Summer 2014 at the Cinema

A Million Ways To Die In The West

Summer is here, and with that brings the summer movie season.

Blockbusters, special effects, big stars — all of this and more is thrown at us in an attempt to spend some money going to the cinema this summer. (Though by the looks of things, this has already been going on for a month.)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened in April and has grossed over £19M at the box office. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was also an early release, in late April, and has already earned £23M. X-Men: Days of Future Past earned close to £10M in it's opening weekend, but topping all three of them is The Lego Movie, which hit £33M last week. (That kind of money will buy you lots of Legos!) Godzilla 3D came out two weeks ago and made a whopping £9M in it's first weekend but dropped by 57% in it's second week, so it looks like this monster doesn't have legs.

There are lots of others upcoming films to be released later in the summer to try to take your summer movie money. Here is a list of the big ones, all of them likely to gross lots of money:

The first film to be released after the Bank Holiday weekend, which is officially the start of the summer, is Maleficent, which brings Angelina Jolie in her cartoon-debuting role in a story of the villain from Disney's classic film Sleeping Beauty, the mistress of all evil. Will it be too dark for young children? Early buzz has been mixed, so it will be interesting to see if Disney can recoup it's $200M production costs.

Tom Cruise's annual summer movie hits the big screen on Friday May 30th. It's called Edge of Tomorrow and is a film set in the near future where an alien race attacks Earth, attacking cities and killing millions of people, almost destroying Earth. Of course, Cruise is the hero when he takes on one of the aliens, only to be killed within minutes. What's different about this plot is that Cruise's character keeps on coming back to life, and is forced to relive the same battle over and over, each time becoming smarter and tougher. It's an interesting premise, and in true Tom Cruise style, Edge of Tomorrow should be a box office hit. A Million Ways to Die in the West, Seth MacFarlane's take on Western movies, also opens on the same day. It's got an all-star cast, including Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris and Liam Neeson.

22 Jump Street hits the theaters the following weekend. This is, of course, a film of the television show which put Johnny Depp on the map, and a sequel to the 21 Jump Street movie. The film stars hot actors-of-the-moment Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Expect lots of laughs and action, and another sequel if this film makes lots of money, which it probably will.

For those of you craving music with your movies, Jersey Boys opens up on June 20th. It's a musical biopic based on the hit musical charting the lives of the group The Four Seasons. Clint Eastwood was a strange choice to direct the movie (he also produced), but even stranger was to pick a cast of unknowns to star as the leads. Christopher Walken is the one big name actor in the movie, and he plays a member of the mob. The same weekend Kevin Costner's new film, 3 Days to Kill, opens up where he plays a dying CIA agent trying to reconnect with his daughter, played by Hailee Steinfeld.

Transformers: Age of Extinction opens on Thursday July 10th and looks to be a teenage boy's wet dream. It's the fourth installment of the live action Transformers film series and this one stars Mark Walhberg. Age of Extinction is a sequel to Transformers: Dark of the Moon and takes place four years after the invasion of Chicago. Michael Bay returns as the director. Expect big box office for this film, and for it to dominate the box office way into July.

On Thursday July 17th (why do films open up on a Thursday? So that their 'weekend' gross will appear to be higher) sees Dawn of the Planet of The Apes open, the umpteenth film based on the 1960's classic Planet of the Apes Films. What's so special about this one? The apes' existence is threatened by human survivors of a devastating virus. Gary Oldman and Keri Russell play human to Andy Serkis' ape.

If you are getting the picture that there is one huge movie opening up every weekend, this is no coincidence. The studios rake in the bucks on their film's opening weekends, since most of the money goes to them and not to the theatre owners. It's only when a movie is still bringing in audiences for several weeks that the movie theatres start making money.

Moving on, the big movie opening the weekend of July 25th is Hercules, starring The Rock like we've never seen him before, and directed by Brett Ratner. To be honest, this could either be a big hit or it could be a costly mistake. I predict the later. Opening up the same weekend is a film that should do much better. Channing Tatum is back again and starring in Jupiter Ascending. It's a strange story about a woman (played by Mila Kunis) who was born under a night sky, and so was destined for great things. But she ends up being a cleaner. Tatum, as a genetically engineered hunter, is her knight in shining armor who tracks her down and helps her realize her potential. It sounds far-fetched, but it could work, since the The Wachowskis have written, produced and directed it. (They previously brought us The Matrix and Cloud Atlas.)

Another sci-fi-ish film, Guardians of the Galaxy, opens on Thursday July 31st. It's a live action film from Disney about an American pilot who finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by a very nasty villian. It stars an all-star cast including Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Chris Pratt, and Vin Diesel.

Opening on August 8th for the kids will be Planes: Fire and Rescue, right in the middle of summer, poised to take parents' box office money. This one is expected to be as much of a hit as the original Planes film. Also that weekend sees the release of The InBetweeners 2. If this is as good as the first film and the television series, we're in for another laugh-a-minute film.

For those of you who like your action stars a bit older, then catch The Expendables 3 the weekend of Thursday August 14th. Just like the first two Expendable films, this one also stars Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham and Nicolage Cage.

The lovely Scarlett Johansson is back on the big screen with Lucy on August 22nd. She plays a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors, and transforms into a warrior stronger than any human. This could be a franchise in the making if this film is successful enough.

Rounding out the summer, and released on Wednesday September 3rd, is Sex Tape. Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal play a couple, who, after ten years and two kids, lose the spark in their marriage. So what do they do? Re-read the title and you'll know how this movie plays out.

Other major UK releases in September include Sin City 2, Pride, and Monsters: Dark Continent.

Enjoy the Summer of Cinema!