What's Next
By Michael Lynderey
April 12, 2010

The Wii version of this is going to rock.

While most film fans are now eagerly anticipating the near-momentary beginning of summer 2010, I've already moved on and onto next year's light show (this particular box office analyst likes to think in the long-term - you know, in centuries, not years or decades). And indeed, as we speak, summer 2011 is bulking up its game. At the moment, it looks like a veritable rogues' gallery of over-sequelization, what with plump release dates given to Pirates of the Caribbean 4, The Hangover 2, Mission: Impossible 4, Kung Fu Panda 2, Cars 2, The Fast and the Furious 5, Transformers 3, Spy Kids 4, and Harry Potter 8 (the Harry Potter films are easily the worst offenders in memory in terms of producing unnecessary sequels). "4" seems to be the most recurring figure here, and indeed, we're way beyond the pale of that infamous summer of threequels (2007) and onto a whole other digit altogether. As for Cars 2... can we get that Thelma & Louise ending this time, please?

I hate to sound like a nattering nabob of negativism, so I won't be remiss in pointing out that there's some new stuff on the horizon in summer '11, too, with the most prominent newbies easily being the three big superhero films. The Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) have already been filming for some time, but it's Captain America that's really shifting into gear now. As basically everybody already knows, Chris Evans will play the title role, with Hugo Weaving hopefully less deadpan than usual as the antagonist, The Red Skull, and Sebastian Stan cast as the unflatteringly-named Bucky. All three titles have potential, and it's hard to peg just quite which one will come out on top. Fairly late in the summer (July 29), there's also Jon Favreau's Cowboys & Aliens (yup, it's about exactly what you think it's about), which has just nabbed Harrison Ford to co-star along with the already-cast Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde.

Oh, and speaking of sequels, the last two-week period had the usual jaw-dropping batch of follow-up announcements, ones that I, dedicated public servant that I am, must report to the masses (there's also a just-announced Baywatch film adaptation coming, about 72 years too late, but that's off-topic). To make things simpler, I have divided the usual listing of sequel and reboot news into two separate sections: titles that I consider to be good ideas with some potential, and ones that I am prone to look at with suspicion, at least for the moment. Observe:

Reboots and sequels I don't mind so much

Fright Night - Anton Yelchin has now been selected to play Charley Brewster in this new version of the vampire-next-door tale. I'm morally opposed to remaking the 1980s, that is true, but even I have to admit that's a pretty darn good casting choice, right there.

Paranormal Activity 2 (scheduled for October 22, 2010) - Well, listen. When you have your low-budget horror film gross over $100 million, you're basically morally obligated to make a sequel. That's the way it's always been done in the horror genre, and here it goes again, and frankly who can blame them? Kip Williams, helmer of indie dramas The Door in the Floor and The Adventures of Sebastian Cole, has now been selected to direct, and it ought to be interesting to see how they fashion a follow-up to something as spontaneous as the first film (and they've only got six months or so to do it in, too).

The rest

American Pie 4 - Ignoring the baker's dozen of straight-to-video sequels, Harold & Kumar makers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg will write and direct (together, not respectively). This one will follow up American Wedding and apparently re-unite some of the original cast (Biggs? Suvari? Where did my childhood go?). Now, remember that Scream 4 rant I gave a few weeks back, which sounded like the vapid ramblings of a deranged lunatic? If you do, play it in your head right now and save me the trouble of having to write all those words out again.

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son - We've now got a release date (February 18, 2011) and a new subtitle, one that suspiciously drops the "House" part from the proceedings (Big Momma apparently having gone homeless this time around).

Godzilla - Come now, it's already been 14 years! A reboot, I would say, is long overdue. Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. are hatching this one for circa 2012, a year that may well see the arrival of the real Godzilla, possibly at this film's premiere.

Johnny English 2 - Rowan Atkinson's clueless, $28 million-grossing (domestically, natch) spy will return, although I have a hard time seeing this getting a theatrical release stateside.

National Treasure 3 - Now being screenwritten by Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro, with Nicolas Cage most assuredly returning. Just giving you guys early warning.

Spy Kids 4 - Already mentioned somewhere up above, but I thought another sentence had to be spared in order to inform you that the subtitle has been changed from the optimistic "All the Time in the World" to the quite dissimilarly cryptic "Armageddon" (the makers of Big Momma's House 3 were really miffed when they heard that Spy Kids beat them to it on using this subtitle).

The Toxic Avenger - A remake of the 1984 (or perhaps 1985) paradigm of bad taste is now underway; they've got a PG-13 rating in mind, a fact that ought to make anyone who's seen the original hard-R Toxic Avenger burst out in uncontrollable laughter.

Tron: Legacy 2 - So that would be Tron 3. Well, we all really liked Tron: Legacy, and it did gross $322 million, so is it any surprise that writers (Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz) have now been commissioned to repeat the magic? Although I wonder how they could make a sequel, considering all the characters were fatally mauled by grizzly bears at the end of the first Tron: Legacy...

A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas - Originally scheduled for November 5th, then pulled from existence, now back on the tab, but with the release date an uncertainty. Yup, both John Cho and Kal Penn will return, with Penn having to vacate the cushy government desk job that I thought had been created specifically to prevent the existence of this film. I mean, really, a third Harold and Kumar movie? That's not the kind of hopey-changey thing I would have wanted. Oh, and it will possibly be in 3D (no kidding - I wouldn't joke about something like that).

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage - Co-stars Samuel L. Jackson and director Rob Cohen are now both also scheduled to be back, along with the previously announced Vin Diesel, who hardly needs an introduction. Yes, yes, it's in 3D. Must you even ask? When I write about a sequel or reboot that's not in 3D, I'll be sure to let you know.