Big Movie Gambles: Upcoming Cinema Risks

December 17, 2019
Here’s a handful of big budget movies that could go either way…

With vast sums of money thrown around, and the potential for both wins and losses, the movie industry can sometimes look like an online casino. We cast our eye over the list of upcoming film releases, and pick out the biggest gambles.

CATS (December 26) Based on the mega popular stage musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber (which, in turn, was hilariously re-immortalised in Trey Stone and Matt Parker’s Team America), Cats has already been pilloried for its diabolically strange imagery, with the likes of Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson, Jason Derulo and James Corden gussied up as all-singing, all-dancing felines. What works on stage doesn’t always work at the movies, and this big screen take on Cats might have already used up its nine lives.

JOJO RABBIT (December 26) A movie featuring a kid who picks Adolf Hitler to be his imaginary friend? Despite the presence of superstar Scarlett Johansson and Thor: Ragnarok helmer Taika Waititi sitting in the director’s chair, Jojo Rabbit is risky cinema to the nth degree…though the film’s reviews point to a gamble that may very well pay off.

UNDERWATER (January 9) Waterworld, Mutiny On The Bounty, The Abyss…there’s a long list of movies made and/or set in the ocean that have been major financial disasters. But there have also been hits like Jaws, Aquaman and Titanic, which makes the Kristen Stewart-starring Underwater the very definition of a big screen gamble.

1917 (January 9) Sure, it’s directed by Oscar friendly box office titan Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Skyfall), but 1917 is also an historical action drama set during WW1 that unspools in one single take. Not-exactly-hot subject matter combined with bold cinema experimentation is no recipe for success…though the early word is that this gamble has paid off.

TOP GUN: MAVERICK (June 25) A sequel to a film made in 1986? To say that the world has changed in that time is an understatement, but will Top Gun: Maverick be able to navigate those changes? The name recognition and headlining movie star in Tom Cruise might be there, but this is one high flying roll of the dice indeed.

LEGALLY BLONDE 3 (May 7) See above…

GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE (July 2) See above…but also add in the sour taste left by the 2016 all-female take on the material starring Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy.

FANTASY ISLAND (February 13) The modern horror masters at Blumhouse threaten to bust their winning streak with their latest effort. A big screen remake of the popular 1970s TV show starring Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize, this reimagining of Fantasy Island takes an inexplicable detour into the horror genre.

THE VOYAGE OF DR DOLITTLE (January 16) Yes, it might star the man who effectively launched the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, but will Robert Downey Jr be enough to erase the memory of the 1967 adaptation of Hugh Lofting’s novels about a man who can talk to animals? The Rex Harrison-starrer still stands as one of Hollywood’s biggest bombs of all time, while Eddie Murphy’s 1998 remake wasn’t exactly cinematic gold either.

DUNE (December 26, 2020) Another adaptation of the famous sci-fi novel often tagged as unfilmable? David Lynch failed to work the material properly back in 1984, but the steadier hand of Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Blade Runner 2049) might succeed this time. But with a massive budget, and a sequel already greenlit, Dune is unquestionably one of the biggest movie gambles of 2020.

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