By Rafer Guzm?n
Winter is here, but Hollywood might be sweating.
Last year’s box office was a major disappointment, a 2.7 percent drop in revenue and a 5.8 percent drop in actual tickets sold compared to 2016. A summer of botched blockbusters was largely to blame, notably Tom Cruise’s action-horror hybrid The Mummy and the widely panned sci-fi fantasy Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Now come the cold months — always a season of slim pickings and shoulder-shrugging for moviegoers.
There might, however, be some bright spots. Horror, a hot genre after the success of last year’s Get Out, continues to draw unusual talent. Comedian John Krasinski is directing A Quiet Place, about a family hiding from an evil force; the classy Helen Mirren will star in Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built, based on a real-life heiress of the early 1900s; and even Marvel’s X-Men are going the spooky route with The New Mutants.
Another trend is an uptick in diversity, with Chadwick Boseman starring in the long-awaited superhero movie Black Panther and young actress Storm Reid (12 Years a Slave) putting a bit of colour into Disney’s adaptation of the sci-fi classic
A Wrinkle in Time (directed by Ava DuVernay, of Selma). Fox will release a gay high-school comedy called Love, Simon, and Anna Faris will star opposite Mexico’s Eugenio Derbez in a remake of the rom-com Overboard.
Throw in Steven Spielberg’s new virtual-reality movie, Wes Anderson’s new stop-motion production and Clint Eastwood’s latest true-life drama, and moviegoers just might warm up to Hollywood again.
Here are the 30 big films of this winter (and early spring):
12 STRONG Billed as a “declassified true story,” this action-drama follows the first US Special Forces team sent to Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. With Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon.
DEN OF THIEVES A group of elite bank robbers attempts to knock over the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve. Starring Gerard Butler, 50 Cent and O’Shea Jackson Jr.
MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE The adventurous teens who escaped a massive labyrinth must break into another one, called Last City, in this franchise finale. With Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario and Patricia Clarkson.
WINCHESTER: THE HOUSE THAT GHOSTS BUILT A horror film inspired by Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren), the widow who spent much of her gun-manufacturing fortune building a bizarre mansion in San Jose, California.
THE 15:17 TO PARIS Clint Eastwood’s drama about three Americans who helped thwart a terrorist attack on a passenger train will star Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos as themselves.
FIFTY SHADES FREED The third in the steamy film series about blushing book editor Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) and masochistic millionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan). James Foley returns to direct.
PETER RABBIT An animated film based on the characters created by Beatrix Potter. With the voices of Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, Daisy Ridley and Margot Robbie.
BLACK PANTHER After the death of the King of Wakanda, his son T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to the technologically advanced African nation to take the throne. Ryan Coogler, of Creed, directs.
EARLY MAN A stop-motion comedy-adventure set in prehistoric times. With the voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston and Maisie Williams. Nick Park, of Wallace and Gromit, directs.
ANNIHILATION A biologist enters an environmental disaster zone to find out what happened to her husband. With Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Oscar Isaac. Alex Garland, who scored a sleeper hit with 2015’s Ex Machina, directs.
DEATH WISH Bruce Willis steps into Charles Bronson’s shoes as an urban vigilante in this already controversial remake of the gritty 1974 crime drama. Directed by professional button-pusher Eli Roth, of The Green Inferno and Hostel.
RED SPARROW A ballerina, Dominkia Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence), joins a group of seductive spies known as Sparrows. Francis Lawrence (no relation), of The Hunger Games, directs.
A WRINKLE IN TIME When a brilliant scientist (Chris Pine) disappears, his daughter (Storm Reid) ventures into unknown space to find him. With Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling. Ava DuVernay, of Selma, directs this adaptation of the Madeleine L’Engle novel.
LOVE, SIMON A gay but closeted 17-year-old (Nick Robinson) falls for an anonymous classmate online. Directed by Greg Berlanti (TV’s Supergirl, Riverdale).
TOMB RAIDER After playing the action-adventuress Lara Croft for just two films in this stalled franchise, Angelina Jolie hands her tank-top to Alicia Vikander.
MIDNIGHT SUN A teenage girl (Bella Thorne) with a rare sensitivity to sunlight embarks on a risky summer romance. With Patrick Schwarzenegger.
PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING John Boyega, of the new Star Wars series, co-produced this sequel to the 2013 giant-monster movie Pacific Rim. He stars in it, too, as a giant-robot operator named Jake Pentecost.
SHERLOCK GNOMES A sequel to 2011’s charming animated rom-com Gnomeo & Juliet. Guess which literary work this one is based on. With the voices of James McAvoy, Emily Blunt and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
UNSANE The latest from Steven Soderbergh (Logan Lucky) is a psychological horror film about a woman who is involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. With Claire Foy and Juno Temple.
ISLE OF DOGS Another stop-motion animated film by Wes Anderson (The Fantastic Mr. Fox), this one inspired by Japanese cinema. The star-studded voice cast, includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Greta Gerwig, Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray.
ACRIMONY A faithful wife (Taraji P Henson) finally grows tired of her devious husband’s ways. With Lyriq Bent and Jazmyn Simon. Written and directed by Tyler Perry.
READY PLAYER ONE In a pre-apocalypse future, a popular virtual-reality universe, OASIS, turns out to be the hiding place of a very real fortune. With Tye Sheridan and Mark Rylance. Directed by Steven Spielberg.
BLOCKERS Three parents join forces to stop their teenage daughters from losing their virginity at prom. Starring Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena.
A QUIET PLACE Surrounded by an evil force that is attracted to sound, a rural family survives by living in total silence. The trailer, at least, contains no spoken dialogue. John Krasinski directs himself and his wife, Emily Blunt.
NEW MUTANTS Fox’s new instalment in the X-Men series appears to be a superhero horror movie with spooky basements and everything. The cast includes Anya Taylor-Joy (Split) and Charlie Heaton (Netflix’s Stranger Things).
OVERBOARD When a selfish playboy (Eugenio Derbez) develops amnesia, his ill-treated employee (Anna Faris) convinces him they are married. It’s a reworking of the 1987 rom-com starring Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.
RAMPAGE A primatologist (Dwayne Johnson) discovers that gorillas and other animals have been genetically altered to become supersize monsters.
SUPER TROOPERS 2 The hapless Vermont cops from 2001’s cult favourite Super Troopers are back, this time monitoring a US-Canada border dispute. With Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan and Rob Lowe.
TULLY A struggling single mother receives a new nanny as a gift. Charlize Theron rejoins her Young Adult team of director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody.
TRAFFIK A couple enjoying a romantic weekend in the mountains is terrorised by a biker gang. With Paula Patton and William Fichtner. — Newsday/TNS
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