Monday, December 29, 2008

The Top Ten Most Anticipated 3D Movies Of 2009

Jim here. Well it is almost upon us - the year of 3D: 2009!

And what a year it will be. We have seasoned directors with mega budgets all the way to new directors with limited resources but tons of talent. What's the common thread among them? 3D. Mark my words - like I have said all along - 2009 is the year 3D earns much deserved RESPECT. Respect from studios/theaters for the added revenue that it brings in; from audiences for the massive step forward toward total immersion in movies; and from the media who still have members clinging desperately to bygone eras, claiming 3D is a gimmick and nothing but a fad. You are about to be assimulated.

Moreover, audiences will begin to see the creativity of the people involved in stereoscopic 3D movies start to explode with freshness that hasn't been seen in Hollywood since, well probably THE MATRIX. Directors will challenge themselves with 3D projects. Actors will be chomping at the bit to get their mugs up on the silver screen in full three dimensions. The teams behind the scenes will work harder, share more and reach out to learn more about 3D - because there is definitely plenty of opportunity in the 3D business nowadays!

We couldn't have even had this list a year ago - there wasn't enough projects on the go for 2008. That is no longer an issue obviously with the fine slate available to us for 2009...

So it is with a great deal of excitement that I present the Top Ten Most Anticipated 3D Movies Of 2009:

1. AVATAR (James Cameron) (Fox) - December 18
There can be NO doubt this is the most looked forward to 3D movie of 2009. Heck of ANY movie. I am placing this above STAR TREK, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE and TERMINATOR: SALVATION on my own personal catch all list (includes 2D movies obviously) - so you know you better damn well see this movie. AVATAR is a movie of epic proportions set partially on the planet Pandora and starring their indigenous creatures the Na'vi. It seems that these creatures are able to allow humans to combine with them in some fashion (no spoilers here!) and tells the tale of environmentalism and survival. Sam Worthington leads a stellar cast. What a stunning Sci-Fi line up for next year! You really should not need convincing. Cameron is proven. He is one of the top, if not the best in the genre (Aliens, Terminator). He has a mega budget - and he delivers on them (Titanic). The man simply connects to his audiences and is a perfectionist - Did I say that he also invented the damn 3D cameras he is using too? Yes he did. Look for records to fall with this one.

2. MONSTERS VS. ALIENS (Dreamworks Animation) - March 27
With all the evangelism that Jeffrey Katzenberg has been doing for the 3D industry this movie had better be good. And it LOOKS good, given the trailers I have seen. MvsA centers on an invasion of aliens intent on evil when mankind calls on their only viable option: Monsters. The movie is a homage to middle 20th century monsters movies. The premise is delicious. Can they pull it off? Well they are definitely approaching 3D the right way - total commitment. All future tentpoles from DWA will be in stereoscopic 3D and by stating that up front, they are pulling the trigger to develop cutting edge systems to develop in the medium. They have some great talents behind the systems too and I believe they will be the studio to watch in coming years. Some great talent voicing the creatures too like SETH ROGEN and REESE WITHERSPOON.

3. DISNEY'S A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Robert Zemeckis) (Disney) - November 6
Zemeckis has had ample time to work on any motion capture issues he may have had while working on BEOWULF and this time around we are going to see some stunning effects. Add in Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman, probably the most beloved Christmas story of all time and 3D and it makes for a heckuva presentation. Disney has commited to only producing 3D movies for their animated tentpoles from now on as well. Ebenezer Scrooge (JIM CARREY) begins the Christmas holiday with his usual miserly contempt, barking at his faithful clerk (GARY OLDMAN) and his cheery nephew (COLIN FIRTH). But when the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come take him on an eye-opening journey revealing truths Old Scrooge is reluctant to face, he must open his heart to undo years of ill will before it’s too late. Carrey plays SEVEN roles btw!

4. CORALINE (Henry Selick) (Focus Features) - February 6
This could be the sleeper hit of 2009. We all know Selick's work from A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and many have seen the intricate behind the scenes detail that his team is putting into this stop action 3D movie. How well will it perform? Obviously Neil Gaiman (author) has a huge following to begin with and the younger crowd will be enchanted by the story but can it have broad appeal? I say it will. This should be a visual stunner. The movie is about a young girl (voiced by DAKOTA FANNING) who discovers an alternate reality where things are not quite right. A grand adventure!

I am the first to admit that I hate RAY ROMANO as an actor. Really hate him. But his voice is somewhat appealing and thankfully that is what has been injected into this film. The ICE AGE franchise is proven and with the addition of 3D, the box office for this flick should be somewhere north of spectacular. And the trailers are absolutely entertaining.

6. UP (Pixar) - May 29
You guys know what Pixar is capable of in 2D. Well now they are directing their tablet styluses toward an all 3D lineup of movies from now on. Have you seen the trailer yet (only in 2D mind you!). UP is a comedy adventure about 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America. But he discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip: an overly optimistic 9-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell. The only reason I am putting Up in sixth and not fifth is that ICE AGE is proven. I could very well enjoy UP much better - we shall see!

7. MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D (Patrick Lussier) (Lionsgate) - January 16th
The first offering of 2009 has had some great reviews already from some super advance screenings. AND it is rated R. Why? Here is the MPAA's reasoning: Rated R for graphic brutal horror violence and grisly images throughout, some strong sexuality, graphic nudity and language. Tom (Jensen Ackles) returns to his hometown on the tenth anniversary of the Valentine's night massacre that claimed the lives of 22 people. Instead of a homecoming, however, Tom finds himself suspected of committing the murders, and it seems like his old flame (Jaime King) is the only one will believes he's innocent. Definitely checking this one out ASAP.

8. FINAL DESTINATION: DEATH TRIP 3D (David R. Ellis) (New Line) - August 21
The second 3D horror movie of the year of note is from the FINAL DESTINATION franchise and is bound to do well as have the predecessors. Inject some 3D and you should have a refreshed approached to a formula that works. I am looking forward to seeing this one because 3D offers directors so many more creative choices. Should be great. Synopsis: After a teen's premonition of a deadly race-car crash helps saves the lives of his peers, Death sets out to collect those who evaded their end.

9. CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS (Sony Pictures Imageworks Animation) - September 18
I have elected to place CWCM ahead of Disney's G-FORCE because I think the potential is larger for a bigger hit and I am giving the storyline a lot of credit here. Sure, Disney has a little more experience with 3D but I am giving Sony a nod here. Food pours down from above just when the a town called Chewandswallow needs it most - however it soon overwhelms everyone. The movie will be in the style of BEOWULF (motion capture). **Update from Rob Engle of Sony: CLOUDY is 100% keyframe animated - no motion capture. Speaking with Rob has only reinforced my enthusiasm for this movie - sounds awesome.

10. G-FORCE (Disney) - July 24
Could have been higher, but I went with CWCM instead based on storyline and method of animation. Kids will love this one though - An elite guinea pig commando force try to stop a billionaire from taking over the world? Pure mayhem. **Update from Rob Engle at Sony: "G-FORCE is the first hybrid stereoscopic production... part 2-D to 3-D conversion, part CG. All the plate photography was shot in 2-D on film." Interesting to see another 2D->3D conversion project on the go.

Honorable Mentions:
CONVERSIONS! TOY STORY, DAWN OF THE DEAD and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Romero - colorized) are being converted from 2D to 3D and I am itching to see both of them again! These will obviously do well from their following and indeed sprout new fans with these releases. I have not included conversions on this list, but if readers say so, I will going forth! Note that G-FORCE is a conversion project, but it is an original effort and not a re-release of a 2D movie.

PIRANHA 3D: Let me just say that if Alexandre Aja's PIRANHA 3D makes it out in 2009 - it will definitely move up in my list! But, it looks like it will be more likely a 2010 release as production was pushed back until spring of 2009 from the fall of 2008. I am a huge Aja fan and REALLY looking forward to this 3D effort from him.

JONAS BROTHERS CONCERT: Oh yeah - the 'tweens will love it and it will probably do as well as Hannah Montana's did this year - sorry it didn't crack the top 10 though!

There are a few 3D movies slated for 2009 without release dates yet - like THE DARK COUNTRY and HORRORWEEN so I could not include them in case they do not get the distribution they want in time for 2009. Both of these examples are definitely on my list to see.

For my constantly updated list of upcoming 3D movies (out to 2012 currently) check out this page.

So what do you think? I want to hear your opinions on what will kick some 3D butt in 2009! How do you think the big 2D movies will stack up against the behemoth AVATAR? Personally, I think Cameron and crew will at least double them up - but I am a wee bit biased...

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Jim Dorey
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