Previewing the Films of 2011: Blockbusters and Popcorn Features

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Well, it’s time to look at the films likely to make the biggest dollars at the box-office, but will any of them truly stand out as some of the year’s best? Below we’re looking at the films that will serve as the largest measure of escapism throughout 2011 as a new batch of superheroes will test whether or not they deserve big screen treatment, robots will once again blow things up, animated cars will again talk, a barbarian returns, cowboys fight aliens, Nic Cage is angry and at the wheel, death continues to stalk teenagers and Justin Bieber refuses to say “never”. It’s going to be a wild ride…

If you haven’t been keeping up, this is the third installment in my 2011 Preview, the two previous installments are linked below and tomorrow will mark the fourth and final. Here’s the schedule of events:

With that out of the way, let’s see what kind of fun may or may not be in store for us in 2011. While we may have our most anticipated lists, these 53 films are likely to be the weekly hot topics at the box-office, anticipated or not.

Blockbusters and Popcorn Features
(in alphabetical order)

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn [December 23]: See my 2011 Curiosities, Quirky, Unconventional and Bizarre List

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked [December 16]: You love the title. Admit it.

Battle: Los Angeles [March 11]: See my 2011 Curiosities, Quirky, Unconventional and Bizarre List

Caesar: Rise of the Apes [June 24]: See my 2011 Curiosities, Quirky, Unconventional and Bizarre List

Captain America: The First Avenger [July 22]: Can Joe Johnston save face after last year’s awful The Wolfman? Can this film actually be any good? This film is one of many comicbook adaptations coming to the big screen this year and I have to admit, it doesn’t yet have my attention. The cast includes Chris Evans as the title character along with Hugo Weaving, Sebastian Stan, Hayley Atwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Toby Jones, Dominic Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Neal McDonough, Stanley Tucci and Richard Armitage.

Cars 2 [June 24]: People have already declared Cars 2 as a lesser film based on their opinion of the first film, a film often considered one of Pixar’s less than stellar features. Watching the trailer it obviously is a much different movie than the Best Picture contenders they’ve delivered the last couple of years, but there’s nothing wrong with making something a little different is there? Either way, it should be a pretty big hit, but don’t be surprised if people find this to be a good opportunity to pile on a Pixar film as the opportunity hasn’t been there for a few years.

Conan [August 19]: Can this film possibly be any good? Marcus Nispel, the director behind Pathfinder, will bring the latest incarnation of Robert E. Howard’s barbarian with unknown Jason Momoa stepping into the lead role.

Cowboys and Aliens [July 29]: Disney has already put their faith in Iron Man director Jon Favreau, but will the audience follow him to a more obscure and less approachable film than Iron Man? Daniel Craig isn’t as charismatic as Robert Downey Jr. and this is a western, a genre recently thought dead in Hollywood until the Coen brothers delivered True Grit, which is well on its way to $100+ million. Perhaps the timing is just right and this will be a big hit. I hope so, I love westerns and why not add a few aliens to the mix while you’re at it?

Drive Angry [February 25]: Nic Cage is driving and he’s driving angry with Amber Heard in the passenger seat. Oh, and it’s in 3D. Buckle up!

The Eagle [February 11]: If Kevin Macdonald had chosen anyone other than Channing Tatum to lead this film I’d be more interested, but as it stands I can’t muster up any passion. I am curious to see Tahar Rahim in one of his first post-A Prophet roles however.

Fast Five [April 29]: See my Most Anticipated Movies of 2011 List

Final Destination 5 [August 26]: One more just for good measure, and if enough of you show up for this one they’ll make another one proving it is never the final Final Destination.

Footloose [October 14]: The fact this is directed by Craig Brewer is the only reason I am even considering going to see this movie, but if they are going to try and convince me there is still somewhere in the United States where dancing is outlawed I already throw in the towel.

Friends with Benefits [July 22]: Directed by Will Gluck (Easy A), this film leaves very little to the imagination when it comes to what it’s all about. And if you’ve watched the red band teaser trailer any blanks will be filled in. The cast includes Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Patricia Clarkson, Andy Samberg, Jenna Elfman and Richard Jenkins.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [December 21]: See my Most Anticipated Movies of 2011 List

The Green Hornet [January 14]: Will Michel Gondry‘s latest find an audience or fall flat? I can’t believe it will do anything in between.

Green Lantern [June 17]: I must admit, Green Lantern another superhero movie I already have doubts about. It just seems studios are trying to wedge superheroes in wherever they can, but just because these fantastical worlds work on the page doesn’t mean they’ll work on the big screen. The one big positive with this film is director Martin Campbell who resurrected James Bond twice with GoldenEye and Casino Royale and tends to do well with popcorn features, but can his streak continue here or are we looking at another Legend of Zorro?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II [July 15]: See my Most Anticipated Movies of 2011 List

The Hangover Part II [May 26]: Can lightning strike twice for Todd Phillips and The Hangover gang or will this be an instance of going to the well one too many times? As long as they balance out the raunch with a decent storyline and don’t attempt to go too far over the top I think they’ll be fine, but it’s going to be hard to top the original.

Happy Feet 2 [November 18]: The first one made $198 million domestically and over $384 million worldwide and went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature over, yup, Pixar’s Cars. Will 2011 be a repeat performance?

Horrible Bosses [TBA 2011]: Seth Gordon had people bowing at his feet over King of Kong then they turned their back on him after Four Christmases, will Horrible Bosses right the ship? It’s got a solid cast for a comedy headlined by Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman with a supporting cast made up of Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Spacey, Julie Bowen, Charlie Day and P.J. Byrne. Could be good.

I Am Number Four [February 18]: Is D.J. Caruso‘s I Am Number Four has the chance to be a blockbuster or may actually miss the mark completely. Alex Pettyfer isn’t exactly a big star and the title is, let’s face it, quite terrible. But the trailer promotes something of a cross between X-Men and a love angle that may entice Twilighters. DreamWorks can only hope.

Immortals [November 11]: See my Most Anticipated Movies of 2011 List

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island [TBA 2011]: The Rock steps in for Brendan Fraser in the sequel to 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth with Cats and Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore helmer, Brad Peyton, taking over directorial duties.

Just Go With It [February 11]: Adam Sandler and Dennis Dugan team once again after working on films such as I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, You Don’t Mess With the Zohan and Grown Ups and this time they’ve brought along Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker and Nicole Kidman of all people for the ride.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never [February 11]: The title says it all, and what it says is this film will likely make a ton of money. But will it make Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour money? Don’t count on it.

Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom [May 27]: I really enjoyed the original and hope this sequel will be able to tap into the fun that made that film feel more like a Pixar film than a DreamWorks one. I also can’t wait to hear Jean-Claude Van Damme voice the character of Master Croc, something tells me that will be quite comical.

The Mechanic [January 28]: Simon West‘s The Mechanic looks like an early year popcorn flick for the violence inclined audience members. I’m all for that.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol [December 16]: See my Most Anticipated Movies of 2011 List

The Muppets Movie [November 23]: See my Most Anticipated Movies of 2011 List

No Strings Attached [January 21]: Some are saying this could be Natalie Portman‘s Norbit, which is to say this movie could be so bad it could lose Portman the Oscar the same way people assume Norbit did for Eddie Murphy. I don’t think it will be that traumatic, but I can’t say I’ve ever anticipated a movie with that Nikon camera commercial guy… what’s his name? Oh, yeah… Ashton Kutcher.

Paranormal Activity 3 [October 21]: A director has yet to be announced, but suffice to say, Paramount is going to milk this cash cow for all it’s worth.

Paul [March 18]: My only interest here is the fact Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are involved, the supporting cast including Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig and Jane Lynch is mildly intriguing, but this film just doesn’t look all that good to me.

Piranha 3 DD [September 16]: Hopefully this time around I’ll see it with a large crowd ready to have fun rather than the nearly empty theater I ended up seeing the original with. That was a little creepy.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides [May 20]: In the chase for box-office supremacy Pirates of the Caribbean 4 has got to be among the top contenders. It’s just a matter of whether or not audiences are still interested in the further adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow or if he’s a character that’s run his course.

Puss in Boots [November 4]: This is apparently set to hit theaters on November 4, but I haven’t heard a word about it other than knowing Antonio Banderas will return as the title character in this Shrek spin-off, Salma Hayek will voice a character named Kitty, Zach Galifianakis will voice Humpty Dumpty and Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris are also expected to contribute to the voice cast. When will we hear something more?

Rango [March 4]: See my Most Anticipated Movies of 2011 List

Real Steel [October 7]: Hugh Jackman in a story about boxing robots directed by the guy behind Night at the Museum. Ummmm, okay.

Red Riding Hood [March 11]: Catherine Hardwicke has finally made her werewolf movie after she wasn’t asked back to direct New Moon and I have very little hope for this film after watching the trailer.

Scream 4 [April 15]: See my 2011 Curiosities, Quirky, Unconventional and Bizarre List

Sherlock Holmes 2 [December 16]: See my 2011 Curiosities, Quirky, Unconventional and Bizarre List

The Smurfs [August 3]: This is one of those films I wonder how relevant the characters are anymore. Raja Gosnell directed the Scooby-Doo features, but I feel as if even Scooby is better known than “The Smurfs”. Am I wrong about this?

Sucker Punch [March 25]: See my 2011 Curiosities, Quirky, Unconventional and Bizarre List

The Thing [October 14]: See my 2011 Curiosities, Quirky, Unconventional and Bizarre List

Thor [May 6]: It’s hard to imagine being less excited for a superhero movie than I am to see either Captain America or Green Lantern, but from what I’ve seen of Kenneth Branagh‘s Thor it looks to be the worst of the three. I could be wrong and I absolutely hope I am wrong about all three, but that big guy wielding a hammer doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

The Three Musketeers [October 14]: Someone asked for The Three Musketeers in 3D and Paul W.S. Anderson raised his hand and said, “I’ll do it!”

Tower Heist [November 4]: Brett Ratner is back and and he’s directing Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy in a heist comedy. Mayhem is sure to ensue.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon [July 1]: It would be impossible to talk about the movies of 2011 and not mention Michael Bay‘s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. As far as I’m concerned this is one of those movies you lower your expectations for to such a degree that it can’t help but seem better than you expected. I hold out hope he’s finally made a Transformers movie I can truly enjoy, but I can’t say I’m counting on it.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part I [November 18]: I’ve mentioned Twilight a couple of times, but there’s no substitute for the real thing and this year we’ll get the first of two parts of the famed vampire/werewolf franchise before we can finally say goodbye in 2012.

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas [TBA 2011]: When it comes to Christmas movies they’ve been lacking as of late, so why not count on a couple of weed smoking delinquents to resurrect the holiday spirit that’s been missing from the multiplex.

X-Men: First Class [June 3]: Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) is tackling the latest installment in Fox’s X-Men franchise as he sets out to tell the origin story of the mighty mutants. He’s a solid helmer and he has an impressive cast. I expect this will be the best superhero movie of the year. The cast includes James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Caleb Landry Jones, Lucas Till, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, Edi Gathegi, Jason Flemyng, Oliver Platt, Rose Byrne, Morgan Lily, January Jones, Zoe Kravitz, Bill Milner, Charlie Rowe and Ray Wise.

Your Highness [April 8]: The little I’ve seen of the trailer for Your Highness tells me this is going to be a stinker.

Zookeeper [July 8]: Paul Blart is back, only this time he works in a zoo and his name is Griffin Keyes. Do you sense a similar $146+ million success?


With the 39 new titles mentioned above (14 of them I had mentioned on previous lists) I have now previewed 97 movies from 2011 and tomorrow will bring even more. However, for now, if you haven’t yet checked out my 25 Most Anticipated Movies or my list of the Curiosities, Quirky, Unconventional and Bizarre Movies for 2011 do so now and always be sure to add your opinion in the comments.

See you here tomorrow with my final list featuring a batch of Foreign Films to look out for as well as potential Oscar Contenders.

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