Tyler Perry's Good Deeds (Feb. 24)
In perhaps his most prominent non-Madea role yet, Tyler Perry plays Wesley Deeds, a wealthy, straitlaced businessman who veers from the beaten path by falling for a struggling janitor played by Thandie Newton. Newton, who starred in Perry’s 2010 drama For Colored Girls, notes a trend in the prolific director-writer-star’s films: ”He’s becoming more interested in the darker side. There?s not just good or bad?there’s shades of gray.” What does that mean for her decidedly unglamorous character? ”That can mean getting ugly,” she says, ”getting bare and getting raw.” —Stephan Lee
John Carter (March 9)
Friday Night Lights alum Taylor Kitsch stars as a Civil War veteran transported to Mars, which is having a civil war of its own.
Mirror Mirror (March 16)
As a decadent Evil Queen, Julia Roberts finally gets to bare her teeth in a way that doesn’t involve smiling. Tarsem Singh (Immortals) directs this lighthearted, music-infused take on Snow White, with Roberts as a royally wicked stepmother who orders the death of the fair princess (Abduction‘s Lily Collins) while preying cougarlike on a young prince (J. Edgar‘s Armie Hammer). Collins says the queen’s main weapon is charm. ”You can’t figure out if you are supposed to like her or hate her. But if you happen to be her victim, you really feel it,” she laughs. ”All [Snow White] wants is the Evil Queen’s approval, and she just keeps getting cut down.” —Anthony Breznican
21 Jump Street (March 16)
Best known for 21-jump-starting the career of a young kid named Johnny Depp, the late-’80s TV crime series about cops going undercover as teenagers gets a big-screen reboot that veers in a sillier—and far more R-rated—direction. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play ?a mismatched pair of police officers trying to take down a high school drug ring. ”There’s something inherently funny about the concept,” says Chris Miller, who is making the leap to live-action comedy along with his Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs codirector Phil Lord. Early on the film was developed as an action drama, but, says Miller, ”once Jonah came on board, it sort of seemed like it had to have the tone it ended up having.” —Josh Rottenberg
The Hunger Games (March 23)
Kids killing kids. It’s one thing to gasp over a cruel government’s idea of ritualized entertainment in the pages of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling The Hunger Games, the first installment ?of her harrowing trilogy. It’ll be a whole different experience watching it play out on screen in director Gary Ross’ adaptation starring Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) and Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right) as teen combatants in a televised fight-to-the-death tournament. ”Reading the books, ?I thought I understood the brutality,” says Hutcherson. ”But then you walk onto set ?and you see all the weapons in the Cornucopia and this little kid who’s 10 years old. The movie can push Suzanne’s idea to the furthest extent of just how messed up this totalitarian world is.” —Karen Valby
The Three Stooges (April 13)
The latest in slaphappyslapstick.
The Avengers (May? 4)
The Avengers is the superhero version of the everything bagel. Marvel Comics mainstays Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) join forces under Samuel L. Jackson’s spymaster Nick Fury to protect the world from a galactic menace. But the story isn’t just about fighting bad guys—it’s about assembling a team of disparate good guys. ”I set out with a very simple problem: There is no reason for these people to be in the same movie,” says writer-director Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). ”So that’s what my movie has to be about.”
The plot involves high-tech law enforcement agency S.H.I.E.L.D. recruiting the superheroes to battle Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the trickster god from Thor who returns to Earth to seek revenge. While each character carries a more or less equal share of the film, Whedon says the coda to last summer’s Captain America, in which Evans’ WWII warrior awakens in current times, sets the stage for The Avengers. Cap (real name: Steve Rogers) serves as the audience’s way into the story. ”So much of the movie takes place from Steve Rogers’ perspective, since he’s the guy who just woke up and sees this weird-ass world,” Whedon says. ”Everyone else has been living in it.” —Anthony Breznican
Dark Shadows (May 11)
When he was a boy, Johnny Depp remembers, he’d race home from school to catch episodes of the 1966?71 gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, about a centuries-old vampire grappling with life in the modern world. ”Even then, at that age, I knew—this has got to be weird,” Depp says.
Tim Burton’s big-screen adaptation is set in 1972. Depp plays the vampire Barnabas, who is exhumed from his 200-year-old grave and finds himself reuniting with his human descendants. Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonny Lee Miller, and Chloë Grace Moretz costar as members of his Me Decade family, while Helena Bonham Carter turns up as a bizarre psychiatrist. ”This eccentric family has all the same problems other families have, but they are exorbitantly wealthy and have a vampire living with them,” says screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith (author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). ”Like soap operas do, we take all the classic dysfunctions and problems and blow them into the stratosphere.” —Anthony Breznican
The Dictator (May 11)
A democracy-hating tyrant (Sacha Baron Cohen) heads to America.
Battleship (May 18)
Taylor Kitsch plays a U.S. Navy officer alongside Rihanna in an alien-infused take on the iconic game.
Men in Black 3 (May 25)
A full decade has passed since Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones last donned their Ray-Bans to deport some illegal aliens, but the sci-fi series’ third film features even bigger time jumps. When an extraterrestrial threatens Jones’ Agent K, Smith’s Agent J must travel back to 1969 to save him—encountering a younger K played by Josh Brolin. The past isn’t the only thing otherworldly in the film. ”There’s a great scene in a Chinese restaurant called Wu’s,” says director Barry Sonnenfeld. ”Because, let’s face it, half the stuff you eat in an authentic Chinese restaurant in New York could not be of this planet.” —Keith Staskiewicz
Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1)
Twilight‘s Kristen Stewart stars as the fairest of them all, joining forces with her would-be assassin (Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth) after he suffers a crisis of conscience. Banished into the wilderness, they lead a revolution against the black-hearted queen (Charlize Theron) who hired him. Rupert Sanders, known for his intense videogame commercials, makes his feature directing debut with this sinister, action-oriented telling of the Grimm folktale—one of two adaptations due this year, along with Mirror Mirror. ”It feels like an epic—Lord of the Rings rather than a fairy tale,” says Hemsworth. While Thor had regal refinement, the Huntsman is all brute. ”I’m looking forward to letting it all sort of crack around the edges and fall apart instead of having to hold it together,” Hemsworth says. ”He’s certainly that sort of reluctant hero, ?but he’s rough.” —Anthony Breznican
Rock of Ages (June 1)
Adapted from the hit Broadway musical—with classic songs from the likes of Journey and Pat Benatar—Rock of Ages revisits the 1980s L.A. music scene through the eyes of two young lovers (Footloose‘s Julianne Hough and 90210‘s Diego Boneta). The star-packed cast includes Alec Baldwin as the owner of an iconic club, Catherine Zeta-Jones as his right-wing nemesis, and Tom Cruise as legendary rocker Stacee Jaxx. ”Tom had his vocal coach there every day,?” says director Adam Shankman (Hairspray). ”I was like, ‘You know you don’t have to sing live [on set].’ But he lived this character.” ?—Adam Markovitz
Prometheus (June 8)
Three decades ago, Ridley Scott redefined the sci-fi genre with the double whammy of Alien and Blade Runner. Now he returns with a top-secret 3-D action epic about a crew of scientists who get stranded on a distant planet that holds answers to humankind’s biggest questions, like ”Who created us?” So far, the biggest buzz surrounding the film has been whether it’s an Alien prequel. ”Fans of the original Alien will notice some things, especially toward the end,” says Scott cryptically. ”But I really can’t say anymore than that.” —Chris Nashawaty
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (June 8)
After a year on an African nature reserve, our displaced animal friends (voiced by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, and Jada Pinkett Smith) decide to head home to NYC’s Central Park Zoo. But the quartet gets sidetracked in Monte Carlo, where they join a traveling circus that includes a Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston), a jaguar (Jessica Chastain), and a sea lion (Martin Short). They also attract the attention of Chantel DuBois (Frances McDormand), an animal-control officer who wants to mount Alex the lion’s head on her wall. ”Frances has turned her into a really fun villain,” says Eric Darnell, who directs with Conrad Vernon. ”She even sings Edith Piaf.” —John Young
Brave (June 22)
Pixar’s 13th animated feature is also its first to center on a female character: a fiery-haired Scottish princess (voiced by Boardwalk Empire‘s Kelly Macdonald) who’s more interested in archery than in being a royal. Desperate for adventure, ?she sets off for the mystical Highlands, where ?she encounters treacherous bears and Scotland’s ?legendary twinkling bog lights, the will-o’-the-wisps. ”Following these will-o’-the-wisps leads her to [the excitement] she wants,” explains Mark Andrews, who shares directing credit with Brenda Chapman, ”but there’s also that be-careful-what-?you-wish-for aspect whenever you’re dealing with enchantments.” —Grady Smith
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22)
In a twisted take on history, the Great Emancipator (played by newcomer Benjamin Walker) will be liberating ?vampire heads from their ? bodies. Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) directs the ?adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2010 novel, which blames a secret vampire cabal for the Confederacy’s fierce defense of slavery. ”I don’t know if I was so bad in school or whatever, but this idea of Abraham Lincoln just grabbed me,” says producer Tim Burton of the history-horror mash-up. ”It had that surreal mix of things I remember seeing ?in the ?70s, like Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde or Blacula.” ?—Anthony Breznican
The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3)
Sure, it’s been only five years since Tobey Maguire was swinging and web-slinging as Peter Parker, but when you’ve got a cash-cow franchise as milkable as Spider-Man, you can’t expect much of a vacation. Hence Sony’s 3-D return-to-high-school reboot of the Spidey saga, which stars The Social Network‘s Andrew Garfield ?as the orphaned teen to whom great power is given and of whom great responsibility is expected. Emma Stone plays his love interest, Gwen Stacy, and Rhys Ifans is brainiac baddie the Lizard. ”Ultimately what this movie is about is a kid who grows up looking for his father and finds himself,” says director Marc Webb, who helmed (500) Days of Summer. ”And that’s a Spider-Man story we haven’t seen before.” —Chris Nashawaty
The Dark Knight Rises (July 20)
The final chapter of Christpher Nolan’s blockbuster trilogy explores the ramifications of The Dark Knight‘s chilly ”heroic” climax, in which Batman took the blame for DA Harvey Dent-Two Face’s crimes, hoping that if he preserved the sterling rep of Gotham’s ”white knight,” the public that believed in Dent the do-gooder would continue the work of saving Gotham. The story begins eight years later, with Bruce Wayne still recovering from the physical and psychological traumas of his Joker-Two Face double whammy, Batman still a reviled cultural scapegoat, and Gotham prospering from the deception. ”At least superficially,” says Christopher Nolan. ”The movie deals with the idea that if you’ve papered over the cracks, then you’re just solving the problems in a way that may not hold for the future.”
While grappling with the repercussions of the conspiracy he hatched with Gotham’s police commissioner, Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), Bruce Wayne will have to repair his troubled relationships with faithful butler Alfred (Michael Caine) and weapons master and vehicle designer Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman). New characters include a cop played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a Wayne Enterprises board member (fellow Inception alum Marion Cotillard). And then there are Batman’s mysterious adversaries: Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), a burglar who hides behind high-tech spyglasses that resemble feline ears when flipped up onto her forehead, and the brilliant, brawny terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy), who hides behind a menacing and medically necessary mask. If you’ve seen the prologue (the first six minutes of the movie) and the trailer released last month, then you know that Bane and his followers are capable of extraordinary acts of mass destruction that suggest a movie of immense, IMAX-friendly scope (Holy exploding football fields, Batman!). You may have also concluded that Bane will be almost impossible to understand, thanks to Hardy’s peculiar inflection and the muffle of Bane’s muzzle. Don’t sweat this, Nolan says. ”I think when people see the film, things will come into focus. Bane is very complex and very interesting, and when people see the finished film they will be very entertained by him.” —Jeff Jensen
Total Recall (August 3)
Colin Farrell stars in a remake of the 1990 sci-fi hit.
Skyfall (Nov. 7)
Skyfall‘s plot is so top secret—it supposedly has something to do with 007 (played once again by Daniel Craig) losing faith in spy boss M (once again, Judi Dench)—that producer Barbara Broccoli would rather bite a cyanide pill than spill any details. ”Let’s just say it’s the most challenging mission for Bond ever,” she offers unhelpfully. All we know for sure about the 23rd film in the 50-year-old franchise is that Javier Bardem will play the bad guy, that Albert Finney and Ralph Fiennes both have undisclosed roles (”I’m allowed to say that I’m a government agent,” Fiennes let slip to a Scottish newspaper), and that director Sam Mendes (who worked with Craig in 2002’s Road to Perdition) was a closet Bond-aphile all along. ”He’s been like a kid in a candy store,” Broccoli says. —Benjamin Svetkey
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2 (Nov. 16)
The vampire romance concludes.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec. 14)
After making cinematic history with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, director Peter Jackson had some hesitation about returning to Middle-earth. ”I was worried I’d be showing up on the set sort of competing against myself in a funny kind of way, thinking, ‘What did I do the last time I had a scene like this?’ ” Jackson says. He hired Guillermo del Toro to direct, but when del Toro dropped out, Jackson decided to step in and take the reins of the two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy novel.
The Hobbit is set decades before the events of the Rings trilogy, as the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and a company of dwarfs recruit the reluctant hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) for a perilous quest to reclaim a dragon’s treasure. Among Jackson’s many challenges: getting audiences to identify with 13 decidedly uncuddly dwarfs with names like Ori, Dori, Nori, Oin, and Gloin—and simply keep them all straight. ”Walt Disney did okay at getting people invested in seven dwarfs,” Jackson says with a laugh. ”We just have to do twice as good.” Would you bet against him? —Josh Rottenberg
This Is 40 (Dec. 21)
Five years after it hit theaters, Knocked Up is having a cinematic baby. Writer-director Judd Apatow has centered his new comedy on two of the 2007 hit’s supporting characters—the married-with-kids couple Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Apatow’s wife,? Leslie Mann). The two are taking stock of their lives as they both hit the Big Four-oh ?in one emotionally tumultuous week. ”I’ve always been a fan of meltdown movies—there’s nothing better than seeing people come apart,” Apatow says. ”With this one, I just thought it? would be great to have an entire family in meltdown.” —Josh Rottenberg
The Great Gatsby (Dec. 25)
Director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) hopes to blow the high school English-class dust off F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic 1925 novel of the Roaring Twenties with his ambitious 3-D adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio ?as Jay Gatsby, the mysterious millionaire who has an ill-fated romance with the vibrant but shallow Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). Tobey Maguire takes on the role of the book’s narrator, ?Gatsby’s neighbor Nick Carraway.
Though purists may already be fretting, Luhrmann insists his take on Gatsby is faithful to the spirit of the book. ”When Fitzgerald wrote Gatsby, it was scandalous. People said, ‘Why are you putting this silly jazz in it?’ He was young, and it was visceral,” notes the director. ”You can’t come at it like a museum piece.” —Josh Rottenberg