January 2, 2013 2013: Busting Blocks
by Ron Swanson
2012: The year in which Batman, Marvel’s Avengers and James Bond broke box-office records (Skyfall is about to be the first film to ever pass the £100m box-office barrier in the UK, grossing almost as much as Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace combined).
2012: The year of Ted, The Hunger Games and The Woman in Black spawning new franchises as breakout hits,
2012: The year that the Twilight saga finally ended.
2013: What have you got? Let’s start with Marvel, whose Avengers Assemble movie last year was an enormous, genre-defining hit. They have two films slated for release in 2013, a pair of sequels: Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World. Both franchises have a new director on board, with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang‘s (2005) Shane Black taking the helm from Jon Favreau for the third Iron Man movie and Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor taking over from Kenneth Branagh for Thor: The Dark World.
The hiring of Black, who got such a great performance from Robert Downey Jr in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is particularly exciting, especially given how disappointing Iron Man 2 (2010) was. The trailer doesn’t seem to deviate too much from the existing formula, but he seems like a safer pair of hands at this point than Favreau, especially post Cowboys and Aliens (2011).
On the other hand, Branagh’s absence from Thor: The Dark World (he’s working, instead, on Jack Ryan) is a bit of a worry, given Taylor’s lack of a theatrical track record. Thor may benefit the most from the success of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble (2012), however, given the fact the character was hardly as A-list as Iron Man, Captain America or Hulk. With the whole cast back, and an October release date (first comic book film for a while to sit outside of the April-July corridor) it should be a big hit.
Warner Brothers will be desperately hoping that nobody plots out Zack Snyder’s career trajectory (Dawn of the Dead > 300 > Watchmen > Legend of the Guardians > Sucker Punch) before Man of Steel hits cinema screens. With Christopher Nolan overseeing the production, WB will be hoping ‘Steel’ fills in for the ‘Knight’ shaped hole in their schedule. After the hapless Cold Light of Day, one could be forgiven for suspecting that Henry Cavill doesn’t quite have the chops required to head a franchise. Superman, himself, has always been a bit of a bore, so the heavy lifting could be done by the excellent supporting cast, including Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishburne and the great Michael Shannon stepping into Terence Stamp’s shoes as General Zod.
If that doesn’t get your inner nerd heartbeat racing, how about JJ Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness, of which you can currently see the first nine minutes before IMAX screenings of The Hobbit: The First of Three Fucking Films, Seriously. It seems to be following the Dark Knight template of marketing, and the first film certainly branched out beyond the core Trekkie audience. Benedict Cumberbatch takes on villain duties.
Whisper it quietly, but it’s been a tough couple of years for Pixar. Not only were their fingerprints all over massive, historical flop John Carter (2012), but their last two films, Cars 2 (2011)and Brave (2012) have seen the roughest reviews of the studio’s relatively short history. It must be some relief to have one of their big hitters slated for 2013, then, as Monsters Inc (2001) finally gets a sequel, Monsters University. In it we will learn the genesis of the Mike/Sully friendship. If they can recreate the magic, this could be the best blockbuster of the year.
The Hunger Games (2012)broke all manner of box-office records upon release, securing a far bigger opening and gross than the first Twilight film. The sequel, Catching Fire, is due in 2013, and should be the biggest film of winter, competing with The Hobbit: Not if it’s Three Fucking Hours Again, Peter. There’s a chance that Jennifer Lawrence will be heading the franchise as an Oscar winner, to boot, given the fact she’s currently the bookies’ favourite to win for Silver Linings Playbook (2012).
Bruce Willis returns as John McClane in A Good Day to Die Hard, which sees the action move to Moscow, and McClane’s on screen family fleshed out with his son, a CIA operative, who needs his pop’s help. We’re past the point at which Die Hard was really Die Hard, but there’ll pretty much always be something fun about Bruce in an action role (ignoring Surrogates, of course, as I’d recommend everyone does), and this should be a pretty big hit, no doubt appealing to the same audience as megaturd Taken 2 (2012) (£20m+ at the UK box-office, no shit).
Not every 2013 blockbuster is a sequel, or a franchise movie (yet), but plenty more of them are. In addition to the ones above (deep breath), you can see, should you choose to: Hugh Jackman return, for director James Mangold, as Jackman’s most iconic character in The Wolverine. Illumination Animation’s Despicable Me 2 will look to establish itself as a heavyweight franchise in the vein of Blue Sky’s Ice Age. The ‘wolfpack’ will probably lose someone, somewhere, on a night out, then find him, while seriously needing some Berocca, in The Hangover Part III (added racism dependent on location).
Of course, I’ve saved the best till last. I’m sure there’ll be no more entertaining blockbuster in 2013 than Fast and Furious 6. It’s the latest instalment of the most entertaining franchise currently going. Fast Five was one of the most purely enjoyable films of the last five years, and part six will keep The Rock around, while taking our ever extending gang on a high-speed tour of Europe’s hot spots (one chase scene set around Piccadilly Circus should be particularly great).
Of the ‘new’ blockbuster titles, let’s start with Sam Raimi’s Wizard of Oz prequel, Oz: The Great and Powerful. I’m fairly sure Disney are trying to position this as an all-family fantasy smash-hit in the vein of Alice in Wonderland but it remains to be seen if Raimi’s appealing cast (James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz) has the same star-power as Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter et al. One thing’s for sure: Raimi’s an interesting filmmaker and a one more interested by plot than Tim Burton, so there’s a good chance this could be a winner.
I’m pretty excited about the prospect of Idris Elba teaming up with Guillermo del Toro in giant robot invasion movie Pacific Rim. There’s obviously plenty of opportunity for this sort of thing to disappoint (Battle L.A., Skyline), but del Toro’s a much safer pair of hands than Jonathan Liebesman or the Strause brothers, so fingers crossed someone’s finally going to get this right.
After Earth is one of those films which sounds progressively worse the more you hear about it. Will Smith in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller? That works. Add in the fact his son is co-starring, and doubts begin to spread. Oh, and guess what you guys? M Night Shyamalan is directing. It’s his first film since The Last Airbender (2010)!
Out a couple of weeks after After Earth is World War Z, a huge scale blockbuster based on the novel by Max Brooks. Brad Pitt stars, in his first really box-office role in a long time. Johnny Depp, Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer try and recreate the Pirates of the Caribbean magic for the humble Western, by rebooting The Lone Ranger, with Armie Hammer in the lead role.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire star in Baz Luhrmann’s 3D The Great Gatsby. Is Luhrmann the right man to finally do justice to Fitzgerald’s masterpiece? Even if not, the film should be as pretty to look at as its leading man. Chris Pine takes the title role in Jack Ryan, which will co-star Keira Knightley alongside director Kenneth Branagh.
When you look at the 2013 blockbuster slate, and compare it to 2012, you would have to admit that it’s lacking, somewhat, in star power. One thing it does have is a slam-dunk ‘heritage’ hit. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, War Horse and The Iron Lady between them just about added up to The King’s Speech’s box-office. Well, in that traditional early January release date this year is Les Miserables, and it’s both a huge crowd-pleaser and a strong awards-contender. While Tom Hooper has never met a single scene he knows how to shoot like cinema, Les Mis will be an enormous hit. It’s a faithful adaptation of the beloved stage-musical, and has several scintillating moments. Anne Hathaway will win her first Oscar™, while it’s not out of the realms of possibility that Hugh Jackman could win too (making hosting the Oscars™ seem like a good way to win an Oscar™. Not long now, Chris Rock!). While the film won’t get outstanding reviews across the board, the strength of Victor Hugo’s story and the performances of Hathaway, Jackman, Eddie Redmayne and newcomer Samantha Barks should see it be, probably, the year’s biggest film in the UK.
Come back on Friday for a look at the smaller films in store for us all in 2013…