“Prince Caspian” and More Coming this Summer
What tentpole features lie beyond May 1?
Early buzz hearkens that Hollywood’s summer of ’08 will have more laughs and fewer sequels. However, the definition of sequel may be similar to the industry’s infamous creative accounting system when determining a percentage pay out for a director or star. The film industry’s authority, Variety, counts three pure sequels as “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” (May 16), the Batman follow-up “The Dark Knight” (July 18), and the recently added, “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants II” (Aug. 8).
One of summers first big family friendly adventures will be “Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.”
For a peek of “Caspian,” courtesy of publicist Ernie Malik (“We Are Marshall”), the chronicles this time have less of a “fairy tale aura” and more “swashbuckling” action than 2005’s “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.”
“The same four children return, all ably supported by a big screen newcomer named Ben Barnes. While swashbucklers may appeal to a male audience, girls will swoon over this matinee-idol handsome young Brit,” Malik said.
“Evil personified jumps off the screen in the guise of the story’s villain, Miraz, wonderfully embodied by Italian movie star Sergio Castellitto. He was a delight to watch on the set.”
The sequel returns Aslan the Lion, but anticipate new CGI characters, brand new special F/X make up from Oscar winners Howard Berger and Tami Lane (who took home the coveted gold statue for the first film), and an amazing array of costumes as well.
Publicist Malik has written the “official Making of … ,” book, which contains lots of scenes from “Prince Caspian” and remembering Empire Books from his stay in Huntington, he projects “it may be available in that wonderful bookstore you folks have in the new downtown mall.”
THE REMAINING SUMMER FILM WRAP
Meanwhile, as Hollywood studios proclaim “originality,” a question surfaces: Should revived franchises count as a sequel?
Variety believes dormancy akin to originality, recognizing the longer that time passes, the more likely the film “stands alone,” rather than benefiting from an earlier entry. They do not count “Indiana Jones 4,” “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” (Aug. 1) and “X Files” (July 25) in the sequel category since members of the largest movie going demographic likely do not remember theatrical releases between eight, ten and 19 years ago.
Despite those split hair definitions, the summer slate does not have a spider, Shrek or Caribbean to bank on, rather, the emphasis rests on laughers, which in ’07 mostly provided the only escape from super adventure epics.
Fiscal balancing acts exist between the risks of new material versus a franchise/sequel: The new pic usually does not have the tentpole budgets necessary to keep the cast and filmmakers on board for continuations. Think the 2007 trio of “Knocked Up,” “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” and “Superbad.”
Translation and warning I think that jubilant California corporate managers have seized upon the idea that they can make a comedy for millions less then count millions in profits at the box-office. The concept worked when pitted against action, superheroes and other big time franchises. Comedy reigned as the alternative i.e. “Knocked Up,” “Steve and Larry,” and “Superbad” (not to mention the big-budget “Evan Almighty,” which didn’t produce enough viewers to justify building the ark).
As you look at the release chart (which is subject to change and, of course, not all films will play all areas), surely, comedy (which might help dose memories of recession, gas prices and mortgage payments) has replaced the giant mega hundred million tent pole this year. Only, there appears to be one every other week and sometimes two in the same week.
Prediction: Many will not find an audience as they will compete for the same viewer demographics.
“Made of Honor,” “You Don’t Mess with Zohan” and “Get Smart” appear as potentially sure things. Maybe Will Smith’s “Hancock” too. As the dates turn to mid-July and August, the number of releases per weekend increase and several will hit the skids as audiences prefer to wait for the discount or DVD.
Meanwhile, a lone musical (“Mamma Mia”) hopes to take “Hairspray’s” niche, but upon examination of the schedule, dramas and particularly those with an adult appeal, appear missing. Usually, one or two emerge against the happy faces of summer as ‘must sees’ for the non-adolescent or student generation.
Pull one or two from the archives and a studio might find acceptance from a nearly always forgotten demographic in the summer mix.
Iron Man: Updating the plot for present day implications, billionaire industrialist (Tony Stark) has been kidnapped in Afghanistan where the inventor is forced to work on weapons for the bad guys. Instead, he builds a high-tech suit of armor and a battle against his perennial nemesis, Iron Monger. Robert Downy Jr. stars as the title hero.
Made of Honor: A reformed play the field dude (Patrick Dempsey) has been asked by his best friend (Michelle Monaghan) to be the maid of honor at her wedding, but the ‘best friend’ actually would like to be the groom.
Speed Racer: The Wachowski brothers (“V for Vendetta” and “The Matrix” trilogy) direct a family friendly movie about a young gearhead (Emile Hirsch) known as Speed Racer, who, following the death of his brother, Rex, must race in the death defying cross-country rally known as The Crucible. His main competitor — Racer X played by Matthew Fox (who played Red Dawson in “We Are Marshall”).
What Happens in Vegas: Would you stay married to Cameron Diaz for six months to qualify for a $3 million jackpot? She marries Ashton Kutcher during a drunken ceremony, then he hits strikes pay dirt on the slots using her quarter.
Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: Aiming for more of a swashbuckling action audience than the fairy tale world, virtually the entire cast and crew reprise. When the children are brought back to Narnia, 1,300 years have passed and the evil King Miraz now controls the kingdom. The kids meet the rightful heir, Prince Caspian, who they must restore to the throne to restore magic and glory in the land.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Steven Spielberg directs the return of everyone’s favorite globetrotting adventurer who’s been on the shelf for nearly 20 years. George Lucas teams with David Koepp on the screenplay, but it’s under wraps. However, Harris Ford reprises his role, even though his age is starting to limit his death defying stunts.
Postal: Going against the Indy lightning bolt, this insulting, politically incorrect farce finds an average out of work Joe in a town called Paradise asking his Uncle Dave for help. Dave’s broke too, so they decide to steal an object from the amusement park — the same object Osama Bin Laden wants for the Taliban. Let’s hope this potentially outrageous premise does not become smashed to obscurity by the Crystal Skull, but with a budget of only $15 million and a true R-rating, the action comedy could be just the ticket for anyone not into Indy mania. Inspired by the video game that has been banned in Australia and New Zealand.
Sex and the City: The movie picks up four years after the six-year-run wrapped in 2004 on HBO. Sarah Jessica Parker returns as Carrie Bradshaw, the style conscious journalist whose romantic exploits ruled the series. As the story continues, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda prepare for Carrie to take the marital plunge.
Strangers: Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman play a young couple staying in an isolated vacation home when a knock comes at the door in the mid-hours of darkness. Soon, they are fighting for their lives as three masked strangers invade their space.
Kung Fu Panda: Not exactly “Happy Feet,” but the big, clumsy Po labors daily in his family’s noodle shop dreaming about Kung Fu. But the bear has been chosen to fulfill a prophesy, so can the panda actually become a kung fun master? (Voices include Jackie Chan, Angelina Jolie and Dustin Hoffman).
You Don’t Mess with Zohan: Judd (“Knocked Up”) Apatow and Adam Sandler team on a screenplay in which a Mossad agent fakes his death and re-emerges in the Big Apple as a hair stylist. Dennis (“I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry”) Dugan directs.
The Happening: M. Night Shyamalan started with “The Sixth Sense,” followed by “Unbreakable, and “Signs.” Having most recently directed “Lady in the Water,” here’s to hoping this is a return to form. His newest tells an apocalyptic tale of a family fleeing a natural disaster that threatens all of mankind. Mark Wahlberg and Spencer Breslin star.
The Incredible Hulk: Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) seeks seclusion to understand and cure his condition that turns him into a monster. With the military wanting him controlled, he also must battle, The Abomination. “Transformers” director Louis Leterier likely guarantees more action and less philosophizing.
Get Smart: Mel Brooks and Buck Henry created the TV series that spoofed James Bond and “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” Don Adams had the title role on the small screen, which now Steve Carell snatches along with glamed up Anne Hathaway as the formerly bookish Agent 99. Alan Arkin plays the “Chief” in this ongoing struggle between the often incompetent agents of CONTROL battling the forces of KAOS. Director Peter Segal has previously delivered with “The Longest Yard,” “50 First Dates,” and “Anger Management.”
The Love Guru: Dumped at the gates of an Indian ashram, Pitka (Mike Myers) has been raised by gurus. What does he do? Comes to American seeking fame and fortune, marketing self-help to the masses. His first challenge —settle a rift between a hockey player and his wife (Jessica Alba).
Wall-E: Pixar Animation Studios. ’Nuff said. After hundreds of years picking up humanity’s trash on the Planet Earth, EVE, a search robot, discovers that the Waste Allocation Load Lifter robot may have found the meaning of life and a way for human to return home safely. Characters include malfunctioning robot misfits and a pet cockroach.
Wanted: A young man (James McAvoy) finds his recently murder father was an elite assassin. Now he’s recruited by a man named Sloan (Morgan Freeman) to step into his dad’s shoes. Angelina Jolie also stars. Incidentally, the concept comes from a dark comic with similarity to “Sin City” and “V for Vendetta.”
Hancock: Will (“Men in Black”) Smith bumbles along as a conflicted, sarcastic superhero that saves lives but leaves lots of damage along the trail. Having turned the public against his awesomely stupid deeds, the hero makes a life-changing connection with a housewife.
HB II (formerly Hellboy 2: Golden Army): The mythical world rebels against humanity hoping to rule the Earth, so Hellboy and his team must intervene. Director Guillermo Del Toro who stunned audiences with Pan’s Labyrinth is on board for the revival of the character he brought to the screen in 2004.
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D: Before resuming his “Mummy” role, Brendan Fraser leads an expedition to Iceland, which launches an expedition deep beneath the earth’s surface.
Meet Dave (formerly Starship Dave): Eddie Murphy plays a man uncomfortable in his own body, except his “body” is a “ship” made in the image of its captain. Piloted by tiny aliens, Murphy’s character jeopardizes the mission when he falls for Elizabeth Banks. Let’s hope this isn’t “Pluto Nash – The Sequel.”
Dark Knight: A devious criminal mastermind known as The Joker (Heath Ledger) challenges Batman (Christian Bale) to end his reign of terror in Gotham City. Christopher Nolan, who co-wrote 2005’s “Batman Begins,” returns to the director’s chair.
Mamma Mia!: Last summer’s “Hairspray” proved that the movie musical can still reign under the summer sun, so now comes another Broadway icon with Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Pierce Brosnan on the marquee. A bride to be raised on a Greek island by a mother refusing to disclose her dad’s identity, locates three possible ‘dads’ and invites them to the wedding. Yes, you get to hear ABBA’s greatest hits!
Space Chimps: Cutting edge CGI animation propels this out of the world adventure in which NASA recruits Ham III, grandson of the first chimpanzee in space, to save a $5 billion probe that fell into a galactic wormhole.
Step Brothers: Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly re-team with the director of “Talladega Nights” in this comedy of pampered best friends whose single parents decide to marry. Judd (“Knocked Up,” “40 Year Old Virgin”) Apatow is one of the producers.
X Files II: Taking the keep the details secret like “Cloverfield,” the X Files sequel will be a standalone supernatural thriller and stress the complicated Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillan Anderson) relationship.
He’s Just Not That Into You: Have you ever tried to understand human behavior, such as that of the opposite sex? Set in Baltimore, interconnecting story arcs explore the challenges of reading and misreading behavior. There’s a woman (Jennifer Connelly) stuck in a tired marriage to Kevin Connolly while another woman (Ginnifer Goodwin) has such an obsession to him that she tried to set up accidental meetings, only to keep running into Justin Long, his best friend. Don’t forget Drew Barrymore. She’s trying to figure out dating in a culture overwhelmed more with technology than human contact.
Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: A young archaeologist accidentally (Luke Ford) awakens China’s entombed Dragon Emperor (Jet Li) sending explorer Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) on a race from ancient Chinese catacombs to the Himalayas.
Rocker: A drummer gets dumped from an ‘80s band just before they hit superstardom. Twenty years later after toiling at a real job, the musician has a second chance at his rock and roll fantasy.
Swing Vote: For a preview of election night (or a re-run of the 2000 showdown), Kevin Costner plays an apathetic lovable loser coasting through life, until his mischievous 12-year-old daughter sets off a chain of events in which her dad’s vote will determine the election outcome.
Pineapple Express: An addict (Seth Rogen) witnesses a corrupt cop commit murder, now he and his dealer (James Franco) go on a save their hide road trip to escape a squad of officers who want them wasted. The title comes from a rare new strain of weed. This film reunites you with the dudes who brought last summer’s “Superbad” to the megaplex.
Sisterhood of Traveling Pants II: Best friends (Alexis Biedel, America Ferrera, Amber Tamblyn and Blake Lively) reunite in a Grecian seaside town during their first year of college to locate their missing magical jeans. Incidentally, wise producers contractually obligated these stars of “Gilmore Girls,” “Ugly Betty,” “Joan of Arcadia” and “Gossip Girl” to reunite.
The International: Clive (“Sin City,” “Inside Man,” “Children of Men”) Owen and “Eastern Promises” Naomi Watts attempt to break up an international arms dealing ring financed by a well known banking institution.
Mirrors: Alexandre Aja known for his chilling “Hills Have Eyes,” “High Tension,” and “P2,” casts Kiefer Suterland, Paula Patton and Cameron Boyce in a tale of a mall security guard who finds the mirrors of a department store bring out the worst in those who stare into them.
Tropic Thunder: Actors on location for a big budget war flick find themselves relying on their boot camp experiences (or lack thereof) when they get caught up in a real conflict. Ben (“Night at the Museum,” “Heartbreak Kid”) Stiller directs and stars with Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Brandon Jackson and Matthew (Jack Lengyel in “WAM”) McConaughey. Tom Cruise appears in a cameo.
Accidental Husband: A talk radio host (Uma Thurman) advises a listener to break up with her boyfriend, but the dumped ex (Colin Firth) sets his designs on Thurman for revenge.
Bangkok Dangerous: Cold blooded hit man Nicholas Cage heads to Bangkok for four jobs. But the exotic city will tempt his heart to both kill and love.
Crossing Over: An assemblage of Oscar caliber talent tells intersecting stories of immigrants entering Los Angeles looking for a better life. Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Jim Sturgess, and others contribute to explore what immigrants really find in the melting pot known inside California’s largest city.
The House Bunny: Tossed out of the Playboy mansion, Shelly (Anna Faris) can’t find a place to lay her tail until she meets the seven most socially clueless sorority girls from Zeta Tau Zeta who need a strong dose of her bubbly social etiquette.
Wild Child: A spoiled “bad girl” is sent to an English all-girls boarding school where she pulls a series of pranks and schemes hoping for expulsion. Emma (“Nancy Drew”) Roberts stars.
Babylon A.D.: Vin Diesel plays a mercenary delivering a mysterious young woman from the ravages of post-apocalyptic Eastern Europe to the megalopolis known as NYC.
College: Predicted to be an unmemorable Superbad-esque comedy for the You Tube generation, three high school seniors (Drake Bell, Kevin Covais, Andrew Caldwell) visit a college campus posing as prospective freshmen.
Hamlet II: An incompetent high school drama teacher (Steve Coogan) rallies his students to conceive and stage an irreverent musical sequel to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”
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