The 2014 release slate is essentially filled to the brim right now, while every movie geek worth their salt knows how crowded 2015 is already - but what's the harm in a few movie releases, right? At least, that's what Universal hopes, having gone ahead and set release dates for multiple films arriving over the next three years.
Arguably, the most noteworthy of the lot is Crimson Peak, the upcoming film co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim). Described as a haunted house genre throwback, Crimson Peak is said to be del Toro's first Hollywood project to strongly resemble his previous Spanish-language offerings - acclaimed works like the ghost story The Devil's Backbone and dark fairy tale Pan's Labyrinth - with elements that are scary, visceral, Gothic and kinky - just about every adjective you could want to hear applied to a del Toro horror movie, basically.
Here is the synopsis for Crimson Peak, based on the screenplay by del Toro and Matthew Robbins (Don't Be Afraid of the Dark):
In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers.
Crimson Peak's cast includes Mia Wasikowska (Stoker), Tom Hiddleston (Thor: The Dark World), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), so it's equally solid on that front. The film is scheduled for release on October 16th, 2015, a week after Disney releases a new live-action version of The Jungle Book.
Universal's jukebox musical sequel Pitch Perfect 2 is also slated for release in 2015, with a May 15th date that positions it as counter-programming to Mad Max: Fury Road during their shared opening weekend. Pitch Perfect costar/producer Elizabeth Banks was confirmed to direct the followup earlier this week, with the original film's stars Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson (among others, potentially) expected to return for the second round of A Capella covers of hit pop songs - should be fun for the fans of its predecessor, at the least.
The last Universal project to have received a fresh 2015 release date is Everest, which is slated to open in 2D and 3D theaters on February 27th that year, placing it up against Immortals director Tarsem Singh's sci-fi Selfless. Here is the official synopsis:
Inspired by the incredible events surrounding a treacherous attempt to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, Everest documents the awe-inspiring journey of two different expeditions challenged beyond their limits by one of the fiercest snowstorms ever encountered by mankind. Their mettle tested by the harshest of elements found on the planet, the climbers will face nearly impossible obstacles as a lifelong obsession becomes a breathtaking struggle for survival.
Cast-wise, Everest is headlined by Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Josh Brolin (Labor Day), John Hawkes (Lincoln) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners), with director Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns) calling the shots. Given the solid talent involved on both sides of the camera, it sounds as though Everest could prove to be a respectable man vs. nature survival thriller (especially for a Hollywood film releasing in late February).
As far as 2014 goes, Universal has set Ouija to open this year on October 24th, as direct competition to Paranormal Activity 5 for the attention of moviegoers in the mood for a Halloween season scare.
During early development, the Ouija board game adaptation evolved from a big-budget family-friendly supernatural adventure to a low-cost horror movie, featuring a cast of lesser-knowns as "a group of friends who must confront their most terrifying fears when they awaken the dark powers of an ancient spirit board." Stiles White makes his directorial debut, from a script that he co-penned with his longtime writing partner Juliet Snowden (Boogeyman, Knowing).
In other spooky film-related news, Universal also scheduled As Above, So Below for release on August 15th, 2014, putting it up against macho cheesefest The Expendables 3 and YA novel adaptation The Giver. The film takes place beneath the streets of Paris - where "a team of explorers ventures into the uncharted maze of bones [and] uncover the secret of what this city of the dead was meant to contain" - and is directed by John Erick Dowdle (Devil), from a script he co-wrote with brother Drew Dowdle (Quarantine, also helmed by John). Sounds intriguing enough.
Lastly, we have two more items to complete this release date roundup:
- A Walk Among the Tombstones, a crime drama/thriller starring Liam Neeson and written/directed by Scott Frank, the writer of Minority Report and writer/director of The Lookout. (Read more about the film HERE.) It reaches theaters on September 19th, 2014, facing off against YA novel adaptation The Maze Runner.
- The animated Untitled Pets Project from Universal and Illumination Entertainment - featuring the voice talents of Kevin Hart (Ride Along) and Louis C.K. (American Hustle) and directed by Chris Renaud (Despicable Me 1 & 2) - is slated to arrive on Februry 12th, 2016, opposite Gods of Egypt.
As Above, So Below opens in theaters on August 15th, 2014.
A Walk Among the Tombstones arrives in theaters on September 19th, 2014.
Ouija haunts theaters beginning on October 24th, 2014.
Everest begins its theatrical trek on February 27th, 2015.
Pitch Perfect 2 starts performing in theaters on May 15th, 2015.
Crimson Peak reaches theaters on October 16th, 2015.
The Untitled Pets Project releases in theaters on February 12th, 2016.