2009 could be the year that puts the soaring success of the science-fiction and fantasy films of 2008 to shame. Major franchises will reboot, spin-off, and flash-forward. The story they said no one could film will kick off the ever-expanding blockbuster season. And Hollywood will be laughing all the way to the bank with their share of your $13 per ticket. Expect tickets for Watchmen to be snapped up quick, pre-ordered by people who wouldn’t know Alan Moore from Rob Zombie. (To be fair, it is hard to tell some times. I get Alan Moore’s girlfriend confused with Rob Zombie.)
Sold-out shows for genre films will be the norm rather than the exception, even for those with the mediocre buzz of Star Trek: 90210. The recession-strapped geek must be discerning with his or her cash and select which films are worth the $2 Fandango pre-order investment in order to secure seats on opening night. I present to you my suggested Spring 2009 Opt-Out Schedule. As a courtesy, I include alternative opening-weekend releases, for those of you who try and fail to get tickets for the genre film of your choice. There is always something else to see on a Friday night.*
Genre Film Being Released: Watchmen (March 6th)
Chances of Being Sold Out on Opening Night: 100%
Worth the $2 at Fandango: Probably not
Watchmen is going to be huge. Hugely disappointing or just huge remains to be seen. But if you’re serious about seeing a screen adaptation of this classic graphic novel, you ought to have read it already. (You have read it, right? Don’t make me come over there.) Which means spoilers are a non-issue, so stay home and wait for a six-buck Sunday showing as by then you should be able to ascertain (from the poor idiots who went on Friday) whether or not this thing is a travesty.
Sell-Out Alternative: The Horsemen has something to do with (brace yourselves, people) the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. That’s sort of in the spirit of Watchmen, right?
No other March films (Race to Witch Mountain, Knowing, or Monsters vs. Aliens) will have the same draw as Watchmen. Thus, no advance planning is really necessary. (For those of you thinking about making plans to see any of those films, allow me to say: The Rock + Disney = No; Nicholas Cage; and hold out for Astronauts vs. Cavemen, respectively.)
Genre Film Being Released: Dragonball: Evolution (April 6th)
Chances of Being Sold Out on Opening Night: 50%
Worth the $2 at Fandango: Not a chance
Casting Keanu Reeves in a Cowboy Bebop adaptation looks like a good decision next to every single one made in the production of Dragonball: Evolution. I would ask for my money back if I bit torrented a pirated copy of this movie. I am already considering suing Twentieth Century Fox for as many minutes worth of my life back that I lost in screening the trailer.
Sell-Out Alternative: If this movie sells out, start looking for those Horsemen. Besides, it opens on a Wednesday, and LOST is on. Failing that, there have to be reruns of the cartoon which, while brain-dead and interminably slow, will probably have better acting.
Genre Film Being Released: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (May 1st)
Chances of Being Sold Out on Opening Night: 3,000,000%
Worth the $2 at Fandango: Yeah, why not?
We’ve been burned by Hugh Jackman in genre before. (Why, Van Helsing? Why?) But there’s no way in hell anyone is passing up what may be the only chance to see a live-action Gambit. (Who, by far, received the most applause when an early trailer of Wolverine was screened at Comic Con.) But just about everyone is a Wolverine fanboy, so opening night crowds should be fairly rowdy and pumped, which is always fun.
Sell-Out Alternative: Battle for Terra may sound like a poor substitute for the Jackman, but you’ll be beating the theater doors down when you find out that your only other option is The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. You might even regret badmouthing Van Helsing.
Genre Film Being Released: Star Trek (May 8th)
Chances of Being Sold Out on Opening Night: 90%
Worth the $2 at Fandango: Only for gullible Trek fans
Let’s face it: no one who cuts this trailer could be a Trek fan. Trek doesn’t deserve this any more than Star Wars deserved Jar-Jar Binks. Don’t make that mistake, trekkies and trekkers: run. Run away while you still can.
Genre Film Being Released: Terminator Salvation (May 22nd)
Chances of Being Sold Out on Opening Night: 100%
Worth the $2 at Fandango: Terminator fans, have your credit cards ready
It’s not as if there isn’t already one poor attempt to revivify this franchise on record. (Two words: the Terminatrix.) However, thanks to the better-than-it-has-any-right-to-be-because-it-stars-Brian-for-the-love-of-god-Austin-Green-who-is-the-best-thing-about-the-show Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles alleviating the crotch-rot of T3, most Terminator fans are ready to give it a chance. If Christian Bale puts 1/10th the anger of his now-famous tirade into John Connor, you’ve got yourself a new franchise!
Sell-Out Alternative: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian because...the trailer wasn’t entirely appalling?
Genre Film Being Released: Up (May 27th)
Chances of Being Sold Out on Opening Night: Not as high as they ought to be, given the average quality of a Pixar film
Worth the $2 at Fandango: You won’t need to spend it, but otherwise I would say yes
Some of the footage screened at New York Comic Con safely place Up in the realm of the science-fictiony/fantastical, the house being floated on balloons not withstanding. Alas, Pixar films, no matter how brilliant or endearingly hilarious, still don’t receive the respect that they are due. As such, purchasing tickets ahead of time probably won’t be necessary.
Sell-Out Alternative: If cutesy animation happens not to be your thing, you can always check out what I’m sure is a very literally tilted Sam Raimi picture, Drag Me to Hell. Aside from Spider-Man 3, when has Sam Raimi ever let us down?