It has been a pretty rough go for Sony over the last year. First, there was the huge North Korea hacking scandal that rocked the company through a series of leaked emails, personal information and the near-cancellation of Seth Rogen and James Franco's The Interview. And even though Sony survived the hack, they have had a pretty miserable 2015. The studio's top-grossing film so far this year is Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, which is the 25th highest grossing film of the year. The studio's other duds include The Wedding Ringer, Pixels, Chappie and Aloha- all of which were hurt by bad reviews or bad buzz from the leaked emails. Sony also sent the rights to Spider-Man partially back to Marvel, forfeiting one of their biggest franchises. The rest of the year brings a bit more promise for Sony- The Walk, Hotel Transylvania 2, The Night Before, Goosebumps, and most importantly, Spectre all hit theaters before the year ends. But despite some potential hits, Sony still desperately needs to get their house in order. And that's what they attempted to do earlier this week by literally placing all of their chips on the table in the hopes of making a dent in Hollywood.
Sony recently announced the release dates for 17 films that are currently in development at the studio. Here is the list of films, in order of release date:
-Money Monster- April 8, 2016
-The Shallows- June 24, 2016
-Ghostbusters- July 15, 2016
-Patient Zero- September 2, 2016
-Underworld 5- October 21, 2016
-Passengers- December 21, 2016
-Jumanji- December 25, 2016
-The Dark Tower- January 13, 2017
-The Magnificent Seven- January 13, 2017
-Resident Evil 6- January 27, 2017
-Bad Boys 3- February 17, 2017
-Baby Driver- March 17, 2017
-Barbie- June 2, 2017
-Uncharted- June 30, 2017
-The Lamb- December 8, 2017
-Bad Boys 4- July 3, 2019
That's a massive news dump for Sony and there are a lot of projects on there that I am completely unfamiliar with. However, there are a few movies on here that are definitely worth getting excited about and I'm going to go through a pretty lengthy breakdown of what I'm looking forward to from this list.
Starting from the beginning, Money Monster is a Jodie Foster-directed drama about a TV personality with insider Wall Street tips who is held hostage by someone who lost quite a bit of money off of a bad tip. With a cast that includes George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and rising star Jack O'Connell, this so-called mix of "Network and Dog Day Afternoon" should be pretty compelling. Moving on to The Shallows, absolutely nothing is known about this film, so of course, I can't comment on whether I'm excited or not. However, Paul Feig's Ghostbusters, now set to hit theaters a week earlier, is a film that I'm definitely looking forward to, based mostly off of the fact that I loved Spy, his latest flick. I know that there's a lot of trepidation surrounding this project, but I'm pretty excited for it.
Patient Zero has an interesting cast (Matt Smith, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Dormer) and a slickly cool post-apocalyptic plotline, but the September release date is concerning. I couldn't care less about Underworld 5, and while we're on the topic, I don't remotely care about Resident Evil 6 either. I've never watched a single film from either franchise, and it's not necessarily high on my cinematic to-do list.
Moving on to some other films on the list, I honestly had no idea that they were even considering doing a Jumanji remake. And with nobody attached to the project so far, I can't muster up any excitement for it. Passengers, on the other hand, is a film that I am truly anticipating. A sci-fi drama from the director of The Imitation Game with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence set to star? Count me in. The plot of the film seems utterly fascinating and I can see this being one of the big Oscar players in 2016. Sony has some real potential with this one and I hope that they don't botch the release.
The next project on the list is The Dark Tower, which has been in the works for years with little to no progress. Based on the series of novels by Stephen King, a never-ending chain of directors and stars have been attached to this film, but nobody has been able to get things going. Director Nikolaj Arcel will try to get this one rolling and I hope he succeeds. But despite the fact that Sony has a release date set, I'm not betting on this hitting theaters anytime soon. Also set for a January 2017 release date is Antoine Fuqua's The Magnificent Seven, which stars Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, Vincent D'Onofrio, Matt Bomer and Ethan Hawke among others. I'm not a huge fan of the original film, but if anybody can make a solid remake of it, it's Fuqua and this cast. Consider me intrigued.
The announcement of Bad Boys 3 and 4 is certainly baffling, as I'm not honestly sure that anybody still cares about that franchise. Will Smith isn't the star that he used to be and Martin Lawrence nearly disappeared off of the face of the Earth. The one glimmer of hope for these next two films is that, a while back, there were rumblings that Joe Carnahan was in talks to direct, which would put an interesting spin on this series. Nevertheless, my hopes are not extremely high for these two flicks.
Out of all of the films that Sony just announced, Edgar Wright's Baby Driver is unquestionably at the top of my list. Wright is the best comedic director in Hollywood at the moment, and with a cast led by Ansel Elgort and Lily James, a high-energy crime plot, and a musical focus, there's virtually no way that I don't love this film. In fact, the thing that I'm most disappointed by is that we have to wait until 2017 to see it. Thankfully, there will be plenty of other films in the meantime to tide us over until Wright debuts his next project.
Barbie is another film that seems doomed to fail, and even though Uncharted has a release date set, like The Dark Tower, I can see this one being stuck in development hell for a very long time. Finally, we reach the final two films on the list: The Lamb and Catfight. We know nothing about either project, so once again, I have nothing to say.
Sony definitely has some interesting titles on this list (Passengers and Baby Driver are my most anticipated), but they still have some work to do if they want to be a studio powerhouse like Universal, Disney or Warner Bros. There's a significant lack of tentpole films here and they really need stuff like Ghostbusters, The Dark Tower and Uncharted to succeed in a big way. It'll definitely be interesting to see how it all unfolds.