Yesterday I posted a Conversation piece at Movies.com rounding up quotes from around the web on some of this year's most anticipated movies. I also shared some results I received through a poll I conducted on Twitter. The conclusion I've made about the coming year is that it promises a lot of great but unoriginal works, whether they're exciting new installments to a successful franchise or adaptations of popular novels.
This is usually the case with these previews. We're obviously drawn to familiarity, in spite of the common complaint that Hollywood feeds us too much unoriginal material founded in that same kind of familiarity. In a way, much of the excitement over "The Dark Knight Rises," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Prometheus" "The Avengers" and "The Hunger Games" is no different than the excitement over "Battleship," "Step Up 4" and "What to Expect When You're Expecting." The talent involved might be greater in the former group, but those films are still getting us initially with branding. Even the single documentary title included in The Conversation is a sequel ("Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory").
That said, of the ten big titles I featured in the post, four are original works. "Gravity," "Looper," "Django Unchained" and "The Dictator" are all evidence that creativity still abounds and catches our attention, especially if films are science fiction or comedy or from the mind of a consistently dependable auteur. Below I've listed 100 films set to open in 2012, all of which I found mentioned by bloggers and tweeters as those they're most excited about. Only a slight majority (58) are based on prior material or historical stories true enough to be considered sourced out, or they're 3D-converted re-releases.
The minority of other films (42), which consist of anything from the relatively original to the positively fresh, is extremely uplifting. And they only represent those titles we're aware of so far, mainly due to their comedic casts or directorial prowess (most are written or co-written by the director or co-director). It also does not count any of the original nonfiction works we'll see this year, some of which were noted by me at Movies.com and others that can be found on Tom Roston's focused list at the POV Blog.
Here are the most anticipated films of 2012 roughly in order of their apparent interest. I mean very roughly, as in I didn't bother to calculate any data based on their placement on lists and such.
Franchise Installments (Sequels, Prequels and Spin-Offs):
"The Dark Knight Rises" - second sequel to "Batman Begins"; latest Batman movie
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" - prequel to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy
"Prometheus" - prequel to "Alien"
"Skyfall" - James Bond #23
"The Avengers" - spin-off of "Iron Man"; "Thor", "Incredible Hulk" and "Captain America" films
"The Amazing Spider-Man" - reboot of the "Spider-Man" film series
"Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" - second sequel to "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills"
"The Bourne Legacy" - reboot of Jason Bourne film series
"This Is 40" - spin-off of "Knocked Up"
"American Reunion" - third direct sequel to "American Pie" (eighth in the whole series)
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2" - the fourth sequel to "Twilight" (or part two of the third sequel)
"G.I. Joe: Retaliation" - sequel to "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra"
"Men in Black III" - second sequel to "Men in Black"
"The Expendables 2" - sequel to "The Expendables"
"Taken 2" - sequel to "Taken"
"The Wrath of the Titans" - sequel to "Clash of the Titans," which was based on a 1981 film
"Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" - sequel to "Ghost Rider"
"REC 3: Genesis" - second sequel to "REC"
"The Hunger Games" - based on the novel by Suzanne Collins
"The Dark Knight Rises" - based on DC Comics characters
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" - based on the novel "The Hobbit, or There and Back Again" by J.R.R. Tolkien
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" - based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith
"Lincoln" - based on the biography "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" by Doris Kearns Goodwin
"Dredd" - based on the comic character Judge Dredd, created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra
"The Avengers" - based on Marvel Comics characters
"The Amazing Spider-Man" - based on Marvel Comics characters
"John Carter" - based on the "Barsoom" novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs
"The Great Gatsby" - based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Gangster Squad" - based on the Los Angeles Times "Tales from the Gangster Squad" articles by Paul Lieberman
"Dark Shadows" - based on the TV series created by Dan Curtis
"Les Miserables" - based on the novel by Victor Hugo and the musical adaptation by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2" - based on the novel "Breaking Dawn" by Stephenie Meyer
"World War Z" - based on the novel "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War" by Max Brooks
"Cloud Atlas" - based on the novel by David Mitchell
"Snow White and the Huntsman" - based on the story "Snow White" by Brothers Grimm
"Mirror Mirror" - based on the story "Snow White" by Brothers Grimm
"Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" - based on the story "Hansel and Gretel" by Brothers Grimm
"Argo" - based on the Wired magazine article "How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran" by Joshuah Bearman
"G.I. Joe: Retaliation" - based on the Hasbro action figures
"Life of PI" - based on the novel by Yann Martel
"Savages" - based on the novel by Don Winslow
"The Grey" - based on the story "Ghost Walker" by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers
"The Lucky One" - based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks
"Rock of Ages" - based on the musical by Chris D'Arienzo and various rock songs
"Warm Bodies" - based on the novel by Isaac Marion
"Wettest County" - based on the novel "The Wettest County in the World" by Matt Bondurant
"Red Dawn" - based on the 1984 film of the same name
"Frankenweenie" - based on the 1984 short film of the same name
"Cosmopolis" - based on the novel by Don DeLillo
"Lay the Favorite" - based on the memoir by Beth Raymer
"John Dies at the End" - based on the novel by David Wong
"Total Recall" - based on the story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick
"21 Jump Street" - based on the TV series created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell
"The Company You Keep" - based on the novel by Neil Gordon
"Lovelace" - based on the life of Linda Lovelace
"The Woman in Black" - based on the novel by Susan Hill
"Battleship" - based on the Milton Bradley game
"Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" - based on the Marvel Comics characters
"The Pirates! Band of Misfits" - based on the book "The Pirates" In an Adventure with Scientists" by Gideon Defoe
"Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" - based on the children's book by Dr. Seuss
"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" - based on the novel by Paul Torday
"Titanic" - now in 3D
"Beauty and the Beast" - now in 3D
"The Little Mermaid" - now in 3D
"Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace" - now in 3D
"Django Unchained" - written by Quentin Tarantino (director)
"Gravity" - written by Alfonso Cuaron (director), Jonas Cuaron and Rodrigo Garcia
"Looper" - written by Rian Johnson (director)
"The Dictator" - written by Sacha Baron Cohen, Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer
"Brave" - written by Brenda Chapman (co-director) & Irene Mecchi
"The Master" - written by Paul Thomas Anderson (director), allegedly based on the true story of the founding of Scientology
"Moonrise Kingdom" - written by Wes Anderson (director) and Roman Coppola
"Magic Mike" - written by Reid Carolin
"Haywire" - written by Lem Dobbs
"Only God Forgives" - written by Nicolas Winding Refn (director)
"The Cabin in the Woods" - written by Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard (director)
"Ted" - written by Seth MacFarlane (director), Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" - written by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin (director)
"The End" - written by Abbas Kiarostami (director)
"Seven Psychopaths" - written by Martin McDonagh (director)
"Damsels in Distress" - written by Whit Stillman (director)
"Red Hook Summer" - written by Spike Lee (director), though sort of a spin-off of "Do the Right Thing"
"Untitled International Thriller" (aka Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Osama Bin Laden project) - written by Mark Boal, based on a true story
"Computer Chess" - written by Andrew Bujalski (director)
"Wrong" - written by Quentin Dupieux (director)
"Project X" - story by Michael Bacall
"Wreck-It Ralph" - written by ?
"The Five-Year Engagement" - written by Nicholas Stoller (director) and Jason Segel
"The Grandmasters" - story by Wong Kar Wai (director)
"The Innkeepers" - written by Ti West (director)
"You're Next" - written by Simon Barrett
"The Raid" - written by Gareth Evans (director)
"Hotel Transylvania" - written by David I. Stern, Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman, based on classic literary characters
"Amour" - written by Michael Haneke (director)
"47 Ronin" - written by Chris Morgan and Hossein Amini, loosely based on a true story
"Shanghai" - written by Hossein Amini
"Rhinos Season" - written by Bahman Ghobadi (director)
"Red Lights" - written by Rodrigo Cortes (director)
"Red Tails" - story by George Lucas and John Ridley, based on true events
"Chronicle" - story by Max Landis and Josh Trank
"Wish You Were Here" - written by Kieran Darcy-Smith (director) and Felicity Price
"Vamps" - written by Amy Heckerling (director)
"Neighborhood Watch" - story by Jared Stern
"ParaNorman" - written by Chris Butler (co-director)
"Seeking a Friend for the End of the World" - written by Lorene Scafaria
"Casa de mi Padre" - written by Andrew Steele
"The Raven" - written by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare, based on the life and work of Edgar Allen Poe
Any other films you think should be included here?