After a strong year in cinema, all eyes are now toward 2011 and its slate of box office contenders. One trend visible right off the bat is the abundance of sequels, but instead of focusing on franchises you already know, this list will look at the most anticipated new movies that could eventually spawn a follow-up or two of their own.
COWBOYS & ALIENS
Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell,
Adam Beach, Keith Carradine & Abigail Spencer
Directed by Jon Favreau for distribution by Universal Studios
The Plot: A stranger (Craig) with no memory of his past winds up in a small desert town ran by a dictator (Ford), only to find he’s being tracked by a group of aliens that may hold the key to his past.
The Final Word: The Western genre has seen it all…except for this! While stories set in the Wild West have been around for a while, I can’t think of many that involve aliens. Director Jon Favreau will lead an all-star cast into uncharted territory this summer and could walk away with another hit under his belt.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgard,
Robin Wright, Max von Sydow & Christopher Plummer
Directed by David Fincher for distribution by Sony
The Plot: A young hacker (Mara) gets involved in the long unsolved case of a missing heiress and promptly stirs up trouble.
The Final Word: This is the first book in the American adaptation of the “Millennium Series” trilogy by the late author Stieg Larsson. Already a foreign success, Sony quickly jumped at the chance to bring this popular book series to screens in the USA.
GNOMEO & JULIET
Starring: (voices) James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Jason Statham,
Maggie Smith, Ashley Jensen, Patrick Stewart, Ashley Jensen & Ozzy Osbourne.
Directed by Kelly Asbury for distribution by Touchstone.
The Plot: The classic tale of Romeo & Juliet re-invented with garden gnomes.
The Final Word: Seriously despite the way it sounds; don’t brush this movie off just yet. Yes it sounds a little out there, but with music legend Elton John as the driving force behind it and a who’s who of A-listers lending their voices, the movie deserves a chance. Even more intriguing is that John’s songbook will be front and center throughout the movie, along with a few new originals.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong,
Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins & Jon Tenny
Directed by Martin Campbell for distribution by Warner Brothers
The Plot: A gifted but cocky test pilot (Reynolds) is entrusted with a ring which gives the person who wields it unlimited powers.
The Final Word: While Marvel and Paramount have had great success with the superhero genre, Warner Brothers has not has as much luck. Yes, they’ve had great success with the “Batman” revamps, but Marvel has upped the ante by unveiling a full slate of movies all leading up to the multi-hero action film “The Avengers.” In order to counter, the WB has really put a lot effort (and money) into making “Green Lantern” a franchise, which it hopes will pave the way for other adaptations. With a talented director, an rising star in the title role and a strong fanbase supporting them, the odds are in their favor.
Starring: (voices of) Russell Brand, James Marsden, Kaley Cuoco
Elizabeth Perkins & Hugh Laurie
Directed by Tim Hill for distribution by Universal Studios
The Plot: A out of work slacker (Marsden) accidentally injures the Easter Bunny (Brand) and must take him in while he recovers.
The Final Word: From the people behind last summer’s surprise hit “Despicable Me” comes this new animated film. Based on the teaser trailer alone, Universal looks like it was able to duplicate the early appeal that made “Despicable Me” popular with the masses prior to its debut. Throw in an Easter theme and the always enthusiast Brand and this could be another success.
THOR & CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins,
Rene Russo, Stellan Skarsgard, Jaimie Alexander, Kat Dennings,
Idris Elba, Clark Gregg & Colm Feore
Directed by Kenneth Branagh for distribution by
The Plot: Cast down from the heavens by his father (Hopkins), the warrior Thor (Hemsworth) must adjust to life on Earth, but soon finds his past coming back to haunt him with an old enemy re-emerges bent on world domination.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
Starring: Chris Evans, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving, Samuel L. Jackson,
Dominic Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones,
Tucci & Neil McDonough Stanley
Directed by Joe Johnston for distribution by
The Plot: After volunteering for a secret government experiment, Steve Rogers (Evans) becomes a super solider known as “Captain America.”
The Final Word: Fans of Marvel’s iconic superheroes are in for a double feature this summer as both Thor and Captain America will make their long awaited premieres. The mighty Thor will bow in May, while “The First Avenger” Captain America will arrive almost two months later. Both are expected to ride the success that “Iron Man” had in both 2008 & 2010, but the question can also be asked if this too much too fast. While “Iron Man” was a huge box office winner, “The Incredible Hulk” only had a fraction of the success. Granted Edward Norton, who will be replaced in 2012’s “The Avengers” movie, was partially blamed for “Hulk’s” less than incredible cume, the overall brand revival has so far mostly been built around Robert Downey Jr.’s ability to sell a movie. This pair of movies will be the first true test of the Marvel viability as two relative unknowns are being given the reins with a strong arsenal of “A” listers supporting them.
Starring: Jason Segal, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper,
Kermit The Frog, Miss Piggy & Fozzie Bear.
Directed by James Bobin for distribution by Walt Disney Pictures
The Plot: After an evil oil tycoon (Cooper) makes plans to destroy the legendary Muppet Theatre, the Muppet’s biggest fan Wally teams with his friends Gary (Segal) and Mary (Adams) to reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways.
The Final Word: Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and all their friends haven’t been on the big screen since 1999’s “Muppets In Space.” After over a decade on hiatus, the iconic characters are coming back courtesy of Disney and Jason Segal, who along with Nicolas Stoller wrote the screenplay. Segal, a longtime fan, has also recruited a number of top Hollywood heavyweights such as Billy Crystal, Ricky Gervais and Jack Black and to join the fun.
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara,
Hank Azaria, Anton Yelchin, Jonathan Winters,
Katy Perry, Alan Cumming & George Lopez
Directed by Raja Gosnell for distribution by Columbia Pictures (Sony)
The Plot: Chased out of their land by the evil Gargamel (Azaria), the Smurfs suddenly finds themselves in New York City where they cross paths with an expectant couple (Harris, Mays) who decide to help them out.
The Final Word: Similar to “Alvin & The Chipmunks” and “Yogi Bear,” the iconic blue “Smurfs” are about to get the big screen treatment. After years of road blocks, it now appears all systems are go for Papa Smurf and all his friends to made their to the silver screen (and of course) in 3D.
Starring: Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish,
Directed by Zach Snyder for distribution by Warner Brothers
The Plot: A young girl (Browning) locked away against her will teams up with her fellow captives to fight against the evil forces surrounding them.
The Final Word: Similar to Snyder’s other films this one can’t be described in just words. The movie, which is no doubt meant to be seen in IMAX, is very similar in style to the cult film “Sin City.” It also can be summed up very succinctly; beautiful women battling darkness. Sold!
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Ron Eldard & Noah Emmerich
Directed by: J.J Abrams for distribution by
The Plot: Yeah, like J.J. Abrams is going tip his hat this soon…
The Final Word: In 2008, J.J. Abrams unveiled “Cloverfield,” a sci-fi/disaster /monster movie that took in $46 million, almost twice what it cost to produce. After that kind of massive success with nothing more than a grassroots PR campaign, it is no surprise Paramount was willing to hand over the keys to the kingdom one more time with little questions asked. So far all that has been released about the movie is the cast and the above teaser trailer. Get comfortable readers, it may be awhile until we get any more info.