By now we've all heard about "staycations," the budget vacation alternatives that avoid the crowds, the travel dilemmas (airplanes clipping each other's wings, e.g.), and the stress. But what about cinemacations, as close as your nearest multiplex? May we suggest the following roster of forthcoming films—a diverse lineup of blockbuster franchises and bestselling novel adaptations (mystery! romance! comedy!), all for much less than the cost of a weekend in the Hamptons—or any similar tony destination near you.
An Invisible Sign
Starring Jessica Alba, J.K. Simmons, Chris Messina
Directed by Marilyn Agrelo
Release date May 6 (IFC Films, limited, plus VOD, available in 50 million homes)
Tie-in from Anchor Books: An Invisible Sign of My Own by Aimee Bender (trade paper)
Tracing Bender's literary roots yields a triple crown. An Invisible Sign of My Own, her first novel, followed her 1999 story collection, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, for which PW praised her "unique and compassionate voice" and called her debut "a string of pearls." PW similarly lauded Invisible Sign, calling it "clever, original, and written with brio and eloquence." Novel three, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, appeared on several national charts; again PW praised the author's work, as "brimming with a zesty, beguiling talent."
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Release date May 6
Tie-ins from Disney/Marvel Press: Four paperbacks—Thor Junior Novel by Elizabeth Rudnick and three storybooks—go on-sale in April; combined first printing: 325,000 copies. A hardcover, The Mighty Thor: A Marvel Origin Story by Rich Thomas, will be released in June.
It's hammer time: as Marvel marches toward the 2012 release of The Avengers, the Norse god of thunder joins Iron Man and, later this summer, Captain America on the big screen. Australian soap star and relative newcomer Hemsworth stars as Thor and will reprise the role in The Avengers. Perhaps most interesting will be to see how Branagh's Shakespearean background plays into his direction of one of Marvel's more serious and regal heroes.
Starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin, John Krasinski
Directed by Luke Greenfield
Release date May 6 (Warner Bros., wide)
Tie-in from St. Martin's: Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (Mar. 29; trade paper, 300,000; mass market, 500,000)
This adaptation of Giffin's 2004 romantic debut should attract her growing audience, all of whom can try to spot her in a cameo role, reading from an earlier book, Something Blue. (Her newest work, Heart of the Matter, is currently in its fourth week on PW's trade paper list.) Hudson seems like a smart choice for the lead, though her recent films haven't exactly been boffo at the b.o. (last year's Casey Affleck vehicle, The Killer Inside Me, was considered pretty gruesome and, despite a starry cast, 2009's Nine was a notable bomb). But since we know that love triumphs in the end, we'll bet on handsome Krasinski (of The Office fame) to sweep our girl off her feet.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Starring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Penelope Cruz
Directed by Rob Marshall
Release date May 20
Tie-in from Harper: On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers (trade paper and mass market, 50,000, Apr. 26)
Tie-ins from Disney: A paperback junior novel and movie storybook arrive on April 12 from Disney Press; an art book, The Art of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides by Michael Singer, and a novel follow from Disney Editions in May. Combined first printing: 300,000 copies.
Big news for P.O.T.C.4: Gore Verbinski, who led capers one, two, and three to b.o. gold, is gone. In his place is Rob Marshall, the all-singing, all-dancing director who landed an Oscar for his excellent work on Chicago. (And, in the opinion of many critics, should have won the booby prize for his stultifying work on Nine. But we digress.) And of course Johnny and Geoffrey Rush are back, but with a new leading lady—Penelope Cruz, who was pregnant throughout the film's production, and whose younger sibling, Mónica, reportedly doubled for sis in the long-distance scenes as the wardrobe department struggled to hide the pregnancy. Ah, the magic of movies.
Too Big to Fall
Starring William Hurt, Ed Asner, Paul Giamatti
Directed by Curtis Hanson
Release date May 23 (HBO)
Tie-in from Penguin: Too Big to Fall by Andrew Ross Sorkin (trade paper, May 11)
This looks like a can't miss—and how many times have we heard that one? Sorkin's 2009 book (The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves) garnered terrific reviews and enjoyed a five-week run on PW's nonfiction list. Screenwriter Peter Gould has been twice nominated for his stellar work on AMC's cult fave Breaking Bad; then there's A-list director Hanson, with a terrific rep and a slew of awards for the great L.A. Confidential. That was 14 years ago, however, in a town that says you're only as good as your last picture. Hanson's was 2007's Lucky You; reviews were middling, so let's bank on that "can't miss" mode.
Kung Fu Panda 2
Voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie
Directed by Jennifer Yuh
Release date May 26 (DreamWorks, wide)
Tie-ins from Penguin/Price Stern Sloan: Six tie-ins go on sale April 28: Kung Fu Panda 2: The Novel by Tracey West and a mix of story and activity books including a recipe book and Mad Libs title.
Jack is back (as are Dustin, Angelina, Jackie, and Lucy). Kung Fu Panda was a big hit in 2008—both in theaters and with critics; it grossed more than $630 million worldwide and picked up an Oscar nom (losing out to Wall-E). Yuh makes her big-screen directorial debut in this sequel, though she directed the opening sequence in the previous film.
Starring Craig Roberts, Sally Hawkins, Paddy
Release date June 3
Tie-in from Random House: Submarine by Joe Dunthorne (trade paper, May 17)
This oddball mix of sincerity, self-consciousness, and teen angst was a hit when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. Set in a small town in Wales, the story follows Oliver Tate, a 15-year-old stealthily nosing his way forward through the murky and perilous waters of adolescence. His objectives? Uncovering the secrets behind his parents' teetering marriage, unraveling the mystery that is his alluring and equally quirky classmate Jordana Bevan, and understanding where he fits in among the mystifying beings in his orbit.
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer
Starring Heather Graham, Jordana Beatty, Parris Mosteller
Directed by John Schultz
Release date June 10 (Smokewood Entertainment, wide)
Tie-ins from Candlewick: Judy Moody creator Megan McDonald pens a novelization and a behind-the-scenes guide, Judy Moody Goes to Hollywood (combined first printing: 400,000 copies); they are joined by a pair of storybooks and a field guide. All pub in May.
Megan McDonald's bestselling middle-grade series jumps to the big screen in a film from the production company behind another book-to-screen adaptation, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire. McDonald co-wrote the screenplay with Kathy Waugh, whose writing credits include the animated Arthur TV series.
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard
Directed by Martin Campbell
Release date June 17
(Warner Bros., wide)
Tie-ins from Penguin/Price Stern Sloan: Five tie-ins go on sale May 12: a pair of early readers, two sticker books, and a papercraft activity book, Power of the Lantern, illus. by Christopher Beaumont.
Marvel superheroes aren't the only ones in theaters this summer—DC's Green Lantern may not have Superman's gravitas or Batman's edginess, but it looks like Reynolds will bring a lot of fun to the role of Hal Jordan. Campbell's action-movie résumé includes two James Bond films, Casino Royale and GoldenEye, as well as The Mask of Zorro.
Starring Jim Carrey, Angela Lansbury, Carla Gugino
Directed by Mark Waters
Release date June 17 (20th Century Fox/Davis Entertainment, wide)
Tie-in from Little, Brown: A new paperback edition of Richard and Florence Atwater's 1938 novel arrives on May 10 with a first printing of 100,000 copies.
Waters (The Spiderwick Chronicles; Mean Girls) directs the first big-screen adaptation of the Atwaters' Newbery Honor–winning novel for children. Fox moved the film's release date up from August 12—the combo of Carrey and real live penguins should help this one hold its own against the juggernaut that is Green Lantern.
Voices of Owen Wilson, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer
Directed by John Lasseter and Brad Lewis
Release date June 24 (Disney/Pixar, wide)
Tie-ins from Random: Thirteen titles arrive in May from Random House's Disney and Golden Books imprints with a combined first printing of nearly three million copies. Books include a junior novelization, a Little Golden Book, several coloring and activity books, and early readers.
Tie-ins from Disney Press: Four May titles include Cars Storybook Collection, a book plus playset, and a storybook with audio CD. Combined first printing: 500,000 copies.
Tie-ins from DK: In May, DK will publish Cars 2 additions to its Ultimate Sticker Book and Essential Guide lines.
Tie-in from Chronicle: The Art of Cars 2 by Ben Queen and Karen Paik arrives in June.
Five years later, Disney releases a sequel to Cars, which was the third-highest grossing movie in 2006 behind two other family films—Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Night at the Museum. But ticket sales are just one piece of the puzzle: Disney reported in February that Cars merchandise has brought in more than $8 billion in retail sales.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-
Whiteley, Josh Duhamel
Directed by Michael Bay
Release date July 1 (Paramount Pictures, wide)
Tie-in from Del Rey: Transformers: Dark of the Moon by Peter David (May 24, mass market, 65,000)
Tie-ins from Little, Brown: Six May tie-ins consist of The Junior Novel by Michael Kelly, a pair of early readers, two 8×8 storybooks, and a sticker activity book.
In this third and final film in Bay's Transformers series, the Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and learn its secrets, which could turn the tide in the Transformers' final battle. And let's be honest: Bay hasn't always hit the artistic bull's-eye, but hold those sneers until you check the grosses on Transformers I and II.
Starring Bob Angelini, Bern Cohen, Reagan Leonard
Directed by James Marsh
Release date July 8 (Roadside, wide)
Tie-in from Random House: Nim Chimpsky by Elizabeth Hess (trade)
From the Oscar-winning team behind Man on Wire comes the story of Nim Chimpsky, the chimpanzee who in the 1970s became the focus of a landmark experiment that aimed to show that an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised like a human child. Following Nim's extraordinary journey through society, and the impact he makes on the people he meets along the way, the story is pitched as an unflinching and unsentimental biography of an animal we tried to make human. What we learn about Nim's true nature—and indeed our own—is comic, revealing, and profoundly unsettling. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January.
Starring Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson
Directed by Lone Scherfig
Release date July 8 (Focus Features/Random House Films, platform release)
Tie-in from Vintage Books: One Day by David Nicholls (trade paper, 185,000)
Not only did Lone Scherfig put her name on the movie-making map with 2009's An Education, but the Danish director clearly has a sense of humor, as witness this recent quote: "If someone writes a great war film, they aren't going to send it to me. I get films about 50-year-old women who go to Italy to find themselves, and I kindly return them every time." One Day is Random House's second film (following Reservation Road) and, in a nice bit of cinematic/literary overachievement, Peter Gethers runs the film company and was the novel's editor. Check out PW's prescient review: "The Hollywood-ready latest from [David] Nicholls makes a brief pit stop in book form before its inevitable film adaptation."
and the Deathly Hallows: Part II
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Directed by David Yates
Release date July 15
(Warner Bros., wide)
Tie-ins from Scholastic: A pair of behind-the-scenes books—The World of Harry Potter and Movie Magic—as well as Harry Potter Lego Sticker Book; pub in June.
Readers had to bid farewell to Harry Potter way back in 2007; now filmgoers must do the same. Ten years after the first HP film hit screens, the series based on J.K. Rowling's megabestselling novels finally comes to a close. The domestic grosses for the preceding films have hovered between $250 million and $350 million each, and the first half of Yates's epic conclusion to the series was one of the top five films of 2010.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Starring Gianna Jun, Hugh Jackman, Vivian Wu
Directed by Wayne Wang
Release date July 15 (Fox Searchlight Pictures, limited)
Tie-in from Random House: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (trade paper, May 31)
Though Wang hasn't made much of a splash since helming the film version of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club in 1993, this seems like an author/director pairing that will pay off, at least on the artistic side. (Variety found Joy Luck "beautifully made and acted and emotionally moving in the bargain"; Roger Ebert dubbed it "one of the most touching and moving of the year's films.") Critics acclaimed See's 2005 novel; said PW's starred review, "As both a suspenseful and poignant story and an absorbing historical chronicle, this novel has bestseller potential and should becoming a reading group favorite as well." Right on both counts.
Winnie the Pooh
Voices of Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson, John Cleese
Directed by Stephen Anderson and Don Hall
Release date July 15
Tie-ins from Disney Press: Six titles—five storybooks (one with audio) and a novelty offering, Surprise Tails—pub in May. Combined first printing: 475,000 copies.
Tie-ins from DK: An Essential Guide and Ultimate Sticker Book arrive in June.
Winnie the Pooh is back in a hand-drawn film that, for the first time since The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977), is based on Milne's original stories. Three more recent Pooh movies—The Tigger Movie (2000), Piglet's Big Movie (2003), and Pooh's Heffalump Movie (2005)—were only moderately successful (pulling in $45 million or less domestically), so this is Disney's chance at a fresh start.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Starring Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving
Directed by Joe Johnston
Release date July 22 (Paramount/Marvel, wide)
Tie-ins from Disney/Marvel Press: A junior novel and movie storybook arrive in June.
In the second of two summer films with which Marvel is seeding the market in advance of 2012's The Avengers, Evans plays the eponymous supersoldier. This isn't Evans's first time at the superhero rodeo: he played the Human Torch in both of Marvel's Fantastic Four films. Johnson's previous directorial outings include The Wolfman, Jurassic Park III, Jumanji, and The Rocketeer.
Starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Aidan Quinn, Niels Arestrup
Directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Release date July 22 (the Weinstein Company, limited); July 29 (wide)
Tie-in from St. Martin's: Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (trade paper, St. Martin's Griffin, 200,000, June 7)
Here's another novel-to-film transfer of a long-running bestseller. With more than two million copies in print, de Rosnay's 2007 novel has spent more than two years on the national charts. The movie has already had considerable exposure overseas (according to IMDB.com, it's already grossed $14 million non-USA) and in various film festivals. It premiered last September at the Toronto International Film Festival and opened the Santa Barbara Film Festival in January. And of course the Weinstein imprimatur can't hurt, as the company's coming off a four-Oscar win for The King's Speech.
Starring Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays
Directed by Raja Gosnell
Release date July 29 (Columbia, wide)
Tie-ins from Simon Spotlight: Four July tie-ins, including a novelization, two 8×8 paperbacks, and an early reader, Very Clumsy Tale by Ilanit Oliver. Combined first printing: 425,000 copies.
And the revival of 1980s properties continues apace, this time in a live-action meets CGI feature that has the little blue guys traveling to New York City in a premise reminiscent of Enchanted. The trailers look smurfy (interpret that as you will), but Azaria makes a great Gargamel, at least. Lots of big-name talent voicing the Smurfs: Alan Cumming, Katy Perry, Paul Reubens, and George Lopez, to name a few.
COWBOYS & ALIENS
Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde
Directed by Jon Favreau
Release date July 29 (Universal Pictures/DreamWorks, wide)
Tie-ins from Tor: Novelization by Joan D. Vinge (August, mass market and e-book)
This one crosses the classic Western with the alien-invasion movie in a blazingly original way,and based on a graphic novel. Joined by an arsenal of noted producers—Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci—Favreau (Iron Man, Iron Man 2) brings an all-new action thriller into an Old West setting, where a lone cowpoke leads an uprising against a terror from beyond our world.
Starring Rufus Sewell, Caterina Murino, Stanley Townsend
Directed by John Alexander, Jon Jones, and Christopher Menaul
Release date July (PBS Masterpiece Mystery)
Tie-ins from Vintage Crime/Black Lizard: Vendetta, Cabal, Ratking by Michael Dibdin (trade paper)
The late British crime writer Michael Dibdin was by all accounts best known for his 11 Aurelio Zen mysteries, which often painted an unflattering portrait of modern Italian society. The first, Ratking, won the Gold Dagger Award for crime fiction in 1988; the final book, End Games, appeared posthumously in 2007, the year of the author's death. The Zen series had a successful BBC run earlier this year, with the always terrific Rufus Sewell as Zen.
Starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Sissy Spacek
Directed by Tate Taylor
Release date August 12 (DreamWorks, wide)
Tie-in from Berkley: The Help by Kathryn Stockett (trade paper, June 28, 500,000)
The success of Kathryn Stockett's widely praised debut novel, the first book from Amy Einhorn's eponymous imprint at Putnam, has been impressive—a major book club favorite, it's closing in on 100 weeks on PW's list. The film adaptation, too, has been trumpeted in the media (a July 13 EW feature, for example)—until a recent legal issue eclipsed the Hollywood hoopla. According to a February 22 report from ABC News, "Ablene Cooper, the longtime nanny for Stockett's brother, has filed a $75,000 lawsuit against the author, claiming she was upset by the book that characterizes black maids working for white families in the family's hometown of Jackson, Miss., during the 1960s." Could this become a case of box office vs. legal office?