2012 was a record-breaking year for box-office receipts with sequels accounting for seven of the top 10 highest-earning films. The dominance of established franchises looks likely to continue in 2013 when 27 major releases will be either prequels or sequels. Here, along with a couple of films that will be of particular interest to Christians, are the movies that will likely make headlines and draw crowds over the next 12 months. WORLD has not reviewed these films, and they are not yet rated.
March 8: Oz the Great and Powerful
The first of a number of Oz-based films we’ll see over the next few years, odds are director Sam Raimi will make this one the most fun. The prequel recounts the origins of the great wizard’s journey to Oz and early buzz suggests it’s a winner for families.
April: Mary Mother of Christ
Though an official release date has yet to be set for the Joel Osteen–produced biblical epic, Lionsgate is already pitching it as a prequel to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Fifteen-year-old Odeya Rush stars as Mary, with Julia Ormond playing her cousin Elizabeth and Ben Kingsley as Herod. Hugh Bonneville (better known as Lord Grantham on Downton Abbey) will reportedly be filling the role of Satan.
May 3: Iron Man 3 / Nov. 3: Thor: The Dark World
Given that they’re both part of the Avengers-industrial complex, there’s no point pretending these are separate entities. Robert Downey Jr. will be sardonic, Chris Hemsworth will be dashing, and between them they will dominate the box office from early summer to late fall.
May 17: Star Trek Into Darkness
J.J. Abrams’ first reboot of the Star Trek brand was the most fun to be had at the movies in the summer of 2009. Abrams took his time making the follow-up, so one can hope it will live up to its predecessor’s popcorn standard.
June 7: Much Ado About Nothing
As if he didn’t have enough fans as The Avengers writer/director, Joss Whedon may be going for a more literary crowd with his modern retelling of Shakespeare’s classic comedy. (Yes, Joss Whedon does Shakespeare!) If it’s even half as entertaining as much of his other work, it should be well worth a look.
June 21: Monsters University
Another prequel, but a Pixar sequel. Let’s hope Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully uphold the studio’s reputation for quality with their antics in higher ed.
July 3: The Lone Ranger
Disney caught lightning in a bottle when Johnny Depp agreed to play Captain Jack Sparrow in the family-friendly Pirates of the Caribbean films. No doubt Disney is hoping lightning will strike twice and audiences will be equally charmed by Depp’s sure-to-be unique take on the Lone Ranger’s sidekick, Tonto.
Nov. 22: Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Perhaps the one sure-fire blockbuster not to boast a superhero, teenage archer Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) returns to the ring where her enemies in the Capitol will try to take their revenge.
Dec. 13: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Who cares if most critics judged An Unexpected Journey bloated at nearly three hours? Tolkien lovers, who can never get enough Middle Earth, will continue to turn out, hopefully for an improved second outing. The smart ones will have learned to avoid the 3-D option.
Release date to be determined:
Left Behind Fans of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’ best-selling books will get another chance to see the story on the big screen. Oscar-winner Nicolas Cage will take on the role of Ray Steele while Chad Michael Murray will take Kirk Cameron’s place as Buck Williams.