Summer still has the power to make us all feel like twelve year-olds again, escaping our silly lives and the glare of the sun, and seeking the air-conditioned darkness of fantasy. Admittedly, most of those going to the movies these days are, in fact, twelve, but that doesn’t stop old fogies from shelling out those summer dollars no matter what.
The season kicks off this weekend with Sidney Pollock’s The Interpreter, starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn. Hardly a movie for tweens but a summer movie nonetheless, one that should have no trouble taking the top spot away from The Amityville Horror.
The weekend of April 29 presents a showdown of sorts between The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and XXX: State of the Union. Of those, Triple X stands the best shot at being the must-see movie of the weekend, as Hitchhiker never managed to win the kind of excitement it needed to do well. Who plans to see it? Fans of the book? Children of all ages? That it’s PG bodes well for those lucrative family dollars but Triple X will bring out dads and teens and kids, as it’s PG-13. Neither film looks to have any kind of staying power.
May 6th brings Ridley Scott’s heavily advertised Kingdom of Heaven, starring Orlando Bloom. You can’t find a city block without a billboard of the epic, which has gotten some good early reviews. This movie is going for Gladiator gold (which was also released in early May), the last time Ridley Scott made a horse and sword epic. It will go up against House of Wax, a teen horror movie featuring Paris Hilton. Both films are likely to compete for kid and teen box office but it’s House of Wax that will probably be the must-see movie of the weekend. Kingdom of Heaven has to hit number one, though, or heads will roll.
The following weekend offers up no box office challenges to derail Kingdom of Heaven, but merely a reprieve from the violence with Monster-in-Law, the Jennifer Lopez/Jane Fonda starrer that seems to have been in post-production forever. Perhaps that’s because its publicity started way back before the Bennifer bust-up. Nonetheless, it should do moderate business, since no men are being cut in half. Also up that weekend is Kicking and Screaming, starring Will Ferrell and directed by Jesse Dylan (Bob’s son). This should draw out the men and boys reluctant to go for the J. Lo chick flick.
The big movie everyone is waiting for this summer has its release the following weekend, May 19, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the last of the prequel series that predates the better Star Wars movies of the ‘70s and ‘80s. God willing, this film won’t be as utterly unwatchable as the last two by George Lucas. No other movie dares to go up against it.
May 27 brings the animated Madagascar, which is among the few anticipated animated films of the year. Another Oscar hopeful (predicted to be the frontrunner) is Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man, starring Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger, slated for release June 3. And the rumored romance between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie will be put to the test when Mr. and Mrs. Smith opens on June 10th.
Two more big summer movies hit in June, with Batman Begins on the 17th and Bewitched, starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell on the 24th. But June will be dominated by one movie, the big box office challenger to Star Wars, Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, which opens June 29th. It stars Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning and is poised to become the highest grossing film of the 2005.
War of the Worlds will be the movie to see on July 4th weekend and, again, no other film has the guts to take it on. There won’t be another box office shockwave until July 15th when Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opens. It stars Johnny Depp in the Gene Wilder role and has, thus far, been the film most movie geeks are dying to see.End of the summer sees films like The Bad News Bears remake with Billy Bob Thornton, directed by Richard Linklater, The Island starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson (July 22), Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm, starring Matt Damon (July 29), Doom and The Dukes of Hazzard taking the August 5th slot.