10 most anticipated films of the holiday season
(Photo: Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, New Line Cinema)
The year's not over yet.
Following some middling box-office fare the year before, 2012 was supposed to be our cinematic salvation with superhero spectaculars aplenty, an "Aliens" prequel, and remakes that promised to exceed the originals. Well, for every "Avengers" win there was a "John Carter" letdown, and mega-projects like "Prometheus" and "Total Recall" received mixed reception while comedies like "Magic Mike" perked up audiences with unexpected delights.
And now, as Hollywood has done in recent years, all the juicy Oscar bait and movie extravaganzas get thrown into the waters about now, timed with those familial holiday get-togethers. With two months left to go, there's plenty for audiences to be excited about — and they're giving a sneak peek of what they're keen on, via their online searches. Here now, a countdown to the season's most anticipated films, based on Yahoo! user searches.
10. "Rise of the Guardians" (Nov. 21). Based on the book series "The Guardians of Childhood," this DreamWorks computer-animation flick pulls together the original Justice League — namely a blithe Jack Frost (voiced by Chris Pine), a tattooed Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), a frenetic Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), a perky Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), and a silent Sandman. The icons unite against villain Pitch the Boogeyman (Jude Law), who's intent on realizing his G-rated Freddy Krueger ambitions to dominate the world through bad dreams. Don't expect a faithful reproduction of the books' vintage style, but do expect a strong family turnout — kids make up 42% of "Guardians" queries.
9. "The Man With the Iron Fists" (Nov. 2). When kung fu films made their way to American shores in the 1970s, they were usually screened in Chinatowns and urban neighborhoods (read: areas dominated by a black population). That cultural crosscurrent also manifested itself in Western films directed at an urban audience (read: black exploitation films). Take a great leap forward, where grindhouse nostalgia meets A-list (well, maybe B average) creds. Grammy Award-winning hip-hop producer RZA, the man behind the Wu Tang Clan, co-wrote, directed, and stars in this martial-arts action flick about a weapon-making blacksmith (named Blacksmith) who joins up with a rainbow coalition to protect his 19th-century Chinese village. Throw in Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, champion mixed-martial artist Cung Le, and some very storied names from Hong Kong action cinema (do we really need to mention Quentin Tarantino is in this mix?), and you have a bizarre mash-up resonating in regions like L.A., D.C., NYC, SF, and Dallas. Expect this to be the male-bonding movie of the season.
[Related: How RZA got his name]
8. "Life of Pi" (Nov. 21). Who else but director Ang Lee, who has successfully adapted works like "Sense and Sensibility" and "Brokeback Mountain" (and perhaps not so successfully with the "Hulk"), would tackle the tale of an Indian zoo owner's son, trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger? The book itself faced hurdles, rejected by several publishing houses before going on to win the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Lee himself has described his four-year filmmaking journey as "stressful" and "the hardest movie that I have made so far." Will that pay off in Oscar trophies? Meanwhile, that rare PG-rating may work to its advantage: Interest in "Life of Pi" spreads pretty evenly throughout ages 13-54 and across gender (52% female, 48% male), making this the season's thinking family movie.