Now that we're through the slowest part of the movie release schedule, there are a bevy of big releases on the horizon that will pack theaters around the entire world. Here's a look at the most anticipated releases from now through the end of the calendar year:
1. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," Dec. 14 (Warner Brothers):
If there was any doubt that the "Lord of the Rings" world was still very popular, those doubts got erased when the first trailer for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" was put online earlier this year. Director Peter Jackson capped "The Lord of the Rings" with the unbelievably successful "Return of the King," which raked in $1.1 billion around the globe and dominated at the Academy Awards. Starting off a new trilogy, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is guaranteed to make its mark on movie culture when it hits theaters this December.
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2," Nov. 16 (Summit):
Even if you're tired of "The Twilight Saga," there's no doubting that the series has had an enormous cultural impact. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson return for the final leg of the "Twilight" story and ticket lines should be as long (if not longer) than at any point in the franchise.
3. "Skyfall," Nov. 9 (Sony/Columbia):
All James Bond releases have plenty of fanfare, but this one feels even bigger than usual. After struggling to get to production, "Skyfall' finally hits theaters this November and is a lock to be one of the biggest action hits of the year, with Daniel Craig returning as the famed secret agent for a third time. With a top-notch cast including Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes, not to mention "American Beauty" director Sam Mendes, there is plenty of hope that "Skyfall" will be more than just explosions and gadgetry. "Skyfall" should also get a worldwide boost from all the Olympic plugs it received with the games that took place in London.
4. "Django Unchained," Dec. 25 (Weinstein):
Fans of writer/director Quentin Tarantino can spend their Christmas Day with the famous director's new film "Django Unchained," a gun-slinging western about an escaped slave looking to save his wife from bondage. Starring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz from Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," "Django" should have both art house and commercial appeal when it gets its launch this holiday season.
5. "Cloud Atlas," Oct. 26 (Warner Brothers):
This could be one of the biggest hits of the year, but it also could be one of the biggest bombs. "Cloud Atlas" is an ambitious project from Lana and Andy Wachowski that takes audiences on a wild journey into the lives of characters linked throughout different eras in history. Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugo Weaving, "Cloud Atlas" could really pique the interest of sci-fi fans, though it could prove to have a difficult concept to market. Andy and Lana (formerly known as Larry) Wachowski did make the incredibly successful "The Matrix," though "Cloud Atlas" looks like it could go either way at the box office. Very good critical buzz from the Toronto International Film Festival should help, however.
6. "Argo," Oct. 12 (Warner Bros.):
In one of the weirdest turn of events in the movies, Ben Affleck has graduated from being the star of heavily mocked films like "Armageddon" and "Gigli" to being a very respected director. This October, his "Argo" will hit theaters following a run at the TIFF that was so positive that Roger Ebert already predicted it will win Best Picture at the next Academy Awards. "Argo" follows the true story of a group of CIA agents who make up a creative rouse to get hostages out of a deadly situation in Iran. With a great cast that includes Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman, "Argo" could be both a critical darling and a crowd pleaser.
7. "Lincoln," Nov. 9 (Buena Vista):
From Director Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln" chronicles the ill-fated Abraham Lincoln as he presides over the abolition of slavery and the Civil War. Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role is obvious Oscar bait, but this one could scare away audiences if it's another one of Spielberg's weepy, solemn historical epics. A phenomenal cast that includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, Jared Harris, John Hawkes and David Strathairn gives "Lincoln" one of the best casts of the year.
8. "Taken 2," Oct. 5 (Fox):
Even if "Taken 2" looks like your by-the-numbers sequel, audiences will doubtless turn up to see Liam Neeson back in tough guy mode. "Taken" was one of the biggest surprises of 2009, racking up $226 million worldwide in the dead of winter on a production budget of just $25 million. Though it's unlikely "Taken 2" will reach $145 million domestically like its predecessor, it should still be one of the biggest action hits of the fall.
9. "Looper," Nov. 28 (TriStar):
The story of a time-traveling hitman, "Looper" reunites Joseph Gordon-Levitt and director Rian Johnson in a follow-up to the inventive neo-noir "Brick." "Looper" carries very strong early critical support and co-stars Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt and Paul Dano.
10. "Jack Reacher," Dec. 21 (Paramount):
Following up his very successful "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," Tom Cruise still has a lot of sway with action audiences, and his "Jack Reacher" has plenty of commercial potential. Cruise stars as a rogue homicide investigator out to track down a ruthless military sniper, with Robert DuVall and Rosamund Pike co-starring.
by RTT Staff Writer
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