The Croods (March 22)
A prehistoric family is forced to evolve and venture into an uncharted, picturesque world in search of higher grounds when continental drift destroys their cave. ”This is the world’s first family road trip,” Kirk DeMicco (Space Chimps), who co-directed the film with Chris Sanders (How to Train Your Dragon), told EW’s Anthony Breznican. The Croods encounter a more intellectually advanced, but physically inferior human named Guy (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), who leads them on a grand adventure. Patriarch Grug (Nicolas Cage) isn’t keen on Guy’s ideas — a foreign concept to the alpha male — but his daughter Eep (Emma Stone) is more open-minded (he makes fire…and shoes!). ”For the Croods, anything new is super scary,” Sanders said. ”New is bad. On this journey, every single thing they come across is going to be new. For Grug, it’s a nightmare. For Eep, it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to her.”
The Host (March 29)
From glittering vampires to glinting eyes, The Host is the latest big screen adaptation of a Stephenie Meyer best-selling novel about the paranormal. The sci-fi thriller follows an alien species that has successfully colonized Earth by invading human bodies. One of the members of the new race, Wanderer (Hanna‘s Saoirse Ronan) forms a bond with her host and sets out to aid what surviving humans they can find. With Meyer’s blessing, writer-director Andrew Niccol (Gattaca) has taken several liberties with the 600+-page book, including the physical appearance of The Seeker (Diane Kruger), a parasitic member of the race’s police force.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation? (March 29)
The toy-soldier sequel’s release date was abruptly bumped almost a month before its summer 2012 opening to late March in order to convert the film to 3-D and to potentially sexify it with more Channing Tatum screen time. If it had been released in June, G.I. Joe would have upped Tatum’s 2012 film count to five. In the film, three soldiers (Tatum, Dwayne ”The Rock” Johnson, and Bruce Willis) fight their mortal enemy Cobra while tackling threats from within the government, including an impostor U.S. president wielding a weapon capable of destroying countries ”14 times over.”
The Place Beyond the Pines (March 29, limited)
?For his third feature, director Derek Cianfrance reunites with Blue Valentine star Ryan Gosling to ruminate on the meaning of morality. The low-budget crime drama unfolds over 15 years in three distinct installments, with each featuring a different male character. Gosling stars as a tattooed stunt-rider-turned-bank-robber (the two-wheeled version of his Drive character) opposite Bradley Cooper’s conflicted rookie cop. Gosling considers a life of crime in order to provide for his child and baby mama (off-screen girlfriend Eva Mendes). But, be warned, knowing less is more for this movie, so don’t over-research before you watch.
Scary Movie V (April 12)
On the heels of a rebooted Scream franchise, the spoof series Scary Movie is being revived as well. Charlie Sheen stars as himself (a.k.a. a tiger-blooded warlock) opposite Lindsay Lohan in the Malcolm D. Lee-helmed comedy about three dancers competing for the lead in a production. Katt Williams, Jerry O’Connell, Mike Tyson, Heather Locklear, Kate Walsh, and Ashley Tisdale also star.
42 (April 12)
Brian Helgeland’s (A Knight’s Tale) biopic marks the second feature film about baseball hero and civil rights pioneer Jackie Robinson. Relative unknown Chadwick Boseman stars as the sports icon, and Harrison Ford portrays Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, who spearheaded the famed second baseman’s historic 1945 signing.
To the Wonder (April 12)
Terrence Malick’s latest explores the role of religion in love and the relationship between man and nature. Ben Affleck plays a man through the course of two relationships, one with a Parisian single mom (Olga Kurylenko), one with a hometown girl (Rachel McAdams). Javier Bardem also stars in the semi-silent film as a priest struggling with his calling.
Oblivion (April 19)
Tom Cruise plays Jack Harper, a drone repairman working on Earth 60 years after the planet was devastated by an alien attack; half of the world is in ruins and all humans have evacuated. One day, Harper discovers a beautiful woman in a crashed spacecraft and a band of survivors led by Morgan Freeman, forcing him to question everything he thought he knew and to go rogue in search of ”the truth.”
The Big Wedding (April 26)
Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton star as a long-divorced couple who struggle to play the happy pair for the wedding of their adopted son (Ben Barnes). Given a cast that includes not only De Niro and Keaton but also Katherine Heigl, Susan Sarandon, and Robin Williams, director Justin Zackham jokes, ”My job was basically to get out of the way.” While Zackham was impressed by his leads’ ”spectacular” onscreen chemistry, he says the two stars were very different between takes: ”De Niro is quiet in his room watching the news, whereas Diane walks around the set listening to Kanye West and Jay-Z.” —Andrew Santana
Pain and Gain (April 26)
Based on a 1999 Miami New Times article about bodybuilders who became murderers, Michael Bay’s passion project follows two Floridian juice heads (Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne ”The Rock” Johnson), who get involved in an extortion ring and kidnapping that goes awry. ”I just love the characters,” Bay told EW in 2007. ”It’s these guys that work in a gym, and nothing is good enough, do you know what I mean? The pump is not good enough. They are all looking for the American dream. They end up kidnapping. It’s like a mixture of Fargo and Pulp Fiction and it’s all true. And they’re all knuckleheads. It’s a fun character piece. No action. One car crash.”
Iron Man 3 (May 3)
Robert Downey Jr. returns for his third solo run as billionaire playboy Tony Stark. Iron Man faces his most powerful enemy yet: the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who prefers the term teacher to terrorist. Partially inspired by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov’s 2005-2006 comics series Iron Man: Extremis, the hero may become one with his armor in this installment. In the comic, Stark is injected with a nanotech serum that allows man to bond to metal, enabling him to draw the gear by mental command. ”These things tend to, in Act 3, really become about the same old things,” Downey Jr. told EW’s Anthony Breznican. ”So let’s really flip that. I feel like I don’t know where you go after Iron Man 3. Leave it all on the field, you know?”
The Great Gatsby (May 10)
You’d think that a film adaptation of one of the most famous novels of all time, a staple of high school English classes across America for generations, would be a slam-dunk for any studio hunting for prime Oscar bait. But director Baz Luhrmann says his decade-long quest to film F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age classic — about the mysterious self-made millionaire Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his doomed romance with the shallow, flighty Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) — has been anything but easy. ”No one wants to make drama of this kind at this level,” he says. ”It’s not an environment where films like this are getting made.”
They’re certainly not being made in 3-D, a choice that has raised more than a few eyebrows. But Tobey Maguire, who plays the book’s narrator and Gatsby pal Nick Carraway, says that Luhrmann’s swing-for-the-fences approach — evidenced in previous films like William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! — was a large part of the project’s appeal. ”The 3-D is going to really give you an immersive experience,” Maguire says. ”You’ll get the ambition and spectacle of seeing a movie and the immediacy and intimacy of watching a play.”
With a budget north of $120 million, Gatsby is sure to be a visual feast, but Luhrmann says it’s ultimately the book’s emotional drama that most excites him. ”The genius of Fitzgerald is how slender the novel is and yet how much there is in it,” he says. ”It’s like eating whipped cream that nourishes.” —Josh Rottenberg
Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)
In J.J. Abrams’ sequel to 2009’s rebooted Star Trek, the crew of the Enterprise learns that an enemy lurks within their own organization. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) leads a manhunt to capture the ”one man weapon of mass destruction.” Benedict Cumberbatch plays a villain in the sci-fi flick, which pays homage to 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, who may or may not be Khan. Abrams and Paramount Pictures have debunked the notion, but we won’t believe it until we see the movie with our own eyes.
The Hangover Part III (May 24)
”The Hangover Part III is Alan’s story,” says director Todd Phillips of Zach Galifianakis’ character. ”He’s going through a crisis after the death of his father, [and] the Wolfpack is all he has.” this installment brings the group together when something from the first movie comes back to haunt them. Vegas is just one of their stops. Fan favorite Ken Jeong reprises his role as Mr. Chow. ”He’s darker than ever,” says Phillips, who adds that the movie is ”a fitting end to this three-part opera of mayhem and bad decisions.” —Lindsey Bahr
The Fast and the Furious 6 (May 24)
After 2011’s Fast Five earned the highest opening weekend in the studio’s history, there are high hopes for the franchise’s sixth installment. Staples Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, and Tyrese Gibson will reunite the all-star-team of street racers, joining newcomers Luke Evans, Gina Carano, and Luke Evans.
Texas Chainsaw 3D (opened Jan. 4)
Almost 40 years have passed since Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre first terrorized audiences, but neither time nor poor remakes have diminished interest in everyone’s favorite inbred cannibal: Leatherface. The power-tool-wielding madman returns in this modern-day sequel about a young woman who takes a road trip to Texas with friends to investigate a family inheritance. Instead of an heirloom, she finds a mansion with trouble looming in the basement. Directed by John Luessenhop (Takers) and starring Dan Yeager (as Leatherface) and White Collar‘s Alexandra Daddario (as terrorized woman Heather), the film also features appearances by Chainsaw franchise alums Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, and John Dugan. This is one legend that just won’t die.
Gangster Squad (opened Jan. 11)
Originally slated for release in September, this high-octane crime movie from director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) was pushed back in the wake of the Aurora, Colo., shootings, which eerily mirrored a scene in the film that depicted a gangland massacre in a movie theater. Now, with that sequence removed, audiences will finally get to see Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin as a pair of Los Angeles cops assigned to take down notorious 1940s Mob kingpin Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). ”I like the idea that it’s a throwback movie, but it’s also an action movie,” Brolin told EW during filming. ”I’d want to see it.” —Josh Rottenberg
The Last Stand (opened Jan. 18)
In his first leading role since 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Arnold Schwarzenegger proves that he’s still badass at 65. The perennial action hero plays LAPD narcotics agent-turned-sheriff Ray Owens in the English debut of Korean director Jee-woon Kim (The Good, the Bad, the Weird). Owens’ small border town is caught in the crossfire between big-city law enforcement and a drug-cartel leader (Eduardo Noriega) as he and his gang try to escape across the Mexican border.
Broken City (opened Jan. 18)
Mark Wahlberg plays New York cop-turned-PI Billy Taggart, who’s hired by Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) to find out if Hostetler’s wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is having an affair. In the course of the investigation, Taggart begins to uncover hidden corruption and decides to try to take the mayor down. According to Wahlberg, the film ”has elements of great movies I grew up loving, like Chinatown: really strong characters, plot points you didn’t see coming.” —Josh Rottenberg
Mama (opened Jan. 18)
Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau made his breakthrough with the 1995 Danish thriller Nightwatch, but that doesn’t mean he’s an expert horror-movie viewer. ”As soon as the scary music starts, I start hiding [with] my hands in front of my eyes,” he says. Still, he managed to survive filming the ghostflick Mama, in which he and Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jessica Chastain play a couple who take in his two nieces, who are found five years after disappearing on the day of their mother’s murder. As for what’s threatening the foursome in this photo, he’ll reveal only, ”It has something to do with the title of the movie. There is something there that is very menacing.” —Emily Rome
Parker (opened Jan. 25)
In his latest anti-heroic role, Jason Statham plays a professional thief who teams up with a crook from the block (Jennifer Lopez) to steal from a team of double-crossing robbers. ”He’s a man who lives by a certain moral code,” Statham told EW’s Clark Collis. ”He’s involved in criminal activities but he perceives all business to be in some way crooked. He never steals from people he feels can’t afford it and he doesn’t hurt people that don’t deserve it.” The Robin Hood-esque Parker was conceived in Donald E. Westlake’s 1962 novel The Hunter and has turned up in more than 20 books. He also took a name change and appeared in various movies, including 1967’s Point Blank and 1999’s Payback.
Movie 43 (opened Jan. 25)
This raunchy ensemble comedy may actually live up to its tagline as ”the most outrageous comedy ever made” with ”the biggest cast ever assembled.” Four years, 12 directors, and about 43 Hollywood heavyweights — including Leslie Bibb, Justin Long, and Jason Sudeikis (shown above), plus Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Emma Stone, Halle Berry, and real-life couples Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber as well as Anna Faris and Chris Pratt — went into making the film. But don’t worry, this isn’t your typical slew of interconnected vignettes; in fact, there’s not holiday in sight.
Warm Bodies (opened Feb. 1)
Yes, this is a teen paranormal romance adapted from a YA novel, but its similarities to Twilight stop there. A zombie falls in love with the human girlfriend of one of his victims in this horror rom-com that’s more akin to Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland than that little-known vampire franchise. The star-crossed romance between R (X-Men: First Class star Nicholas Hoult) and Julie (I Am Number Four‘s Teresa Palmer) sets in motion a sequence of de-zombification capable of bringing warmth to a lifeless post-apocalyptic world. After all, love is what makes us human.
Identity Thief (opened Feb. 8)
If anyone could make the unsexy crime of identity theft palatable, it’s the comedic duo of Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy. Bateman plays a ”sucker” with the gender neutral name Sandy who tracks down the deceptively harmless-looking woman who has tarnished his credit rating. The real Sandy soon learns that his imposter, who he initially dismisses as nothing more than a hobbit, is more comparable to Gollum than Bilbo when her fist meets his throat.
Side Effects (opened Feb. 8)
Steven Soderbergh veterans Jude Law (Contagion), Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, Haywire), and Catherine Zeta-Jones (Traffic) join up with novice Rooney Mara for this thrill ride. Mara plays a depressed woman whose powerful anxiety medication leads to an unpredictable outburst. The film will be Soderbergh’s final theatrical release before retirement. His Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon will premiere on HBO later this year.
Beautiful Creatures (opened Feb. 14)
The Twilight effect is in full swing, ladies and gentlemen. Based on Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s young adult novel by the same title, Beautiful Creatures is the latest big-screen adaptation of a paranormal teen trilogy. In development since 2009, the movie follows teen outcast Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert), a witch — or ”caster” in Creatures parlance — who is fated to become either good or evil on her sweet 16. That destiny is challenged when Lena falls for Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich), an ordinary kid determined to save his new love from potential doom. Add in Emmy Rossum (above) as Lena’s supernaturally manipulative cousin Ridley, who’s sent by Lena’s own mother (Emma Thompson) to make sure the teen doesn’t opt for good, and this Southern Gothic plot is sure to cast its spell on you.
A Good Day to Die Hard (opened Feb. 14)
For the fifth entry in the Die Hard franchise, irascible and still-not-yet-retired NYPD officer John McClane heads to Russia with an unlikely partner — his own son. ”John’s always a fish out of water,” says Aussie actor Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher), who plays Jack McClane. ”What could be further out of water for him than Russia?” Making things even more complicated, father and son don’t necessarily get along. ”The relationship isn’t always functional. These are two guys who have been estranged for some time. John likes to wing it, see what happens. Jack’s more of a strategist.” —Keith Staskiewicz
Safe Haven (opened Feb. 14)
Nicholas Sparks’ latest big-screen adaptation (the fourth in three years) has an uncanny resemblance to the hit that spawned this string of chick flicks, The Notebook, including a sleepy coastal town, a romantic canoe ride between stars Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel followed by a frolic in the rain, and a sweep-you-off-your-feet kiss. Hough plays a young woman whose sordid past catches up to her after she flees Boston for Southport, N.C.
Jack the Giant Slayer (opened March 1)
If 2012 was Jennifer Lawrence’s year, 2013 belongs to her X-Men: First Class co-star (and reported boyfriend) Nicholas Hoult. The zombie lead in Warm Bodies also stars as the farmer-turned-hero in director Bryan Singer’s re-imagining of the English folktale Jack and the Beanstalk. When the established order between mankind and giantkind is threatened, Hoult braves the beanstalk to rescue the kingdom and save the kidnapped princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) who has stolen his heart. An epic fantasy, complete with tortured pigs — and Ewan McGregor — in blankets awaits.
Stoker (opened March 1, limited)
South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s (Oldboy) first English-language movie is terrifying, to say the least. Nicole Kidman plays mommie dearest Evie who strikes up a romance with her brother-in-law Matthew Goode immediately following her husband’s death in this multi-genre thriller. When the incestual, sociopathic Goode redirects his intense attention toward his already-traumatized niece (Mia Wasikowska), he triggers her violent temperament.
21 and Over (opened March 1)
Remember your 21st birthday? Well, neither will the hedonists in 21 and Over, a comedy sloshing its way to screens March 1. When a straight-A college student (Justin Chon, center) and his best friends (Miles Teller, left, and Skylar Astin, right) hit the town to celebrate, the town hits back hard. ”Pretending to be drunk is probably the thing I worked on the most for this character,” Chon says. ”I did a lot of research at bars…. I don’t think I’ve ever been this committed to a role.” —Keith Staskiewicz
Admission (opened March 8)
As a Princeton admissions councilor, Tina Fey gives teens everywhere reason to high-five a million angels in her first post-30 Rock acting role. Fey takes a professional gamble on a ”prodigy” with poor grades when she learns that he might be the son she gave up for adoption in college. Her career-driven, child-phobic character (is that you, Liz Lemon?) is also caught off guard when she falls for single do-gooder dad Paul Rudd. ”It was certainly a challenge for me to try to do acting — real acting,” Fey told EW’s Kristen Baldwin about the role. ”[My husband] Jeff [Richmond] kept telling me every day, ‘Don’t forget to do acting.”’?
Spring Breakers (opened March 15, limited)
Disney darlings Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens take off their mouse ears (among other things) in their raciest roles to date. The raunchy film follows four college girls who are arrested after robbing a restaurant to fund their spring vacation. The bikini-clad babes are bailed out by corn-rowed, tattooed, Kevin Federline-esque drug and arms dealer (James Franco), who introduces them to a world of sex and violence.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (opened March 15)
Steve Carell plays the title character, a one-time staple on the Las Vegas magic strip whose act has grown stale with time as he’s tuned jaded and egotistical. He loses his job and gets dumped by his sidekick (Steve Buscemi) when up-and-coming magician (Jim Carrey) begins hogging the limelight. Now a complete failure, Burt turns to his mentor (Alan Arkin) and assistant (Olivia Wilde) to help him re-channel the passion he once possessed for the job. —Maane Khatchatourian