What's Next
By Michael Lynderey
May 10, 2010

FYI: You can now watch porn over the internet.

The big news out of the last two weeks was expected enough: Batman, Volume 2, Part 3 will indeed be made, and then dropped into our midst on July 20, 2012. This creates a fairly amazing scheduling diagram, wherein Star Trek 2 (due for June 29, 2012), the Spider-Man reboot (due July 3, 2012), and the latest Batman film will all be released within a month of each other. That means big, scary box office. Now, for a pop quiz: of these three films, can you name the one that isn't a reboot?

Answer: None of the above.

Well, at least us non-reboot people have the Battleship movie to look forward to.

Now, before I say what I'm about to say, let's make one thing clear: I have nothing against Star Trek, Batman, or Spider-Man. Quite the opposite, actually. But the problem with all these reboots, and others like them, is that they are unnaturally extending the lifespan of the past at the expense of the future. Batman, Spider-Man, and Star Trek are pop culture hallmarks native to the 20th century. Their creation came during that era of American innovation and exceptionalism that has defined the lifetime of anyone reading this today. Obviously, regardless of their somewhat dated origins, these three franchises still have quite a lot of capital left in them, and we will see the value of that capital demonstrated with their opening weekends two summers from now. Nolan's third go at Batman will be critically adored, Star Trek will no doubt prove another entertaining adventure, and I suspect that the young actor playing Spider-Man will earn his right to play him again and again, maybe even long past Tobey Maguire's 45th birthday. There's no question that these reboots are and will be profitable, oftentimes much more so than the original properties they're re-doing (Star Trek exemplifies this). But this is profit in the short-term. Reboots and remakes are not and can not be long-term solutions. We need to come up with the Star Trek, Batman, and Spider-Man of the 21st century. We need to look to the future, not the past, or risk lapsing into cultural stagnation.

Now that we've dispensed with the serious stuff, though, we can safely get back to our regularly scheduled programming: free-standing tidbits about sequels - delivered in a more casual, less foreboding way than above. Last time, I mentioned dourly that there weren't enough sequel and reboot announcements lately for me to complain about. This past week, on the other hand, has given me no such problem. More to the point, it's becoming more and more apparent that the summer of 2012 is already on studios' minds (although we still have some summer 2011 loose ends to wrap up - casting for Fast Five among them). So let's see what's on the slab:

Clash of the Titans 2 - A follow-up is indeed on the way for 2012, with Sam Worthington apparently coming back (though director Louis Leterrier is not). I'm sure a jazzy subtitle will be snapped up in no time to replace that dusty "2".

Die Hard 5 - Veteran action writer Skip Woods (Hitman, Wolverine, G.I. Joe) is now doting over the script for this one. On the other hand, Sylvester Stallone has just confirmed that he will in fact NOT make a Rambo 5. So, it's a yin/yang kind of thing on these two.

Fast Five - The Rock (who now strangely insists upon being called by a fake-sounding stage name, "Dwayne Johnson") is apparently in talks to join Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in Fast/Furious part 5. While anyone with a history of reading this column would now expect a snide, negative remark on this matter, I have to say that this news is actually very cool.

The Hobbit - Those pesky Hobbit movies we've been threatened with for years look to finally be a reality, with news that the first one is now scheduled for December 2012 and the second for exactly a year later. As previously announced, Guillermo del Toro will direct, and the only cast thus far confirmed are Andy Serkis, Ian McKellen, and Hugo Weaving - though hordes of English character actors will no doubt soon join that list.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 - Coming in 2013. Any non-Pixar CGI movie that makes at least $200 million (and there aren't that many of those, actually) gets a sequel. That's the rules!

Ice Age: Continental Drift - An awful lot of part fours have been getting the greenlight lately, and so the Ice Age series joining that particular club doesn't seem like much of a surprise. Subtitle ought to explain the plot. Release date: July 13, 2012, in between the aforementioned dueling superheroes. Will it be in 3D? Oh, most assuredly, unreservedly, unabashedly, indisputably - and unremarkably - yes, it will be.

Men in Black III - Speaking of needless summer 2012 sequels... May 25, 2012 is now the date to mark on your calendar for this one. Josh Brolin will join Will Smith and (possibly) Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Sonnenfeld will once again direct, and, at this point, you really, really, really don't have to be told that yes, yes, yes, it will be in 3D. What's a Men in Black movie without 3D, anyway? That would never work.

Mission: Impossible IV - The good news: Brad Bird, freed from the shackles of Pixar, is now confirmed to direct. The bad? MI4's been kicked out of its Memorial Day '11 slot and scheduled instead for December 16, 2011, where it will face off against, and be thoroughly trounced by, Chipmunks 3.

The Mummy Archives - This isn't really a sequel to anything - just a new Mummy horror movie from Dimensions Films - so including it here is kind of a cheat on my part. But the title was just too pulpy to pass up.

Power of the Dark Crystal - Yes, they're really making a sequel to that Jim Henson/Frank Oz puppet-fest from 1982. The Spierig Brothers (the culprits behind the recent Daybreakers) will helm, and much of the original voice cast will be back. But is there really an audience for this? If Team America couldn't light up the box office, can friendly, unprofane, fantasy-oriented puppets do any better?

Ring 3D - Did'ya really think we got rid of that little ghost girl after The Ring Two (or at the very least, after Scary Movie 3)? Not a chance. Horror villains never die. Only their box office does.

Rise of the Apes - The Planet of the Apes prequel now has a release date (June 24, 2011) and a plot (escaped apes wreaking havoc on defenseless San Francisco). Between this and Cats & Dogs 2, the summer of 2001 is really making a belated comeback.

Transformers 3 - Patrick Dempsey has now also joined the cast, playing a character described only as "Megan Fox's boss". Exactly where it is that Ms. Fox (or her character) will be working during the events of this sequel has not yet been disclosed, but just about anyone reading this could probably supply a nice, dirty joke or two as the answer.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - It's coming. Breaking Dawn has now acquired both a director (Bill Condon) and a release date (November 18, 2011). This one would be part... four, I think. Have to double-check and get back to you on that.

Tyler Perry's Big Happy Family - Oh yes, it's another Madea movie, and it's now got a nifty release date: April 22, 2011, just about three months after another Tyler Perry film is scheduled to be unleashed (the one with the really long title). One of the last two Madea pictures opened with over $40 million, and this will no doubt follow suit. Gee, it sure is nice to see a senior citizen opening a movie to such numbers, isn't it?

X-Men: First Class - Summer 2011 will be big for both sequels and superhero movies, and now, we've finally gotten a film that will combine both. This is just getting underway, with a new release date (June 3) and a director (Kick-Ass' Matthew Vaughn) with a lot of respect among fans of this sort of thing. First Class is a prequel, just as last summer's Wolverine was, but we can call it X-Men 5, sort of.