Big-budget films aiming for blockbuster results similar to The Avengers
The spring and summer movie season got a blockbuster start last weekend when superhero spectacular The Avengers smashed box office records. Featuring Marvel comic characters Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow, The Avengers earned an unprecedented $207.4 million, topping previous record holder Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2, which opened last year at $169.2 million.
While it’s unlikely that The Avengers’ new record will be felled by subsequent films this season or even this year, several more movies made with blockbuster ambition are swiftly following Iron Man and his team into theaters.
Johnny Depp arrives this weekend as vampire Barnabas Collins in director Tim Burton’s comic take on television’s Dark Shadows. Next weekend Earth once again goes to war against alien invaders in Battleship, part of which was filmed in Baton Rouge. And Will Smith returns later this month as the alien-smacking man in black in Men In Black 3.
June unleashes another explosive action picture, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, as well as the new sci-fi thriller from Alien-director Ridley Scott, Prometheus. July brings The Amazing Spider-Man and the conclusion of writer-director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.
Beyond action-adventure, the outrageous Sacha Baron Cohen returns this weekend in the satirical The Dictator; two family-oriented computer-animated films open in June, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and Pixar’s Brave, followed by another Ice Age sequel, Ice Age: Continental Drift.
Comedies, dramas, horror movies as well as a few less obvious projects, including the Louisiana-shot Beasts of the Southern Wild, winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s grand jury prize for drama, are set to squeeze themselves onto screens despite the large slate of intended blockbusters.
Many of the films opening Friday through August are listed below. Opening dates are subject to change and may vary from city to city.
DARK SHADOWS — Johnny Depp and his director pal, Tim Burton, conspire again for a big-screen remake of the campy ’60s TV horror-soap opera Dark Shadows. Looking quite pale for his role as Barnabas Collins, resident vampire of Collinsport, Depp plays his character for laughs alongside a cast including Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter and Eva Green.
THE DICTATOR -- Sacha Baron Cohen, aka Borat and Bruno, stars as his excellency, General Colonel Doctor Aladeen, Democratic president-for-life, invincible and all-triumphant commander, brilliant genius of humanity, excellent swimmer, including butterfly, and beloved oppressor and ruthless protector of the precious and expendable people of Wadiya. Jason Mantzoukas, Ben Kingsley and Anna Faris co-star.
BATTLESHIP -- Inspired by Hasbro’s naval-combat game, Battleship, this locally filmed action-adventure depicts humanity’s epic war by land, sea and air against a superior extraterrestrial force. The cast includes Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgård, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Tadanobu Asano and Liam Neeson.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING -- Featuring an ensemble cast including Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid and Chris Rock, What To Expect When You’re Expecting looks at the comic consequences pregnancy has upon five intertwined couples.
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL -- British thespians Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson star as Brits who choose India’s Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as the place to spend their retirement years. They find the resort in a state of incompletion. Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) co-stars.
CHERNOBYL DIARIES -- Written by Paranormal Activity author Oren Peli, this horror-thriller follows six young people who take an “extreme” tour of the abandoned city of Pripyat, former home of workers at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor.
DARLING COMPANION -- Diane Keaton plays a woman who rescues a lost dog from the side of a highway and then bonds with it. After her self-centered husband, played by Kevin Kline, loses his wife’s dear pet in the Rocky Mountains, Keaton and a small band of sympathetic helpers begin an adventurous search for the animal. (Opens May 25 in New Orleans.)
MEN IN BLACK 3 -- Will Smith’s Agent J travels back in time to save his partner, K, and Earth, too. J learns there are certain secrets that K, played in the past by the perfectly cast Josh Brolin, in the present by Tommy Lee Jones, never revealed to him.
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN -- Kristen Stewart moonlights from the Twilight series as a revisionist Snow White who takes warrior princess training from a huntsman played by Chris Hemsworth, star of Thor and the current blockbuster, The Avengers. Charlize Theron co-stars as Queen Ravenna.
MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’s MOST WANTED -- Animal pals Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo and Melman the Giraffe are still trying to get home to New York City. In this third Madagascar movie they masquerade as European circus animals. Voice talent includes Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric The Entertainer, Andy Richter and Frances McDormand.
PROMETHEUS -- An exciting discovery turns out to be humanity’s worst nightmare in this sci-fi thriller directed by that master of sci-fi suspense, Ridley Scott. Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba star.
ROCK OF AGES -- Just a small town girl, Sherrie meets city boy Drew on the Sunset Strip. A classic-rock soundtrack accompanies their romance in this rock-musical featuring Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Malin Akerman, Mary J. Blige, Alec Baldwin and Tom Cruise.
THAT’S MY BOY -- Adam Sandler portrays Donny, a man who fathered a son while still in his teens and then raised the child as a single dad. Donny and son Todd parted company when the boy reached 18 but now, just as Todd is about to get married, the uninvited Donny shows up.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER -- Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States, has a secret sideline: he’s history’s greatest vampire slayer. Benjamin Walker, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rufus Sewell lead the cast of this New Orleans-filmed production.
BRAVE -- The latest computer-animated adventure from Pixar is set in ancient Scotland. After Merida (Kelly Macdonald), brave and rebellious daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), defies tradition, she must use all of her wits and archery skills to undo an awful curse.
G.I. JOE: RETALIATION -- In this sequel to 2009’s G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, the G.I. Joes must battle their usual enemy, Cobra, as well as forces within their own government. The cast includes D.J. Cotrona, Byung-hun Lee, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Stevenson, Channing Tatum plus Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson.
SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD -- Even though humanity is about to go extinct, Dodge and Penny find something to be happy about. Steve Carell and Keira Knightley star.
MAGIC MIKE -- Director Steven Soderbergh invades the realm of male strippers. Channing Tatum stars as the film’s title character and Alex Pettyfer co-stars as The Kid, a young dancer Magic Mike schools in the ways of seduction and easy money.
MOONRISE KINGDOM -- Set in the summer of 1965 on an island off the coast of New England, the new film from writer-director Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rushmore) revolves around a pair of love-struck 12-year-olds who disappear in the wilderness. With a storm on the way, local officials scramble to find them. The cast includes Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman.
PEOPLE LIKE US -- In this drama-comedy, Chris Pine plays Sam, a young salesman who reluctantly goes home to handle his estranged father’s estate. While he’s there, he learns he has a sister. Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde and Michael Hall co-star.
TYLER PERRY’S MADEA’S WITNESS PROTECTION -- Eugene Levy, playing the innocent CEO of a Wall Street investment bank, discovers he’s been marked as the fall guy in a Ponzi scheme. Following death threats, Levy and his dysfunctional family enter the federal witness protection program. They’re placed in the Atlanta home of Madea and her brother, Joe. Culture clash ensues.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN -- Andrew Garfield takes over for Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man and a new director, Marc Webb, replaces Sam Raimi, director of three previous Spider-Man films. The plot returns Peter Parker to high school, when he’s dealing with his first crush and investigating his biological parents’ disappearance. Peter’s search leads to Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), aka The Lizard. Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen and Sally Field co-star.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD -- A grand jury prize winner for drama at the Sundance Film Festival helmed by New Orleans-based director Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild tells a mythological story about a 6-year-old girl struggling to survive in a Louisiana bayou community beset by rising water triggered by climate change.
SAVAGES -- Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone directs a thriller about two friends who run a profitable marijuana-growing operation in Laguna Beach, Calif. The pair’s lives and livelihood are threatened when a Mexican drug cartel demands a cut. The all-star cast features Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, John Travolta, Benicio Del Toro, Salma Hayek, Emile Hirsch and Demian Bichir.
ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT -- Manny the mastodon, Sid the sloth and Diego the saber-toothed tiger are back for more computer-animated adventure. The voice cast features the returning Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary plus Alan Tudyk, Wanda Sykes and Jeremy Renner.
TED -- Mixing live action and computer-animation, this comedy features Mark Wahlberg as an adult who’s childhood teddy bear comes to life and refuses to ever leave his owner’s side again.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES -- Writer-director Christopher Nolan’s concluding film in his thus far hugely successful Batman trilogy rises to likely dominate the late summer box office. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Morgan Freeman star.
STEP UP REVOLUTION -- Kathryn McCormick’s aspiring professional dancer moves to Miami and meets Ryan Guzman’s leader of a group of flash-mob dancers called The Mob. While McCormick and Guzman are falling in love, ruthless real estate developers plot to demolish The Mob’s historic neighborhood.
THE BOURNE LEGACY -- Hoping to became a government operative, Jeremy Renner joins the same agency responsible for Jason Bourne. Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen and Albert Finney co-stars.
TOTAL RECALL -- Colin Farrell stars as a factory worker who, through the mind-altering services of a company called Rekall, gets his superspy dreams turned into realistic memories. But the procedure goes awry and Farrell goes on the run. Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel and Bill Nighy complete the principal cast.
THE CAMPAIGN -- Funny men Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis co-star as rival candidates in a North Carolina congressional district. With a pair of super-rich CEOs backing Galifianakis, campaign ethics go out the window in a storm of mudslinging. The supporting cast includes Jason Sudeikis, Baton Rouge native Katherine LaNasa, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd.
HOPE SPRINGS -- Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones lead the cast as a loving but no longer passionate couple. Streep persuades Jones to go to a retreat run by a famous couple’s therapist played by Steve Carell.
THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN -- Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton play a happy small-town couple that can’t wait to start a family. Timothy (C.J. Adams ) shows up on their doorstep on a stormy night. The supporting cast includes Dianne Wiest, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ron Livingston and M. Emmet Walsh.
THE EXPENDABLES 2 -- Returning as a band of old-school mercenaries, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Terry Crews are joined by new cast members Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Dame and Chinese actress Yu Nan in this sequel. Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger co-star.
SPARKLE -- Musical prodigy Sparkle and her sisters aspire to be singing stars during the Motown era. Jordin Sparks plays Sparkle and Whitney Houston, in her final film role, co-stars as her struggling single mother.
THE APPARITION -- Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan portray a young couple haunted by a malicious spirit accidentally summoned during a parapsychology experiment. Relentlessly pursued, they turn to an expert played by Tom Felton, but it may be too late.
PREMIUM RUSH -- Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrays the best bicycle messenger in New York City. But even he is challenged by a routine rush job that becomes a life or death chase through the streets of Manhattan.
THE POSSESSION -- A couple worries about Em, their youngest child, after she becomes obsessed with an antique wooden box. Em’s parents learn that the box may hold a dibbuk, a spirit that inhabits and ultimately consumes its human host. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Natasha Calis, Madison Davenport and rapper-singer Matisyahu star in a film written by LSU creative writing program grad graduate Juliet Snowden and her husband, Stiles White.