Page last updated at 08:18 GMT, Monday, 5 January 2009

Hollywood banks on lucrative 2009

By Neil Smith
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Hollywood will be hoping that a number of eagerly-awaited blockbusters will help it cope with the effects of the global financial crisis in 2009.

Hugh Jackman in X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Hugh Jackman gets his claws out for X-Men Origins: Wolverine
With the possibility of an actors strike looming ever larger, the major studios will also be aiming to swell their coffers in advance of what could be a hugely costly shutdown.

As usual, the first few months of the year will be dominated by high-profile awards contenders and Oscar hopefuls.

Come the summer, though, and the multiplexes will once more play host to some familiar faces and franchises - all aiming to challenge the box-office records set by The Dark Knight, 2008's box-office champion.


June, for example, sees the return of everyone's favourite cyborg in Terminator: Salvation, the fourth instalment in the very successful science-fiction franchise.

Christian Bale in Terminator: Salvation
Christian Bale plays freedom fighter John Connor in Terminator: Salvation
Dark Knight actor Christian Bale stars in McG's film, which takes place in the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse.

The Sony release, though, will face competition from another effects-laden blockbuster involving futuristic robots - Transformers follow-up Revenge of the Fallen.

Released three weeks after the Terminator film, Michael Bay's latest sees Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox reprise their roles from the 2007 original.

When it comes to sequels, however, there are few more feverishly anticipated than Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Originally due to open last November, the sixth instalment in the boy wizard franchise is tipped to be another huge earner for Dark Knight producers Warner Bros.


Over at Paramount, meanwhile, studio bosses are pinning their hopes on a new Star Trek film - the first to hit cinemas since 2002.

Directed by JJ Abrams of Lost and Alias fame, this prequel to the original TV series explores the early voyages of Captain Kirk, Mr Spock and the Starship Enterprise.

Tom Hanks in Angels and Demons
Tom Hanks returns as Robert Langdon in Angels and Demons
Other established characters returning in 2009 include The Wolfman, X-Men superhero Wolverine, Sherlock Holmes and the unruly pupils of St Trinian's.

Tom Hanks will return in Da Vinci Code prequel Angels and Demons, while Steve Martin takes on Inspector Clouseau again in The Pink Panther 2.

There is also a return engagement for the original cast of The Fast and the Furious and, come next Christmas, a second helping of Alvin and the Chipmunks.

One of the most keenly anticipated comebacks of 2009, however, will be that of director James Cameron - set to unveil his long-gestating sci-fi epic Avatar at the end of the year.


High-profile dramas wending our way include The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson's adaptation of the Alice Sebold bestseller about a murdered child.

Emily Blunt in The Young Victoria
Emily Blunt plays the newly crowned queen in The Young Victoria
Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz play the grieving parents whose attempts to rebuild their lives are watched from beyond the grave by their daughter, played by Atonement's Saoirse Ronan.

Queen Victoria and Brian Clough make an unlikely duo in March with the release of The Young Victoria - starring Emily Blunt of The Devil Wears Prada fame - and The Damned United, in which Michael Sheen appears as the late football manager.

Elsewhere Martin Scorsese teams up with Leonardo DiCaprio for the fourth time in crime thriller Shutter Island, while Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck join forces for the film version of acclaimed BBC series State of Play.

On the comedy front, Richard Curtis has assembled an all-star cast for his pirate radio romp The Boat That Rocked.

Gavin and Stacey fans, meanwhile, will not want to miss Mathew Horne and James Corden in their first film outing, Lesbian Vampire Killers.

When it comes to odd titles, though, they do not come stranger than George Clooney's upcoming war satire Men Who Stare at Goats.


Before all that, though, comes the annual deluge of titles specifically tailored to appeal to Oscar and BAFTA voters.

These range from acclaimed stage-to-screen adaptations (Doubt, Frost/Nixon) and contentious biopics (Che, Milk) to historical epics with a World War II theme (Defiance, Valkyrie).

Daniel Craig in Defiance
James Bond star Daniel Craig plays a Jewish resistance fighter in Defiance
Brad Pitt's fantasy The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Danny Boyle's Mumbai melodrama Slumdog Millionaire are already shaping up to be the season's biggest contenders.

With The Reader and Revolutionary Road, meanwhile, cinemagoers can look forward to a double dose of English rose Kate Winslet.

After that lot has come and gone, though, audiences may well find themselves in need of some escapist entertainment.

They should find it in Watchmen, a spectacular adaptation of the iconic comic book about flawed superheroes in an alternative version of 20th Century America.

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