Summer blockbuster season is months away, but there's plenty to pique young moviegoers' interest this spring. The Eagle lands more than 50 years after the publication of the book it's based on, Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth; on the other end of the timing spectrum, I Am Number Four (one of two films starring Alex Pettyfer) isn't even out in paperback. And, as in publishing itself, paranormal romances and the Wimpy Kid are staking their claims. There's no shortage of CGI on the way, but for those in need of a dose of reality, Disney is offering up a real-life Lion King, in African Cats.
Gnomeo and Juliet
Voices of James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Patrick Stewart
Directed by Kelly Asbury
Release date February 11 (Disney/Touchstone)
Tie-ins from Random/Disney: Gnomeo and Juliet Junior Novel by Molly McGuire Woods (Jan.; 50,000 paper); Gnomeo and Juliet Reusable Sticker Book by Sebastian Belle (Jan.; 50,000 paper); A Tale of Two Gardens by Meika Hashimoto (Jan.; 50,000 paper)
This slapstick CGI take on Shakespeare's tragic romance lays its scene not in fair Verona but on the front lawn, with McAvoy and Blunt as star-crossed garden gnomes. Other big-name voices include Dolly Parton, Hulk Hogan, and Ozzy Osbourne—and a reported Lady Gaga/Elton John duet on the soundtrack.
Starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland
Directed by Kevin Macdonald
Release date February 11 (Focus Features)
Tie-in from Macmillan/Square Fish: The Eagle by Rosemary Sutcliff (Jan.; 35,000 reprint)
Based on Sutcliff's 1954 novel, The Eagle of the Ninth, which has sold more than a million copies worldwide, this action film is set in 150 C.E., with Tatum in the role of centurion Marcus Aquila. Director Macdonald is best known for his documentary One Day in September and, more recently, The Last King of Scotland.
I Am Number Four
Starring Alex Pettyfer, Timothy
Olyphant, Dianna Agron
Directed by D.J. Caruso
Release date February 18 (DreamWorks/Touchstone)
Tie-in from HarperTeen: I Am Number Four Movie Tie-in Edition by Pittacus Lore (Jan.; 150,000)
Much buzz has been building in advance of this science fiction action flick, which James Frey and co-writer Jobie Hughes sold to producers Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg. It's the first project from Frey's book packaging company, Full Fathom Five, which was the subject of an unflattering piece in New York magazine late last year. Film and publishing insiders will likely be watching this film's reception closely.
Voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Release date March 4 (Paramount/Nickelodeon)
Tie-ins from Sterling: Rango: The New Sheriff in Town by Annie Auerbach (Jan.; 150,000 paper); Rango: The Novel by Justine and Ron Fontes (Jan.; 50,000 paper); Rango: The Movie Storybook by Justine and Ron Fontes (Jan.; 50,000); Rango: A Hero at Last by Annie Auerbach (Jan.; 50,000 paper)
A departure from Depp and Verbinski's previous collaborations—the hugely successful Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy—this quirky-sounding CGI feature centers on a chameleon (Depp) who finds himself in a sherifflike role in a rowdy Old West town. This film marks the first time that special effects company Industrial Light & Magic has animated a full-length movie.
Mars Needs Moms
Voices of Seth Green, Joan Cusack, Dan Fogler
Directed by Simon Wells
Release date March 11 (Disney/ImageMovers Digital)
Tie-in from Philomel: Mars Needs Moms by Berkeley Breathed (Jan.; 35,000 reprint)
The final project from Robert Zemeckis's ImageMovers Digital, which Disney is shuttering after this film, is based on Breathed's 2007 picture book. The film, which features Green as nine-year-old Milo and Cusack as his mother, will utilize the motion-capture animation seen—though not universally loved—in A Christmas Carol and The Polar Express.
Red Riding Hood
Starring Amanda Seyfried, Lukas Haas, Gary Oldman
Director Catherine Hardwicke
Release date March 11 (Warner Bros.)
Tie-in from Little, Brown/Poppy: Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright (Jan.; 100,000 paper)
Twilight director Hardwicke is in familiar territory with this paranormal love triangle based on the classic fairy tale, which has Seyfried falling for an orphaned woodcutter in a village threatened by a werewolf. First-time author Blakley-Cartwright's novelization is based on a screenplay by David Leslie Johnson (Orphan).
Starring Vanessa Hudgens, Alex Pettyfer, Mary-Kate Olsen
Directed by Daniel Barnz
Release date March 18 (CBS Films)
Tie-in from HarperTeen: Beastly Movie Tie-in Edition by Alex Flinn (Feb; 150,000 paper).
One of the first movies from CBS Films, this supernatural teen drama is based on Flinn's 2007 YA novel, which PW called "a lighthearted and contemporary twist on Beauty and the Beast." The film was originally to have been released in July 2010, but was pushed back to avoid competing with Charlie St. Cloud, which featured Hudgens's High School Musical co-star and then-bf, Zac Efron.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2:
Starring Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn, Rachael Harris
Directed by David Bowers
Release date March 25 (Fox 2000)
Tie-in from Abrams/Amulet: The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary Revised and Expanded Edition by Jeff Kinney (Feb.; 250,000)
Green-lighted after the success of the first Wimpy Kid film last year, which grossed more than $75 million worldwide (and only cost $15 million to make), this sequel draws from the second book in Kinney's bestselling middle-grade series. Though stars Gordon, Zahn, and Harris return as members of the Heffley clan, Bowers (Astro Boy) takes over as director, replacing Thor Freudenthal.
Starring Russell Brand (voice), James Marsden, Elizabeth Perkins
Director Tim Hill
Release date April 1 (Universal/Illumination Entertainment)
Tie-ins from Little, Brown: Hop: The Chapter Book by Annie Auerbach (Little, Brown BFYR, Feb.; 100,000 paper); Hop: Meet the Easter Bunny by Lucy Rosen (LB Kids, Feb.; 85,000 paper); Chicks Versus Bunnies by Kirsten Mayer (LB Kids, Feb.; 85,000 paper); Counting Chicks by Kirsten Mayer (LB Kids, Feb.; 75,000 board); Hoppy Bunnies by Kirsten Mayer (LB Kids, Feb.; 75,000 board)
Actor/comedian Brand lends his voice to the role of the Easter bunny in this combination CGI and live-action comedy in which Marsden's character takes in the rabbit after hitting him with a car. Hill's previous directorial outings (Alvin and the Chipmunks; Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties) were critically panned but commercially successful globally.
Voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez
Directed by Carlos Saldanha
Release date April 8 (Fox/Blue Sky Studios)
Tie-ins from HarperFestival: Rio: The Junior Novel by Lexa Hillyer (Feb.; 150,000 paper); Rio: Learning to Fly by Catherine Hapka (Feb.; 125,000 paper); Rio: Birds of a Feather by Susan Korman (Feb.; 100,000 paper); Rio: Greetings from Rio! by Benjamin Harper (Feb.; 100,000 paper); Rio: Blu and Friends by Catherine Hapka (Feb.; 100,000 paper)
The latest 3-D animated feature film from director Saldanha (the Ice Age series) is set in his birthplace of Brazil. Eisenberg lends his voice to the role of Blu, a blue macaw believed to be the last of his kind. Jamie Foxx, Jamie Mann, and will.i.am also voice characters.
Directed by Alistair Fothergill and Keith Scholey
Release date April 22 (Disneynature)
Tie-ins from Disney: African Cats: A Lion's Pride by Catherine Hapka (Disney Press, Mar.; 50,000 paper); African Cats: Sita the Cheetah (Disney Press, Mar.; 50,000 paper); African Cats: Sticker Book (Disney Press, Mar.; 75,000 paper); Disney Nature African Cats: The Story Behind the Film by Amanda Barrett and Keith Scholey (Disney Editions, Mar.; 35,000)
Only the fourth film from Disney's Disneynature label (preceded by the acclaimed Earth and Oceans, as well as The Crimson Wing), this documentary focuses on two rival families of lions and cheetahs in the African savanna. Among the "characters" are Sita, a cheetah mother of five, and Fang, leader of a pride of lions.
Starring Aimee Teegarden, Yin Chang, Trevor Peterson
Directed by Joe Nussbaum
Release date April 29 (Disney)
Tie-in from Disney Press: Prom: A Novelization by Ellie O'Ryan (Apr.; 100,000)
In the midst of prom season comes a teen comedy about that most hallowed of high school rites, as several students prepare for the big dance. There isn't a lot of star power behind this project, but once upon a time Zac Efron and Vanessa
Hudgens were unknowns, too.