Welcome to The Hunger Games Countdown, our resident expert's continued guide to all things Hunger Games on the way to the film's sequel, Catching Fire.
It may finally be the year of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, but November 22 is still a ways away. As eager as we are for the big day to arrive, 2013 just started; there’s no need to rush the year away, as there’s a slew of films hitting theaters over the next 10 months that can appeal to the Hunger Games lover. Whether it’s another YA-book-to-film adaptation or a piece that features a Hunger Games star, 2013 is oozing with promising productions that should keep you thoroughly entertained through November.
The Spectacular Now, Sundance Film Festival
Perhaps this is more of a false start because The Spectacular Now has yet to secure distribution, but is still one to watch at the Sundance Film Festival. Based on Tim Tharp’s novel, the film tells the story of a whisky-guzzling cool kid with zero post-high school plans who strikes up a relationship with a girl who’s the exact opposite of him – socially defunct, but has ambition. Not only does the film rock a stellar cast including Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Kyle Chandler, but it also marks Dayo Okeniyi’s first post-Hunger Games effort, too! Sundance runs from January 17 to January 27, so keep an eye out for reviews and perhaps even news of a distribution deal.
Warm Bodies, February 1
With February right around the corner, odds are you’ve caught some Warm Bodies promotion or the slew of set visits that just hit the Web. Sure, I may be a little biased after my own unforgettable zombie-for-a-day experience, but I’m also biased because Isaac Marion’s source material is nothing short of stellar, Jonathan Levine is an all-around quality filmmaker, and the trailers hint at a surprising yet wildly effective comedic tone. Come February 1, Warm Bodies really does look to have a good shot at proving we’ve yet to tap the supernatural teen-romance shtick; it just needs a little ingenuity.
Beautiful Creatures, February 13
Having yet to read Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s book, it’s up to the promotional campaign for Beautiful Creatures to pull me in. While the trailers do make good use of Florence + the Machine’s “Seven Devils,” I’m not quite sold yet. But still, this is going to be a must-see for anyone looking to keep up with the YA-to-film trend, especially considering the film is based on the first of a four-book series and, should it perform well, could be the next long-lasting franchise.
The Last Exorcism Part II, March 1
I’m a sucker for The Hunger Games and horror movies. What did you expect? But even beyond the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Exorcism (minus some third act mania) and am curious about the sequel and what life is like post-exorcism for Nell Sweetzer, it also has a crossover with Catching Fire – District 11’s Chaff, E. Roger Mitchell. No word on how big the roll of Jeffrey will be in the film, but as a lesser-known Hunger Games newcomer, it should be a good opportunity to get a sense of what he’s capable of.
The Host, March 29
The Host, as compared to Beautiful Creatures, does a much better job using the promotional campaign to sell the movie to non-readers. Even though I’m not much of a fan of a certain other Stephenie Meyer adaptation, this trailer does a solid job pulling you in and suggesting all this human/Soul, Melanie/Wanderer business has something unique and inspiring to offer. Saoirse Ronan is also on another level when it comes to talent, perhaps even comparable to Jennifer Lawrence and The Hunger Games as opposed to other YA leading ladies out there. She works wonders with well-developed material like Hanna, Atonement and The Way Back, but can also breathe life into drab like The Lovely Bones, which says quite a bit about her potential here.
Oblivion, April 19
The Tom Cruise-starrer Oblivion comes with a Hunger Games crossover in the writing department. Catching Fire scribe Michael Arndt is credited as one of three writers responsible for adapting the graphic novel. Casting Cruise as a big-screen action hero is cliché to the max at this point, but the film’s latest trailer does suggest there’s more than enough depth to the environment and situation to make Oblivion more than just another Tom Cruise action film. Cruise plays Jack Harper, one of the last men on Earth assigned to extract what remains of the planet’s postwar resources. Jack’s got a decent operation running and is just about finished with his job, but when he opts to help a spacecraft crash victim, she changes everything for him.
Now You See Me, June 7
With Now You See Me and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, could magician movies become the next big thing? I’m betting against it, but between the two, Now You See Me looks like it could be a big winner. The film features a charming foursome – Isla Fisher, Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco and Hunger Games’ Woody Harrelson – that wows crowds with high-tech magic shows while robbing banks. The trailer is super sleek and packed with nifty opportunities for some actual movie magic, something that could make Now You See Me a much more fulfilling and worthwhile visual spectacle than Louis Leterrier’s last production, Clash of the Titans.
After Earth, June 7
Isabelle Fuhrman is somewhat well-known at this point and got a great deal of attention for playing Clove in The Hunger Games, but her ability far precedes her star power. While I doubt After Earth will solidify her as a household name, especially with Will and Jaden Smith likely consuming the spotlight, being attached to one of the biggest releases of the summer is still a major plus. The story focuses on a father-son team that crash-lands on Earth 1,000 years after it was evacuated. With his father seriously injured, it’s up to the son to trek through the now uncharted territory to escape Earth’s evolved animal specifics as well as a vicious alien creature and find a way off the planet. Now if only M. Night Shyamalan could shake the cloud over his head that is The Last Airbender, The Happening and Lady in the Water we could really get excited for this June 7 release.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, August 16
Those tacky character banners may live on in poster infamy, but Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief was a surprisingly good deal of fun, paving the way to round two. On top of being a noteworthy book-to-film adaptation, the sequel, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, also features two Hunger Games vets, Stanley Tucci and Leven Rambin. Tucci is basically a sure thing no matter what he does, so Dionysus will likely make for a memorable addition to the cast, but as someone who’s still carving a place for herself on the big screen, it should be interesting to see what Rabin does with her character, Clarisse. Clarisse is the daughter of Ares and is described as being skilled at battle, so it should be a rather smooth transition from The Hunger Games.
Mortal Instruments, August 23
Honestly, not the biggest fan of the book and am far from convinced that Lily Collins can carry a movie, but The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones does have a number of cinematic qualities that could give way to an enthralling big-screen universe. In fact, you even get a sense of that from the film’s first poster alone. Per usual, this YA book-to-film adaptation takes place in a supernatural environment where young Shadowhunters like Campbell Bower’s Jace battle vicious demons. Collins steps in as the lead character, Clary Fray, a 16-year-old Brooklyn native whose world is turned upside down when her mother goes missing. Her effort to find her leads her straight to Jace and his Shadowhunter cohorts who agree to help her as Clary’s mother is actually a Shadowhunter herself. Another YA franchise on the way? It’s possible, but my money is still on Divergent.
Paranoia, October 4
Clearly Liam Hemsworth likes to stay in good company. He took some time off from Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson to go hang out with Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford on the set of Robert Luketic’s Paranoia. This is a big one for Hemsworth as not only is he in the company of some A-list talent, but it’s also his first, high-profile starring vehicle. He plays Adam Cassidy, an entry-level employee at a company called Wyatt Telecom, itching to work his way up. Adam gets his wish, but in order to continue sitting pretty in his corner office, the company CEO (Oldman) demands that he spy on his former mentor to give Wyatt Telecom the edge.
Ender’s Game, November 1
What better film to pave the way to Catching Fire than Ender’s Game? This isn’t an easy adaptation in the least, but should Summit and director Gavin Hood nail it, and I do have very high hopes that they will, this could be a major player come November. Ender’s Game has the appeal of a sci-fi adventure, following a young boy to Battle School where he’s trained to fight an alien race alongside other children with above average militaristic tendencies, but it’s also a notably intellectual piece, highlighting some severe social and moral issues that come with the experience – that is as long as they’re still just as present in the script as they are in Orson Scott Card’s book. Assuming they are, similar to The Hunger Games, Ender’s Games could be a piece that comes with all the entertainment value needed to pull in the masses, but also deliver as an exceptionally thoughtful and multidimensional character piece.
Other Options Expected to Arrive in 2013
The Butler – written by Danny Strong, starring Lenny Kravitz
Lone Survivor – starring Alexander Ludwig
The Quiet Ones – starring Sam Claflin
Black Sky – written by Simon Beaufoy
The Hunger Games Countdown runs here on Movies.com every other Wednesday. There are 316 days until the release of Catching Fire.