The 2012 Film Release Calendar (May & June)

Ah, the summer.

What I love about the summer is how sparse it is. Earlier in the year (especially 2012. Have you seen March?), you’ll see three, four, even five films jockeying for a weekend. Not here. Here it’s — this film is opening, and it will win the weekend. And occasionally, you’ll see them counterprogram a film because the other one doesn’t carry over to that audience. Like when you saw in December, Sherlock Holmes and Alvin and the Chipmunks coming out on the same day. There’s no worry there, since neither is really stealing audience from the other.

The summer is so easy to talk about. One film a weekend, and that’s it. And you already know whether or not that film is going to be good or not. Blockbusters are such that you know exactly what you’re getting, within a certain range, and usually the only difference is, “Wow, that was much worse than I expected,” or, “Wow, that was fun like I expected, and the quality was actually passable too.”

So, let’s take a look at the summer, the part of the year I hate the most (because it’s exactly what’s wrong with the business today).


The Avengers

I know everyone’s batshit excited for this, but you know what? I’m not. Not even a little bit.

Last year was the nail in the coffin for me and Marvel movies. It’s overkill. And this, I expect, to be major overkill.

Sure, it’s got all those people in it, but what I’ve learned from this sample size of Marvel movies I’ve seen — the only interesting thing is Robert Downey Jr. talking. Him doing his thing is the only thing interesting. As evidenced by Iron Man 2, which sucked, outside of him. I think this will be a big mishmash of them trying to get as much stuff in as possible. I’m sure it’ll be entertaining, but — I can’t see this being of any substance, the way the first Iron Man (the bar by which these films must all now be measured) was.

I’m gonna say 3.5 stars. I know my opinion will cool considerably from the time I first see it to when I write up my final review. So that means either I’m gonna say 4 stars and it’ll go down to 3.5 or it’ll be 3.5 and I’ll go down to 3. I’ll say 3.5. That seems most likely.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


I saw two names and immediately narrowed this down to two studios. Judi Dench made me think, “Weinstein Company,” and Dev Patel made me think, “Fox Searchlight.” Looked it up (it’s right there on the poster) — Fox Searchlight. Love how that works.

I had no idea what this was about except for the cast. And now that I look it up — I’m actually kind of excited to see it.

It’s about a retirement home in India — they’ve outsourced their retirement to India, because they figure it’ll be cheaper and more exotic. And they see all these advertisements (which I guess are much like the poster) that make them think, “Oh, this place is gonna be awesome.” And then they get there and see that the hotel is in shambles. And I’m guessing the rest of the film is them having a good time together. It sounds like it’ll be fun. I like all of the people on that poster, and it’s a British film. John Madden is directing (Shakespeare in Love). That has nothing to do with my point, I was just pointing that out. But it’s a small British comedy, which reminds me of something like The Full Monty. Something very specific that will be a nice little crowd-pleaser.

You know — I’m gonna take a shot here. I’m gonna guess 3.5 stars, even though 3 stars is most likely. It could be 4, but I’ll say 3.5. I think this will be enjoyable.

Dark Shadows

A Tim Burton remake of a show I’ve never seen and never really cared to see. But — Burton makes interesting films. This one’s not Disney, so I’m guessing it’ll be better than Alice in Wonderland was. I feel like they had more to do with that than anyone is saying. This will be more Burton. And I usually enjoy Burton.

Not to mention, the cast — outside of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, who are always a given — Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Chloë Moretz, Christopher Lee, Jonny Lee Miller, Jackie Earle Haley.

So lets say 3.5 stars. I like the cast, so I’ll take a shot. But Alice made me think this could be 3. But let’s say the cast makes it 3.5. I’ll bite. I hope it’s 4. I usually really like Burton movies. And this isn’t Disney. So actually — 3.5 or 4 are the two here. We’ll stick 3.5 and hope for 4.

The Dictator

Sacha Baron Cohen does another character. Larry Charles directs again. It’s not a Borat film. It seems totally scripted, which makes me more interested in this. The synopsis sounds interesting.

The heroic story of a dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.

I’m interested, but I’m not gonna assume that this will automatically be good. The pieces are there, naturally, so this could be solid, but I’ll still say 3 stars. I’m okay with being wrong here. I just want to see a good movie.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Oh god. Why does Cameron Diaz keep drawing at the box office? Can’t people just not go so we don’t have to suffer through her movies?

Oh, wait. It’s an ensemble. Like He’s Just Not That Into You. Jennifer Lopez is also in this. Way to inspire confidence.

The story follows five couples who “suffer the many joys of the childbirth process”.

Starring Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Rodrigo Santoro (Xerxes and Carl from Love Acually), Matthew Morrison, Elizabeth Banks, Brooklyn Decker, Dennis Quaid, Chris Rock, and Anna Kendrick.

Honestly, I don’t know if I see enough to really expect anything good from this. Those first two really make me think this will be bland and shitty. And however good the other stories are, they probably won’t be enough to save it.

Still, I’ll say 3 stars. I don’t know why, but I know the second I say 2.5, it’ll end up being a very weak 3. So I’ll just say — very weak 3. Though I can see this being really bad. Possibly Unforgivable. Not sure it’ll happen, but it can.

I should know better and realize that Diaz and Lopez’z presences have already doomed this, and that it’ll be an easy 2 stars and possibly Unforgivable, but for some reason I’m being stupid and optimistic and hoping the material is somehow interesting. I’m such an idiot.


Ha ha ha. Ha ha.

How can you not laugh when you see this? Did you see that trailer? They turned a board game into an alien movie! With Rihanna!

This is gonna be so bad that it’ll be hysterical.

And actually, being hysterically bad might actually be what saves it from being Unforgivable.

So I’ll say 2 stars, expecting it to be entertaining in its shittiness. It very easily can be 1 star and Unforgivable though. Here’s how it works: they can play it campy, in which case — awesome. They can play it straight, in which case, it’ll be bad, but laughable. They can play it really straight, in which case it’ll be Unforgivable. Then they can play it really, really straight, the way Leslie Nielson played Naked Gun, and we go back to camp, in which case, good. Most likely, it’s gonna be one of the middle two.

Of course this is on Unforgivable watch. Most people already have it on their list, I’m figuring, so I’ll probably be looking for a reason not to put it on. So that way if it makes it on, you’ll know they really earned it.

Men in Black III

This, actually is on Unforgivable watch for me.

Why, you say? Because Will Smith, since Ali, in 2001, has made these films:

Men in Black II, which sucked. Bad Boys II, which was okay, but was clearly a money grab. I, Robot, which also sucked (and was blatantly full of product placement). Hitch, which is just an abortion. The Pursuit of Happyness, which is decent, but pandering. I Am Legend, which is almost-great, but ruined because of an ending change. Too bad. The first 2/3 of that film are really good. Hancock, which was really just bland as shit and could have had so much more bite if Will didn’t want to please everybody. Seven Pounds, where he kills himself with a jellyfish. ’nuff said.

Will seems to do nothing except play off the same, no-risk formula that gets him a lot of money. And when he does do something with an interesting concept (that isn’t fishing for money and Oscars), he ruins it by making it mainstream (I Am Legend, Hancock).

What’s so interesting about this film is everything that surrounds it. He hasn’t made a film in 4 years. You know why that is? Because he carefully chooses his projects in order to make money. (Have you read the great Bill Simmons article on him? It perfect explains it. It has a quote back from the 90s where he said he at down with his producing partner and said, “What works,” and looked at the top ten grossing films of all time. “We looked at (the list) and said, O.K., what are the patterns? We realized that 10 out of 10 had special effects. Nine out of 10 had special effects with creatures. Eight out of 10 had special effects with creatures and a love story.” And he’s literally done nothing but follow that formula ever since (basically).)

So Will not making a movie in 4 years probably has to do with him trying to find something guaranteed to make money. And of course, since nothing particularly new comes out, he once again went back to the well. And, while it’s guaranteed to make a shitload of money, that doesn’t automatically mean it’ll be a good movie.

And when you factor in how bad the second one was, and how many problems this film had with shooting (they didn’t even have a script! They started shooting without a script. Come on, people), that I have to put this on Unforgivable watch. It’ll be similar to Hangover II last year. If this follows a formula, expecting to make money and not providing anything of value, regardless of whether it’s watchable, it’ll be Unforgivable. And I can see that happening.

2.5 stars. Strong Unforgivable watch. Take a chance, Will! You should have done Django! Even Cruise took a chance!

Moonrise Kingdom

A pair of lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.

Personally, I don’t care what the synopsis says. That’s not the selling point.

This is a Wes Anderson movie. And here’s the cast:

Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray (naturally), Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman (naturally), Harvey Keitel, and Bob Balaban.

Tell me you’re not at least intrigued by that cast.

4 stars. Anderson movies are always worthwhile. The less said, the better. Let’s just see this, already.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Going through May based on the How to Read a Hollywood Release is gonna be pretty easy.

“The great thing about May is that it’s the film equivalent of gunning it after a red light. Let’s see how fast you can go 0-60. That’s what it’s like. And given the amount of money that’s spent, it’s also kind of like racing for slips.”

The only specifications I gave were:

Some films (and this counts for the whole summer) and franchises have certain release dates. For example, the 3rd week (the 18th-ish week) of July — Batman (or Warner Bros. They also put Potter and Inception there). May Day — Marvel. When something works, it goes back there.

Also, I notice, that May seems to be the month — I called it the minor leagues — for franchises on the up swing and franchises on the down swing.

You see them try to start franchises, like Prince of Persia — it’s clearly a summer movie, but they want to see if its ready for the big leagues, so they put it in May. And also, they put the old-timers in May — the ones that draw, but aren’t new and exciting. Like Indiana Jones and Shrek. Those got demoted to May. Shrek because it was ending, and Indy because they took almost 20 years off. Terminator did that too. Down swing also refers to films that only bring back moderate business, but are still big enough to have to go here. Narnia is one of those. The first one — fucking huge. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Everyone knows that. Did big business. Second one — no one really knows the books, and they know most of the money will come from international business. So they put it in May. (And somehow, they went back to December for the third one, and that did not work. It’s like they didn’t even read my article.) This year, obviously Men in Black is that film.

The best thing about those past two is — the best example of both of those things is Pirates. The first two Pirates films were released in July. But when the franchise was coming to and end, they put it at the end of May (25th) and it was replaced with another franchise — Transformers. But then they announced a new one, and, what did they do? Put it back in their scheduled May date. That end of May date will now be the date for all Pirates films. Fascinating, right?

The other thing I said about May is that they have Rom Coms (capital R, capital C). I referred to those as the ones that are sappy, or that went full retard. Something Borrowed, Letters to Juliet, Made of Honor, What Happens in Vegas. This year? What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Cameron Diaz draws, apparently. This is where they put her. (Also, notice anything about all those movies I listed? Yeah… I’m thinking about changing my rating too.)

That’s it, really. Beginning of the summer. Now, it’s basically — May through July, big films expecting to make lots of money pick a weekend, and that’s that. And occasionally you’ll see counter-programming, like last year, when Hangover II was released opposite Kung Fu Panda II, which makes sense, since the two do not share primary audiences.

Let’s check out the box office…

First week — Avengers. That’s gonna do fucking ridiculous business.

Second week — honestly, probably Avengers again. Which is weird, since Dark Shadows, The Dictator and What to Expect When You’re Expecting are also opening that weekend. Something’s gotta give there. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (fresh off one of the (somehow) highest grossing movies of all time), another Sacha Baron Cohen character, and a Cameron Diaz Rom Com — these are all draws. At least one of these is getting bumped to the week after this.

Third week — only Battleship is opening. If they really think this is gonna win the weekend — well, it probably will, if it’s the only thing out. But I think one of those films from the week before is gonna come out here and get money. Probably What to Expect. That seems like the choice. Or Dark Shadows, which will get audience no matter what.

Fourth week — Men in Black. That’ll do huge business, because America seems to like Will Smith playing it safe.

Any potential good movies in May?: Moonrise Kingdom. I assume Avengers will be enjoyable, but I’m not expecting good good from it. Dark Shadows — probably the same. The Dictator — I can’t tell. Maybe. And Marigold Hotel — I expect that to be enjoyable.

Unforgivables?: Ooh…this is tough. What to Expect When You’re Expecting — maybe. Cameron always creates the possibility. And Lopez is like a homing beacon. Battleship is something we’re all expecting to be laughably bad. We have to mention it. And, honestly, Men in Black III is gonna get a watch. I don’t think it’ll make it, but, this could upset me that Will Smith is just squeezing money out of things without doing anything interesting. That second one was just not good, and this might completely tarnish the legacy (if that’s the appropriate word) of the first one.

– – – – – – – – – – –


Rock of Ages

I have to hand it to Tom Cruise — this is a safe choice, but it’s an interesting safe choice. I like that he’s going balls out with a musical. I really do. Plus it’s being directed by Adam Shankman, who did Hairspray, which was pretty awesome, all things considered. And it’s a musical, which is my favorite genre next to the western. So I’m predisposed to enjoying this. And I know the songs are gonna be good, since they’re all 80s rock hits, so I don’t even have to worry about that.

I don’t even want to know a synopsis. I want to go in totally cold, except for the trailer. I’ll see the trailer.

Honestly, this sounds like fun. Let’s say 3.5 stars. I’ll hope for 4, but I don’t know anything about the musical, so I’m really unable to properly predict for that. Let’s just assume this is a fun musical.

Snow White & the Huntsman

If you had me pick which Snow White movie coming out this year looked better on paper a year ago — I would not have said this one. Yet — I saw the trailer. It looks like it could be halfway decent.

It’s taking the Snow White story and making it so the huntsman, after being unable to kill her, joins her side and trains her to go kill the queen. That’s cool.

I don’t want to assume this will be decent, so I’ll say 2.5 stars, but honestly, based on that trailer, it could be a 3. Doesn’t look totally like my cup of tea, but honestly, next to that Tarsem trailer, I’d much rather see this one. 2.5 or 3 seem like the probables here.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

Yeah — I haven’t even seen the first one of these movies. They make a lot of money, so that’ll happen, but otherwise, I don’t really care about this.

I won’t see it, because that will require me to see the first two. I’m sure it won’t suck and will just be kiddie. Plus kids movies and sequels rarely make my Unforgivables list (unless they’re Marmaduke or something. And even that didn’t make it). So I really don’t need to see this at all.

2.5 stars, though, in case I do see it. I’m sure it’ll be throwaway and kiddie, and since I don’t care about it, I won’t go 3.


This actually is one of my more anticipated films of the year, purely because of the cast and the stills that have come out for it. They look beautiful.

Plus the first Alien is pretty great. Even the second one’s great, but for different reasons.

This, though — I’m excited for this. Know why? They built all the sets. They didn’t green screen anything.

4 stars. I expect good things, Ridley. You make good shit most of the time, and you seem excited as hell about this, so I’ll go with it. I believe in you, Ridley!

(Also, haven’t even watched the trailer that debuted. My new philosophy on movies — and it seems to be working — is to watch as few things as possible beforehand, and go in totally cold. That way there aren’t and biases at work. It seemed to work. I didn’t get nearly as angry at films this year as I did last year.)

I Hate You, Dad

Adam Sandler is in this.

1 star. Unforgivable watch.

See how easy that is?

Oh, I guess we should take a look at a synopsis, just so we can make it official:

The film follows a man (Adam Sandler) who, as a teenager, fathered a son (Andy Samberg) in high school with his teacher. Years later, the man visits his son on the eve of his son’s wedding and begins feuding with his son’s bride (Leighton Meester).

Oh no. Oh no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no.

Please let this movie not exist come June.

Jack the Giant Killer

No idea what this is about, but I can take a general guess based on the title.

An ancient war is reignited when a young farmhand unwittingly opens a gateway between our world and a fearsome race of giants. Unleashed on the Earth for the first time in centuries, the giants strive to reclaim the land they once lost, forcing the young man, Jack, into the battle of his life to stop them. Fighting for a kingdom, its people, and the love of a brave princess, he comes face to face with the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in legend—and gets the chance to become a legend himself.

We can all agree how terrible this sounds, right? It’s not just me that thinks that?

This sounds really, really, really bad. To the point where — why would you spend over $150 million on this? Is anyone even remotely interested in the material?

The cast is Nicholas Hoult as Jack. He played Beast in X-Men: First Class. Eleanor Tomlinson is the female lead. She hasn’t really done much. Stanley Tucci is in it. Ian McShane. Billy Nighy. Ewan McGregor. Eddie Marsan. And the giants are all CG. Great

Honestly, I’m going 2.5 stars here. I should go 2, but it’s big budget, and these are designed to appeal to people. So I’m sure it’ll be watchable, but I’m just not interested in this at all, and I can’t see what about it will make me like it. If I’m gonna watch something of this sort, it might as well be Pixar (more on that in a second).

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Oh man, I really hope this is good.

How can it not be, right?

Between this and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, it’s a good year for fucked up action movies. And I like that.

While I’m not sure the specific plot of the film, basically it has to do with Lincoln leading a secret life as a vampire hunter. So it’s almost like a superhero movie from the 19th century. And I dig that.

Again, though, hopefully they get the tone on this correct. Nothing would be worse than to see them fuck this up by doing it too seriously.

Still, 3.5 stars. There’s a certain amount of entertainment inherent in the material, and I’m expecting mostly good thing. I don’t want to presume 4, since I learned my lesson last year when I got crazy excited for potentially disappointing films. I hope 4, but I want the film to bring the 4.


It’s Pixar. That’s all you need.

I’m interested that this is a film featuring a female protagonist. Especially so soon after someone (stupidly) decided to call Pixar out on it. (They make perfect films already. Do we really need to nitpick?) I’m slightly worried they threw this together in order to appease the minority, but on the other hand — their track record is so good.

I only have a vague idea about the plot of this. Something about Kelly Macdonald (who is voicing the character) wanting to be an archer, and then going to prove herself and then save her kingdom from something (probably a dragon). I don’t really care. You had me at Pixar.

Since it is Pixar, we assume a blanket 4 stars to start. 5 is possible, 4.5 is probable, 4 is definite. That’s just how it is. This one seems more action-heavy than those in the past. That is to say — it doesn’t really seem to have that emotional hook that their best stuff (Wall-E, Up, Toy Story 3) had. Still, I’m hoping they continue their (non Cars-related) streak. They make other movies bearable while simultaneously embarrassing everyone else. I love that.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Is this retaliation for the fact that everyone thought the first one sucked? Like, “Oh, you thought that was bad…”

For the record, I loved the first film. Sure it was terrible. But it was fun. I had fun in the terribleness. What did you think a G.I. Joe movie was gonna be? Of course they needed to work on some stuff, and of course there were lots of things to complain about. But I enjoyed it.

This one, I feel, has already tried to address the problems of the first one. Very blatantly, too. They didn’t bring back 90% of the cast — Marlon Wayans is out, as is chick with the tits. All that are really back are Channing Tatum, and the two ninjas. And instead, they added Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis. That’s cool. I can fucks with this. I’m very excited for it. I hope it’s good.

I’ll say 3 stars and hope it’s higher. I doubt it’ll be 4. 3.5 seems most likely, but we’ll stick with 3. The first one was a 3 star movie that I enjoyed as 3.5 stars. This, I want to be a 3.5 star movie. Let’s hope it turns out that way.

Magic Mike

This is a movie about a male stripper based on Channing Tatum’s experiences as a male stripper.

Soderberg likes doing these movies. Remember The Girlfriend Experience?

Unfortunately, I don’t expect great things from it. Just like The Girlfriend Experience. The thing about these types of Soderbergh films are — the topic is interesting, but the film usually ends up being really light on the script.

I’ll say 2.5 stars. I’m always more interested in these films as a concept than I am in the actual films.

– – – – – – – – – –

Ah, June. I called June the month of “franchises and shit.”

Of the franchises, these are the ones I named — superhero movies. Pixar movies. Big budget star vehicles, shitty Adam Sandler movies.

Pixar’s been using June for years. This year is Brave. We have our shitty Adam Sandler movie this year too. Only thing is — I don’t really see a big budget star vehicle. Oh, wait, Rock of Ages. Prometheus is a Ridley Scott-driven project. Snow White is more the tween girl audience. Interesting that Madagascar was put here. Or maybe not. They want the animated movies to make as much money as possible because they don’t really have anything else that will.

Jack the Giant Killer — I don’t know what the fuck that’s gonna be. I guess that’s one of those big “one-offs” I mentioned. I also see a big potential for failure here (at least domestically).

Abe Lincoln — interesting choice as well. They must be treating it like a superhero movie. G.I. Joe is interesting because the first one was released in August. They must really figure this one is better (or they figure Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis will get more people to show up). Or the summer just sucks. That seems most likely.

I also said that June is the lesser of the two summer months, so these are the lesser of the big budget films. For example: May superhero movies: Iron Man, Thor. June: Incredible Hulk, Green Lantern. July: Captain America. (Though, I’ll admit, last June also had X-Men: First Class. But generally, June movies are lesser.)

These weekends seem so fucked up. They’re gonna change, right? They have to. This seems like poor box office planning, May and June, as well as a set of weak films.

Let’s look at the box office…

First week — Rock of Ages will probably win the weekend. Right? Over Snow White?

Second week — Madagascar.

Third week — I’m assuming Sandler, but maybe Jack the Giant Killer? No idea. Maybe Madagascar again?

Fourth week — Brave. Pixar is Pixar.

Fifth week — G.I. Joe. That’ll make money. Pixar, for some reason, doesn’t usually win two weekends in a row.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tune in tomorrow — the heart of the summer, and the shitty leftovers too. July and August.

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