It's that time of year again at the local multiplex. The summer blockbusters, along with their crowd-hungry and sometimes lowest-common-denominator-appeasing ways, blow off into the retail video market while more artistic fare with Oscar-baiting ambitions hits the autumn reels.
I'll go out on a limb this time and make three theatrical predictions about the upcoming slate of releases. While it's obviously easier to dissect a studio's performance after the movies play out their celluloid run, what's the fun in that? Let's get bold and brazen and subject ourselves to buckets of ridicule if we're dead wrong come winter.
1. Sky Captain will be in for a hard landing.
I'm a big fan of the thespian talents of Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow. Angelina Jolie is stunning even donning an eye patch. Yet every time I see a clip, trailer, or teaser for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow -- and the hype and marketing budgeting is clearly there because I'm seeing these things way too often -- I keep wondering what Viacom
I would love to be wrong about this one because I love to see movies that break out of the mold and Kerry Conran's labor of love definitely sticks out. Unfortunately, so do sore thumbs -- and turkey roasting thermometers. Gobble. Gobble.
2. The Incredibles will live up to its name, but. . .
I don't think that anyone would dare predict that Pixar's
Yes, this one looks great. Director Brad Bird did an amazing job with the financially unheralded Iron Giant, and now with Pixar's witty pens and perfect pixels, this may be the best movie out of Pixar yet. However, it is also opening just five days before the computer-rendered Polar Express, and two weeks later it will be the popularly porous SpongeBob SquarePants with his big-screen debut. The Incredibles will do very well and hold on through the holidays, but ultimately fall short of topping Finding Nemo.
3. Fish heads will roll.
There is a lot riding on DreamWorks' Shark Tale. With the company set to go public, it needs to prove that there is more in its arsenal than just Shrek's greenery. The voice cast is great with the likes of Will Smith, Robert De Niro, and Renee Zellwegger, but you also had some top-flight actors lending their throats to movie house duds like DreamWorks' own Sinbad and Disney's
This underwater Mafioso tale isn't as much of a rip-off of Finding Nemo as some are alleging, and that's not a compliment. The animation isn't up to snuff. The characters are drawn in a way that takes some getting used to. The gags in the trailer seem to fall flat. An October debut may help it win over some parents looking to get their kids out of the house for the first few weekends, but this one will be forgotten by the time the busy November blitz of animated family fare takes over.
In a span of two weeks, starting in late October, you'll be treated to a trio of flicks with one-word names. Alfie didn't need to be remade. Ray, based on the life of Ray Charles, may seem like a limited premise, but the previews -- and Jamie Foxx's spectacular interpretation -- will get this one noticed. Then we have Alexander, Oliver Stone's $150 million gamble on Alexander the Great. Hasn't Hollywood learned that big-budget historical period pieces like Alamo, Hidalgo, and Troy are hard sells no matter how short the titles? Apparently not. When Stone is on, he's amazing, but this one will be hard-pressed to make back its production budget. One single-world flick that should "fare" well this season? Taxi.
Sequels will also be released aplenty. They're usually a safe bet as Ocean's Twelve, Meet the Fockers, Blade: Trinity, and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason should fare reasonably well. All bets are off, though, when it comes to Seed of Chucky.
Sure, a big hit won't make a major studio's year. Time Warner
So that's why you and I are better off going to the movies than making them.
I'll bring the tub of popcorn.
Did you turn out to see this summer's flicks? Disagree with Rick on some of his calls? He can be found in the Great Movies discussion board. Only on Fool.com.