangerous.
PROSPECTS: Ridley Scott is back directing a movie that was widely believed to be an Alien prequel but has turned out to be a stand-alone film that is set in the same universe. Ever since the trailer came out the buzz has been ratcheted up to 11 on a scale of 1 to 10.
OBSTACLES: Will be up against The Avengers and Men in Black III which might hurt its box office chances some.
FACTOID: Theron beat out Angelina Jolie for her role.

UNDERDOG

DARK SHADOWS

RELEASE DATE: June 11, 2012
STUDIO: Warner Brothers
STARRING: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloe Moretz
STORY: Barnabas Collins, a 200-year-old vampire, is awakened in 1972 and finds his family, once one of the most prosperous in New England, fallen upon hard times.
PROSPECTS: The legendary Gothic horror soap opera is given the Tim Burton treatment. Having Depp as Barnabas only makes this a more likely candidate for box office success.
OBSTACLES: While the show is available on DVD, it still remains mostly a cult favorite. Whether it can emerge from that remains to be seen.
FACTOID: Jonathan Frid, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker and David Selby from the original series all have cameos in the film.

ALSO RUNNING

THE DICTATOR (Paramount) stars Sacha Baron Cohen as a middle eastern dictator who comes to America (May 11). WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING (Lionsgate) is based on the bestseller of the same name and follows five families as they experience the joys of pregnancy – and yes, it’s a comedy (May 11). BATTLESHIP (Universal) is based on the Hasbro board game and pits the U.S. Navy versus an invading alien force. Hoping this Battleship doesn’t get sunk (May 18). THE ROCK OF AGES (New Line) is an adaptation of the hit Broadway musical using classic rock songs. Can Rock of Ages 2 be far behind (June 1). SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (Universal) is the second Snow White film of 2012 and takes on a more action-adventure spin. Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth play the titular characters (June 1). MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED (DreamWorks) finds the animals trying to get back to New York City, but having to go after the penguins in Paris. Having caused an international incident, they have to go on the lam but they do so in style – pretending to be circus performers (June 8). I HATE YOU, DAD (Columbia) is the latest from Adam Sandler as he plays a dad moving in with his adult son on the eve of his marriage to a woman that dad promptly begins to feud with (June 15). JACK THE GIANT KILLER (New Line) takes the Jack and the Beanstalk fable and turns it into an action-adventure fantasy. Bryan Singer (X-Men) directs (June 15). ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER (20th Century Fox) opines that the 16th President had a secret life – as a slayer of fanged fiends. Based on the Seth Grahame-Smith novel, it is to be directed by Timur (Wanted) Bekmambatov (June 22). BRAVE (Disney/Pixar) is the first non-sequel Pixar has produced in three years. Here, they go to Scotland to catch up with a courageous young woman determined to set her own place in a man’s world (June 22). G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (Paramount) is a sequel to the 2009 hit with an almost entirely-new cast, including Dwayne Johnson; hopefully they got some new writers as well (June 29). MAGIC MIKE (Warner Brothers) stars Channing Tatum and is based largely on his experiences as a male stripper. Steven Soderbergh directs (June 29). ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT (20th Century Fox) brings cataclysmic upheaval to the world (thanks to Skrat’s single-minded acorn pursuit) which will create overwhelming odds for Manny, Diego and Sid to get back home (July 13). TED (Universal) comes from the warped mind of “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane and stars Mark Wahlberg as a man who’s cherished childhood teddy bear came to life as a result of a childhood wish – and now won’t leave his side (July 13). NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH (20th Century Fox) is a comedy about a bunch of men in a suburban neighborhood who form a neighborhood watch as an excuse to engage in male-bonding activities but come up against a plot to destroy the world (July 27). STEP UP 4 (Summit) is the latest in the dance series (July 27). TYLER PERRY’S THE MARRIAGE COUNSELOR (Lionsgate) is yet another Perry-directed movie, this time about a female marriage counselor who violates her own code and has an affair with one of her clients, realizing that she’s made a terrible mistake possibly too late to save her own marriage (July 27). THE BOURNE LEGACY (Universal) is a Bourne movie without Jason Bourne. Jeremy Renner plays a completely different character that is set in the Bourne universe and, eventually, may pave the way for the return of Jason Bourne (August 3). DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: DOG DAYS (20th Century Fox) takes Greg and his best friend Rowley into the worst summer of all time. And here I thought Bummer Summers were sooooo 2011. (August 3). TOTAL RECALL (Columbia) is a remake of the 1990 Schwarzenegger film that was in turn based on a short story by Philip K. Dick; this new version is said to be closer to the source material and stars Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid (August 3). DOG FIGHT (Warner Brothers) stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as rival politicians in the same South Carolina congressional district. South Carolina? Makes me wonder if Nicholas Sparks is somehow involved (August 10). SPARKLE (Columbia) stars Jordin Sparks as the titular character, the youngest member of a sibling trio singing group in Detroit of the 60s. She will climb and claw her way up the fame ladder, not nearly ready for what awaits her there (August 10).In WARM BODIES (Summit) the world is turned upside down when a zombie rescues a human girl from the ravages of his fellow zombies, leading to a very unlikely romance (August 10). THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN (Disney) is about a loving couple who have been unable to have children. When they play a game to create “the perfect child,” one shows up at their door, setting off a chain reaction of unlikely, magical events (August 15). THE EXPENDABLES 2 (Lionsgate) is the sequel to the all-star action picture from 2010 and adds Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude van Damme (August 17). In PARANORMAN (Focus) a town is overrun by zombies and must turn to a young boy who can speak with the dead in order to have a prayer to break the curse that is destroying the town. From the people that brought you Coraline (August 17). In THE APPARITION (Warner Brothers) a young couple discovers that they are being haunted by a presence that might have been summoned during a parapsychology experiment they participated in college, a presence that feeds on their fears (August 24). In OUTRUN (Open Road) a getaway car driver violates his Witness Protection Program to drive his girlfriend to California so she can get her dream job. In between them and their destination are the Feds, the Mob and all manner of eccentric characters (August 24). PREMIUM RUSH (Columbia) stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a bike messenger who gets caught between corrupt cops and some very nasty killers, literally putting his life on the line for this rush delivery (August 24). In SINISTER (Summit) a true crime novelist finds a box of home videos that apparently depict entire families being butchered. He soon realizes that there may be a supernatural element involved that is placing his own family into the crosshairs. Ethan Hawke stars (August 24). 7500 (CBS) has a group of passengers on a Transatlantic flight encounter a supernatural force that threatens their lives (August 31). THE POSSESSION (Lionsgate) stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Kyra Sedgwick as a couple who unwittingly bring a cursed box into their home and release a malevolent spirit, a dybbuk from Jewish folklore.(August 31)

FALL

This is the portion of the 2012 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. Peter Jackson will return to Middle Earth, Daniel Craig will return to MI-6, Bella and Edward will return to giving each other meaningful soulful looks, and Zombies will return to…well, doing what it is that Zombies do. 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.

GOLD MEDAL

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

RELEASE DATE: December 14, 2012
STUDIO: New Line
STARRING: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Cate Banchett, Orlando Bloom, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Evangeline Lilly, Andy Serkis, Lee Pace, Sylvester McCoy
STORY: The book that preceded The Lord of the Rings finally gets a live action big screen treatment courtesy of Rings director Peter Jackson. Here, Bilbo Baggins, an adventurous young hobbit, is recruited by the wizard Gandalf to aid a group of dwarves in a fight against the great dragon Smaug.
PROSPECTS: The Lord of the Rings series generated huge bucks and fan love all over the world and there’s no reason to believe this won’t do the same. The first trailer is already out and the acclaim has been near-universal.
OBSTACLES: The Hobbit was meant as more of a children’s story; one wonders if adults will embrace the film version as much as Rings.
FACTOID: The movie has overcome many obstacles just to get made; it awaited in development hell while MGM emerged from its bankruptcy problems, then shooting was delayed for some time while union issues in New Zealand were ironed out and again later while Jackson was recovering from perforated ulcer surgery.

ON THE MEDAL STAND

SKYFALL

RELEASE DATE: November 9, 2012
STUDIO: Columbia/MGM
STARRING: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Helen McCrory, Ola Rapace, Berenice Marlohe
STORY: A ghost from M’s past comes back to haunt her and as her sins come back to attack MI-6, Bond must track down and eliminate the threat, regardless of the fallout.
PROSPECTS: Hey, it’s Bond. Even the least successful films in the series still made money. With Sam Mendes in the director’s chair, interest is higher than usual in the latest installment of the series.
OBSTACLES: The MGM bankruptcy proceedings delayed this movie more than two years, and the last film in the series was a bit of a disappointment.
FACTOID: The movie’s premiere date is within a few days of the 50th anniversary of the release of the first James Bond movie, Dr. No.

TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART 2

RELEASE DATE: November 16, 2012
STUDIO: Summit
STARRING: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Jackson Rathbone
STORY: The fourth and final book in the Stephenie Meyer series is split into two parts (the first arriving in 2011) as Bella’s romantic triangle moves to a resolution and the world of the vampires, werewolves and Forks, Washington become forever changed.
PROSPECTS: The fanbase for this series is rabid and loyal; they have made the first four movies of the series blockbusters. With this being the final movie in the series, interest is bound to be off the charts. If it follows a similar course to Harry Potter, this could conceivably challenge The Dark Knight Rises for biggest box office numbers of the year.
OBSTACLES: Breaking Dawn Part 1‘s box office numbers declined about $50M from Eclipse and unless there’s a real jump in the overall quality of the franchise I don’t see much of an appeal beyond the established fan base.
FACTOID: Stephenie Meyer wrote that she wanted the baby of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan to have a unique name; she couldn’t find one that stood out so she made one up – Renesmee.

WORLD WAR Z

RELEASE DATE: December 21, 2012
STUDIO: Paramount
STARRING: Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, David Morse, Eric West, David Andrews, Katia Bokor
STORY: A United Nations functionary travels around the world in an effort to stop a global zombie pandemic.
PROSPECTS: This one has been gestating awhile, but has finally got off the ground with superstar Pitt behind it. The buzz on this one is huge.
OBSTACLES: Are zombie movies becoming passé? There are a lot of them out there and more in the pipeline. Time will tell…
FACTOID: Max Brooks, author of the book the movie is based on, is the son of legendary filmmaker Mel Brooks and actress Anne Bancroft.

UNDERDOG

DJANGO UNCHAINED

RELEASE DATE: December 25, 2012
STUDIO: Weinstein
STARRING: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Sacha Baron Cohen, Kurt Russell, Dennis Christopher, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kerry Washington, Don Johnson, Anthony LaPaglia, Gerald McRaney, RZA, Tom Wopat, James Remar, M.C. Gainey
STORY: A freed slave and a German bounty hunter team up to liberate his wife from an evil plantation owner.
PROSPECTS: It’s Quentin Tarantino, man! His first outing since Inglourious Basterds has an incredible cast and looks to take Tarantino’s manic pulp attitude into Mandingo territory.
OBSTACLES: The subject matter may be a bit sensitive for some. Tarantino’s style isn’t for everybody, although Basterds made a mint.
FACTOID: Although the movie is technically a Western, Tarantino refers to it as a “Southern” due to it’s setting.

ALSO RUNNING

ARGO (Warner Brothers) is Ben Affleck’s latest directorial effort, this time concentrating on a truth-based story about a rescue during the Iranian hostage crisis of six Americans hiding at the Cambodian embassy in Teheran, a story that has been kept secret until now (September 14). RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION (Screen Gems) is the fifth in the successful video game adaptation series, one which brings characters not seen in the series yet from the video game to life (September 14). DREDD (Lionsgate) is a reboot of the popular British comic series Judge Dredd (previously made into a movie in 1995 with Sylvester Stallone) with Karl Urban the taciturn, remorseless police officer, judge, jury and executioner (September 21). HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (Columbia) is an animated feature about a resort run by Count Dracula for all the monsters to relax, free from the meddling of humans. Chaos ensues when a normal human stumbles onto the hotel and proceeds to fall in love with Dracula’s daughter Mavis (September 21). LOOPER (TriStar) stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a mob contractor of the future who kills his victims and sends them back 30 years into the past in order to cover up the evidence of the crime. When he is given a target that he discovers is a future version of himself, he may have to change the past in order to save his future. Highly regarded indie director Rian Johnson sits in the big chair for this one (September 28). SAVAGES (Universal) is Oliver Stone’s latest movie, this time about a ruthless Mexico drug cartel that moves in on an idyllic marijuana operation. It’s based on a bestselling novel by Don Winslow and stars an all-star cast anchored by John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek (September 28). FRANKENWEENIE (Disney) was Tim Burton’s classic stop-motion animation short that helped establish his career back in the 80s. Now, he has returned to it, making a full-length feature film in glorious black and white about a boy who brings his beloved pet back from the grave by stitching a new body from spare dog parts and superior science. When Sparky gets loose, it touches off a firestorm of consequence (October 5). TAKEN 2 (20th Century Fox) is the sequel to the 2008 Liam Neeson action hit that reverses the circumstances; now it is the father and mother who are in the hands of the kidnappers and the daughter who must save them, but she learned more than a few things from daddy (October 5). TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3D (Lionsgate) is a new version of the classic horror story as a young woman travels to a small Texas town to claim her inheritance, property who already has a tenant – Leatherface (October 5). FUN SIZE (Paramount) has been described as a cross between Adventures in Babysitting and Superbad set on Halloween (October 12). HERE COMES THE BOOM (Columbia) stars Kevin James as a high school biology teacher who moonlights as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter to raise money for the high school’s music program (October 12). PARKER (FilmDistrict) is based on the Donald Westlake series, and stars Jason Statham in the title role as a thief who lives by a Robin Hood-like code to never steal from people who need it more than he does. That cuts out a whole lot of people (October 12). THE BIG WEDDING (Lionsgate) stars Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro as a happily divorced couple who must pretend to still be married for their son’s wedding (October 19). In THE GANGSTER SQUAD (Warner Brothers) mobster Mickey Cohen does battle with the LAPD. This one has an amazing cast, including Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Emma Stone (October 19). HALLOWEEN 3D (Dimension) is the third in the rebooted series with director Patrick Lussier taking over for Rob Zombie (October 26). OF MEN AND MAVERICKS (20th Century Fox) is the story of iconic surfer Jay Moriarty, directed by the Oscar-nominated Curtis Hanson (October 26). In MY MOTHER’S CURSE (Paramount) an inventor invites his mom on a cross-country road trip to sell his new product and things go far from according to plan. You’d expect that when son and mother are played by Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand (November 2). RED DAWN (FilmDistrict) is that remake of the 1984 Commie invasion movie that was made two years ago but has been sitting on the shelf pending the outcome of MGM’s bankruptcy. New distributor FilmDistrict picked it up and has finally given it a release date. Hope it’s worth the wait (November 2). WRECK-IT RALPH (Disney) is an animated feature which features a video game villain trying to change his image, but unleashing unmentionable evil in the process. Just thought we’d mention it (November 2). 47 RONIN (Universal) stars Keanu Reeves in an epic fantasy adventure in which a group of masterless samurai band together and take on the vicious overlord who betrayed and murdered their master (November 21). 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 (November 21). PARENTAL GUIDANCE (20th Century Fox) stars Bette Midler and Billy Crystal as a pair of grandparents called in to help care for their daughter’s kids; their old school methods collide with the modern kids, forcing the grandparents to change their methods so that their grandkids get a chance to act like…well, kids (November 21). RISE OF THE GUARDIANS (DreamWorks) is an animated feature about a team of childhood legends – Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and so on – rising to meet a terrible threat, using their special powers to save the day (November 21). In THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (Weinstein) a man released from a mental institution into the care of his mother doesn’t realize that four years have passed instead of a few months. He sets out to woo back his estranged wife, attempting to become the man she always wanted – not realizing that things have changed with her as well. (November 21). LES MISERABLES (Universal) brings the hit Broadway musical to the screen. Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway star (December 7). GREAT HOPE SPRINGS (Columbia) stars Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep as a couple who travel to a small town for a week of intensive marital and sex therapy with a famed relationship guru played by Steve Carrell. Something tells me this trip could potentially do their marriage more harm than good (December 14). UNTITLED KATHRYN BIGELOW FILM (Columbia) is about Osama bin Laden and is her first film since winning the Oscar for The Hurt Locker (December 19). In LIFE OF PI (20th Century Fox) a young man survives the wreck of a freighter, sharing a lifeboat with a tiger, a hyena, a zebra and an orangutan (December 21). 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 (December 21). THIS IS 40 (Universal) is the latest from Judd Apatow and includes characters from Knocked Up (December 21). THE GREAT GATSBY (Warner Brothers) is director Baz Luhrmann’s (Moulin Rouge) version of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic. Leonardo DiCaprio stars (December 16).

MOVIES CURRENTLY WITHOUT RELEASE DATES BUT LIKELY TO OPEN

PIRANHA 3DD (Dimension) is the sequel to the surprise hit remake from last fall, this time in 3D. Ooooh. Aaaah. ANNA KARENINA (Focus) gives Leo Tolstoy the big screen lush production treatment. Joe Wright (Hanna) Keira Knightley stars in the title role. STRETCH ARMSTRONG (Universal), the popular ’80s action figure, is hitting the big screen with Twilight star Taylor Lautner in the title role. GODZILLA (Warner Brothers) brings back the giant lizard to menace Tokyo, or wherever the filmmakers care to put him. The producers have said that there will be other monsters that Godzilla is set to battle, although which ones haven’t been revealed yet. NERO FIDDLED (Sony Classics) is Woody Allen’s follow-up to Midnight in Paris, his most successful movie since the ’70s. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (Summit) is the coming-of-age story of a 15-year-old boy who copes with his first love, the suicide of his best friend and his own mental illness. Harry Potter’s Emma Watson stars. BEYOD THE BLACK RAINBOW (Magnet) played at the Tribeca film festival earlier this year and got raves. It’s a sci-fi psychedelic thriller about a telekinetic young girl being studied (read: imprisoned) at a futuristic scientific facility. PITCH PERFECT (Universal) follows the cut-throat world of collegiate choir competitions.

There are a lot of reasons to head over to the multiplex, even though many of us are not doing that nearly as often – box office numbers continue to decline, partially due to the bad economy but also due to the availability of video streaming, video on demand and other ways to see movies without leaving the comfort of our own home. Still, we will never entirely lose the need to slip into a dark theater, a bag of popcorn in one hand and a large cold drink in the other. 2013 is going to have a lot of reasons to do that, including sequels in the Thor, Iron Man, The Hobbit and Despicable Me franchises, as well as a return of Superman, a number of highly anticipated science fiction films including Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim and the Governator’s return to the movies. Until then, there’s a whole lot of 2012 to look forward to and Cinema365 will be doing just that with a plethora of new reviews, previews and features to keep you busy all year long. See you at the movies!

New Releases for the Week of August 26, 2011


August 26, 2011

COLOMBIANA

(TriStar) Zoe Saldana, Michael Vartan, Cliff Curtis, Callum Blue, Jordi Molla, Max Martini, Lennie James, Graham McTavish. Directed by Olivier Megaton

A young woman who witnesses the assassination of her parents is trained to become an assassin herself by her uncle. She continues to work for her uncle as a killer, all the while searching for the identity of those responsible for the deaths of her parents. Her pursuit will lead her to some dark, dangerous places..

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Action

Rating: PG-13 (for violence, disturbing images, intense sequences of action, sexuality and brief strong language)

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

(FilmDistrict) Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison, Jack Thompson. A young family moves into a spooky old house where the little girl is menaced by dark forces. Based on the 1973 made-for-television movie that some believe is one of the best horror movies ever made for any medium.

See the trailer, promos, interviews and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Horror

Rating: R (for violence and terror)

The Guard

(Sony Classics) Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Mark Strong, Liam Cunningham. An Irish cop who is dealing with a local drug smuggling ring joins forces with a straight-laced FBI agent who gets involved when those smugglers turn out to be part of a larger operation.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Crime Comedy

Rating: R (for pervasive language, some violence, drug material and sexual content)

Our Idiot Brother

(Weinstein) Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer. The perennially cheerful but completely lacking in sense or smarts is forced to live with each of his uptight sisters who are disgusted with his upbeat attitude. However the longer he spends time with them the more they realize that he may be  a lot smarter than they gave him credit for.

See the trailer, interviews, promos and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Comedy

Rating: PG (for mild action and rude humor)

Sarah’s Key

(Weinstein) Kristin Scott Thomas, Melusine Mayance, Aidan Quinn, Niels Arestrup. The life of a modern-day American journalist is entwined with that of a 10-year-old French girl in Nazi-occupied France. The little girl hides her little brother in a closet with a promise to come back for him shortly, a promise that echoes into modern day France as the journalist uncovers disturbing information regarding the French round up of Jews.

See the trailer, clips, featurettes and interviews here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Drama

Rating: PG-13 (for thematic material including disturbing situations involving the Holocaust)

New Releases for the Week of June 10, 2011


June 10, 2011

SUPER 8

(Paramount) Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Gabriel Basso, Noah Emmerich, Ron Eldard, Riley Griffiths, Bruce Greenwood, Glynn Turman, Greg Grunberg. Directed by J.J. Abrams

A group of kids making a monster movie on their Super 8 camera in 1979 witness a spectacular train derailment. It turns out that the train was carrying living cargo, cargo that was never supposed to get out but it does and now a small town is fighting for survival against an alien invader. From producer Steven Spielberg and director J.J. Abrams, this looks like a cross between E.T. and Cloverfield.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and a promo here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard, IMAX

Genre: Adventure

Rating: PG-13(for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language and some nudity)

The Double Hour

(Goldwyn) Ksenia Rappoport, Filippo Timi, Antonia Truppo, Gaetano Bruno. An innocuous speed date leads to a romance between an Italian ex-cop and a Slovakian immigrant. A weekend in the country takes a dark turn when things from the Slovakian’s past begin to surface as a variety of twists and turns take the ex-cop on a whirlwind ride in which even what he takes for granted as real may not be.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Thriller

Rating: NR

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

(Relativity) Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham, Kristoffer Winters, Parris Mosteller. A young girl bored out of her mind and facing a summer of the same determines to make this the best summer of her young life. With the aid of her eccentric Aunt Opal and her annoying kid brother, she goes about finding every thrill possible in an idyllic summer free of parental supervision.

See the trailer, clips, interviews and a featurette here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Family

Rating: PG (for some mild rude humor and language)

Four-Warned: February 2011


February 2011

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

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

Each entry is broken down as follows:

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

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

FOUR TO SEE
1. DRIVE ANGRY 3D (1.8)
2. SANCTUM (1.9)
tie. UNKNOWN (1.9)
4. I AM NUMBER FOUR (2.0)

FOUR TO SEEK OUT (FILMS NOT IN WIDE RELEASE)
1. VANISHING ON 7TH STREET (2.0)
2. A GOOD MAN (2.1)
tie. ORGASM INC. (2.1)
4. OF GODS AND MEN (2.3)

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

FEBRUARY 4, 2011

COLD WEATHER (IFC) Genre: Mystery. A young man who once was a promising forensic scientist turns detective when an ex-girlfriend goes missing. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.9 Could be charming if done right; no trailer yet so no clue.
DRESSED (OneRock) Genre: Documentary. The story of Nari Manivong, a formerly homeless young man pursuing his dream in the cutthroat New York clothing design business. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.9 This doesn’t interest me. At all. If it did, I’d watch Project Runway.
THE OTHER WOMAN (IFC) Genre: Drama. After a law clerk has an affair with her boss, they wind up marrying and she is forced to cope with a precocious stepson, an angry ex-wife and a personal tragedy. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.7 Natalie Portman is on a hot streak; that might wind up giving this film a higher profile.
THE ROOMMATE (Screen Gems) Genre: Thriller. A college freshman’s roommate becomes obsessed with her. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.0 Didn’t I see this before and wasn’t it called Single White Female?
SANCTUM (Universal) Genre: Action Thriller. A group of cave explorers are trapped in an unexplored cave when a cyclone causes it to flood. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D and IMAX 3D). RATING: 1.9 The involvement of James Cameron will draw some crowds in; hopefully the movie will justify it.
WAITING FOR FOREVER (Freestyle Releasing) Genre: Romantic Comedy. When a failing actress returns home after her father becomes ill, she realizes the feelings of an old childhood friend are far stronger than just friends. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.4 Rachel Bilson is moving upwards on my actress chart and the trailer looked charming.

FEBRUARY 11, 2011

CARANCHO (Strand) Genre: Thriller. The romance between an idealistic doctor and an ambulance chasing lawyer is threatened by corruption in the Argentine insurance industry. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 3.3 Argentina is proving to be adept at churning out good thrillers.
CARBON NATION (Clay Way) Genre: Documentary. Dedicated individuals seek solutions to reduce carbon emissions and help stave off climate change. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.5 While I’m a proponent for all the solutions the movie displays, I’m not sure they make a great case for them.
CEDAR RAPIDS (Fox Searchlight) Genre: Comedy. An insurance agent comes out of his shell at a convention. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 Ed Helms gets his first leading role; could be the one that makes him a star.
CERTIFIABLY JONATHAN (Self-Released) Genre: Mockumentary. A look at one of the most gifted and innovative comics of all time, Jonathan Winters and his quest to get his paintings hung in the Museum of Modern Art. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.0 Not sure this is an adequate forum for the talents of one of the greatest ever.
THE EAGLE (Focus) Genre: Swords and Sandals. A young Roman yearns to learn the fate of his father, who disappeared along with his entire legion in Britain. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.1 This has been oft-delayed and has changed studios which isn’t a good sign.
GNOMEO AND JULIET (Touchstone) Genre: Animated. Shakespeare’s most famous romance as interpreted by lawn decor. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.1 Could be too strange for its target audience.
IN HER SKIN (IFC) Genre: Crime Drama. When the body of a missing 15-year-old Australian girl is found in a neighbor’s yard, the ensuing realization her friend killed her sends shockwaves through the community. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.6 A terrific cast and an intriguing plot make this high on my list of films to watch out for on Netflix.
JUST GO WITH IT (Columbia) Genre: Comedy. Adam Sandler has friend Jennifer Anniston pose as his wife in order to impress a girl he wants to date. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.0 Yeah, I’d be impressed too.
JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER (Paramount) Genre: Horror. Teen pop sensation Bieber’s concert film. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 4.0 The fact that this will make millions is simply a sad fact of the continued unraveling of American musical taste.
ORGASM INC. (First Run) Genre: Documentary. A filmmaker covering the development of a female Viagra shows Big Pharma pursuing profit ahead of the health of the women using their product. Release Strategy: New York only. RATING: 2.1 A fascinating subject.
POETRY (Kino International) Genre: Drama. A free-spirited South Korean grandmother discovers she has Alzheimer’s as she is taking a poetry course. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.7 Sounds a bit schmaltzy but this could be another Korean cinematic gem.
VIDAL SASSOON: THE MOVIE (Phase 4) Genre: Documentary. The legendary hair stylists’ influence on fashion and grooming is documented. Release Strategy: New York/Los Angeles. RATING: 3.9 Because you’re worth it.

FEBRUARY 18, 2011

BIG MOMMAS: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (20th Century Fox) Genre: Urban Comedy. Martin Lawrence returns as a detective with a penchant for going undercover in a dress. This time, his stepson is along for the laughs. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 3.8 I didn’t even like the first Big Momma – I have a feeling I’m really going to hate this one.
BROTHERHOOD (Olive) Genre: Drama. A fraternity pledge initiation goes horribly wrong and the pledge must stand up to save a friend’s life. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.5 Looked suitably intense, although I’ve seen a few too many fraternity-pledge-gone-wrong movies to be excited about this one.
THE CHAPERONE (Goldwyn) Genre: Action Comedy. A wheelman trying to go straight after a prison stretch and repair his relationship with his family runs into a few road blocks while chaperoning a field trip for his daughter. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 3.4 This WWE funded film will probably turn up heavy on action and light on quality.
EVEN THE RAIN (Vitagraph) Genre: Drama. An interweaving story of Columbus’ discovery of America and the making of a movie. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.8 Meant to be an allegory on the treatment of aboriginals in South America.
I AM NUMBER FOUR (DreamWorks) Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi Action Thriller. Alien teenagers develop their superpowers while hiding on Earth from the monsters that destroyed their world. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, IMAX). RATING: 2.0 Usually this would sound terrible, but D.J. Caruso’s directing so it might be good.
UNKNOWN (Warner Brothers) Genre: Thriller. A doctor wakes up from a coma in Berlin to discover his wife doesn’t recognize him and another man has assumed his identity. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 1.9 This looks awesome; Liam Neeson has his most kick-ass role since Taken.
VANISHING ON 7TH STREET (Magnet) Genre: Horror. After a mysterious blackout in Detroit, people are disappearing into the darkness. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 2.0 The trailer looks terrifying; the cast not so much.

FEBRUARY 25, 2011

DRIVE ANGRY 3D (Summit) Genre: Supernatural Action. A criminal who is sent to Hell for his crimes escapes back to Earth to rescue his baby grandchild from a vicious cult. Release Strategy: Wide (Standard, 3D). RATING: 1.8 This looks over-the-top and insane – one I’ve been looking forward to since I first saw the trailer.
THE GRACE CARD (Goldwyn) Genre: Spiritual Drama. A police officer’s son dies in a tragic accident, causing a crisis of faith. Release Strategy: Limited. RATING: 4.0 Sorry, I don’t get into films that preach to me.
A GOOD MAN (Film Presence) Genre: Documentary. An Australian man weds his bride despite her incapacitation due to a stroke; he then turns his attention to helping his town reverse an economic downturn…by opening a brothel. Release Strategy: New York City only. RATING: 2.1 Sounds like a very unusual subject for a film; I like quirky in this case.
HALL PASS (New Line) Genre: Sex Comedy. A pair of wives gives their knuckleheaded husbands Hall Passes – free reign to do whatever they like for a week without repercussions. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 It’s the Farrelly Brothers…’nuff said.
HEARTBEATS (IFC) Genre: Romantic Comedy. A pair of best friends finds their friendship turning into rivalry over a new roommate. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.9 This sounds a bit pedestrian and without a trailer I’m wondering what it brings to the table for a fairly done-to-death concept.
OF GODS AND MEN (Sony Classics) Genre: Drama. A group of French Christian monks live in harmony with their Muslim neighbors until a massacre sets tensions high. Release Strategy: New York City/Los Angeles. RATING: 2.3 Based on a true story – could be something special.
SHELTER (Weinstein) Genre: Supernatural Horror. An expert in multiple personalities is confronted by a patient whose personality may be more than human. Release Strategy: Wide. RATING: 2.3 This sounds like it could be really scary – just the way I like it!

SCHEDULED TO BE REVIEWED HERE AS NEW RELEASES
Sanctum, Just Go With It, Gnomeo and Juliet, The Eagle, I Am Number Four, Unknown, Drive Angry 3D, Hall Pass

New Releases for the Week of January 7, 2011


January 7, 2010

Gwynneth Paltrow is a little bit country.

COUNTRY STRONG

(Screen Gems) Gwynneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund, Leighton Meester, Marshall Chapman, Jeremy Childs, Cinda McCain, Alana Grace, Katie Cook. Directed by Shana Feste

A promising young country singer-songwriter gets involved with a fading superstar who has had some substance abuse problems and embarks on a tour with her (along with a beauty queen turned singer) for one last stab at recapturing her former glory, as organized by her husband slash manager. However, their inner demons, romantic entanglements and egos threaten to derail the tour – and their careers.

See the trailer, promos, interviews, music videos and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Drama

Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements involving alcohol abuse and some sexual content)

Inspector Bellamy

(IFC) Gerard Depardieu, Clovis Cornillac, Jacques Gamblin, Marie Bunel. A respected chief of police chooses to spend his vacation time at the family estate of his wife, despite her desire to take a nice, long, well-deserved cruise. The fact is, he hates to travel and there’s always an excuse not to – as when his alcoholic younger half-brother arrives, followed by a wanted man who shows up demanding Bellamy’s protection. Job…life…job…life…so many decisions!

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard,

Genre: Suspense

Rating: NR

Season of the Witch

(Relativity) Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Claire Foy, Christopher Lee. A hero from the Crusades is tasked by the church to transport a young girl convicted of witchcraft to a remote abbey where she will be destroyed during an ancient ritual. The hero is unconvinced of her guilt, while others are convinced she’s responsible for the Black Plague. Some people just need a scapegoat.

See the trailer, interviews and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Supernatural Action

Rating: PG-13 (for thematic elements, violence and disturbing content)

2011 Preview


2010 will in all likelihood not be remembered fondly by studio executives in years to come. While there were several movies that did big business  it was a year full of disappointments.

But there’s always next year, and 2011 looks to be the most eagerly anticipated line-up of movies in recent memory. In addition to the final movie in the Harry Potter franchise, we can expect the first movie in the Twilight finale, a barrage of superhero movies including Green Lantern, X-Men: First Class, Thor, The Green Hornet and Captain America: The First Avenger, a spin-off from the Shrek universe and new installments in the Sherlock Holmes, Cars, Transformers, Mission: Impossible, Planet of the Apes, Spy Kids and Paranormal Activity series, just to name a few.

All signs point to a record year at the box office and while there isn’t anything with Avatar-like potential, there are enough movies that have the promise of $300 Million plus box office receipts that studio accountants should have their work cut out for them this year.

Of course, what that means to you and me is more time at the multiplex, more 3D upcharges, more popcorn and soda, and of course, more great movies to review. Many of them will show up on the blog as new releases and as always, those we can’t get to during their theatrical run will show up later when they make it to DVD/Blu-Ray.

It’s been a good year for Cinema365; site hits are at an all-time high and hopefully will continue to grow exponentially. Our Top 5 series has been very successful, and the Six Days of Darkness campaign did very well indeed; both will be back in 2011. We have added box office performance numbers to both our DVD reviews and preview articles; we hope to add additional content that will enhance your enjoyment of our reviews.

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 I’m sure that 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. 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.

That’s about it. So buckle your seat belts, grab your popcorn and get ready for what promises to be a great ride. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present 2011 in all its cinematic glory. Enjoy!

JANUARY

 

January is usually the time of holiday holdovers, movies that debuted during the Holiday season and remain in theaters. Most of the movies released during this month are those the studio has little confidence in although occasionally there will be one that connects with the audience. This year, with the schedule full of potential blockbusters all year long, there are a few exceptions, like a masked avenger seeking justice, a man who finds out unpleasant information about his best friend’s wife and an exorcism movie starring Hannibal Lecter…well, the guy who plays him.

January 2011

THE 400 LB. GORILLA

THE GREEN HORNET

RELEASE DATE: January 14, 2011

STUDIO: Columbia

STARRING: Seth Rogen, Cameron Diaz, Jay Chou, Christoph Walz, Tom Wilkinson, Edward James Olmos, David Harbour, Edward Furlong

STORY: The indolent son of a crusading newspaper publisher takes on the persona of a costumed crime fighter after his father is murdered. Aided by his father’s friend, confidante and employee Kato and many glorious gadgets, Britt Reid will become the Green Hornet.

PROSPECTS: The trailers look like the movie is taking a fairly serious view with a light edge without being an out-and-out comedy. I wouldn’t have thought Rogen to be a first choice for a costumed crime fighter but he seems to work well here.

OBSTACLES: Michel Gondry wouldn’t have been my choice as director nor Rogen my choice as the lead. If it veers too much into comedy, hard core fans of the character will turn their back on the film.

FACTOID: Rogen lost thirty pounds to prepare for the role.

BMOC

THE DILEMMA

RELEASE DATE: January 14, 2011

STUDIO: Universal

STARRING: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Queen Latifah, Channing Tatum

STORY: A man discovers that his best friend and business partner’s wife is cheating on him. He wrestles with the idea of telling him about her infidelity, discovering that his friend is not without his own secrets. Now on the eve of the biggest presentation of their careers, he must decide how, when and even if he is going to reveal the truth.

PROSPECTS: The film received a lot of negative publicity for the use of the word “gay” as a pejorative in its trailer and, as they say, any publicity is good publicity. With Ron Howard in the director’s seat and Vaughn and James in front of the camera, this could be a big hit if it’s any good.

OBSTACLES: There is almost sure to be some backlash from the gay community and if the movie isn’t any good it will end up on a quick trip to the DVD cut-out bin.

FACTOID: This is director Ron Howard’s first comedy since How the Grinch Stole Christmas back in 2000.

THE RITE

RELEASE DATE: January 28, 2011

STUDIO: New Line

STARRING: Anthony Hopkins, Alice Braga, Colin O’Donoghue, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, Rutger Hauer, Franco Nero

STORY: A skeptical seminary student is assigned to the Vatican’s School of Exorcism and assigned to an unorthodox priest, with whom together they discover a terrifying secret about the dark side of the faith.

PROSPECTS: Hopkins in a horror film is almost certain to bring in the fanboy segment into the theaters.

OBSTACLES: Exorcism movies have not been box office barnburners as of late.

FACTOID: The trailer made its debut at the Scream Awards 2010, introduced by Anthony Hopkins himself.

UNDERDOG

RABBIT HOLE

RELEASE DATE: January 14, 2011

STUDIO: Lionsgate

STARRING: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Tammy Blanchard, Giancarlo Esposito, Jon Tenney, Patricia Kalember, Sandra Oh, Miles Teller, Mike Doyle

STORY: A happy family is turned upside-down when a tragedy changes their dynamic forever. Caught in a maelstrom of grief, memory, suspicion and rage, they try to escape the storm before it tears them apart.

PROSPECTS: Highly acclaimed out of the Toronto Film Festival, the movie has gotten a huge amount of Oscar buzz and is getting a limited run in December before opening wide in January.

OBSTACLES: These types of dramas rarely get the big box office numbers, although from time to time one breaks out.

FACTOID: The movie is based on a Tony Award-winning play and will be the first movie that Kidman will act in as well as produce.

ALSO IN THEATERS

January 1, 2011

SINBAD THE FIFTH VOYAGE (Giant Flick), opening in limited release only, is a special effects-heavy production putting the Arabian hero on a desperate journey to save the sultan’s spirited daughter. Hey, isn’t that pretty much every Sinbad story?

January 7, 2011

SEASON OF THE WITCH (Relativity) stars Nicolas Cage as a hero of the Crusades tasked to escort a convicted witch to a faraway castle for execution. There’s just one hitch – she actually is a witch. This has been bouncing around the release schedule for more than a year, never a good sign.

January 14, 2011

ONG BAK 3 (Magnet) is the third and final installment in the Thai martial arts series. Tony Jaa returns in an epic confrontation with Demon Crow (played by fellow Thai martial artist Dan Chupong), a supernatural warrior of evil inclinations. Opening in limited release.  

January 21, 2011

In NO STRINGS ATTACHED (Paramount), a pair of friends with benefits find themselves falling for each other despite their agreement to keep things strictly physical. Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman star. THE COMPANY MEN (Weinstein) stars Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper as three men who are downsized from their corporate jobs and must find ways to redefine themselves. While the trailer has looked intriguing, the movie has been rescheduled several times and now has been exiled to the wasteland that is January which doesn’t bode well.

January 28, 2011

 FROM PRADA TO NADA (Pantelion) is Jane Austin’s ”Sense and Sensibility” given a Latina spin. Camilla Belle and Alexa Barger are two spoiled sisters forced to move in with their impoverished aunt in East L.A. after their father passes away, with a resultant fish out of water scenario that is both comic and dramatic. This will be opening in limited release. THE MECHANIC (CBS) is based on a 1972 Charles Bronson film and stars Jason Statham as an assassin who takes on the son of an old friend as an apprentice after his old friend is assassinated by his own company. The two are out for vengeance, but can never know who to trust – including each other.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

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

THE LOVELY BONES (DreamWorks) Budget: $65 Million. Domestic Gross: $44.0M Total: $93.5M Verdict: Flop.

BOOK OF ELI (Warner Brothers) Budget: $80M. Domestic Gross: $94.8M Total: $157.1M Verdict: Broke Even.

EDGE OF DARKNESS (Warner Brothers) Budget: $80M. Domestic Gross: $43.3M Total: $81.0M Verdict: Flop.

EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES (CBS) Budget: $31M. Domestic Gross: $12.1M Total: $15.1M Verdict: Flop.

LEAP YEAR (Lionsgate) Budget: $19M. Domestic Gross: $25.9M Total: $32.6M Verdict: Lost Money.

THE SPY NEXT DOOR (Lionsgate) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $24.3M Total: $43.5M Verdict: Profitable.

LEGION (Screen Gems) Budget: $26M. Domestic Gross: $40.2M Total: $67.9M Verdict: Profitable.

WHEN IN ROME (Touchstone) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $32.7M Total: $43.0 Verdict: Hit.

FEBRUARY

Hollywood likes to keep the Valentine’s Day weekend stocked with date movies but this is really when the 2011 release schedule gets serious with some fairly anticipated movies, including a Justin Bieber concert film, a James Cameron-produced underwater adventure, another stab at a young adult sci-fi franchise and a supernatural action film among those vying for the box office championship.

February 2011

THE 400 LB. GORILLA

SANCTUM

RELEASE DATE: February 4, 2011

STUDIO: Universal

STARRING: Richard Roxburgh, Rhys Wakefield, Ioan Gruffudd, Alice Parkinson, Dan Wyllie, Allison Cratchley, Christopher Baker, John Garvin

STORY: Based on actual events, this James Cameron-produced thriller follows the exploration of the Esa-ala Caves in the South Pacific by one of the most respected explorers in the world who has a contentious relationship with his son. When flash floods block their only exit, they must fight the rising waters and their own panic to find a way out to the sea.

PROSPECTS: Utilizing 3D technology developed for Avatar, the movie also has the magic name of James Cameron to draw in crowds. While the underwater spelunking brings vision of Descent to mind, the trailer looks phenomenal.

OBSTACLES: For one thing, Cameron is producing and not directing. Cave exploration movies have done only marginal business at best and there are no name stars in this one.

FACTOID: Andrew Wight, whose story this movie is partially based upon, is credited with being one of the co-writers of the script.

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DRIVE ANGRY 3D

RELEASE DATE: February 25, 2011

STUDIO: Summit Entertainment

STARRING: Nicolas Cage, William Fichtner, Amber Heard, Billy Burke, Simona Williams, Katy Mixon, David Morse, Pruitt Taylor Vince

STORY: A hardened criminal breaks out of Hell to save his infant granddaughter from the evil cult that murdered his daughter. Accordingly, Hell sends its own private bounty hunter to retrieve the wayward soul. Things are going to get a whole lot of hot before too long!

PROSPECTS: The trailer looks, for lack of a better term, kickass. Director Patrick Lussier is mostly known for reboots of horror classics (My Bloody Valentine) and sequels (Prophecy 3: The Ascent) but he did helm the very underrated White Noise 2.

OBSTACLES: Cage has had a string of missteps in his career with only the lucrative National Treasure series really having any success. Kickass movies may look fine in theory but at the box office they haven’t fared very well lately.

FACTOID: The lead character is named Milton for John Milton, author of “Paradise Lost.”

I AM NUMBER FOUR

RELEASE DATE: February 18, 2011

STUDIO: DreamWorks

STARRING: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Kevin Durand, Callan McAuliffe, Jake Abel, Emily Wickersham

STORY: Three teenagers have been killed by a mysterious, evil force. A fourth is on the run to a quiet Ohio town where he lives with his guardian. Raging hormones trigger the development of powerful abilities, but will these be enough to save him when the killer comes calling?

PROSPECTS: This is based on a popular young adult sci-fi novel. Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg are executive producing, D.J. Caruso (Suburbia) is directing and Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, creators of the “Smallville” TV series, are writing the screenplay.

OBSTACLES: This is the latest in a series of attempts to take a popular young adult novel or series of novels and turn it into a franchise a la Harry Potter and Twilight. Many have tried and all have failed.

FACTOID: Sharlto Copley was originally supposed to play the guardian but had to withdraw due to scheduling conflicts.

UNDERDOG

GNOMEO AND JULIET

RELEASE DATE: February 11, 2011

STUDIO: Touchstone

STARRING THE VOICES OF: James MacAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Jason Statham, Maggie Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ozzie Osbourne, Julie Walters

STORY: Shakespeare was never anything like this. Warring clans of garden gnomes – the porcelain sort – engage in lawnmower races until one of the blue gnomes falls in love with one of the red gnomes. A tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme.

PROSPECTS: The co-director of Shrek 2 is responsible for this epic madness. It’s just so out there that it might just work. I mean, Patrick Stewart and Ozzie Osbourne in the same cast? Someone had to be on crack.  

OBSTACLES: Unless this is staggeringly good, this might go down as an epic fail. The trailer wasn’t terribly inspiring.

FACTOID: This is the first animated feature to be released by Disney’s Touchstone imprint. Previously, all other animated films had been released by Disney or Pixar.

ALSO IN THEATERS

 

February 4, 2011 

THE ROOMMATE (Screen Gems) stars Leighton Meester as a deranged college freshman who becomes obsessed with her roommate. Single White Female, anyone? WAITING FOR FOREVER (Freestyle) is about a guy content to live without a job, but who can’t live without his girlfriend, a young actress. Rachel Bilson, Blythe Danner and Richard Jenkins star in this limited release.

February 11, 2011

THE EAGLE (Rogue) concerns a young centurion of ancient Rome whose father disappeared with the Ninth Legion in Briton. Years later, the son returns to the British Isles to find out what happened, and takes his slave, a Briton, with him. JUST GO WITH IT (Columbia) stars Adam Sandler as a man who entreats his friend Jennifer Aniston to pose as his ex-wife so that he can woo another woman, in this case Nicole Kidman. Some guys are just lucky that way. JUSTIN BEIBER: NEVER SAY NEVER (Paramount) is a concert film and semi-biographical documentary about the current flavor of the weak in pop music. I’m sure your screaming, crying pre-teen daughter will force you to take her to see this, so if you missed the Hannah Montana or Jonas Brothers phenomena you aren’t off the hook just yet. IN HER SKIN (IFC) is based on a true story about the body of a missing 15-year-old girl found in Australia whose murderer was determined to be her best friend, who had then tried to change her identity. Although listed as a wide release, films for this distributor are generally released on a limited basis so keep that in mind.

February 18, 2011

BIG MOMMAS: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (20th Century Fox) is the third installment in the Martin Lawrence comedy series. Here, he goes undercover in an all-girl performing arts school to find a murderer but this time he’s not alone – his son will be masquerading as a student. UNKNOWN (Warner Brothers) is about a physician who awakens from a coma after a car accident to find that his wife doesn’t know him, another man has assumed his identity and mysterious assassins are after him. Talk about a bad day! However, when the physician is played by Liam Neeson, you know that some serious butt-kicking can’t be far behind.

February 25, 2011

HALL PASS (New Line) is the latest from the Farrelly Brothers (There’s Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber). Here, two best friends (Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis) are given a one week free pass from their wives to do anything they want – no recriminations, no questions asked. However, the single life they both so crave has changed quite a bit since they got married. SHELTER (Weinstein) stars Julianne Moore as an expert on multiple-personality disorders who has put several murderers away with her testimony. As she examines a new patient, she begins to realize that he may be much more than human in this supernatural horror thriller.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

SHUTTER ISLAND (Paramount) Budget: $80 Million. Domestic Gross: $128.0M Total: $294.8M Verdict: Hit.

PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF (20th Century Fox) Budget: $95M. Domestic Gross: $88.8M Total: $226.4M Verdict: Profitable.

FROM PARIS WITH LOVE (Lionsgate) Budget: $52M. Domestic Gross: $24.1M Total: $52.8M Verdict: Flop.

COP OUT (PREVIEWED AS A COUPLE OF DICKS) (Warner Brothers) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $44.9M Total: $55.5M Verdict: Flop.

VALENTINE’S DAY (New Line) Budget: $52M. Domestic Gross: $110.5M Total: $213.0M Verdict: Hit.

DEAR JOHN (Screen Gems) Budget: $25M. Domestic Gross: $80.0M Total: $115.0M Verdict: Blockbuster.

THE CRAZIES (Overture) Budget: $20M. Domestic Gross: $39.1M Total: $54.6M Verdict: Hit.

THE WOLFMAN (Universal) Budget: 150M. Domestic Gross: $62.0M Total: $139.8M Verdict: Flop.

MARCH

 

With the summer film schedule becoming more and more crowded, the studios often put movies that might otherwise get lost in the summer binge here; 2010 saw box office gold go to Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans and How to Train Your Dragon. This year there are several movies that hope to achieve that kind of success, including the latest from director Zach Snyder, an alien invasion movie, a couple of off-beat animated features from Paramount and Disney and a re-imagining of a classic fairy tale.

March 2011

THE 400 LB GORILLA

SUCKER PUNCH

RELEASE DATE: March 25, 2011

STUDIO: Warner Brothers

STARRING: Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jamie Chung, Jena Malone, Carla Gugino, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn, Oscar Isaac

STORY: A young woman is locked away in an asylum with a terrible fate awaiting her. In a fantasy world of her own imagining, she does battle with monsters, samurais, dirigibles and biplanes as she fights to save herself and her friends.

PROSPECTS: Director Zach Snyder (300, Watchmen, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole) is known for his imaginative vision and it is saying something when I assert that this might be his most fantastic film yet. The trailer looks off the hook and fans have been buzzing about this since footage was first screened at Comic Con last summer.

OBSTACLES: This looks to be a bit eclectic and mainstream audiences don’t always appreciate eclectic. Although Jon Hamm is thought to be an up and coming talent, there are no real names in the cast other than Hudgens who is associated with the High School Musical series more than anything.

FACTOID: This is Snyder’s first movie not based on a different medium (all of his other films are based on graphic novels, children’s books or previously released horror movies).

BMOC

RANGO

RELEASE DATE: March 4, 2011

STUDIO: Paramount

STARRING THE VOICES OF: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Bill Nighy, Stephen Root, Ray Winstone, Ned Beatty, Harry Dean Stanton, Alfred Molina

STORY: A chameleon with an identity crisis wanders the Southwest trying to stay out of the jaws of certain death, which isn’t easy.

PROSPECTS: This is Paramount’s first foray into the lucrative animated feature market and they have been marketing this movie big time. Director Gore Verbinski did the first three films in the Pirates of the Caribbean series and was able to nab some big names for his voice cast.

OBSTACLES: While the trailer looked good to a certain extent, it also looked a bit too much like a low-budget Robert Rodriguez film which might turn some would-be viewers off.

FACTOID: This is also the first animated feature for Industrial Light and Magic, the special effects company George Lucas created for the Star Wars films that became the most famous effects house in Hollywood.

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES

RELEASE DATE: March 11, 2011

STUDIO: Columbia

STARRING: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Ne-Yo, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Michael Pena, Joey King, Lucas Till

STORY: An alien invasion takes over the cities of the world one by one. Los Angeles is the last human city standing and its survival hinges on the actions of one Marine staff sergeant and his platoon.

PROSPECTS: The trailer looked mighty impressive and alien invasion movies are the Hollywood trend du jour.

OBSTACLES: The poor reception of Skyline might deter some from heading directly to the box office, which means this will likely require a good word of mouth in order to be successful.

FACTOID: The movie was mostly filmed in Louisiana because of tax incentives; streets resembling Los Angeles were built there for the crew to film in.

UNDERDOG

JANE EYRE

RELEASE DATE: March 11, 2011

STUDIO: Focus

STARRING: Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Sally Hawkins, Holliday Grainger, Judi Dench, Tamzin Merchant, Imogen Poots, Sophie Ward

STORY: Yet another filmed version of the Charlotte Bronte classic, as a young governess flees the employ of the wealthy Edward Rochester, having to come to terms with the horrible secret he hides and that she has uncovered.

PROSPECTS: Director Cary Fukunaga last made the acclaimed Sin Nombre and has produced a very lush-looking version of the novel. This is opening in limited release only.

OBSTACLES: Does the world need yet another remake of the classic novel? And with all the choices out there, will a Victorian morality play make much of a dent in the box office?

FACTOID: This is the eleventh big screen version listed on iMDB of the classic dating back to the silent era, not to mention the countless versions that have appeared in TV movies, mini-series and ongoing series over the years.

ALSO IN THEATERS

March 4, 2011

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (Universal) is based on a Philip K. Dick short story and stars Matt Damon as a Senatorial candidate who falls in love with a dancer and thus runs afoul of those who control individual destiny. This was originally scheduled to be released last fall. APOLLO 18 (Weinstein) is a “found footage” horror film that is taken from the allegedly canceled moon mission and shows that there’s a reason we haven’t been back. TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT (Relativity) is the story of a wild Labor Day party wherein a recent college grad pursues the girl of his dreams and runs smack dab into the responsibilities of being grown up.

March 11, 2011

MARS NEEDS MOMS (Disney) is a motion capture animation from the folks that gave you The Polar Express. Based on the Berkeley Breathed book of the same name, a young nine-year-old who’s tired of being bossed around by his mom finds out how much he really needs her when Martians kidnap her. RED RIDING HOOD (Warner Brothers) is a re-imagining of the classic fairy tale by Twilight director Catherine Hardwick. In it, Amanda Seyfried stars in the title role as a young heroine living in a village that has a werewolf prowling the woods around it, a werewolf that has suddenly, inexplicably begun to attack humans after years of accepting animal sacrifices once a month from the villagers.

March 18, 2011

BEASTLY (CBS) is a re-imagining of the Beauty and the Beast fable, set in modern times with high school kids. Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer star in this release that was previously scheduled for last fall but has found a spot in the March line-up.  LIMITLESS (Relativity) is a sci-fi thriller about a discovery that allows men to use 100% of their brains. When a writer becomes the first person to use the experimental drug, he becomes a target for sinister forces. Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro star. DESERT FLOWER (National Geographic) is the dramatization of the story of Waris Dirie, the author and supermodel who escaped a life of poverty in Somalia to become an outspoken opponent of the practice of Female Genitalia Mutilation. Although listed as a wide release, this might wind up getting a limited release instead. THE LINCOLN LAWYER (Lionsgate) is based on a Michael Connelly novel. It stars Matthew McConaughey as a criminal defense lawyer who operates out of the back seat of a Lincoln Continental. His latest case turns from the opportunity of a lifetime into a deadly game of survival. PAUL (Universal) reunites Shaun of the Dead’s Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as a couple of sci-fi geeks pick up an illegal alien, only this one is from a lot farther away from Mexico. This smart-aleck space traveler leads the two on a merry chase that turns the Hope-Crosby road movies on their ear. Seth Rogen voices the alien being.

March 25, 2011

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID 2: RODRICK RULES (20th Century Fox) is the sequel to last year’s hit middle school comedy and is based on the second book of the juvenile illustrated novel series. MIRAL (Weinstein) opens in limited release and is about a defiant orphan in war-torn Jerusalem in 1948 who goes on to become a teacher in refugee camps who must decide between fighting the same battle that has defined that region for decades, or choose a path of using education to bring a lasting peace. THE LION OF JUDAH (Animated Family Films) is an animated feature with a biblical setting, as a group of stable animals attempt to rescue a lamb that is to be sacrificed at an upcoming festival. They see out the King, who was born in the same stable 30 years prior. Expect a number of Sunday school field trips for this one.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (Disney) Budget: $200 Million. Domestic Gross: $334.1M Total: $1.0B Verdict: Blockbuster.

CLASH OF THE TITANS (Warner Brothers) Budget: $125M. Domestic Gross: $163.2M Total: $493.2M Verdict: Hit.

GREEN ZONE (Universal) Budget: $100M. Domestic Gross: $35.0M Total: $94.8M Verdict: Flop.

CHLOE (Sony Classics) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $3.1M Total: $10.4M Verdict: Flop.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (DreamWorks) Budget: $165M. Domestic Gross: $217.6M Total: $493.2 Verdict: Hit.

THE BOUNTY HUNTER (Columbia) Budget: $40M. Domestic Gross: $67.1M Total: $136.3 Verdict: Hit.

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE (MGM) Budget: $36M. Domestic Gross: $50.3M Total: $64.4M Verdict: Flop.

SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE (PREVIEWED AS HARD 10) (Paramount) Budget: $20M. Domestic Gross: $31.6M Total: $48.4M Verdict: Profitable.

APRIL

As the weather begins to warm, the multiplexes also begin to heat up with movies that are out to pave the way for the big summer blockbusters. While last year turned out to be a disappointing box office month mostly dominated by films released in March, this year looks hopeful with the return of a horror franchise, a pair of animated features that look to keep kids happy, a new Disney nature film, a sci-fi flick from the acclaimed director of Moon and the latest in the Madea and Fast and Furious franchises.

April 2011

THE 400 LB. GORILLA

SCREAM 4

RELEASE DATE: April 15, 2011

STUDIO: Dimension

STARRING: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panattiere, Rory Culkin, Anthony Anderson, Adam Brody, Mary McDonnell, Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Nico Tortorella

STORY: The gang from the first three films, including writer Kevin Williamson and director Wes Craven, get together for a grand reunion of sorts, with new meat for the grinder as well as old favorites and a whole new set of rules for survival in a horror film.

PROSPECTS: With a nice mixture of horror and comedy, the first three Scream movies were among the most popular of the genre in the 90s. Many of the actors (whose characters survived) the first three movies are back, and there are rumors that if this is successful it will be the first of a new Scream trilogy.

OBSTACLES: It has been eleven years since Scream 3 and fifteen years since the first one. Younger generations might confuse this with the Scary Movie films which were a spoof of the Scream movies and not nearly as good.

FACTOID: Craven decided to make a cameo in the movie, asking his followers on Twitter to come up with an idea as to how to do it.

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RIO

RELEASE DATE: April 8, 2011

STUDIO: 20th Century Fox

STARRING THE VOICES OF: Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, Leslie Mann, will.i.am, George Lopez, Rodrigo Santoro, Carlos Ponce

STORY: A rare blue macaw leaves Minnesota for Brazil to meet with the last female blue macaw. It turns out that the flight-challenged and somewhat timid American and the high-flying fiercely independent Brazilian aren’t exactly the perfect match, but they embark on an adventure that will force them to depend on one another.

PROSPECTS: A new animated feature from the Blue Sky team that gave us the Ice Age series (and yes, there’s another one of those planned for 2012). Think of this as being a (literally) polar opposite in tone.

OBSTACLES: The competition for the family entertainment dollar is getting fierce and I’m not 100% sold that the trailer has given families a reason to see this more than once…or twice.

FACTOID: There are no species of macaws that are completely blue. The closest is the Hyacinth Macaw which are blue all over except under the wing where they are black.

SOURCE CODE

RELEASE DATE: April 1, 2011

STUDIO: Summit

STARRING: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright, Russell Peters, Michael Arden, Susan Bain

STORY: A young soldier is forced to relive a train catastrophe over and over again in order to find out who’s responsible and prevent a much larger disaster from occurring.

PROSPECTS: A very intriguing time travel premise from director Duncan Jones (Moon) that has elements of 12 Monkeys and Timecop. The science fiction community is looking at this project with great interest.

OBSTACLES: Time travel movies are notoriously difficult to make work, and even more difficult to sell. While Jones has gotten critical plaudits for his work on Moon, he has yet to really make a serious box office splash.

FACTOID: Topher Grace was originally considered for the lead role before it went to Gyllenhaal.

UNDERDOG

MEEK’S CUTOFF

RELEASE DATE: April 8, 2011

STUDIO: Oscilloscope Laboratories

STARRING: Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Shirley Henderson, Paul Dano, Will Patton, Zoe Kazan, Rod Rondeaux, Neal Huff

STORY: A story of the ill-fated expedition from Fort Laramie to Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 1845 led by Stephen Meek.

PROSPECTS: The film has been getting some plaudits on the festival circuit, winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, one of the most prestigious festival awards there is.

OBSTACLES: It’s a Western and about a fairly grim set of circumstances to boot.

FACTOID: Director Kelly Reichardt last directed Wendy and Lucy; this is her first Western.

ALSO IN THEATERS

April 1, 2011

HOP (Universal) stars the voice of Russell Brand as the Easter Bunny who is injured by a slacker who then must not only take the injured icon in but perform his duties as well. MOTHER’S DAY (Gigapix) has a trio of not-too-bright criminal brothers who head home to mama’s only to find strangers living in her house, giving a birthday party. Things take a turn for the worse when mother comes home in this horror romp. INSIDIOUS (Film District) is the first release from a new genre studio concerning a young comatose boy whose body becomes a magnet for malevolent entities while his consciousness resides in a mysterious realm.

April 8, 2011

BORN TO BE WILD (Warner Brothers) is a nature documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman that tells the story of caring humans who take orphaned orangutans and elephants and prepares them for life in the wild, training them in much the same way their parents would have. HANNA (Focus) stars Saoirse Ronan as a young girl who has been trained as an assassin by her CIA operative father (Eric Bana) and whose training makes her a target for shadowy agency figures with an agenda of their own. YOUR HIGHNESS (Universal) stars Danny McBride as the ne’er-do-well younger brother of a heroic prince who embarks together on a quest to rescue the fiancé of the heir apparent from an evil wizard. You say Zooey Deschanel and Natalie Portman are both in this? I’m there! ARTHUR (Warner Brothers) stars Russell Brand in the perfectly-cast title role in this remake of the 1981 hit comedy. Arthur is a rich kid who excels at drinking and womanizing, but little else. When he falls in love with a poor girl, his world is thrown upside down. THE BEAVER (Summit) stars Mel Gibson as a man suffering from depression who learns to get past his affliction through a raggedy beaver puppet who does his talking for him. This is directed by Jodie Foster who also plays his wife.

April 15, 2011

SOUL SURFER (TriStar) is the true story of a teen surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack. Far from letting that stop her, she determines to do what it takes to become a surfing champion.

April 22, 2011

AFRICAN CATS (DisneyNature) is the third film from the new nature documentary arm of Disney, this time focusing on lions and tigers and bears…without the bears. And cheetahs instead of tigers. But definitely lions…for sure. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS (20th Century Fox) is based on the bestselling novel and concerns a gentle veterinary student working in a circus from a bygone age who becomes attracted to the wife of a charismatic but cruel lion tamer. Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz star. BORN TO BE A STAR (Columbia) is about a small-town Iowa boy who discovers that his parents were porn stars in the ‘70s. His world turned upside down, he decides to head out to Hollywood to find out if his genetic predisposition towards porn star superstardom will pan out. TYLER PERRY’S MADEA’S BIG HAPPY FAMILY (Lionsgate) is the eleventh Tyler Perry film for Lionsgate, and this one returns the straight-shooting matriarch. Paired opposite her this time is Isiah Mustafa, the guy in the Old Spice commercials. Wanna bet his shirt comes off during the course of the movie?

April 30, 2010

PROM (Disney) is an ensemble piece about the various dramas that intersect and come to a head at the senior prom. I don’t know if it’s just me but this sounds more like a Disney Channel kind of thing to me. FAST FIVE (Universal) returns Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster to the fast car franchise, this time with the crew being chased by Dwayne Johnson, who intends to lay the smack down on the lot of them. WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER? (20th Century Fox) stars Anna Faris as a woman who goes back through all her sexual partners to find out if the right one is among them. This is based on a book by Karyn Bosnak.

HOW THEY DID LAST YEAR

DATE NIGHT (20th Century Fox) Budget: $55 Million. Domestic Gross: $98.7M Total: $152.3M Verdict: Hit.

WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS (PREVIEWED AS WALL STREET 2: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS) (20th Century Fox) Budget: $70M. Domestic Gross: $52.4M Total: $130.6M Verdict: Lost money.

KICK-ASS (Lionsgate) Budget: $30M. Domestic Gross: $48.1M Total: $96.1M Verdict: Hit.

BABIES (Focus) Budget: N/A. Domestic Gross: $7.1M Total: $9.5 Verdict: Might have broken even but probably lost money.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID (20th Century Fox) Budget: $15M. Domestic Gross: $64.0M Total: $75.7 Verdict: Blockbuster.

THE LOSERS (Warner Brothers) Budget: $25M. Domestic Gross: $23.6M Total: $29.3 Verdict: Flop.

MAC GRUBER (Universal) Budget: $10M. Domestic Gross: $8.5M Total: $9.3M Verdict: Flop.

REPO MEN (Universal) Budget: $32M. Domestic Gross: $13.8M Total: $18.4M Verdict: Flop.

SUMMER

This is the season that most film fans look forward to with anticipation and a little bit of drool. While last year was a disappointment in terms of overall box office appeal as well as the quality of the films that were released, there were some gems that managed to make their way into the multiplexes. This year looks to be the opposite; director Jon Favreau compared it to the invasion of Normandy with wave after wave of highly anticipated movies hitting theaters on a weekly basis. There is going to be some carnage as weaker films will die by the wayside, but it looks very likely that we’ll see record box office numbers this summer. We’ll be presenting a full preview of the summer movie season in April, but here’s a sneak peak at what’s coming now.

Summer 2011

THE 400 LB. GORILLA

GREEN LANTERN

RELEASE DATE: June 17, 2011

STUDIO: Warner Brothers

STARRING: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins, Temuera Morrison, Jay O. Sanders, Jon Tenney

STORY: A cocky and irresponsible test pilot receives a device of incredible power from a dying alien and determines to use that power for good.

PROSPECTS: One of the most anticipated movies of 2011 is getting some pretty solid buzz at this point. It is quite likely to be one of the box office bonanzas this summer.

OBSTACLES: The Green Lantern’s power ring manifests whatever the wearer is thinking; the comic book used gigantic fists and hammers to do battle, something which may look hokey on the big screen, plus he would be considered one of DC’s second-tier heroes behind Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

FACTOID: Rather than wearing a latex suit, the Green Lantern corpsmen will wear motion capture suits onto which computer generated images will be imposed, making the suit (theoretically) look more realistic.

BMOC

TRANSFORMERS: THE DARK OF THE MOON

RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2011

STUDIO: Paramount/DreamWorks

STARRING: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Frances McDormand, Ken Jeong, Alan Tudyk, Patrick Dempsey, John Turturro

STORY: The Space Race between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. hid an enormous secret that the presence of new Transformers will threaten. In the meantime, Sam Witwicky takes his first tentative steps into self-reliance while remaining a reluctant human ally of Optimus Prime. 

PROSPECTS: The first two movies have made north of $1.5 billion. The creative team of director Michael Bay, producer Steven Spielberg and star Shia LaBeouf remain intact.

OBSTACLES: The second film was universally panned and another subpar film might alienate the core audience. In addition, Megan Fox is not on board for the third movie which might give some of her fans reason to stay away.

FACTOID: The concept of American astronauts being connected to the initial discovery of the Transformers as is depicted in the trailer was first put out in the prequel novel “Ghosts of Yesterday.”

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2

RELEASE DATE: July 15, 2011

STUDIO: Warner Brothers

STARRING: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Tom Felton, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, David Thewlis, Julie Walters

STORY: The final battle between good and evil is upon us as the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix’s battle has escalated into all-out war. Nobody is safe and in order to preserve the wizarding world, Harry may be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice.

PROSPECTS: This is the last of the lucrative series and by all indications it means to go out with a bang. Certainly all those who grew up with the boy wizard will be in line to say their final farewells.

OBSTACLES: The first part was almost an endurance test and was so grim that it may have put off some of the more casual fans from seeing the finale.

FACTOID: A fire set by explosive devices used during a battle scene on a Hogwart’s set did some minor damage to the set. No actors, crew or stunt persons were injured during the mishap.

COWBOYS AND ALIENS

RELEASE DATE: July 29, 2011

STUDIO: DreamWorks

STARRING: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Paul Dano, Noah Ringer, Keith Carradine, Clancy Brown, Abigail Spencer

STORY: A town in the Arizona Territory, an amoral cattle baron, Apache warriors and a mysterious stranger with an unusual shackle on his wrist and no memory of how he got there must unite to battle an implacable foe from the stars.

PROSPECTS: Director Jon Favreau is a fan favorite at the moment. The reaction to the initial trailer for the movie has been extremely positive.

OBSTACLES: First of all, it’s a western science fiction mash-up – and neither westerns nor mash-ups have done particularly well at the box office. The title of the movie made some audience members titter when the trailer screened.

FACTOID: The movie is based on the Platinum Studios comic by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg.

THOR

RELEASE DATE: May 6, 2011

STUDIO: Paramount

STARRING: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Rene Russo, Stellan Skarsgaard, Kate Demmings, Ray Stevenson, Idris Elba, Colm Feore

STORY: The arrogant Norse god Thor, the God of Thunder, is cast out from Asgard for reigniting an ancient war. For his crimes, his father Odin banishes him to Earth, stripped of his powers. However, when the war spills over to Earth, Thor must take up his mantle as a warrior-God once again in order to save both heaven and earth.

PROSPECTS: The first new Marvel hero to get his own movie since Iron Man (not counting Wolverine who had previously appeared in the X-Men movies) and quite frankly, the trailer looks good.

OBSTACLES: While Thor is one of Marvel’s longtime heroes, he has never been one of their major players. While Hemsworth was awesome in Star Trek, he hasn’t shown the ability to carry a major tentpole franchise as of yet.

FACTOID: The movie was teased in an Easter egg post-credit scene at the end of Iron Man 2.

UNDERDOG

SUPER 8

RELEASE DATE: June 10, 2011

STUDIO: Paramount

STARRING: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Ron Eldard, Noah Emmerich, Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Gabriel Basso

STORY: Not much is known about this project but it supposedly involves “found footage,” a train wreck and an alien.

PROSPECTS: The last time J.J. Abrams did a found footage movie, the plot of which was kept tightly under wraps, the results were Cloverfield which made a ton of money.

OBSTACLES: This has far more competition than Cloverfield did and there are quite a few found footage movies on the horizon.

FACTOID: The teaser trailer for the movie debuted with Iron Man 2 last year, even though it had been greenlit literally a few weeks earlier.

ALSO IN THEATERS

 PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES (Disney) returns Captain Jack Sparrow, this time on a quest to find the Fountain of Youth before Blackbeard does, while a woman from his past (Penelope Cruz) complicates matters. Johnny Depp returns as the good captain (May 20). In BRIDESMAID (Universal), two women battle to plan their friend’s wedding party. Kristen Wiig stars (May 13).  PRIEST (Screen Gems) is a comic book adaptation about a warrior priest who goes against the church to track down a gang of vampires that has kidnapped his sister in an alternate world where men and vampires have been at war for centuries (May 13). THE HANGOVER PART II (Warner Brothers) reunites the gang from the first movie, this time on an expedition to Bangkok. Don’t laugh (May 26). KUNG FU PANDA 2 (DreamWorks) is the sequel to the smash animated hit with Jack Black reprising his role as the title character. This time, a new villain surfaces with a weapon that threatens the serenity of China and its noodles. Oh, the horror (May 27)! SOMETHING BORROWED (Warner Brothers) is a comedy about best friends, one of whom sleeps with her best friend’s fiancé after having had too much to drink, leading to a comic romp of misunderstanding, secrets between friends and of course sex (May 6). BEGINNERS (Focus) stars Ewan McGregor as a man who discovers his terminally ill father is actually gay and has a much younger lover (June 3). X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (20th Century Fox) is a prequel to the Marvel mutant superhero series, this time directed by Matthew (Kick-Ass) Vaughn. It depicts the initial friendship and eventual falling out between Magneto and Professor X  (June 3).  BAD TEACHER (Columbia) centers on a foul-mouthed, irreverent and bitter middle school teacher from director Jake (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) Kasdan (June 17). CAESAR: RISE OF THE APES (20th Century Fox) is a prequel to the Tim Burton reboot of the classic sci-fi series and if that doesn’t confuse you, I don’t know what will (June 24). CARS 2 (Disney/Pixar) brings back Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater, this time getting caught up in an international spy ring with a suave British agent some may recognize watching their backs…err, fenders (June 24). LARRY CROWNE (Universal) features Tom Hanks as a middle aged man who returns to college after being downsized, and discovers a whole new outlook on life as well as a new love, in the form of Julia Roberts (July 1). MONTE CARLO (20th Century Fox) stars a trio of Disney Channel-esque girls who go on a vacation to Paris where one is mistaken for an heiress and winds up getting the three of them a dream vacation to Monte Carlo. They just don’t make ‘em like Princess Grace anymore (July 1). ONE FOR THE MONEY (Lionsgate) stars Katherine Heigl as a divorced, broke, unemployed and desperate woman who joins her slimy cousin’s bail bondsman company and gets involved in a big case of murder, deceit and romance (July 8). ZOOKEEPER (Columbia) is about a group of caged animals who give Kevin James romantic advice. That’s about who Kevin James would normally get that kind of advice from anyway (July 8). THE SITTER (20th Century Fox) headlines Jonah Hill as a slacker who is coerced into watching the kids next door, turning his otherwise boring night into one to remember. Adventures in Babysitting anyone? I thought so (July 15). WINNIE THE POOH (Disney) brings back the silly ol’ bear and his beloved friends in the 100 Acre Wood back for some all-new adventures (July 15). CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (Paramount) stars Chris Evans as the star-spangled superhero who erupts from World War II into modern times; this movie sets up the much anticipated Avengers movie for next summer (July 22). FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (Screen Gems) boasts Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake as a couple who decide to keep things strictly physical which as we all know in Hollywood never works (July 22). In CRAZY STUPID LOVE (Warner Brothers), Steve Carell’s wife cheats on him and then asks for a divorce, turning his comfortable suburban live into chaos. Simply unprepared for the modern dating scene, he is taken under the wing of a playa friend (Ryan Gosling) who shows him the joys – and pitfalls – of modern love (July 29). THE SMURFS (Columbia) is a live-action and animated mix that brings back the beloved animated characters of the 80s and plops them down in 21st century Manhattan (August 3).  In THE CHANGE-UP (Universal) an irresponsible man-child (Ryan Reynolds) changes bodies with a family man (Jason Bateman) and much hilarity ensues (August 5). THE DARKEST HOUR (Summit) is when five young people find themselves stranded in Moscow after an alien attack. Those who think this is a documentary about the Republican win in the mid-term elections, that’s the second-darkest hour (August 5). 30 MINUTES OR LESS (Columbia) is about a pizza delivery guy and a junior high history teacher who are forced to rob a bank when one of them is strapped to a bomb vest. Incidentally, this is a comedy (August 12). In THE HELP (Disney) Emma Stone turns a small Mississippi town in the 1960s upside down when she decides to interview the servants of prominent white families for a book she’s writing . Incidentally, this is a drama (August 12). MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS (20th Century Fox) is based on the Newberry Award-winning children’s book in which the title character becomes obsessed with penguins, until he finally gets his own troupe which cause mayhem and chaos, much like star Jim Carrey does (August 12). CONAN THE BARBARIAN (Lionsgate) resurrects the fantasy franchise, with Jason Momoa taking the title role. This version is said to be more faithful to the Robert E. Howard books than was the Schwarzenegger version (August 19). FRIGHT NIGHT (DreamWorks) is a remake of the 1985 horror flick in which a young boy suspects that the new neighbor across the street is a vampire and, along with a very timid horror movie show host, goes out to save his town – and his mom – from the embrace of the non-sparkling bloodsucker (August 19). SPY KIDS 4: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD (Dimension) is a new installment in the Robert Rodriguez kid spy series, this one with a mostly new cast including Jessica Alba and Jeremy Piven, although Antonio Banderas makes an appearance (August 19). FINAL DESTINATION 5 (New Line) marks the fifth installment in the series of Rube Goldberg-designed deaths. It is what it is, folks (August 26). THE WHISTLEBLOWER (Goldwyn) stars Rachel Weisz in the true story of a Nebraska cop who goes to Bosnia as part of a UN peacekeeping team and ultimately exposes a sex-trafficking ring that has been covered up by the United Nations itself (August TBA).

FALL

This part of the schedule is the most fluid at the moment as Hollywood studio heads jockey for position, putting out movies that are legitimate contenders for Oscars as well as a few more blockbusters for the holidays. 2010 had its share of winners and losers and the jury is still out for the most part. As with the summer, we will be presenting a full Fall/Holiday film preview in August that will be somewhat more detailed and much more accurate in terms of scheduling, but this is what Hollywood has penciled in for now.

Fall 2011

THE 400 LB. GORILLA

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN

RELEASE DATE: December 23, 2011

STUDIO: Paramount

STARRING: Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Gad Elmaleh, Toby Jones, Mackenzie Crook, Cary Elwes, Tony Curran

STORY: The beloved comic book character by the French author Herge gets a motion capture animated treatment. Tintin, an intrepid reporter, goes on the trail of a mythical beach and comes up against the nefarious Red Rackham as a cornucopia of unusual characters assist or oppose our young hero.

PROSPECTS: Steven Spielberg is directing this, and although he hasn’t had a megahit for awhile, his name will at least guarantee a certain amount of curiosity. Early looks at the movie have been astonishing.

OBSTACLES: The Tintin stories are far more popular overseas than they are in North America, and younger audiences may not be familiar with the character. Plus motion capture in general hasn’t fared well at the box office.

FACTOID: Steven Moffat, who penned the first draft of the script, later went on to become the Executive Producer of the BBC “Doctor Who” series.

BMOC 

SHERLOCK HOLMES 2

RELEASE DATE: December 16, 2011

STUDIO: Warner Brothers

STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Eddie Marsan, Stephen Fry, Gilles Lellouche, Kelly Reilly, Geraldine James

STORY: The world’s most brilliant detective takes on his arch-nemesis, criminal genius Professor Moriarty. Holmes is aided by his trusted right hand man Dr. Watson and his genius of a brother Mycroft.  

PROSPECTS: The first movie made over half a billion dollars worldwide and re-imagined the great detective as an action hero. The funky and somewhat irreverent attitude of the first movie helped earn it box office gold, and with Downey still bringing in big audiences, there’s no reason to believe the second one won’t either.

OBSTACLES: Holmes purists bemoaned the first movie’s liberties, and may not be back to support the second.

FACTOID: Downey and Harris both worked together on Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.

TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART 1

RELEASE DATE: November 18, 2011

STUDIO: Summit

STARRING: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Michael Sheen, Dakota Fanning, Jackson Rathbone

STORY: The fourth and final book in the Stephenie Meyer series is split into two parts (the second arriving in 2012) as Bella’s romantic triangle moves to a resolution and the world of the vampires, werewolves and Forks, Washington become forever changed.

PROSPECTS: The fanbase for this series is rabid and loyal; they have made the first three movies of the series blockbusters. With the series coming to a close, I don’t imagine they will be any less rabid or loyal.

OBSTACLES: The movies have had considerable backlash from non-fans and critics and generally make nearly all their box office in the first couple of weekends; with fiercer competition, the box office might suffer.

FACTOID: Sofia Coppola was reportedly very interested in directing, but balked at doing two movies consecutively.

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

RELEASE DATE: December 21, 2011

STUDIO: Columbia

STARRING: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgaard, Robin Wright, Max von Sydow, Christopher Plummer, Joely Richardson, Steven Berkoff

STORY: The long-unsolved disappearance of an heiress is investigated by a disgraced journalist and a young computer hacker. Along the way they stir up a hornet’s nest of intrigue, corruption and cover-up. This is the remake of the first book in the Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, which was made into a very successful film in its native Sweden as well.

PROSPECTS: The Swedish films of all three books in the trilogy did spectacular business in Europe and decent numbers here in limited release. Director David Fincher has a long resume full of offbeat, disturbing thrillers as this one is.  

OBSTACLES: Those who loved the first movies may be a little put off at the “Hollywood-izing” of the trilogy. There are already grumblings that original star Noomi Rapace is irreplaceable in the movie. 

FACTOID: Daniel Craig originally declined the role due to scheduling conflicts with the next Bond film. When MGM’s financial difficulties caused filming on it to be delayed, he was able to accept the role. 

UNDERDOG 

IMMORTALS

RELEASE DATE: October 11, 2011

STUDIO: Universal

STARRING: Mickey Rourke, Henry Cavill, Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto, John Hurt, Luke Evans, Kellan Lutz, Isabel Lucas, Stephen McHattie

STORY: The power-mad King Hyperion seeks an ancient weapon that will unleash the Titans that could threaten both the Gods and mankind. The peasant Theseus is all that stands between the world and total annihilation.

PROSPECTS: Clash of the Titans did astounding box office and may well signal a renewed interest in Greek mythology at the box office. Director Tarsem Singh is a highly visual director well-suited to this kind of thing.

OBSTACLES: Singh has yet to make a hit movie. The fact that Immortals is being released in 3D will raise questions about the process and bring up memories of the notoriously bad 3D that Clash of the Titans employed.

FACTOID: This is the first movie based on a DC Comic book character to be made at a studio other than Warner Brothers.

ALSO IN THEATERS

 

COLUMBIANA (Columbia) is the latest action flick from French producer Luc Besson, this one set in Columbia as the daughter of murdered parents who is raised as an assassin to work for her uncle, while investigating her parents’ murder in her off time (September 2). THE APPARITION (Warner Brothers) is about a couple who discover that they are the targets of supernatural forced feeding on their fears stemming from a parapsychological experiment in college (September 9). JOHNNY ENGLISH REBORN (Universal) returns Rowan Atkinson as the suave but bumbling spy (September 16). WARRIOR (Lionsgate) is a mixed martial arts saga about two brothers on a collision to fight in the finals of a brutal tournament (September 9). PIRANHA 3DD (Dimension) is the sequel to the surprise hit remake from last fall (September 16). DRIVE (Film District) stars Ryan Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for the criminal underworld (September 16). STRAW DOGS (Screen Gems) is Rod Lurie’s remake of the Sam Peckinpah domestic violence film from 1971 (September 16). ABDUCTION (Lionsgate) is about a teenager who discovers that the parents who raised him aren’t his biological parents – and his real parents didn’t give him up willingly (September 23). MONEYBALL (Columbia) is the story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane who assembled a competitive club on a shoestring budget using a computer program to draft players. Brad Pitt stars in a movie that could well be 2011’s The Social Network (September 23). ANONYMOUS (Columbia) opines that the plays of William Shakespeare were actually written by somebody else. This is directed by Roland Emmerich who usually does big budget action/disaster thingies so this is something new (September 30). COURAGEOUS (TriStar) is about four police officers who must deal with a tragedy at home which, judging from the studio synopsis, has to do with their children (September 30). DREAM HOUSE (Universal) stars Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz as a couple who move into a suburban house that may or may not be haunted (September 30). NOW (20th Century Fox) is a sci-fi thriller starring Justin Timberlake in a world where the aging process stops at 25, but in order to survive you must literally buy time (September 30). DOLPHIN TALE (Warner Brothers) is the remarkable true story about a dolphin named Winter and the people who banded together to save her (September 16). REAL STEEL (DreamWorks) stars Hugh Jackman as the manager of a fighter – in a future world where robots do battle (October 7). WANDERLUST (Universal) is about a spoiled upper middle-class couple who lose everything and take refuge in a commune (October 7). FOOTLOOSE (Paramount) is a remake of the 1984 film that made Kevin Bacon a star, with all-new tunes complimenting some of the songs from the original movie (October 14). THE THING (Universal) is a prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter version of the movie, showing us what happened to the Swedish research base that is only alluded to in the original movie (October 14). THE THREE MUSKETEERS 3D (Summit) is a new version of the tale filmed entirely in 3D by director Paul W.S. Anderson; his musketeers are Ray Stevenson, Matthew Madfadyen, Luke Evans and Logan Lerman, although the supporting cast of Christolph Waltz, Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom, Mads Mikkelsen and Til Schweiger are far more impressive (October 14). CONTAGION (Warner Brothers) is like Outbreak on steroids – a deadly airborne pathogen that kills within days throws the world into a panic as authorities race to find a cure while struggling to maintain order as society breaks down (October 21). PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (Paramount) is the third installment of the very profitable Halloween series of found footage of suburban hauntings (October 21). DIBBUK BOX (Lionsgate) concerns a wooden box bought on eBay from a holocaust survivor that has hidden within it a terrible curse (October 28). PUSS IN BOOTS (DreamWorks) is a spin-off from the Shrek series and stars the voice of Antonio Banderas as the cavalier kitty (November 4). TOWER HEIST (Universal) stars Ben Stiller as the overworked manager of an exclusive high-rise residence who plots with members of his staff to steal back money they were defrauded from by a Bernie Madoff-type financier who swindled it from them (November 4). JACK AND JILL (Columbia) stars Adam Sandler in a comedy about…well, we’re not quite sure yet (November 11). HAPPY FEET 2 (Warner Brothers) is the sequel to the 2006 animated feature about dancing, singing penguins (November 18). ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (Columbia) is the newest animated feature from Aardman Studios, the British group that made their name with the Wallace and Gromit series. This one concerns the son of Santa Claus; a teaser trailer for this is already out (November 23). THE MUPPETS (Disney) is a star-studded affair as a telethon is put together in a desperate attempt to save the Muppets Studio (November 23). PROJECT X (Warner Brothers) is an ensemble comedy about a group of teenagers documenting a house party that goes terribly wrong (November 23). HUGO CABRET (Columbia) is Martin Scorsese’s first foray into juvenile fantasy as a young boy living in the walls of a Paris train station encounters unique, strange characters and embarks on a mysterious, magical adventure (December 9). NEW YEAR’S EVE (New Line) is from the makers of Valentine’s Day and is much along the same lines; an all-star cast copes with the ramifications of the holiday in Los Angeles (December 9). ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED (20th Century Fox) is the third installment in the live action-computer generated series that has yet to really captivate me (December 16). MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE GHOST PROTOCOL (Paramount) returns Tom Cruise into the IMF team as he undertakes a mission that just well be his last. Pixar director Brad Bird makes his first foray into live action directing (December 16). WE BOUGHT A ZOO (20th Century Fox) is the charming account based on the true story of a family that buys a dilapidated zoo in the English countryside in order to save 200 exotic animals from destruction. Matt Damon is the star (December 23). WAR HORSE (DreamWorks) is an epic adventure by director Steven Spielberg about a horse and its master during the First World War (December 23). 

MOVIES CURRENTLY WITHOUT RELEASE DATES BUT LIKELY TO OPEN

HORRIBLE BOSSES (New Line) is a comedy with an all-star cast about three working stiffs who concoct a clever and convoluted plan to rid themselves of their nemeses – their overbearing bosses – once and for all. GATCHAMAN (Warner Brothers) is an animated feature based on a Japanese anime TV series that is wildly popular worldwide. Although this has already come out in Japan, it is awaiting an American release date. HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN (Magnet) is the second movie to be based on a trailer that aired with the 2007 movie Grindhouse. JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (New Line) is the sequel to the 2008 hit 3D movie although it only returns Josh Hutcherson from that cast. This time, Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine are among those who take a voyage to another place that was thought to be an invention of Jules Verne’s fertile imagination. DOROTHY OF OZ (Summertime Entertainment) is the first of several planned Oz-related movies to come out, this one an animated feature with an all-star vocal cast including Martin Short, Oliver Platt, Kristin Chenoweth, Dan Aykroyd and James Belushi. THE TROLL HUNTERS (Magnet) is a Norwegian movie that got tremendous acclaim on the festival circuit, about a group of students who set out to document the existence of trolls and wind up with much more than they bargained for. ONE DAY (Focus) chronicles the relationship between two friends (Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess) by checking in on them every July 15th – the anniversary of the day they met. RESTLESS (Columbia) is the latest from director Gus van Sant and concerns a couple of misfits who meet, fall in love and take on a world that is not particularly forgiving of misfits. RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT (Paramount) stars Jim Carrey as Robert Ripley, a man who travels the world in search of oddities and winds up finding the human being in all of us.

All I can say is wow! This might well be the most promising slate of movies for a single year in a very long time. The moviegoing public is going to have a lot of hard choices to make – or else will be going out and spending a whole lot more money than they ever have before, a scenario that I’m sure the studio heads would be more than happy with. Even so, things are already gearing up for another big year in 2012, when the latest installments in the Batman, Superman, Spider-Man and Men in Black series are scheduled to be released, as well as the much-anticipated Avengers not to mention the finale in the Twilight saga. Also, don’t forget the return of Peter Jackson to Middle Earth in The Hobbit. Hopefully this preview can help you make your plans for 2011; I know I have. See you in the multiplex!

New Releases for the Week of December 3, 2010


December 3, 2010

If you see this guy with this backdrop behind him, that's your clue to turn and run!

 

THE WARRIORS WAY

(Relativity) Dong-gun Jang, Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth, Danny Huston, Tony Cox, Lung Ti, Analin Rudd, Markus Hamilton, Rod Lousich. Directed by Sngmoo Lee

Asian filmmakers have gotten a reputation for fearlessly mashing up genres into sometimes confusing but occasionally delectable new brews and so it is here. An assassin from the East is forced to hide out in a small town in the American badlands of the Old West. As usually happens when taciturn strangers hiding out in small towns in the Old West, his troubles find him there and all Hell literally breaks loose.

See the trailer, clips and interviews here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Martial Arts Action Western Fantasy Mash-Up

Rating: R (for strong bloody violence)

Cool It

 (Roadside Attractions) Bjorn Lomborg, Freeman Dyson, Richard Lindzen, Paul Reiter. The author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist,” controversial economist Bjorn Lomborg, is profiled here as he takes on the issue of global warming. Taking the point of view of a realist, he comes up with some different ideas on solutions to the problem while earning the wrath of liberals and what he views to be alarmists everywhere.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Documentary

Rating: PG (for thematic elements)

Howl

(Oscilloscope Laboratories) James Franco, Mary-Louise Parker, Jon Hamm, Jeff Daniels. Beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem “Howl” ignited a firestorm of controversy and led to an obscenity trial that would eventually define the American literary landscape for the years that followed. Franco, who has been receiving Oscar buzz for 127 Hours, is having himself quite a year.

See the trailer and a clip here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Biographical Drama

Rating: NR

Salvation Poem (Poema de salvacion) 

(CanZion) Gonzalo Senestrari, Irina Alonso, Fernando Ronsarolli, Gian Franco. A young Argentinean is raised by a distant father who was always working and a mother whose devotion to her faith overrides all. When she rejects his dreams of becoming a heavy metal musician, a rift develops between the two that lead to a whole lot of bad life choices. This story, based on actual events in the life of heavy metal musician Pablo Olivares of the acclaimed group Halogen, is about the healing of that rift and the battle for a young man’s soul.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Drama

Rating: PG-13 (for some thematic material and violent content)

Welcome to the Rileys

 

(Goldwyn) James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, Kristen Stewart, Ally Sheedy. A happily married couple has seen their marriage slowly begin to spiral into disintegration after the loss of their daughter eight years previously. The mother has become an agoraphobic while the father has become so numb to the world he doesn’t seem to care about anything or anyone. While on a business trip to New Orleans, he meets a teenage runaway and forms a platonic bond with her. What could have been the straw that breaks the camel’s back could turn into the inspiration to save their relationship.

See the trailer and clips here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Release formats: Standard

Genre: Drama

Rating: R (for strong sexual content, brief drug use and pervasive language involving a teenager)