Summer Movie Preview

School is out for summer. You know what that means...the movie studios begin to roll out their “tent pole” features of the year, those big sequels you can’t wait to see, the comic book adaptations you can’t wait to tell your friends all about, the hot star vehicles, and even some highly anticipated indies. Welcome to The Teen Film Review look at summer!

Part One: May

The summer movie season is starting earlier and earlier each year. Last year, Spider-Man made box office history bowing on the first weekend in May. Filling that spot this year is another comic book adapted film, and a highly anticipated feature. X2: X-Men United debuts May 2. The entire cast from the original will reunite for the sequel: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Anna Pacquin, Rebecca Roman-Stamos and Halle Berry (who has become a major force in Hollywood after winning an Oscar last year for Monster’s Ball) among many others. Early buzz and reviews are looking good for X2, which is the unofficial kick off to the summer, (some may argue that the kick off happened 3 weeks ago, when Anger Management debuted). The overly long title makes the film sound a bit too “direct to video,” but this film won’t have any trouble in meeting the first films final tally of 157 million.

Family features, once though to be only Disney animated movies fit for the small minded, have become a big market. In 2002, The Rookie made 70+ million. Spy Kids has become a trilogy (more on that later). And ironically, the animated market has shrunken significantly, evident by the poor showing of Thanksgiving’s Treasure Planet. That might seem to indicate a tidy sum at the end of the run for Daddy Day Care with hits theaters everywhere May 9, but don’t rush to conclusions. Eddie Murphy, the film’s star has had a highly publicized bad streak, starting with Showtime, moving onto The Adventures of Pluto Nash, and most recently, I Spy. I feel that Daddy Day Care will be successfully, as its returning to Eddie’s kid-oriented successes like the Dr. Dolittle franchise. Perhaps a 60-75 million run is in order for this movie.

In April 1999, a film starring Keanu Reeves, Lawrence Fishbourne, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joey Pants hit theaters with little fan fare, but then went on to gross 150+ million. The Matrix has become the new Star Wars, and if memory serves me correct, The Matrix is the top selling DVD of all time, even after 4 years. But don’t quote me on that. There are two sequels this year, The Matrix: Reloaded which will hit a huge amount of theaters (possibly largest number ever?) on May 15, a Thursday. (The other is The Matrix: Revolutions, but more on that as its release date draws closer in November.) The cult following and general fan base surrounding this movie is huge. Spider-Man made a mind-boggling 113 million in three days last year, I suspect The Matrix: Reloaded will crush that, and I don’t even want to think about the four-day weekend! I am not even a huge fan of The Matrix and what is represents, but I know I will be there opening weekend, and I know I won’t be alone. Could this be the biggest grossing movie ever? Maybe, but probably not. Will this be the biggest grossing movie is 2003? If its not, then The Matrix: Revolutions will be. Will this be the biggest grossing movie of the summer? Most defiantly.

Director Peyton Reed directed one of the funniest and hippest teen movies of the rash that came out in the past 3 years, Bring it On. Following the success of that movie, (the movie came out in 2000, and the DVD and video can still be found on the New Release wall at my neighborhood Family Video), Peyton has decided to branch out, with Down With Love which will be glad to take your money starting May 16. This is a formula romantic comedy starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor set in the 1960’s. There is a catch. Peyton wanted this to look like it was made in the 1960’s, by use of fake backdrops, using only sets...etc. This seems like the perfect counter programming to The Matrix: Reloaded, as it targets the female demographic who is by far less interested in The Matrix saga. About a Boy was able to be successful in the shadow of Star Wars Episode 2 last year, same should go for Down With Love.

Memorial Day is always far more sought after for a film release date than its late summer counter part Labor Day. The Memorial Day weekend kicks off May 23rd, and debuting is the Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston comedy Bruce Almighty. The marketing campaign for this movie has been wonderful, featuring a hysterical trailer, great TV ads, and lots of Jennifer Aniston (the current “it-girl”) in both of these, as well as a creative poster. There are surprisingly few non-sequel/franchise comedies coming out this summer, so I think that Bruce Almighty will be wildly successful financially, and possibly even critically, as this will be a welcome return to comedy for Jim Carrey. Also coming out on May 23rd in the Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks comedy The In-Laws. This is a perfect time to release such a film, as it targets families, and I will bet many families will be having reunions around this time. While it will pale in comparison to the younger targeted Bruce Almighty, The In-Laws should do well, and may be a sleeper.

Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Monster’s Inc. have all been incredibly popular and a huge source of income, which has rocketed computer animation studio Pixar into the lime-light. Its latest feature is bowing at theaters on May 30, Finding Nemo. I seem to remember this movie as being in eternal production hell. Yet it will finally be polished and ready for public viewing in just a few weeks. This is the first summer release for a Pixar film, which may through off some people, and early buzz indicates that this may not be up to par with the previously mentioned Pixar efforts. However, Finding Nemo will surely find an audience.

The Bourne Identity was a hit last year, thanks in part to a Mini Cooper chase. Starting May 30, The Italian Job hopes to chase up the same (if not more) success than the Matt Damon action flick. In an attempt to one up Bourne, The Italian Job will even incorporate a bad-ass helicopter into the said chase. The movie will star Mark Whalberg (a bane of my existence ever since The Truth About Charlie, and that damn beret), Charlize Theron, and Edward Norton who was forced to do this movie by Paramount, do to a contract snafu dating all the way back to 1995 and Norton’s breakout role in Primal Fear. I don’t see The Italian Job being the breakout hit that The Bourne Identity was, as it will flounder in the wake of The Matrix: Reloaded. Perhaps, 45 million will be in order?

That concludes segment one of The Teen Film Review Summer Preview. Look for Part 2, June, very soon. Of course the film’s talked about above are the major studio releases. Below you will find a full list of releases in May, including the smaller flicks not discussed in detail above.

X2: X-Men United (May 2)
The Lizzie McGuire Movie (May 2)
The Dancer Upstairs (May 2 - Limited Release)
Owning Mahoney (May 2 - Limited Release)
Blue Car (May 2 - Limited Release)
Daddy Day Care (May 9)
The Shape of Things (May 9)
Only the Strong Survive (May 9 - Limited Release)
The Matrix: Reloaded (May 15)
Down With Love (May 16)
Pokemon Heroes (May 16 - Limited Release)
Sweet Sixteen (May 16 - Limited Release)
Bruce Almighty (May 23)
The In-Laws (May 23)
Manic (May 23 - Limited Release)
Finding Nemo (May 30)
The Italian Job (May 30)
Wrong Turn (May 30)
Together (May 30 - Limited Release)

© 2003 Jacob Sproul

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