Winter’s Tale
Worst Case Scenario: Winter’s Tale is the directorial debut of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, one of the biggest hacks in the business, and consequently one of the most handsomely paid. Goldsman wears the Academy Award Winner tag in the trailer for having written A Beautiful Mind, which loaded the story of mathematician John Nash with b.s. that included an imaginary friend and action-movie spy theatrics, because the real story of Nash the philandering bisexual Anti-Semite wasn’t interesting enough (seriously, could we see THAT movie?). Goldsman has proceeded to become a producer, teaming with Will Smith for the dubious Hancock and I am Legend, screenplays which he briefly fiddled with. He’s also the guy who earned the highest paycheck ever given to a screenwriter. It was $4 million to adapt Angels And Demons, a book that already reads like a scriptment from a particularly untroubled mind. Not surprisingly, the final credit for that screenplay went to someone else entirely. And lest you geeks forget, its Goldsman’s name in the credits as the writer for Batman And Robin, a movie that nearly sent human civilization back to the stone age, purely out of embarrassment. Seeing Goldsman’s name attached to a movie is very much like catching a late expiration date on food while shopping: just put it back and walk away, and maybe warn someone else.

Best Case Scenario: The source material for this film is pretty loopy stuff, and it’s been in development for years, garnering the attention of several A-List talents (how they landed on the Box Office Poison duo of Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe is a mystery). This is a story that involves genuine romance, elaborate time travel, and distant futures. There’s a very good chance that the 75-member Cloud Atlas cult is going to be all over it.

Release Date: February 14

Dracula Untold
Worst Case Scenario: It seems as if there’s no part of the Dracula mythos that has gone Untold, but clunky grammar aside, we’ll accept the title. And we’ll accept Luke Evans in the lead, even though there’s a reason the dull thespian remains largely anonymous to moviegoers despite popping up in Furious 6 and The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. But most of the worry comes from neophyte director Gary Shore in the director’s chair. The studios are making more and more risk-averse tentpoles, alienating scads of talented big budget filmmakers who would rather not be a cog in a machine, at least not for a low price. That’s led to a rise in completely inexperienced effects wizards getting the sudden call to the big leagues, entrusted with massive budgets the first time out. Joseph Kosinski has already made two largely forgettable, overly expensive blockbusters in Tron: Legacy and Oblivion (the latter, admittedly, based on his own pitch). Rupert Sanders and Carl Rinsch have followed, with both of their films (Snow White And The Huntsman, 47 Ronin) being expensive efforts that raised approximately zero temperatures. Shore, who leaked a memorable animatics presentation online that almost got him the job helming The Wolverine, might just be another lamb to the slaughter, a yes-man making his debut on a dubious project that people like Kathryn Bigelow, Joe Cornish and Nicolas Winding Refn would’ve turned down.

Best Case Scenario: Shore’s shorts have displayed a unique visual scheme one that, should it survive the transition to the big screen, would give Dracula Untold a distinct flavor you wouldn’t expect from another studio blockbuster. There’s a chance footage of this one will surface early, and it will either be a game-changer, or another Bunraku.

Release Date: October 17

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