2004’s Must See Films
It promises to be a hard act to follow.
With the help of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, the final two chapters of The Matrix, Finding Nemo and Pirates of the Caribbean, Hollywood set new box-office records in 2003.
As few as five years ago, if a film grossed $100 million US in its North American release it was considered a blockbuster.
With films like Spider-Man, Finding Nemo and Pirates of the Caribbean breaking $300 million and all three of the Lord of the Ring features spiralling past $200 million, new expectations are keeping pace with new records. In 2003, 25 films earned upwards of $100 million with six of those passing the $200-million mark.
Studios are lining up with some familiar faces and some new ones in an attempt to capitalize on this enthusiasm.
Once again, sequels hold the best chance of achieving the kind of event fervor and status of Lord of the Rings, The Matrix and X2: X-Men United.
In 2002, Spider-Man grossed $404 million so its sequel Spider-Man 2, set for July 2, is easily the year’s most anticipated flick.
Following close behind is the June 4 opening of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Studio moguls are hoping the following sequels will out-pace their predecessors:
BARBERSHOP 2: BACK IN BUSINESS: Hair, tempers and laughs begin to fly on Feb. 6 when Calvin’s barbershop reopens for business.
KILL BILL: VOLUME 2: The carnage continues on Feb. 20 as assassin Uma Thurman tracks down more of the former partners who tried to kill her.
AGENT CODY BANKS 2: DESTINATION LONDON: On March 12, teen spy Frankie Muniz visits the homeland of his idol, James Bond.
SCOOBY-DOO 2: MONSTERS UNLEASHED: The live-action gang of Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini and Matthew Lillard team up on March 26 to help their animated canine pal discover the whereabouts of a monster-making machine.
THE WHOLE TEN YARDS: Hitman Bruce Willis and cohorts Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet and Natasha Henstridge return on April 9 to tangle with international mobsters.
THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK: On June 11, what all started back in 2000 with Vin Diesel’s modest sci-fi thriller Pitch Black morphs into a big-budget, big-thrills adventure.
THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT: In the surprise hit of 2001, Julie Andrews had to teach Anne Hathaway how to be a princess. Now on July 16, it’s time to show her how to behave like a queen.
THE BOURNE SUPREMACY: Matt Damon’s spy may know who he is, but on July 23, he’s going to have to figure out who’s trying to kill him.
ALIEN VS PREDATOR: Last year horror kings Freddy and Jason battled to their deaths. Not to be upstaged, on Aug. 6 two extraterrestrial super creatures will use Earth as their battleground.
BLADE 3: TRINITY: Vampire killer Wesley Snipes returns on Aug. 13 to continue his mission to rid the world of undead bloodsuckers.
THE RING 2: The terror continues this November as Naomi Watts tries to protect her son David Dorman from supernatural forces.
OCEAN’S TWELVE: Come Dec. 10, George Clooney and his team of cat burglars are hoping to steal the holiday box office with more of their brand of wry slapstick hijinx.
BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON: Renee Zellweger hopes to find love as well as sex this Christmas as the amorous adventures of the lovable chubby Brit continue.
MEET THE FOCKERS: Beginning Dec. 22, Ben Stiller will once again try to convince Robert DeNiro he is good son-in-law material for Teri Polo.
Comic books, superheroes and fantasy adventures will continue to fill screens throughout 2004. With Hugh Jackman battling such classic screen monsters as Dracula, Frankenstein’s creature and the Wolf Man on May 7, Van Helsing could well become a new adventure franchise. Then again, it could go the way of Sean Connery’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Eye-popping adventure is the common ingredient in the following fantasies.
HELLBOY: On April 2, Ron Perlman plays the hero of Dark Horse Comics who was born in the flames of Hell and has vowed to protect mankind.
SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW: Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie star in this summer futuristic adventure that boasts sets created entirely through computer imagery.
CATWOMAN: On July 30, Halle Berry slips into the leather suit and cat ears to battle corporate espionage.
THUNDERBIRDS: The hit British 1960s marionette series becomes a live action adventure starring Bill Paxton and Ben Kingsley on Aug 6.
CONSTANTINE: Ripped from the DC comic Hellblazer comes this Sept. 17 tale of occultist John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) and his battles with demons and angels.
As such recent films as Gladiator, The Last Samurai, Cold Mountain and Master and Commander proved, there is a growing appetite for historical epics.
There are several big-budget flicks on tap this year that hope to cash in on this trend.
HERO: Ancient Chinese history comes to life on April 16 when Jet Li plays warlord Quin who became the first emperor of China.
TROY: Brad Pitt plays legendary Greek hero Achilles in this May 14 retelling of the siege of Troy.
ALEXANDER: On Nov. 5, Oliver Stone directs Colin Farrell in this story of how Alexander the Great built one of the greatest empires ever.
There is always excitement when a filmmaker like M. Night Shyamalan announces a new project. He has captured imaginations and the box-office with such thrillers as The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs. On July 30 in The Village, Shyamalan investigates strange happenings in a mysterious forest.
There are high hopes for the following projects from filmmakers and actors with their own enviable track records.
HIDALGO: The Lord of the Rings trilogy turned Viggo Mortensen into a star and he’s going to test his new status on March 5 in this true story of an American cowboy who raced his steed Hidalgo in a 3000-mile race inthe Arabian Desert.
THE LADYKILLERS: Tom Hanks teams up with Joel and Ethan Coen on March 26 for this comic caper flick.
TWISTED: Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman team up in March for a third time in this story of a homicide detective who thinks she might be the serial killer she’s tracking.
THE STEPFORD WIVES: Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler and Matthew Broderick star in this summer remake of the 1975 thriller about a village that turns its women into robots.
NEVERLAND: On Oct. 8, Johnny Depp plays British writer J.M. Barrie who created the classic children’s tale Peter Pan.
THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE: Denzel Washington stars in this fall remake of the classic thriller about brainwashing.
THE INCREDIBLES: Pixar Studios whose Finding Nemo was the biggest hit of 2003 unveils its latest animated creation on Nov. 5 about a group of superheroes.
SAHARA: Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz star in the winter thriller about a toxin that is killing the Earth’s marine life.
THE AVIATOR: Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio team up on Dec. 17 to examine the life of eccentric billionaire and Hollywood mogul Howard Hughes.
LEMONY SNICKET’S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS: Jim Carrey stars in this Christmas screen version of the popular children’s series about the cunning villainous Count Olaf who is a master of disguise.
2004’s Must See Films