Why 2011 may be the geekiest movie year ever

Why 2011 may be the geekiest movie year ever

As we’re heading into the heart of the summer movie season, I started looking more closely at next year.  Wow! 

Ever since Jaws turned the hot months into movie blockbuster season in 1975 (and Star Wars cemented it in 1977), that’s been the time for geeky movies.  Well, in the 1950s we got science fiction movies in the summers, but not ones that were tentpoles…big moneymakers that brought in mainstream crowds.

Next year, it seems like almost every week brings a movie that has a $200 million potential.

It’s not just the summer…there are “geekbusters” coming during the fall of 2011, and throughout the year.

Let me give you an idea of just some of the movies. 

First, how am I picking them?  Well, they are mostly going to have a fantasy/science fiction element (although not necessarily).  A movie that’s a sequel or prequel in a successful series?  Check.  A movie that’s a “sidequel’ (set in the same universe or otherwise related to a popular movie) or set of movies? Check.  A remake of a geeky movie/TV series?  Check.   An original movie with a “pedigree” (geeky stars/directors/writers and so on)?  Check. 

Am I being subjective?  Probably, but if you look at how many movies are tied to top 100 all-time US moneymakers, I think you’d find an unusual number of them.

I’m going to focus on their geekiness here.  🙂  For details such as release dates, see the The Measured Circle Pop Culture Timeline


Transformers 3 (sequel to toy-based #10 and #23 on all-time USA top movie list…combined more than $700 million)

Pirate of the Caribbean 4 (#8, #29, #32)

Twilight 4 (#34, another one this summer)

Scream 4

Mad Max 4 (directed by series original George Miller…without Mel Gibson)

Harry Potter 8 (#25, #33, #37, #40, #46, #58…one to come)

Kung Fu Panda 2 (#86)

The Hangover 2 (arguably not geeky, still a sequel to #44)

Rambo 5

Final Destination 5

X-Men: First Class (depends a bit on how you count things, but there’s an X-Men movie at #67 and 87)

Mission Impossible IV (#85)

Underworld 4

Cars 2  (#60)

Rise of the Apes  (prequel to Planet of the Apes series…depends on how you count the movies, but sixth or seventh, starring James Franco)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2

Puss in Boots (they are positioning this as a sidequel to the Shrek movies, but I would consider it a “focused prequel”, since it features a character we already know from those movies)

Spy Kids 4

Jason Bourne 4 (not much set on this one yet, not even a real name)

Big Momma 3 (not really geeky, but still…)


Thor (part of the Marvel comics universe, which includes Spider-Man, whose movies are #9, #13, and #18, and the X-Men: #67, and Iron Man: #24, #50…and counting)

Captain America (more Marvel)

Green Lantern (part of the DC Comics universe, which includes Batman: #3, #55, #97, and Superman)

Immortals (arguably a sidequel to Clash of the Titans, it’s a Greek Gods movie…starring Mickey Rourke, John Hurt, and Freida Pinto from Slumdog Millionaire)


The Smurfs (based on a TV cartoon, stars Neil Patrick Harris, Alan Cumming, Paul Reubens, Katy Perry, Jonathan Winters, Hank Azaria…and Wolfgang Puck)

H.R. Pufnstuf (based on the TV series…not much information out there, but this is driving a lot of traffic to this blog, so that says something…not much, but something) 🙂

The Green Hornet (based on a radio show/TV show, stars Seth Rogen as the Hornet, Jay Chou as Kato, Cameron Diaz, Christopher Waltz, Edward James Olmos, and Edward Furlong)

Red Riding Hood (make that a werewolf and put Amanda Seyfried and maybe Gary Oldman in it)

Frankenweenie (Tim Burton directs a remake of his own early short movie)

Winnie the Pooh (arguably a sidequel to Disney’s 3-D Alice in Wonderland, the remake includes the voices of Craig Ferguson, Peter Cullen, Alan Cummings, and Tom Kenny…the last one of SpongeBob SquarePants)

Arabian Nights (Chuck Russell of The Mask and The Scorpion King writes and directs Anthony Hopkins)

Pedigeeked originals

Cowboys & Aliens (directed by Jon Favreau of Iron Man and Elf, co-written by Damon Lindelof of Lost, and featuring Sam Rockwell, Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde…)

Real Steel (boxing robots: directed by Shawn Levy of the Night at the Museum movies, Evangeline Lilly of Lost, Hugh Jackman)

Your Highness (co-written by and featuring Danny McBride, this fantasy also has Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, and James Franco)

The Tourist (arguably not geeky, with geektastic cast: Johnny Depp, Angelia Jolie, Timothy Dalton, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany)

Fast Five (again, arguably not geeky…but starring Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel)

The Adventures of Tintin (there have been Tintin movies adaptations before, but this may be many Americans first exposure: directed by Steven Spielberg, includes Daniel Craig, Cary Elwes, Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Jamie Bell…)

Sucker Punch (the tagline is “Alice in Wonderland with machine guns”…stars Carla Gugino, Jon Hamm, Vanessa Hudgens, directed by Zack Snyder)

The Zookeeper (animation pretty much automatically gets you a ticket to Geekville, but this includes Sylvester Stallone, Rosario Dawson, John Favreau, Adam Sandler, Cher, Kevin James…)

Contagion (viral video…no, literally about a disease 😉 , directed by Steven Soderbergh, featuring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne…)

Hop (Tim Hill of Alvin and the Chipmunks directs Russell Brand as the Easter Bunny, with James Marsden of the X-Men and Keley Cuoco of The Big Bang Theory…with Elizabeth Perkins and Chelsea Handler)

The Cabin in the Woods (co-written by geek god Joss Whedon, it promises a twist on the formula…starring Richard Jenkins)

Gnomeo and Juliet (Shakespeare…with gnomes.  Directed by Kelly Asbury of Shrek 2, it features Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart, Maggie Smith, Jason Stratham…)

Drive Angry (directed by Wes Craven regular Patrick Lussier, it features Nicolas Cage, David Morse, William Fichtner…)

Rio (Carlos Saldhana of the Ice Age movies directs animation with a macaw out of water and featuring Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, George Lopez…)

Priest (based on the graphic novel series, Paul Bettany is a priest tracking vampires…also features Maggie Q, Christopher Plummer, Alan Dale, Karl Urban…)

Rango (Gore Verbinski of the Pirates series directs animation with Johnny Depp, Bill Nighy, Abigail Breslin, Claudia Black…)

Battle: Los Angeles (marines versus aliens, starring Michelle Rodriguez, Aaron Eckhart, Bridget Moynahan…)

A Thousand Words (geek cred a bit hard to describe to mainstream people…the director, Brian Robbins, is a Smallville producer, he appeared in a CHUD movie, and was a a regular on Head of the Class ((wait, that last one isn’t so geeky)) 😉 .  He’s directed Eddie Murphy in a few high concept movies, including the Shaggy Dog, and Norbit, and he’s doing that here…Murphy’s character can only speak one thousand words before he dies)

The Apparition  (Ashley Greene of Twilight and Tom Felton of Harry Potter…)

Unknown White Male (arguably not geeky, a man wakes from a coma to find his identity has been stolen…features Liam Neeson, January Jones, Frank Langella, Aidan Quinn…)

Mars Needs Moms! (from a book by Berkeley Breathed of Bloom County and featuring the voices of Seth Green and Joan Cusack)

Duel of Legends (martial arts movie with Rampage, who is taking the role Mr. T had in this summer’s A-Team remake, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who has been in all kinds of geeky productions, including Stargate, Babylon 5, Star Trek…)

Believe me, I haven’t listed all of them!

Why so many?

Well, I think part of it is that 2012 is going to be a tricky movie year.  No, not because of that Mayan end of the world thing (we already had a hit movie about that).  The summer Olympics are in London, and they know how to do media.  Another media hog in 2012 is going to be the US Presidential election…that’s likely to be getting coverage even in the summer.

What is the result of this cinematic cornucopia going to be?  Well, there may be some shuffling of movies to earlier in the year or maybe even 2013 (or 2012, even with the competition).  It should make for a giant year, even though it may be hard for individual movies to be mega-hits (since there is another one right around the corner).  Opening weekends will be more important than usual: expect lots of four-walling type advertising.  Also, in a crowded year like this, some movies will not find their audiences that otherwise would.  They’ll have a strong second life outside of the theatres…especially as tablet computers like the iPad make streaming video more mainstream.  They also can become cult movies…that may be the case with some of those originals.

 Well, enjoy the rest of 2010…and know next year is going to be a biggie!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.


15 Responses to “Why 2011 may be the geekiest movie year ever”

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