The core component of 21st century filmmaking is focused on producing trilogies, anthologies, sagas and series. Animated films are no exception to this rule and now that Rango, Gnomeo and Juliet and Hop are all bona fide hits, things are looking good for their sequel potential. This week, 20th Century Fox and director Carlos Saldanha (Ice Age) unleash their new CGI series opener Rio and since the movie has all the makings of a full franchise I thought it’d be cool to take a look at a few of the films that I think you’ll see sequels to in the near future.
In Theaters: This Friday, April 15
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jamie Foxx
As previously stated, Fox believes that this film has the chops to go the distance and I’ve got no reason to doubt that. It’s got a voice cast comprised of popular performers like Hathaway, Eisenberg and Jamie Foxx. It’s got an underused South American setting (the titular Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), though the digital environment surely can’t capture the beauty of the live location. Most importantly, it’s got a vibrantly colorful aesthetic and lots of cute characters that kids will no doubt fall in love with. This is precisely the formula that made DreamWorks’ Madagascar films massive worldwide hits, and so I’d count on getting familiar with Blu the Macaw, Chloe the Goose and all the other birds of Rio.
In Theaters: June 17
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard
Superheroes have the benefit of being franchises before they ever hit the big screen. Most comic book characters have been around for ages and have scores of villains and stories for filmmakers to choose from for multiple movies. In the case of Warner Bros. Green Lantern, the studio also has multiple heroes to choose from, as Ryan Reynolds' Hal Jordan isn’t the only Earthling to wield the emerald power ring (actually, he’s not even the first! That honor belongs to Alan Scott, but I digress). If this first film really takes off, the studio can make a trilogy of films focused on Jordan before moving on to Jon Stewart and, finally, Kyle Rayner, who many fans consider to be the best Lantern of all. Adding in the fact that each one of these intergalactic defenders has mutual and exclusive enemies and there’s potential for a dozen Green Lantern films…literally.
In Theaters: July 29
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Katy Perry, Jayma Mays
Nostalgia can work wonders for a property’s profitability. With The Smurfs, Columbia Pictures has a globally recognizable brand that appeals to the inner child inside all of us. Not only does the studio have two likable live-action leads in Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays, but an army of lovable little blue people voiced by well-known personalities like George Lopez, Jeff Foxworthy, Katy Perry and John Oliver; all of whom have sizable followings of their own. Throw in the always nice-to-watch New York City setting and a wonderfully rendered villain in Hank Azaria and we could be witnessing the second coming of The Smurfs.
Conan The Barbarian
In Theaters: August 19
Starring: Jason Momoa, Ron Perlman, Stephen Lang
The torture-porn Saw series aside, Lionsgate Films doesn’t contain the wealth of franchises that its larger rivals do, so this movie is a big deal for the company. It’s a property that most associate with its original star (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and without question the biggest hurdle this reboot faces is not having a big-name star wielding the sword of the Cimmerian warrior. But with Marcus Nispel, director of the recent Friday the 13th remake, at the helm, Robert E. Howard’s brutal and unforgiving world should at least raise the interest of most male moviegoers. And having Rose McGowan and Rachel Nichols scantily clad in various scenes can only help…
Cowboys & Aliens
In Theaters: July 29
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford
Everyone involved in this highly-anticipated genre mash-up is used to and comfortable with franchise work (from director Jon Favreau to producers Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard to stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford), so I’m sure that Universal Pictures is considering the possibility that, should the film take off at the box-office, Cowboys & Aliens could become another lucrative brand. It literally has everything going for it: the biggest and best cast of the summer directed by one of the most exciting filmmakers in the industry working from a script by some of the most sought after scribes in Hollywood. All the stars lined up in perfect harmony for this picture and though I don’t think a 19th century alien invasion epic needs a sequel, I won’t deny that I’ll be first in line to see one if it’s optioned.
Supermodel Claudia Schiffer is set to marry her film producer boyfriend Matthew Vaughn in England on May 25, Reuters reports. The story surfaced in a recent issue of the German society magazine Bunte, which did not provide a source for the report. The magazine said 300 guests have been invited to the ceremony, including Madonna and Elton John, and that the couple was viewing English churches as possible locations. Schiffer, 31, and Vaughn, also 31, have been together for 16 months.
The woman who accused Celine Dion's husband of raping her in Las Vegas in March 2000 has been arrested in Pasadena, Calif., for check forgery and is being held on $500,000 bail, The Associated Press reports. Lawyers for Dion's husband, Rene Angelil, are hoping Las Vegas police will consider Yun Kyeong Sung Kwon's arrest in evaluating her credibility and motivation in the case.
In the Biz
Ethan Hawke, who received an Oscar nomination for his role in the 2001 cop drama Training Day, recently made his directorial debut with the film Chelsea Walls. The movie is about New York's Chelsea Hotel, which over the years has housed punks, artists and authors.
Sony-based Revolution Studios had greenlighted a feature film version of the Dark Horse Comics' Hellboy, Variety reports. Guillermo del Toro (Blade 2) will direct the pic, with Ron Perlman being eyed to star as Hellboy, a red-skinned giant with a metallic left hand who happens to look like Satan.
Walt Disney Pictures is shooting a large-format prequel to the 1979 classic Black Stallion with director Simon Wincer (Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles) at the helm. Shooting on The Young Black Stallion in Namibia is expected to wrap this month, Variety reports.
Universal Pictures is hoping Harrison Ford will take the title role in Scott Frank's big-screen adaptation of the Lawrence Block novel A Walk Among the Tombstones. According to Variety, Ford gave Frank notes for reworking the screenplay and could possibly sign on to work on the project after he completes an untitled Ron Shelton film at Revolution Studios.
Nicolas Cage is in talks with Warner Bros. to star in the upcoming drama Matchstick Men directed by Ridley Scott. According to The Hollywood Reporter, production on the film, which is based on the yet-to-be-published novel by Eric Garcia, is scheduled to begin this summer.
The Robert Blake murder case seems to be doing wonders for CNN. The AP reports that the news network had its biggest primetime audiences of the year last Thursday when Blake was charged with the murder of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. That's good news for CNN, which has fallen to second place behind Fox News Channel in this year's cable news ratings.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship, the no-holds-barred martial arts franchise that combines karate, boxing and wrestling, will launch the sport on multiple broadcast platforms with weekly primetime slots. While the UFC is already an established pay-per-view and live gate draw, the lack of rules and safety guidelines had prevented it from becoming a full-fledged sport in the past.
Forget ultimate fighting. What about Ultimate Dodgeball? According to Variety, Zoo Prods. is shopping cable networks with the proposed 13-episode weekly reality series that would include pitting celebrities against a team of regular people in a game of dodgeball. Last month, Zoo organized the Celebrity Dodgeball Tournament fundraiser that featured Matthew Perry, David Spade, Courteney Cox Arquette and Jeff Probst.
The FX network has greenlighted the controversial cop series The Shield for a second cycle of 13 hour-long episodes, Variety reports. The show's future was recently called into question when at least 11 advertisers, including Burger King, Subaru and Office Depot, backed out because of the show's degree of violence and sexual content.
Parents of the members of the teen boy band Dream Street have filed a lawsuit against the group's creators, seeking back pay and the release of the singers from their current contracts. The suit alleges the boys were exposed to alcohol, women and pornography, but Louis Baldonieri and Brian Lukow claim the parents are the ones setting a bad example, saying the adults were "teaching kids you can sign anything, then lie, cheat and defame people for your benefit," the AP reports.
Bono's going on tour, but not as the frontman for his rock band U2. Starting May 20, Bono will be traveling to parts of Africa with U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, the AP reports. Bono is a longtime aid promoter for Third World countries.
Morgan Freeman will be the guest of honor at Brazil's first Afro-Brazilian/African-American film festival and will present his latest film High Crimes on opening night, Variety reports. AfroFest kicks off in Rio de Janeiro Thursday and runs through May 2. Other screenings include Spike Lee's Bamboozled and Carlos Diegues' Chica da Silva.