Some upcoming movies in 2005... Does anybody else, though, think that The Island sounds just a tad bit like The Clonus Horror from the 70's?
George Lucas' "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" (Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox) (May 19)
With its Thursday release, the sci-fi saga isn't facing competition from any other wide releases the weekend of May 21-23. It's the same launch pattern that's worked so well for Lucas in the past. "Episode II -- Attack of the Clones" opened May 19, 2002, to $80 million and went on to gross nearly $311 million domestically. "Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" arrived May 19, 1999, to nearly $65 million and ended up doing over $431 million.
The "Star Wars" gang is back, of course, including Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christiansen. This story takes place three years after the end of "Episode II," when a massive battle is under way during the last days of the Clone Wars. The gap between the prequels and the original "Star Wars" trilogy is bridged with the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire at the conclusion of the Clone Wars. At this time, the Jedi are scattered, Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader and we meet the infants Luke and Leia.
Steven Spielberg's "The War of the Worlds" (Paramount/DreamWorks) (June 29)
By the time Tom Cruise declares "War," "Star Wars" will have had nearly six weeks of playing time and moviegoers will be ready for another slice of prime sci-fi. In this case, the source material is H.G. Wells' classic novel about Martians invading the Earth, prompting an intergalactic war that could wipe out the human race.
"War" won't, however, have the July Fourth marketplace entirely to itself. Friday, July 1, will see Disney open its animated family film "Chicken Little" while Fox kicks off its sci-fi comic book based action adventure "Fantastic Four."
Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" (Warner Bros.) (June 17)
Given Warner Bros.' success over the years with its "Batman" franchise, there's every reason to expect more of the same from the latest episode. This one arrives in the mid-June slot that benefits from schools being out across the country and every night now being the equivalent of Saturday night.
"Begins" stars Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and the Dark Knight, Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman. Directed by Nolan, whose career was launched by his critically acclaimed dark suspense thriller "Memento" in 2000, "Begins" film explores the origins of the Batman legend and how Batman emerged as a force for good in Gotham City.
With around eight years having elapsed since Joel Schumacher's underwhelming "Batman & Robin," Warner has orchestrated a new beginning that evokes the tone of the early "Batman" comic books rather than the later films. The studio is a division of Time Warner, as is CNN.
Michael Bay's "The Island" (DreamWorks) (July 22)
Summer and sci-fi fantasy popcorn films from high-profile action directors go hand in hand, which certainly should work in favor of "Island," which is directed by Michael Bay ("Bad Boys II," "Armageddon"), and stars Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou and Steve Buscemi.
"Island's" storyline is set in a utopian mid-21st-century world in which human clones are created in order to provide spare parts for original humans. McGregor and Johansson's characters manage to escape before they're to be "harvested" for parts and are now in a desperate race to survive as the forces that once nurtured them are now out to kill them.
Mike Newell's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" (Warner Bros.) (November 18)
For the franchise's fourth episode, "Goblet of Fire," Warner is going back to the series' fall release roots. With less competition to deal with than in the hot-and-heavy summer, and with family fare being precisely what plays best in the pre-Thanksgiving through Christmas weeks, "Fire" should generate some box office heat.
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" kicked off the series November 16, 2001, with $90 million-plus and wound up grossing nearly $318 million domestically. It was followed by "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," which arrived November 15, 2002, to over $88 million and ended up with about $262 million. Last summer, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" bowed with almost $94 million and got to $249.5 million.
Peter Jackson's "King Kong" (Universal) (December 14)
After the now-legendary success that Jackson achieved with his New Line trilogy "The Lord of the Rings," you'd have to be certifiably loony not to bet the farm on his remake of "King Kong" for Universal. As things now stand, nothing else is going up against "Kong," and that's likely to remain the case as we get into year.
Jackson's "Kong" stars Naomi Watts, Jack Black and Adrien Brody in this familiar beauty-and-the-beast story in which a documentary film crew and team of explorers goes searching for a giant gorilla they believe is living in the jungles of Skull Island. What may differentiate this remake from the classic 1933 original is Jackson's focus on events in the film taking place in those perilous jungles filled with prehistoric creatures. As competitive as the '05 holiday season is likely to be, "Kong" looms as a 800-pound box office gorilla.