Tomorrow's Theater ... Today
This week, upcoming movies associated with this week's "Midsommar" and "Spider-Man: Far from Home," and also some of the biggest new trailers.
The Farewell (7/12/2019) (A24)
The big budget studios are having a bad year to date (9.4% down from this point in 2018), but the indie, arthouse business is down as well. A bright spot for fans of smaller films is the A24 distributor, which this week gave us the artful horror film, "Midsommar," and which in 2018 gave us movies like "Eighth Grade," "First Reformed," "Mid90s," and "Hereditary" (from the same director as "Midsommar"). A24 has over a dozen films they acquired from film festivals like Sundance that they have yet to release for 2019, and that deluge is going to continue next week with Lulu Wang's "The Farewell." It's an intimate story of a Chinese American family, and the star is Awkwafina, who managed to get a quiet little movie like this into her schedule that also included "The Angry Birds Movie 2", this December's "Jumanji: The Next Level," and just announced this week, voicing Scuttle the Seagull in Disney's "The Little Mermaid."
The 4th of July weekend (or in this case this year, week) is basically the mid-point of the summer movie season, which also means it's the point when new trailers start focusing on the fall season. Most people didn't even know that there was a new big-budget version of the World War II war movie "Midway" until this week's trailer, but now that it's out, "Midway" looks like it could be a surprise hit. "Midway" is not a direct remake of the star-studded 1976 movie, but both movies depict the same historical events. Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day," "Stargate") recruited Woody Harrelson, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Patrick Wilson, and several other recognizable stars for this movie which especially rings the right bells for movie fans as Americans celebrate Independence Day.
Knives Out (11/27/2019)
Fans remain divided about 2017's "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," and knowing how long "Star Wars" fans' memories are (they're still talking about Han and Greedo!), maybe the Last Jedi rift is one that will never be resolved. For fans who disliked "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," their favorite target is writer/director Rian Johnson. For his follow up, Johnson left science fiction behind to give us a star-studded whodunit in the style of Agatha Christie and to a lesser degree, Alfred Hitchcock. "Knives Out" also features Chris Evans in his first major film after ending his tenure as Marvel's Captain America, a between-Bonds role for Daniel Craig, and a dagger and knife visual motiff that brings to mind the recently finished "Game of Thrones." Who do you think "done it?"
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (12/13/2019)
The 2015 stop-motion animated kids movie "Shaun the Sheep Movie" probably isn't remembered by most fans as some sort of huge hit, but relative to cost ($25 million), the $106 million that it made worldwide was just this side of profitable. That movie did just well enough that Aardman Animations ("Chicken Run," "Wallace & Gromit") pushed forward with a sequel. The scope this time around is much more ambitious, as the returning sheep characters now have to deal with an alien invasion. "Farmageddon" is also coming to theaters the week before "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," which means it won't the only science fiction movie in theaters this Christmas.
Spies in Disguise (12/25/2019) (Tom Holland)
Walt Disney Pictures sealed the deal on their acquisition of the various Fox film and TV properties earlier this year, which means that Disney now owns promising new franchises which weren't originally developed with an eye towards them being "Disney movies." That's worth noticing because Disney is famous for being very specific with the tone and quality of any animated kids movie with the Disney stamp of approval (including the Pixar films). Will Smith and Tom Holland star in "Spies in Disguise," the next animated movie from the Fox-based animation studio behind the "Ice Age" and "Rio" franchises. Just like those movies, "Spies in Disguise" is heavily animal-themed. This time, it's about a spy (Will Smith) disguised as a penguin (unrelated to the penguins from the "Madagascar" movies).
Onward (3/6/2020) (Tom Holland)
Tom Holland recently said that he wants to keep starring as Spider-Man in Marvel's movies as long as they want him, which sort of sets him up to have a role for Marvel Studios like Hugh Jackman did as Wolverine, or Robert Downey Jr did as Iron Man. Surprisingly, Tom Holland is also somehow finding the time for plenty of non-Marvel projects (including next year's video game adapation, "Uncharted"). Animated movies obviously don't require as much time as live action films which can require several months, but they're definitely a good way for movie stars to keep expanding their reputation. Pixar's "Onward" is set in a modern world filled with mythological creatures like elves, ogres, and unicorns, and Tom Holland's partner in "Onward" is another of Marvel's stars, Chris Pratt.