Back in 2008, I thought that opening a big expensive film like “Iron Man” in May was a really strange thing. Prior to that, blockbusters were almost exclusively reserved for summertime and holiday release dates.
Thanks to that film’s box office success (it earned over half a billion dollars), tentpole season started earlier and earlier, and we can now expect high-profile movies to pop up pretty much any time of year.
The big difference is we’ll see a lot less sequels and than we’d get in July or December, but March 2017 still carries one major studio release per week in hopes of drawing in the crowds that normally can’t find anything to get excited about for at least another month or two.
Here’s a look at some of the new movies opening in Athens in March:
After Gavin Hood’s 2009 disaster “Wolverine,” Fox reeled back plans for more spin-offs of its popular “X-Men” franchise and turned their focus on making sure James Mangold’s follow-up, 2013’s “The Wolverine,” was nowhere near as bad. For the third in the trilogy (and supposedly the last for leading man Hugh Jackman), Mangold went R rated and super serious for a proper Weapon X send-off.
Any band name or movie title with a random number at the end is usually a warning sign, but the talent involved in this indie comedy might make it an exception. Mark and Jay Duplass (HBO’s “Togetherness”) co-wrote the story about a wedding table reserved for a group of guests the bride and groom hoped wouldn’t show up. Anna Kendrick, Craig Robinson, June Squibb and Tony Revolori star.
‘KONG: SKULL ISLAND’
Ignoring Peter Jackson’s 2005 epic “King Kong,” this new film is intended as a prequel to the 2014 version of “Godzilla” and a lead-in to a battle between the two classic monsters. Set in 1971 and patterned after “Apocalypse Now,” Tom Hiddleston (“The Avengers”) leads a group of former US soldiers on an expedition to catch the giant ape. Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson and John Goodman co-star.
‘BEAUTY AND THE BEAST’
Following “Cinderella,” “Jungle Book” and “Pete’s Dragon,” the latest in Disney’s series of live action remakes based on their catalog of animated classics stars Emma Watson (“Harry Potter”) as Belle and a CGI-faced Dan Stevens (“The Guest”) as the furry Prince along with a host of celebrity voices for the talking dinnerware including Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, and Emma Thompson.
This goofy-looking update of the TV buddy cop drama “CHiPs,” that ran from 1977 to 1983, stars Dax Shepard (“Idiocracy”) as Jon opposite Michael Peña (“Ant-Man”) as Ponch, two California Highway Patrol officers who do a lot of embarrassing things.
Not to be confused with the 2015 Robert Pattinson drama or the 2007 Eddie Murphy comedy of the same name, this sci-fi horror flick stars Jake Gyllenhaal (“Nightcrawler”) and Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool”) as crew members on an International Space Station whose study of life on Mars brings a deadly alien aboard their ship.
The 1990s come roaring back as the team of teenage super warriors lose the “Mighty Morphin” from their name but gain the awesome powers of CGI just in time to do battle with the evil Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks, “The Hunger Games”) in this $120 million gamble from Lionsgate and Japan’s Toei Studios. The new Rangers are played by Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, and Ludi Lin.
‘THE BOSS BABY’
This heavily-advertised cartoon from “Madagascar” franchise director Tom McGrath stars Alec Baldwin as the voice of the title character, a tough-talking newborn who wears three piece suits and has all the inside info on a conspiracy involving puppies replacing babies.
‘GHOST IN THE SHELL’
Scarlett Johansson (“Lucy”) stars in this ambitious adaptation of the landmark 1995 anime that takes place in an alternate future where the internet allows people to transfer their consciousness to robot bodies. Johansson plays The Major, who commands an elite anti-terrorism squad against a hacker known as The Puppet Master. Co-starring Takeshi “Beat” Kitano, Juliette Binoche, and Michael Pitt.
Director Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) assembled the entire cast of his 1996 breakout indie hit “Trainspotting” for this sequel based on the 2002 follow-up novel by Irvine Welsh. After an absence of two decades, Mark (Ewan McGregor) returns to Edinburgh to connect with his former pals Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Begbie (Robert Carlyle) and Diane (Kelly Macdonald).