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It's been a strange year for movies, filled with a lot of disappointment. Iron Man 2 was good, but not as good as we all hoped it would be. Nobody seems to be showing up to see geek movies, even when they're really good, which is not nearly often enough. There's still hasn't been anything released this year as funny as The Hangover . The few movies that have worked, have really worked, and I have a feeling we'll be talking about those films for years to come, but it's hard not to notice that outside of the all too rare How to Train Your Dragon success story, nothing in Hollywood this year has quite gone as everyone had hoped.
Will the year keep going the way it's been and end up in a ditch somewhere with Robert DeNiro and his brood of Fockers or will the jam packed fall season build on the things which have worked to turn things taround? I'd like to believe the latter, and as the fall movie season approaches there are a few patterns starting to take shape which might point the way towards a better time at the box office. Plan your end of year movie viewing by monitoring these trends to see where Hollywood's headed next. Here's what's headed your way this fall as Hollywood follows the 2010 pattern.
In the midst of one of the most dismally disappointing summers in recent memory Karate Kid turned out to be one of the few bright spots. A remake which had no business being made, and had even less business being good, against all odds turned out to be actually better than good. It's my hope that this was the beginning of a trend because Fall's filled with more remakes which have no business being done. Yet even though they have no right to exist, all have huge potential to be, well, pretty good. Best of the bunch is the Coen brothers' redo of True Grit, in which they've enlisted Jeff Bridges to play Rooster Cogburn, the character which won John Wayne his Oscar. The Coens doing a Western, any Western sounds good. But particularly this Western seems suited to their talents and the script, well it's really good. Then there's Let Me In, a remake of the much loved Swedish movie Let the Right One In, about a pre-teen vampire befriending a young boy. Fans have been understandably nervous, but the trailers are great and the early word on the remake has been nothing short of blindingly positive. Matt Reeves may have come up with a way to make his redo his own and in the process created a movie worthy of the original and your time.
True Grit rides into theaters December 25th. More details here.
It's been a rough year for fantasy. If your movie had magic in it, odds are almost no one showed up to see it. Percy Jackson, Prince of Persia, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and The Last Airbender were all flops of one kind or another and it could be that audiences are simply getting sick of watching kids shoot lightning out of their fingertips. Or maybe it's just that none of those movies were any good. This trend seems unlikely to apply to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1, it's the second to the last movie in a long running series and sick of fantasy or not, it makes no sense for audiences to bail out now. But if moviegoers really are getting weary of the hocus pocus, it could hurt The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Though it's the third movie in an established franchise, it's third in a franchise few seem all that attached to. Or maybe it will hurt Disney's Tangled, a computer animated movie based on the magical fairytale of Rapunzel, already strange fodder for a feature film, and even stranger in an environment where maybe people are tired of magical movies that aren't based on already established franchises. In all three cases though, the movies look like strong entries as light entertainment. They can't be worse than Prince of Persia. The fantasy world could use a little fairy dust.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Pt. 1 lives on November 19th. More details here.
Though 3D has been back in theaters for several years now, 2010 is the year Hollywood went absolutely nuts for it. So far this year the only 3D movies which really made any real use of the format have been animated films, but this fall the third dimension will be used almost exclusively on live action movies in a bid to recreate the 3D magic Avatar captured around this same time last year. Resident Evil: Afterlife kicks things off by using the same technology Avatar did, only for killing zombies. Later Jackass 3D will take an entirely different approach by using 3D in the most gimmicky, reprehensible way, possible. Translation: They're going to use it to shoot things out of Steve O's butt. James Cameron may literally have a heart attack when he see its. But the only one I'm really interested in, and the only movie of the dozens being released this fall in the format (most of them for no reason) that's likely to be a must see in 3D, is Tron: Legacy, Disney's long awaited sequel to their groundbreaking 80s sci-fi classic. The 80s take on Tron revolutionized computer generated special effects, don't be surprised if the new movie finds a way to push the envelope again, only this time with 3D. It's a must see. The thing to track here, though, is whether ticket buying audiences keep showing up for the 3D format. If moviegoers are ever going to grow weary of paying extra money for 3D's extra discomfort, it's probably going to happen some time this fall, maybe somewhere between Saw 3D and Yogi Bear 3D.
Resident Evil: Afterlife zombie walks September 10th. More details here.
There was a time in Hollywood when it didn't matter what your movie was about, as long as you had a big name attached to it. But for whatever reason, that no longer seems to be working. The combined star power of Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz wasn't enough to get people interested in Knight & Day. Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett in Robin Hood? Ho-hum. Angelina managed to sell Salt based on her famous face alone, but so far this year she's the only celebrity with any box office draw. Watch and see if that trend continues this fall when The Tourist tries to sell itself based on her pairing with Johnny Depp. Will people want to see Gulliver's Travels just because it has Jack Black on the poster? Is putting Denzel Washington on a train that won't stop enough to get people buying a ticket to Unstoppable? Putting George Clooney's face on the one sheets for The American seems to be about the only way that movie has to sell itself. It seems unlikely to make it past $50 million. Due Date has Robert Downey Jr. in it. Will that be enough? And then there's Joaquin Phoenix, appearing in a documentary which seems to sum the whole celebrity thing up as some sort of joke. It's called I'm Still Here, a documentary chronicling his semi-serious descent into semi-serious insanity and a semi-serious bearded rap career. Hollywood's stars seem to be fading. Look for them to keep fading, this fall.
The Tourist travels on December 10th. More details here. Gulliver's Travels stomps in December 22nd. More details here.
The movies that have done well this, the movies which have worked best, have about something bigger than themselves. In Toy Story 3 Pixar tackled the meaning of love and the nature of our relationship with the things we own. In Shutter Island Martin Scorsese strove to understand the way we deal with grief. In Inception Christopher Nolan went inside our minds to discover the very root of ideas and in the process shook us to the core. If we're lucky that trend will continue this fall with a series of even more ambitious movies which will in their own way try to take on issues bigger than themselves. In Black Swan Darren Aronofsky promises to take us inside the mind of a ballet dancer getting in touch with her dark side. In The Social Network director David Fincher will explore where we are as a society through our desperate need for acceptance. In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps director Oliver Stone revisits Gordon Gekko in the midst of our current financial crisis, and wonders how much time we have left before it all falls utterly apart. And in the indie documentary Catfish the every day reality of our modern lives spent looking at computer screens is captured in stunning clarity. If even half of these films turn out as well as the three which preceded them earlier this year, 2010 could down as the year smart movies finally came into their own at the box office.
The Social Network will friend you on October 1st. More details here.
For a complete listing of all the films being released this fall, visit our Upcoming Movies Page.