Blockbuster Films You’ll See In 2017 – Part One.

With the countdown on to the 89th Academy Awards, it’s a good time to check out the Blockbusters on the way in 2017. They may not be “Awards Contenders”, but these films are seeking glory at the Box Office this year.

Due next week and about as far away from an “Awards Film” as you could hope for comes…

FIFTY SHADES DARKER  – FEBRUARY 9

fsd_one_sheet_rules_keyart_hiresYep. In 2015 I said THIS about the first film and I have little doubt that the sequel to my least favourite film of that year promises to offer more opportunities to lay the boot in.

The first film came in outside the top ten films at the Box Office for that year, at 11, just behind The Martian and Pitch Perfect 2 but ahead of Cinderella and Mad Max: Fury Road.

Fifty Shades had a massive opening weekend at around $10 million, grossing around $20 million after topping the Australian Box Office for two weeks and sticking around for about 6 weeks until Cinderella took up the big screen real estate.

The same fate most likely awaits this sequel, in that Beauty and The Beast releases at the same time as Cinderella did. I feel like there is not so much heat/anticipation in Fifty Shades Darker, so please comment if you disagree!

Thankfully Universal Pictures follow up Fifty Shades Darker with a film that looks like it will be as big as its titular subject.

THE GREAT WALL – FEBRUARY 16

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In two weeks, Matt Damon’s The Great Wall hits Aussie screens. While Warcraft misfired, The Great Wall looks set to be a hit, not just in China, but around the world.

When a mercenary warrior (Matt Damon) is imprisoned within the Great Wall, he discovers the mystery behind one of the greatest wonders of the world. As wave after wave of marauding beasts attempt to engulf the massive structure, his quest for fortune turns into a journey toward heroism as he joins a huge army of elite warriors to confront the unimaginable and seemingly unstoppable force.

Sure, it’s an effects-heavy monster movie, but as the film is directed by Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers) and written by Tony Gilroy (Rogue OneNightcrawler and The original Bourne Trilogy) I have high hopes for this one.

LOGAN – MARCH 2

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A week before a giant ape hits our screens, we get to see our own Hugh Jackman as a hairy mutant of a different kind before he hangs up the titanium claws for good, when Wolverine takes his final bow in Logan.

A weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. His attempts to hide from the world and his legacy, however, are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.

Looks cool, but have we reached peak mutant?

This week I watched a presentation of 20 minutes of unfinished material from the film and I have to say I was blown away. For starters, it would appear as though The Wolverine is down on his luck even worse than ever and has resorted to being some kind of Uber driver to pay the rent.

Against his wishes Logan teams up with a seriously ass-kicking little girl Laura aka X-23 (played by newcomer Dafne Keen) who makes Gogo Yubari from Kill Bill look like the school girl that she is. Check out the brand new trailer below if you don’t believe me.

Plus the villain is played by Boyd Holbrook (DEA Agent Steve Murphy from Narcos) who as Donald Pierce promises to be every bit as “Texas-intense” as Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Nocturnal Animals.

This film aims to keep the promise made by Deadpool to deliver Marvel titles tat are funny, violent, and highly memorable. From what I’ve seen it incorporates elements from Mad Max Fury Road, Sicario, and Little Miss Sunshine.

Directed by James Mangold who gave us the incredible Walk The Line, expect plenty of spot on music cues.

KONG: SKULL ISLAND – MARCH 9

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Judging by the comment threads on the IMDB Message Boards for this title, Kong may well be a bumpy ride for director Jordan Vogt-Roberts major studio big screen debut.

Then again, with a writing credit to Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) and talented stars like Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L Jackson, how can this go wrong?

LIFE – MARCH 23

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Life tells the story of the six-member crew of the International Space Station that is on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. As the crew begins to conduct research, their methods end up having unintended consequences and the life form proves more intelligent than anyone ever expected.

After the good-not-great Passengers, a film set in space with big name stars seems a gamble. Especially when you dig into the previous films of director Daniel Espinosa whose Child 44 and Safe House weren’t exactly critical or commercial hits although I didn’t mind either film.

The tagline seems kind of ominous too – “Be careful what you search for” which brings to mind Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST – MARCH 23

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The Easter school holidays promise to bring plenty of families to the big screen because out in March is Beauty and the Beast (March 23rd) from Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1&2 as well as Gods and Monsters) and Power Rangers (March 23rd) directed by Dean Israelite (who borrowed from Chronicle to give us Project Almanac).

And very importantly the Easter school holidays serve up –  The Lego Batman Movie (March 30th) directed by all-round awesome guy Chris McKay who totally nailed his work on the first Lego Movie.

My money is on Belle and Batman to be enormous.

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GHOST IN THE SHELL – MARCH 30

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Releasing the same week as The Lego Batman Movie, Scarlett Johanson stars in the intriguing Ghost in the Shell – Cyborg counter-cyberterrorist field commander The Major (Scarlett Johansson), and her task force Section 9 thwart cyber criminals and hackers. Now, they must face a new enemy who will stop at nothing to sabotage Hanka Robotic’s artificial intelligence technology.

Given The Matrix films were huge, this has every chance of succeeding. Will it be any good? Too early to tell but this trailer is certainly impressive….

CHIPS – APRIL 6

Kicking off the month of April is the big screen version of the classic TV Show CHiPs (California Highway Patrol).

Seeing how 22 Jump Street was even bigger than 21 Jump Street then this naughty cop buddy movie stands every chance of being a blockbuster. Particularly if there is as much nostalgic love for the TV show as what I have been brewing up for the last three decades.

THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS – APRIL 12

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The vehicular blockbusters continue with the 8th installment in The Fast and the Furious franchise –The Fate of the Furious (2017).

I’m not a HUGE fan of these films, and in that, I am in the minority, with last year’s Furious 7 taking in around $45 million AUD. In my review of that film HERE, I recall I was more excited about a different kind of film about Fury –  Mad Max Fury Road which could only manage half of Furious 7’s Box Office haul.

In my books, surely one of 2017’s most anticipated films has to be….

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOLUME 2 – APRIL 25

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Once again directed by James Gunn who steered the first film to three-quarters of a billion dollars worldwide (including $30 million AUD here) with a quirky, hilarious action packed pathos-laden intergalactic space tale that launched the career of the marvelous Chris Pratt into the stratosphere. No pressure then James! GOTG2 launches here on Tuesday April 25th, two days ahead of the standard AU release day of Thursday, to incorporate the Anzac Day public Holiday.

The slate gets crowded as we move towards the end of the Australian Autumn, with four Blockbusters set for May. The first two out of the gate are….

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD – MAY 11

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Aside from the couple of trailers that have been online since Comic-Con, we don’t know too much about the latest film from Guy Ritchie, set to deliver the umpteenth telling of the classic Arthurian tale. Looks epic. Fingers crossed. His two Sherlock Holmes movies were a stack of fun, as was The Man From U.N.C.L.E. although that one was not so well received at the B.O.

BAYWATCH – MAY 11

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OK, I’m so old that CHIPS: The Movie gets me more excited than Baywatch: The Movie does. Is this purely a film to see for gratuitous flesh? Male AND Female? All I care about right now is –Will they get a cameo from The Hoff? Apparently Yes.

ALIEN: COVENANT – MAY 18

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Along with Logan, I got to check out some early footage from Alien: Covenant…and … it scared the shit out of me. We had an intro to the footage from Ridley Scott himself and he spoke about making sure he delivered something that was as good as the originals and how he wanted to keep to the franchise’s horror roots.

The official synopsis – Ridley Scott returns to the universe he created, with ALIEN: COVENANT, a new chapter in his groundbreaking ALIEN franchise. The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world. When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES – MAY 25

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Over the Summer holidays I watched the fascinating and enthralling Kon-Tiki for the first time, on Netflix.  I can’t remember what prompted me, but I’m a sucker for real life adventure stories and I may have been searching for something in the vein of Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, which is brilliant.

Imagine my pleasure when I discovered that the directors of Kon-Tiki  – Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg are the men steering the next Pirates installment into cinemas this year.

The writer – Jeff Nathanson – has a pretty patchy track record with some hits – Catch Me If You Can, and misses – Speed 2: Cruise Control. If you are looking forward to this film then perhaps best not to read the Rotten Tomatoes consensus for that film.

Official synopsis for POTC: DMTNT – Johnny Depp returns to the big screen as the iconic, swashbuckling anti-hero Jack Sparrow in the all-new “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” a rip-roaring adventure that finds down-on-his-luck Captain Jack feeling the winds of ill-fortune blowing strongly his way when deadly ghost sailors, led by the terrifying Captain Salazar, escape from the Devil’s Triangle bent on killing every pirate at sea—notably Jack.

The Box Office for these films has struck around the $1 Billion US mark worldwide, except for the original film, which brought in around $650 Million US in 2003 (about $850 million US in today’s terms).

In the US, the film releases for the 4 day long Memorial Day public holiday, and Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End holds the all-time top spot for those dates.

WONDER WOMAN – JUNE 1

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Widely considered to be the best element of the much-maligned Batman Vs Superman, Gal Gadot returns with her own tent-pole spectacular in Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman. Given this is the director who delivered an Oscar for Charlize Theron in Monster – things are looking up for this warrior princess of the Amazonian peopledemigoddess and founding member of the Justice League.

This is one of the best-looking trailers for a superhero flick in a long time and when I met Gal Gadot for B v S she was super down to earth and up for anything.

THE MUMMY – JUNE 8

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From Wonder Woman to The Mummy, clearly there is something maternal about June.

There must also be something about zombies because releasing on the same day is Paramount Pictures’ World War Z 2. Directed by David Fincher and not based on a book like the first film was, we know very little about that one except that Brad Pitt will return.

We do however know that when The Mumy trailer launched, without audio, it became an instant viral sensation.

You’ll have to use your imagination as I’ve only got the official one…

DESPICABLE ME 3 – JUNE 15

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I LOVE GRU. Steve Carell is one of my favourite actors and his ownership of Despicable Me’s lead character, combined with the directing talents of Frenchmen Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud guarantee I’m all in for DM3. I did not enjoy Minions as much as I was hoping to, but when Chris Renaud dropped The Secret Life of Pets, I was all over that one.

TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT – JUNE 22

Left to right: Laura Haddock plays Viviane and Mark Wahlberg plays Cade Yaeger in TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, from Paramount Pictures.
Left to right: Laura Haddock plays Viviane and Mark Wahlberg plays Cade Yaeger in TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT, from Paramount Pictures.

The last two installments in the Transformers franchise have grossed over $1 Billion USD worldwide. 2011’s Dark of the Moon sits atop the chart while 2014’s Age of Extinction comes a close second.

I love Mark Wahlberg, I love robots, I just struggle with some CGI movies as they wear out my eyes. Watching Return of the Jedi (AGAIN) with my 9-year-old daughter Ruby makes me realize how much I appreciate the hard work that goes into creating real visual effects via models and puppets as opposed to crunching data on a render farm.

Watching this trailer for the first time I gotta say it looks pretty sick. What is really sick is that there are two more films in the pipeline. Yikes!

CARS 3 – JUNE 22

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What little boy doesn’t love bright red racing cars? Especially seeing them go round the racetrack at full pelt. And then when they crash? Nothing beats it. Hell, I used to set MY Matchbox cars on FIRE!

Something tells me Cars 3 is going to be a tale about how we need to respect things from the past and not always expect technology to solve all our problems.

These films cost a pile of money to make, and the while the two previous Cars films have turned a profit, they haven’t exactly raked in the moolah. It’s my guess these are the pet projects of Pixar Genius John Lasseter.

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING – JULY 6

Tom Holland is Spider-Man in Columbia Pictures' SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING.
Tom Holland is Spider-Man in Columbia Pictures’ SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING.

Who didn’t love seeing Tom Holland as Spidey swing into action in Captain America: Civil War’s epic airport scene? Well, now the fourth incarnation of the troubled teenager following on from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, (the less said about the 1977 film starring Nicholas Hammond the better,) hits screens in July.

Plot details are thin, but what we do know so far is this – Following the events of Captain America: Civil War,  Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens, New York City with fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture (Michael Keaton), emerges.

Is it just me, or is it weird that Keaton starred in Birdman and is now playing a character called Vulture? Personally, I hope he brings some of that Birdman attitude to the plate.

Sixty is the new thirty, motherfucker.

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES – JULY 13

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I dig all the Apes Films. From the original set of five between 1968-1973 to Tim Burton’s  2001 Planet of the Apes, the success of which helped to kick off this current series, with Rise, Dawn and now War For the Planet of the Apes able to address some relevant contemporary themes. The SFX from Kiwi wizards Weta Workshop help to elevate these films to a critically acclaimed level, along with a solid cast and Matt Reeves directing again, it has all the hallmarks to guarantee genuine blockbuster status.

DUNKIRK – JULY 20

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The film I care most about and look forward to more than anything comes from my favourite director – Christopher Nolan. He has yet to deliver a disappointing film (as a director) and this one looks epic. Little has been revealed about the film so all we know is this – Allied soldiers from Britain, Belgium, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German Army on the beaches on Dunkirk and evacuated in Operation Dynamo between 26 May and 4 June 1940, during the early stages of the Second World War.

Band of Brothers is one of my all-time favourite TV series, so if this is anywhere as good, I’ll tip my hat again to Mr. Nolan.

THE DARK TOWER – JULY 27

Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) in Columbia Pictures' THE DARK TOWER.
Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) in Columbia Pictures’ THE DARK TOWER.

For most of my adolescence, Stephen King was my favourite author. And The Dark Tower series was up there with my favourite titles of his. I finished school in 1991, the year of the third book and from there I discovered video games and smoking pot and all but abandoned my reading of books, so I am shocked and thrilled to discover that he just kept writing them and there afurtheruther five books I’ve never picked up. The film will no doubt carry many suprises for me…

Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) is a young 11-year-old adventure seeker who discovers clues about another dimension called Mid-World. Upon following the mystery, he is spirited away to Mid-World where he encounters the lone frontiersman knight Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), who is on a quest to reach the “Dark Tower” that resides in End-World and reach the nexus point between time and space that he hopes will save Mid-World from extinction. But with various monsters and a vicious sorcerer named Walter Padick (Matthew McConaughey) hot on their trail, the unlikely duo find that their quest may be difficult to complete.

AUGUST AND BEYOND

With these films over six months away from hitting cinemas, there are scant details, images or clips to share beyond titles and likely release dates.

August promises Annabelle 2, and Baby Driver from Edgar Wright, while September brings more fun from Stephen King in the form of IT. The Lego Ninjago Movie will hopefully maintain the quality of the Lego universe.

ANA DE ARMAS and RYAN GOSLING in Alcon Entertainment’s sci fi thriller BLADE RUNNER 2049 in association with Columbia Pictures, domestic distribution by Warner Bros. Pictures and international distribution by Sony Pictures Releasing International.
ANA DE ARMAS and RYAN GOSLING in Alcon Entertainment’s sci fi thriller BLADE RUNNER 2049 in association with Columbia Pictures, domestic distribution by Warner Bros. Pictures and international distribution by Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Blade Runner 2049 is due in October and given the unanimous love for Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival, this must be one of the year’s most anticipated films.

Throw in the huge interest in Ryan Gosling thanks to a) him being awesome and b) La La Land, then this could be enormous.

Thor Ragnarok drops in October, directed by Taika Waititi which if we are lucky will mean the most bonkers superhero movie of all time.

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November sees Justice League suit up, and as I was a big fan back in the day of the comic book series, so have high hopes for this one.

Progression Image 2 of 3: Concept Art..ASPIRING MUSICIAN — In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like the celebrated Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). But when he strums his idol’s guitar, he sets off a mysterious chain of events. Directed by Lee Unkrich, co-directed by Adrian Molina and produced by Darla K. Anderson, “Coco” opens in theaters Nov. 22, 2017.
Progression Image 2 of 3: Concept Art..ASPIRING MUSICIAN — In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like the celebrated Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). But when he strums his idol’s guitar, he sets off a mysterious chain of events. Directed by Lee Unkrich, co-directed by Adrian Molina and produced by Darla K. Anderson, “Coco” opens in AU theaters Dec. 26, 2017.

As for Boxing Day 2017, it is a family friendly zone with a Jumanji remake, Paddington 2 and Hugh Jackman’s The Greatest Showman on Earth hitting screens. Pixar and Disney also release Coco, a Day of the Dead animated extravaganza described as follows.

Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colourful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history. Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in Australian cinemas in December, 2017.

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But before that Disney dish up Star Wars VIII – The Last Jedi.

Synopsis – Rey took her first steps into a larger world in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and will continue her epic journey with Finn, Poe and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the continuing Star Wars saga, Star Wars: Episode VIII.

Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is written and directed by Rian Johnson and continues the storylines introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, featuring cast members Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, and Andy Serkis. New cast members will include Academy Award® winner Benicio Del Toro, Academy Award® nominee Laura Dern and talented newcomer Kelly Marie Tran.

Star Wars: Episode VIII is scheduled for release December, 2017.

Check back into the site for updates as trailers and posters are released and I look forward to seeing you at the movies!

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