|2013's number one. So far.|
Disney's Marvel has once again gone to the well that is Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man and pulled another plus billion dollar ($1.2b at last count) hit from their 2009 acquisition of Marvel and its bursting vault of intellectual property.
Fast & Furious 6 proved that audiences still love a thrill ride, with the latest in that franchise already crossing $600 million since its late May release.
And though the Man of Steel has a hard time saying the word "super", his studio doesn't (and neither does his new director). The highly anticipated reboot of Superman broke the all time record for a June weekend release (beating out 2010's Toy Story 3 opening) and just two days later, has already soared past $150 million.
I know what you're thinking - so what's next? And right on cue, here's what studios and independents have in store for you throughout the popcorn days and nights of summer.
The wide-release pick: The Lone Ranger. (Disney, 7/3)
Disney's hoping to rule Summer as they've ruled Spring. And if you work for anyone making movies other than the house that Mickey built, you're about to be reminded that Robert Downey, Jr. was the sequel to Johnny Depp. The really bad news is that Depp's wearing feathers instead of dreadlocks this time out - which means that if The Lone Ranger succeeds, Disney's just launched a new Johnny Depp franchise. Success isn't even in question here, only how big is big. The Lone Ranger opens wide on July 4th weekend.
Competing for your attention:
Lots of wide releases will be fighting for ticket sales, but none with bigger robots than director Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (scheduled for release on July 12th, Moviedozer past posts here, here and here.) Pacific Rim promises to be everything you ever dreamed a summer movie should be if you were ever a nine year old obsessed with comic books and monster toys. And if you're that nine year old now, or a parent of one - Universal's second outing with the minions of Despicable Me fame (cleverly titled Despicable Me 2, and scheduled for a July 3rd release), is lined up to give Disney a run for the animated summer crown.
Limited releases have to work hard to grab summer screen space but July will be offering at least three releases that appear to be worth expending some effort to find. In order of their releases, you might want to watch for: The Way Way Back (7/5), written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash and showcasing standout performances by Sam Rockwell and its young star Liam James, against a very impressive ensemble cast; Girl Most Likely (7/19), starring Kristen Wiig, Matt Dillon and Annette Bening; and Blue Jasmine (7/26), written and directed by Woody Allen with a cast that includes Alec Baldwin, Cate Blanchett, Peter Sarsgaard and Louis C.K..
August's Best Bets
The wide-release pick: Elysium. (Sony, 8/9)
Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp who also wrote and directed 2009's surprise hit District 9, Elysium stands out as August's big action sic-fi adventure. Though by the time of its release some will have likely had their fill of big action adventurers, in or out of space. For those of you game, this one offers both Matt Damon and Jodi Foster to head up the cast and plays on Blomkamp's now familiar looks of a beaten down, abandoned planet. In this case the haves have left the have nots for a space based utopia called Elysium - where trouble, ultimately, will follow.
Competing for your attention:
Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg team up, a week before Elysium opens, for a "who's the cops - who's the robbers caper called 2 Guns (8/2) that plays the buddy pic for both action and laughs. Wahlberg's comic timing is its own force to be reckoned with, while the plot holds the promise of enough twists to keep things from getting ordinary. You'll have to wait until the end of the month to catch Closed Circuit (8/28), an international terrorist chase set in London starring Eric Bana, Julia Stiles, Rebecca Hall, Ciarán Hinds and Jim Broadbent.
There's lots more in store for summer's later half. For comedy you can check out We're the Millers (8/9) with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, Kick-Ass 2 (8/16) with Chloë Grace Moretz's return as Hit Girl, this time accompanied by Jim Carrey, and The World's End (8/23) which proves to Martin Freeman, Simon Pegg and friends, that reliving the old days can be more challenging then one may imagine.
Also of interest in August is Paranoia (8/16) where hi-tech collides with high stakes corporate spying in the companies of Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman. Nicholas Cage finds himself chasing down John Cusack across The Frozen Ground (8/23) and writer/director Brain De Palma returns to the big screen directing Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace in Passion (8/30).
September's Best Bets
The wide-release pick: Rush. (Universal, 9/20)
What better thing to do on the very last weekend of summer than to bask in the roar of vintage Formula One cars in Ron Howard's latest directorial effort. The true-life story of the legendary 1970's racing rivalry between F1 poster boy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and racing purist Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) is said to have been so realistically filmed that director Howard counts it as his most stressful film project to date. The results should bring a much needed jolt to racing as a sport and may influence lots of American sports fans to embrace F1's new found presence in American auto racing.
Competing for your attention:
The stereotype of "ugly Americans" in Europe gets a boost when a mob family gets witness protection tickets for a relocation to France in The Family (9/13). Starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones, The Family is directed and co-written by Moviedozer favorite Luc Besson.
Justin Timberlake goes off looking to get a return on a bad bet and winds up in front of Ben Affleck in Runner, Runner (9/27). Set in the world of online gambling's mecca, Costa Rica, there's some on screen chemistry between the stars and enough plot intrigue to pull you into a late summer cineplex, with Affleck returning to his slick, polished whatever-it-takes-to-win persona that feels like a welcome throwback to films like Boiler Room and Changing Lanes.
Also of note in September is Vin Diesel's return as the bad-ass who can see in the dark in Riddick (9/6) and Danny Trejo's return as the bad-ass who's name is his weapon in Machete Kills (9/13). Machete Kills surrounds Trejo with an enormous cast of known names including Amber Heard, Michelle Rodriguez, Mel Gibson, Jessica Alba, Charlie Sheen (billed here as Carlos Estevez), Sofia Vergara, Vanessa Hudgens, Antonio Banderas, Cuba Gooding Jr., Edward James Olmos and, wait for it... Lady Gaga.
And just for a touch of nostalgia, you may want to watch for a special 75th anniversary engagement of the original Wizard of Oz, remastered and slated to come to IMAX theaters in 3D on September 20th.
Release information from IMDb.com and the-numbers.com. Poster art curtesy of their studios. Release dates are based on North American distribution.