The rest of this slow week, as the studios bask in their holiday releases and the networks very gradually emerge from hibernation, we’re going to take a look at what 2013 has in store for us at the movies.
Januaries are typically ugly for new releases, because the bulk of multiplex screens are still booked with their December bounty and Oscar hopefuls, and 2013 is unlikely to be an exception. The only wide opening of 2013′s first week is a 3D version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this time shorn of its multiple murder connotations (a post-Aurora, post-Newtown decision?) as the more streamlined Texas Chainsaw. It can join Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The New Generation, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 and the 2003 remake ( so long ago!) Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the mass grave. On January 11, the major arrival is Gangster Squad, and let’s just say this isn’t the movie for those longing for a return to the intelligence and sophistication of LA Confidential. Thinking of intelligence and sophistication, January 11 also brings the Marlon Wayans horror movie parody A Haunted House. January 18 features an interesting trio: the political thriller Broken City, with Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe (as the Mayor of New York–at least he doesn’t sing), and Catherine Zeta-Jones, along with the return to starring roles of Arnold Schwarzenegger (thinking of politics) in The Last Stand, and Mama. The latter would be easy to dismiss as another low-budget horror filler, except that it’s produced by Guillermo del Toro and stars the estimable (and possibly soon to be Oscar winning) Jessica Chastain, who doesn’t tend to waste her time on nonsense. The month ends with less ambition: January 25 arrivals Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 3D, already postponed from 2012, the sketch comedy Movie 43, with everyone from Emma Stone to Richard Gere to Kate Winslet making an off-color appearance, and Jason Statham’s action vehicle (what else?) Parker.
February has a few more spots of potential, although there’s plenty of dross in the month. The first week is livened (so to speak) by the very off-beat romantic charmer Warm Bodies, about a zombie (Nicholas Hoult) who falls for a human (Teresa Palmer). Also opening that day is the latest Stallone shoot-em-up Bullet to the Head as well as general release of the tepid Stand Up Guys, the Al Pacino/Christopher Walken comedy-drama that made a fruitless stab at awards interest with a 1-week run in December. February 8 offers what will apparently be Steven Soderbergh’s last theatrical film, at least for a while (he has one more coming to HBO), before he takes a long sabbatical: the thriller Side Effects, with Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum and Catherine-Zeta Jones. It shares the day with the Melissa McCarthy/Jason Bateman comedy Identity Thief, one of two high-profile comedies McCarthy has this year as she tries to extend her Bridesmaids breakout role to movie stardom. The long holiday weekend brings a crowded February 15: Beautiful Creatures will aim at the post-Twilight YA crowd (witches this time instead of vampires), Safe Haven goes for the older romance audience with yet another Nicholas Sparks adaptation, while A Good Day to Die Hard zeroes in on the exact opposite demo: Bruce Willis fans. February 22 is less promising, with the horror thriller Dark Skies and The Snitch starring The Rock.
The film year finally gets in gear in March, but not in its first week. March 1 features another special effects picture postponed from 2012, Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Slayer, along with the horror sequel The Last Exorcism 2 and comedy 21 and Over. Once those are done, March 8 gives us the year’s first “event” movie, Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great and Powerful, with James Franco as the would-be Wizard, and Rachel Weisz, Mila Kunis and Michelle Williams as various witches. Oz shares the day with the Tina Fey/Paul Rudd comedy Admission and the thriller Dead Man Down with Colin Farrell. March 15 presents (Note: the remake of Carrie, scheduled for this date, has been moved to Halloween season) the comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone with Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi and Olivia Wilde. The first big animated movie of the year is The Croods on March 22 (marking the start of DWA’s partnership with 20th), which is also the day for Olympus Has Fallen, the other White House invasion thriller (this one stars Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman–White House Down, with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, opens in June). March 29 shapes up as a dull day with the (also-postponed) G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The Host, which will attempt to find out if there’s a sizable audience for Stephenie Mayer stories that don’t feature fangs, and the latest from Tyler Perry,Temptations: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor. That day also includes the limited release of The Place Beyond the Pines, the accomplished but frustrating multi-generational saga featuring Ryan Gosling (and from his Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance) and Bradley Cooper.
But first, there’s April, a month where the studios tend to reserve their big guns for the larger crowds to come. The month kicks off on April 5 with The Heat, teaming Sandra Bullock with Melissa McCarthy in a cop buddy comedy that looks like an unofficial sequel to Miss Congeniality. The day also brings the latest 3D re-release of a classic, this time Jurassic Park. April 12 features two kinds of horror: the rebooted Evil Dead and the spoof Scary Movie 5, which is also essentially a reboot (and one The Weinstein Company sorely needs after the failure of Scream 4). Against those is the very earnest counterprogramming of 42, the story of Jackie Robinson’s first year in the big (and up until then segregated) leagues, timed for the start of baseball season. If you listen closely, you can hear the drums start beating for a Supporting Actor nomination for Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. On April 19, Tom Cruise tries once again to prove he’s a superstar in movies without Mission: Impossible in the title, this time in the big-budget sci-fi epic Oblivion. The pre-summer part of the year ends on April 26 with two movies appealing to very different demos: Michael Bay’s battle of the biceps thriller Pain and Gain, with Mark Wahlberg and The Rock, pitted against the postponed-from-2012 chick flick ensemble The Big Wedding, toplining Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl and Amanda Seyfried. Longterm relationships will fall asunder depending on the choices made at the multiplexes that weekend.
And then… summer! At least as Hollywood calculates it, which is starting on May 3 with the opening of Iron Man 3, a franchise so big it gets the wide-release weekend to itself. On May 10, the gentle time travel fantasy About Time, with no star power to speak of (Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams), is scheduled to open against Baz Luhrman’s epic 3D version of The Great Gatsby, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire. The latter may not be a good movie–the trailers are fairly dire–but it’s sure to suck all the oxygen out of the weekend, so Universal may want to think twice. Tyler Perry’s We the Peeples will, as usual, appeal to its own sizable demographic niche. May 17 belongs to another benemoth: Star Trek: Into Darkness. On May 24, Memorial Day weekend brings 3 contenders: animated Epic and two big sequels, Fast and Furious 6 and The Hangover Part III. Somewhat oddly, the only opening currently scheduled for May 31 is the low-budget thriller The Purge with Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey.
We get to the meat of summer with June. The corporate empire that is Will Smith stars (with his son) in the sci-fi spectacular After Earth on June 7, competing with the Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy The Internship and the magician caper movie Now You See Me, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo. June 14 is largely handed over to the gigantic (maybe?) Superman reboot Man of Steel, which its studio desperately hopes will compensate for the end of the Dark Knight series. It’s being modestly counterprogrammed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s directing debut, the doomsday comedy This Is the End. June 21 stars monsters and zombies, with the prequel Monster University and the Brad Pitt thriller World War Z. A footnote on the latter: Paramount is already running commercials for it on ESPN and other networks 6 months in advance, and one can easily imagine a pricey Super Bowl spot in its future–at that rate, its marketing costs in the US alone could easily hit $75-100M, on top of a huge production budget. So good luck, Paramount! The month and quarter end on June 28 with White House Down, the year’s 2d and more deluxe White House invasion, courtesy of director Roland Emmerich and stars Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Grappling with it is Kick Ass 2, rather surprisingly given such a prominent opening date considering that the original didn’t even make $50M at the boxoffice.