By Michael Lynderey
June 28, 2010
As The Karate Kid proceeds to gobble up the box office, I've been mightily disappointed that the past two weeks saw not a single new Jaden Smith vehicle announced, except for some vague rumblings about the obligatory reboot of the Karate sequel (how do these characters manage to get themselves involved in the exact same situation over and over again?).
To give Smith credit, it is he who brings me to this week's first topic of discussion - that of the breakout rising stars that every summer movie season is expected to spotlight. As every good pre-new decade year should do, the summer of 2009 introduced a barrage of stars (Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Betty White) who were then immediately cast into a multitude of upcoming roles. On the other hand, the summer of 2010 has offered few breakouts, at least so far - threatening to turn this column into a sort of What's Not Next.
But, as we're at the year's mid-point, it seems appropriate to review - and overanalyze - what fruits each of the summer's offerings has borne, and what they might mean for the future of cinema:
- Iron Man 2 ($306 million) - Disappointment to those expecting a Dark Knight repeat, but a sturdy enough total number and decent-if-not-glowing reviews ought to mean they'll get to work on the third film sooner than later, and try to end with a bang. Wouldn't expect it earlier than 2013, though (The Avengers is taking up all of Tony Stark's time in '12). As for the stars: Downey is riding high still, with a plethora of quirky blockbusters on the way (Sherlock Holmes 2, that Wizard of Oz prequel), while Cheadle, Paltrow and Johansson may go back to small films. Mickey Rourke, for his part, looks apt to continue delivering high-profile character work in action films (The Expendables seems slightly inspiring).
- Shrek Forever After ($229 million) - The sub-$250 million total here ought to keep that "Final Chapter" promise very much intact (no "New Beginning" or "Shrek Lives!" in this series' future, I think). But the Puss in Boots movie is still headed our way in November 2011, and other spin-offs aren't out of the question. The real fate to ponder here is that of Mike Myers, who may not be seen, or heard, on screen for quite a few years more. Inglourious Basterds-type supporting work may be his key back. Another Austin Powers film would not be.
Toy Story 3 ($226 million) - It's increasingly likely that Pixar will trump Alice in Wonderland and rule as king of the box office year. But what does Toy Story 3 leave for the future? None of the actors are breakout star material at this point, and a Toy Story Fourever (in 3D!) seems to be out of the question. Inspiring Pixar to focus on sequels could have been this film's legacy, but they've been heading in that direction anyway, in between Cars 2 and the Monsters, Inc. follow-up. So if Toy Story 3 isn't even going to be the cause of any unhealthy cinematic trends, what was the point of making it, anyway?
The Karate Kid ($135 million) - The aforementioned Jaden Smith will surely headline another film by 2011's end, and Jackie Chan will get to remake The Spy Next Door a couple more times, but the real winner (or loser) here is the 1980s: inspired by the possibly nostalgia-fueled boffo box office on this one, reboot-friendly titles will be ravenously snapped up and put under the knife. Oh yeah, and we'll surely get that sequel, whether we want one or not ($70 million opening, next time?).