After an amazing six months which gave us the box office winners Avatar, Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland, Kick Ass, and Nanny McPhee and the the Big Bang comes another summer of Hollywood pulling out all the stops to get you into the theatres. And the gimmick this summer? 3-D, of course!
So far there are eight 3-D films scheduled to be released between now and the end of August. Some of these are sequels to originals which were box office hits: Beauty & the Beast (June 25) and Toy Story (July 21) from Walt Disney, Shrek Forever After (July 2), and Piranha (Aug 20), as well as some whose originals were not huge hits but their movie studios thought they could milk more money out of the 3-D novelty: Street Dance (May 21), Step Up (Aug 13), Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (Aug 4). And, yes, believe it or not, summer brings Space Chimps 2 (May 28), a sequel to the very exciting original, released in 2008.
Sequels to be released which have blockbuster written all over them include Sex and the City 2 (May 28), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (July 9) and Predators (July 22), a follow up to Alien vs Predator that has Adrien Brody leading a group of dangerous criminals who realize they have been transported to the Predators' home planet. Already opened, but still qualifying as sequel summer blockbusters, are Iron Man (which had a huge opening weekend) and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Another gimmick that Hollywood is hoping will bring moviegoers to the cinema is to turn old television shows into movies (SATC anyone?). And do remakes count as sequels? The A-Team hits the screen on July 28. Let's hope this trend of television movies will be a complete flop. Who wants to see films made from Eastenders, Glee or X-Factor? This summer also sees an update of The Karate Kid (July 28), starring Will Smith's son.
The highly anticipated Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott (they did Gladiator together in 2000, which won Crowe an Oscar for Best Actor) opens today, while another swashbuckling film, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, based on the videogame, stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a prince who partners with a rival princess to stop a villain from unleashing a sandstorm on the world, opens on May 21st. And it wouldn't be a summer without a Nicolas Cage film, and this summer he has two. The first is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (August 13), where Cage plays a sorcerer who hires an apprentice to help him fight an evil wizard. Cage also stars in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (May 21), and plays a drug-addicted police detective.
This summer Sylvester Stallone returns to the big screen after a five-year absence in The Expendables (August 20), which brings together a Who's Who of '80s, '90s and modern-day action stars, co-written and directed by Stallone himself. This film features Jason Statham, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren, as well as cameos from Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a tale of a group of elite mercenaries hired for 'one last job'.
On the comedy front, Russell Brand reprises his Forgetting Sarah Marshall British rock star role in Get Him to the Geek, out on June 25. Bruce Willis and Tracey Morgan play police detectives on the trail of rare stolen baseball cards in Cop Out (May 21). Greenberg, which stars Ben Stiller (June 11), is about an unemployed 40-year old man who moves to L.A. to stay at his brothers house and ends up becoming best friends with his brother's friends. Wild Target (June 18) is an all-British film about uptight Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy), a middle-aged, solitary assassin, who lives to please his formidable mother Louisa (Eileen Atkins), and whose professional routine is interrupted when he finds himself drawn to one of his intended victims, Rose (Emily Blunt). Tom Cruise stars in his first comedy in years in Knight and Day (July 14) alongside Cameron Diaz. He plays a trained spy who has been framed, and she plays a woman who is mistaken as his accomplice.
Comic Books turned into movies have been a fail-safe money maker over the past years, and on June 18th, Josh Brolin arrives as the badly-scarred gunslinger of the old west in Jonah Hex. Another comic book movie is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (August 6), directed by the director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, which is about a young slacker (Michael Cera) who must defeat a girl’s seven exes before he can hook up with her. Also, based on the children’s cartoon, is The Last Airbender (August 13), directed by M. Night Shyamalan, in which 12-year old Aang tries to restore balance to the world when one element attacks another.
Romantic Comedies (also know as chick flicks) are also in full supply this summer. Already released is The Back-Up Plan with Jennifer Lopez, and still to come is When in Rome with Kirsten Bell and Josh Duhamel (June 25) and The Rebound, staring Catherine Zeta Jones (July 28).
Dramas are almost never released in the summer, but are typically saved for the fall to be closer to awards season. Regardless, some likely contenders for awards could be Inception, with Leonardo DiCaprio as a special agent who enters people’s dreams in order to retrieve information. This stylish thriller is directed by the man who directed The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan), and is out July 16. Angelina Jolie returns to the big screen for the first time since her 2008 Oscar nominated turn in The Changeling. In Salt (August 20), Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA officer accused of being a Russian spy. Academy Award winners Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener) and Adrien Brody (The Pianist) star in The Brothers Bloom, a globe-trotting comedy about the last great adventure of the world's two best con men (June 4). The Killer Inside Me (also June 4) tells the story about a small town sheriff (Casey Affleck) who happens to be a killer. Richard Gere plays a cop in Brooklyn's Finest (June 9), which reunites Ethan Hawke with Training Day's director Antoine Fuqua.
So which movie will likely be the summer box office winner? The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, without question. It already has a huge fan base, and Robert Pattinson’s popularity seems to grow and grow.
The Fine Print: Please be aware that the studios tend to change release dates, and you can expect theatres to be almost empty during the World Cup.