Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Familiar Territory Remakes and Reboots Highlight the Summer Movie Season, but There's Still Some Potential for Big Payoffs -- and Failures

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Familiar Territory Remakes and Reboots Highlight the Summer Movie Season, but There's Still Some Potential for Big Payoffs -- and Failures

Article excerpt

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Summer cinema is always a minefield of movies that somebody thought were a good idea -- and maybe they convinced you were a good idea -- but weren't.

"Smurfs" and "Jonah Hex" and "Cowboys & Aliens," anyone?

This summer is more fraught with peril than usual. Loaded with sequels, top-heavy with re-boots and remakes, the titles may look familiar, making movie marketing departments happy. But the movies? A real crapshoot.

Disney has so much riding on "Marvel's The Avengers" (May 4) that they added "Marvel" to the title, lest people confuse it with the 1998 Uma Thurman/ Ralph Fiennes bomb that was based on the British TV show.

Universal is so hedging its bets on "Battleship" (May 18) that they opened it in the rest of the world before unleashing it here. And they're saying their prayers that "Snow White and the Huntsman" (June 1) will not disappear the way the "Other Snow White Movie" ("Mirror Mirror") did in March.

Sacha Baron Cohen's "The Dictator" moved to May 16, to protect it from "Dark Shadows" and "Battleship." (Did they make it funnier than the trailers?)

You know what you're getting with "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" (June 8); "Madea's Witness Protection" (June 29); "Ice Age: Continental Drift" (July 13); "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" (June 29); and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days" (Aug. 3).

Can Woody Allen build on "Midnight in Paris" with "To Rome With Love" (in limited release June 22)? Can Oliver Stone return to his dark, violent and hit-making past with "Savages" (July 6).

Summer officially begins with "Marvel's The Avengers." It pretty much ends Aug. 17 with "The Expendables 2." And in between, here are the red-letter dates that could help us navigate that minefield of movies. (Movie releases may not be exactly the same in the Pittsburgh area.)

May 11 -- "Dark Shadows" pairs up Johnny Depp and Tim Burton in what is being sold as a dark, edgy but somewhat camp version of the 1970s TV soap opera about vampires. (No, not "Dallas.").

May 25 -- "Men in Black 3" makes one long to have been a fly on the wall when Oscar winner and perma-grump Tommy Lee Jones was pitched this. Agent J (Will Smith) travels back to the "Mad Men" '60s to keep aliens from killing his then-much-younger partner, Agent K (Mr. Jones in the present, Josh Brolin in the '60s). Might this be a comeback for director Barry Sonnenfeld?

May 25 -- "Chernobyl Diaries" is a horror picture based on an idea by Mr. "Paranormal Activity" (Oren Peli) about "extreme tourists" who get more than they bargained for when they travel into the radioactive forbidden zone around the infamous reactor. Is there found footage? Are there supernatural scares? …

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