With Labor Day upon us and the behemoths of summer having long since exhausted themselves, the cinematic calendar turns towards fall. The annual Oscar stampede typically dominates the autumn months, along with a handful of blockbusters hoping to swim in less competitive waters and second-tier films looking to break out. For all the serious dramas and “important” message films out there, a number of genre efforts have an opportunity to thrive… especially those with a more selective appeal.
Here for your edification and amusement, is a breakdown of the movie calendar for the last four months of 2012. We’re focusing on genre efforts, but we’ve also included other types of films that may hold an appeal for fans.
The first few weeks of September witness a spattering of grindhouse fare, topped by the fifth entry in the durable Resident Evil franchise (September 14). The Spanish language [REC] 3: Genesis (September 7) marks the only other sequel this month, though Lionsgate is launching its Judge Dredd reboot on September 21 with Karl Urban donning the imposing mask of MegaCity One’s biggest badass. Disney delivers another 3-D conversion with the modern classic Finding Nemo (September 14), and Jennifer Lawrence tackles a flat-out horror movie in The House at the End of the Street (September 21). On a completely different note, Adam Sandler plays Count Dracula – a phrase we never thought we’d say – in the animated Hotel Transylvania (September 28). He’ll be competing with Joe Dante’s The Hole, the Bruce Willis/Joseph Gordon-Levitt thriller Looper and the long-delayed adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane the same week. Other limited release movies include the martial arts import Bangkok Revenge (September 14), the animated feature Toys in the Attic (September 7), and the anti-corporate sci-fi thriller Branded (also September 7).
Halloween means horror movies, and the Paranormal Activity series has claimed the pole position formerly occupied by Saw and its progeny. Part Four arrives on October 19. Its most immediate competitors are the Silent Hill sequel Revelation, the Spanish-language Sleep Tight, and the indie horror effort Citadel, all opening on October 26. Tim Burton takes a much gentler approach to ghosts and goblins with his new stop-motion version of Frankenweenie (October 5), while the horror anthology V/H/S provides more heavy-duty scares on the same date.
Those interested in straightforward sci-fi can check out the Wachowskis’ new joint Cloud Atlas on October 26, or risk the second part of the critically reviled Atlas Shrugged on October 12. On the ass-kicking end of the street, Liam Neeson returns to bring righteous pain to Istanbul’s scumbags in Taken 2 (October 5), Ben Affleck smuggles hostages out of Iran in the hotly anticipated Argo (October 12) and Tyler Perry – yes, really – hunts down a serial killer in Alex Cross (October 19). The dark comedy Seven Psychopaths (October 12) rounds out the month.
November features two big players on the genre front. Daniel Craig returns as James Bond for Skyfall (November 9), and considering the anticipation surrounding 007’s 50th anniversary on film, expectations couldn’t be higher. One week later, the Twilight saga comes to a merciful close with Part 2 of Breaking Dawn (November 16). Disney slips in some high-concept fun on November 2 with Wreck-It Ralph, and Dreamworks’ holiday-themed The Rise of the Guardians covers Thanksgiving weekend (November 21). That same date also sees the release of the long-delayed Red Dawn remake, with Chris Hemsworth and company fighting foreign occupiers of their home town. Smaller genre releases include the undead comedy Vamps (November 2) and RZA’s kung-fu epic The Man with the Iron Fists (also November 2).
November also means the first big wave of Oscar contenders, including Robert Zemeckis’s Flight (November 2), Ang Lee’s Life of Pi (November 21) and Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina (November 16). The topper arrives on November 9, with Steven Spielberg’s eagerly awaited biopic Lincoln starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the Great Emancipator.
December belongs to Peter Jackson, bringing us the first third of his three-part epic The Hobbit (December 14). Quentin Tarantino gives him a few weeks to roam before delivering his newest effort, Django Unchained on Christmas Day, while Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty shows us how they bagged bin Laden on December 19. Other Oscar contenders include the musical version of Les Miserables (December 14) and the historical drama Hyde Park on the Hudson (December 7).
For those looking for more straightforward entertainment, the Tom Cruise vehicle Jack Reacher (directed by Usual Suspects scribe Christopher McQuarrie) opens on December 21. Disney slips in a 3D version of Monsters Inc. on December 19, as well as The King of the Elves, whose exact release date has yet to be determined.