The time at which big tentpole movies were limited to a few months a year -- the May-July summer season, and the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas -- is long gone. "Alice in Wonderland" made a billion dollars from a March release last year, and 2011 so far has already seen "The Green Hornet," a film that once upon a time would have been seen as summer fare, open in the reputed wilderness of January, something that would have been unheard of only a few years ago. Now, 20th Century Fox have slated a couple of their hopefuls for 2012 and, while both are films that could well have been held for the summer, they're going to hit theaters in February of next year.
The most high-profile of the two is "This Means War," the romantic action-comedy from "Terminator: Salvation" director McG, which follows two best friends, who also happen to be secret agents, who fall out over a girl, and end up battling for her affections. The film had been in development for a decade, once earmarked as a vehicle for Martin Lawrence, but finally got traction when Reese Witherspoon signed on to play the female lead, and, while it had a brief casting problem, with Sam Worthington, Bradley Cooper, Seth Rogen, Colin Farrell and Justin Timberlake all turning down the film, it finally landed the promising duo of Chris Pine and Tom Hardy. Now, according to Variety, Fox have announced that the film will open on February 17th, 2012.
It's an interesting move -- close enough to Valentine's Day to bring in some couples (we imagine there may well be some sneak previews on the day itself). But February's no longer the wasteland it once was -- the picture will open one week after the Ryan Reynolds/Denzel Washington spy actioner "Safe House" and the 3D re-issue of "The Phantom Menace," and it's going head-to-head with "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance." Furthermore, it's almost exactly the same date that Dreamworks failed to launch a franchise on this year with "I Am Number Four," which isn't to mention the recent failures of romantic spy hybrids like "The Tourist" and "Knight & Day," so it'll be interesting to see if this catches on where those films failed. Either way, it's directed by McG, so we're not expecting much.
Fox also have another film, which is a little more under-the-radar, that they'll open two weeks earlier: "Chronicle," a low-budget teen superhero flick. The film, which promises to give a "Cloverfield"-style found footage take on the genre, following a trio of teens who gain superpowers, only to turn on each other. "Chronicle" was written by Max Landis, son of "The Blues Brothers" director John Landis, and will be directed by first-timer Josh Trank (TV series "The Kill Point"). Rising star Dane DeHann, best known for his excellent performance in the last series of HBO's "In Treatment," and who's also in the ensemble of John Hillcoat's "The Wettest County In The World," has the lead, and the film will open on February 3rd next year.