The Movies of 2012
This year’s cinematic trends: 3D Disney, Batman vs. Spider-Man and Keanu Reeves with a samurai sword
The year 2012 looks ... a lot like previous years in Hollywood. The explosions are epic, the stars are plentiful and the trends are limited. So what might the movie-loving masses be watching in cinemas over the next 12 months? Here’s a sampling of the good, the bad and the over budget. (Keep in mind, all opening dates are subject to change.)
In Your Face
Around Thanksgiving, Disney popped a newly 3D-ized version of its 1994 hit The Lion King into theaters. The revamped release was intended as advertising for Disney’s upcoming Lion King Blu-Ray/DVD. But the 3D version ended up adding a whopping $94 million to The Lion King’s already epic lifetime gross. Lightbulbs started flashing in the heads of Hollywood executives, and now you can expect all sorts of old films to get the 3D upgrade. In fact, Disney will be cranking out its very next rerelease shortly with Beauty and the Beast 3D (Jan. 13). That will be followed later in the year by Finding Nemo 3D (Sept. 14).
George Lucas, still tinkering with his Star Wars films, gives us Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace 3D (Feb. 10). Not to be outdone, James Cameron offers up Titanic 3D (April 6).
Although they aren’t technically rereleases of old films, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D (Oct. 5) and Halloween 3D (Oct. 26) do have a certain familiar ring about them.
The three-dimensional films in the recently rebooted Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween series lead us, naturally, into this year’s many sequels. Nicolas Cage, for reasons known only to himself, dons the leather jacket and flaming skull once again in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Feb. 17). Later this summer, Christian Bale straps on the cape for the third and final time in The Dark Knight Rises (July 20).
The action movie smorgasbord that was The Expendables returns—having recruited Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren—with The Expendables 2 (Aug. 17). Meanwhile, the G.I. Joe: Retaliation (June 29) producers wisely kill off most of their original cast (sorry, Channing Tatum and Dennis Quaid), replacing them with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Bruce Willis.
Liam Neeson, who’s starting to look like a pretty irresponsible parent, loses another family member in Taken 2 (Oct. 5). Neeson also does a cameo (in lousy 3D, no doubt) in Wrath of the Titans (March 30), a follow-up to the surprise hit remake of Clash of the Titans.
Men in Black 3 (May 25) shows up as a belated sequel to the hit 1997/2002 films. Inevitably, CGI toons Madagascar 3 (June 8) and Ice Age: Continental Drift (July 13) come back with more animated animal hijinks. Twihards can finally breathe a sigh of relief when Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2 (Nov. 16) hits theaters. In the “They’re still making these?” category, we get Step Up 4 (July 27)—which will undoubtedly have a stupid number-based pun added to the title by the time it hits cineplexes.
One-upping the Step Up franchise is Scary Movie 5 (April 20) and Resident Evil: Retribution (Sept. 14), the fifth outing in Milla Jovovich’s unending zombie series.
Of course, with sequels come prequels. Peter Jackson gifts us with a bonus Tolkien adaptation, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec. 14)—a prequel to his hit Lord of the Rings series. Finally—although it’s been kept under tight wraps—Ridley Scott’s space saga Prometheus (June 8) is considered a prequel to his 1979 smash Alien.
TV’s teen cop drama 21 Jump Street (March 16) makes a comedic comeback with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum fighting crime in high school. Let’s hope it fares better than 1999’s The Mod Squad. Former “21 Jump Street” star Johnny Depp, meanwhile, is doing his own TV series remake with Tim Burton’s vampire soap opera reboot Dark Shadows (May 11). Burton continues to ride the remake wave this year, delivering Frankenweenie (Oct. 5), a feature-length version of a stop-motion cartoon short he first made back in 1984.
Colin Farrell replaces Arnold Schwarzenegger in a ground-up remake of Total Recall (Aug. 3). Karl Urban (Bones from Star Trek) replaces Sylvester Stallone in Dredd (Sept. 21)—a low-budget reboot of the sci-fi comic book series “Judge Dredd.” Jeremy Renner, who’s poised to replace Tom Cruise as the star of the Mission: Impossible films, is also poised to replace Matt Damon in The Bourne Legacy (Aug. 3). Brit Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) is our newest Peter Parker in the rebooted origin story The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3).
Nostalgia for the ’80s is alive and well in the long-shelved remake of Red Dawn (Nov. 2)—which features evil, invading North Koreans as opposed to evil, invading Russians. Hoping to ride the wave of ’30s nostalgia is the Farrelly brothers’ modern-day reboot of The Three Stooges (April 13).
Keanu Reeves stars in 47 Ronin (Nov. 21), the newest iteration of the famed Japanese legend that has been told multiple times on film—but never with Keanu Reeves. Probably for good reason.
Like his last film Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (Dec. 25) isn’t exactly a remake. It’s more of a freeform rumination on the spaghetti Western genre that borrows its title from a series of Italian-made cult films.
Books, Comic Books and Fairy Tales
Potential 2012 hits that aren’t remakes, reissues or sequels get their inspiration from all manner of literary sources. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (Mar. 2) is a computer-animated version of the picture-book classic. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (Mar. 2), Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1) and Jack the Giant Killer (June 15) retool famous fairy tales for modern audiences.
The Avengers (May 4) unites the stars of Marvel Comics’ many hit movies series—giving Ghost Rider, Batman, Spider-Man and Judge Dredd a run for their superhero money in 2012.
John Carter (March 9) comes from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ pulp sci-fi series John Carter: Warlord of Mars. The Hunger Games (March 23) is the much-anticipated adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ smash YA sci-fi series. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22) brings Seth Grahame-Smith’s literary mashup to the big screen. The Great Gatsby (Dec. 25) is Aussie Baz Luhrmann’s version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novel with Leonardo DiCaprio as the titular dandy. Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables (Dec. 7) features Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe. As French people. Yann Martel’s brainy fantasy novel Life of Pi (Dec. 21) is helmed by artsy director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). Contrastingly—and on the very same weekend—Max Brooks’ postapocalyptic novel World War Z (Dec. 21) stars Brad Pitt and has lots of zombies.
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