Tomorrow's Theater ... Today

Greg Dean Schmitz

Now that you've picked this week's league, check out these upcoming movies related to this week's "Birds of Prey," plus some of the other recent trailers (including some from the Super Bowl).

The Jesus Rolls (2/28/2020)
The Coen Brothers have not yet ever made a sequel to one of their films (unless you count the FX show "Fargo" which is acts as both a sequel and a prequel spinoff). In 2014, however, it was announced that they were giving John Turturro their blessing about making a spinoff movie for his "Jesus" character from "The Big Lebowski." It took a while, but six years later, we're finally getting exactly that with "The Jesus Rolls," which John Turturro wrote and directed in addition to reprising his bowler character from "The Big Lebowski." In addition to that spinoff connection, "The Jesus Rolls" is also reportedly a loose remake of the 1974 French sex comedy, "Going Places." John Turturro's costars in "The Jesus Rolls" include Audrey Tautou ("Amelie"), Bobby Cannavale ("The Irishman"), Jon Hamm, Christopher Walken, and "Saturday Night Live" star Pete Davidson.

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (4/3/2020)
Margot Robbie was super, super busy in 2019, as that one year saw the festival premiere of "Dreamland," and the theatrical debuts of both "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" and "Bombshell," and just six weeks into 2020, we're also getting the "Birds of Prey" movie. She's currently filming her next appearance as Harley Quinn in "The Suicide Squad" (8/6/2021), but Margot Robbie will otherwise take 2020 off from being seen on the big screen. You should take note of the careful phrasing of that last sentence, because Margot Robbie does indeed have a new movie coming in 2020, but it's the sequel, "Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway." Margot Robbie will be returning as the voice of Flopsy Rabbit, the character she played in the frist movie, which came out just two years ago.

Black Widow (5/1/2020)
Marvel Studios' next movie, the solo "Black Widow" starring Scarlett Johansson, does not have any direct connections to this week's DC Comics adaptation, 'Birds of Prey," but thematically, there are many threads shared by both films. Both "Birds of Prey" and "Black Widow" feature a popular actress (Margott Robbie and Scarlett Johansson) teaming up with a team of mostly women (in "Black Widow," it's Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz), and they are both adapted from one of the two big comic book companies. As "comic booky" as the Marvel Studios movies sometimes are (like say, "Avengers: Endgame"), "Black Widow" seems relatively grounded compared to "Birds of Prey." We should also note the hot rumor about "Black Widow," which is that it might be both a prequel (most of what we see in the trailer) which also sets up sequel segments establishing Florence Pugh as the new "Black Widow."

Spiral (5/15/2020)
Speaking of spinoffs, we also got via the Super Bowl this week our first glimpse at "Spiral," the spinoff of the popular "Saw" horror franchise. The title comes from the swirl grafitti associated with the franchise's "Jigsaw Killer." We're getting a "Spiral" movie mostly because Chris Rock is reportedly a longtime fan of the "Saw" movies, and so he pitched and produced his own "Sawn" spinoff. Seemingly much like the original "Saw" movie, the focus in "Spiral seems to be on police officers, including one played by Samuel L. Jackson, with the trailer ending with Chris Rock's character ending up having to contemplate using a "Saw" to get out of a trap.

Fast & Furious 9 (5/22/2020)
Without a doubt, the one movie that made the biggest deal out of debuting first trailer in association with the Super Bowl was "Fast & Furious 9." This weekend, Universal Pictures delivered the first trailer, a shorter TV spot during the Super Bowl, and a livestreamed concert event featuring musical artists like Ludacris and Wiz Khalifa. In an era dominated by superhero movies, the argument can be made that none of them defy logic and the laws of physics quite like the "Fast and Furious" movies, and we see a lot of that here. There's a popular meme that says, "That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works," and there are multiple times one could say that during this trailer. Any young student who's currently taking a Physics class, in particular, should be reminded that there are stunts in this first "Fast & Furious 9" trailer that simply would not work out the way it's portrayed. Gravity is a real thing.

Wonder Woman 1984 (6/5/2020)
The next DC Comics movie after this week's "Birds of Prey" is another with a female lead (or two), which is "Wonder Woman 1984." Although the first "Wonder Woman" was relatively light compared to the tone of "Justice League," but it still seems relatively dark and subdued compared to the rainbow colored roller coaster that is "Birds of Prey." Having said that, "Wonder Woman 1984" does seem to be going a bit more of the technicolor route, as Wonder Woman makes her way into the 1980s. Much like "Fast & Furious 9," we also see the return of a previously presumed dead character returning to life. What we don't see quite yet, however, is what Kristen Wiig looks like in her "Cheetah" super villain persona, but it seems like the approach is a bit like Michelle Pfeiffer's version of Catwoman from "Batman Returns" (ie, a mousy woman takes on a feline theme and lets go of her inhibitions).

Minions: The Rise of Gru (7/3/2020)
Few other franchises are quite as sprawling as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but we are seeing more and more franchises that use prequels and spinoffs (in addition to more traditional sequels) to expand the scope of their storytelling. For example, the "Conjuring" franchise has now had spinoffs and prequels which then get their own sequels or prequels or spinoffs. The "Despicable Me" franchise will soon get something similar, as the 2015 spinoff prequel, "Minions" is getting a 1970s-set sequel called "Minions: The Rise of Gru." Watch out in this trailer for the voice of Gru, who is still voiced by Steve Carell, but he's also playing Gru as a kid." The various "Minions" are also back with their own unusual voices, which are sort of like a baby talk version of Italian meets Spanish.