Hollywood has a big fat financial pillow to cushion any fall right now. What does that mean?
They’re going into the summer movie-going season in an extremely advantageous position with respect to box office revenue. Movie studios care about profit first, but with profits come records.
Right now, they are on track to legitimately break box office records with respect to revenue and, likely, admissions. Last year they set a mark for revenue, numbers that were aided by modest ticket price increases year over year. But with a 9.4 percent jump on last year as of last Sunday (April 27) they are in the money.
Three movies - The Lego Movie’s $252.8 million, $228.5 million from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which has a chance to supplant Lego and $140.2 million from Divergent – powered that lift.
Ten movies – including The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – have a chance to continue the studio’s winning streak. They’re not Oscar candidates, but they all, unless unforgivably, abysmally wretched, possess the ability to entertain. Fans can count on the usual – the latest entry in a series, such as Spider-Man, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – or a piece of raunchness (Sex Tape) and, what a shock, more films based on Marvel Comics properties (X-Men: Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy) to go with Spidey.
Oddly enough, however, two of the most interesting movies may be based on a Disney villain (Maleficent) and a comedic western – A Million Ways to Die in the West - that could be in the mold of the classic Mel Brooks film, Blazing Saddles.
'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2) – Columbia: It’s been two years since webheads have gotten to know director Marc Webb’s version of Peter Parker and The Amazing Spider-Man. As played by Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) he grows on you – really grows on you. While no one will make fans forget Sam Raimi’s initial adaptation, it wouldn’t be shocking to learn that just 12 years after its debut that edition, which also starred James Franco, has been relegated to a status not unlike Tim Burton’s original Batman flick. It’s a nostalgic kind of viewing.
Godzilla (May 16) – Warner Bros.: “History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of man,” Blue Oyster Cult sang in the 1980s. Someone was listening as this version of Godzilla, which is given added heft by the presence of Bryan Cranston, deals with nature and the arrogance of humans as the jolly green lizard awakens to vanquish out of control monsters who want to do little more than take a chomp out of assorted cities. Oh no, there goes Tokyo.
Jupiter Ascending (July 18) - Warner Bros.: Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis star in the Andy and Lana Wachowski’s latest effort. The sibs will try once again to resurrect careers that began with two brilliant films – Bound and The Matrix – with another sci-fi effort about a young woman who dreams of adventure on distant planets only to have that dream come through. The synopsis sounds simple, but anyone who follows watches Wachowski films knows these two revel in complex storytelling and interesting characters
'X-Men: Days of Future Past'
X-Men: Days of Future Past (May 23) – 20th Century Fox: Time travel rocks. For those who’ve not watched the trailer, just one suggestion – hurry to your computer, theater or your medium of choice. This is among three comic book films worth salivating over. Blending casts from X-Men: The First Class along with the original X-Men characters this one possesses an epic quality and appears to be emotionally resonant. Let’s hope it lives up to that assessment. Better still, Bryan Singer, the director behind the first X-Men movie, returns home to lead it all.
Maleficent (May 30) - Walt Disney Studios: Well everyone knows that evil step-monsters…errr…mothers always get their due. Right? Or are they truly misunderstood people? Angelina Jolie tries to answer that question as Maleficent the stepmom who doomed the baby Aurora to her beautiful and everlasting sleep in Sleeping Beauty. Jolie looks striking as the title character in the film where two-time Oscar-winner Peter Stromberg makes his directorial debut.
'A Million Ways to Die in the West'
A Million Ways to Die in the West (May 30) – Universal: Some of us will always be adolescent boys. How else can Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy) explain his unbelievable success? Usually his humor is sophomoric, vulgar and panders to the lowest common denominator (although he gets major props for bringing Cosmos back to network television) and he revels in it. He did the same with his theatrical directorial debut Ted. Now he gets to prove that was no fluke in this comedic western. Here’s guessing he’s going to go above and beyond the call of the fart jokes in Mel Brooks’ classic Blazing Saddles to generate his laughs.
Jersey Boys (June 20) – Warner Bros.: For anyone who remembered those UHF TV stations peddling the greatest hits of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on “two LP records (no cassettes, eight-track)” then at least the music of these New Jersey boys will sound familiar. How they came to be may not. Based on the very popular Broadway and touring musical (some of us like those), Clint Eastwood directs. If Eastwood treats it like the play, this has the potential to be extremely interesting and entertaining.
Sex Tape (July 25) – Columbia: The pairing worked once for Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher, so why not go for it again? As raunchy as that comedy was, this one will likely rival the raunchiest of the raunchy as the duo plays a couple that is particularly desperate to retrieve a sex tape they made that has come up missing. Mad props for fantastic stunt casting as Rob Lowe, the man who practically invented the celebrity sex tape, makes and appearance. Jake Kasden directs.
'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11) - 20th Century Fox: Will ape kill ape? It’s probably more of a case of apes having to worry about humans killing ape. Caesar (Andy Serkis), that super smart chip from Planet of the Apes returns in a story set eight years after the first film in the series’ reboot. Man’s been decimated by the virus released at the end of the first flick and Caesar has no trust and continues to build his ape army.
'Guardians of the Galaxy'
Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug. 1): Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Groot (Vin Diesel) are the unlikeliest superheroes to grace any planet. But they assemble in yet another Marvel property – one of four this summer along with Captain America: The Winter Soldier – adapted for the screen. This one is off the beaten path, which may not be such a bad thing.