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 "Downhill," "Fantasy Island," "The Photograph," and "Sonic the Hedgehog."

The Invisible Man (2/28/2020)
Just three years ago, Universal Pictures released the Tom Cruise version of "The Mummy," which was intended to be the first movie in a new cinematic universe called the "Dark Universe," featuring a series of re-imaginings of classic Universal monsters. There was even a big press event for Dark Universe, including Javier Bardem as Frankenstein's Monster, Russell Crowe as Jekyll/Hyde, and Johnny Depp as the Invisible Man. The relative disappointment of "The Mummy" meant most of those plans were shuttled, but Universal quickly rebooted their own reboots. So, here we are, in early 2020, and we actually do have a rebooted "The Invisible Man," but the star is not the monster, but the victim of the monster, which is Elisabeth Moss as a woman being simultaneously stalked and "gaslighted" by her ex, who has somehow figured out how to be invisible. (Unless, of course she really is crazy and imagining all of this, a guess this writer is able to make because I have seen... movies.) "The Invisible Man" is from Blumhouse, the same company behind this week's remake of "Fantasy Island."

Wendy (2/28/2020)
Although fans of some concepts might have to wait years or decades to see them adapted as movies (and some never are), there are other characters that are arguably adapted to film too often, like, say, "Dracula," "King Arthur," "Robin Hood," "Sherlock Holmes, and "Peter Pan." Of course, a major reason why these characters are adapted so frequently is because their copyrights have lapsed into the public domain, which means that they are popular characters that anyone can adapt. On the other hand, some filmmakers take longer to get each new film made. Benh Zeitlin, for example, made a huge splash with his feature film debut with "Beasts of the Southern Wild, which was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Lead Actress for its child star Quvenshane Wallis. That was also eight years ago (2012), but Zeitlin is finally back, with another movie about a young girl, and this time, it's "Wendy," the young girl from "Peter Pan," but you can spot lots of the other familiar characters in this reimagining of J.M. Barrie's famous play. "Wendy" will be the second movie released under the banner "Searchlight Pictures," which recently lost its "Fox," after this week's "Downhill."

Onward (3/6/2020)
This may be a total coincidence, but Pixar seems particularly good at casting stars who are in lots of other movies, so that their films therefore get repeated free publicity in columns like this one. The two male leads are Chris Pratt and Tom Holland, who in addition to being fellow Marvel Studios stars (Star-Lord and Spider-Man), have also both been in a lot of movies (especially voice work) lately. The other two stars are Octavia Spencer and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays mom to the two magical elf characters Pratt and Holland play in this movie set in a modernized version of a fantasy world. "Onward" gets in the column yet again this week because Julia Louis-Dreyfus has "Downhill" (also starring Will Ferrell) in theaters this week. ("Downhill" is also a remake of the 2014 Swedish/French film, "Force Majeure.")

Bloodshot (3/13/2020)
Marvel Studios and DC Comics have so dominated the superhero genre the last ten years or so that one can be forgiven if they forget that there even are other comic book companies that tell superhero stories. One of the smaller companies that has been trying to get into the movie business for a while now is Valiant Comics, which old school video game players might recognize as the company behind "Shadow Man," "Turok: Dinosaur Hunter," and "X-O Manowar." The first movie in Valiant Comics' current attempt to break into movies is "Bloodshot," starring Vin Diesel as a soldier who is "killed" only to discover himself revived using biotech designed to kill him into a killing machine and assassin. Basically, it's "The Six Million Dollar Man" with updated terminology. (Coincidentally, Mark Wahlberg has been trying to get a reboot called "The Six Billion Dollar Man" made for several years now.) "Bloodshot" is from both Original Film ("Sonic the Hedgehog") and screenwriter Jeff Wadlow ("Fantasy Island").

The Hunt (3/13/2020)
In the 1924 short story, "The Most Dangerous Game," a wealthy Russian big game hunter forces other people to try to survive on a remote island while he hunts them. In a way, it's been loosely adapted repeatedly over the years, including in the popular "Hunger Games" movies, but it's also (super obviously) a controversial subject. Last year, when Blumhouse Productions (the same company behind this week's "Fantasy Island" revealed their first trailer for their "Most Dangerous Game" remake called "The Hunt," there was a great deal of political controversy which quickly led to the film's September 27, 2019 release date being scrapped. It seemed like maybe the movie would never be released at all, but this week, Universal Pictures made a surprise announcement via this new trailer that "The Hunt" will indeed be released to theaters in just under a month, on March 13, 2020.

The Lovebirds (4/3/2020)
This was a big movie release weekend because it has two different holidays (Valentine's on Friday and President's Day on Monday), resulting in a four day weekend, effectively. One of the new movies is the romantic drama "The Photograph," starring Issa Rae and Lakeith Stanfield. Issa Rae will also be starring soon in "The Lovebirds," a romcom and action comedy hybrid along with Kumail Nanjiani. The premise feels a lot like "Date Night," the 2010 comedy starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey in which a couple finds their date night highjacked by a series of events that throws them into a life of action and suspense. In "The Lovebirds," the scenario is that the dating couple is tricked into taking the blame for a murder by someone pretending to be a cop.

The French Dispatch (7/24/2020)

Some directors prefer to develop a company of actors with whom they work frequently. Examples of that include Martin Scorsese (Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio), the Coen Brothers (George Clooney, Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, and Mrs. Coen, Frances McDormand), Tim Burton (Johnny Depp), and Steven Spielberg (Tom Hanks). The modern master of the recurring troupe of film actors, though, might just be Wes Anderson ("Rushmore," "Moonrise Kingdom," "The Grand Budapest Hotel"). Fans of his already knew that he had been working on a secret ensemble comedy recently revealed to be called "The French Dispatch," but most movie fans will probably be surprised to see exactly how many stars are in this one. First, there are all of the actors who are actually focused on in the trailer (including Benicio del Toro, Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson), and then the trailer ends with an even longer list of over two dozen other performers who are in the movie (somewhere, somehow). "The French Dispatch" is another of the movies this year (like this week's "Downhill") to come from the newly renamed Searchlight Pictures.