Happy New Year:
After setting a $10.8 million box office record for 2012, Hollywood's starting the New Year with high hopes.
As great as 2012 was, looking ahead to 2013 there's good cause for optimism that ticket sales could be even higher because there's even more high profile product in Hollywood's pipeline. With so many new blockbuster franchise episodes on tap, the multiplexes could be sizzling throughout the year.
Here's a month-by-month overview of some upcoming films that seem likely to draw crowds. As always, there will be surprise hits and disappointments--and some release dates are bound to change. But as we say goodbye to 2012 and greet the New Year, there's a lot on the horizon to look forward to, including a few films that were supposed to open last year but were moved ahead to 2013, including the romantic drama The Great Gatsby
and the action adventure G.I. Joe: Retaliation
January's box office always benefits when there are holdover hits from the holiday season. This time around, December hits include The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
, Les Miserables
and Django Unchained
. And when Oscar nominations are announced Jan. 10, both Les Mis
are expected to receive numerous nods, which should help drive their ticket sales in coming weeks.
But January will also bring some new releases that are a good bet to attract moviegoers' attention. The R-rated action crime thriller Gangster Squad
opens Jan. 11. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, it stars Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone and Sean Penn as Mickey Cohen in a story about the LAPD's fight to keep East Coast mobsters out of Los Angeles in the 1940s and '50s. It's tracking best with under-25 males.
Jan. 18 is opening day for the R-rated action crime thriller The Last Stand
. Directed by Jee-woon Kim, it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger in his return to the screen after spending years in politics as governor of California.
Schwarzenegger plays Sheriff Ray Owens, who's left his LAPD narcotics post after a bungled operation and started a new life fighting what little crime there is in a sleepy border town. Everything changes when a notorious drug king (Eduardo Noriego) turns up and must be stopped before slipping across the border.
The 3D action horror thriller Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
opens Jan. 25. Directed by Tommy Wirkola, it stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as siblings Hansel and Gretel. After getting a taste for blood as children, they've become the ultimate vigilantes. But now they're being hunted, themselves, and face an evil far greater than witches--their own past.
Valentine's Day will bring heart-pounding action to the multiplexes with the action thriller A Good Day to Die Hard
. Directed by John Moore, it stars Bruce Willis in this latest Die Hard
franchise episode. Willis starred in the series' first four episodes, which together took in about $435 million in domestic theatres. The last episode, Live Free or Die Hard
, opened June 27, 2007 to $33.4 million and went on to do $134.5 million domestically.
The action adventure G.I. Joe: Retaliation
was originally set to open last summer, but was bumped ahead to this Mar. 29. Paramount was smart not to go into last summer's over crowded marketplace with so many competing popcorn pictures. In late March there aren't as many choices for action fans and Retaliation
should benefit from that.
Directed by Jon M. Chu, it stars Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson and Ray Park. Tatum and Park starred in the 2009 original G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Johnson
is new to the sequel as is Bruce Willis.
The sci-fi action adventure Oblivion
opens in limited release Apr. 12 and goes wide Apr. 19. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, it stars Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman and Andrea Riseborough.
's futuristic story revolves around Jack Harper (Cruise), a drone repairman working on the Earth's surface 60 years after the planet's been scarred horribly by an invasion in 2017 by an alien force called the Scavs. While Earth won the war, the planet was devastated and humanity's been driven underground. Finding a crashed spacecraft puts Harper's beliefs about the war into question and could put mankind's fate in his hands. The film's intriguing tagline tells us, Earth is a memory worth fighting for.
An indication of how big a movie Universal is hoping it has on its hands is that it's already taken the unusual step of releasing an impressive 12-minute trailer for Oblivion
featuring a commentary soundtrack with Kosinski discussing it as directors do in DVD commentaries.
May launches the pre-summer season and typically brings moviegoers some big high profile films that are a great prelude to the summer.
This year's pre-summer kicks off May 3 with the sci-fi action adventure Iron Man 3
. Directed by Shayne Black, it stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Guy Pearce and Gwyneth Paltrow. Downey and Paltrow starred in the original Iron Man
(2008) and its sequel Iron Man 2
(2010). The franchise's first two episodes grossed nearly $631 million in domestic theatres and expectations are that the latest episode will maintain the series' box office strength.
The romantic drama The Great Gatsby
, directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo Di Caprio, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton, is based on the classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
was to have opened last Christmas Day, but was moved ahead to May 10. That took it out of a holiday season filled with other strong adult appeal product like Les Mis
and Django Unchained
and put it into the pre-summer where it will have adult audiences to itself.
The Hangover 3
, meanwhile, opens May 24. Directed by Todd Phillips, it stars Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms, who starred in the series' first two blockbuster episodes. Those episodes grossed nearly $532 million domestically and expectations are that with a built-in audience waiting for more of the same the new film should keep the momentum going.
The Superman franchise reboot Man of Steel
opens June 14. Directed by Zack Snyder, the 3D action adventure stars Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Russell Crowe as Jor-El.
The franchise's first five titles, released from 1978 through 2006, grossed over $518 million in domestic theatres. Warners Bros. will be hoping for the same re-booting success with Superman
that Columbia and Marvel Studios enjoyed last summer with The Amazing Spider-Man
, in which Andrew Garfield replaced Tobey Maguire as Spidey/Peter Parker and Marc Webb replaced Sam Raimi as director. Amazing
grossed $262 million domestically and placed sixth on 2012's list of biggest box office hits.
Igniting box office fireworks this July Fourth weekend will be the action adventure western The Lone Ranger
. Based on the classic 1930s radio series and 1950s TV show, it is directed by Gore Verbinski and stars Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as John Reid/The Lone Ranger.
rides into theatres July 3, it will have high awareness going for it plus Depp's star power as well as one of the year's top grossing holiday weekends to attract moviegoers.
Sci-fi action will be back in the multiplexes with the Aug. 3 launch of Elysium
. Directed by Neil Blomkamp, it stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.
is set in 2159 when there are two classes of people--the very wealthy, who live on a pristine man-made space station called Elysium, and the rest, who live on an overpopulated, ruined Earth.
Foster plays Secretary Rhodes, a government official, who will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve Elysium's luxurious lifestyle. But that doesn't stop the people of Earth from trying to get in by any means possible. Damon plays Max, who takes on a challenging mission that could save his life and could also bring equality to the two polarized worlds.
Moviegoing families can look forward to the Sept. 27 opening of the 3D animated comedy Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers
. It's the second episode in the franchise that began with 2009's Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Directed by Cody Cameron and first time feature director Kris Pearn, the new episode stars the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Farris and Will Forte. The original Cloudy
opened Sept. 18, 2009 to $30.3 million and ended up grossing $124.9 million domestically.
The low budget R-rated blockbuster horror thriller franchise Paranormal Activity
will be back in action just in time for Halloween with the Oct. 25 launch of Paranormal Activity 5
The first four Paranormal
episodes, released from 2009 through 2012, grossed over $350 million domestically. Having been made on shoestring budgets, they were enormously profitable for Paramount. Even without any details available this early about the fifth franchise episode, it seems a safe bet that Paranormal
fans will turn up to be scared once again.
Another box office contender will be the 3D fantasy action adventure Thor: The Dark World
, in theaters Nov. 8.
Directed by Alan Taylor, it stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Christopher Eccleston. In this sequel to the 2011 blockbuster Thor
, in which Hemsworth and Portman starred, Hemsworth as Thor battles an ancient race of Dark Elves led by the vengeful Malekith (Eccleston), who threatens to plunge the universe back into darkness after the events of The Avengers
The original Thor
opened May 6, 2011 to $65.7 million and went on to gross $181 million domestically. Avengers
opened May 4, 2012 to $207.4 million and ended up with $623.4 million domestically, making it 2012's top grossing film.
Also on tap for November is Lionsgate's next episode in The Hunger Games
franchise, which was last year's third biggest grossing film with $408 million. The new episode, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
, opening Nov. 22, is directed by Francis Lawrence and stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, who starred in the first film. The Hunger films are based on the trilogy of best selling novels by Suzanne Collins.
Dec. 13 will see the arrival of the second episode in The Hobbit
3D fantasy adventure trilogy.
Directed by Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
once again stars Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug/The Necromancer and Andy Serkis as Gollum.
The first Hobbit
episode opened Dec. 14 to $84.6 million and has already taken in nearly $223 million in domestic theatres, making it 2012's eighth biggest grossing film.
With so much strong product opening in 2013 and with the next Hobbit
likely to provide a year-end boxoffice jolt, Hollywood could have another great year to celebrate when it rings in 2014.
Meanwhile, a very happy and healthy 2013 to all!