Early start to blockbuster season: 2014 spring movie preview

By Ashley Bergner
Box Office Buzz

movieleadSummer has traditionally been the time when Hollywood rolls out its biggest blockbusters. However, with the increasingly crowded release schedule in May through August, studios have begun to shift some of those opening dates to the springtime. Films like the first “Hunger Games” have proven it’s possible to have a big blockbuster earlier in the year, and several movies this spring, including “Divergent” and the new “Captain America,” are generating potential blockbuster buzz.

Here is a rundown of some of the main films coming out in the following weeks, leading up to the official summer movie season kick-off on May 2 with “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”

Need for Speed (March 14)

need-for-speedBased on a popular video game, “Need for Speed” follows a street racer who’s just been released from prison after being framed by a business partner. He sees a cross country race as a chance to get revenge and to escape the bounty that’s been placed on his head.

Although video game-to-movie adaptations can be hit or miss, this movie could be a fun popcorn flick if it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It will be interesting to see how well Aaron Paul can leverage the buzz from his recent run on “Breaking Bad” and if this film can differentiate itself enough from the “Fast & Furious” franchise.

Divergent (March 21)

DIVERGENTThere’s a lot of pressure riding on “Divergent,” a sci-fi film based on a novel about teenagers living in a dystopian, futuristic version of Chicago. Young adult book-to-movie adaptations were once thought to be box office gold, but after several flops — such as “Beautiful Creatures” and “The Mortal Instruments” — Hollywood may become more cautious.

The challenge for “Divergent” will be to catch the same buzz as that other young adult post-apocalyptic hit, “The Hunger Games,” while also convincing audiences it has something new to offer.

Muppets Most Wanted (March 21)

muppetsThe box office success of Jason Segel’s 2011 Muppet movie comeback proved film audiences still had a place in their hearts for Kermit, Fozzie and the rest of the classic Muppet gang.

The new movie features plenty of celebrity cameos — including Lady Gaga, Tom Hiddleston and Christoph Waltz — and takes the Muppets to Europe, where they find themselves caught up in a jewel heist.

Noah (March 28)

NoahOne of several big-budget Biblical adaptations planned for this year, Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” stars Russell Crowe as the famous patriarch who saves his family from an apocalyptic flood by building an ark.

Entertainment news sites reported disagreements between Aronofsky and the movie studio, who reportedly had conflicting visions for the film, but the film appears to be back on track.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4)

capAOut of all the films slated for release this spring, “Captain America” likely will be the biggest blockbuster. The trailers leading up to the film’s release have been great, and the movie already has strong buzz.

I’m looking forward to seeing another solo film about Captain America and how he adjusts to life in the modern world. I’m also excited to watch him team up with Black Widow and how the film handles the differences between the two characters.

Transcendence (April 17)

TRANSCENDENCE“Transcendence,” starring Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman, explores some of the same themes introduced in “RoboCop” earlier this year — the difference between humanity and technology, and the ethics of combining mankind and machine.

The sci-fi thriller is about a terminally ill scientist who downloads his mind into a computer, giving him a kind of immortality but also possibly turning him into a dangerous and uncontrollable monster. Whether it’s fair or not, Johnny Depp seems to have fallen a bit from Hollywood grace, and this movie, with its intriguing and timely premise, could be his chance at redemption.

So, what spring movies are you most looking forward to this year? What do you think will be the biggest hit?

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