A shot from "Star Trek Into Darkness," a film due to be released… (Paramount Pictures )
Predicting the biggest film stories months ahead of time is a fool's errand – last year at this time few were talking about Aurora or “Zero Dark Thirty.” Yet we here at Movies Now, along with many of our counterparts, make these kinds of predictions every year, because it helps us clarify the year ahead and because not to do so could result in the revocation of our blog card.
With that qualifier in mind, here are six film stories to keep an eye on from this distant January vantage point.
'World War Z.' It was already a much-watched production, what with zombies and Brad Pitt and Max Brooks’ ballyhooed book. With a date postponement, reshoots and all manner of drama, the Marc Forster-directed action movie -- TV ads have just started running -- will be a sight to behold in 2013, whether it's a comeback-story blockbuster or a (thematically fitting) grisly disaster.
TV migration. The past few years have seen many filmmakers take the TV plunge -- Michael Mann, Frank Darabont, a host of others. But with this film season unusually thick with quality -- and with a growing class of independent financiers ready to pony up for filmmakers to make, you know, films -- will the migration slow this year? On a related note, keep an eye on what happens when several big TV names pull a David Chase and make film forays. Matthew Weiner has his Owen Wilson road trip movie “You Are Here,” and expect Vince Gilligan to return to movie land when his "Breaking Bad" wraps up this year.
Megan mania. Megan Ellison helped transform indie film by producing some extravagant, difficult projects from big-name filmmakers. But will her appetite remain deep? After a first round filled with hits ("Zero Dark Thirty") and misses ("Killing Them Softly"), it’s now time for a new wave that includes films such as the Bennett Miller-directed “Foxcatcher.” The film-biz question for ’13 is whether she’ll stick it out if the receipts and accolades aren’t flowing. It’s a question for film fans too, who have seen their art-house offerings significantly changed since the young Ms. E arrived on the scene.
Comedic shift. Big name comic actors like Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller had some of the biggest flops of their careers in 2012, suggesting that the way and reason we watched comedies was changing. Many of them are back with new movies in 2013 -- Stiller has his “Walter Mitty” remake while Sandler returns with “Grown Ups 2” -- which will put the theory to the test.
"Star Trek" sees the light. When J.J. Abrams and Paramount released their "Star Trek" prequel in 2009, they pulled off one of the great franchise comeback stories in recent memory. A series many thought overdone had turned into something fresh and wildly popular. Abrams will have waited roughly four years to try again, and when "Star Trek Into Darkness" hits in May, the question will be whether he can repeat the trick. Given his film resume, the expectations -- and bar -- are high.
A new meal. Despite a massive hit adaptation, Gary Ross walked away from the “Hunger Games” franchise last spring. His successor, Frances Lawrence, will not only take on the second movie, “Catching Fire,” but also the final two that follow. Will Lawrence match, exceed or fall short of the Ross version — a question for fans and Summit, which made the bold move to stake the future of its marquee franchise on the “I Am Legend” director.
Honorable mention: Will the Christopher Nolan-godfathered "Man of Steel" revive Superman; will Baz Luhrmann enhance or destroy "The Great Gatsby"?
Star Trek Into Darkness' nine-minute Imax preview
Are audiences playing a joke on comedy's biggest stars?
Frances Lawrence to direct Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire
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