More recyled movies
‘Dark Knight,’ ‘Spidey,’ ‘Hobbit’ lead 2012 films
LOS ANGELES — Hollywood is respecting the environment and recycling — again.
The prospect of a few dozen sequels, prequels, remakes and assorted other reworkings of familiar tales might sound tiresome until you look over the guest list studios have lined up.
More Batman with The Dark Knight Rises. More Peter Parker with The Amazing Spider-Man. More short guys on a quest with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. More vamps and werewolves with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2. More cool sunglasses with Men in Black 3. More Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Incredible Hulk with The Avengers. More prehistoric pals with Ice Age: Continental Drift. More traveling zoo animals with Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. There’s even more Curly, Larry and Moe with The Three Stooges.
Add in three action flicks based on classic fairy tales and four 3-D reissues of major blockbusters, and this year might make good on Hollywood’s aim to lure back audiences after movie attendance last year dipped to its lowest since 1995.
Here’s a look at the year’s coming attractions:
Nicolas Cage provides a winter warm-up with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Feb. 17), returning as the bounty hunter from hell on a mission to rescue a child from the devil.
The heavy-hitters arrive this summer. First up is The Avengers (May 4), teaming Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye.
Next comes The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3), with Andrew Garfield taking over as Peter Parker in director Marc Webb’s new take on how a mutant spider bite turns the gangly teen into the web-slinging hero.
Then, Christian Bale returns as Batman in The Dark Knight Rises (July 20), director Christopher Nolan’s third and final tale of the wealthy vigilante with all the cool gadgets. Anne Hathaway joins the cast as Catwoman.
We’ve had dueling asteroid flicks and dueling Truman Capote biopics. Why not dueling Snow Whites?
Julia Roberts is the wicked queen to Lily Collins’ Snow White in Mirror Mirror (March 16), with the banished heroine raised by dwarfish rogues and leading a battle against the mean old monarch.
Twilight star Kristen Stewart is the warrior princess in Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1), trained by a rugged hunk (Thor star Hemsworth) to wage war against her own wicked queen (Charlize Theron).
A magic beanstalk unleashes an army of super-sized warriors in Jack the Giant Killer (June 15), starring Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane and Ewan McGregor.
PLAY IT AGAIN, IN 3-D:
George Lucas begins his sci-fi saga all over, in 3-D, with Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace (Feb. 10), the first of his six space epics converted to three dimensions.
James Cameron gives the same treatment to Titanic (April 6), whose 3-D version coincides with the 100th anniversary of the luxury liner’s sinking.
Disney follows the success of The Lion King in 3-D by adding an extra dimension for reissues of Beauty and the Beast (now showing) and the Pixar Animation blockbuster Finding Nemo (Sept. 14).
Also in 3-D is the latest from Pixar, Brave (June 15), an action adventure set in mystical Scotland with a voice cast that includes Kelly MacDonald and Emma Thompson.
Among other family flicks: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (June 8), reuniting the zoo animals voiced by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith; Ice Age: Continental Drift (July 13), with Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary back to voice the threesome of prehistoric buddies; Dr. Seuss’ the Lorax (March 2), with Danny DeVito as the voice of a grumpy forest creature; The Pirates! Band of Misfits (March 30), with Hugh Grant and Salma Hayek voicing rival buccaneers; Tim Burton‘s Frankenweenie (Oct. 5), featuring the voices of Winona Ryder and Martin Short in the story of a boy who pulls a Frankenstein to bring back his dead dog; and the summer vacation sequel Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (Aug. 3).
It’s a new beginning for Middle-earth and twilight time for Bella Swan.
The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson returns to J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy realm with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec. 14) the first in his two-part prequel chronicling how Bilbo Baggins came to possess that pesky evil ring.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 (Nov. 16) picks up where we left off in Stephenie Meyer’s supernatural romance — with Bella (Kristen Stewart) newly changed into a vampire, while her bloodsucking hubby (Robert Pattinson) and his werewolf rival (Taylor Lautner) aim to defend her against a world of evil.
Unlike the romance-heavy Breaking Dawn — Part 1, the finale is filled with action and battles.
Other creature features: Dark Shadows (May 11), with Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter in director Burton’s take on the vampire TV soap opera; Prometheus (June 8), Ridley Scott’s return to his Alien sci-fi world with a space adventure starring Theron, Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender; Wrath of the Titans (March 30), with Clash of the Titans stars Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson in another battle among Greek gods and heroes; Underworld: Awakening (Jan. 20), with Kate Beckinsale returning to her vampire-werewolf franchise; Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22), featuring the president (Benjamin Walker) emancipating the world from bloodsuckers; World War Z (Dec. 21), starring Brad Pitt in the story of a worldwide zombie outbreak.
TIME FOR ACTION:
Will Smith’s Agent J travels back in time to save his partner, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), in Men in Black 3 (May 25), which reunites both actors with director Barry Sonnenfeld and nicely casts Josh Brolin as the young Agent K.
Other sequels, updates and spinoffs include: Total Recall (Aug. 3), with Colin Farrell as a blue-collar guy who learns he might be a deadly super-agent with falsified memories; Dwayne Johnson and Channing Tatum in G.I. Joe: Retaliation (June 29), the commando sequel inspired by the line of toy soldiers; Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Feb. 10), with Johnson and Michael Caine in a modern Jules Verne twist that follows 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth; 21 Jump Street (March 16), with Tatum and Jonah Hill in a new take on the TV show about undercover cops at a high school; The Bourne Legacy (Aug. 3), with Avengers co-star Renner as a new agent caught up in the fallout from the earlier films; Taken 2 (Oct. 5), with Neeson going after more bad guys that threaten his family; 47 Ronin (Nov. 21), a remake of the Japanese classic, with Keanu Reeves joining a band of samurai avenging the death of their master; and The Expendables 2 (Aug. 17), reuniting Sylvester Stallone and his all-star action crew on another mission gone wrong.
Not everything on the action front is a sequel or remake. With Harry Potter done and Twilight nearing its end, a new youthful literary series debuts in The Hunger Games (March 23), with Jennifer Lawrence among teens fighting to the death in a televised bloodbath in post-apocalyptic North America.
Among other new action entries: John Carter (March 9), with Taylor Kitsch as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ beefy Mars hero; Battleship (May 18), featuring Kitsch, Neeson and pop star Rihanna in a naval adventure based on the Hasbro game; Contraband (Jan. 13), starring Mark Wahlberg as an ex-smuggler forced back into his old business; Safe House (now showing), with Denzel Washington as a renegade agent and Ryan Reynolds as a CIA guy on the run from mercenaries, and Bullet to the Head (April 13), with Stallone as a cop chasing his partner’s killer.
The knuckleheads are back. Directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly revive Curly (Will Sasso), Larry (Sean Hayes) and Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos) in The Three Stooges (April 13), with the dimwits bumbling to stardom on a TV reality show.
Also among comedy highlights: American Reunion (April 6), reteaming the American Pie gang for a high school reunion; The Dictator (May 11), with Sacha Baron Cohen oppressing the masses as a Third World tyrant; Wanderlust (Feb. 24), starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd as Manhattanites on hiatus from urban life; This Is 40 (Dec. 21), Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up offshoot, with Rudd and Leslie Mann reprising their roles as troubled marrieds; I Hate You Dad (June 15), starring Adam Sandler as a bad father trying to make amends; The Five-Year Engagement (April 27), featuring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt on a marathon road to marriage; “Jeff Who Lives at Home” (March 16), starring Segel as a man-child helping his married brother (Ed Helms); This Means War (Feb. 17), starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy in an action comedy about CIA pals who fall for the same woman; Neighborhood Watch (July 27), with Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn as suburbanites battling alien invaders, and Parental Guidance (Nov. 21), starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler as a couple enlisted to help their daughter (Marisa Tomei) with their grandkids.
While studios will add more sober dramas to their late-year lineups for Academy Awards consideration, some heavy-duty stories already are on the schedule: The Great Gatsby (Dec. 25) stars Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic about 1920s blue-bloods; Won’t Back Down (March 30) casts Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal as mothers aiming to salvage their kids’ inner-city school; and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (December) has Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th president.
Spielberg has spent more than a decade preparing for his Abraham Lincoln chronicle and settling on the right actor.